When Ashes Fall by Marni Mann

Published: January 15th 2019
Type: Stand-alone, no cliffhanger
Author: Marni Mann
Get the book at Barnes & Noble
Read : 4 February 2020
Shelved : 5 February 2020
Get it here: Amazon US | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Audible
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“No, I don’t want to run. Unless it’s toward you, and then my answer is yes.”

― Alix, When Ashes Fall

Synopsis

It’s been said that you can’t love two men at the same time.
You can’t split your heart, soul, and body in half.
But I’m here to tell you, you can.
Dylan Cole is like ice, sharp and unpredictable, the thunder inside a tumultuous storm.
Smith Reid is warmth, soft and gentle, perfect like a sunny day.
Both are mine.
But I can have only one.
There are two sides to this tale.
I’m here to tell you mine.
If you think this story is about a cheater, you couldn’t be more wrong. 


Review

The Characters.
Alix Rayne, a 911 dispatcher and ex-first responder, is the main heroine whose job is all about being in the thicket of disaster and trauma. She is takes one day at a time as she battle her own demons that was splashed all over the news that fateful April 2013 day. This incident handicapped her from anything and everything to move on with her life. She was torn up inside between the love two men – one who comes during the day and another during night – the unpredictable, commanding Dylan Cole and the patient, compassionate Smith Reid. She wasn’t ready to let go either of them.

Dylan is a private airplane pilot and comes from money versus Alix’s humble living. Buth both were so drawn on each other upon first meeting that they loved each other immediately.

Smith is a lawyer who had a rough childhood. He works hard and makes sure to keep “on the right side of the law”. Smith met Alix when he called 911 and Alix helps him calm down as the ambulance arrives. During their talks, they end up agreeing to meet and go on a date. 

If you think about it, it seems so easy to judge on which one Alix should be with, right?

The Plot.
The story was pretty unexpected. I thought I was dealing with:
1) the case of a bi-polar/Alzheimer (reminded me 50 1st dates) woman who is married and has forgotten etc
2) a badly traumatized woman who was cheated on and has yet to recover the divorce, or
3) an afterlife / reincarnation confused state for Alix
All of those were possibilities…but no! This is NOT one of those stories.

Instead it dove into the paranormal and spiritual side of losing your “soul-mate” that I was overwhelmed with grief.

The Verdict.
This one got to me, most especially since the tragedy was a real and relatable on how many lives were lost that day. The language is very raw and intense.

It was heartbreaking but you see how the heroine really fought through all her “demons” with the help of love and friends. I love how Alix’s character developed and although it was killing me on how long the answers were coming for Dylan, I really felt that it was all worth the wait. I love how it all can say that you can love two persons so passionately without having to give up either one of them. It is true of any tragedy.

The ending is not what I thought of and that’s great! I may be a bit disappointed in assuming so simple where it all boiled down to a bigger meaning to love and loss.

I love love love it…thank you, Marni, for sharing Alix, Dylan and Smith’s story for us and show us the other side of PTSD.

“A pilot once told me, he always hoped for sunny days. They were the easiest and safest and the flights with the least amount of concern.” “In some way or another, that’s what we all hope for.”

― Marni Mann, When Ashes Fall

Boston Strong!!!


About Marni Mann

Marni Mann, USA Today Bestselling author, knew she was going to be a writer since middle school. While other girls her age were daydreaming about teenage pop stars, Marni was fantasizing about penning her first novel. She crafts sexy, titillating stories that weave together her love of darkness, mystery, passion, and human emotions. A New Englander at heart, she now lives in Sarasota, Florida, with her husband and their two dogs, who have been characters in her books. When she’s not nose deep in her laptop, working on her next novel, she’s scouring for chocolate, sipping wine, traveling, or devouring fabulous books.

Connect with Marni
Facebook | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads | Bookbub

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Published bySimon & Schuster/Gallery 
Publish on: May 14, 2019
Category: Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Series: Standalone, no cliffhanger
Author: Christina Lauren
Read: 5 February 2020
Shelved: 5 February 2020
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Get it at Christina Lauren’s website | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky. 

With Christina Lauren’s “uniquely hilarious and touching voice” (Entertainment Weekly), The Unhoneymooners is a romance for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.


Review

“Don’t threaten me with a good time.”

― Olive in The Unhoneymooners

With quotes like that, you know that it’s going to be a hot, sizzling and snickering story on the way. It is a really hilarious book, especially just from the title. It is very cute and witty. Quotes like the below got me smirking left and right since I get it…when love-hate happens.

“Rumor has it your dad brought her flowers and she pulled off every petal and used them to spell PUTA in the snow.”

― Olive in The Unhoneymooners

The Plot.
I find the story creatively done and well put together. The setting and description were spot-on and I can feel the sights and sounds of each of the places Olive and Ethan visited. It was good honest writing that I wondered if the authors have been to the resort themselves at one point.

