Saturday, August 27, 2016

Daring the Bad Boy by Monica Murphy

Truth or Dare was never this much fun...

Annie McFarland is sick of being a shy nobody. A session at summer camp seems like the perfect opportunity to reinvent herself—gain some confidence, kiss a boy, be whoever she wants to be. A few days in, she’s already set her sights on ├╝ber-hottie Kyle. Too bad her fear of water keeps her away from the lake, where Kyle is always hanging out.

Jacob Fazio is at Camp Pine Ridge after one too many screw-ups. Junior counseling seems like punishment enough, but the rigid no-fraternizing-with-campers rules harsh his chill. When a night of Truth or Dare gets him roped into teaching Annie how to swim, she begs him to also teach her how to snag Kyle.

Late-night swim sessions turn into late-night kissing sessions...but there’s more on the line than just their hearts. If they get caught, Jake’s headed straight to juvie, but Annie’s more than ready to dare him to reveal the truth.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains references to drinking, sexual situations, adult language, and an intense bad boy hero who will melt your heart.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This felt like a perfect book for Monica Murphy's YA debut and I look forward to seeing what she does in the future. Daring the Bad Boy was such a sweet young adult romance and I really enjoyed the fact that we got both Annie and Jake's points of view. I think young readers will have no trouble relating to Annie and falling in love with Jake.

Annie, is a shy 16-year-old that decides to go to summer camp in hopes of gaining some confidence and maybe overcoming her fear of water. Jacob (Jake) has gotten into trouble one too many times and his father convinces the judge to let him do community service as a counselor at Summer camp. It's here that he somehow finds himself blackmailed into teaching camper Annie to swim. Now, as long as nobody finds out that he's breaking the one rule he was given about fraternizing with the campers, everything should be fine, right?

Occasionally, young adult romances can be such a hit or miss for those of us in our twenties, and as an older reader, this one just made me feel really OLD. I personally only ever went to summer school like once and I'm pretty sure I was 13 or younger, but maybe high schoolers do these days? Does this mean I'm getting old? Regardless, it's not that I didn't like Daring the Bad Boy, because I did, but as an older reader, it just seemed more suited for a younger audience. I loved seeing how much both Annie and Jake's characters grew, but Annie's character just seemed so young at first. All in all, it was a sweet story and I'd give it a 3.5-star rating.

This was a great read for the summer. The camp setting definitely kept it just right. I absolutely enjoyed the story and had no problem right through to the end.

As an adult reader, I found the story to be refreshing. It was sweet and realistically innocent. The characters' thoughts and emotions were nicely done and age appropriate in comparison with some I've read lately.

Annie has suffered through a tragedy in the past that formed the person that she is in the present, but she's determined to change that. She's ready to step out of her comfort zone and push herself towards her goals. The only problem, she's complicating everything herself.

Jacob also has had a rough past. Some bad decisions have landed him in trouble that he didn't want in the first place. He's now got the reputation of a bad boy, but he's just a wounded boy underneath.

They both have a lot of soul searching to do this summer and just maybe, they could help one another out.

I enjoyed this book. It was sweet, entertaining, and a nicely balanced mix of teenage fun and emotions. I'd definitely recommend it.

4 Stars from the adult perspective
5 Stars from the teen perspective
4.5 in total

Monica Murphy is a new-to-me author, and right from the first page I knew I'd love this book. I was immediately hooked. As soon as I was finished, I checked out the author's backlist for my future reading enjoyment.

Daring the Bad Boy is a perfect summer read, especially for young adults who want to feel the warm and fuzzies of budding love. But also perfect for those young at heart who wish to be transported back to a more innocent time, where they can relive the angst and anticipation of having a crush, and getting that first kiss was the only thing on your mind.

Annie was quintessentially a teenage girl. She was scared, insecure, yet very brave. She made mistakes, but apologized and learned a lesson. She was crushing on a boy who she didn't know just because everyone else thought he was hot and wanted him, but she admitted it to herself how that was shallow. I appreciated the author for pointing it out, as I felt it a good moral for young adult readers. Why are you crushing on the guy? If it's looks, or because everyone else wants him, that says a lot about how shallow you are. Like him for him, and expect the same in return.

