Thursday, December 31, 2015

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: December 29, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Dukes Behaving Badly #3
When does proper behavior deserve a deliciously improper reward?

The scandalously unmarried Lady Margaret Sawford is looking for adventure—and is always up for a challenge. Her curiosity is aroused by a dangerous-looking stranger with an eye patch, an ideal companion for the life she longs for, no matter what Society might say. So when the piratical gentleman turns out to be a duke—and just as boringly proper as any other nobleman—she can't help but incite him to walk on the wild side.

Well-heeled, well-mannered, and well beyond any interest in society's expectations, the Duke of Lasham is tired of being perfect. Margaret's lush beauty and gently laughing eyes are an irresistible temptation to embrace the imperfect—and her. But if a little misbehavior is appealing, unleashing his wild side is completely seductive—as long as the lovely Margaret is the object of his passion.

Initial Reaction
A hero with an eye-patch?! Count me in!
Writing Style/Pacing
One-Eyed Dukes are Wild was my first read by Megan Frampton and I found it to be charmingly and wittily written. It's been years since I read them, but her style sort of reminds me of Julia Quinn and Eloisa James. I thought the pacing was even throughout as Margaret and Lasham formed a friendship first before their relationship became something more.

I also enjoyed how each chapter began started with a "Georgiana and the Dragon" passage, which was the ongoing serial Margaret wrote for a magazine and an amusing story on its own. I liked how each passage gave us a little hint of what's to come in the chapter.

Main Characters
Lady Margaret Sawford was a fun character to read about. She's so independent, bold, and unafraid of societal conventions. Her parents disowned her after she turned down a duke her parents wanted her to marry. Since then she's had a "scandalous" reputation and supported herself and her causes (helping less fortunate women) by writing weekly serials for a magazine and playing cards (she has a talent for remembering cards that were in play).
"The cold truth of it was that she was invited to these events not because she was a good cardplayer, but because she was a scandal, but not too scandalous. So any hostess who invited her would be seen as daring, and she would add color to the festivities, simply because of who she was."
As for Vortigern, the Duke of Lasham, despite his piratical good looks complete with an eye-patch, was very proper, socially awkward, and dull by comparison. He preferred the quiet of his own company and disliked hobnobbing with society, but it was what was expected of him so he does it. What I appreciated most about him was that he wasn't arrogant about his title and wealth. Rather, he's resigned to it--his everyday life was dedicated to his duties and responsibilities as Duke. But after he met Margaret and started hanging out with her (and I LOVED how often they were together--some historical romance couples don't nearly spend enough time together), he started to gradually blossom and be more than the Duke.
"The three ladies gawked at him as though waiting for him to continue to speak, to display more of his wondrous dukeliness for their delight. As though he were more of an object than a person."
Basically, the plot was pretty straightforward as described in the synopsis. It's just two people who didn't plan on falling for each other but did, and realized that they are better together than not. It's an opposites attract plot, but Margaret and Lasham really complimented each other--the author did a good job developing their characters and both were complex in their own way. There were no big dramatic twists but One-Eyed Dukes are Wild was still an entertaining read. Margaret and Lasham were wonderful together and while their romance was slow-building there was charged sexual tension throughout and some very feverish kissing which kept things interesting.

The cover and the synopsis both highlighted Lasham's eye-patch, but surprisingly it wasn't really a big issue in the novel. Instead, the focus was more on societal rules and strictures rather than Lasham's disfigurement. Oh, and we do get to learn how he lost his eye but it wasn't in some dashing way you'd think.

Final Thoughts
I do tend to favor darker historical romances like books by Meredith Duran or Jennifer Ashley but I still enjoyed reading One-Eyed Dukes are Wild. I wanted a lighter read to end the year and it satisfied my book craving. If you enjoy historical romances that are more on the lighter side, but still want a thought-provoking story I suggest you pick up One-Eyed Dukes are Wild.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 Bookish Goals

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 with
Hi everyone,
If you saw my post where I revisited my 2015 bookish goals last week you know that I only accomplished half of my goals. But, it's all good because 2016 is almost upon us and that means new bookish goals to tackle.

Here are my seven bookish goals for 2016.

