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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith I DNF'd this audiobook. I only made it halfway through the 2nd of 9 discs. I was very bored and didn't enjoy the narration. It's a miracle that I even made it to disc 2. I'm going to just stick with the movie on this one...

Since I didn't even come close to finishing it, I didn't rate it. I'm not sure about the mechanics of the Goodreads rating system. Will not rating it at all default with 0/5 stars, and hurt the book's overall rating? If so, I will move this to my "to-read" shelf.
Point of Retreat (Slammed, #2) - Colleen Hoover Sex ranting!

I enjoyed it but I didn't like this one quite as much as I enjoyed Slammed. I had to downgrade slightly for probably one of the most painful fade-to-black sex scenes in recent memory...I think I took it harder than Breaking Dawn! It's a good thing no one was home because I was raging and yelling something fierce!! *g*

I understand this is YA, but when you go as far as actually tie in the title of the book to the sex, I think you need to deliver a little more, especially when you've teased it out so much. Many of my IRL friends expressed the same frustration with Point of Retreat. To quote one, "As soon as I finished the book, I said, 'Where's the fanfiction?!?!'"

I did love revisting this great couple and seeing them as a family unit, but a slight downgrade is warranted for SUPER frustrating fade-to-black sex scene and a few turn of events I thought were too coincidental...
Where She Went - Gayle Forman This is one of those stories…where you’re only 30 or so pages in….and you just know with absolute conviction that it’s going to make its way onto your favorites shelf. This. Was. Everything I could have hoped for in the If I Stay sequel - Hell, any sequel! It was beautifully written, haunting, emotional and deeply satisfying. I mean….just every single clichéd adjective you can think of. I did not want to leave the characters when Where She Went concluded – I desperately wanted more of their amazing story that has pretty much shamed nearly every other YA or YA romance I’ve ever read.

If you have not read If I Stay (If I Stay, Book 1), stop reading this review right now. Trust me. I would not even glance at the book summary for Where She Went until I finished If I Stay, and I’m very happy with that decision. And go get If I Stay and get with the program!! ;)

Where She Went picks up 3 years after the ending of If I Stay, and as the Goodreads summary indicates, Mia completed physical therapy in Oregon, accepted the admissions into Juilliard, dumped Adam, and never looked back. Adam Wilde is now a bona fide rock star – a singer, guitarist and main songwriter for his Oregon –rooted band, The Shooting Stars. But Adam is in every way an absolute mess. Tension with his bandmates. Anxiety issues. A shell of a relationship with his celebrity girlfriend…He is on the edge. It may have inspired his best material, but Mia’s breakup, and the manner in which it was done, had lasting, devastating effects on Adam. And God did I love being in his head. I was really excited when I read this would be in Adam’s POV. How many times have you read a romance and wished the author would give you some of the guy’s POV? Another brilliant move by Gayle Forman.

It is in this messed up condition that Adam encounters Mia in her new home, and one of my personal favorites: New York City. The awkwardness, the emotions, seeing Mia only through Adams interpretation - this was SO great to read for me, and with the NYC descriptions, I felt like I was there again. On a chance encounter the night before their careers are about to move them in very different directions, they go on this journey – throughout one evening and well into the morning hours – of Mia’s favorite places in the city. Through flashbacks, we get to see some of Adam and Mia’s past relationship through his eyes as well as Adam’s struggles in the last 3 years. Through their conversation during Mia’s NYC night tour :) you get to learn about what tore them apart and how Mia has become the young woman she is now.

I got all the answers I wanted and everything made sense. Their love? This story? How the book ended? Perfect, powerful and everything I hoped for. This story reads like a series conclusion, but I wanted more and was saddened to be done. My Goodreads girlfriend Brandy was SO right – this blew me away, brought tears to my eyes and I loved it even more than book 1.
Under Mr. Nolan's Bed - Selena Kitt I had a Mr. Nolan moment yesterday. I helped someone move into their new home...Their upstairs bathroom had 2 entrances: one from the hallway...and one from master bedroom...and if you’ve read this book, you can appreciate and understand why all I could think of for a few paralyzing seconds was him.

