Why We Love Cowboys by Jan Scarbrough {Guest Post + Giveaway}

timeless banner

jan scarbroughAuthor Jan Scarbrough is stopping by the blog today to talk about every woman’s fantasy: the cowboy. After that, you can enter the giveaway for a chance to win an ecopy of Timeless, or a $25 Amazon giftcard!

A technical writer by day, Jan Scarbrough spends her nights writing romance. She is a member of Novelist, Inc. Jan has written for Kensington and ImaJinn Books, and currently has contracts with Turquoise Morning Press and Resplendence Publishing. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, and rides American Saddlebred horses for fun and recreation.

the busy bibliophile

Why we love us some cowboy

Fisting her hand, Mandy pounded on the door. Then she stuck both hands into her pants pockets, knocking her car keys out of the right pocket. She bent down to pick them up.

The door opened and a pair of hand-tooled, black leather cowboy boots stepped into her line of vision.

For an instant, Mandy forgot to breathe, and then her breath came too quickly. Her heart raced. She glanced up. Up past the pointed toes of expensive leather boots, past tight Wranglers, past a big gold belt buckle pressed against a flat belly and a white Western shirt that delineated a broad chest and brawny arms, and into the piercing blue eyes of Judd Romeo.

She tipped her head back, unprepared for what she saw. Time seemed to stand still. Judd shifted his stance and flashed his familiar, bad boy smile. There was a Colin Farrell edginess about him, a sexy untamable quality that welled up from every fiber of his cowboy persona.

“Hello, Mandy,” he said.

At some point in her career, a romance writer will write a cowboy hero. We all love them. But it has to do with more than just their “cowboy good looks,” as I describe in my book Kentucky Cowboy.

In the book Folklore on the American Land, Duncan Emrich makes the point that the cowboy is “a symbol of what we as a people and nation have wished as our way of life. He is a projection of our hopes and desires, a projection of our best code of ethics, of our wished-for mores.”

Americans have always been attracted to cowboys for what they represent: individualism, independence, freedom, courage, loyalty, and much more.

I believe it is as simple as that. If you write a good cowboy, he will have those qualities. He will be a man of his word and a fierce protector of women. He won’t take guff from anybody. You won’t be able to walk all over him. He will stand up for what he believes, and he won’t back down.

Don’t we want that in any man? Our man? And don’t we aspire for that in ourselves?

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timeless
When Beth Abbott receives a surprise inheritance from her birth mother, she travels to the family’s nineteenth century mansion in Old Louisville, now a bed and breakfast. There she meets the resident ghost, a little girl whose crying scares, but intrigues guests. Beth sets out to discover the identity of the ghost and why she appears happy to Beth, not sad.

Jeff Halstead, a man with several secrets, runs the bed and breakfast. But he’s more than that to Beth, and she feels their connection immediately. A psychic medium who doubts his skills, Jeff slowly uncovers the truth of their past lives. Will he be in time to reveal the identity of Beth’s enemy? Will the love they shared in the past follow them into the future?

the busy bibliophileThanks so much for stopping by today, Jan. You’re right, those are the qualities I look for in a man (fictional or not). If you’d like more information about Jan or her novels, check out the links below:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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Guest Post + Giveaway from Margo Band Collins {Waking Up Dead}

Margo Band CollinsAuthor Margo Bond Collins is stopping by the blog today to tell us more about Callie, the main character from her new novel Waking Up Dead. Then she’s sticking around to give away an ecopy of Waking Up Dead to 5 winners.

Margo Bond Collins is the author of Legally Undead, first in an urban fantasy series coming in 2014 from World Weaver Press (http://worldweaverpress.com/), and Waking Up Dead, a paranormal mystery forthcoming from Solstice Publishing (http://www.solsticepublishing.com/). She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college English online. She loves paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters.

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Age: mid-twenties when she died.

Physical description from the book: When I looked down at myself, I saw just me, wearing the clothes I’d worn the day I died. Black slacks, gray button-down shirt, black leather jacket, medium-heel black boots. Casual professional. When I’d managed to cast a reflection in the mirror, I’d still looked like me. Medium-toned skin, green eyes, dark wavy hair to my shoulders.

