Ever over After by J.A. DeRouen

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Grown up Marlo is even worse than the younger Ever. Seriously! The girl who used to have so much faith in love became cynical and disengaged. But who could blame her right? Because of what happened to her in the past, she put on some impenetrable walls that can surely keep anyone at bay. Her new life has been all about taking control and security.

On the other hand, my heart is so happy to see what Ever has become and how he turned out. He deserves this redemption and he deserves everything that he has.

And above all, these two deserve each other.

That is why, I’m just so glad and my heart is so full with how Low and Ever found each other again. It may have been long, painful years that kept them apart but it was a reunion that made the pain all worth it.

Definitely a good follow up. Now, I’m just excited to read about the other girls.

I see a DeRouen binge read in the horizon.

4 STARS!

Stars - 4


Review Headings -  Blurb

Marlo … wild-eyed, untamed, and every single thing I’ve ever wanted from this life. I wasn’t ready for her back then. I was a stupid boy with adult feelings and no idea what to do with them. I squandered away every chance she gave me.

Yes, love like ours either burns white hot or crumbles under the pressure.
And now I’m back to sift through the rubble.

Questions and excuses are two things I have in spades. What I need now are answers.
Answers and Low.
Always Low.

My name is Ever Montgomery, and this is my story of love resurrected.

Low Over High by J.A. DeRouen

LOW OVER HIGH

“Love changes over time. The edges may dull, the butterflies hibernate… but sometimes, the best things sharpen and flourish as years pass.”

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One of the best things about Goodreads is that I have discovered a lot of new authors and new books which made me wonder what kind of rock I’ve been hiding under to have not heard of them before.

Low over High started a bit slow for my taste and I was prepared for the overly used high school drama. But I was in for a good surprise. Marlo or Low is a delight to read about. She’s not a damsel in distress given her unconventional childhood. She doesn’t play the martyr but she’s a believer and an all around strong go getter.

And then she meets Ever. Troubled, angsty broody Ever. It was ire at first sight and the antagonism between the two is palpable. I love how they transitioned from disliking each other to being acquaintances, to being friends and to finding love and peace in each other.

But everything was temporary. Ever’s troubles were bigger than him and what they have. In the process, Marlo had to pay the price. I love how age appropriate their reactions and actions were. Though, I do not agree to a lot of what they did, I feel like given the messy and troubled mind of the youth, their actions can be deemed acceptable.

Also, I felt unsatisfied with a lot of things in this story. I kind of wanted to know more about Charlotte, Delilah and Jeb. I wanted to see more of Low’s dynamics with her mother. I felt like some very important parts of the story were just laid out in passing to focus more on the romance aspect.

The ending was realistic but it was a bit unfulfilling for me. I wanted more! It was not the ending I would like and I hope that the next book will give me (and these two) the conclusion that they deserve.

3.5 STARS

Stars - 4


Review Headings -  Blurb

I fancy myself a purveyor of truth, a sifter of lies, a cutter of bullshit. It’s not a gift, but rather, all skill, honed to a razor’s edge after one too many trips down the rabbit hole.

Some may dismiss my talent as misplaced and misguided cynicism, but they’d be wrong. Cliches about hope and faith in mankind are concocted unicorn farts, an effort to keep the dreamers dreaming. Experiences don’t lie—people do.

While I’m not proud of the circumstances that led me to this way of thinking, I respect the journey. The road to enlightenment can be dark and foreboding, but the destination makes it all worthwhile.

But funny thing about the past—it’s a defiant child refusing to stay in time out. No matter how deeply buried, it can always pop up when least expected, and sink its fucking claws into the flesh of your heart. No, not my heart—I no longer have one. I foolishly gave it away years ago, but I still feel the ripping in my chest as I fist the crumpled note left on my porch.

I’ve avoided this day, ran from it, for the past eight years.
And still we meet again.

But to truly understand … to feel my dread and fear my future as I do, it’s important to know what happened in my past.

Or who…

My name is Marlo Rivers, and this is my story of corrupted love.

 

180 Seconds by Jessica Park

180 SECONDS

“We are engaged in a form of intimacy that scares the absolute hell out of me. It’s as if there is a weight on my chest that I want to shove off, and I’ve never been this terrified before.
Or this whole and hopeful and connected.
My body starts to tremble. I want more of what I’m feeling, and I also want none of it.”

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It’s imperative to say that this is my first ever read from Jessica Park and in just one book, she was able to make me rethink about some of my opinions about some very important things.