1. Read 96 books.
I am going to set my Goodreads Challenge at 96 books because...

2. Read at least 8 books every month.
If I read 8 books every month for 12 months, I should be able to read 96 books by the end of 2016. However, I'm going to give myself some leeway because I know some months I'll be able to read more or months less than 8. That's fine. Hopefully, I'll be able to read around 7-8 books a month and won't fall too far behind.

3. Only buy up to 75 books in 2016.
I bought 148 books in 2015 and 195 books in 2014 so I have A LOT of unread books. I need to lessen the book buying and read the books I already own. I mean, 75 books is still a lot but I don't want to miss out on new releases that I'm dying to read.

4. TBR Jar.
I am going to try the TBR Jar challenge. Learn what a TBR Jar Challenge is here. However, I will be writing my own topics rather than using the topics outlined for the challenge. I'll do a separate post for my TBR Jar challenge.
Still need to decorate and
fill my TBR jar.

5. Visit at least 5 different blogs a week and leave at least one comment per blog.
I'm good with visiting blogs, but I really suck at commenting.

6. Keep connecting with the book blogging community on Twitter, Instagram and other social media.
Towards the end of 2015, I was able to make some book blogging friends on Twitter and even participated on a couple of buddy reads. I want to keep that up because it makes blogging even more fun and interesting.

7. Write everything down in a physical notebook.
In 2015 I used Goodreads, GoogleDocs, and Google Calendar to keep track of the books I read and bought and scheduling review books and blog posts. They worked for me and I'm planning to keep using them but, in 2016 I also want to write everything down by hand. There's something innately satisfying and personal in writing things down in an actual notebook and I want to give it a go.

I am so excited to get started on these. I've written them down on my notebook so they're always within sight and won't forget them like I did my my 2015 goals.

What are your 2016 bookish goals?
Happy New Year!! May 2016 bring you all the amazing books.
Happy reading,

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: December 29, 2015 (out today!)
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Wanderlust #1
At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It's also the last spot a "play-it-safe girl" like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she'll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.

After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it's up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can't resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn't enough.

Auden and Rhys soon learn there are no shortcuts as they navigate their way between life, death, and atonement, and discover something they never expected—love.

Can we just talk about that cover for a minute? Because I absolutely love it! It reminds me of the movie poster for Gone with the Wind and Australia or any of the epic romantic movies.
Writing Style/Pacing
With Every Breath was my first book by Lia Riley and it certainly won't be my last. I really enjoyed her writing style--it's sort of like a mix of Jay Crownover and Alice Clayton. There were some quick-witted wacky lines and internal dialogue that reminded me of Clayton's books but nothing over-the-top and delivers the same emotional, swoony punch like Crownover's books. The pacing is perfect too. It's a fairly short book being under 300 pages, but it didn't feel rushed nor did it drag at any point.

Plot/Main Characters
Auden just graduated from college with a journalism degree and was interviewing for an internship that she desperately wanted. To beef up her answers during her interview for the adventure magazine she mentioned that she's planning to go to Patagonia and write about the climber attempting the summit of La Aguja--which was where play-it-safe Auden found herself a few days later. 

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about Auden because she's a journalist. I mean, she's a total sweetheart and I felt for her because her twin sister was a real bitch who always brought her down. I understood her drive to secure an internship that may propel her career--it wasn't long ago that I was in her shoes. But I'm neither a fan of journalist characters nor the I'm-writing-a-secret-story-about-you-as-I'm-falling-for-you plot. I just find journalist characters sneaky as they pursue their story and I just feel so sorry for the ignorant party that I cannot root for their romance. With Every Breath didn't quite follow that plot all the way through because Auden decided early on in her acquaintance with Rhys that she's not going to pursue his story, which made me really glad and like Auden more.

As for Rhys, he was all kinds of messed up after a terrible climbing accident with his brother. Being a professional mountaineer, the accident was all over the news and rumor has it that he may have sacrificed his brother for his own survival. He refused to talk to the media about his side of the story and was attempting to climb the very dangerous La Aguja as a sort of penance for the accident. He's grumpy, brooding, and aloof. But, after rescuing Auden during a storm he found himself enjoying her company even though he didn't want to make any sort of connection with anyone. I liked Rhys a lot. He's a sexy Scottish hunk of man who talked with a brogue. There's just something about a hunky, brooding Scot who was responsible for some very swoon-worthy moments that is so damn sexy to me.

