Wide Open Spaces by Aurora Rose Reynolds (GIVEAWAY)

I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Wide Open Spaces by Aurora Rose Reynolds (GIVEAWAY)Wide Open Spaces by Aurora Rose Reynolds
on August 29, 2016
Pages: 186 pages
Source: Author

That moment your life changes.
That moment that changes your life.
That moment you love someone more than you love yourself.
That was the moment we gave our son up for adoption and the moment I was left bare. A wide-open space that would forever be empty.
There are moments that define you as a person, moments that prove just how strong you are, moments you push yourself to keep going forward when all you really want to do is give up. It was in one of those moments when I reached out and found him waiting for me.

When Shelby Calder left home fifteen years ago, she never planned on returning to the Alaskan town she left behind. But after the death of her grandfather and a bitter divorce, she hopes going home will be a fresh start for her and her ten-year-old son.

Zach Watters has made a lot of mistakes in his life. But when he sees Shelby Calder, looking more beautiful than ever, standing outside her childhood home, he promises himself that letting her go won't be a mistake he ever makes again.

Some things never change and love is one of them.

Before I start my review I will just like you all to know where I’m coming from; offering complete transparency. There was one review of Wide Open Spaces on Goodreads that colored by view of this book, and I hate that it did so. Instead of dreading reading this story with thoughts of, “I can never like this book now,” and never one to adopt someone else’s opinion on something before I’ve done my extensive research I decided to go through with reading Wide Open Spaces.

For two reasons I was diligent in being super sensitive and aware of any reaction and response I had to the things that went on throughout this story:

  1. To see if the review in question had any merit for it’s extensive dislike of the book, and
  2. I wanted to make sure that my response to Wide Open Spaces was as honest as I could get it

After reading and loving Fighting to Breathe I had hope that Wide Open Spaces would appease my readers’ heart, but sadly I found myself quite bored with the storyline and characters.

In the prologue, Aurora Rose Reynolds (author) presents the strife or thorn that will continue to prick the hero, Zach, and the heroine, Shelby, throughout Wide Open Spaces. I will admit the premise for this conflict was sound but was poorly executed; it felt too hastily done. I can’t really put my finger on what was needed before the main conflict between these two characters was introduced, but a lead up or something was needed because the emotional connection or even my ability to have sympathy for these characters early on fell flat.

To stay on my feelings of the prologue, which I felt set the mood and tone for the rest of Wide Open Spaces, I expected the immaturity shown from both characters to be a factor because they were teenagers. (Although, now that I think about it I remember at the time of reading the prologue I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that two grown people were getting ready to do what they did and couldn’t come up with a better solution if it was causing as much heartache as it was). What I hated, though, was the fact that Shelby still held onto those immature feelings and actions that led her to leave in the first place when she surfaced back into her hometown.

Fifteen years have passed since the incident described in the prologue happened and both the heroine and hero have somewhat moved on (if the pre-teens running around are any indication). But when Shelby finds out that Zach is her next door neighbor you would think that some adulting could take place, but no go. Shelby immediately goes into playing the high school game of ducking and dodging Zach instead of having a ‘come to Jesus’ moment and killing the elephant in the room that almost everyone who encounters them can see, especially when she realizes that they both still have feelings for each other.

There were so many inconsistencies throughout Wide Open Spaces that it made it extremely hard for me to connect with the story. The romance wasn’t really doing it for me either because I just couldn’t understand why these two were together, a foundation was never really shown except for what happened in the prologue and even that wasn’t a whole lot to go on. Even Zach’s messy ex-wife and Shelby’s self-centered ex-husband didn’t do it for me, and y’all know how much I love my drama.

The only redeeming quality of Wide Open Spaces has to do with the kiddos from both parties; Zach has twins and Shelby has a son. If it wasn’t for the children I probably would’ve given up on this story before the first sex scene (FYI I skipped every sex scene because they were just that awkward). My relationship with Aurora Rose Reynold’s stories have always been hit and miss but I always keep coming back, so while Wide Open Spaces wasn’t up to par with what I love about Reynolds’ writing I know that there will be another story that she’ll blow me away with.

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About Aurora Rose Reynolds

WALL STREET JOURNAL, NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY Best selling author Aurora Rose Reynolds is a navy brat whose husband served in the United States Navy. She has lived all over the country but now resides in Tennessee with her Husband. She’s married to an alpha male that loves her as much as the men in her book’s love their women. He gives her over the top inspiration everyday. Aurora was also featured in an online interview with the Cosmopolitan magazine. Aurora’s best selling novels are also featured in UK Glamour magazine. In her free time she reads, writes and enjoys going to the movies with her husband. She also enjoys taking mini weekend vacations to nowhere, or spends time at home with friends and family. Last but not least she appreciates everyday and admires it’s beauty.

