Good morning and welcome to April’s Reading Roundup. If you’ve been hanging around here at all, you’ve probably noticed that April was a pretty busy month–I released Between the Seams, I finished Baseball and Other Lessons (which is with beta readers as I type this), I really started working on Hair Trigger Heart (which is Owen’s story, if you’re wondering), and my husband had a mild rejection episode. Yeah, I’d say things were a little crazy in Casa de Aubrey.
That being said, I did still manage to get some reading done last month (how, I’m not entirely sure). So without further delay, here’s April’s reading list.
Deep (Stage Dive #4) by Kylie Scott – 3 Stars
So I’ve enjoyed the entire Stage Dive series. They’re fun, kind of soapy and totally escapist. For some reason Deep just didn’t sit quite as well with me as the previous three books had, which kind of sucked because I’d really been looking forward to this one. I think it was the whole thing with Mal being SO overprotective of Lizzy, and Ben’s going along with Mal’s threats to not touch her. Or it could have been the insta-lust, which almost seemed over the top. Or it could have been character development. I don’t really know. But something about this book just didn’t sit as well with me as the other three books, but it was still enjoyable.
I’ve been a fan of this series since the first book, and I really liked Roxy’s character in Stay with Me (book 3 in the series), so I was glad to see we were going to get Roxy and Reece’s story. It’s a pretty good one. There’s angst. There’s drama. There’s a crazy psycho stalking her. And lots of mind-blowing sex. Actually, if I had one complaint about this book, it was the sheer quantity of all of the mind-blowing sex. I get it, lots of mind-blowing, life-altering sex is status quo in most New Adult Romance, but there really are only so many ways we as writers can describe the act itself. J. Lynn never goes into crazy description territory (no lady deserts or anything like that), but there were a couple of times when I honestly thought, “Wait. Another long sex scene?” And that’s coming from someone who used to write erotic romance… Aside from all the mind-blowing sex, though, the story was solid and the characters likeable.
I actually read this book back in like February for Heroes and Heartbreakers, but its release date was April, so it’s going here (I don’t think I covered it in a previous Reading Roundup, either). I absolutely loved A.J. and Darcy. Nobody writes broken characters like Shalvis, IMO. To see my First Look, click here. If you want to read my Animal Magnetism restrospective that I also did for Heroes and Heartbreakers, click here.
I really, really enjoyed this story. And remember how just a few seconds ago I said nobody writes broken characters like Shalvis? Yeah, well, Gary wrote a really good broken character in Callie. I mean, seriously. That woman had been through the freaking wringer. And Everett? Oh, I loved me some Everett. I’d so been hoping these two would get together (even though they’d never met) because something told me they would be perfect for each other (yes, even romance writers sometimes ship characters in other peoples’ series *wink*). So yes, I was quite happy to see Callie and Everett get their very own love story. This one was emotional, funny, and full of all kinds of character growth. Honestly, my biggest pet peeve is the cover. I like the cover, but that’s not Callie and Everett to me. Callie’s being lumped in with the “bad girls,” but she’s totally not. She’s hard to love, she’s kind of broken, she’s wary, but she’s not a “bad girl” (although to be fair, I don’t think Valerie was really all that “bad,” either). Oh, and mad props to Gary on characterizing Callie’s dog so well. He’s an Anatolian Shepherd, and she got his personality and mannerisms DOWN.
I don’t usually read M/M romance, it’s honestly just not my “thing,” but I’ve been a huge fan of the Hard Ink series, and the story line is extremely fast-paced across the series, with each story having super important pieces of information in them that influence the next story. I didn’t want to miss any info, but honestly, I also really liked Jeremy and Charlie’s characters, and it was obvious from the get-go they were going to get together. And honestly, the thing I ended up liking least about the book wasn’t the fact that it was M/M, but rather the fact that I wanted more character development and really wanted more development of their relationship (even though it had been building over the past three books and one other novella). So why four stars? Because it WAS a novella, and thus there was a limited amount of space and time for those things to happen. Within the time and space (read: word count) restraints, Kaye did a really good job of showing us those moments when Jeremy and Charlie really fell hard for one another, while giving us just enough pre-series history to let the reader realize how vulnerable these two really were. All that being said, if someone picked this one up as a standalone, they would probably be confused as all get out because, yeah. Like I said, it’s been a really fast-paced series. I can’t wait for the next (and last :() book to come out.