Love to Hate (some spoilers--read with discretion)
I just have to mention Auden's twin sister, Harper, because what a total toxic bitch! Who sleeps with their sister's boyfriend?! And the thing was Harper didn't even like Brett, she just did it to mess with Auden. Then, all ways she always brought Auden down... I don't know, you guys... I kinda want Harper to get her own book or novella just for the scene of her realizing her mistakes and apologizing to Auden. I also want to know why she had so much hatred towards Auden. I hate her, but I also want her side of the story.

Then, there's Deidrick the Dutchman who as annoying like a buzzing fly. When he came to Auden and Rhys's camp wanting an exclusive interview with Rhys, and Auden had to tell him off saying that he's too late because she already got it... OMG, she was doing it for Rhys but I knew her lie was going to come back and bite her in the ass!

Okay, this is not really a "love to hate" situation, but it is a spoiler so I'll include it in this section. Rhys's brother Cameron. For most of the novel I assumed he was dead--that he died during that terrible accident prior to the novel. But, it turned out he wasn't dead and may be in a similar mindset as Rhys in that he blamed himself for the accident. I was relieved. Okay, I thought, Rhys and his brother are going to repair their relationship and everything will be well. AND THEN THE TWIST HAPPENED. And I was like, WHAT?! But, I just learned that Cameron actually alive and then this...?! My heart just couldn't take it, you guys.

Final Thoughts
With Every Breath has everything you could want in a romance: fantastic main characters in sweetheart Auden and sexy Scots mountaineer Rhys, a mountain trekking adventure in an exotic setting, skillfully paced, "villians" you love to hate, and some pretty swoon-worthy moments. I highly recommend any NA and romance readers to pick up With Every Breath.

With Every Breath is already out in stores!

Even in my sleeping bag and dry shirt, her teeth chatter. If she balked at my request to undress, she’s going to go ape over this. Fuck it. There isn’t a choice.


A thin furrow appears between her brows. “Yeah?”

My stomach tightens. “I’m going to warm you.”

“How?” Her eyes widen.

I can’t hold her gaze and say what I must. “Body‑to‑body contact.”

The world outside rips apart, but in the tent, a heavy silence reigns. She shifts to a half sit. “Oh, no, it’s OK. Look, I’ll be better in a few minutes.”

“You said yourself the cold makes your asthma worse.”

“Yes, but—”

“I know you don’t have a reason to trust me. In fact, if this were normal circumstances, I’d no’ recommend it. But here we are.”

“Nothing about today is normal.” She slowly reclines to the mat, folding her arms across her chest like a mummy, eyes screwed shut.

“No harm’s going to come to you.” It sounds like I’m making a solemn oath.

She opens one eye, gives me an unfathomable look, before closing it again. I’m not used to a woman regarding me like something to endure. Uncertainty weaves through me.

I ease beside her. “This’ll go easier if you turn to the side.” Away from me.

“Good idea.” She rolls to face the tent wall. Her features are hidden, but I can hear each uneven breath, the slightly shuddering inhalation followed by a pause before giving way to a raspy exhalation.

She remains still when I reach, warily securing a handhold on her ribs, their sudden rise and fall the only sign of her silent gasp. “This all right?”

She utters no reply only a brief nod and grips the sleeping bag tighter.

“Everything will be fine, I promise you.” I keep my voice cool, aloof. Give no sign that my chest aches, as if instead of a heart, a great wallowing drunk stumbles about. I never cuddle. Prior to my last girlfriend, Sadie, my dealings with the opposite sex were kept to simple and straightforward shags. Occasionally girls tried to compete with the mountains, but they never stood a chance.

Auden gives another tentative nod, and her scent invades my senses, simple and straightforward, a hint of sweat from exertion, combined with the fresh fragrance of rain. She begins to settle, her violent shiver attacks growing fewer and further between, same with her coughing fits. I keep my pose rigid, controlled, resisting the mad urge to relax into her body as blood pounds thickly in my ears. I can’t do this, be with another person, be human. I need to be a machine. A robot with one goal and one goal alone. To conquer a mountain like La Aguja there can be no room left inside me for any other desire.

When my mind quiets and other wants are eliminated, my attention naturally focuses on visualizing the climb. Once on the rock, this single-​minded concentration will translate effortlessly into correct hand- and footholds or gear placements. In order to climb like you are the only person in the world, you can’t care about anything other than living in the moment. There can be no significant other in the mind’s periphery wielding the power to distract.

