Saturday, May 30, 2020

Review: Stranded

Stranded Stranded by Jessica Frances
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Review of Book 2(ish) - New Series From Claire Kingsley

Title: Fighting for Us
Author: Claire Kingsley
Release Date: May 28, 2020

 > ABOUT < 
How long would you wait for the love of your life? 

The Asher Bailey who comes home to his quirky small town isn’t the same man who put a ring on Grace’s finger. He’s bigger, harder, haunted. Forced to give up Grace and everything else that was good in his life for a prison sentence he barely survived.  

Now that he’s home, he finds himself aggressively welcomed by his brothers and gleefully gossiped about by his neighbors. He’d counted on both. 

But he never expected to see Grace still wearing his ring. 

Grace’s fairy tale didn’t end. It was interrupted. She’s spent the last seven years living her life while waiting for one man. Now that he’s back, she’s got her work cut out for her. He’s scarred and angry, and stubbornly convinced they can’t be together. She’s more than happy to educate him otherwise. 

Every beer, every prank, every kiss brings him closer to where he’s always belonged. In her life. In her arms. In her heart. 

Asher fears the darkness inside him can’t be contained. But Grace won’t give up on him without a fight. 

Author’s note: A brooding, wounded hero and the woman who won’t give up on him. A pack of unruly, prank-loving brothers. A wild neighborhood rumor mill. Spectacular BFF banter. This is a love story about soulmates that delivers the heat and all the feels. The Bailey Brothers series is meant to be read in order and Fighting for Us concludes Grace and Asher’s happily ever after. 

My Review

Okay let's start with an update on book 1. Which I will now refer to as origin story 0. Because I really feel like you can jump into this book 2 (which is 1 to me).  Although I did enjoy the origin story. It had great set up for star crossed lovers and introduction for world building, for me it's not 'essential'. Meaning you don't read 1, you won't understand 2. I'm probably a very small group of readers and fangirls I can feel the glares. But honestly, this book adds to the readers enjoyment. I will nod that yes, it gives more insight to why the heroine is willing to wait, and proceeds with caution. So to those readers, yes, read book 1 if you want to understand the heroine better. For me, the heart of the story is in book 2 and I feel like there is alot of story in book 2. If you want to skip, okay I'm not one to stop you. 

Now that you have read Protecting Us review update, you are ready for Book 2. It's the chance to get to know Asher and Grace as adults who have a lot of unresolved feelings seven years later. Iron bars and concrete have kept these lovers apart. To protect their sanity and hearts, each has done the 'right thing' for the time when they can be together.

Grace suffers rejection affection from Asher on a repeated basis. But she believes in the power of time and love to heal all things. Grace is a character with the patience in boatloads to help Asher unpack the baggage he carries from the prison sentence.

To give the poor man a break, Asher really is a ship without a sail, oar, helm, or set of flippers to navigate these choppy waters of 'normal' life. Everything that was 'before' is now not on the map. Before he can really love Grace as she deserves, he needs to find a way to navigate this new course.

The couple has the help of entertaining secondary characters that will have their own time as the series continues. Ms. Kingsley has left us with 'just enough' interest and details to get to know them more.

Readers are gifted a story that guarantees a happily ever after that is riddled with a bumpy ride getting there. You may wish to shake or wrap up in a blanket this book boyfriend. However, Grace is not one to stand aside when going gets tough, and pushes back on track when she needs to get them to seeing course through the storm.

Excited for the next in series as this character was deliciously on the fringes to tantalize the reader to ask for more.

Recommendation: Read It   🌟🌟🌟🌟

Review Updated: 
I felt rather "reviewer shamed" in a post over on the book of face. It wasn't directed at me. As a group admin on FB, I do ask myself a question: Is this a post I would have my name on or the person who this group represents, would they post it? I figured, okay they want to know why write a 'glowing' review and not be five-stars.  Let's remember - not every book will hit the perfect notes for each reader.  However, out of the conversation, I did find a few responses with a grading scale that makes sense to me and I'll adopt.

Why the reduction in stars?  Short story version:  I never got my 'swoon moment for the couple'.

Long Story Version: The response may get spoilery so read with caution. 
I felt like the story flow slowed down considerably for me at 70%. I got the reader fatigue with the push-away. spoiler > For me there was one too many scenes of push-away. I get that Asher didn't feel worthy but at the same time, you do learn from repetition. The story stretched at the fire of Grace's house. Rather than yet another push away I would have like to have seen the story move onto seeing the hero have his 'ah-ha' moment early, work on the grand gesture and get to the grand gesture to have those reader swoon moments I'd like to have. I caught a case of reader fatigue and never felt the swoon moment- just happy to reach a conclusion.
There was a secondary subplot that didn't feel as necessary and ended with anti-climatic feelings for me. spoiler> The Reaper subplot felt too long and had a second act peak, but then rather fizzled at the tail for me. I understand the introduction to get for Asher's point for a new normal that worked for him. We got tension moments that ended on a fizzle out.  For me as reader having this subplot line added length to the story without adding some quality meatiness to the story IMHO.