The Characters & Chemistry.
I like the humor invoked by Olive and Ethan. It was easy enough to relate with the enemies become friends sort of plot. My approach to the book is a lighthearted one so I didn’t expect much and just wanted humor.

“I can appreciate my body in a bikini and still want to set fire to the patriarchy.”

― Olive in The Unhoneymooners

The one thing that got to me was how Ethan didn’t really side with Olive when all the cards shows otherwise (i.e. Olive seeing how Ethan’s brother, Dane, was treating the people around him as like “push-overs”). I appreciate the realization and rationalization of Olive to her sister’s predicament but at the end of it all, being Olive (the honest and truthful one, even if unlucky at times) Torres, she spills out every truth in her – to her boss, sister and even Ethan.

“I knew he was a book lover, but to be the same kind of book lover I am? It makes my insides melt.”

― Olive in The Unhoneymooners

My Verdict.
I love the concept of family standing beside you and rallying for you when things get grim so that is very good. It was fun seeing the dynamics of each family member during times of need and at the end, family love rules all of them…even between sisters. The humor is superb and gets me each time I read through it. It is a good stand-alone lovely story with a fun and touching ending. 


Meet Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates/brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels. Their books have been translated into 30+ languages. (Some of these books have kissing. Some of these books have A LOT of kissing.)

Connect with Christina Lauren
Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Bookbub | Goodreads
Join their reader group here

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

Published on: June 13th 2017
Published by: St. Martin’s Griffin
Type: Stand-alone, no cliffhanger
AuthorRobinne Lee
Read : 1 February 2020
Shelved : 3 February 2020
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Get them here: Amazon , Macmillan Publishing, Barnes & Noble

“I’m really happy when I’m with you. I get the feeling you feel the same way. And if that’s true, I don’t think you should give a fuck about what people may or may not think of our age difference. Furthermore, if our ages were reversed, no one would bat an eyelash. Am I right? So now it’s just some sexist, patriarchal crap, and you don’t strike me as the kind of woman who’s going to let that dictate her happiness. All right? Next issue…”

— Hayes Campbell

Synopsis

When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.


Review

**Be warned: some spoilers and whining included**

The Characters.
Sol is the wonderful single mother to Isabelle who found her way into the arms of a young, upcoming singer, Hayes, of August Moon. After being in a loveless relationship, she is swept into a relationship that is so encompassing and new that she feared to even step into the first place. She later discovers that there was no way not to try to give it a chance and somehow found the lover that she has been wishing all along.

Hayes is the wild but young lead singer of August Moon whose taste in women runs older. He found himself pursuing Sol, a single parent of one of his fan winners, and started a steady relationship.

The Plot.
The romance is amazingly fast but maybe for Sol, been around long enough to spot things, isn’t as surprising to her. Hayes is all about the whirlwind and the glamour of the relationship. Robinne pushes the boundaries of “younger man – older woman” relationship well in this book. It looked so seamless without it looking too “forced” which is rare. I enjoyed the visual descriptions of the places the meet up and I’m happy to see both of them trying to make things work even with a hectic schedule. It was a feast to see them learn about each other more.
I like the comedy infused in the coming-together of Sol and Hayes. Lines like below just get me cracking up and loving the “teenage-dream” sort of fantasy for the both of them.

“I can come to your place.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I’d said…
“You don’t want me to see where you live? What are you hiding over there? Another boy band?”
“Yes. You’ve found me out. I’ve got the Backstreet Boys in the attic.”
He paused for a second and then began to laugh. “The Backstreet Boys? How old are you again?”
“Shut up, Hayes.”
“You sure you don’t have the Monkees over there as well?”
“I’m hanging up.” 

~ Hayes, The Idea of You

Together, both characters seem to be as stable as they come with regards to each other but upon further look, each one has their own hang-ups – Sol with the trappings of being with a megastar like Hayes; Hayes trying to convince Sol each time that she was his forever. Add to that, the media hounding and disrupting Sol’s daughter’s life, it was truly too much to handle and I think that turned everything around to how it all ended.

The Verdict.
I was looking forward to this book since the writing is quite nice – based on locations. I am so not agreeing with the ending since I was hoping this ending would be a more “revolutionary one” wherein both of them will end up with each other and setting the stage of making the difference on how similar stories are happening around us now.

I feel for them. I believe that I would also be so torn between the love she has from Hayes vs the love for her child. It seems so unfair to have both and show the world that a woman can be a loving and supportive mother while at the same time have a loving partner to support her.

I am frustrated that her ex-husband gets his happy-ending while she has to suffer for what she didn’t know she wanted but later really do want. She’s put in such a spot that a train-wreck was unfolding right in front of me.

