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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-15-18

Emotional Second Chance Love Story

This was such an emotional second chance love story! Faithful Lauren Blakely fans should note that this is not her typical fun and lighthearted romcom. Unbreak My Heart takes readers on a heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting, journey through grief and finding one's true happiness.

The performances by Joe Arden and Erin Mallon were absolutely incredible. I am a huge fan of both narrators, but this is the most emotional title I have ever listened to by either of them. Hearing the pain and heartache in their voices really made this story hit home. Joe Arden's narration as Andrew was especially gut wrenching. The tiny quavers and cracks in his voice as he delivered such heartbreaking words made everything so much more powerful. Though I cried while reading the ebook, I was a hot mess listening to this! The casting for this audiobook could not have been more perfect!

I really loved the overall message of the book about being at peace with yourself, appreciating the people in your life, and living life to the fullest. Happiness is different to every person and seeing Andrew discover not only what brought his brother Ian happiness, but also him finding his own was so beautiful. The tone was definitely more somber and serious for the majority of the book, but I feel it was necessary to see Andrew's full character arc.

His relationship with Holland was so easy and natural, that my heart hurt so much that it had been derailed by timing, distance, and circumstance. Their playful banter and chemistry will make your heart sing and you won't be able to help yourself from rooting for them to find their HEA. I enjoyed both characters, but was very impressed by Holland and her unwillingness to be Andrew's crutch/drug as he healed. She could have easily given into her feelings regardless of the complications, but instead she chose to face the hard truths in the hopes of something even better in the future. Holland was truly a fantastic heroine.

Definitely worth the credit, but make sure to have the tissues ready for this one!

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-12-18

Where Everything Wrong Turns Right

This is such an incredibly heartfelt and wonderful YA coming of age story. Even though I read the ebook, listening to the story made the emotions and moments so much more powerful. This is the first title I have listened to narrated by Kate Rudd, but I really enjoyed it. She performed male and female voices very well and was able to switch seamlessly between youthful teenagers and adults. My favorite voice was definitely Rachel's roommate, Aurora. I did find the pacing of her narration a little slow overall, however, so I did end up listening to this title at 1.25x.

What I loved most about The Accidentals, is that it's such a relatable story. The situations and challenges may not be the same, but the emotions and feelings will resonate with readers/listeners. Haven't we all felt lost and confused? Angry and overwhelmed? Wanting all the answers, but scared of the answers we seek? This book is a love story, but not just in a romantic way. It is also a love story between parent and child, between friends - new and old, and to those we call family - by blood or by choice. The beauty of this book is that each character is so wonderfully human. They make mistakes and horrible decisions. They're sometimes selfish and clueless. They hurt others when that's the last thing they want. What makes these characters endearing though is that they get back up and keep trying. They may not get it right the first time (or the 20th), but they don't give up. Add in a wonderful cast of secondary characters (loved Jake, Ernie, and Aurora!) and you've got something pretty darn close to perfect.

The relationship between Frederick and Rachel evolved through the entire book in such an honest and realistic way. Both had their lives flipped upside down and irrevocably altered so quickly. When we first meet them, there is so much baggage from the past and a minefield of questions and secrets they have to wade through. I loved seeing both characters grow, change, and mature. Hard truths had to be faced and yes, there were some heartbreaking moments as the past and present came together. Through it all though, Sarina Bowen weaves a tale of hope. Hope that where everything wrong turns right. Can't recommend this title enough!

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.*

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-09-18

Intriguing Mystery and Love Story

The Executioner is an emotional and intriguing love story and mystery packed into one. It tells the story of the Creed family, specifically prison guard/executioner Asher, and introduces us to all of his brothers and starts to unravel the mysterious disappearance of his younger sister, Claire. I loved the chemistry and fireworks between quiet and broody Asher and feisty criminal reporter Genevieve. Asher and Gen are both hurting and broken in their own ways because of their pasts, but together they find a connection that neither of them expected. It's the mystery surrounding Claire though that really hooked me into the story. Please note that the author states in the blurb that the family mystery will not be solved until the end of the series.

DC Cole did an incredible job bringing this story to life and I'm amazed how well he can voice female characters, but also sexy, alphas like Asher. Some of the scenes definitely had me fanning myself while listening! There were such emotional scenes in this book and Cole handled them all masterfully with ease.