Annie is terrified of water after losing her baby brother. At 16, she decides to no longer live in fear, choosing to go to summer camp... summer camp that involves swimming. Annie's scared yet brave attitude brought me back to how I was terrified of my own shadow but would still just 'do it' to get it over with.

Daring the Bad Boy has two narrators: Annie and Jacob. Jacob is the classic wounded, brooding boy every girl wants to tame, but at his core, he's a really genuine person. But there is also a hottie named Kyle, who blinds Annie with his looks. Obviously it's no surprise who Annie chooses, seeing as how we only have two narrators. That aside, I did like Kyle, even if he was written as dumb as a box of rocks, and it was frustrating that Annie was forcing her crush when it wasn't organic. I got the vibe (but it wasn't shown) that Kyle actually had a thing for the Australian lifeguard, as he mentioned the guy's hotness and wanted to pull a prank to get the guy's underwear. But that's neither here nor there – just an observation.

Instead of going on and on about how Daring the Bad Boy brought me back to the overpowering sensation of being a 16-year-old girl in full-blown infatuation-mode, I'll post my favorite quote.

...My father told me when I was around thirteen that I should watch out for the quiet girls. "They'll sneak up on you and blow your mind. Not only are they smart and won't put up with any of your shit, but they're usually beautiful, too. You just don't realize how perfect they are because they're so damn quiet all the time. They'll sneak their way right into your heart. Once that happens, you're done for," he'd said.

At the time, I thought he was full of crap. What did he know about the quiet ones? They were boring.

But now, staring at Annie, thinking about how she was sneaking up on me and she didn't even know it, I realize that maybe he was right. Which meant I was totally done for...
– Jake.

Young Adult age-range: 13+ due to kissing and a handful of f-bombs.

New York Times, USA Today, and number one international best-selling author Monica Murphy is a native Californian who lives in the foothills below Yosemite with her husband and children. A workaholic who loves her job, when she’s not busy writing, she also loves to read and travel with her family. She writes new adult and young adult romance and is a firm believer in happily ever after. She also writes contemporary romance as USA Today best-selling author Karen Erickson.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Daring the Bad Boy (Endless Summer) by Monica Murphy to read and review.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Boyfriend Bet by Chris Cannon

Zoe Cain knows that Grant Evertide is way out of her league. So naturally, she kisses him. Out of spite. Not only is Grant her brother’s number-one nemesis, but he has zero interest in being tied down to one girl. She’s shocked—and secretly thrilled—when they start spending more time together. Non-exclusively, of course, but that doesn’t mean Zoe can’t change his mind, one PDA and after-school detention at a time.

Zoe’s brother claims Grant is trying to make her his “Ringer,” an oh-so-charming tradition where a popular guy dates a non-popular girl until he hooks up with her, then dumps her. Zoe threatens to neuter Grant with hedge clippers if he's lying but Grant swears he isn’t trying to trick her. Still, that doesn’t mean Grant is the commitment type—even if winning a bet is on the line.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains multiple PDAs, after-school detentions, and gambling on the side.
Warning: betting on a boyfriend is bad for your health.

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Book 2
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I didn't read book #1 in the Boyfriend Chronicles, but I personally felt like book #2 could be read as a standalone book. From what I understand The Boyfriend Bet takes place in the same world as the first book in this series, but with new characters, which made it easy to follow.

Zoey Cain is a local girl who just transferred to the private high school in her area. She immediately meets Grant, who just happens to be her brother's nemesis. So, of course she decides to kiss him right on the spot just to annoy her brother! And so it begins...

I really liked Zoey, she was fun, sassy, and confident. Also, Zoey and Grant had great chemistry, especially while making all those baked goods in the kitchen! Now, let’s not forget Zoey's Grandma, Monica, who was such a TREAT! Although, I really liked Zoey's best friend, Delia, and I totally thought they made quite the duo, but I did find it a little annoying that it seemed like they did everything together. Nonetheless, I thought it was an enjoyable quick read. It seemed like an appropriately placed YA romance for ages 16+. The Boyfriend Bet is definitely a charming tale and I think most readers (even the older crowd) will enjoy it. I look forward to seeing what Chris Cannon whips up next!

The Boyfriend Bet is the second title in the Boyfriend Chronicles series. Its connection to Blackmail Boyfriend is via Jane – Zoe's cousin.