Hendrix by MJ Fields and Chelsea Camaron

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Hendrix by MJ Fields and Chelsea CamaronHendrix by MJ Fields, Chelsea Camaron
on July 20, 2016
Source: Publisher

Perfect for fans of J. S. Scott and Emma Chase, Hendrix introduces the wild and sexy Caldwell boys—three brothers who are living up to their legendary names in Detroit Rock City.

Hendrix Caldwell wants nothing more than to revitalize the family bar—and tear down every last reminder of his no-good father. But business isn’t the only thing on his mind. An explosive encounter with a stranger at a charity masquerade is just the distraction he craves, with no names and no strings attached. For Hendrix, sex is casual, and love is a four-letter word. His commitment is to his brothers, his bar, and his bike. So why can’t he stop thinking about the naughty Cinderella who rocked his world, then left him—and her panties—behind?

Olivia Hemmingway knows fairytales are for little girls. Drowning in debt and hiding a shameful secret, she won’t be saved by a knight in tattooed armor, no matter how mind-blowing their one-night stand may have been. Olivia never expects to meet her masked lover again. But when she takes a job at Hendrix Caldwell’s bar, her sexy new boss seems all too familiar. And once the lights go out and the music is turned up, the sparks between them burn hotter than ever.

When Hendrix was up for review I didn’t have to think too hard about saying yes to listening to it on audio. I’ve always wanted to read a Chelsea Camaron story so I’d figured why not try it on audio so that I can get a feel for Chelsea Camaron and MJ Field’s writing style; seeing if they would be authors I can add to my every growing collection of authors for future reads (I lumped the narrators for Hendrix into this experiment as well). Sadly, my experiment failed.

I didn’t read the synopsis because I wanted to go into the story of Hendrix blind; I wanted to experience the story, and soak in how Lidia Dornet and Guy Locke portrayed the characters without any preconceived notions. Now that I’ve finished Hendrix, it’s up in the air on whether that was a good decision or not. In hindsight, Hendrix had a promising start and other than the disconnect I felt between the narration Guy Locke did of Hendrix’s character and Hendrix himself the other complaints I have seem minor.

As Guy Locke was reading Hendrix’s perspective it made me feel awkward, like he was uncomfortable with saying some of the things Hendrix would say; Hendrix was a whole lotta potty mouth and his brothers had somewhat of a street dialect. To explain further, every time a curse word, or when a character was featured during Hendrix’s point of view would say something vulgar, Locke had a tendency to place a heavy emphasis on that word(s) and after a while that got irritating.

My reflection of Olivia’s (heroine) side of things was way more positive, but still problematic, than my response to Hendrix’s, and despite that fact that Lidia Dornet made her sound whiny she had some likable qualities. Lidia Dornet flowed with the dialect of Olivia and the characters she would encounter during her scenes from her point of view of Hendrix; I didn’t cringe every time a bad word was said or the word ‘pussy’ was used, the story actually moved at a better pace when Dornet was narrating.

The family element the Caldwell brothers showed to each other was very heart warming, especially when we’re given their back story early on. I will admit that a few of Hendrix’s other brothers stole the show from him, mostly Jagger. Hendrix wasn’t a character that wowed me or made me want to pay attention to him, maybe this had to do with the narration of his character but I think the character development of him also played a factor. Olivia’s back story also intrigued me and made it easy for me to root for her to achieve all that she set out to accomplish; she was a driven woman who also had a challenging background.

I might be open to giving this series or any book by these authors another chance but I know it will definitely be later down the line. I’m also open to giving these narrators another chance because not every book works for every narrator and I think that was the case here with Hendrix (although, a narrator should be able to adapt). But, some of the things said in Hendrix, regardless of whether I read Hendrix myself or not, would’ve made me frown up as to why the characters had to say some of the things they said. It was almost like the characters in Hendrix said things for the shock factor instead of the words used being something the character(s) would naturally say.

One plus for my conclusive thoughts of Hendrix may seem unimportant but I can’t close this review without mentioning it. The cover of Hendrix might not be much to look at but for some reason I can’t seem to stop looking at it.

Oxygen Deprived by Lani Lynn Vale

Oxygen Deprived by Lani Lynn ValeOxygen Deprived by Lani Lynn Vale
Series: Kilgore Fire #3
on August 4, 2016
Pages: 387
Source: Purchased

No take-backs.

That was the motto that Drew lived by in all things, including his love life.
He’s a player, pure and simple.
He’s learned the hard way that women aren’t all hearts and flowers. Sometimes their sexy bodies and beautiful faces are just a pretty shield to hide the crazy, and he’s so freakin’ over crazy.
Been there, done that. He has the divorce papers to prove it.

Karma hits like a bitch.

Aspen needs a break. A long one that doesn’t include anything with a Y chromosome. Not even one as tempting as her new neighbor who just moved in across the street. Men are trouble with a capital freakin’ T, and she has the ankle monitor to prove it.
The last man she gave her heart to was a police officer. A man whose life was dedicated to protection; he was supposed to protect her heart—not break it.
She decides right then and there that she’s done with being the better person.

Everything happens for a reason.

A rash decision—undoubtedly regrettable, undeniably unforgettable. In the heat of the moment, Aspen’s actions with a tire iron and her ex-boyfriend’s brand new SUV land him in the ER getting stitches and have her seeing the inside of a jail cell for the first time.
It’s just her luck that the whole town is there to witness the result of her poor decision, including her police officer brother and the neighbor that already made it more than clear she was more trouble than she was worth.
House arrest never looked so good.

Hide your crazy.

Drew enjoyed the show, though. For the first time in a year, he’s thinking about his life, and how it would be a lot more enjoyable with a woman like Aspen at his side.
Maybe crazy isn’t so bad after all.

Between Aspen’s slightly unhinged personality to Drew’s raw alpha tendencies I never stood a chance in resisting the pull of Oxygen Deprived. I hated when the story ended because these characters were:

  1. So fun to read about,
  2. Their romance was unlike any other I’d read before, and
  3. I wanted to continue reading about their life both together and separately until the end of their days; there’s sure to be a lot of laughs

To be honest, I think (heck I know) I act like a spoiled brat every time I close the pages to one of Lani Lynn Vale’s story. Well, at least until I realize that she releases a book every month and then the fan-girling and amazement begins again.

Let me back up a bit…

When I read Oxygen Deprived‘s synopsis, I didn’t think that I would like Drew’s character all that much. Usually when the word “player” or “manwhore” is used to describe the main male character in any story’s synopsis, I am less likely to read said story; I am not a fan of the whoredom. Now, as I began reading Oxygen Deprived there was a small (microscopic) moment when he did appear as if he was a player, but it was almost immediately after that moment that you learn that Drew is the furtherest thing from a player that a man could possibly be.

The thing (not his actual ‘thing’) that I loved about Drew’s character was that he was an undercover freak. See, his ‘gift’ or disability (depending on how you look at it) makes it hard for him actually be with a lot of women, hence becoming a successful ‘player.’ But, despite his reasoning or the explanation he gave Aspen, I think his non-existent player status has more to do with his no-nonsense, tell it like it is attitude; that and the fact that he has a 17 year old daughter and an ex-wife who doesn’t know when to let go and stop being a leech.

It was again that I was able to get a sense of my connection to a character based off the synopsis alone.

It was from the synopsis of Oxygen Deprived that I knew Aspen and I were going togged along great, like BFF status. She’s somewhat crazy, I’m somewhat crazy so we have a lot in common. But in all seriousness Aspen was dealt a really crappy hand thanks to her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, butthead of a brother, and selfish parents. The bright side of Aspen’s life happened to come in the form of a neighbor who was both good and compassionate, so Aspen’s life wasn’t looking too bad.

Now that I’ve finished Oxygen Deprived, it sucks that I ended up not liking a character that I really fell hard for from the Code 11-KPD SWAT series, Downy. In Oxygen Deprived, Downy, who happens to be Aspen’s stubborn and butthead of a brother, was one of my least liked characters out of the story (not as much I loathed Sam from the Freebird and The Heroes of the Dixie Wardens MC series). I was more disappointed in how far he had his head shoved up his own butt that he couldn’t see how much Aspen adored and unconditionally loved him. I don’t know what it is about these alpha men that hold grudges and their pain like safety blankets!

Oxygen Deprived was everything I needed it to be and more. I feel like it’s been a long time, until now, that I’ve read a Lani Lynn Vale story from beginning to end and enjoyed every word of it. Excellent story.

About Lani Lynn Vale

Lani Lynn Vale is a USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary and Romantic Suspense and has a love for all things romance. Lani is married to the love of her life that she met in high school. She fell in love with him because he was wearing baseball pants. Ten years later they have three perfectly crazy children and a cat named Demon who likes to wake her up at ungodly times in the night. They live in the greatest state in the world, Texas. You can find Lani in front of her computer writing away in her fictional characters world…that is until her husband and kids demand sustenance in the form of food and drink.

Witch Slapped by Dakota Cassidy (Quick Review)

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Witch Slapped by Dakota Cassidy (Quick Review)Witch Slapped by Dakota Cassidy
on June 13, 2016
Source: Publisher

"Oh, good. Not a problem. I'll invoke the Gods of Pilates. I'm sure they'd be happy to help. Hang on just one sec while I dial them up. Oh, wait. I can't. Know why I can't? Because my hands are tied behind my back with zip ties, Win!"

A rib-tickling cozy mystery complete with an ex-witch, a dead British spy, a cotton ball bat and a cast of suspects that will keep you guessing right up to the end! Witch Slapped from USA Today bestselling author Dakota Cassidy is book one in her new cozy mystery series Witchless In Seattle. Join the hunt for a murderer with Stevie, Winterbottom, and Belfry in a race against time as the local police prepare an eight by ten cell for our intrepid ex-witch.

What's a girl to do when she's a broke, shunned ex-witch with a very tiny, very hungry bat familiar named Belfry to feed?

Hello. My name is Stevie Cartwright, and I've been witchless for thirty days.

If only there was a support group for down-on-their-luck ex-witches who've had their powers slapped right out of them (literally). Just as I was licking my wounds after returning to my hometown of Ebenezer Falls, WA, and navigating my suddenly non-magical existence with the help of my familiar, the only friend I have left in the world--things got sticky.

Enter an ex-spy and newly departed spirit named Winterbottom, who's infiltrated my life with his sexy British accent and a couple of requests...

Thanks to Belfry's successful attempt to use me as a human antenna to the afterlife, I can somehow hear Win. I should be ecstatic; helping departed souls used to be my witch specialty. It's like I got the teensiest piece of my old life back. Except Win's dropped me right at a dead woman's feet.

Madam Zoltar, the town's beloved fake medium, has been murdered, and Win wants me to catch the killer.

My old life won't be worth much if it gets me whacked before my new life has barely begun--and that seems to be exactly what the killer has planned!

If Witch Slapped isn’t proof that I believe in second chances I don’t know what else will.

After the awkward and disappointing experience of listening to Bearly Accidental, I didn’t think that any Dakota Cassidy story, nor anything narrated by Hollie Jackson would work with me. Then Witch Slapped came along.

The narration of Witch Slapped, thank to Hollie Jackson, brought this story to life! While the heroine, Stevie, could be whiny in a lot of moments it didn’t sound like nails on a chalkboard.

The main supporting characters; Belfry and Win, made Witch Slapped such a treat to listen to. The mystery and comedic elements made this story and the production of it, as an audiobook, something that makes me want to listen to anything Dakota Cassidy writes and Hollie Jackson narrates.

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right by Darynda JonesFirst Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #1
on February 9, 2011
Source: Library

A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper Charley sees dead people. That's right, she sees dead people. And it's her job to convince them to "go into the light". But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice.

Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life... and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

This is a thrilling debut novel from an exciting newcomer to the world of paranormal romantic suspense. The audio includes a sneak peak of Second Grave on the Left.

A while ago, I had read First Grave on the Right in paperback form for the sake of jumping on the Charley Davidson bandwagon that seemed to be collecting passengers around the book community; heck I even bought books 1-5 because I fully expected to be blown away. It became quite clear as I found myself struggling through each chapter that I wasn’t going to have an experience like almost everyone who jumped into this series. I had an extremely hard time connecting with its story and Charley’s character, which sucked because the premise was awesome.

This time around, though, it was thanks to the reviews and recommendations of some book blogging buddies that I decided to pick First Grave on The Right back up, but this time on audio. Credited always to Lorelei King’s narration (I love her!), the story, and the unique characters, First Grave on the Right easily became a favorite.

The first few chapters of First Grave on the Right was hard to connect with, but in my determination to give this book a full second chance I kept listening…and wow.

I’m not sure if it was because of Charley’s character, Reyes’, the secondary characters, or the story itself but I found myself devouring First Grave on the Right in 2 days (I hated the breaks I had to take though, otherwise I would’ve finished this in a day).

Lorelei King makes any story an auto-buy for me, that declaration has been etched in stone.