Quote that fits her personality: I died in Dallas, my hometown. I was killed, actually. Murdered. I’ll spare you the gruesome details. I don’t like to remember them myself. Some jerk with a knife–and probably a Bad-Mommy complex. Believe me, if I knew where he was, I’d go haunt his ass.

Best quality: Loyal, kind, determined to make sure that things come out right.

Worst quality: Tends to repress the bad things that happen; doesn’t want to deal with problems unless she has to.

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When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex. Now she’s witnessed another murder, and she’s not about to let this one go. She’s determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?

the busy bibliophileThanks so much for stopping by, Margo. I loved hearing more about Callie; she seems like a firecracker! If you’d like more information about Margo or her novels, check out the links below:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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What Makes a Great Male Lead by Diane Mannino {Waiting For Romeo}

Diane Mannino is stopping by the blog today to tell us what she looks for in a great male lead. After that, you can enter the giveaway for a chance to win a $10 gift card to Amazon!

Diane Mannino graduated from University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in English Literature. She is a former writer for Museum and Arts Washington and Star Magazine as well as several television shows, including, Inside Edition, American Journal, and E! News Daily. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two beautiful daughters. Running from Romeo is her first novel and she is currently working on the sequel.

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I think the most important characteristic of a male lead is that he’s likable. If he does something to make him not so likable, he needs to have a flaw that makes him sympathetic. My ideal lead male has a tough exterior, but is vulnerable inside…vulnerable, but not so vulnerable that he’s perceived as wimpy.

It’s fantastic for him to be gorgeous, loyal, kind, caring, and just an all-around perfect guy, but I don’t find that as intriguing. I like when they have an edge to them. The male lead is more interesting to me if he isn’t perfect, otherwise, he’s a bit boring.

If I find the character to be unlikable and unsympathetic, I’m totally turned off and I just don’t care what happens to him. As a reader, I want to care about the male lead, actually I want to care about all the main characters. I want to root for them, flawed or not, because I care about them.

I think the reader will care about the male lead because he’s strong and charismatic, despite their weaknesses…to complete the package…it definitely doesn’t hurt if he’s totally hot ;)

What do you think? Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

the busy bibliophile

Heartbroken by the one guy she simply couldn’t resist, Emilia King is determined to move on. But Logan Prescott is also determined… determined to win her back. He lost the only person who truly mattered to him and now he’ll do whatever it takes to convince Emilia to give him a second chance.

While their attraction to each other is undeniable, the obstacles they’re forced to confront may be too much. And just when it seems their love for each other is a bond that knows no bounds, Emilia faces her worst nightmare.

With her newfound inner strength, Emilia realizes fighting to be with Logan is her only hope…and waiting for him may ultimately determine not only their future together, but her own destiny.

the busy bibliophile

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Diane. I completely agree with everything you said! Flawed is fine, but he must have redeeming qualities as well. For me, probably the biggest one is kindness. If I don’t consider him a kind person, I can’t like him.

If you’d like more information about Diane or her novels, check out the links below:


Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon

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Quotes + Giveaway from S.R. Grey {I Stand Before You}

Quotes + Giveaway from S.R. Grey {I Stand Before You}

Author S.R. Grey is stopping by the blog today to share some quotes (and her thoughts about them) from her newest novel I Stand Before You. After she’s piqued your interest (and you’ve added the book to your Goodreads shelf!), enter the giveaway for a chance to win an ecopy of the novel or a $50 Amazon Giftcard. If you don’t see the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post, try refreshing your screen or just click this link.

S.R. Grey is the author of Harbour Falls and Willow Point, first and second novels in A Harbour Falls Mystery series. She is also the author of I Stand Before You, first novel in the Judge Me Not series (New Adult/Contemporary Romance).

Ms. Grey resides in western Pennsylvania. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Robert Morris College, as well as an MBA from Duquesne University.

She is currently working on Wickingham Way, the third installment in A Harbour Falls Mystery series, to be released in January 2014.