There was a lot to love in The Boyfriend Bet. It started out sassy, take-no-prisoners, with quirky characters from young adults to the grandparents. I appreciated the addition of two introverts, one young and one a parent, but not the implications that they have no backbones and the inability to make a decision, while both are an introvert's strong-suit. The need to ask questions and 'figure' someone out was highly accurate. Our narrators were most definitely extroverted, so the balance was nice.

What started out strong, became redundant with repeating the same actions over and over again, with the same reactions received. Zoe wanted to be Grant's one and only (I'm not sure why, as he had hardly any redeeming qualities shown), but Grant only wanted to date, and he would rub other girls in Zoe's face – and every girl in the book wanted Grant – but his narration made it sound like he was clueless to the disrespect, even getting mad when Zoe pointed it out, like she was an irrational, crazy female. (I have no idea where all these rich, long-legged blondes were coming from.)

Grant's narration, even to the end, made it difficult to buy that he wanted a relationship with Zoe. I understand not wanting a happily ever after in high school, where you just want to date and be friends. If that's what you want, and the girl you're dating thinks otherwise, cut her loose. If you want more, and the boy won't commit, cut him loose. You are NOT compatible, and neither party is wrong. But if you stay together, it becomes TOXIC, NOT romantic.

The constant need to weigh whether or not Grant wanted Zoe by comparing his quirky, spunky, poor girlfriend against his standard of beauty (blonde, rich, long-legged, and shallow) was hard to swallow. No guy who is a player doesn't recognize his counterpart in girls, girls who are disrespecting his girlfriend by hanging all over him. No guy like Grant would allow his ex to yank around him, his family, and his current girlfriend unless he wanted her in his life because it made him feel important to be fought and fawned over. Even at the end, because there weren't enough pages to show an evolution, I didn't feel secure in their relationship.

Why the entire star drop from one book to the next for me? While I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend Bet, and read it ravenously page after page, the author utilized plot points from the first in the series. Rich, hot boy dating the poor, farm girl. Guy's family doesn't approve. Guy isn't sure if the girl is hot enough for him, and she never knows if they are truly dating – he says bluntly to her face how she isn't enough, earning a visceral reaction in the reader. The narrator's BFFs dating each other too (but what was sweet in book one, was awkward and uncomfortable in book two, and it wasn't because he was an introvert). Then there is the brother – the brother who doesn't want them to date.

Don't get me wrong, all of that works, and those utilized plot points were written in a vastly different way to form an engaging story, but reading the books back-to-back highlighted the fact. But where it didn't work, I truly believed Bryce wanted Haley in book one, but I didn't believe that Grant wanted Zoe during book two.

While book three may have the same points (fingers crossed it's Zoe's brother's book), it will be a while between reading this installment and the next, so it won't be as obvious. Anyone reading these books back-to-back will be hit with the wash-rinse-repeat formula.

Zoe kissed Grant to upset her brother, who was competitive with Grant in all things. Where I thought Haley from the previous book was level-headed, Zoe was impulsive, which came across as catty, mean-spirited, and immature at times. On the outside, she appeared to truly stand up for herself, yet she allowed Grant to do the SSDD to her multiple times, which, contradictory to her actions, showed a lack of backbone. Yes, I felt Zoe justifiable in her reactions, but at some point she had to take responsibility for Grant hurting her over and over again, because she never truly stood up for herself.

But, Erica... ?!? It's romantic and Zoe did stand up for herself.

Yes, Zoe does stand up for herself. But there is a manipulative, almost abusive bent to both of Zoe and Grant's actions. Something toxic. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Grant's hot and cold, grass-is-greener attitude was fool me 10+ times. When it reached the breaking point, Grant had to audacity to make Zoe feel at fault. You didn't trust me!

Um... sorry, bub, but trust is earned, and I'm not sure at what point any has been earned. But Zoe caved, felt bad and apologized for being repeatedly attacked by Grant's ex-girlfriend. So the ex's lies are Grant's responsibility, not Zoe's, as he is the common denominator. THEN Zoe has to prove she trusts Grant, when he never earned it. So that felt like abuser and the victim behavior to me, and this is coming from a survivor of domestic violence, and I didn't appreciate this toxicity infecting a young adult novel that young girls and boys would read and think it romantic or acceptable behavior.

