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EIGHT (Love by Numbers #6) by E S CARTER :: REVIEW

Standalone in a series, single Dad, second chance at love

SYNOPSIS
I’m sorry for your loss.
Why do people say that?
When someone you love is taken from you, when a part of you dies along with them, you haven’t lost them like you would your car keys or mobile phone. They aren’t stuck down the side of the sofa or left in the ignition of your car for you to find later. You haven’t absentmindedly put them somewhere and forgotten. You will never lose them because they live in you.
The soul crushing hurt that burns your lungs with every breath you take comes from knowing where they are and not being with them.
The ugly and real definition of grief is being left behind.
I’m sorry they left you.
I’m sorry you are alone.
I’m sorry it hurts to breathe.
Loss; it doesn’t even compare.
She was my first love.
She is my last love.
I am an empty husk who pretends to be filled with enough love for those of us she left behind.
Our little girl and newborn son need me.
I am both mother and father now.
I am hollow and empty.
I am a shell.
So why does the girl with the face of an angel and eyes that mirror my emptiness, look at me like I’m her everything?

EIGHT is available to purchase below

          


Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte

4.5 Stars

“You’re not her.”
“No, I’m not her.”

There’s something so special about the Love by Numbers series by E S Carter. Whilst each book focuses primarily on a specific character, it is the extraordinarily beautiful family dynamic, at its core, which also captivates us. This, and the clever way in in which she dangles that little carrot about a ‘secondary‘ character in each book, teasing us into eagerly anticipating her next story as we follow each Fox-Williams man in his quest for love throughout Love by Numbers. We’ve followed Josh Fox-Williams through each book and after the unfolding events in One (Book #5), we knew Josh’s story was going to crush our hearts and so we had tissues at the ready and we’re glad we did, boy did we need them!

“We love you, Josh. We will take all your ugly and your pain and not judge you for any of it. We will not tell you your anger is unwarranted. We will not demand you to let it go. There is no cure for grief.”

In One, we glimpsed the heartbreaking moment Josh’s world came crumbling down around him, when Laura passed away, leaving behind a devastated husband, a bewildered sweet little girl, Ivy and a newborn baby boy, for Josh to nurture and tend to, whilst drowning in his own grief.

‘This house is saturated with her. She is everywhere, and yet, she is nowhere. Every morning when I wake up, she dies again.’

Whilst the Fox-Williams boys were all sporty and liked to put it about in their youth, Josh was the level headed slightly nerdy primary school teacher who married his first and only love, his high school sweetheart, Laura Miles. Josh was a deliriously happy husband, father and son and in Eight, that all comes crashing down as the reality and depth of his loss hits home. Josh’s grief was a tangible, living thing. It was bloody gut wrenching, leaving us a sobbing mess from the start. To witness this beautiful man grappling with his overwhelming grief and responsibilities was gut wrenching.

After shutting himself off emotionally, and allowing his brother Isaac to step up to the plate by taking on the responsibility of caring for Josh’s adorable children, while he sank further and further into despair, Josh one day realises he needs to make changes to bring himself back from the brink and decides to move to Ibiza, escaping to Nate’s (his brothers) villa with his children for a while to regroup.

“Life is complicated, ugly and often messy, but it’s also beautiful too.”

It is there he meets 25 year old Halle Richards,  a soulful, sweet and beautiful woman who is dealing with her own issues and whom Josh is initially quite hostile towards, but is attracted to nonetheless. Their relationship begins with a burning passionate night, to purely satisfy their base needs, yet buids to an emotional relationship between the two.

E S Carter stripped Josh’s emotions raw, revealing the anger, despair, conflict, turmoil, hate, sadness and confusion Josh was feeling. Every emotion was felt, every tear we could shed was shed. We felt Josh’s loss and love for Laura with every beat of our heart and because of this, we did find the relationship between Halle and Josh played out a little fast once it came to fruition, and would have preferred it to have been a more slow build and in the moment, considering the issues they were both dealing with.

“You deserve more. More than a broken man who is in love with a ghost.”

However, that being said, it did not detract at all from the intense emotional pull of this story, which was sweetly peppered with tender, funny moments courtesy of two absolutely gorgeously sweet children. If you adore books with children, you will fall head over heels in love with Eight. Little Ivy and baby Arthur (or Arrfffuur as Ivy calls him) are two of the sweetest, heart stealing little children you could imagine with E S Carter capturing their personalities beautifully. Passionate, poignant and real, Josh’s story will break you and heal you, and make you believe in second chances and love. Another fabulous book in this wonderful series! E S Carter, you’ve done it again!


THE LOVE BY NUMBERS SERIES by E.S. CARTER

es-carter

Available to purchase below
Nineteen Book One – our review  | amazon us  |  amazon uk 
Twenty One Book Two our review |  amazon us  |  amazon uk 
Three Book Three – our review  | amazon us |   amazon uk 
Thirteen Book Four –  our review  | amazon us  |  amazon uk
One Book Five – our review | amazon us | amazon uk
Eight Book Six our review |  amazon us | amazon uk

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Filed under 4.5 Stars, E S Carter, Pick an Author

RETREAT (Getaway #1) by JAY CROWNOVER :: REVIEW

Standalone in a series. A romance of self discovery and second chances.

retreat

SYNOPSIS

Every once in a while, you need to get away from it all.

I was a woman on the edge, shaken and shattered after a breakup that felt like it tore my entire world apart.

My best friend, sick of watching me drown in misery and melancholy, harassed me until I agreed to go with her on a week-long wilderness retreat.

She promised days spent bonding and getting in touch with our inner bad-asses.
It was supposed to be all about the two of us roughing it and making do with the bare minimum. She assured me we were going to be pushed to our limits in ways that were unimaginable. Neither one of us could have ever guessed just how right she was.

Nowhere in the glossy brochure did it say anything about the fact I was going to have to battle the insufferable but deliciously rugged and sexy trail guide instead of the elements. The brochure also forgot to mention the part that warned when you left civilization behind, there was no place to pack your inhibitions and fears.

I was told that I would be facing a week where the only thing I should expect was the unexpected. However, no one mentioned that I was going to have to fight for my life…and my heart as soon as I ventured into the unknown.

I was a pro at hiding from my feelings but when it came time to face a real threat, one that could change everything, I learned I was more of a no surrender, no retreat kind of girl.

Retreat is a standalone novel, the first in the Getaway series which centers on the hardheaded and brokenhearted Warner brothers and the women that dare to love them.

These boys are very good at putting the wild in wilderness.

Retreat is available to purchase below:

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retreat

Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte

4.5  ‘We just fell in love’ stars!

His lips hit my temple as he lifted the hand splayed across my ribs to settle over my racing heart.
“Destroyed, Sunshine. This is what it feels like to be destroyed.”

Dust off those cowboy boots and head out to Wyoming and prepare to fall in love with the unlucky in love but very delectable Warner men from Jay Crownover’s new Getaway Series! ‘Cause oh boy, didn’t we just fall head over heels for ‘not quite a cowboy’, Cy Warner. What a man. A very sexy, alpha and beautiful man!

As soon as we saw the cover for Retreat we felt compelled to check it out and we were hooked. It’s been 5 years since we picked up a book by Jay Crownover and we couldn’t help but admire how much her writing has grown during that time. It was fabulous! We highlighted a passage on nearly every page, such was the stirring beauty of this authors words which we greedily devoured.

“I like it better when you smile.”
“Haven’t had much reason to do so until you came crashing into my life, Sunshine.”

What a wonderful story Retreat was and what a terrific introduction to a series we want more of already! Retreat is a story of self-discovery  and second chances that had our hearts racing throughout, whether it be with the suspense and thrills that hit us midway through the story, the sheer tangible passion between Cy and Leora (Leo), or from the absolute romance between the loyal, rugged, gruff, masculine alpha with a loving heart, a hidden vulnerability and a deep seated sense of responsibility, and the gorgeous Leo who had become disenfranchised with herself after a failed relationship had her questioning herself and shattering her confidence. Everything about this romance spoke to our hearts.  A sexy, at times thrilling, and always heart-warming romance!