I bought this ebook a few years ago, so what I had and what I read was the original version. This version was banned on Amazon in late 2010 and - I’m not even sure if the author is aware of this - but Barnes & Noble is now hiding it. It doesn’t come up in searches for “Under Mr. Nolan’s Bed.” All the comes up is “Under Mr. Nolan’s Bed - Revised.” You must click on that revised version; then click on the “Nookbook” link in the “All Available Formats + Editions” section....then voila - there it is, the version that does not say revised. There are actually three versions of Under Mr. Nolan’s Bed. (1) The original version first published in 2008, but listed on B&N as being published in 2010 “Under Mr. Nolan’s Bed.” (2) A less taboo version called “Under Mr. Nolan’s Bed - Revised.” And now (3), the tamest, least taboo version called “Plaid Skirt Confession.”

And I’m an idiot, because things get REALLY crazy at the end of the book, and I missed the content warning on the seller's page when I bought it. Was it even there at the time? The warning? I don’t know - but it's definitely there now. I bought this so long ago, but when I opened up my ebook a few days ago, there was no warning that it was going....where it went. I loved the first...85% of this story. This was my first Selena Kitt read and she’s a talented badass in the genre. It was wicked hot. Explicit. But never boring. I mean...she is secretly sleeping with her best friend’s father while her best friend is sleeping just across the hall!! Sure, I starting to cringe at the unexpected turn of events during that last 15%, but I can’t fault the book because I wasn’t paying closer attention to what I was buying. One of my Goodreads pet peeves is people downgrading book ratings because they find the content objectionable...when they were warned about the content on the seller’s website! I’ve since read one of Selena Kitt’s free short stories - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8089192-connections - & purchased another book, all within the last 24 hours. She has a new fan in me.
If I Stay - Gayle Forman ***NOTE: I wouldn't advise reading the book blurb for the sequel, Where She Went, until you’ve read If I Stay ***

4.5 Stars

Thank GOD I didn’t read this back in 2009 when it was first released – the sort of “cliffhangery” ending would have killed me…and I would have waited 2 years - until 2011 - for the sequel’s release?!? And did the people that read this in 2009 even know that a sequel, Where She Went, was forthcoming? That must have been rough!

Having said that, I loved this beautiful, emotional story about Mia, the barely hanging on survivor of a deadly car wreck that has just wreaked havoc on her family. The wreck happens fairly quickly in the beginning of the story. Mia enters a coma-like state, but she’s also in an “outside of the body” sort of existence where she is able to see and hear everything around her and even roam around the hospital. The story switches back and forth between the present and the past, filled with flashbacks of Mia’s life with her family and her boyfriend Adam. Being a romance fan, of course the Adam flashback scenes were my favorite :)

Mia, the quiet and gifted cellist with really just one friend at school, and Adam, popular fellow student and lead singer in a local rising band. Their passion for music brought them together and they fell in the kind of hard and deep love that seemed more grown-up than high school. During the months leading up to the wreck, Mia and Adam’s year and a half relationship was under strain. His band’s fame is rising, and she’s just had a killer audition at Julliard in New York. Were they even going to survive that?

Now with Mia’s body partially wrecked, and the temptation to join those she has lost overwhelming, can her family, and particularly Adam, convince her to stay? Some of the hospital scenes – and the lengths Adam was willing to go to convince Mia to stay, were so poignant! I loved this story and based on its conclusion, comments from friends and the Where She Went book blurb that I’ve just finally allowed myself to read (wow, that sounds good!), I think I may end up loving the sequel even more :)

The If I Stay film adaption lost Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke in late 2010, and within months, also Mia frontrunner Dakota Fanning (no more lead roles until she finished high school was the “official” line). Now we have a Brazilian director attached...I think...and no Mia….When you look it up on IMDB, it says: “If I Stay (????)”...Not a good sign. *Fingers-crossed* that Lionsgate (via Summit merger) gets this film out of pre-production sometime in the near future.
Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James First off, I don’t have a problem with fanfiction. I’ve read some stories on FanFiction.net that are actually worlds ahead and more enjoyable than the original author’s work. I didn’t read this story when it was originally posted as the very popular Twilight fanfiction “Master of the Universe” by Snowqueens Icedragon (E. L. James’ FFN username). I have one friend that read MOTU in its original and no longer available format. She tells me that as MOTU, the characters had Twilight names and physical descriptions, but otherwise, it was an original story. I’m told the story was taken down from FFN, Twilight references were removed, and the story was published as the Fifty Shades series.

Regardless of how many Twi references were removed or NOT removed….in my opinion, this felt like its own story. There are certainly some similarities and little nods to Twilight characters/locations and even the actors that portrayed them.  But Christian is NOT Edward. I stopped noticing and caring about the Twi references remaining in Fifty Shades pretty quickly. I was completely absorbed in Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s wicked hot and dark journey.
 
Shades’ Twilight References
As someone that camped outside of Comic-Con for several nights in Twi Shantytown for the Breaking Dawn panel…among other things *grin*…I can’t resist taking a moment to point out the Twilight similarities still apparent in Fifty Shades of Grey:

Ana isn’t very coordinated, has brown/darker hair and she’s unaware of her own beauty. Her mother is flighty/whimsical. Ana’s mother has also left her stepfather and now lives in a warmer climate, hundreds of miles away, with her new husband. Ana lives in Portland, WA. Ana’s descriptions of Christian give you the impression that he has a God-like impossible beauty. Ana has a love for classic British literature. Christian is very mysterious; uber alpha; plays the piano; and warns Ana that she should stay away from him because he’s not good for her, yet he can’t stay away from her. Christian has domineering, obsessive, psycho-stalker tendencies. He doesn’t have any supernatural abilities like Edward; rather, Christian uses his extreme wealth and access to the latest technology to track Ana down, literally. Christian’s occasional formal manner of speaking, especially in his email exchanges with Ana, makes him sound like he’s from another era. Christian feels Ana’s old car is dangerous and insists upon replacing it. Finally, Ana was rocking Converse shoes in one of the earlier scenes  – a total Kstew (Kristen Stewert) reference.    
 
Sentence Structure/Repetition
This is a first person narrative, from Ana’s perspective. Some of the sentences were short or not complete. Forget what you learned in English class; you just get what comes out of Ana’s brain. And there was some repetition with the adjectives – I think “beguiling” made at least 7 appearances, and Ana’s very fond of “Oh my” during sex and “Holy F*ck” for anything shocking or exciting. 
 
The controversy surrounding its fanfiction origin...The editing...And let’s be real, some of the jealousy in the publishing world because it’s topping the charts and getting movie/television interest….I could give a shit. I LOVED this, and when it works for you, it just works.

Christian Grey is dark, unbalanced (there’s only so much his shrink can do), captivating, jealous and sexy as hell with an out of this world BDSM playroom. Such a controlled man that his previous subs were never allowed to touch his chest (we’ll learn more about that trauma in books 2 and 3) or actually sleep with him after sex….Just f*cking, never making love, with total submission. He has a real need to inflict pain, not just for his subs' pleasure, but for his absolute need for control and dominance. And then comes Ana. The two become obsessed with each other and Christian begins breaking some of his rules. Ana, who starts this journey as a complete innocent, definitely enjoys some of the BDSM aspects of the sexual relationship, but she’s terrified of real pain. Can Ana meet Christian’s needs, or will he make adjustments? And can Christian give Ana the “more” that she’s looking for?

As far as the BDSM elements, this book contains spanking, bondage, and usage of a leather riding crop....but nothing too hardcore. We haven’t yet fully explored Christian’s Red Room of Pain ;)

I read this contemporaneously with a friend and we had a ton of laughs and late night texts. She’s on book 3 and ready to choke “dick whipped” Ana...I’m behind, but I’m getting there. You’ll probably either really hate this or really enjoy it. Ana and Christian’s relationship is very unhealthy but equally addictive. I’m trying to prepare for March bookclub and RT in April, but this Fifty Shades trilogy is screwing with my reading schedule! :) I doubt I’ll review the other installments because I’m in hyper-procrastination mode, but I do hope they’ll be a fun as this one.

Update: 3/14/2012
I was accosted at a bridal shower this weekend by my twisted smut soulmate…”I read your review – How could you not mention Ana’s subconscious and inner goddess?!?!” So there…I’ve mentioned them :) They’re almost like supporting characters in the series and they took some getting used to. I found some of the inner goddess’ antics, like hiding behind a couch or passing out, hilarious! Happy Geri? ;)
Love Story - Jennifer Echols 2.5 stars

If you've never read Jennifer Echols, this should not be your first. She is one of my favorite YA authors, but Love Story fell apart for me in the 2nd half. Anyone just discovering Echols’ should begin with Going Too Far - one of my all-time favorite YA romances.

I really enjoyed Love Story's set up and much of the first half. It begins with Erin's steamy story for her honors freshman creative-writing class at a New York university. Her story is actually about her very real fantasy about the attractive stable boy that worked on her grandmother's racehorse farm in Kentucky. It's the first day for critique discussions and Erin's story is up…And in walks the inspiration for the story - Hunter has just joined the class.

There's bad blood between the two from their time together in Kentucky. Erin believes Hunter must have been in cahoots with her grandmother and plotting to get her inheritance and tuition funds. Hunter is angry with Erin for not sticking up for him in high school when their classmates called him Erin's "stable boy,” and for Erin generally ignoring him and not being there for him when he needed support the most. So Erin and Hunter begin communicating with each other through their story submissions for creative writing class. She tries to open up dialogue with her steamy and sometimes revealing stories, and explain her behavior in high school (Helloooo, family baggage). Hunter, on the other hand, begins to drive Erin nuts with his writing submissions about promiscuous hookups and lovers. Why is Hunter always leaving the dorms in the dead of night? Are his stories steeped in truth, like Erin’s submissions?

Erin and Hunter’s actual interactions were often strained and awkward. Add to that Hunter’s occasional creepy/asshole/domineering boyfriend tendencies…although they weren’t dating and hardly touched through much of the story. But I was still enjoying it, because I don’t mind a little crazy. I was looking forward to Erin and Hunter revealing their true feelings for one another. The electric kiss, heavy making out “almost scene” and over-too-quickly love scene that is usually a given. But when all of these things happened, I felt nothing. I just didn’t feel the love between Erin and Hunter. The declarations felt completely hollow for me.

Maybe I couldn’t get past a horrible manipulative lie from Hunter. Maybe I was too bothered by Erin seeming to hate Hunter in one moment…and then declare her love for him a few pages later. Or perhaps it was Erin waking up, finding Hunter in her dorm room – uninvited – and packing her suitcase for a trip (remember – occasional domineering creep?) …and her not flipping out and just kind of going along with it (?!?!). Things were just not making sense. To top things off, Love Story had an abrupt ending that left me so unsatisfied and stunned I actually shouted in disbelief. I could not believe the next page was blank.

As I said, I really enjoyed the clever and unique set up of the H/H sharing stories in an intimate, cozy creative-writing class. And I did occasionally hear that voice that I’ve come to love. But overall, Love Story fell short for me.
Lothaire - Kresley Cole I want his Russian Filth :)

If there was ever going to be a book to make me make good on my New Year’s resolution to update Goodreads more...it was going to be this book. I need an intervention. It’s barely been out 1 month; I’ve already read it twice; and I’m dying to do it again...It was THAT kind of awesome.

#10 (Malkom and Carrow) was one of the best in the IAD series, so Cole had already proven that she can still crank out the hits. And while I also loved #11, I wanted more pages dedicated to hot Regin and Declan smut. So for Lothaire, the ultimate, witty, scene-stealing bad boy, who often had the best lines in other Loreans’ stories, the expectations were extremely high. I was hella nervous, almost afraid to ask my speed-demon reading girlfriends what they thought. And what does Kresley Cole do? She gives me one of the hottest and entertaining PNR books I’ve ever read. And also one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, in any genre.

To pair the arrogant vampire with a human girl born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains resulted in comedy bliss, like Lothaire and Ellie’s discussion on why she can’t possibly be his fated mate:

"Because fate would not slight me so unspeakably. I'd seek a noon-day sun if I were paired with one such as you."
"Such as me," she repeated blandly. She'd been mocked too often over her lifetime to take offense. Her skin was as thick as armor.
"Yes, you. An ignorant, mortal Kmart checkout girl." He took the sharpest knife from his place setting, absently turning it between his left thumb and forefinger.
"Kmart? I should have been so lucky. Those jobs were hard to come by. I worked at my uncle's outfitter shop."
"Then you're even worse. You're an outfitter checkout girl with aspirations for Kmart."

I. F*cking. DIED. And there are just countless moments and interactions like this throughout the book. Even during an immediate re-read of Lothaire, I found myself laughing just as hard the 2nd time around.

And wow....The Sex...There was no formula here. No major impediment to the “big claiming scene” that doesn’t come until the end. NO. There was wicked hot sex throughout. This is the HOTTEST IAD book, period. Loved the love scenes, including the creative feeding. Whoever works for her publisher, Gallery, and ok’d this? Needs to stay assigned to Cole’s books.

The Audiobook. Let me tell you, I don’t care if you have the hardcover already. Get the audiobook, too, just so you can hear narrator Robert Petkoff’s killer job on Lothaire’s Russian filth. The way he...[excuse me]...*fanning myself*....There’s reading “F*ck! Hot little piece!” and “Fuck Elizavetta!” on the pages of a book...and then there’s hearing Petkoff’s renditions that are so good, you think to yourself, “did things get awkward in the recording studio?” He’s that good. In full disclosure, I’m not a huge fan of Petkoff’s IAD heroine voices, but his Scottish Lachlain and his Russian Lothaire are so fantastic they more than make up for his girl voices, which in my opinion, sound a little too much like a guy trying to sound like a girl.

Nucking Futs Nix. Very touching and revealing moments between Nix and Lothaire. Getting to learn about their entire history was a welcome surprise and part of what made this book so perfect and complete. Lothaire stayed true to character, deadly and sinister, all the way through to the very last line! The only thing that bothered me in this book was Ellie's nickname for Lothaire. I wanted to strangle her after she butchered up his name like that...other than that? Perfection. I’ve always listed IAD as my 2nd favorite PNR series. I think Lothaire pushed it to the top.

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern Beautiful, magical and original with enough romance to make me happy. 1 star downgrade for all the back and forth between dates. I understand that it’s a key element for the story of Celia & Marco and Le Cirque de Reves, but still, as a reader, I was intially irritated by it. But then you need to just let it go, quit worrying about the implications of what happens in which year, month and city, and trying to figure it all out, and simply just enjoy it. And then as the story progresses, it clicks. Morgenstern has given the movie producers a lot to play with here – I hope the film is even just a fraction as enchanting as this book.
On the Edge - Raine Latimer *Anne Calhoun pen name*
Comfort Food - Kitty Thomas MIND…IS…BLOWN

Let me start with the “About the Author” found on the very last page:
“Kitty Thomas writes dark erotic fiction that explores the psychology of ownership. She believes there is no topic too taboo to write about and that fiction isn’t meant to teach morality. If you haven’t developed morals by the time you start reading erotica, it’s probably too late.”