While I liked the story, enjoyed aspects of all the characters, the constant level of disrespect was too much for me to handle. The family members, and bizarre side romance of the BFFs (bizarre, as I'm an introvert (INTJ) and I didn't understand the friend's personality) lightened the mood. The comedy gold was the grandparents dating. The PDA and detentions got old. Fast. Yet it happened over and over again.

Anyone who hasn't dealt with abuse will probably miss the toxic connotations to Zoe and Grant's relationship – from both sides (his hot/cold and her raging jealousy, which was supposed to be 'cute'). I'm not saying they won't grow out of it, and there was a slight evolution as the book came to a close, which made me happy.

If I had a daughter or son, I would want to discuss the book, as I wouldn't want her/him modeling herself/himself after any of the characters – boys like Grant grow up to cheat and be abusive, at the very least selfish and blind, because girls like Zoe continue to love them when they are disrespectful and purposefully hurtful. The girl can't be perfect enough for them, can't do enough, change enough, as the problem is inside the guy – he'll need constant validation from girls/women wanting him, and that doesn't change overnight because of LOVE. (romance novel or not) Not getting what they want is the only way they will learn the lesson – they have to lose you, but not as a trick or trap. Actually lose you – forever – so the next girl like you isn't destroyed, but maybe treated with respect instead after the jerk emotionally matures. Even at the end, Grant didn't deserve a girlfriend – not yet. He needed to grow up first – his mentality has to change, and that doesn't happen through love but experience.

Another thing I would discuss with young adults is the ex-girlfriend. If a guy doesn't want you, traps/tricks/manipulations/breaking him up with his girlfriend/stealing him from his girlfriend is desperate and learned behavior that is unacceptable. The ex and all the other girls who knew Grant was taken, they weren't disrespecting Zoe, they were disrespecting themselves AND Grant. I wouldn't want a guy who was so easily led astray. Weak. He'd look weak, and he'd deserve the misery with the desperate woman, and they'd be miserable with their stunted emotions. You can't 'steal' a guy – a guy can't be 'stolen' from you – they leave. Even if she managed to get Grant back, you can't keep someone who doesn't want to be there. So I don't understand this type of woman, even though I know many exist. Same with Zoe – if she feared Grant looking at other girls, constantly grazing the field, then the relationship isn't strong enough to last.

If someone you want wants you back, they'll find a way to be with you. If it's this hard, and takes tricks to get them, then they never wanted you in the first place. All that hard work won't pay off, because the relationship will break.

Advice from a grown woman, and I have no idea why there is never a grown woman perspective given to the girls in the novel, so girls reading it can digest the advice. The mothers are always shallow, have agendas, deceased or absent, or off their rockers.

My commentary aside, I do recommend this author, this series, and this book, as I feel most readers will fall into the story and find it humorous, fluffy & light, and addictively angsty. But anyone who has suffered abuse will spot the signs, which I believe was unintentional by the author.

Young Adult age-range: 13+ due to kissing.

Also Available in the Boyfriend Chronicles Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our Blackmail Boyfriend post.

Award winning author Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies.

Connect with Chris

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Boyfriend Bet (Boyfriend Chronicles #2) by Chris Cannon to read and review.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Blackmail Boyfriend by Chris Cannon

Sometimes, blackmail is the only weapon a girl has...

Haley Patterson has had a crush on golden boy Bryce Colton for ages. But when she hears a rumor that he hooked up with her she gives him a choice: be her boyfriend for a month to show other guys that she's dateable-despite her overprotective and very intimidating brothers-or deal with the angry, cage-fighting boyfriend of the girl he actually did hook up with.

Bryce didn't know the other Haley even had a boyfriend. He was just trying to get his ex off his back. And now, not only is he being blackmailed, he's being blackmailed by an honor student. His new "girlfriend" has two three-legged dogs, her father mows grass at the country club, and she's...well, difficult. And different.

Can something so fake turn into something real?

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains one epic misunderstanding, two best friends’ flirtation on the side, and three-legged dogs.
Warning: do not try this blackmail at home.