‘His story made my own seem silly and insignificant by comparison and suddenly I knew the bruises on my heart were nothing compared to the scars slashed on his.’

There were a few surprises and some really teary emotional moments in Retreat, and honestly, we don’t think it’s possible to have swooned any more than we did towards the end of this book! Pick us up off the floor! And the chemistry between Leo and Cy! These two were ridiculously hot together! They practically melted our Kindles with one of THE hottest shower scenes we’ve read! Bloody hell it was combustible. The setting, the passion, the romance, the suspense, the absolute beauty of a man who had sacrificed his heart and happiness out of a sense of duty and a woman who never thought it was possible to love and be loved, had our hearts soaring.

“Women like you don’t have to try and destroy things, Leo. You just do, because men like me aren’t strong enough to stay away and we end up wanting things the other isn’t capable of giving.”

Whilst this story does occur over a short time span, and normally we prefer feelings to build a little longer, it didn’t bother us as their feelings came across as completely real and genuine. Both Leo and Cy were mature, had suffered heartache and knew how to communicate. There was no uncommunicative crap between them and so the intensity of their feelings was believable and honest. We really did experience the romance, love and emotion between them both.

“Love isn’t logical or reasonable. Our hearts make no sense.”

We adored every character and reveled in the friendship between Leo and Emrys. Em was a loyal and loving friend who had singlehandedly brought Leo out of a dark phase when her confidence, self-worth and trust had been rocked following a break up with a man who wasn’t who he appeared to be and her own past insecurities.  Bottom line; Leo wasn’t happy with her life and it was at Em’s insistence they get away from it all for a one week trek on a ranch in Wyoming. This trip would serve to be life changing for them both in very different ways. We were completely consumed in Cy and Leo’s story and we found a book boyfriend who’ll be hard to beat in 2017. KA fans, we think you’ll love this one! Pick this one up and let the swooning commence! Sigh…our hearts are still swooning!

retreat-teaser

 

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Filed under 4.5 Stars, Jay Crownover, Our Reviewers, Pick an Author, Reviews by Gitte, Reviews by Jenny

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM (Chicago Stars Series) by SUSAN ELIZABETH PHILIPS :: REVIEW


5 STAR REVIEW :: DREAM A LITTLE DREAM


Although the series is a sports romance series, this particular book does not have a sports them.
Familiar friends may appear in more than one book in the Chicago Stars Series, however each one stands alone and can be read in any order or as a complete standalone.

dream

SYNOPSIS

A Desperate Young Mother

Rachel Stone’s bad luck has taken a turn for the worse. With an empty wallet, a car’s that’s spilling smoke, and a five-year-old son to support, she’s come home to a town that hates her. But this determined young widow with a scandalous past has learned how to be a fighter. And she’ll do anything to keep her child safe—even take on. . .

A man With No Heart

Gabe Bonner wants to be left alone, especially by the beautiful outcast who’s invaded his property. She has a ton of attitude, a talent for trouble, and a child who brings back bad memories. Yet Rachel’s feisty spirit might just be heaven-sent to save a tough, stubborn man.

Dare To Dream

Welcome to Salvation, North Carolina—where a man who’s forgotten what tenderness means meets a woman with nothing to lose. here two endearing lovers will set off on a funny, touching journey of the heart. . .to a place where dreams just might come true.

Available to purchase below:

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Dream a Little Dream

Reviewed by Jenny

‘He wanted to protect her and fuck her and comfort her and destroy her all at once. The chaos of his emotions coiled around his pain, deepening the agony.’

Oh wow! *sniff, sniff* My heart…..I just fell deeply in love with this book and can’t recommend this incredibly beautiful story enough! It reminded me exactly why I adore and have missed this author so much! As equally heartbreaking as it was heart-warming, as funny as it was emotional…..arrgghhh reacquainting myself with this authors words was like coming home. SEP’s books just make me….happy!

“Chip, I know you don’t understand this, but I’d take it as a personal favor if you’d stop trying to marry your mother off to my brothers.”