Outside the wind shakes the nylon, redoubling its assault. Zipped tight, shut away from the world, we could be anywhere. I’d always appreciated that about tents, how once inside, you became the ruler of your own cramped kingdom of cast-​off socks, sleeping bags, and carefully chosen gear. This time in Valle del Frances, away from the scene at the main climbing camp, is meant to be a chance to establish a cease-​fire in the battle with myself. Being in a tent, in the wilderness, far from a world I don’t understand and that sure as hell doesn’t understand me, is calming.

Now Auden Woods has come along and triggered a whole new conflict with her icy blue eyes.

Icy blue eyes? Looks like prolonged abstinence brings out a lad’s poetic side. If she looks back, she’ll see my mouth twisted in a humorless smile.

She doesn’t, though. She’s too busy trembling, and so I gather her closer, an unfamiliar protective sensation welling inside me. “Better?” I whisper, more a hoarse croak than anything gallant.

“Yes,” she says, turning, her full lips slightly parting to offer the word.

We’re two strangers, haven’t even shaken hands, and yet our bodies press flush. Despite every intention, mine starts to react, and Christ, quick, what are unsexy topics to ponder? When in doubt, go for geology. The Andes are the result of which type of plate boundary?

Conquering La Aguja is going to take all my mental resources. The next few days are needed for getting focused, concentrated, and prepared for the challenge ahead. Auden shifts, drawing closer, and my next breath is almost as ragged as hers.

Aye, this girl is just the sort of distraction that could ruin everything.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

New Blog Name | Undeniably Book Nerdy

Saturday, December 26, 2015 with
Hello everyone,
In less than a week it will 2016 and I am so excited to see what the new coming year will bring both in my personal life and in book blogging. Never does the potential for change and new possibilities hit me quite so hard as in the cusp of a new year.

And with the new year comes one big change for our blog: a new name. I've been wanting to change our blog name for a while now because I feel like we've kind of outgrown the name "Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks." For one, Leslie is barely blogging anymore. She's at university now, is very busy, and has other priorities. So, it's a bit misleading to call it "Michelle & Leslie" when almost all of our content is coming from me. Of course, Leslie will still blog once in a while when time allows (mostly during breaks and summer vacation) because she's still as big a reader as ever.

Another reason is that Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks is such a mouthful. It doesn't roll on the tongue well--really, it's too long. When I first started the blog I didn't really give name (as well as the URL) much thought. I just wanted to start blogging already and I just went with the first name I thought of. Then, when Leslie started blogging with me I just added on her name.

Also, I thought our former name is very limiting. We want to open up the blog to potential co-bloggers sometime in the future and we want them to feel some ownership to the blog. I don't think they will if the blog is called Michelle & Leslie's.

So, after 6 years as Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks, we've decided (despite Leslie's initial reluctance) that our new name will be Undeniably Book Nerdy. It's shorter, rolls off the tongue better, and it still perfectly describes us because we are undeniably book nerdy.

BUT, only our name will change. Everything else will stay the same. Our content and our focus on YA, NA and romance novels will stay the same, our blog's look stay the same (we're quite attached to our blog design--it was custom made for us), and our URL will remain the same.

I am also personally hoping that with our new blog name will come a new vitality and enthusiasm in how I tackle and write my posts. I still love book blogging, but admittedly over the years I have lost a bit of my... zest for it.

So, what do you all think of our new blog name? I hope you like it as much as we do!

Happy reading,

Friday, December 25, 2015

2015 Bookish Goals | Accomplished?

Friday, December 25, 2015 with
Hello everyone,
I hope you're all having a very merry day filled with loved ones and friends, great food, and all the books on my wish list.

At the beginning of 2015, I listed 5 bookish goals that I hope to accomplish by this time of the year. It is now time to look back and see if I did.

Goal 1: Read 80 books (or more) in 2015.

Yep, I did that. Actually, I read over 80 books! Right now I'm at 91 and since I have about a week left of 2015, I can probably squeeze in a couple more books.

Goal 2: Accept less review books and read more of the books that I bought/buy.

Nope. I read more of my own books in 2015 than in the previous year but the review-books/my-own-books is still skewed towards review books.

Goal 3: Finish series.

I wanted to marathon/finish a series every month. That didn't happen.