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

4.5 ANGSTY Stars (yes, I mean that in shouty caps)

Nine out of ten Entangled: Crush Publishing's books are a hit for me, and Chris Cannon definitely fell into this category. As a new-to-me author, the writing style was an easy flow, keeping me engaged page after page, with the book hitting its stride after the third-way mark.

Haley has a pair of over-protective twin brothers who are a force field between her and any guy who may like her. In steps an unlikely rumor that either ruins her reputation, or finally gives her one. Needless to say, Haley runs with it, taking it in stride, which leads to the justifiable blackmail between Haley and Bryce.

Bryce hooked up with another Haley over the weekend, and was given Haley's last name, so a rumor spread how she hooked up with the hottest guy in her school. Obviously she didn't – a pair of brothers – and an opportunity presents itself. Bryce ruined her rep, so as long as he pretends to be her boyfriend – to prove she is dateable – she will keep the 'real' Haley's boyfriend and her brothers from pummeling Bryce's pretty face.

Blackmail Boyfriend has all you expect from a young adult novel, heavy on the angst. Let me repeat that heavy on the ANGST, and I ate it right up and found it deliciously gut-twisting emotional.

Haley loves animals, is the landscaper's daughter, is level-headed, patient, and doesn't care about appearances. Therefore, she is the complete opposite of anyone Bryce needs in his life. As a rich kid whose family is the member of the country club, Bryce is uptight, OCD about order, and very gruff. Beneath the facade, there is a knight in shining armor Haley finds charming.

Besides the main romance, there is a side romance between Haley's BFF and Bryce's good friend, Jane and Nathan, that was sweet and felt complete.

Blackmail Boyfriend taught positive lessons, showed supportive friends and family, and was the magic of first love.

Young Adult age-range: 13+ due to kissing and justifiable blackmail.

Also Available in the Boyfriend Chronicles Series

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Award winning author Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies.

Connect with Chris

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Blackmail Boyfriend (Boyfriend Chronicles #1) by Chris Cannon to read and review.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Possibility of You and Me by Lillie Todd

Her whole world has been flipped upside down. She’s lost…and only he can find her.

Lori Black had everything she could ever want—security in social standing by being one of the most popular girls in school, a hot boyfriend, and a set path toward her future. But her brother’s overdose flipped her world upside down and now nothing makes sense.

After spending a year away from home, Lori is ready to try to reclaim her old life. But a lot can happen in a year, and when Lori returns, she realizes she isn’t the superficial girl she left behind and maybe she doesn’t fit the space she used to.

Rejected by her old friends and struggling to deal at home, Lori is lost. And the only person capable of understanding her is the quiet boy, Archer, whom no one knows anything about.

It is Archer who brings Lori the possibility of being found.

Reader Advisory: This book contains some brief scenes of violence and attempted sexual assault.

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Finch  Books

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3 coming-of-age stars.
5 for the beginning. 2 for the ending.

Lillie Todd is a new-to-me author, and I found the writing style easy to fall into, to relate to the characters, and become hooked into the story.

Lori Black's twin brother committed suicide via overdose, leaving Lori to pick up the pieces. After a year with her grandmother, she returns back to the very school she used to reign supreme, but Lori is a different girl than the one who left. Nothing has changed at school, the same vapid students, except for the new guy. Archer.

Lori was a great character, strong, firm in her beliefs, loving and compassionate. I enjoyed the slow evolution between Lori and Archer, how it didn't devolve into insta-crush/lust/love. The connection between the pair felt very real.

I was hooked, clicking the pages nonstop for the first 50%, but after that it kind of went downhill for me. The last half of the book felt out of place, not with the flow of the first half. Threads came into play that didn't mesh with the overall feel of the novel and information was purposefully withheld as a mystery (Archer's background) and it didn't feel like a mystery, just forgotten until it was added to the story at the very end.

In a novel that was so firmly set in reality, the entire thread with Cam was too hard to swallow. He was everywhere Lori was, which was a statistical impossibility, as the man did have a life and a minor girlfriend and a job, and couldn't stalk Lori 24/7. There was never a reason Lori didn't call the police, and with Archer's background, it made no sense why he never did either. Then there is Lori's frenemy, where we never saw a resolution of any kind.

Also, with Lori being a minor, Cam a legal adult, and the accusations leveled, (with witnesses and evidence – Kit and a bloody knife wound, a knife with Lori's blood and Cam's fingerprints, breaking and entering with trespassing, why would an animal attack a person, a history of harassment and sexual harassment, including the bruises still on her arms, and the fact that it occurred in the minor's residence where a struggle took place. All that combined was enough for a major conviction. I don't even know if Lori was allowed to invite an adult into her parents’ home, as it wasn't hers) there never would have been a he said-she said (saying there was no crime because it couldn't be proven), especially with the events surrounding Kit.

As a minor, Lori's parents would have been contacted before her boss and the police could remove Kit from the premises. In fact, they were at home. At that point in the novel, I wanted to play editor and rein the author in. Then Archer's story came near the ending, and I'll use the term Jumped the Shark. After that, I didn't find the book to be an enjoyable read because it was without research with laws, human nature reaction, and felt out of shock-value. Absolutely implausible. The conflict between Lori and Archer didn't make a lick of sense either, especially the road trip. I felt the last half was a different book entirely from the one I was reading in the first half.

Regardless of my feelings toward plot points, I do feel it was a good book, one both young adults and those young at heart will enjoy. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.

Young adult age-range: 14+. Physical violence and fade-to-black sexual situations.

I have been a storyteller for as long as I have been a reader. There is no greater pleasure in life than diving headfirst into a new world, meeting new characters and falling in love over and over again. There is a certain kind of magic in books, and I hope to weave a spell over my readers.

I grew up in the countryside of Southwest Scotland and it was amongst the rugged and sprawling landscape that my imagination was set loose. When I’m not spending time with my favourite characters of my own creation, I can be found running around like a headless chicken trying to catch up on everything I have ignored since disappearing in my head.

Connect with Lillie

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Possibility of You and Me by Lillie Todd to read and review.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Resisting the Rebel by Lisa Brown Roberts Blog Tour

Spirit committee leader Mandy Pennington is secretly in love with her best friend, Gus, but when he hooks up with her archenemy at a party, she decides to win him over once and for all. She just doesn’t know how. But who better to help than hot loner Caleb Torrs?

Caleb’s got his own problems, but when he sees Mandy pining over Gus at a party, he thinks she’s finally smoked the spirit stick and lost her mind. Maybe he has, too, because he just asked Mandy to be his fake girlfriend. She’ll get her loser friend’s attention, and he’ll get his stalker ex off his back. It’s a win-win.

But soon one fake date blends into the next and before he knows it, he actually wants to kiss Mandy. For real. Too bad their plan is working, and Gus is finally noticing the one girl Caleb just might be falling for…

Disclaimer: This book contains a villain pretending to be a hero, a hero pretending to be a villain, a disco-dancing heroine, two overprotective sidekicks, a little bit of bad language, and a whole lot of swoony kissing.

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B&N   ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

After she and Caleb sat down, a group of guys sat on the other side of her, laughing loudly and fake punching each other until one of them noticed her.

“Yo babe, you need company? I got room on my lap.” He leered at her.

A swirling vortex of anxiety and anger shot through Mandy. She hated guys like this, who just invaded her space and made rude comments like she was some toy, not a real person. She turned away from the jerk hoping to ignore him, but instead she met Caleb’s stormy dark gaze. Uh oh.

Mandy put a restraining hand on Caleb’s arm but he ignored her, leaning over her to get in the guy’s face. “Shut your pie-hole, unless you want a taste of my fist.”

Mandy closed her eyes and sighed. Great. Now she had not two cavemen to deal with.

The other guy tensed up. His blue eyes, which looked glazed, met hers. “You with this asshole?”

Caleb leaned in close, his spicy scent overwhelming her as his voice rumbled in her ear. “Take your pick, Disco. The devil you know or the one you don’t.”

Holy crap. He was practically smoldering. She grabbed her soda and took a long drink, then glanced at the blue-eyed jerk.

“Yeah,” she finally said, “I’m with him.”

Blue Eyes shrugged. “Your loss.” He turned away, saying foul to his friends that she chose to ignore.

Caleb leaned forward again but she pushed him back, locking eyes with him. “Caleb. If you hang out with my friends, there’s basically one rule. Don’t be a jerk. And no fighting.” She was suddenly aware of her hands still on his chest. Muscles flexed underneath the fabric of his shirt.