Not really a fan of insta-love and insta-connection, 180 seconds made me reconsider my stand on this and the possibility of this happening in real life. I can tolerate instant connections so long as it is cleverly written but with this book – I not only tolerated it, I embraced it.

I love how this story just flows and grows. Initially, I was a bit hesitant to continue because our main character, Allison, sounds a lot like a main character in one of the books I recently read and did not fully support. Broken, flawed, difficult past – I felt that she will be predictable. However, I was surprised by how different she is. Her character was not stagnant. She knew she has issues, she acknowledged them and worked on them. Then there’s Esben. I cannot begin to explain how special he is and I feel like he will be one of those main characters who will stay with me for a long, long time.

I appreciate the idea of performing social experiments and using social media to promote kindness and hope. I enjoyed how relatable this story is and I am grateful for the kind of hope it gave me. At the same time, I admired the author for being realistic enough to also show the negative side of social media and the monsters that lurk in the background.

This book is spectacularly written. The pacing is perfect, I felt that it was neither slow nor being rushed making it all the more believable for me.

180 seconds may have been the push Allison needed to evaluate her beliefs and her life. But for me, this book is a catalyst of hope and making me believe that though a lot of days may be bleak, there’s still so much goodness and positivity to look forward to. There may be parts in the story where my heart broke (Damn 70%) but I understand and can accept it as well.  I know how pivotal certain events play in our MC’s life and I like how the author was very delicate and sensitive in writing those scenes.

This book is for those readers who would like to feel good, escape harsh reality for a short while, doesn’t mind a few tears and just need more positivity to boost their day. I didn’t really read the blurb but after finishing, I realized that I needed this kind of read now. So thank you Jessica for giving me Allison, Esben, Steffi, Kerry and Simon.

And though this is just my first read from this author, I am quite positive that this won’t be the last.

5 #THISKISSTHISKISS STARS!

Stars - 5


Review Headings -  Blurb

Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. Cherry

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“The woman who felt everything leaned in closer to the man who felt nothing at all. For a split second in time, I felt a little of her pain while she encountered my coldness, and neither one of us seemed to mind.” 

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Wow.

Can I just end this review at that because “WOW”.

Brittainy, you never fail to amaze me and pull my emotions out of me. It says a lot because I’ve been reading NA and contemporary and romance for so long that sometimes, all these plot twists, all these characters just get lost in a blur but you, YOU managed to craft story after story about friendship and honest to goodness love.

I cannot stress how important it is for me to feel connected to the characters because I’m that kind of reader who cannot fully appreciate a book despite superb writing and editing if I cannot really connect to any of the characters in any way. I don’t need to go through what the characters go through to have that relatability factor. I just need to really understand them and be one with them and I guess that’s a gift that not all authors can possess.

The author’s writing has amazed me since the first book from her that I have read and she continues to wow me book after book. This story is fresh and pure. It’s not the love story of a hot guy and gorgeous female who fell in love at first glance then proceeded to having intense, steamy sex. This story is beyond that. It’s a story of souls finding their way to each other. It’s a story of loyalty, family and diversity. It’s about acceptance and love and acknowledging what your heart is trying to tell you.

What’s amazing is that the storyline is not at all new. I feel like the strength of this novel lies on how much depth and humanity was seen and felt from our characters. The author was able to create different personalities without going overboard. We have seen how they were at the start of the story and witnessed their growth as the story goes on. And I’m not just talking about our main characters, Graham and Lucille. I felt equally invested in our side characters and I could definitely see myself reading spin offs based on them. I mean, seriously, it has become quite a trend already and Brittainy doing it would just be fantastic given how well written and developed her characters are. 

In a short period of time, Brittainy C. Cherry and her stories really grew on me. And you know what, Maktub.

Stars - 5


Review Headings -  Blurb

Graham Russell and I weren’t made for one another.

I was driven by emotion; he was apathetic. I dreamed while he lived in nightmares. I cried when he had no tears to shed.

Despite his frozen heart and my readiness to run, we sometimes shared seconds. Seconds when our eyes locked and we saw each other’s secrets. Seconds when his lips tasted my fears, and I breathed in his pains. Seconds when we both imagined what it would be like to love one another.

Those seconds left us floating, but when reality knocked us sideways, gravity forced us to descend.

Graham Russell wasn’t a man who knew how to love, and I wasn’t a woman who knew how to either. Yet if I had the chance to fall again, I’d fall with him forever.