Goal 4: Blog more, comment more and make more bookish friends on the Internet.

This one is actually 3 goals lumped together. I only did a little more half of the number of blog posts in 2015 than I did in 2014. BUT I stopped doing many of the memes and focused my energy on writing blog posts that were more thoughtful and had more substance. So, while I didn't blog "more" I blogged better.

Since, I wasn't doing most of the memes I did't comment as much, but I did try to at least comment back to all the wonderful bloggers who took that time to comment on my posts. But, I do really need to be better at commenting.

As for bookish friends, towards the end of the year I started participating in Twitter chats and I met a lot of awesome tweeps who are so passionate about blogging and books. I also participated in 2 buddy reads, which was AWESOME and I finally was able to experience a sort of "book club" discussion that I've always wanted to be a part of.

Goal 5: Buy less books. 

I bought a total of 148 books in 2015 (less than the 195 books I bought in 2014), but that's still a very significant number of books and my wallet is still giving me the cold shoulder. But, I did buy less books so yay?
No, Belle, you need to go home and read the books you already own!


So, overall, I only accomplished about half of my 2015 bookish goals, which is okay but not great. I plan to do better in 2016. I realize I need to set more precise goals that are more specific and measurable.  

How did you do in 2015?

Happy reading,

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: December 22, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Cedar Ridge #2
Bailey Moore has an agenda: skiing in the Rockies, exploring castles in Europe, ballroom dancing in Argentina. Now that she has a second lease on life, she's determined not to miss a thing. What she doesn't realize is that item #1 comes with a six-foot-one ski god hot enough to melt a polar ice cap. She doesn't want to miss out on him either, but Hudson Kincaid isn't the type of guy to love and let go. And as gorgeous as Cedar Ridge is, she's not planning to stick around.

As head of ski patrol at his family's resort, Hud thinks he's seen it all. But never has he run into someone like Bailey. She might look delicate, but her attitude is all firecracker. And her infectious joy touches something deep within him that he's been missing far too long. Now he'll just have to convince Bailey to take a chance on her biggest adventure yet . . . something rare and all kinds of wonderful.

Out of all the books I've read by Jill Shalvis, My Kind of Wonderful is the most somber.

I still liked it overall because it's by Jill and I'm convince she can't write a bad book, but there were just so many things in this book that the lightheartedness down despite Jill's signature humor and character shenanigans.

It doesn't say this in the synopsis, but I don't think it's a spoiler because you learn it early on. Bailey had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and just had the all-clear three months prior to the start of the novel. Now that she beat the disease, she wants to start living and experiencing life. One of the things on her list is to paint a mural and she was contacted by Hudson Kincaid's mom to just that at Cedar Ridge, the ski resort owned by the Kincaid siblings. At first Hud was reluctant to have the mural done for reasons, but his entire [crazy] family was all for it and reluctantly agreed. 

Hud was a typical Jill Shalvis hero: a hardworking, responsible alpha with way too much on his plate. He's head of ski patrol, he's a town cop, he's worried about his mom who was losing touch of reality more and more, he's worried about his twin brother who he hasn't had contact with for almost a decade after their huge fight, and plus their ski resort was in financial trouble. He runs on 2-3 hours of sleep most nights and didn't have time for a serious relationship. Neither did Bailey, who was not planning to stay. She had a list of things she wants to do and places she wanted to visit now that she had a second chance at life. Of course, love always have other ideas...

Kudos to Jill Shalvis for featuring a heroine who dealt with cancer for ten years and her hard-won fight against the disease still evident on her body. "Beneath her ski cap, she'd nothing but short blond peach fuzz... the kind of short you got from being sick." I love Bailey. I love her strength, her need to stand on her own two feet after being sick for so long, and her enthusiasm for life. But at the same time I couldn't help but be pessimistic because from my personal experiences, that damn disease always comes back. So, because of my personal feelings, there was a layer of somberness to this book I couldn't quite shake.

As for Hud, he was a perfectly sexy, overworked hunk of man (see cover for said hunk). However, while he had his own set of unique problems and baggage he had to deal with, his character didn't really stand out for me. There was nothing wrong with his character, but I've also seen him before in previous Jill Shalvis heroes.