I adore Christie Ridgway’s books. Just adore them. I love how she mixes humor and serious, and her character development is always fantastic. The members of the Rock Royalty all have loads of back story and unsavory history. They’re all slightly (okay, some of them are really) dysfunctional, and they all have a really hard time letting anyone in. Considering how they were raised, that totally makes sense. Payne’s actually one of the better adjusted Velvet Lemons kids, but even he’s got his demons (mostly thanks to his mom, who did a really good job screwing with his head). Rose has a few demons, too, but nothing like Payne’s. Oh, and did I mention this is a second chance romance? I LOVE second chance romances. Anyway. Payne and Rose? Awesome. Oh, and that cover? Awesomer.
Asa (Marked Men #6) by Jay Crownover – 4 Stars
*sniffle* It’s the end of the Marked Men series. *sniffle* Oh, some of the secondary characters are going to get their own spin-off series, you say? *perks back up* Yeah, this series has been like that. In other words: really good. So, Asa. Oh, Asa. Our southern charmer with looks so good they can’t be real (I mean, seriously, look at that cover), with a rap sheet a mile long and a past that’s filled with dirty deeds. It’s been so fun watching him change over the course of this series, to go from a total asshole in Jet (in which he has a near-death experience…or, rather, a death experience, since his heart literally stops) to a guy getting a second chance in Rome, to a guy you’re starting to like in Nash and Rowdy. Crownover did an amazing job showing Asa’s transformation over the course of the series, to the point where, by the time Rowdy came along, you wanted him to have a second chance and to find love because, hey, the guy’s definitely a changed man. And Royal? I really liked her, too. Have since we first met her in Nash. And come on, who doesn’t love an opposites attract story? I mean, the cop and the guy with a criminal history? That’s pretty opposite, if you ask me.
Oh, the world of horse racing and horse breeding. You know there’s gonna be some drama, and probably some sort of criminal hijinks going on when you enter that particular world. And, yeah, Seasons didn’t disappoint in that regard. Overall, the writing was good. It was an enjoyable story. But…there were times when I was yelling at Shannon and Sean, “You barely know each other!” Yeah, there was insta-lust, but there was almost-insta-love. Meaning, I felt they fell WAY too quickly for one another. By that I don’t mean time-wise (hell, I fell in love with my husband in a very short amount of time, so it happens), but more the fact that they didn’t really know each other. You can be attracted to someone without really knowing them. You can sleep with someone without really knowing them. But you can’t love someone without really knowing them, and it just seemed like all the really big feelings happened way before they truly knew one another. I also thought the way the situation with the criminal element (read: Irish mob) was handled was a bit unrealistic. Yeah, it’s fiction, but I can only suspend my disbelief so much, and I just have a really hard time believing those guys simply backed down the way they did, and that there weren’t any repercussions. That being said, I’ve enjoyed other books by Seasons, and I do have the next book in the series on my wish list.
Um, how have I gone so long without reading any Maisey Yates? I mean, seriously. Her voice is amazing and hilarious, but she does great dealing with the serious stuff, too (this is a theme for me–anyone noticed that yet? *wink*). Sadie and Eli were fantastic characters, and the development of their relationship just felt so incredibly real to me. I love stories where the hero and heroine fight and seem to hate each other, but they’re still attracted to one another anyway (which, let’s face it, is why they’re fighting–because they don’t know what to do with all those feelings). When done right, those stories just hit me in all the feels. And Maisey Yates? Yup, she totally did it right and hit me in all the feels. Again, you’ve got two characters with issues who learn to love each other and let one another in–and for Sadie and Eli that’s not easy. But it’s oh, so rewarding. Seriously, I read some really good books this month (April was a solid month for new releases), but this one was probably my favorite that I read this month.
So, yeah. I’m not sure how I managed to read nine books with everything going on, but I did. Holy crap. Have you read anything good lately? Agree or disagree with me on any of these ratings? Leave a comment and tell me why (or what you read this month that you enjoyed)!