Again this is definitely a story I'd recommend reading as the set up of world-building is intriguing and appears to bring a host of characters.

Start with Protecting You, FREE to read with Kindle Unlimited

Read book two, Fighting for Us, today FREE with your Kindle Unlimited subscription. 

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Claire Kingsley is an Amazon Top 10 bestselling author of sexy, heartfelt contemporary romance and romantic comedies. She writes books with sassy, quirky heroines, swoony heroes who love their women hard, panty-melting sexytimes, romantic happily ever afters, and lots of big feels.
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Saturday, May 23, 2020

I don't judge a book by it's cover but by the number of pages

I have this sweet spot in reading. This perfect length for a Saturday romance read. I love being able to pick up a book in the early morning, devour 4 - 6 hours of my day and be perfectly content with another happily ever after in my world.

I am a faster reader, so page length can be a variable. Ideal 275-350 pages. 375 starts a dicey area, but as long as the story is engaging, chemistry builds on itself, and we have forward movement in the plot. I'll load it to my eReader. But when I see 400 pages, dread sets in. 

I have book friends that LOVE the slow burn in storytelling. Bring on the angst (you know how I feel about angst). Yet, I see a beautiful cover, enticing blurb, friends raving, glowing reviews - 433 pages? 

Yeah. I pull my hand back and move on. Why? I guess I am not in it for the long haul as a reader.

To be honest, I think this preference was established with reading graphic novels and TV sitcom format of the '90s. The three-act story structure that most contemporary romance writers implement appeals to me: Introduction, middle conflict, climax, and resolution.  What I have found with the longer Contemporary Romance stories, the readers are in the middle conflict for the long haul. For me, personally, conflict can be wearing. Authors can introduce humorous scenes, side storylines, hint at future stories to be added - and do so magically. I don't notice the 25-30 pages.

But keep me in middle conflict too long? You've lost me to the skim.

Cringe. I know. That's such a disservice to the story. But I'm ready to move onto the third act.

Before you go over to Goodreads and wag the 400+ page books I've loved, note what genre they are. Most likely, they are Historical or Paranormal. Because I don't currently live in those worlds if the author uses an introduction to build my understanding of the problem set up. Again - I don't live there. So I need to understand how the characters got there. Thus the tail on the W is what I can accept as a reader and don't feel like I'm getting- well - bored. 

 Okay. I see the confusion on your face. Time for some graphics I am borrowing from Darrell Wolfe, who borrowed from Mary Carroll-Moore. 

In the bottom graphic, that tail for the problem set up fits in paranormal or historical as I may not be familiar with the day to day workings of the world. Whereas with a contemporary romance, you tell me the heroine is a waitress, I don't need 10 pages of her past to understand where she fits in the world of NOW. I know I exaggerate, but you get the point. However, I think the 'mistake' made by these longer contemporary romance stories is that we stay so long in the center of the W - problem recovery and the problem worsens, that the relief I feel with reaction fails is short-lived. Or worse just  on a repeat until we climb back out.

Why am I telling you this? I had a conversation with my husband today. I was trying to explain my concern with posts within the author groups I follow about the difference of: 

  • I wrote 4K today
  • I am 4K within my novel goal

I've had the pleasure of alpha, and beta read for authors that you have heard me discuss previously. In this experience, it's never about a final page number goal. It's about these authors wanting to get to this 'point' in the story. Whether the story is 18K or 60K doesn't matter, it's getting the story told as it unfolds that is of importance to these authors.

I worry because what I see not only in the posts of the authors I am interested in, but the page counts of who Kindle Unlimited recommends to me. There is a trend to these longer 400+ pages tomes. I love a well-told, long novel such as Kindle Alexander's Always and Forever duet. But I see a purpose in the extra pages because it spans 20 years of their lives.  '

Maybe this trend I see is a blip in the universe.  But I seem to be skimming more than not. Why?

 Brass Tacks: Because we are in the center of the W too long and I want out.

So, when I buy a novel, yes, I look at the cover, blurb, and reviews, and the actual fact, the page number is going to now factor in my purchasing decisions. It's not a reflection of my book friends' suggestion or an author's previous appeal as a storyteller. It boils down to personal preference on the immersive quality and how the author handles the center of the W.

 I will be hesitant to try an unknown to me 400+ anymore.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Start a new Family Saga TONIGHT - Release and Review of Protecting You

Title: Protecting You
Author: Claire Kingsley
Release Date: May 21, 2020

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Add Fighting for Us to your TBR:

One night brings them together. Another night tears them apart.