Much of The Executioner was spent giving us the backstory of the Creed family, Claire's disappearance, and setting up future books in addition to Asher and Gen's love story. Because of this, Asher and Gen's story seemed to stall at times for me, but was overall still very enjoyable. I'm really looking forward to each brother's story (especially Silas!) and though Shauna Allen is a new to me author, I know I will be reading/listening to more!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-02-18

Short and Sweet Novella

The duet narration by Kai Kennicott and Wen Ross is so perfect for Adriana Locke's books! They always bring just the right amount of fun and sexy, but they also pack an emotional punch too. I loved this short and sweet novella about Cross and Kallie.

Cross is a sexy and sweet childhood sweethearts second chance romance. Cross may not be a Gibson (he's Machlan Gibson's best friend), but he is just as sexy and charming. I fell in love with him and Kallie right from the start and couldn't help but root for them to find a way back to each other even when old fears and insecurities resurface. I don't know what it's like to grow up/live in a small town, but I imagine the gossip and having everyone up in your business would be extremely difficult. Like all Adriana Locke books, there are lots of laughs and steamy times, but also wonderful supporting characters too (loved Nora). I wish that it was longer because I couldn't get enough of these two, but I'm really excited for Machlan's book next!

*Note: The audiobook does not contain the short stories Restraint and Crash that are featured in the ebook version.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-02-18

Get Ready for Danger!

Overall 4 stars
Performance 5 stars
Story 3.5 stars

This was an intriguing story that features a hero and heroine who have quite a bit of emotional baggage thanks to their family and past relationships. It starts off with a cryptic psychic prediction that Madison receives,that is woven into the entire plot. I enjoyed the use of horoscopes to set the tone for each chapter. The narration was wonderful and Aaron Shedlock especially shined as our hero Scott. He was able to voice multiple characters so flawlessly and perfectly, that it was easy to distinguish who was speaking. Melissa Moran was just the right amount of sassy and sweet and she voiced Madison wonderfully.

As much as I enjoyed the narration, I never quite got invested in the actual story. I didn't mind the instalove between Scott and Madison, but there were just a few too many extras (characters and sub plots) that distracted me from the main story. It seemed like there was drama just for the sake of drama and even though I am normally a fan of epilogues, having three of them without any significant time jumps in between, seemed really excessive. This was still a sexy listen, with amazing narration, but the story itself fell a little flat for me.

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-16-18

A Light and Sexy Listen

Overall 3.5 stars
Performance 4 stars
Story 3 stars

This was a sweet and sexy younger man/older woman romance. This is my first book by the author and though I did enjoy it, I do wish there would have been more back story and build up for Ren and Stacey. Even just a few glimpses into their earlier friendship/relationship within the last year or two would have been helpful to set the stage for what was to come. Instead, the story starts off with a bang (pun intended), and I felt like I was playing catch up with the emotions for the majority of the story.

I did appreciate that the author was realistic with her portrayal of this trope (the fears, concerns, challenges, and stigma) and found the chapter where Ren's mother confronted Ren and Stacey extremely moving and powerful. I also loved Ren's father and how supportive he was of his son. There wasn't too much external drama and though I liked that the story stayed focused on Ren and Stacey, it also meant that there wasn't much movement to the story/plot. I enjoyed both narrators, but Joe Arden really stole the show. He captured Ren's youthful vulnerability and sexy swagger so perfectly that I really looked forward to his chapters the most. Overall, this was a light and sexy listen.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-11-18

Fun and Sweet Love Story

Overall 4 stars
Performance 5 stars
Story 3.5 stars

This was a fun and sweet love story. There isn't a lot of steam, but there are plenty of tender moments and lots of emotion. Aaron Shedlock narrated the story perfectly and I enjoyed both his male and female voices. He was vulnerable, but fiery as Felicity, but also arrogant and charming as Kade. I liked that there wasn't too much drama between our hero and heroine, but rather it focused more on external drama that they had to face (both individually and together). There is instalove between our characters and the story was predictable, but it was still an enjoyable listen. There are several tropes used in the story - fake relationship, employer/employee taboo, sports, quiet heroine/reformed player, etc. They all worked well together though and the story left me with a smile on my face.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-11-18

Perfect Narrators for this Romcom!

I completely loved this sweet and hilarious romantic comedy! Erin Mallon and Zachary Webber were absolutely PERFECT as April and Theo! I don't think any other duo could have pulled off this story as well as these two. Both narrators perform male and female voices so well and they brought just the right amount of sweet and sexy to this story. I just love their voices together!

The Real Deal was exactly what I was looking for and I couldn't get enough of April and Theo! The fake boyfriend/boyfriend for hire trope is always fun and Lauren Blakely executed it perfectly! The backdrop of the Hamilton family reunion and games kept the story light and fun and really gave April and Theo time to connect and shine without the drama of their every day lives. They had incredible chemistry (Gah! The build up was delicious!) and I couldn't help but have a huge grin on my face while reading this book. Their banter and witty comebacks were fantastic and I loved each and every one of their "Do you remember..." stories.

