Within These WallsWithin These Walls has struck within my heart! This is an incredibly heartwarming story by J. L. Berg that I will not soon forget. Lailah Buchanan suffers from congestive heart failure. Her condition and her mother’s anxiety have literally kept her confined between home and hospital. Jude Cavanaugh suffers a devastating loss that has his path crossing with Lailah’s at the same hospital. The two find hope in each other and a bond too strong to be denied.

J. L. Berg does a great job describing Lailah’s emotional and physical confinement. To be physical challenged is to understand Lailah’s concern with her parent’s anxiety and her desire to “break free”.

My mother had been here every day, and her company meant the world to me, but the desire and need to interact with someone my own age was overwhelming. I just wanted someone who hadn’t helped me go to the bathroom or didn’t watch my every move with anxiety, afraid my next breath might land me back in the hospital…

Do you know what it’s like to be taken care of like a child when you’re a grown adult? It’s maddening.”

The type of challenges faced by Lailah are evidenced by the following:

Longevity wasn’t a guarantee for me. It was a reality I had come to terms with long ago, far younger than any person should, but it was my reality and mine alone.

Her physical limitation keeps her innocent at a level others would not understand, making a relationship with Jude an emotional challenge:

Each time he had come into my room, I’d wanted to talk to him—ask him something, anything—just to hear him speak again, but I’d never really spoken to people my age.

Her limitations, experience and prognosis have her hesitant to enter a relationship with Jude:

Even if in some alternate universe, he could possibly see me as someone more than a patient, I couldn’t go down that road—ever. My life was too stressful and emotionally turbulent to share with someone else. Asking someone to step into my world would be like asking him to sign away his own life to take care of mine. I could never do that.

In the end, she puts aside her fears and falls in love with Jude. Their relationship is strong and endearing. At every page, I was expecting a setback where Jude decided that Lailah’s prognosis was not worth the emotional investment into someone else that he might lose, and he didn’t. The strength he showed in the relationship made this a true romance for me in every sense. I wish I could find my own Jude to be on my side.

This is a standalone novel. It probably should be classified as new adult, but there are some adult situations that lead me to label it more as contemporary.

I rate this 5 Hearts!

18697821Katy Evans did it again! Ripped (Real #5) was released this month. I always feel a bit embarrassed at my age to admit that I enjoy this new adult series, but it is just sooo good (although maybe too erotic for YA…?). Honestly, I find the whole Real series entertaining. I love this click of girlfriends and their men.

While being part of a series, Ripped can be read as a standalone. If you want the full context of the characters and their friends, I would recommend reading the stories in order but it is not necessary.

Ripped is a second chance romance between Pandora and her rockstar boyfriend MacKenna. Pandora is Brooke’s gothic friend who was introduced in the first three books. We know nothing about MacKenna before this except that he broke Pandora’s heart. Circumstances bring them together six years later under a scenario I found humorous. It certainty helps to remember what being young felt like and acting impulsively. It also befitted Pandora would be in love with a rockstar that wears colored Mohawks in concert. They make a perfect couple and I could feel their connection.

This had several elements that I enjoy in a book. It made me laugh and cry. I love a sassy heroine. Any amount of angst works for me, and the ending made me CRY! 4 Hearts

Wow! Finished the Hot and Steamy Take (Temptation #2)

OMG, 5 Hearts! I strongly advise reading Try and Take from the Ella Frank’s Temptation series keeping a fan nearby. I have read a few M/M stories, and this is by far my favorite. Be forewarned that it is steamy and descriptive and difficult to put down. This is a series about Logan Mitchell and Tate Morrison. Logan is a hotshot lawyer and playboy; he came off of a bad relationship determined to never get attached again and plays both sides. Tate is the new bartender at the nightclub that Logan frequents. There is an instant attraction on the part of both men. Only Tate is currently going through divorce proceedings from his wife.

In Try (Temptation #1), we see Logan’s gradual seduction of Tate. Tate tries to understand his attraction to this particular man while struggling with family values and a Catholic upbringing.

In Take (Temptation #2), we see Logan and Tate come to accept their need for each other. Their relationship deepens emotionally and intensifies sexually (if that’s possible! – just look at the awesome cover!). For me, Take was perfect. I loved the banter between Logan and Tate similar to Beautiful Bastard. I got teary eyed as they struggled to identify where and how  they were comfortable being a couple in public and among friends. I was as surprised at the reaction of Tate’s family as Tate himself was. Somehow I expected an easier transition than Logan experienced.

There is obviously a third book coming for this series. While I will be very happy to see the story continue because I find this couple entertaining, I sort of expected a cliffhanger that didn’t happen with Logan’s ex. I feel like there is more to tell there, and maybe there will be.

1779864917798654

Book Review – Mr. Beautiful (Up in the Air #4) by R.K. Lilley

18631103R.K. Lilley is one of my favorite authors and I had the pleasure of meeting her (and I think her husband?) at a writers’ event this year. She was the most personable and gracious author that I met that day and was generous with her time.