Even if we were destined to crash against solid ground.

 

 

The Silent Waters by Brittainy C. Cherry

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“The world keeps spinning because your heartbeats exist”

*Better late than never review*

This book is one big story comprised of little moments sewn together. Brittainy Cherry is fast becoming one of my favorite authors given that this is only my second read from her.The Silent Waters.jpg

When you read a story and it touches your soul, you WILL know.

This is one of those stories wherein I have absolutely no clue as to how things will play out. I fell in love with Maggie and Brooks as kids and even more as they grew. I admire how Cherry’s plots are unlike any other, how she digs in deeper and really finds that connection to her readers.

She creates characters which are not perfect. She creates characters you can relate to, characters who are flawed that you will sometimes find bits and pieces of yourself in them. 

She reinvents flaws and make them strengths and to date, I have to say that creating characters who seem real to me will always be one of her greatest strength as an author.

It also seems like friendship and family are dominant themes in her stories. This one in particular spans years and it started during our main characters’ childhood to being young adults to adulthood. I love how the story evolved, how the characters grew and I felt myself growing with them. I can’t say a lot about the story without giving much away. What’s important for you to know is that this is superbly written, thoughtfully structured with the minor characters providing great support to the main characters. How all the characters grew and matured with time is just exceptional. Each one affects the other and the main strength of this story is in the depth of our characters. 

Books like this is one of the reasons I read – to feel, to think and to learn to appreciate even the tiniest moments. 

4.5 STARS!

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Review Headings -  Blurb

Moments.

Our lives are a collection of moments. Some utterly painful and full of yesterday’s hurts. Some beautifully hopeful and full of tomorrow’s promises.

I’ve had many moments in my lifetime, moments that changed me, challenged me. Moments that scared me and engulfed me. However, the biggest ones—the most heartbreaking and breathtaking ones—all included him.

I was ten years old when I lost my voice. A piece of me was stolen away, and the only person who could truly hear my silence was Brooks Griffin. He was the light during my dark days, the promise of tomorrow, until tragedy found him. Tragedy that eventually drowned him in a sea of memories.

This is the story of a boy and girl who loved each other, but didn’t love themselves. A story of life and death. Of love and broken promises.

Of moments.

 

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

ON DUBLIN STREET

“Sure it could get rough sometimes, but life wasn’t a Hollywood movie. Shit happened. You fought, you screamed, and somehow you worked like hell to get out the other side still intact.” 

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I’ve had the paperback for so long and this book just kept being pushed down my TBR list. For starters, I enjoyed how it was a fun, quick read or maybe because I’ve been on a fantasy binge for so long that I’m really excited to go back to my NA world. I also realize that this is my first ever book from Samantha Young and I find her writing style engaging and easy to read.

The thing is, it started out really okay, it was actually strong in the beginning until my interest kind of waned and I think it was mostly due to my growing dislike for the main character. I found myself not really being a fan of Jocelyn/Joss. She has a rocky past but I felt like she was intentionally being rude and aloof. She has the tendency of making everything seem like it’s about her. Initially, I found myself being sympathetic to her and the tragedy she experienced but over time, I found her plain annoying and cold. Mind you, I love reading about complex and layered characters but Joss is just bratty.   Beyond her traumatized self, it seems like she has no personality… at all.

On the other hand, Braden is an alpha male but his brand of alpha is something that I was able to tolerate and like. When he is not being his alpha self, I find his character really well developed and truly a swoon worthy book boyfriend. If he could not be my boyfriend, at least let him be my brother. *winks* Also, let us take time to applaud him for painstakingly pursuing Joss. This guy has an abundant load of persistence!

However, character wise, I found myself mostly invested on our supporting characters. I just love and adore Ellie and Adam – individually and as a couple. They have purity and sincerity in them and I adore how they just seem fun, positive and light.

There were scenes which felt disconnected and not really needed but still, it has been an entertaining and fun read for me. There was enough romance, sexy times and drama to create a balance to the story and I feel like I would have loved it more had Joss been more likable. But that’s just me.

Stars - 3


Review Headings - Blurb

Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.

 

 

Scandal in Seattle by Nicole Williams

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“Revenge was an odd thing it could motivate a person like nothing else. It was my opinion that people who lacked motivation in life had a deficit of revenge. That wasn’t my problem, though. When it came to revenge, I had an abundant surplus.”SCANDAL IN SEATTLE.jpg

These books are painstakingly short and I just want more!!! 

Our Eve is back and on a roll! Things get a bit complicated when she lands a new target – Henry, a Ten and also her former lover, also that one guy who changed everything for her. Her new errand now involves getting revenge and things become complex when business and personal life clash.

Henry’s busy schedule gave way for Ally (formerly Sienna, originally named Eve) to work on another Errand and we again see how meticulous she is, how organized she plans for her targets and how focused she can be. Again, this target is hopeless and cannot be converted into a good guy as much as we want to. Ally worked her charm, creeping her way into her new target’s life – doing just as she was asked to do by the client wife.

I find the concept, the plot, even our protagonist fascinating and interesting. What intrigues me the most at this point is Henry. He brings life to our protagonist. He is different from all the other targets in the sense that there is no dirt on him. His wife just wants to separate herself, get her money and get out of the marriage.

To be honest. I like Henry’s character and feel that there is a bigger story to his “cheating” and past relationship to Eve (Sienna or Ally). Also, I sense that Eve still harbors some deep rooted feelings that she just cannot acknowledge at this point in her life and with this kind of career.

I’m excited to see how Henry and Eve’s story pans out and what other revelations are in store for me.

So far, so good.

3.5 STARS

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Review Headings - Blurb

Revenge isn’t what the Eves are about. Justice is.

But when Sienna Stevens leaves Miami for her Errand in Seattle as Ally Andrews, revenge is the only thing on her mind. A woman scorned is one thing, but Ally is something else altogether. She will not rest until the man who upended her world is brought to his personal and financial knees. She won’t settle for just upending his world in return. She’s going for full-blown annihilation.

Ally’s barely in Seattle a day before complications arise. She begins making slips. She’s one error away from being pulled from the biggest Errand of her career when she comes face to face with Henry Callahan. Former lover. Current Target.

Things just went from complicated to catastrophic.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

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“When I look at him I feel dismayed as I always do at how normal he looks, because surely there should be something–pointed ears or a pair of horns–to warn people of his evilness.”

Behind Closed Doors

Oh man, I feel bad for George Clooney……

So let’s talk about BA Paris’ debut work which became a nominee for Goodreads Choice Award (Mystery & Thriller) and for Debut Goodreads Author (2016).

Despite the cluttered parts, despite the repetitive feel, despite the flaws —-  I CAN’T SEEM TO PUT THIS DOWN. It’s that addicting!

True enough, I felt a bit let down that things were already out in the open early on but I just can’t seem to stop reading. There is an excitement and curiosity as you go along and though the villain is revealed very early in the story *surprise surprise*, I still can’t wait to get to the action. (Actually, all you blurb readers out there must have figured it out even before opening the book but since I went in blind, I had no idea. Danggggggg)

What I didn’t enjoy much about this book is the way it was executed. The narrative felt disorderly and messy leading to confusion at some point. It shifts from past and present times which was unnecessary in the way the story was told. Perhaps the author felt that that kind of execution added to the buildup but to me, it only added to more confusion. There are storylines wherein a past-present POV shifting is favourable but it just didn’t work for this plot. The way she did it just gave me a headache on top of the anxiety I was already feeling.

On the other hand, what I liked about this book is that it made me feel terrified and wary of human behaviour. When a book, despite its flaws and limitations can make me feel scared, hateful, hopeful and agonized then congratulations, you got me.

There is tension and buildup and there were times when I was on the edge of my seat. The suspense in this story is NOT finding out who the villain is but in escaping the villain which was really, REALLY hard. And despite my love-hate relationship with how this book was written, I have to say that the ending totally made up for it. 

I just wish that the trend to tag books as the next this or the next that be stopped. It’s actually setting high expectations and making this current book just another recycled story. And it’s sad when that happens. It’s stripping down a book’s individuality way before a reader has even opened it. Or maybe it’s a marketing ploy.

It’s not the most spectacular read but would you look at that – I really enjoyed it.

3.5 STARS

Stars - 4


Review Headings - Blurb

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

“The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak.”

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I was checking the list of books I have read for this year and saw that I am truly behind in fantasy. Like way, wayyyyyyyy behind. For this year, I have only read A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, The Wrath and the Dawn and the TWAD novellas. And that’s it. I was planning to remedy this before the year ends so I got the Six and Crows-Crooked Kingdom duology.