I have no idea how it happened, but when I initially binged on the Chicago Stars Series by Susan Elizabeth Philips over 4 years I ago, I somehow missed reading this amazing book, so of course I had to remedy that and have to admit, a little part of me was excited because I was able to experience this story for the first time and wow! What had I missed? This book was everything I love in a romance story!

“If the way you’ve been treating me is a mark of fondness, maybe you’d better take a fresh look at your interpersonal communication skills.”

It’s easy to read this one as a standalone. It’s been a long time between books in this series and I had no problem reading it this way. We did get to catch up on Cal and Jane from Nobody’s Baby But Mine (Book #4) but that was more a bonus than a necessity however I would highly recommend this entire series if you get the chance, especially if you love sports romances (though this installment isn’t a sports romance), books with children or stories full of warmth, tenderness, emotion, humour, passion together with beautiful mesmerising storytelling. Susan Elizabeth Philips has a gorgeous writing style and it’s one I’ve missed!

‘He wasn’t gentle now. Gentleness had been burned out of him.’

In Dream a Little Dream experience not one but two love stories as there is also an unrequited love between two secondary characters simmering in the background… so you can imagine…..I was in romance book heaven! This had it all:  friends to lovers, second chance romance, intrigue and so many heartbreakingly stunning moments I hardly know where to start!

‘…..how could she hate a man whose greatest fault lay in his ability to love so absolutely?’

We meet single Mum, Rachel Stone when she is returning to Salvation North Carolina as the town pariah. She encounters immense animosity from the town folk  due to her ex-husband stealing the towns money and their faith.  There’s a lot of resentment and it’s all aimed at twenty seven year old Rachel who has returned on a mission of sorts to provide a better life for her and her adorable five year old son, Edward. Be prepared to have this little guy not only steal your hearts but pull at every single heartstring! Oh gosh…..Edward (Chip) had me in tears a few times!

Rachel shows such tenacity and resilience and meets her haters head on and how she tries to shield Edward from the hostility made my heart swell! Rachel lands upon Gabe Bonner, the towns favourite son who has lived through an inexplicable loss, a man haunted by his past merely existing and trying to get through one day at a time.  Gabe appears gruff and has retreated into himself, barely keeping it together in his grief and it’s only the fierce love and loyalty of his brothers Cal and Ethan who keep him somewhat grounded.

‘Gabriel Bonner, the man with no feelings, cried in his sleep that night.’

Gabe is fascinated by the smart mouthed, sassy Rachel; he admires the spark and fight she displays in the light of much adversity she has endured. He sees beneath her tough exterior, feeling an attraction to her. Not only is Rachel determined but she’s an amazing mother, there is nothing she wouldn’t sacrifice for her beautiful little man, Edward.

Oh this story was exactly what I needed! The romance of this story drew me in and kept me riveted, but I have to say, the relationship between little Edward and Gabe damn near broke me. It was so touching, so beautiful and yet so bloody sad at times delivering some of the most pivotal and tender and moving moments in this heart warming and engaging story. The exchanges between Gabe and Edward….Oh my heart…..This beautiful little soul who preferred nature over video games, who could reduce me to a melting wreck in seconds.  He had a heart bigger than himself.

“Couldn’t you even pretend to like me? It wouldn’t have to be real.”
“I do like you.”
“No.”
Edward shook his head. “But you could pretend. And I could pretend about you, too. If we pretended real good, my mommy would never know.”

This book is an absolute recommend, can’t you just feel how giddy I was reading it and how much I fell in love with it? I’d really  recommend every book in this single as I’ve loved every single book so far! Each book centres on different characters and each love story offers something different and wonderful…these are stories guaranteed to satisfy the romantic in us all!

 * * * *


THE CHICAGO STARS SERIES
Sports Romance
Familiar friends may appear in more than one book in the Chicago Stars Series, however each one stands alone and can be read in any order.

IT HAD TO BE YOU
What if a woman who knows nothing about sports inherits a professional football team? The Windy City definitely isn’t ready for Phoebe Somerville, the outrageous York knockout who’s taking over their home town team. And Phoebe is definitely not prepared for the Stars’ head coach Dan Calebow, a sexist jock taskmaster with a one-track mind. This is the book that began it all. The Chicago Stars are about to take the field… and they’re not the only ones playing for keeps.