Like in Second Chance Summer (the first Cedar Ridge novel, which you don't have to read it to enjoy My Kind of Wonderful), my favorite part were the wacky, meddling Kincaid siblings and their significant others. Gray and Penny were back, still hooking up like bunnies all over the resort much to Hud's (and previously Aidan's, who had since joined the club now that he had Lily) consternation and burning eyes, but were always there to call him out on his pigheadedness and for advice and support. We also see Aidan and Lily, Kenna (who I hope will get her own book in the future), Mitch, and learn more about Hud's mom Carrie, who was mentioned in Second Chance Summer but we didn't really see her. Carrie was so sweet, but again there's that layer of sadness there too because she's quickly losing touch of reality. Then, because of this, I am angry at Hud's brother Jacob because he left his brother to deal with their mom on their own. I don't care how hurt he was after their teenaged fight or that he sends money to cover half of their mom's stay at the nursing home. It doesn't excuse him from abandoning his family without word for almost ten years. Jacob's book, Nobody But You, is next in the series and I'm looking forward to seeing how he'll redeem himself and fix his relationship with Hud and the rest of his family.

Overall, My Kind of Wonderful was still a very good read. I had some issues with it (most are personal), but like I mentioned in previous reviews, Jill Shalvis writes very addicting, very readable books. As long as she keeps writing, I'll keep reading them because I can count on her to keep delivering the best fun, humorous, swoon-worthy contemporary romances.

My Kind of Wonderful is already out in stores!

Read my review of the first Cedar Ridge novel Second Chance Summer here.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hello everyone,
It's officially [finally] Winter Break!! That means all the reading and (hopefully) blogging for me for the next two weeks. Yay!

I already posted my ten most anticipated YA debuts and ten non-debut releases of 2016. Today, I am sharing my ten most anticipated romance and new adult releases of 2016.

It's by Julie James. 'Nuff said. March 7.

I read Madame X (my review) and I need to know what will happen next. March 1.

ASHER!!! I've been wanting to read his book since Bringing Home the Bad Boy (my review) and we're finally getting his story two books later (I also reviewed Rescuing the Bad Boy and A Bad Boy for Christmas). YES!!! April 26.

Scandal Never Sleeps (my review) was awesome so, of course, I want to read about the next Perfect Gentleman. January 5.

Sequel to Seven Nights to Surrender (my review), which I loved, and I'm dying to see how Kate and Rylan will get their happily ever after. April 5.

I'm counting down the days until the release so I can devour it just like I did with The Deal (read about my The Deal-induced book hangover) and The MistakeJanuary 11.

Overruled was just okay but Sustained was AWESOME (my review). I'm really looking forward to Appealed. January 19.

I'm obsessed with Christina Laure's Beautiful Bastard series. I'm about to start the Wild Seasons series so I must acquire this one so I can just keep reading. February 2.

I don't like reading paranormal romance anymore but the Darkest London series is an exception and the books are amazing. This is the 7th book. June 28.

I've only read one book by Jay Crownover (it was Rule and I loved it!) and I don't know how it happened, but I'm collecting her books. I have all six of her Marked Men series, all 3 of her Welcome to the Point books, and, yep, most likely I'm going to get her new Saints of Denver series. January 5.

Happy reading,

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: NAL
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
Former tennis player Easton Bradbury is trying to be the best teacher she can be, trying to reach her bored students and trying to forget her past. What brought her to this stage in her life isn’t important. She can’t let it be. But now one parent-teacher meeting may be her undoing…

Meeting Tyler Marek for the first time makes it easy for Easton to see why his son is having trouble in school. The man knows how to manage businesses and wealth, not a teenage boy. Or a young teacher, for that matter, though he tries to. And yet…there is something about him that draws Easton in—a hint of vulnerability, a flash of attraction, a spark that might burn.

Wanting him is taboo. Needing him is undeniable. And his long-awaited touch will weaken Easton’s resolve—and reveal what should stay hidden…

Misconduct caught my attention because the female main character, Easton Bradbury, is a teacher and, me being a teacher myself, I was very interested in a main character who shares my profession. We don't get nearly enough teachers in romance novels--we have romantic lives too, you know?

Before Easton became a teacher, she was a famous professional tennis player. But, after a horrible accident that killed her parents and younger sister, she just didn't have the same passion for the sport anymore and left the tennis world in a cloud of scandal after a show of temper during a big match. She got her teaching degree and landed a job teaching high school history in a private school. That's where she found out the man she met at a party previously and whom she had a hot moment with was one of her student's father, Tyler Marek.