I adore the “Up in the Air” series and I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Mr. Beautiful!  I was looking forward to hearing his side of events and it was worth the wait. What a fabulous cover! I love the camaraderie between James and Tristan. I love the passion and love between James and Bianca. This conclusion has me loving him more.

And then there is Stephan. I wish I had such a loyal and true person in my life. The relationship between Stephan and Bianca is endearing and goes straight to my heart. I could read an entire story just about them, and I appreciate that we got to see more of their past in this story. This was an unexpected surprise for me. I also find Stephan and Javier a believable and touching m/m pairing, written eloquently.

This is part of a series, which should be read in order. Otherwise, you will not have the proper context for the characters and storyline. This is sort of a collection of random thoughts from different characters at different points of the series.

5 Stars

Book Review – Broken (Redemption #1) by Lauren Layne

21408690I blush a little when I get caught enjoying a young adult novel at my age. Yet even I can appreciate this endearing love story. Olivia Middleton is a college student who decides to take a hiatus from education to gain some life experience caring for an injured war veteran. Olivia is looking at this employment opportunity a chance to escape her problems and a to redeem herself. While her past actions are far from admirable, they were not as dreadful as I expected by the weight that she gave them. Regardless, I enjoyed watching the maturity and determination for which she approaches her new role. The following excerpt provides an insight into her personality.

Your social life is no longer dropped into your lap by virtue of shared classes and extracurricular activities. Relationships, whether with friends, family, or romantic partners—from here on out, they’re going to take a lot more work. No more built-in friends at the sorority, or hollering down the stairs when I need my mom. It’s certainly not going to be as easy to meet guys now that I’m done with school. It’s not like I can just chat up the cute guy in econ class anymore.

Paul Langdon Is challenged with being physically disfigured as a result of his injuries.  Rehabilitation feels overwhelming to overcome. We come to learn that Olivia’s primary purpose is to be on suicide watch as she is challenged with bringing him out of his depression.  He is certainly a challenging case, but little by little he starts to come alive again and to recognize the value in Olivia.

I’m not proud of myself, Olivia. Not even a little bit. Do I wish I’d never let you go? Obviously. Do I wish I’d come to my senses sooner? Of course. And maybe if it had taken me only a day or two to clear my head, then yeah, I would have called. But when you fuck up as badly as I fucked up, for that long, you don’t call. You don’t text. You don’t email. You go to your girl and beg.

This has become one of my favorites! I laughed out loud and I swooned over the touching scenes.  I appreciated each of the characters. The relationship between Olivia and Paul was heartwarming and inspirational.

5 Stars

Book Review – Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor

Squee!  This is definitely one for my Favorites shelf. It has everything a good story requires. I laughed, I cried. I was happy and sad. I couldn’t stop reading until it was over.  The story has stayed with me, and I miss the characters!

This was a truly heartwarming story. Andy and Matt both come from difficult pasts. They meet while on vacation. From the synopsis, I expected the whole story to take place on vacation and I was very happy for this story to continue beyond, when everyone returns to reality. The relationship between Matt and Abby is strongly felt. The scenes with the children are so well written I can only imagine how difficult it is to write dialogue for the little ones.

The erotic scenes are well written and steamy. However, the romance of this story is so much MORE. Matt falls so hard for Abby, the children and the whole package.

She stood and their eyes met again, this time with her fingers still clasped tightly in his. Something moved inside him, slightly painful, like parts rearranging into a better fit.

I am totally in love with Matt McKinney! While his character is described as handsome, he is so much more than external. He is humble. He is a loyal soldier, a friend and family member. He knows no fear, including becoming attached to Abby’s four young ones, and he makes an amazing step-in dad.

If you are a fan of romances, this is one not to miss. It is part of the series The McKinney Brothers but can be read as a standalone.

5 Stars

22075732

Book Review – The Story of Us (Carnage #1) – Lesley Jones

After my nice reprieve with the Cranberry Inn series, I returned to my more intense and darker reads. I honestly have no idea why I waited so long to read Carnage #1! We all love the Thoughtless series and have been looking for that rockstar boyfriend to compete with Kellen. This one had such rave reviews that I think I was holding off for this holiday weekend to lock myself away and lose myself in a great read.

You have to experience this book yourself! Stay away from spoilers! You will laugh and you will cry.  You will be angry. This is all what pulls us in and makes a great story. I was hooked from the first words and literally could not put the book down. There is a continuation, but this can be read as a standalone. The writing is fantastic. I love the dialect used by the characters and the dynamics between family and friends. I was almost jealous and wanted to hang out with the lot of them (except for all the passing of drugs among family and friends)!

I plan to read the second book. However, I am still too emotional right now to continue on just yet.

Link to Goodreads –> The Story of Us (Carnage #1)

20645941