I’m putting this out there…it is so NOT FAIR!!! I want to be able to read a strong woman like Sol beat out the odds against her with her personal life like how she does it with her gallery but I guess that’s one way to end a story (or is it??) that would finally put to rest the rest of the characters.

“I’m saying it because I love you.”
He was quiet, weighing the moment. And then he smiled, wide. “What took you so long?”
I laughed. “I was just making sure it was you, and not the idea of you.”

~ Sol, The Idea of You

I am so affected/gutted with the whole book. Wrecked…I tell you so wrecked!
I invested so much on both characters…plus with passages like the one below that just tore me apart and stunned me.

“And then one day, they stopped.
Long, long before I had stopped loving him.”

~ Sol’s side, The Idea of You

It’s a very heavy and gut-wrenching book for me but I think it’s healthy enough to recommend since it pulls all your emotions then somehow settles you with the characters decision in the end. I really really wished them both well and love them both for whatever reason they did what they did.


Robinne Lee is an actor, writer and producer. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, Robinne was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. Robinne has numerous acting credits in both television and film, most notably opposite Will Smith in both Hitch and Seven Pounds. She recently completed shooting Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, playing Ros Bailey. Robinne currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. The Idea of You is her first novel. 

Connect with Robinne
Facebook | Amazon | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Website

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Author: Abby Jimenez
Series: The Friend Zone Book 1
Published on: 11 June 11th 2019
Published by: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
(Sub)genres: Contemporary Romance
Get it at: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Google Books
Read: 28 January 2020
Shelved: 29 January 2020
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis

Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.


Review

The Characters.

Kristen is a strong, smart independent woman who runs an online boutique selling toy-dog-related merchandise and is “making a killing” on it. She lives alone but is a long-distance relationship with Tyler, a Marine who is stationed overseas, for several years. She is best friends with Sloan, who is about to get married, and being the maid of honor, she is tasked to help with a lot of the wedding preparations. She has issues with her controlling mother, who is her total opposite and is a Supreme Court judge. Kristen has made it her mission, not to follow her mother’s footsteps.

Josh: is the firefighter, who moved all the way from East to West to get away from his past mistakes and lead a simple, no relationship life. His move to the fire station with is best friend, Mike, who is Sloan’s fiance. In between his work at the fire station, he finds extra work to supplement his income by taking up carpentry work with Kristen for her online store.

Stuntman Mike: the cuddly little terrier of Kristen who is the model and inspiration of the online store. that stole the show/book for me. I can read so many books after this but I will always remember this little guy’s cute wooden stairs that helped fund Kristen to work and stay at home. Plus he’s too adorable with his “pick-up” shirts.

The Verdict.

I laughed, cried and cried some more. I really got the characters and their issues.

For Kristen is sorting her internal issues…
1.) her acceptance of her infertility issues,
2.) her strained relationship with her mother that made her do the opposite of anything mother says/advises
3.) her fear/anxiety of starting to “finalize” the moving-in with Tyler (who I also think his own issues of moving back to civilian life that explains why he enlisted**), and
4.) her growing feelings for Josh that everyone sees in some way.
I felt though that Kristen took so much longer in trying to find herself that made the book a times dragging but hey, I’m all for Josh’s patience and persistence.

**On Tyler…I can’t believe Tyler would do what he did. He’s a pure prick in stringing along Kristen and not tell her of what was happening then spring marriage in the works when he gets home. It all sounds too controlling to even make the proposal sincere; let alone serious.

The writing is solid though some parts are dragging as mentioned above. I enjoyed the Pulp Fiction references and the “velocirapture” coming out of Kristen – I can visualize this well – the Jurassic Park dinosaurs coming out as it is. To me, it is pretty hilarious and gives the reader a very very good idea on Kristen’s personality when provoked.

The highs matches the lows of the book…though the ending of Kristen and Josh’s story got overshadowed by Sloan as we came to the last chapter. This is one of the rare books that you begin to feel so much more than the heroes mentioned. I also cried ugly in shock for Sloan and Brandon since this book is all about Kristen and Josh’s story then to see something so horrific to happen to the supporting characters is just ‘mind blowing’ that I didn’t function for days after reading this. A good rounding out to transition to the next book.

I’m glad to know that Abby worked on a sequel since she cannot leave Sloan the way she did in the end of this book. I cannot wait for the next book since Sloan’s story will evolve in a different direction, I am sure. 


Abby Jimenez is a Food Network winner and USA Today best selling author with her hit debut novel The Friend Zone. She founded Nadia Cakes out of her home kitchen back in 2007. The bakery has since gone on to win numerous Food Network competitions and has amassed an international cult following. Abby’s wry literary wit was spotlighted as the admin behind the hilarious viral comments on the now famous Nadia Cakes Vageode ® cake.

Abby loves a good romance, coffee, doglets, and not leaving the house. 

Connect with Abby
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon