Why I read it: I was provided with a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Champion kickboxer Haley swore she’d never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can’t stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she’d stay away from. Yet he won’t last five seconds in the ring without her help.
West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it’s his fault his family is falling apart. He can’t change the past, but maybe he can change Haley’s future.
Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they’ll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.
*Spoilers for previous books in the series follow. Be ye warned.*
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I quite liked West in the previous book in the series, Crash Into You. West was good looking, a little cocky and therefore not perfect, but he also tries hard, in his own way, to help his family. Unfortunately, he feels his actions always lead to disaster and he perceives himself to be a failure. In fact, given that he was always told he was conceived in order to be a bone marrow match for his then-dying sister Colleen (he was not a match), he feels he has been a failure from birth. He resents his dad, who spends almost all of his time working and most all of what attention is left over is for West’s mum. West wants his attention sure, but he also wants his dad to step up and be a more active dad. Then maybe West won’t feel like it’s up to him to fix things for everyone. Then maybe West won’t muck up as much. West is impulsive (which often gets him into trouble) and, after he gets into yet another fight at school, he is finally expelled. His dad, fed up with the drama from West, confronts him, they have a nasty fight and West is thrown out.
Why I read it: I’m a fan of Katie McGarry’s books. This book is available free from Harlequin or Amazon.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) In Red at Night, Stella and Jonah are total opposites. She’s the girl with purple hair from the wrong part of town. He’s a high school senior who hangs with the cool crowd. Until a car accident leaves him haunted by guilt, and Jonah starts spending time at Stella’s favorite refuge…the local cemetery.
Stella knows she should keep her distance—after all, she spent her girlhood being bullied by Jonah’s friends. Once he’s sorted out his tangled emotions, Jonah won’t have time for her anymore. Too bad she’s already fallen for him.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): Inspired by Nikki Berta who runs the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation which provides free shoes to children in Nevada (and they get to choose their own shoes from a wide selection), this story is part of Harlequin’s More Than Words project.
Both Stella and Jonah are in their senior year of high school Stella lives with the sometime-girlfriend of her father. Her father is mostly absent and her and Joss (the sometime-girlfriend) are not remotely wealthy. Joss tells Stella not to dream or hope because people like them are destined to stay where they are and college and getting out from under is for other people.
OMG! AMAZEBALLS I am currently in the lead of the DABWAHA tournament. This has NEVER happened before and will likely NEVER happen again so I’m milking it for ALL IT’S WORTH.
As a Dear Author reviewer I don’t think I’m eligible to actually win but bragging rights are happiness-causing 😀
Lookee here: Proof!!
Click to embiggen
Also, everybody should go vote for Dare You To and keep me in the lead!! 😀
Why I read it: I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley but I’m also a fan of the series.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.
Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.
But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I have always liked Isaiah since I first met him in Pushing the Limits. As much as I loved Dare You To, enjoyed Beth’s romance with Ryan and thought that the author was right; Beth and Isaiah should not be together, I was still a bit sad for Isaiah. I felt he got a bit of a raw deal. So, I was excited to read his story – where he finally gets his happy.
As expected, it was hard won and I had some nervous moments wondering how the author was going to achieve it (but she totally did) and in the process I met a wonderful heroine in Rachel, her yummy brothers (who I hope to see again in future books – especially West please) as well as more of Logan (may we have his book also? pretty please?) and had the opportunity to check in with Beth and Ryan and Noah and Echo. I felt all of the characters had an organic place in the book and as much as I was happy to see previous characters again, I’m also happy they were present because they had things to do relevant to the story being told.
The other day I was pondering why some books work better for me than others; why some books leave me dissatisfied at the end, even when they meet the genre conventions of the HEA. Perhaps I’d had too much pizza but I came up with what I like to call “the bell curve of the HEA“. (*I’m aware that it’s not actually a bell curve, but it is a curve and it sounds good so I’m keeping it. Also, maths isn’t my strong suit. Go with me here.)
It isn’t an absolute answer, but it does go toward explaining why some books don’t work for me.
In most romance novels (perhaps this is true of other genres also but I’m sticking with what I know), the “happiness graph” might look something like this: