DETAILED REVIEW: Losing It by Cora Carmack

Mid-20s British Hero can’t believe that the woman he was making out the night before is a student in his theatre class.
College-senior heroine ran out on him last night after changing her mind about having sex with him. She wanted to get rid of virginity and wanted Hero whom she met at a bar the night before to be the one to do it. 
But she got scared of the idea of having sex and was relieved that he left until she sees him in her class. They try to disguise their shock, resist their attraction to each other & limit their relationship as professor and student.  But distance, time, & fear of being found out were not enough to keep them away from each other for long.

This was a humorous book for the most part. It showed heroine’s awkward attempts at getting rid of her virginity while resisting at the same time due to her issues with sexual intimacy. The conflict between Hero & heroine’s roles as teacher and student who are strongly attracted to each other added a great sexual tension to the book’s humor. It became evident that their attraction was not just physical. They had one of those unexplainable connection that comes from fate & not the logic of having known each other or liking each other’s good looks. As great as the sexual tension and emotional connection was, it took a while for Hero & heroine to finally give in to their strong attraction to each other. The matter regarding heroine's friends & college experience seemed more like space fillers. Like television commercials designed to prolong the show's climax. These interruptions and heroine's resistance got a bit tired after awhile. 

I admired Hero’s patience with heroine doing her alcohol get-togethers with her classmates & club-hopping while he stayed home alone with his books. He was also patient with her uncertainty about him & her male friend. Heroine’s uncertainties were quite average for college seniors like her, except for her secret affair with her professor. The college culture was the main locale of the book. It provided a contrast between heroine’s college mentality & Hero’s post-college one. It also contributed to the forbidden element in their teacher-student relationship.

I recommend this book.

RECIPE: Roasted Almonds with Olive Oil

Raw almonds are healthy & yummy to eat.  I'll buy some from the bulk section of my local grocery store and they sometimes don't make it home. 

When I'm in the mood for something salty and crunchy and not made of grain, I'll quickly roast some almonds in the oven.

Roasting almonds with some olive oil gives them a smoky flavor. And more crunch.

Sprinkle some salt and you now have a tastier treat.

Roasted Almonds with Olive Oil
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
2. Place the almonds in a bowl.
2. Pour in the oil and coat the almonds evenly with it. The nuts will have shiny sheen to them.
3. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until it turns reddish-brown in color & smell that slight fragrant nutty scent.
4. Take out of oven immediately. Sprinkle sea salt & shake it around for even coating.
5. Cool for at least 1 hour before eating. 


BLOG REVIEW: Hunt Her Down by Roxanne St Claire

Sexy widowed heroine is considering having a 1-night-stand with the stranger Hero at the bar whom she's been flirting with the past few days.
She is utterly shocked to find out that he is her former lover from 14 years ago.
She was led to believe that he died from the warehouse fire she witnessed, when she was trying to cut her ties with her boyfriend who was involved in some nefarious dealings. 
Instead he was actually working undercover then and now. Their chemistry is still as fiery as ever. But heroine isn't sure about his true intentions, especially since he's helping to protect her from her prison-escapee ex-boyfriend.
Is it a re-run of their past relationship? Will finding out that he has a son with her change things? 

Overall, the writing, pacing & emotional pull were good.  Action-suspense was exciting enough albeit predictable.  Sexual chemistry & love scenes were hot.  What I didn't care for was the romance. I just wasn't convinced that Hero was in love with heroine.  Heroine was both in lust & in love with Hero then and now. She even cheated on her mafia-boyfriend with Hero and was going to leave her boyfriend for him. On the other hand, Hero was clearly in lust with heroine. But in love? Not sure. Hero seemed to have forgotten about heroine after their undercover operation was finished. He didn't try to call her or even check up on her in 14 years. When she asked him if he would've married her then, he responded with a quick & resounding "no".  Yet later he confessed to being in love with heroine during their secret affair. So he was in love with her but didn't want to marry her? He also seemed to have unrequited feelings for 1 of his undercover team members. When they were reunited, Hero was definitely hot for the heroine but only began to show emotional interest in her when he found out about their son.  She more like an afterthought to him than his primary focus.

I cautiously recommend this book.

BLOG REVIEW: No One's Angel by Kelly Walker

For the past year, the old Christmas card early-20s Hero sent her was 21yo heroine's only hope. 
She's been living under the control of her drug-dealing boyfriend who forced her to completely cutoff all ties with Hero, the former online-gaming partner she became very close to. She never got a chance to contact him since and that Christmas card is her remaining tie to him. Heroine finally gets away from her ex-boyfriend and shows up at the doorstop of Hero, whom she's never met face to face. 
She needs his help but doesn’t want to divulge her dangerous secrets, fearing that he’ll no longer want her. He tries to be patient with her, fearing she’ll run from him again. 
But when her paranoia about her ex-boyfriend closes in to their life, she has to choose to trust Hero with her life or not.

The premise of this book was great but the delivery? Not so much. The writing was choppy. It made the characters, emotional tone, and readability of the book hard to engage with. 
The dialogue, plotline, and characterization were inconsistent, making the characters seem immature. 

For example, Hero adamantly promised to "always" protect heroine and keep her with him "forever". I don't know if he was deliberately written as an empty promiser or not but he wasn't such a good protector.  After she took off running from seeing a man in the mall who looked like her ex-boyfriend, Hero took it lightly and didn't press on as to why she panicked. Instead of   investigating the man she saw or ensuring her safety further, he takes her shopping. When she moved out of his apartment because she felt betrayed by him for endangering her, he left her in a huff and immediately threw out her things from his apartment and considered moving on to other women.

Heroine's character was also inconsistent. She's supposed to be this strong survivor who is wiser and wants safety and stability in her life. Yet she goes from being needy and dependent on Hero one day, allowing him to take care of her. To prickly and accusing him of babying her. A classic example is when she was hospitalized after being beaten, slapped, strangled, and almost raped by her ex-boyfriend. She accused Hero of hovering over her in the hospital because he asked her if she needed meds for her pain the day after her ordeal.  

We don't know why it took her a year to get away from her ex-boyfriend. We don't get to see if it was because she got stronger or wiser. Nothing had changed about her situation except for time. She endangered her loved ones at the start and when she left. She seemed more like a major doormat, letting her ex control her life, than someone who was just trying to survive. She had some freedom to come and go as she did. She worked, went to school, and made phone calls freely during that time.  Why didn't she contact Hero even from somebody else's computer? All we know is that she finally escaped to Hero one day. 

The inconsistencies and holes in the plot/logic of the book derailed my enjoyment of it. Instead of feeling the character’s sexual chemistry, poignancy from what was keeping them apart, or sympathy for the pain inflicted on heroine, I was mostly annoyed and impatient with them. 

Restrictedly recommended.

BLOG REVIEW: Run To You by Charlotte Stein

Phone customer-service employee was peeking at wealthy Hungarian businessman from the hotel room closet she was hiding in. 
She was curious what kind of assignation her vacationing roommate had scheduled in the hotel and was both intimidated and fascinated when she saw Hero in the hotel room.

She didn’t think he noticed someone as nondescript and ordinary as her when they were at the hotel lobby together. So she was astonished that he knew she was hiding inside the closet and left her a note to call him. Heroine was even more astonished when he calls her at work & tries to get to know her. Their phone calls transition into personal meetings, where she finds that Hero likes her fumbling & clumsy tendencies. The bondage-domination experience she expected from him was not what she got with him. It seems that the connection they had was as new for him as it was for her.  Is she just a novelty for him? What kind of future can they have with such a huge gap in their lifestyles?

I ended up really liking this book. I had some doubts in the beginning because the point-of-view(POV) of heroine took some getting used to. Her POV reminded me of Bridget Jones’ Diary but with a more self-deprecating humor and exaggerated imaginings. Once I got used to heroine’s voice, I began to understand and enjoy the book.  The romance was different because the characters were unconventional…Heroine was comfortable being a wallflower. She was an ordinary person who didn’t aspire for much. Yet she had a wild imagination that created scenarios. Her following through with her imagined scenario regarding her roommate is what led her to her extra-ordinary experiences with Hero. Hero was comfortable being in control and set up his life just so. His following through with his impulses regarding heroine led him to be affected like never before. Hero & heroine’s different life trajectories intersected because both did something different than their usual. Their romance was a result, challenging and changing their status quo. Even from heroine’s POV, we saw the struggles Hero’s having from being so affected by heroine. He changed from being such a guarded & controlled man to a more relaxed & more vulnerable  one.

----------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details--------------

Hero was used to being the controlling voyeur in his sexual life. He hadn’t allowed a woman to touch or kiss him in 10 years. There was no trauma that caused it. Hero’s need for control is what made his sexual life the way it was. So for heroine to make him break his 10-year sexual lifestyle and let her touch & kiss him shows how much she stirs him emotionally….Her clumsiness and fumblings that she berates herself for was what turned him on. I found it funny and endearing. Hero loved her for who she was. Any attempts she had to be different didn’t get the same reaction from him. I loved that.

-----------------------------------------------END SPOILERS------------------------------------------------------------

Their sexual chemistry was odd at first. We know that heroine was attracted to him but not sure where he was coming from. When it became clearer that the attraction was mutual, the  sexual tension was hot. The sex scenes were graphic (Warning: back-door action) but in line with their relationship. Hero does things with her that he doesn’t with others.

I recommend this book.

BLOG REVIEW: Opposites Attract by Cat Johnson

#1: Fashionable heroine begins to see the employee next to her cubicle, quiet computer-geek Hero, in a different light as they make a joint effort to fill-in the missing sex-scenes of a writer’s erotic book. Hero who’s been infatuated with heroine can believe his luck.

#2: Firefighter Hero is having a difficult time letting go of his strong attraction to his neighbor’s friend heroine. He believes she’s a lesbian like his neighbor and doesn’t believe she’ll change even after she kissed him passionately.

#3:Lawyer heroine is getting over her divorce from her cheating ex and doesn’t feel ready to date yet. But meeting still-married-but-separated firefighter Hero is quickly convincing her about her dating readiness.

3 short stories with humor & sexy romance. The stories are intertwined through the relationships the main characters have with each other. Hero in story #1 is the brother of heroine in story #2, while Hero in story #2 is the brother of heroine in story #3. Each story is focused on how the main characters met and progressed in their romance. They are all light-hearted in their content, featuring characters from more average walks of life. The romance stories are sweet, not too complicated, and sexy. Story #1 and #3 had challenges outside the romance. The only one with the big misunderstanding was story #2, which I thought was the funniest of all 3.

I moderately recommend this book.

BLOG REVIEW: Blind Curve by Annie Solomon

Trainer for the blind is assigned to guide recently-blind Hero who’s in protective custody, after a botched murder attempt left him blind.
She's had a crush on since high school year and seeing him again makes her aware that it hasn’t changed.  She still pines for him. Even though he appears to reciprocate, she doubts that she’s attractive enough to have anything long-lasting with him. 
Hero, on the other hand, is having difficulty adjusting to being blind but it doesn’t stop him from finding the culprit.

This book was too slow-paced for me.  The overall writing was ok but neither the romance nor the action-suspense was exciting. The action-suspense part was predictable. There were too many details about the thugs & police procedures. It bored me & I started skipping those parts.  The romance was pathetic.  The heroine was desperate for Hero's returned attraction/love but was so insecure about her looks.  I couldn't stomach her clingy desperation. She was essentially begging for whatever love crumbs Hero would drop her way. I wasn't even convinced she was in love with him. She was more obsessed & in lust.  Hero's affection for heroine was condescending, as if she was lucky to catch his attention. He reinforced her beliefs about her plainness and was smug about his good looks. I was not in any way convinced that he fell in love with her. It was more like he settled for her because she was nice, helpful, & willing to lay her life for him. Sexual chemistry was one-sided & love scenes were hard to read because of the aforementioned pathetic romance. 

I minimally recommend this book.

BLOG REVIEW: On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

22yo American heroine is mostly relieved that the taxi ride she shared with a gorgeous and disturbing stranger was finally over.
Only to find out, not only that he is her new roomate’s 30yo brother, but that he owns their lavish apartment and he's a frequent visitor.
She's as cool, brusque, and indifferent with him as she is with others. Unfortunately her constant rejections and put-downs only fire him up and he seems to frequently pop up wherever she is. She eventually gives in to their strong and mutual attraction but makes sure that he's clear that it's only sex.

But with Hero spending time with her as often as he can and tricking her into going on dates and spending the night with him, she finds herself becoming more attached to him. When will she trust him enough to share her traumatic past?
Really enjoyed this book. The writing was smooth and very engaging. Made for a quick read. It was a good mix of humor, sexiness, and angst. It was easy to get wrapped up into the characters and the story. I appreciated how the author skimmed over the salacious details of both Hero & heroine's past yet giving us the general idea of what it was.  The focus was on the here and now of their romance. 

Loved the heroine in this one. She was a straight-shooter who valued her privacy due to the painful losses she didn't want to deal with. She deliberately acted indifferent & abrupt with others but I never disliked her. We're allowed to see what's underlying her prickly motives and helps us sympathize with her plight. Heroine was truly a caring person but she’s learned that caring could lead to pain. So she guarded herself from any future losses by keeping others at arms’ length. But Hero and her friends were gradually chipping away at her resistances. And we see her affection for them seep through her walls.  Her emotional readiness was also a key factor to her growth. She was at a point in her life where she was finally ready to risk living with her emotions again. Having her go see a therapist while taking emotional risks with Hero and her friends was a brilliant idea. It made her major emotional adjustments believable and healthy.

The character development in Hero was also believable. He was a major player--a serial monogamist with a short expiration date. His marriage at 22 soured him on women &, thus, his brief & serial monogamous affairs. Meeting and then getting to know heroine changed his serial status. He became intent on heroine and only her. We see him become more intensely attentive and possessive of her.  As strong as she was at resisting caring for others, Hero was equally determined to break down her emotional walls. But in his non-intrusive and understanding way. He understood her need for privacy and gave her the space and time she needed.  He was, however, alpha & demanding when it came to her spending time with him and how they spent it together. But he wasn't too pushy. I liked that heroine didn’t let him overpower her. She gave it back as good as he gave—humor, sarcasm, confrontation, and sex. They were a good match in power & control. Very likely HEA(happily ever after).

I also liked the secondary romance between Hero's best friend and his sister. It wasn't intrusive of the main romance and only made the book a more angsty read, especially when Hero's sister had her cancer scare. It was a crucial point that challenged heroine's emotional vulnerabilties and her choice of what she was going to do about it. It was poignant. 

I definitely recommend this book.

BLOG REVIEW: Never Kiss A Rake by Anne Stuart

28yo heroine has been isolated from society due to the small-pox scars on 1 side of her face. 
She uses her anonymity to get a job as the housekeeper for Irish lord Hero & his beautiful wife so she can find proof of his involvement in her father's recent death and the huge fraud scandal her father was being blamed for. She expects to find what she's looking for shortly and flaunts her scarred face to disgust Hero and his wife. Unfortunately, Hero doesn't seem bothered by it. 
In fact, he spends more time at home than usual and revels in getting a rise out of her. Heroine didn’t anticipate his inimical relationship with his wife nor his interest in her. Her fascination with him also distracts her from searching through his property. When his wife turns up missing with her bedroom in shambles, her questions about Hero magnifies. What is his involvement in his father's death and his wife's disappearance? Will it be enough to disenchant her with him?

Stuart can make something bad into something excusable. What's great about her writing is that she makes me believe that it's not so bad after all. I buy her character's reasons and logic. It's fascinating. Stuart writes irreverent Heroes and somehow make them forgiveable and likeable, except maybe for the Hero in Breathless. The Hero in this book is married and they are mortal enemies. Both have cheated on each other & see it as the least of their problems. He accepts that he is self-indulgent and selfish and doesn’t apologize for it. He makes his own moral rules and sticks with them. That is, until heroine comes along. As villainous & cold-hearted as Hero may be, he breaks his own rules for heroine. And that's what shows how affected he is with her. He becomes less villainous as he cares more for her. He changes as he takes care of her, shuns other willing women (including his wife) for her, and acts possessive around her. It's as if he's transforming from villain to a dedicated alpha-Hero. It's quite endearing.

Interestingly, heroine also undergoes her own transformation. She starts out likeable but forgettable. She sets out to be nondescript to not call any attention to herself. She's had some major insecurities due to her scarring. She's acted as a leader among her sisters and their household staff but she hides herself from everyone else. Her taking a risk to deceive and spy on Hero snowballed into bigger risks. 

-----------------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details-------

Hero may be the renowned cheated but it was heroine who actually initiates their first kiss (her first one ever). She climbs into his bed and sneaks him a kiss while he was passed out & still married. She hides the bloody mess in his wife's bedroom & lies to the authorities about it. She has sex with him the first time very soon after finding out about the bloody mess in his wife's bedroom.  

------------------------------------------------END SPOILERS----------------------------------------------------------

As odious as her behaviors may seem, her reasons justified her actions. She was following her instinct about Hero and was grabbing at what could be her only adventure in her banal life. She may be innocent of the world due to her lack of social exposure but she’s not rigid and faces new situations head-on. I love her inner strength, practicality, and fast thinking. She can outwit Hero with his mental games with her. Their chemistry has a lot to do with their mental games. Their who-can-outwit-who banter simmered with their chemistry.  I’m usually appalled when the main characters get sexually involved right after bloodshed or injury but the dark humor of the book allowed for it. Strange but it worked and classic Stuart.

Stuart’s books are at category of its own. I really recommend this book especially to Stuart fans.

BLOG REVIEW: Sweet Deception by Grace Henderson

As much as 24yo heroine is attracted to 25yo Hero, she thinks he's just a charmer who's spoiled by the attention he gets from women and doesn't take his propositions seriously. 

She's also more guarded since she found her ex-boyfriend cheating on her with a friend. Hero finds her both attractive and refreshing from the women chasing after him . His persistence eventually gets rewarded and they start dating exclusively.

However, she doesn’t know how to make sense of cryptic warnings other are giving her about him. When she tries to ask about his family or his past, he clams up. It bothers her even more when she shares the pain of her past with him. How long will she wait for him to finally trust her with his secrets? And what happens when he does?

Be patient when reading this book. The first half isn't as exciting as the latter half. The first half of the book didn’t pull me in the story or the characters. The focus of the book was more on heroine’s adjustment to her new life back in her childhood home. The emotional tone and character depiction were banal. The side stories about heroine’s grandmother & their friends kept the focus off the romance. As far as the romance, Hero and heroine were eyeing each other and flirting lightly. They didn't have that strong emotional or even sexual connection. There was certainly sexual attraction and some admiration for each other but it wasn't the toe-curling kind. Even when Hero got more serious over heroine, it still wasn’t so intense. He was attracted to her & her resistance to his charms was a new experience for him. I actually worried that her big draw with him was because she was a novelty. Heroine, on the other hand,  was busy dodging Hero and didn’t seem that serious about him. She had some insecurities that made her feel not good enough to be with someone gorgeous & successful like him. But after they started dating, the book turned for the better. Hero was able to reassure her that she was the only one for him.  But the secrets he was keeping from her made her still doubt their relationship. I liked how the increasing hints about Hero's secrets built my anticipation. It provided the tension that was missing earlier in the book, including their romance.

I partially recommend this book.

RECIPE: Salted Sour Strawberries

Have you ever bought a basket of strawberries and some were still sour?

I used to toss those sour ones and just eat the red ripe strawberries. Until I found out that eating those pucker-inducing strawberries may not be so bad when you add salt to it.

This recipe is for those not-quite-ripe and sour-tasting strawberries that you may not want. If you like the tangy and salty taste of a margarita drink, you might enjoy this truly simple strawberry recipe.

You might end up buying strawberries just to get the sour ones.

Salted Sour Strawberries

  • 4 - 5 strawberries (the more orange or light pink the color, the more sour it will be)
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt

1. Wash the strawberries in a bowl. Transfer to a dry bowl or plate so as not to get the salt wet.
2. In a separate bowl or plate, pour salt.
3. Dip the strawberries in the salt and eat. Continue dipping as desired.


BLOG REVIEW: The Italian's New-Year Marriage Wish by Sarah Morgan

41yo pediatrician Hero can't believe his 35yo wife who he hasn't had any contact with in 2 years would ask for a divorce 10 minutes before he heads to surgery.

After being happily married for only a few months, she suddenly left him 2 years ago to practice medicine in Africa. He refuses to grant her a divorce unless she stays a few days to be the substitute doctor for their clinic and discuss their marriage some more. It doesn't take long for her to succumb to their strong attraction to each other. 

However, their passion for each other isn't enough to change her mind about getting a divorce. Hero is determined to find out what made her run away from him then & now. But can he handle her secrets? 

An average read, which disappointed me. I expected more from a Morgan book. The main characters lacked the depth and intensity of emotions that I prefer. Their marriage suffered due to the lack of interest on both Hero and heroine's part to get to know each other and fight for their relationship. They didn't know each other that well when they got married and weren't that curious to get to know each other more. And when she changed her mind about their marriage, she just stated it and left. There was no arguments or further discussions about it. She ran away and he didn't stop her.

Hero didn't seem to care enough about her or their marriage because he neither stopped her from leaving or pursued after her to salvage their relationship. His career took precedence over her. He regretted not being interested enough to ask about her past and chasing after her. The good thing, though, is that he changed. He took advantage of his second chance with her. He pursued her and wouldn’t take her ‘no’ until he tried his  best to know the truth from her. His doing so made her feel wanted and helped her to trust him. From there, the progress of their relationship became easy and their future more promising.

I didn't like the heroine's character much. She was very black-&-white in her thinking and passive-aggressive in her attitude. She was happy, in love, & hopeful about her marriage to Hero one day. Then she'd suddenly become distant and hopeless and ran away from him. This was her pattern. Hopeful and sexual with Hero one day. Then rejecting and distant the next. She was a caring and knowledgeable doctor who was very insecure in her personal life. She didn’t allow Hero to know her and didn’t give him a chance to share her problems.

--------------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details----------

When she found out she was likely infertile, she ran away. Immature and selfish on her part. She didn't bother telling Hero something that would affect him. She just left him dangling for 2 years. Then, when she comes back, she manipulates it where he'd have no chance of discussing things with her but enough time to say "yes' to the divorce she wants. I wish there was no surprise pregnancy at the end. Ending the book with no pregnancy or baby would've made their marriage appear stronger and their love more true. 

---------------------------------------------END SPOILERS--------------------------------------------------------------

I partially recommend this book.


BLOG REVIEW: Chasing Dreams by Kelli Evans

When mid-20s tour-guide sees 24yo new college-grad Hero for the first time on her Niagara Falls boat tour, she feels instantly drawn to him. And he feels the same way.

She agrees to meet him at the town bar that evening and their chemistry heightens quickly.

They spend 2 intense days together with both knowing that’s all the time they would ever have together. Hero lives 6 hours away and both need to stay where they are due to their jobs and family. Their brief time together gets interrupted by an urgent call for Hero to go back home. An emergency with heroine’s sister also arises. Their time together ends prematurely and they don't know how they can be together again. Will distance and time diminish their memory of each other? How can these 2 ever reunite with all the factors against them?

The simplicity of the dialogue, the emotional tone of the book, and the star-crossed romance of the characters drew me in. This was a speedy read for me and I was surprised at how fast it went. I got immersed in Hero and heroine's instant chemistry and deep emotional connection.  I thought their getting-together in half a day (and lasting 2 days) not only believable but incredibly sexy. From their point of views, it was apparent that both viewed their experience with each other as something very unique. They questioned it, thought about it, and accepted it after realizing that it was a one-of-a-kind experience they may never have with anyone else.

The drama that kept them apart was agonizing. It seemed like one interruption after another. I didn't know how they were going to reunite but I knew that they were going to.

-----------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the books details------------------

I didn't like how quickly Hero tried to get over heroine with other women. He didn't have sex with any of them but he allowed another woman to kiss him very soon after leaving heroine. And I'm not sure if he would've stopped the heavy foreplay with other woman #2 if she didn't reject him for calling her heroine's name.  I got that he was really trying to move on with his life, thinking that reuniting with  heroine was an impossible dream.  It was a realistic view but I still didn't like it. Heroine didn't even consider dating any other man. Her agreeing to lunch with her persistent admirer much later was due to hunger and not attraction or attempt to get over Hero. She was moving on with her life and was quite busy. I'd have preferred that Hero not make the choice to forget heroine by so quickly trying on other women.

Their reunion took awhile but it was worth it. All those crises and missed moments served to increase my anticipation to their finally reuniting. Their reunion was sweet. I appreciated the realistic elements in the imperfect conditions of Hero & heroine's lives at that point. Both were jobless and were open to moving away. It made their choice to be with each other, despite their questionable life conditions, that much more powerful. 

--------------------------------------------END SPOILERS--------------------------------------------------------------

The epilogue occurs 1 year later & wraps things up well, letting us see the stability they reached in their lives.

I recommend this book.

*ARC courtesy of the author for an honest review.

8 Reasons Why 29 Should be the Age-limit in New Adult Romance

New Adult romance. It’s not a new kind of porn. It’s a new romance category. Click here to see what they're like.

The New Adult category was coined in 2009 when publisher St. Martin’s Press was looking for a more grown-up version of Young Adult (aka high-school) fiction. One of the problem seems to be agreeing on the ages of the main characters in New Adult category. Some say it’s from 18-25. Others, from 18-29.

I’m with the ages 18-29 (or even 30) camp.

Here’s why:
1.  Our brain says so. 
Scientists consider the ages between 18 and 29 the time of “emerging adulthood”.  In fact, recent neuroscience findings show that our brains keep maturing well into our late 20s. So adults who are 26 to 29 are very much part of this emerging adult group we're calling "New Adult" in literature.

2. . Our culture today dictates it.

18, 19, & those in their 20s (let's call them "new-adults" for ease) in the Western world today are focused on self-exploration and external investigation. Decades ago, the focus of new-adults were marriage, kids, and a mortgage.  New-adults today are pushing them as topics to tackle in their 30s instead. This exploration phase has extended itself towards the late 20s and the stability phase prolonged into the 30s. That's why many will say that "30 is now the new 20s". Age-related phases are being pushed in later ages.

3.  Financial independence comes later nowadays.
Blame it on the economy. Many new-adults today can’t afford to buy their own house, car, and pay for school with their own (and even their parents’) money. They have more debt (i.e., credit card debt, student loans) than those from previous decades. So it’s not surprising that about 30% of new-adults today are still living their parents. Some have never moved out and some have to come back later. So one of the hallmarks of adulthood--financial independence--is more likely to occur in their late 20s or later.

4. Marrying later.

Today’s new-adults are marrying later than before. In the 1960s, the average age was 20 for women and 22 for men. Now the average marrying age is 26 for women and 28 for men and it's rising.  The age-29 cutoff will give a more realistic and fuller view of dating and marriage among today’s new-adults. 

5. College & post-graduate schooling delays real-world living.
There are many who attend college, technical school, graduate school, do internships, and apprentice for others are cocooned by their school setting for years. When they finish, they’re likely in their mid or late 20s. Some feel as if they’re just now entering life in the real-world.  An age-25 limit will exclude these folks.

6. More couple variations. 
Having an age 29 limit gives greater room to match characters per age. You can have a an 21-year-old heroine with an 22-year-old Hero. Or an 19-year-old heroine with an 28-year-old Hero. These age variations can provide something unique to romance novels that other categories cannot.

7. Better second-chance romance
 A second-chance romance is more possible with the age-29 limit. Both the 1st time and 2nd time can believably take place within this 11-year span. The longer time span can provide characters more time to change and mature.

8. A bridge between high-school and more stable adulthood
The later-20s provide a unique perspective of new-adult life. It’s a bridge between the newbie adult 19-year-old and the 30s crowd. A link between the impulsive new-adult and a more-directed one a few years later. There are fascinating stories that need to be told about this age group.

If the New Adult category sticks with the age 25 limit, what happens to the 26-year-old to 29-year-old characters? Are we going to have another(!) age-based category for them? Like a  “New Older Adult”(NOA) category? Or are they just going to be lumped into the general adult romance category?

The grayish area of New Adult category can find some clarity just by moving the age-25 cut off to 29. Why make a gray area grayer? 

BLOG REVIEW: A Moment by Marie Hall

25yo fighter Hero does his yearly ritual of drowning out his memories on Valentine’s Day with alcohol.

When 21yo nursing student sees him at the bar she works at, she’s attracted to him despite he’s binge-drinking and distant attitude. Her continued attraction towards him makes even less sense after she finds him in the bathroom that night, having just attempted to commit suicide.

She already has a lot on her plate supporting her 6yo autistic son and an ailing mother plus going to nursing school. When they meet again 3 months later, she falls more deeply for him as they get to know each other and he spends time with her and her family. They soon become intimate.

But his inner demons surge back to the surface like clockwork. Hero tries his best to deal with it by himself. But when it interferes more & more with their relationship, it drives a wedge in their romance. What will it take for Hero to trust heroine with this dark secrets? And can their relationship handle it?

I’m not a fan of main characters with kids from another lover but this book was written so captivatingly that it became a non-issue. The writing drew my interest in the characters & their romance, especially at the big secret Hero had. The hint after hint of it was told in the midst of their developing romance & their dancing around the issue. Heroine wanted Hero to trust her with it but wanted to respect his clear limits about it. Hero wanted to give his all to her & have it be reciprocated but didn’t want to divulge the dark part of him. His suicide attempt & its repercussions to her life & her family were matters she had to deal with. I could feel her struggle & attempt to balance it all. Heroine was a strong young woman who was used to shouldering huge responsibilities without being a false martyr or victim about it. She had a positive outlook on life & dealt with problems head-on. So her strength of character was definitely needed to deal with the tortured darkness of Hero. What’s great about him was that he realized how much he needed her in his life early on. It may have taken him a while to be completely open to her but he did finally get there, thanks to her & his cousin’s reminders of unconditional love & support.

There’s depth to the romance & the psychological issues this book tackles. It made for a real-life feel to the characters & the way the book read. The emotions were there. I could feel it & that’s what makes a book a quality read for me. I wished that the sex scenes were more detailed though. The author did well in drawing us into Hero & heroine’s sexual chemistry. But the sex scenes were barely mentioned & made me feel cut-off from fully experiencing the emotional intimacy between them. It still doesn’t stop me from wanting to read the next book in the series.

I recommend this book.

*ARC courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

BLOG REVIEW: Real by Katy Evans

24yo heroine was expecting a different kind of proposition after late-20s Hero publicly chased her down during his competition to ask for her name and phone number. 

Instead, he offers her a job as his sports therapist and she accepts. They begin spending time together sharing songs, when not working on honing his body for his fights. They develop a deeper connection, especially when he asked her to sleep next to him to calm his volatile moments. 

Heroine is mystified at why he’s holding back on their physical intimacy as she's willing to go as far as their relationship will take them. He eventually tells her his big secret. Will her love be great enough to encompass all that his secret entails?

This is the book that hooked me into reading New Adult romances. I loved the emotional impact of Evan’s writing, the intensifying & drawn-out sexual tension that hinted at the magnitude of their being together will be(both emotionally & sexually), the characterization, and the intense & obsessive love hot, alpha-Hero had for heroine. I had to put the book down for the night but picked it back up in the middle of night because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. There’s not a lot of books that can do that to me. And it was as satisfying as I hoped. 

Hero & heroine were both strong, physical, & goal-oriented people who had an instant connection. I loved how the author drew out the physical part of their relationship so that we are certain that the impact of their attraction to each other was more than their sexual attraction. Much of their connection was nonverbal. The songs on their ipods they shared with each other, their gazes, their kisses & touches, & the air in between them spoke their feelings for them. All those nonverbal forms of communication add to the felt impact of the words they spoke. All except for the 2nd to the last chapter was told via heroine’s POV(point of view). Yet we can still understand where Hero was coming from & feel his intensity towards heroine. It left no doubt that he was 100% in love with her. He became celibate for her, controlled his rage for her, humbled his pride for her, & almost died for her. She was no slouch either. She was smart & strong & stayed smart and didn’t let their lust for each other make her act foolish & weak. She did make mistakes but her reasons were consistent with her character. I liked how Hero’s mental health issue wasn’t glossed over nor romanticized. They made a concerted effort to deal with it.

I definitely recommend this book.


BLOG REVIEW: Between Then and Now by Zoe York

32yo husband feels like he's walking on eggshells since he & his wife have been arguing about the littlest things lately. 
Heroine has doubts about how he truly feels about being marrying her. She can't forget the shaky start of their relationship 8 years ago. Raising their 2 kids and working to make ends meet has kept them busy. They've been arguing more and haven't spent much time with each other lately.When they finally do make time for each other, they realize that their passion still runs strong. 
When he mistakes her for someone on the phone, she’s afraid that her doubts about their marriage may have merit. How do they keep their marriage intact?

This novella was brief but didn’t feel short. It's a quick but satisfying read. The writing pulled me in to the main characters right away and made me care about the state of their romance.It's a different type of romance because Hero and heroine have been married for awhile and their problems are subtle. They're an average couple with ordinary jobs, kids, and bills to pay. It's apparent that they love and care about each other. We get a short history of how they got together. I'd have like a bit more detail about how they met and what their individual life was like then to get a firmer grip on their life story pre-marriage. The focus was on the rocky start of their relationship. They have some unresolved issues from their relationship beginning that neither of them have directly discussed and it's mostly because it wasn't such a big issue to begin with. The fact that it was never discussed nor resolved over the years allowed it to creep into their marriage, fueling the doubts and uncertainties about their relationship. They both had insecurities, frustrations, and wants that they felt embarrassed about. They were not a perfect couple. But both Hero and heroine were willing to work on their problems and made time to do so, when they realized that their relationship needed it. They both had to take risks to trust each other and listen.  

Sex scenes were hot.  I liked how their sexual chemistry was still prevalent, when they thought about each other. It gives a sexiness to the average marriage with kids and bills-to-pay story.