Grace Miles misses her easy friendship with Asher, but growing up means growing apart. And really, how could he fall for her when they spent their childhood getting muddy in the creek and splitting sticks of gum?

But this summer, something feels different. If Grace didn’t know better, she’d think Asher was flirting with her. Those dark eyes, hard body, and wicked smile make her insides swirl and her heart dare to hope for things she’s convinced herself she’ll never have.

Falling for your best friend shouldn’t be complicated, but for Asher Bailey, loving Grace is anything but simple. The road to romance isn’t smooth thanks to his pack of wild brothers who are protective of the girl next door, a take-no-sass grandmother, a small town where gossip is a spectator sport, and a feud that spans generations.

But Asher realizes his feelings are too big to ignore. Loving her isn’t the risk. Losing her would be.

And one night, one kiss, changes everything.

Finally admitting their feelings is the beginning of their happily ever after. Until their fairy tale love story is tragically interrupted, and neither of them will ever be the same.

Author’s note: Lifelong soulmates, ridiculous pranks, brother shenanigans, and a feuding town. Protecting You is the Bailey Brothers series origin story. Be there when it begins and fall in love with this wild band of unruly brothers. The series is meant to be read in order, and Grace and Asher’s story concludes in Fighting for Us.

Start with Protecting You, FREE to read with Kindle Unlimited:

My Review

Ready for the next book. This is everything that fans of Claire Kingsley are looking for to set up this new series to dive head first into.

There you go. What more do you want?

Okay fine. Let's talk series, series cross-over, tears, and other reader expectations.

Do you have to read the Miles Family series before this one? No. But you would be dumb not to. Let's say you choose no. This is the origin story of the Bailey family and the town of Tilikum. Here we learn about all those little known facts and inside jokes so we will feel part of the family once the series takes off. HOWEVER, there will be a cross over from the Miles connection and you will be sad you don't know that family. Let's avoid that unnecessary drama and read the Miles Family first.

Tears? Nope, not heavy angst or ugly cry here.  This story ends at the point where you know (because you took my advice above) this was coming. I wasn't sad but more excited for where this story is going. However, I can see if you didn't take my advice above and start here, I can see this book would leave you forlorn. But trust the romance. We are getting book 2 soon and all the joyful HEA our reader hearts come to expect.

My advice- Grab a copy, a glass of favorite reading drink and spend a few hours to indulge in the start of another family of love stories.

Recommendation: Read It

Enter the double signed paperback giveaway here 

Claire Kingsley is an Amazon Top 10 bestselling author of sexy, heartfelt contemporary romance and romantic comedies. She writes books with sassy, quirky heroines, swoony heroes who love their women hard, panty-melting sexytimes, romantic happily ever afters, and lots of big feels.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Need Some Naughty In Your Life? Check out these six free books!

Title: TAKE ME TO BED: A Collection of Naughty Bedtime Stories
Authors: Michelle Windsor - Lydia Michaels - Melanie Moreland - Desiree Holt - Ainsley Booth - Sienna Snow 
Release Date: May 5, 2020

Spend the night with not one, but six leading men from

Michelle Windsor | Lydia Michaels | Melanie Moreland
Desiree Holt | Ainsley Booth | Sienna Snow
The Winning Bid by Michelle Windsor
Billionaire Drew is rich, handsome, and dominant, runs an international chain of resorts and has little time to pursue pleasure so he buys it at an auction held at a secret club. The last thing he expected was to fall in love with a sub for hire.
Almost Priest by Lydia Michaels
Colin is making his Holy Orders at the end of summer. But when his brother brings home a woman, he’s suddenly rethinking his devotion to the church and his loyalty to his family. Big drama in a small town leads to one scandalous, taboo summer…
The Boss by Melanie Moreland
Terrified and on the run, I was lost. He found me. I witnessed his crime and he gave me a choice. Marriage or death. I never expected to love him. But the choices were never really mine.
Personal Delivery by Ainsley Booth
Jana’s got a crush on the new SwiftEx delivery guy, Jake. What they don’t know--what nobody knows--is that Jake Aston is not a regular delivery driver. When the billionaire goes undercover on the front lines to better understand his new company, the last thing expects is to fall for the cute illustrator on his new route.
Runaway Billionaire by Desiree Holt
When Kyle is sent to scope out a tiny B&B on the beach, he’s hardly prepared for Pepper, who launches herself at him with a hot kiss and introduces him as her intended. Maybe she can save him from his matchmaking parents before reality rears its ugly head and nearly destroys it all.
Sweetest Sin by Sienna Snow
She's the woman of my dreams. The one I never should have touched. The one who owns my soul. There is nothing I wouldn't do to keep her. Even play a game, where the winner takes all.