Other interests include reading, traveling, running, and cheering for her hometown sports teams.

the busy bibliophile

“Kay is a sandcastle on the beach, and I’m a fucking hurricane. I’d not only wash her away, I’d fucking destroy her.”

Chase not feeling like he’s good enough for Kay. Breaks my heart.

**********

“For Chase, I accept dares, I’m learning to take chances. He makes me feel unafraid.”

I love that Kay is learning to live again, thanks to Chase’s influence.

**********

“I decide this day with Chase Gartner–my friend, my maybe-possibility–is the best one yet.”

Kay starts to feel so much more than lust and friendship right here. Or, as Chase would say, right fucking here.

**********

“As we held tightly to one another, like two lost ships on a sea of confusion, I breathed in the guy I’ve grown to care for so very much.”

I just love this quote. Kay and Chase anchor each other.

**********

“As I stand before you, judge me not.”

Well, this is what it’s all about, right?

the busy bibliophile

When it comes to tattooed bad boys, Chase Gartner is the real deal. Partying, engaging in meaningless sex, getting into fights—Chase indulges in it all during his late teen years, thus firmly solidifying his status as a heartbreakingly gorgeous but way-too-dangerous-to-trust guy in his hometown of Harmony Creek, Ohio. Then, following one fateful night of reckless decisions, Chase’s actions finally catch up to him and land him in prison.

Now, four years have passed and Chase finds himself a free man. He returns to Harmony Creek, ready to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding his shattered life.

Things are off to a promising start when he meets Kay Stanton, a young woman with a tragic past of her own. Despite a powerful attraction, Chase and Kay are naturally hesitant to become involved. That’s why friendship feels like the safest option. But when passions ignite and love blossoms, a relationship that is destined and meant to be can only be resisted for so long. When Chase and Kay finally succumb to their feelings they realize being together feels more right and true than anything they have ever experienced.

But their love is soon tested. Chase’s wild past still haunts and tempts him, and Kay is keeping a secret that could tear them apart.

I Stand Before You is a journey of hope and forgiveness, coming to terms with the past and moving forward. But mostly it’s a story of two damaged people who take a chance, open their hearts, and find true love.

the busy bibliophile

Thanks so much for stopping by. I liked getting these little glimpses of the characters in the story. And do I detect there might be a little swooning involved?

If you’d like more information about S.R. Grey or her latest novel, check out the links below. You can also stop by the tour’s page on AToMR Tours to see all the other posts (including more quotes) and reviews of the book.

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

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What Makes a Swoon-Worthy Hero by Helena Newbury + Giveaway {In Harmony}

Author Helena Newbury is stopping by the blog today to tell us the qualities she looks for in a swoon-worthy male lead. When she’s done with that, you can enter the giveaway for a chance to win an ecopy of the both books in her Fenbrook Academy series and a $50 Amazon giftcard!

Helena Newbury is a New Adult Romance author with a love of bakingly hot summer days, strawberry gelato, good coffee and interesting people. Unlike the characters in her books, Helena cannot dance, act or play anything (though she is substantially more flexible since she started writing Dance For Me and tried doing dancer’s stretches, so she’s hoping that something will rub off on her from each book).

Helena writes in a very noisy, very busy coffee shop which means she sometimes end up mainlining caffeine to keep her seat. You’ll know when this happens because she’ll still be on Twitter that night at 4am.

She loves meeting and talking with other authors, traveling to new places and discovering new books.

the busy bibliophile

What makes a swoon-worthy hero?

Let’s start with the obvious: the looks. He doesn’t just have to be gorgeous, he has to be gorgeous in the right way. He has to be the heroine’s type, even if she doesn’t see it at first—even if she doesn’t think she has a type. In this case, blue-gray eyes and black hair. A couple of tattoos that tell a story. Muscles that speak of boxing, not gym-preening. And, of course, it’s all down to how he wears his looks—the tousled hair, the battered leather jacket, the guitar slung over his shoulder. Connor with slicked-back hair and an Armani suit just wouldn’t be the same.