One of the best parts of the book though was the Hamilton clan! I especially loved all of April's female relatives! They had me laughing out loud with their good intentioned meddling and it brought some great comic relief when things got a little heavier. I really appreciated that though there is some drama and angst, it didn't overrun the story and created just the right amount of push and pull. The epilogue was wonderfully sweet and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect ending! Even if you've read the book, I definitely recommend listening to the audio as well!

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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-10-18

I'm Still Swooning for Tucker

Of the 4 Off Campus books, this one seems to be the most polarizing. I almost never see anyone giving The Goal or Tucker any love, so I honestly didn't go into this one with very high hopes. Plus, I wasn't sure how to feel after learning the major plot point of Tucker's story at the end of The Score. Well folks, I completely loved Tucker's story! I've always been firmly #TeamGarrett, but Tucker REALLY gave Garrett a run for his money! Though the book can be read/listened to as a stand alone, it's best enjoyed in order since previous characters do appear.

Tucker was pretty much the perfect book boyfriend. Sweet, loyal, smart, honest, considerate, loving, and an all around good guy. Throw in handsome, sexy, and an alpha personality in the bedroom and holy smokes! There really was so much to love about him and though some will no doubt knock him for being whipped or head over heels for Sabrina, I found all the things he did and said really endearing. I both listened to and read this one and can I just say that Andrew Eiden was absolutely PERFECT as Tucker!? He had just the right amount of sweetness and sexy and don't even get me started on the southern drawl. *swoon*

I really felt like Sabrina got a raw deal in how people perceived her. Just because someone is driven, keeps to themselves, and is not overly affectionate/expressive, doesn't mean they're aloof or a cold hearted b*tch. Her whole life she had to fight and claw her way out on her own, doing whatever she needed to so that she could achieve her goals. I respected the heck out of her. Did she make some mistakes along the way? Yes, but who doesn't? I thought Elle Kennedy did a great job too, with her honest and real portrayal of the major decision Sabrina and Tucker faced. I personally liked Sabrina a lot and though her and Tucker seemed so different in the beginning, by the end, I could see how they actually were really wonderful together.

The epilogue was the perfect way to bring this series to a close and I loved how it brought the books full circle. It was so clever of Elle Kennedy to write the books so that they would overlap at certain times in the timeline. It was awesome to see some scenes from an alternate POV and see how that character experienced and perceived those same events. I always love all the cameos from our previous characters as well. Off Campus is truly a wonderful NA series, and I'm so glad that a spin off series is already in the works and coming soon!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-10-18

Not My Favorite Off Campus Hero

Overall 4 stars
Performance 4 stars
Story 3.5 stars

I'm so glad that I finally took the time to officially meet Dean. After being introduced to him in The Deal, I was hoping there was more to him than just a manwhore hockey player. Well, he was those things (insert eye roll), but I'm happy to say that he was also more than that too. He's definitely not my favorite Off Campus hero, but I did enjoy his story and his banter with Allie.

I both loved and hated Dean. He was crass and boorish at times, but he also knew what he wanted and was unapologetic about it. He did have his sweet moments, but most of the time, he was either having sex, trying to have sex, thinking about sex, playing hockey, or partying. Honestly, it got a little old after a while. He did have fantastic chemistry with Allie though and I enjoyed their playful back and forth. Speaking of Allie, I wasn't sure how to feel about her in the beginning, but I was happy with her progression through the book. Both her and Dean matured through the story, but I admired Allie for stepping back and really finding herself and standing on her own. One of my favorite things about this series is that the characters from the previous books appear since the timeline of the books are all within the same time frame/overlap. I will never tire of more swoony Garrett or hilarious Logan. That scene when Logan "meets" Winston and the ensuing teasing had me laughing out loud!

This friends with benefits/secret relationship romance was an entertaining read/listen, but the overall pacing felt a bit slow and I didn't devour it the same way I did The Deal. I was glad though that the push and pull at the end wasn't drawn out, but was surprised and heartbroken at the cause of this downward spiral. The book ends a little abruptly with a bombshell from Tucker and I'm excited to see how that plays out in The Goal.

I both read and listened to this one and though both narrators did a great job, I can't say that I loved them. I enjoyed Andrew Eiden's performance more than Savannah Peachwood's, but as wonderful as it was, I almost felt like he was too sweet for cocky and arrogant Dean. Overall, still a great listen and I can't wait to meet Tucker!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful