Recent Reviews...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tour: A Review of To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne

To Love and to Cherish (The Wedding Belles #3) by Lauren Layne
Genre: Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Pocket Books

Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, a contemporary and witty romance series about three high-powered New York City women who can plan any wedding—but their own.

Alexis Morgan has spent the past six years devoted to turning her tiny start-up into Manhattan’s premiere wedding planning company, The Wedding Belles. Now that her business is thriving, it’s time to turn towards her much neglected personal life, and Alexis approaches her relationships like she does everything else: with a plan. Not a part of that plan is Logan Harris, the silent partner in the Belles, and the one person who’s been there for her since the very beginning. But Alexis needs someone fun, and Logan’s all business, all the time—except when a late night at the office ends with an unexpected kiss that leaves the usually cool and together Alexis reeling.

Logan has lusted after Alexis since the day he walked into the tiny Harlem apartment that used to double as her office. But the ambitious wedding planner has always been untouchable...until now. Alexis has made it clear that she’s on the dating market—and equally clear that he’s not in the running. But when Alexis finds herself in need of a date for her sister’s last minute wedding in Florida, Logan knows it’s the perfect time to show Alexis that there’s more to him than numbers and spreadsheets—and beneath the pinstripes and glasses lies a hot-blooded heartthrob. As Florida’s sultry days turn into even hotter nights, Logan’s out to convince Alexis that the fling of a lifetime could just maybe turn into forever...

To Love and to Cherish is the final book in The Wedding Belles series by Lauren Layne. I was so excited to finally get Alexis and Logan's story, and let me tell you, they don't disappoint one bit. Their story was all consuming for me. I just couldn't put it down. Going into this book, I felt like I knew Alexis better than Logan, but there was a whole lot more to learn about her. And Logan? I couldn't wait to see what he was like, and now he's my favorite of the guys in this series. They had undeniable chemistry, and they sure know how to turn on the steam. I've enjoyed each book in this series, and it was sad to see it end, but I'm thrilled with the overall outcomes of these characters. I'm going to miss them though. The characters of The Wedding Belles Series felt like friends, and I hate saying bye to friends.

The ARC of To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne was kindly provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley for review. The opinions are my own.

The sexy British accented startled Alexis out of her thoughts, and she glanced up, both alarmed and intrigued to find that the face that awaited her was every bit as appealing as the voice.
The man was about her age—early, maybe midtwenties—and ridiculously cute. His hair was dark and maybe just a touch too long, as though he intended to get a haircut but kept forgetting. The eyes were brown and friendly, accented by trendy black-framed glasses.
The chunky cable-knit sweater with elbow patches—for real—bordered on dorky, but then, Alexis had always had a soft spot for dorky. He had a bit of the Clark Kent thing going on, which had always been far more her type than the overrated Superman.
“Hi,” she replied quickly, realizing that she’d been staring.
His smile grew wider as he extended a hand. “Logan Harris.”
Darn. Even the name was good.
“Alexis,” she said.
“Does that come with a last name?” he teased, lowering himself to the vacant barstool beside her.
“Not to strange men,” she retorted.
“I could buy you a drink. Get rid of the ‘strange’ part.”
Alexis’s smile slipped as she remembered that romance, even flirting, wasn’t part of her plan. She’d learned the hard way that she could have one or the other—her own business or a boyfriend—not both. And even if she wanted the latter, the latter didn’t want her back.
“No thanks; I’m fine,” she said, letting the slightest amount of chill enter her voice. The ice-princess treatment, Roxanne called it.
Logan shrugged, undeterred. “All right then. May I borrow your menu?”
She nodded, and he picked it up, perusing it for several moments and paying her no attention.
It was both a relief and also a bit of an insult, if she was being entirely honest, to be given up on so easily.
Alexis tried to turn her attention back to her laptop but watched out of the corner of her eye as he finally shut the menu, waiting patiently to catch the bartender’s eye.
“Hi there,” he said, when the bartender ambled back over. “I’d like a Stella, and a maybe bite to eat?”
Alexis didn’t miss the once-over that the bartender gave Logan before the curvy redhead leaned over the bar, displaying perky boobs as she clicked her pen and pulled a notepad out of her back pocket.
“Shoot,” the bartender said flirtatiously, looking a good deal friendlier than she had when she’d spoken to Alexis.
Not that Alexis blamed her. A cute Brit could do that to a girl.
“All right then,” Logan said. “I’d like the burger, medium, with Swiss. Fish and chips, extra tartar, and . . . how’s your chicken club?”
The bartender blinked. “It’s good. But you want all that?”
“I do. Thank you.”
“Suit yourself,” she said, scribbling Logan’s order on the pad.
“Hungry?” Alexis couldn’t resist asking after the bartender moved away.
Logan gave a sheepish smile. “I’m a recovering student. I sometimes get so wrapped up in my day that I forget to eat.”
“A recovering student. What does that mean?”
He turned slightly toward her. “Someone’s showing plenty of interest in a strange man.”
She bit her lip. “I’m sorry if I was rude before. I’m just not really in the market for . . . you know.”
He gave her an easy smile. “Everyone’s in the market for a friend, Alexis.”
She opened her mouth and then shut it as she realized he was right. She could use a friend. She’d spent her entire life in Boston and knew almost nobody in New York. This guy seemed nice and nonthreatening enough—what would be the harm in a little conversation over dinner? It had been too long since she’d had somebody to share a meal with.
Logan seemed to know the moment she capitulated, because he turned more fully toward her. “A recovering student, Alexis, is a recent graduate. One who hasn’t quite absorbed that there will be no more finals, no more requisite all-nighters, and no more dorm sex.”
Alexis laughed. “Undergrad, then?”
He gave her a wry look. “How young do I look, darling? MBA from Columbia. Just finished up end of last year.”
She felt a little stab of relief that he wasn’t twenty-two.
He leaned toward her slightly. “Twenty-five next month, just in case you were wondering. As a friend.”
She tried to hide her smile and failed. “Columbia, huh? You’re a long way from home.”
“Noticed that, did ya?” He winked. “I came out here for undergrad, also Columbia. Always figured I’d go back to London and maybe someday I will, but . . .” He shrugged. “Seems I have stuff to do here first.”
“Such as?” She took a sip of her wine, dismayed to see that it was half-empty.
“Well, this will probably shock you, given my vast amount of brawn, but I’m an accountant. Or at least I will be, once I get my business up and running.”
Alexis was impressed. “Your own business?”
Most twentysomethings, even those with an entrepreneurial bent, opted to get a few years of work under their belts for someone else before branching out on their own.
He nodded. “I’m working out of my flat for now, but I’m hoping to lease some office space soon, get some legitimacy. If nothing else to get my father off my back.”
“He’s not a fan of your plan?” Alexis asked.
Logan’s shoulder lifted, and for the first time he seemed a little sad. “Both parents have had it in their head that I’d come home. Run the family business in London.”
“Which is . . . ?”
He spun his beer glass idly. “Financial consulting firm. My father’s the CEO, Mum’s the COO.”
“Wow, that’s . . .”
“Scary?” Logan supplied.
“I was going to say impressive. That they work together—without killing each other, I mean.”
“They’re in love. It’s atrocious,” he said with a wink. “What about your folks?”
Alexis laughed. “Not in love. They divorced when I was in high school. Dad’s remarried and happy now, I think. Mom not so much.”
“And you?” he said. “Are you happy, Alexis?”
She pursed her lips, surprised and yet not entirely unsettled by the personal question. “It’s been a while since anyone asked me that. Since I even thought about it, really.”
“Think it out. I’ll wait,” he said with a wink.
She didn’t have to think that long. “I’m almost happy.”
“You sound quite confident on that.”
She shrugged. “Let’s just say that I need a few things to fall into place in my professional life, but once that happens . . . yeah. I’ll be happy.”
She’d make sure of it.

Don't forget to read my reviews of the other books in this series!

Check out my reviews of some of this author's other books!

Lauren Layne is the USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband (who was her high school sweetheart--cute, right?!) and plus-sized Pomeranian.

In 2011, she ditched her corporate career in Seattle to pursue a full-time writing career in Manhattan, and never looked back.

In her ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.  Check out my interview with Lauren Layne.

To learn more about Lauren Layne and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookPinterestInstagram, and Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Meet the Author! An Interview with Brittany Quagan, Author of Ren: Awakened

Ren: Awakened by Brittany Quagan
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal/Romance)
Date Published:  August 2, 2016
Publisher: Balboa Press

Seventeen-year-old Ren Nagel knows that the strange things she's seen are real--even if no one else believes her. But, when she's locked up in a psychiatric hospital; she loses hope that anyone will ever truly be on her side.

Then everything changes. With the help of a new friend, Ren breaks out. It's when she's on the run that she learns who she really is.

Hunted by evil, Ren must learn to control a power she never knew she had, organize a coalition of people she never knew existed, and remind humanity why fighting the darkness is a big part of being human.

Sometimes, feeling different is much more than just a feeling. For Ren, it means the fate of the world.

Check back soon for a review of this amazing book!

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was old enough to pick up a pen and make sense of what I was seeing in my head all the time. Stories have been playing in my mind for even longer than that. I always knew writing was a huge part of my life path because I found it selfish to see such magical things and not be able to share them with others in some way.  

What inspired you to write REN: Awakened?
The entire REN series was this story that I pretty much lived and wrote along the way. It was in my head forever, but I didn’t have the logistics down. It was actually a road trip a few years ago with real-life Kiki (another main character in the series) that really launched it from an idea into an actual story. 

What was the weirdest thing you had to google while doing research?
What is actually happening to your teeth when you chew on tinfoil hahaha

Would you ever want to turn your book into a movie?
Without a doubt. 

Which of your characters do you relate to most and why?
You know, I feel like each character is very much one facet of my many personalities. I am a Gemini, after all. Gage has this anger and hostility because he just can’t let go of the past, and I feel like that’s something so many people battle in different areas of their lives – and that was a HUGE lesson for me – letting go of the past and just being present.
Ren is so me. Anyone who knows me and who has read the book always says, “YOU’RE HER. WHEN I READ, THAT’S ALL I HEAR AND SEE IS YOU!”
She’s snarky, she’s sarcastic, she’s petrified, yet she wears this mask of courage, and she’s faced with learning really hard lessons about herself and the world that forces her to find strength she never knew she had. That was my entire life growing up. 

What is a secret about you that nobody else knows?
Ooph, this is a great question. To be honest, I try really hard not to have any secrets because I hid who I really was from the world for so long and I think it’s so important to embrace all aspects of yourself – even the shadow side. So I let my freak flag fly high, no matter what. But, I guess a secret would be that I still sometimes get social anxiety and I get really weird and awkward whenever people talk to me about “successful” things I’ve achieved or congratulate me on things because I feel like I haven’t done anything great. But that’s only sometimes. Other days I’m like, “You go girl!” And I high five myself. I’m just a human still learning self-love and empowerment, and I’m not afraid to admit that. 

If your real life as a teenager was a Young Adult book, what would you, the main character, be like?
Oh boy. At first, I was going to say, “Pshh you already got it with Ren!” But then I realized you said “as a teenager.” Ren’s life is the PG version of my teenage years. Her anxiety and fears are all very real. But my coping mechanisms during my teen years were drugs and alcohol. I was depressed, battled eating disorders, anxiety up the wazoo. And I used to think I was a badass, so I would fist fight people. Sometimes I’m convinced I’m actually an Obtruder like Kiki … because the difference between where I was then and where I’m at now are light years apart, just an entirely different … no I’ll say transformed … person. 
So my main character would be a teen struggling exceptionally hard to function as a person, who has zero self love, esteem, or empowerment, but in the end, proves that change and overcoming anything is possible when you actually want and choose to.  

What book have you read too many times to count?
This is a toss up between Harry Potter (so cliché) and The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. 

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
When you think you’re done, you’re not. You’re never done. Even after it’s published, you’ll still want to change a million things. Perfectionism is a bitch. 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
How much I’ve actually dealt with in my life in such a short amount of time. So much of the series is really an autobiography with just added fiction. And how much I can actually achieve if I want to. I didn’t think I could do it. But then I did. And that was freaking awesome. 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I have an amazing business in CT for my big kid job. I own an intuitive development and healing center where I do Intuitive Life Coaching & Counseling, help people develop their intuitive abilities, and heal from wherever they’re struggling in their life. It’s so fulfilling and gratifying, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Plus I’ll admit, it’s super cool being psychic. Childhood dreams DO come true!
And I also love to go on adventures, travel, hang out with my friends and family – all that normal stuff since my life is pretty abnormal.

Are any of the things in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
The majority is based on real life. I call it my autobiography on fiction steroids. 

Brittany Quagan, known by family and friends as "Brittles," was born in Connecticut, twenty-something years ago and spent most of her life day dreaming like the stereo-typical Gemini she is.

Growing up, she wanted nothing more than to live a life of magic, mayhem, and writing, never knowing her dreams were being manifested into a reality with every wish and intention.

As a teen, her anxiety-riddled existence became nothing less than a burden, but she was determined to escape it and convinced there had to be more going on than just "being anxious." It wasn't until she met a new group of friends who guided her down a path of understanding energy and intuition that her life changed and she was able to overcome this.
Today, Brittany owns Journeys: School for the Soul, LLC in Windsor, CT.; an anxiety relief, intuitive development & healing center to help others who suffer from anxiety/panic disorder, those who believe in the unseen to tap into their intuitive selves, and to help people grow, find empowerment, manifest like a boss, and heal from wherever it is they feel stuck.

Ren's story isn't one that just came to Brittany; it's a story she lived. Most of what you read about in the adventure-filled series are experiences that are very real, that actually happened as it is entirely based on Brittany's life, and people she has met along the way. The series is one that's dwelled inside Brittany since she was a child, but couldn't be told until she finished living it for herself.

When Brittany isn't teaching, counseling, or writing, you'll find her traveling with friends  & family on a quest for adventure wherever she can, dying her hair every color of the rainbow, playing with her three nephews, trying craft beers, ruthlessly rating buffalo wings from all over the country, and talking to the moon. Most recently, she traveled to Alaska to dance on a glacier and bike down a mountain crying from hysterical laughter and extreme fear of plummeting to her death.

REN: Awakened is her first published book.

To learn more about Brittany Quagan and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.