I think some of the best heroes are foreign—or at least, foreign to the heroine. When the hero is an outsider, he can hold up a mirror to the heroine’s life in a way the boy next door can’t. Connor’s Irish and not only does his accent turn his singing voice from silver to pure gold, it also lets him turn even the most innocent question into something loaded with filthy innuendo, and growl some things in Karen’s ear that turn her into a quivering mess.

It’s interesting when heroes are a contrast to their heroines. In Connor’s case, he’s virtually penniless, in New York on a scholarship, whereas Karen’s the daughter of a wealthy concert pianist. He’s a bad boy known for partying hard. She’s the ultimate good girl, sheltered and a virgin. He’s chaos, she’s order, and their very different lives lead them to start questioning the directions they’re heading in.

The most important element in a swoon-worthy hero, though? What he does. Without action, he’s just a good-looking bag of potential. To really make us swoon, he has to save a heroine who may not even realize she needs saving until it’s almost too late. The best way to make us swoon…is to be ready to catch us.

Who’s your favorite hero, and what about him makes you swoon? Leave a comment below!

the busy bibliophile
 photo 9a7bf740-41c3-4997-bcde-70b49a041fd8_zps71846441.jpgEveryone expects her to succeed….
Karen plays the cello like an angel, and it’s the only thing that makes her truly feel alive. But her father’s dream—for her to join a prestigious orchestra—leaves no time in her life for anything but music…not even love. Trapped on her path, she doesn’t know how to rebel.

Everyone expects him to fail….
Connor plays rock guitar like the devil himself, and his ability has got him all the way from a dead-end life in Belfast to a scholarship at Fenbrook Academy. But beneath his arrogance and charm, he doesn’t believe he has what it takes. He’s spent his time in New York drinking and partying, and the only future he sees is a return to Ireland as soon as he flunks out.

But what no one expects….
When Karen’s duet partner is injured, the bad boy guitarist and the shy, sheltered cellist are forced to team up. Neither likes the idea, but what begins as anger and distrust slowly spirals into love…and lust. If they can face up to their feelings, they might just have a chance together. If Connor will allow Karen to stop his fall, maybe he can show her a life she never thought possible….
the busy bibliophile

Oh, Helena, you’re speaking my language! I agree with everything you said and especially loved the part about the Irish accent growling filthy things in her ear. I do believe I just swooned. Thanks so much for stopping by.

If you’d like more information about Helena or novels, check out the links below:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

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Top 10 Traits of a Swoon-worthy Hero + Giveaway by Magan Vernon {Love, Life & Lemons}

Author Magan Vernon is stopping by the blog today to tell us what she looks for in a swoon-worthy hero (one of my favorite topics!). After you check out her Top 10, let me know what you think of her list. Did Magan miss anything? Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win some sweet swag!

Magan Vernon is a Young Adult and New Adult writer who lives with her family in the insurance capital of the world. She is in a very serious, fake relationship with Adam Lambert and constantly asks her husband to wear guyliner. He still refuses. She also believes her husband is secretly an alien, disguised as a southern gentleman.
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When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to say screw the lemons and bail.

Seventeen-year-old Bentley Evans had it all. Then her Dad got laid off.

Now she has to move across town to a small apartment and leave her life of luxury for public school and a job at the local burger place. Just when her world seems like it’s crumbling she finds solace in the unlikely punk boy next door, Kai Stone. But as their relationship blossoms, a jealous ex-girlfriend and a secret to tell that threatens to bring disaster back into Bentley’s life.

the busy bibliophile

Top Ten Traits of a Swoon-worthy Hero

I can’t pick ten in order, so I’m going to just list the ten things that are important to me for swoon factor.

1. Confident, but not cocky.

2. Respects what the heroine wants. He needs to know when to hold her hand and when to pull her hair.

3. A smile that will make a girl melt.

4. He needs to make me laugh. If the guy doesn’t have some witty lines, I’m bored.

5. Decent dresser. There is something about a man in a suit that makes my tongue waggle.

6. The way the heroine reacts to him says it all. Whether if it’s from his words or actions; if the heroine turns to putty in his hands then I do as well.

7. An accent. I don’t care if it’s southern or British. They get me every single time.

8. Caring for the heroine’s needs. Whether it’s in or out of the bedroom. I love a character that cares what the heroine wants and takes care of it.

9. He knows what he wants and goes for it.

10. He always apologizes. ALWAYS admits to being wrong.

the busy bibliophile
Oh, my. Magan, I do believe you just described my perfect man. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your Top 10!

If you’d like more information about Magan or her debut novel, check out the links below:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

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Angela Carling and Memorable Characters + Giveaway

Author Angela Carling is stopping by the blog today to talk about memorable characters. When she’s done with that, you can enter the giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of her latest book, Becoming Bryn (if you don’t see the Rafflecopter form, try refreshing your screen or just click the link)!

Raised in Palm Springs California. A desert rat that writes Young Adult novels and loves all kitties and her family. Can be bribed with chocolate. Published books, Unbreakable Love, Shackled and Becoming Bryn.

the busy bibliophile

CHARACTERS THAT STAY WITH US!

I want to start by thanking Andrea for letting me be part of her blog for a little while. She’s been so supportive as I’ve worked to get my writing career off the ground! You rock Andrea!

Lately I’ve been thinking about what makes a character “stay with us” long after we’ve finished a book. John Green, on a trip back to Denmark where he wrote The Fault is in our Stars, wrapped up his video post by saying that he was surprised to find himself missing his characters (Hazel and Augustus) even though they were fictional.

I totally get his feelings, both as an author and a reader. As I wrote Becoming Bryn, I spent hours thinking about both Jesse and Bryn, how they might feel or react in any given situation. If I was in the grocery store and had to wait in a long line, I would ask myself would Bryn feel impatient? (Yes she would.) What about Jesse, would she chat with other people in line or sulk until her turn at the register? (No, that would be out of her comfort zone.) And so it went for weeks as I invited characters to walk with me everywhere I went. Oh yeah, I’m that nerdy-of-an-author :-). In time, I grew to know them like a best friend and when I’d completed their story, much like John Green, I found myself missing their company, even though they were fictitious.

So what makes a character stay with us? I think for each of us, it is a little different. You may identify with the subtly defiant Katniss from The Hunger Games while someone else might feel a connection to the soft-spoken nature of Abileen from The Help. What about Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit? I think we can all relate to the fact that he was compelled to go on an adventure, yet constantly longed for the comforts of his hobbit hole. Aren’t we all a little bored with life, yet still crave the consistency and comfort of home?

Whatever the reason you connect with a character, that connection enriches our lives and lets us walk with amazing, albeit fictional characters, at least for a little while.

I wanted to write this blog about characters that stay with us because Becoming Bryn is all about amazing and relatable characters, not to mention a few swoon worthy characters you wouldn’t mind spending the day with :-). My favorite was a ten year old girl named Summer that Bryn meets after the accident. Her candor and precociousness made her fun to create. I hope you find a character in Becoming Bryn that stays with you and makes you smile. Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to connect. Come and find me at the links below.

the busy bibliophile

For months, Jesse has been envious of her twin sister Bryn and even has a crush on Bryn’s gorgeous, popular boyfriend, Quinton. When Jesse awakens from a coma to learn that everyone thinks she IS Bryn, the option of actually taking over her sister’s life is beyond tempting, but there’s a downside. She’d have to give up Ethan, her best friend and the only person she trusts. Could she actually live as Bryn for the rest of her life? And if her family and friends found out, would they ever forgive her?

the busy bibliophile

Angela, I’m so glad you could stop by the blog again! I love that you talk about memorable characters, because really, that’s the sign of an excellent book, when you cant stop thinking about them. I know I get attached to characters and miss them when I’m done with a book, but it must be a hundred times worse when you actually create them! You know everything about them and are closer to them than anyone else could ever be.

Thanks again, Angela, for your visit. I look forward to the next one!