I was about to dive in but I was talking to a friend who is also an OC reader and from our conversation, we decided to start with the Grisha trilogy first before jumping into SoC and CK. We know it’s different stories but the worlds are the same.

Anyway, enough of my intro-slash-explanation. I have heard so much praise for Leigh Bardugo and being the hype-averse type of reader that I am, I tend to ignore. But eventually, I decided to give in. Heck, everyone I know is reading her books and I wanted to see for myself.

There is no denying Leigh’s talent. She is beyond good and I can see why so many readers got lost in the world/s she has created. This woman has created an entirely different universe, far beyond the scope of my imagination. It’s a dark, intriguing place and I was hooked.

Given, I’m in a rather busy stage of my life right now and it took me a while to finish this but there was VERY  MINIMAL TIME when I felt disconnected to the story or the characters. On the contrary, I was reeled in and I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next.

Alina is a likable heroine, not exactly my favourite but she has her strengths. There were certain parts of the story when I felt the YA-ish texture of the novel especially on Alina’s vanity moments. At first, I pegged her for being weak but she redeemed herself in the end. She actually showed that she can be feisty and strong yet her heart is in the right place. She started out as a lost girl, unsure of where she stands and what her purpose is. Eventually, she found her strength and drive and I loved the Alina that emerged from the power. I do hope I get to see more of this side in the next books.

Mal on the other hand is my guy. Alright, at this point I ship Mal and Alina. He is loyal to the core and would do anything for her and their friendship/relationship. At this point, I’m not sure where they stand but Mal is an okay guy and I would love to know more about him. There’s not much said about him and his background and I feel like I need to know more, I want to know him more. 

Probably, the most interesting for me is the Darkling. I know I’m supposed to loathe him after what went down in the end but there’s a big mystery and story surrounding his character. I can feel it. I can tell there’s more to him and that his role in this trilogy is essential.

With those things I have loved about this book, there are also some things that I found lacking. These are not really big issues, but these prevented me from giving it more stars.

For starters, I was actually looking forward to a lot of action, a lot of high intensity fight scenes but I only got a few. I’m not sure where this expectation of mine came from but I was not expecting a lot of narratives about cliques, mean girls, gossip, and who is prettiest and who is most popular. It swayed from the dark and intriguing vibe of the premise.

Also, I felt like I was blindly thrown into the world without any guide at all and I had to look different words up to grasp what I was reading. It was a few chapters in before I felt the connection to the book. 

Despite its flaws and my indifference to some of the characters, I liked, no scratch that, I L-O-V-E-D Bardugo’s writing. It was easy to read and captivating and definitely the main factor why I’m keeping the next books in my TBR list.

3.5 SHADOW FOLD STARS

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Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye

“Sometimes distance was easier than acting, or explaining.”

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I didn’t realize that I was reading a novella until I was done with it. Initially, I was having mixed emotions since I am not a huge fan of instalove. But for a quick read, it was …… okay.

This is a charming short story about Makenna and Caden and one fateful day trapped in the elevator. With only each other and the darkness keeping them company, they started opening up to each other, breaking down barriers bit by bit. This is a very fast, and I emphasize on FAST, strangers to lovers type of story.

Commercial: Am I the only one who thought of The Voice while reading this?

To those of you unfamiliar with The Voice, it is an international reality television singing competition   wherein the blind auditions have the judges/coaches facing away from the artists. With this, they will only be judging them based on their voices alone.

The HID plot is a lot like that. Trapped in a pitch black elevator, without any idea when they will be let out, Makenna and Caden had to lean onto each other for support. It was a sweet survival mode as they traded stories, backgrounds and even food and water. They found companionship and attraction in a very unlikely situation.

Personally, I found the story to be cute and fun but truly unrealistic. I was detached from the main characters from start to finish. I mean, I could understand some of the things that happened in the elevator but the rest that followed felt a bit too much. It’s entertaining at best but the insta-lust meter is just blaring. I felt like majority of the story was more on sexual and less on plot and emotions.

The writing is okay though I was a bit distracted with the sudden shifts in POV. I would suddenly get lost as to whose voice I was already reading but I quickly recovered. If you’re looking to pass time, a bit bored maybe or if you’re looking for a quick steamy fix – then this one might do.

Heads up: I am still curious as to what happens to them and their relationship (seeing as they professed love right away. Um okay.) as they discover more about each other, see each other in the light of day and tackle more day to day dilemmas without the bubble of an elevator. With that said, I am definitely not closing my doors on the next book.

2.5 STARS

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