Tyler was 12 years older than Easton, a very successful businessman, and planning to run for senate. He's also trying to reconnect with his teenaged son who wanted nothing to do with him. Since meeting Easton, Tyler couldn't stop thinking of her. They were mutually attracted to each other, but they both know a relationship with each other could bring scandal. But, of course, they couldn't stay away from each other long and soon were indulging in some hot, heavy and dirty meetings in the classroom and in the office.

Misconduct was an emotionally charged read. I wasn't expecting that. I thought was in for a fluffier, super sexy read. I got the super sexy but I was pleasantly surprised that it was on the darker side, with deeper emotions and issues involved. I found Easton's character to be complex. She had a lot of baggage with what happened to her family and the fame she had growing up. She's standoffish and doesn't make friends easily, preferring to be alone than opening herself up to others, and runs hot and cold. She also suffered from mild OCD--checking and counting certain activities like walking or checking the door several times to calm herself down. She was flawed and wasn't completely likable, but my heart went out to her anyway. Really, a character does not have to be likable to be compelling and that's Easton.

As for Tyler, I didn't warm up to him until much later on because of his actions. He was one of those parents who questioned Easton's teaching methods based on his preconceived notions without really taking the time to understand the reasons behind Easton's choices. That really annoyed me. As a teacher who has had experiences with these types of parents, it was frustrating and stressful having to defend my method of teaching. Of course, my issues with Tyler's character is personal so another reader might not feel the same way. I understood the author's purpose for having Easton and Tyler clash against each other in the beginning--they had that I'm-extremely-attracted-to-you-but-I-really-dislike-you thing going on and it made that first encounter between them all the more illicit/filthy/sexy.

I ended up enjoying Misconduct more than I expected. I was a little nervous starting this book because Penelope Douglas was a new-to-me author and I didn't know what to expect in term of her writing style. I had nothing to worry about--the writing was on-point. It was straightforward and readable--in a new adult read I want to be able to consume the content easily and I got that in this novel. I enjoyed that the chapters alternated between Easton and Tyler's first-person narrative, because with a story like theirs it really helped me understand their characters and the choices they made better.

If you need a break from the light and fluffy or the too dark and violent but still crave that seductive/sexy/dirty sex, Misconduct is a happy medium. With compelling characters and an absorbing love story, Misconduct is a romance not to be missed.

Misconduct is already out in stores!

For a little taste of Misconduct, check out the excerpt I posted earlier this week. The scene is part of the night Easton and Tyler first met.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Hello everyone,
I have four more instructional days until Winter Break! I am counting down the hours because, man, do I need a break.

Two weeks ago I posted ten 2016 YA debuts I am most anticipating. Today, I am featuring ten non-debut YAs I am most excited for releasing during the first half of the year.

Kestrel and Arin needs to happen by the end of this book. That is all. March 29.

The Girl at Midnight (my review) was fantastic. I need to read this sequel. July 12.

This one is inspired by Vlad the Impaler. I was emailed this about it: Vlad, the brutal prince is now Lada, the brutal princess. Lada, Radu the Handsome, and Mehmed the Conqueror are locked in a poisonous friendship with their ruthless ambition second only to their love for one another. Yep, I'm sold! June 28.

I'm obsessed with The Wrath and the Dawn so, of course, I'm DYING to read its sequel. May 3.

Confession: I haven't actually read books 1 and 2 in this series, but I know I'm going to like the series (if not love it) once I get around to reading the books. August 2.

Three words: No love triangle. (proof) January 5.

From Ksenia: "The main character, Elli, has hints of Lia (from The Kiss of Deception) and Elisa (from The Girl of Fire and Thorns), which obviously means that I became an instant fan! In the book, Elli goes on a journey to find out who she truly is and what sort of role she has to play within the messy politics and society of the kingdom—a role that she thought she was prepared for." Yes, please! January 5.

The Vault of Dreamers (my review) was such a unique read and after that ending I am so very curious where the story will go from there. February 16.

The Storyspinner (my review) was one of my favorite reads of 2016. You better believe I'm going to read the conclusion to the duology. March 22.

I really like the premise: A girl who must say goodbye to everything she knows after a storm wreaks havoc on her hometown... that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever. April 26.

Happy reading,