If you’d like more information about Angela or her novels, check out the links below:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

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Friday Night Alibi by Cassie Mae {Whitley’s Review}

Today I’m pleased to welcome Whitley back to the blog! She usually blogs over at Whitley Reads, but she’s here to review the New Adult contemporary novel Friday Night Alibi by Cassie Mae. I’m really enjoying her reviews, with their mix of snark and humor. Be sure to check out the reviews on her site.

friday night alibiPublication Date: July 29, 2013
Publisher: Random House Flirt
Series: N/A
Rating:
Summary:
In the wealthy town of Sundale, Kelli Pinkins has hatched the perfect plan to capitalize on her sweet reputation. For a generous fee, she will be every trust-fund baby’s dream: a Friday-night alibi, the “girlfriend” or “BFF” that parents dream about. With college approaching in the fall, Kelli’s services are in demand more than ever, which means that her social life is nonexistent. But Kelli is A-okay with that. She’s raking in cash for school. Besides, relationships are tricky, and sometimes very messy. She’d rather be at home on Xbox LIVE, anyway. Then the unexpected happens: She meets college stud Chase Maroney.

Chase isn’t like the preppy, privileged guys Kelli usually meets in Sundale. For starters, he’s twentysomething, always wears black., and he shoots back one-liners as fast as she can dish them out. But Kelli’s attempts to drive Chase away falter when she realizes that he treats her like he really knows her, like he cares about knowing her. When Kelli finally gives in to the delicious kiss she’s been fighting for so long, she faces a tough decision: make Chase a real-life boyfriend and risk her heart . . . or keep her clients and lose her first true love.

A galley copy was provided free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My first reaction to this novel was that it wasn’t a New Adult novel. Nothing about it fit the idea of a “new” adult or the problems that people of that age group go through. Kelli lived at home, she wasn’t planning to move out at any point or think about her future plans, she didn’t deal with college or college prep or issues of independence, and the main conflict (outside of the romance) was that her parents weren’t paying enough attention to her. All told, it struck me as being a very teenager book, with the kinds of problems faced by high school students living at home. Which isn’t a bad thing, unless you pick up the book expecting something else.

The narration in this book didn’t help the “teenager-y” vibe. It’s narrated in a very conversational tone, with the main character giving us plenty of slang and Buffy-speak . Much of the story feels like we’re sitting around, chatting with Kelli, listening to her ramble on about events. Which, while not my favorite style, is fine, except the narrator kept assuming my thoughts. There were many points of “I know, you think that’s so terrible” or “Don’t judge me, but” or “I know what you’re thinking, but”. Kelli, no. You don’t know what I’m thinking. Every time you said that, you were wrong. Stop it.

Chase, the love interest, was pretty charming…in the second half. He followed the trope of being a “cool jerk” at the start of the novel, but I always got the impression that he was being a jerk just for the sake of fulfilling the trope. It never felt organic to his character, and he wasn’t truly a Bad Boy. He was an average nice guy (not Nice Guy, though) who was honestly pretty great, but for some reason he didn’t open the book that way. The only excuse we got for his behavior was that old “boys pick on you when they like you” excuse. Honestly, at 21, I think that excuse should be invalid. If you’re old enough to drink but can’t flirt by being nice to a girl, you need to stop and reevaluate some things.

A big part of what made it feel forced, however, was that all his bad antics just…stopped as soon as they weren’t needed. He simply dropped them, out of the blue. The same for the banter/pranks between Kelli and Chase. As soon as the kissing started, everything else stopped.

This was, in the end, a very light book in which showed relatively clean relationships. I didn’t get many red flags from Kelli/Chase (only two spring to mind: sexual harassment being brushed off as “he’s just a jerk,” and Chase breaking into her room) and once it got going, their relationship was cute and consensual. Her relationship with her parents had easy-to-read problems that got (mostly) fixed by the end. Her relationship with her friend was well-portrayed. The book’s only major downfall was that it tried to stick to a formula it was unsuited for, which produced some jarring disconnects. Just about everything I had issue with, except the narration style, can be attributed to cliché’s that got shoved into the wrong sort of book. Other than that, it was a sweet read.

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