Oh yes, this book is a dark and delicious mind f*ck. The best of its kind that I’ve ever encountered and it’s absolutely going on my “favorite” shelf, despite the past few days of, “Oh, are you really going to put yourself out there by ‘favoriting’ this book?” that’s been floating around in my head…But to hell with that because this book is so worthy. Countless times throughout this book, you keep telling yourself, “OMG, this is SO f*cked up…and so am I for loving it.” After having this lendable Nookbook sitting on my ereader for months, I loaned it to a friend who sent me numerous texts as she was reading. I’ve never included text messages in a review before, but I’ve just got to, because she was cracking me up, and you’ll better understand why I had to move this book to the top of the TBR mountain and yank back my Nookbook before the 14 day loan period even expired. So here are my girlfriend’s texts, in all their fangirling glory:

Sat 2:06 a.m.
“Just finished Comfort Food. WHAT…THE F*CK!! Read it in 4 hours. This b*tch has me fucked up! Crazy book. Erotic, but I feel dirty for being turned on by it!”
Sat 8:38 a.m.
“Girl!!!!! Have you read it yet???”
Sat 8:42 a.m.
“Let me tell you….!!! Mmmm mmmm mmmm ….It totally has me f*cked in the head. I’m going to a coffee shop later & I’m tempted to read it again.”
Sat 12:43 p.m.
“Quickly & frustratingly learning that I shouldn’t stray far from home & bed *wink*when reading certain novels.”

That’s right. She was getting too aroused at the coffee shop and had to stop.

After reading a few Comfort Food reviews when it first starting getting buzz, I knew I’d like it. And I knew I didn’t want it spoiled for me. Is she an actual kidnap victim, there against her will? Or is this just some sort of BDSM game they’re playing? That question has now been answered by the disclaimer in the Goodreads book description above. And it’s also crystal clear by line one: she’s been kidnapped. Forreals.

I really don’t want to give too many details on the actual story. You need to go in blind like I did and just trust that much of the suspense comes from not knowing. And my feelings with this story – the shock, arousal, guilt, submission, acceptance - mimicked the heroine’s journey. Everything that happens is, in the Master’s mind, “by choice”…but not really…but then yes…Really. But wait a minute, how could it be? She shouldn’t be wanting this – it’s all his fault…and am I really rooting for what I’m rooting for...as an HEA?? Yes, I did. And did I get the HEA I wanted? I’ll say no more. Find out for yourself.

This is a well-written, riveting, sexy dark psychological journey. It is the kind of book that would make you follow an author forever. I wanted to immediately re-read upon finishing it.

I’ll end with a few review quotes that captured this book so perfectly:
My Goodreads buddy Cat Russel~Addicted2Heroines~:
“I am ashamed to admit how much I enjoyed this book. It’s just wrong! It’s dark, degrading and twisted…and I would absolutely read it again!”

And Goodreads member, Jaymzangel, discussing her frantic texts to the buddy that recommended Comfort Food to her:
“I give kudos to Bear for reading it & not having anyone to OMG to because I was IM’ing her like crazy with things like, ‘I think I need to have my head examined. I’m finding this so hot.’ to which she replied (perfectly, of course) ‘he has you, doesn’t he?’ oh yes, he did.”

Yes…he has me, too.

You will want to recommend this to all your BDSM loving girlfriends, but you can’t. This is just not for everyone…but if it’s for you, it will become an instant favorite and keeper. I dare you to find out which side of the line you fall on.
Exclusively Yours - Shannon Stacey This was ok for me. I enjoyed Yours To Keep (#3) a lot more. This one needed more on-on-one time with the main couple. There was another Kowalski couple fighting about whether to have another baby. And the hero’s sister, also a Kowalski, on the verge of divorce. The Kowalski’s were in pretty bad shape during this installment – lots of family drama that was a bit of a downer at times.

Also, I came into this one spoiled. Yours To Keep’s storyline and heroine were just so very endearing and hard to top. As I can’t seem to shut up about it ;)

I’m absolutely continuing with this series, but this installment doesn’t get “re-read” status.

Chain Reaction - Simone Elkeles This is the Perfect Chemistry trilogy conclusion and should absolutely be read in order. This review assumes that you have read Perfect Chemistry (Book 1) and Rules of Attraction (Book 2).

Perfect Chemistry blew me away, so much so that I was not pleased to find out it was becoming a trilogy. How could Elkeles top that? Just leave my perfect book alone!....But I was mistaken. In the same way that Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire topped The Hunger Games, Rules of Attraction did just that. It’s no surprise that at one point last year, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Rules of Attraction held the TOP 3 spots on the New York Times bestseller list for YA. Yes, this series is awesomesauce :)

But sadly....just like the Mockingjay trilogy conclusion, this final installment fell a little short for me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I had some moments where I was furious (see below). And that’s a first for me where this series is concerned. Hence the 4 stars.

Luis Fuentes is just as cocky and gorgeous as his brothers, though not as funny as Carlos. He’s still the smartest and youngest Fuentes brother, a straight A student with his sights set on obtaining an aeronautics engineering degree from Purdue University and becoming an astronaut. The story begins with a younger, 15 year old Luis, getting lots of attention from the girls and being a daredevil. Then he attends Alex and Brittany’s wedding *yay!!*, which was just as juicy and entertaining as a telenovela. There was drama and passion with our lovely pair from book 1, but this IS a romance series, so you can guess how that all turns out. It’s at this point that Luis first meets Latina beauty Nikki Cruz. (I think it’s great that at least one of the Fuentes brothers’ heroines is Latina). Nikki has just suffered major heartache courtesy of her 1st love, so she has a LOT of baggage in the area of trust. She’s very prickly, but Luis likes a challenge :) Unfortunately for Nikki, her personal issues take a deep, traumatic dive...and then we flash forward about 3 years.

After their brief but memorable encounter 3 years ago, Luis and Nikki are thrust back together as seniors attending Fairfield High School, in the outskirts of Chicago. Luis begins to wear down Nikki’s resistance, but it’s not easy, despite the fact that she’s been fantasizing about him naked for the last 3 years :) But the gang drama begins when Chuy Soto gets out of prison and puts the pressure on Luis join the Latino Blood.

In the middle of the budding romance and gang drama, we catch up with my favorite trilogy couple, Carlos and Kiara, several times. They had a little drama, too, but I loved how it ended. A little nitpick, but I thought Kiara only stutters when she’s nervous. I loved that she was stuttering in Rules of Attraction. She was so quirky and endearing, and her stutter just added to her layers. I did think it was odd that she stutters in nearly every line she has in this book, although she’s not nervous in all of them.

My problem....why I occasionally SCREAMED at my book-->Luis’ handling of the situation with the Latino Blood. I’m sorry, but I could not see a straight A, top athlete senior, with his sights set on one of the toughest engineering disciples (aeronautics), and with an ultimate and realistic goal of becoming an astronaut...doing or saying the stupid stupid STUPID things this kid did. Luis may have had the above-average grades, but his brothers were killing him when it comes to street smarts. The risks he was taking...and the justifications for them? Maybe it’s my ignorance because I don’t live in a tough, gang-infested neighborhood near Chicago....but for whatEVER reason, I could not see such an ambitious young man doing the things Luis did.

An observation on sex in YA....something that happened in books 2 and 3 of this series. And also both of the romance books from another favorite YA author of mine (Jennifer Echols)....I don’t like that the “almost” sex scenes are really hot and pages pages long (these were VERY hot by the way!). But then the actual sex happens later in the story, and it’s so fast, you’ll almost miss it if you blink. My sister read this book at the same time as me and said she had to re-read the sex scene immediately, because she didn’t realize it had just happened. It was kind of vague. Look, I get that is is YA. I do NOT expect a Kresley Cole or Erin McCarthy sex scene up in a YA book. But if the makeout scenes are going to be super hot, is there some rule in YA publishing that the actual deed can’t be? If so, I don’t like it.

This is still one of my favorite YA series, and I did enjoy this read, but the characters fell a little short compared to Alex/Brittany and Carlos/Kiara, so this is the only installment that doesn’t get 5 stars.
Dark Edge of Honor - Aleksandr Voinov, Rhi Etzweiler Just bought on audiobook via Audible.com's website. A reviewer that only gave it only 1 stars says, "Yes the story is set in a science fiction world, but it clearly is a raunchy M/M romance novel"

Proof positive that even a negative review can lead to sales - I don't want heavy sci-fi, but I do love my MM romance, and I like it hot :)
Reunion in Death (In Death 14) - J D Robb Wow! I'm inching my way up there! I see Robb's about to publish #40, but I remain undeterred :)

Some installments are very good, and some I just love. This book falls into the love category for me. Eve takes a trip to Dallas, TX and relives and confronts the childhood nightmare that has been haunting her and edging closer to the surface all year long. It's hard to make me cry, but Robb did it with this heart-wrenching scene.

Then we have Eve and Rourke's one year anniversary, and trust, he put ALL our husbands to shame. All of them. His gift was grand, unique, sexy and just perfect. If the last 11 books are any indication of Eve and Rourke's 2nd year of marriage, I say bring it on! :)

As the cherry on top, Reunion In Death has one of the smartest, most interesting villains of this series so far. This is one In Death installment that's sure to get a re-read from me.

Branded as Trouble - Lorelei James My copy is inscribed “It’s worth the wait”, and hell yeah, it WAS!!  I always feel guilty about meeting an author and being behind in their series. Since Colt’s introduction, I always knew I wanted to see the sexy McKay manwhore fall in love, so I’ve been fangirling about Colt McKay since long before I actually reached him. But yay! I finally made it :)

Colt starts out as the really good looking, and probably hottest McKay, primarily interested in booze, partying and kinky, wild random sex with bimbo types. And then we met India in Tied Up, Tied Down....and she completely stole the show in her sister's book. India's one of those special characters you just instantly love and want to read more about. A hot-tempered, sexy, tattooed, motorcycle-riding tattoo artist not accustomed to the “cowgirl” ways out west. As a benefit to being behind, I did cheat and immediately confirm my suspicions that she would be Colt’s woman :) We got tiny glimpses into their relationship as close friends and as AA sponsor/sponsee. So you would absolutely do yourself a disservice if you read this fabulous series out of order. So far, #s 3 and 6 are tied as my favorites, followed closely by #5 - there’s plenty to enjoy.

When this book begins, through the help of AA and mainly India, Colt has been sober and celibate for 3 years. He’s taken the necessary time to heal and become a better man. And he’s ready to be with a woman again. But there is only one woman that will suffice - and she’s completely clueless about his feelings. The pursued becomes the pursuer, but it’s far deeper than that. Inevitably, after some comedy (you will love the setup of how these 2 came to be in close quarters) and a bit of angst, Colt and India cross over the line of friendship. And they were mostly dressed, but WHOA was it a ridiculously hot scene! India has an interesting body with lots of secrets :)

Since neither one of them has much experience with a healthy romantic relationships, I really enjoyed their struggles through dating and courting. There were a few volatile moments to keep it exciting - both before and after they hit the sheets. There is one scene in particular, where Colt misleads India into something...and a bet’s involved? One of the hottest scenes in this series, right up with Trevor and Edgar’s trailer hookup in Long Hard Ride which I can’t ever seem to shut up about.

Friendship, love, HAWTNESS!!...addiction struggles and family healing - this was a well-rounded story and now one of my favorites. My 2 favorites characters hooking up? This Rough Riders installment is going to be very hard to top, but I have no doubts I’ll continue to enjoy the Ride ;)