“That’s two rules.” Caleb’s hands reached up to cover hers. His eyes narrowed. “You’d rather I let that guy harass you?” His grip tightened, flattening her palms against his chest. Cammie and J.T. goggled at them, open-mouthed, while Jiro smirked and Liam shook his head, smiling.

“I--I--um--” How could she possibly form a coherent sentence when Caleb was filling up her senses like this, his heartbeat racing under her hand? The theater darkened and the speakers vibrated with the soundtrack from the movie previews, but Mandy couldn’t see or hear anything except Caleb.

Caleb released her hands, shifting in his seat to drape his arm over her, his fingers tangling in her hair, then drifting across her neck before setting on her shoulder. Every nerve ending in her body roared to life, and she was pretty sure that fire really was his secret super power.

“W-what are you doing?” she managed to whisper.

In the dim light from the screen, she saw him tilt his chin toward Blue Eyes. “Being an excellent fake boyfriend. He keeps watching you. I want to make sure he gets the message to leave you alone.”

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Mandy has been pinning over Gus for years, but after witnessing him hook-up with her frenemy at a party, she's ready to win him over. Enter Caleb Torrs, hot loner bad-boy, who can't seem to shake his stalker ex. Caleb and Mandy find themselves faking a relationship as part of a mutually beneficial agreement. But suddenly, all the fake dating is starting to turn into real feelings.

This one was kind of a slow start for me and it took some time for me to warm up to the characters. In fact, Mandy, the female lead, kind of drove me bonkers at first. The whole disco-dancing, spirit committee, and all around joiner was a bit much. Also, Mandy suffers from ADHD and in the beginning of the story I felt like it was very evident, but once I got over that hill it was a little easier to get into the flow of things. In fact, she slowly started to grow on me and somewhere along the way, I actually started to feel more in sync with this disco girl! She was just such a nice down-to-earth character. On the other hand, Caleb, our bad boy male lead, totally had me won over. Resistance was futile. I was totally smitten with him!

Honestly, in the beginning I was worried I wasn't going to enjoy the book at all, but somewhere along the way I started to get more and more into it. Surprisingly, by the end I realized I actually liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I just found the whole thing to be quite charming and it gave me all the feels! All in all, it was a solid 4 stars for me and I look forward to seeing what Lisa Brown Roberts does next, and I think readers will too.

4 Teenage Angst Stars.

Lisa Brown Roberts is a new-to-me author, and I look forward to reading more of her works. The writing style flowed fluidly and at a nice pace, with age-appropriate behavior by the characters.

Mandy has ADHD and learning disabilities, and I give mad props to the author for showing how that isn't an indicator on intelligence. Mandy is a joiner, natural leader, and the masses follow her with smiles on their faces. Mandy was an enjoyable character to read, down-to-earth and level-headed (for the most part, but that is plot-related).

Caleb's an awesome, swoon-worthy leading man. Introspective and introverted, he's seen as the bad boy because he's not a joiner.

Opposites attract in the time-tested trope of 'let's play pretend to be together.' Caleb's being stalked by an ex, and Mandy wants her crush since kindergarten to notice her as more than just a friend, so they begin a faux-romance that feels very real for the both of them.

My only complaint is how Mandy believed Gus over her BFFs and boyfriend, and every girl she came into contact with. For a smart girl, she was purposefully being obtuse, but it was realistically done, no matter how frustrating it was to read. I wanted to shake Mandy several times and say, "Girl, I wish you had a momma who could tell you how to spot the signs of a player."

Overall, I think young adults will get the warm and fuzzies from Resisting the Rebel, and those young at heart will get an injection of first crushes and first loves.

Young adult age-range: 13+, parental discretion with a handful of swear words and the dubious actions of one of the characters, but not above the norm of true-to-life situations. Sexual content: kissing.

Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage trauma of nearly tweezing off both eyebrows and having to pencil them in for an entire school year. This and other angst-filled memories inspire her to write YA books about navigating life’s painful and funny dramas, and falling in love along the way.

Her almost forever home is Colorado, though she occasionally pines for the days when she lived within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Her house is full of books, boys, four-legged prima donnas, and lots of laughter.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Resisting the Rebel by Lisa Brown Roberts to read and review for this tour.