Available to purchase below:

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it had to be you 1


HEAVEN, TEXAS
Come heck or high water, Gracie Snow is determined to drag the legendary ex-jock Bobby Tom Denton back home to Heaven, Texas, to begin shooting his first motion picture. Despite his dazzling good looks and killer charm, Bobby Tom has reservations about being a movie star — and no plans to cooperate with a prim and bossy Ohio wallflower whom he can’t get off his mind or out of his life. Instead, the hell-raising playboy decides to make her over from plain Jane to Texas wildcat.

Available to purchase below:

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heaven texas 2


NOBODY’S BABY BUT MINE
Genius physics professor Dr. Jane Darlington desperately wants a baby. But finding a father won’t be easy. Jane’s super-intelligence made her feel like a freak when she was growing up, and she’s determined to spare her own child that suffering. Which means she must find someone very special to father her child. Someone who’s more comfortable working out his muscles than exercising his brain.
Cal Bonner, the Chicago Stars’ legendary quarterback, seems like the perfect choice. But his champion good looks and down-home ways are deceiving. Dr. Jane is about to learn a little too late that this good ol’ boy is a lot smarter than he lets on—and he’s not about to be used and abandoned by a brainy, baby-mad schemer.

Available to purchase below:

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nobody's baby but mine


DREAM A LITTLE DREAM
A Desperate Young Mother: Rachel Stone’s bad luck has taken a turn for the worse. With an empty wallet, a car’s that’s spilling smoke, and a five-year-old son to support, she’s come home to a town that hates her. But this determined young widow with a scandalous past has learned how to be a fighter. And she’ll do anything to keep her child safe—even take on. . .A man With No Heart. Welcome to Salvation, North Carolina—where a man who’s forgotten what tenderness means meets a woman with nothing to lose. here two endearing lovers will set off on a funny, touching journey of the heart. . .to a place where dreams just might come true.

Available to purchase below:

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dream


THIS HEART OF MINE
Molly Somerville knows she has a reputation for trouble. She did give away her fifteen-million-dollar inheritance, but, hey, nobody’s perfect. Still, if anyone has an almost perfect life, it’s Molly. While her Daphne the Bunny children’s books could be selling better, she loves her cramped loft, her French poodle, and her career creating the fictional animals who live in Nightingale Woods. She even loves her sister, Phoebe.
One night Molly’s penchant for running into trouble runs right into Kevin himself, turning her world upside down. Heartbreak follows, and just when she’s certain things can’t get worse, Kevin forces his way back into her life. If only the overpaid, Ferrari-driving, poodle-hating jock was as shallow as she wants him to be, she could get on with her almost perfect life.

Available to purchase below:

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this heart of mine 5


MATCH ME IF YOU CAN
Heath is searching for the ultimate symbol of success — the perfect wife. And to make an extraordinary match, he needs an extraordinary matchmaker, right?When the determined matchmaker promised she’d do anything to keep her star client happy . . . did she meananything? If Annabelle isn’t careful, she just might find herself going heart-to-heart with the toughest negotiator in town.

Available to purchase below:

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match me if you can


NATURAL BORN CHARMER
In this follow-up to Match Me If You Can, quarterback Dean Robillard takes to the road during the off season and finds Blue walking along in a beaver costume. Blue is cautious when it comes to love, but her defenses are no match for a determined competitor like Dean.

Available to purchase below:

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natural born charmer


FIRST STAR I SEE TONIGHT
A star quarterback and a feisty detective play for keeps in this sporty, sexy, sassy novel—a long-awaited new entry in the beloved, award-winning, New York Times bestselling author’s fan-favorite Chicago Stars football series.
From the bustling streets of Chicago to a windswept lighthouse on Lake Superior to the glistening waters of Biscayne Bay, two people who can’t stand to lose will test themselves and each other to discover what matters most.

Available to purchase below:

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first star I see tonight 23rd Aug


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Filed under 5 Stars, Our Reviewers, Pick an Author, Reviews by Jenny, Susan Elizabeth Phillips