Dark Protector by Celia Aaron Review

Dark Protector

Dark Protector by Celia Aaron

2 Stars

It was definitely hard for me to decide on a rating. Usually it’s fairly easy for me to choose but not this time. I think the base for this story is what threw me off so much. We have Conrad who is a hired gun for this mafia. (This is also my first mafia romance by the way.) He is constantly having to take out people and it takes a bit of his soul/humanity every time he does it. Conrad stumbles upon Charlie at her flower shop. Conrad never goes inside because he doesn’t want to mix their worlds. He sees himself as nonredeemable and doesn’t want to ruin Charlie’s innocence. The problem is, Conrad falls in love with Charlie just by watching her from the windows of her shop…..*Crickets*. One day, trouble follows Conrad to his sitting place and Charlie gets thrown into his world. This story had some SERIOUS instalove going on. It’s like all common sense was thrown out the window. They kept mentioning “gut feelings and vibes” for knowing they were meant to be with the other. That she “just knew” she was safe with this man she just met who put her in insane amounts of danger…. I think if they had met before, it would’ve been easier to accept. Let’s say he goes into her shop and makes small talk from time to time. Let them actually meet face to face before just diving head first into all this that it would’ve been easier to accept.

With all that being said, this book was definitely action packed. It was never a dull moment and I could appreciate that. I loved the characters for the most part. I think Nate (the trusty sidekick) was my favorite. I loved the premise of the story but once again, struggled with the instalove.

The book was hard to put down so it did have that going for it. It was definitely entertaining as well. I just really wanted a different foundation to this story to have enjoyed it more. I just couldn’t get over them falling for each other so quickly and the 100% trust being there on day one….

Jessica

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King of Wall Street by Louise Bay Review

King of Wall Street

King of Wall Street by Louise Bay

4 Stars

Hot, Hot, Hot!!!! This was a very steamy read!!! I have yet to read this author before but I was definitely a fan of her work! I’m a sucker for office romances and alpha males so this was the perfect read for me!!

Max King was known as the King of Wall Street. He had this confidence about him that was beyond attractive. I will say it was quite strange how Max was the King of the office but was pretty much clueless when it came to women and dating. I think he spent so much of his young adult years working on his career, that he had no idea how to date or what women wanted. I don’t think Max even knew what he wanted to be honest. Sure he had the hookup thing down pat BUT getting to know someone and spending time with them was an entirely different ball game.

As far as Harper goes, I loved her name. It’s my favorite girl name at the moment. I loved how hard she worked. I loved how she didn’t let an absentee father stop her from achieving her dreams. BUT I had some issues with her relationship with her father. Throughout the entire book, we are told her father did not care for her and just threw money at the situation to avoid any personal contact or effort. Then closer to the end, the situation comes to a head and we have the solution tied into a neatly wrapped bow. It was too perfect for me and did not coincide with what we thought this entire time. It also seemed a bit to rushed to wrap up the story line.

Max and Harper’s whirlwind romance was so fun to watch. I loved the playful banter they had with each other and seeing their feelings for each other before they themselves realized them. Have I mentioned how steamy this book was?! lol!!!

The epilogue for this one blew me away. I loved reading it and seeing what was going on with our characters. Please let this crew be included in the other books for this series.

Jessica

Freshmen by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison Review

Freshmen

Freshmen by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

1 Star

This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased, honest opinion.

YIKES! I truly wanted to love this book. I think the cover is amazing, the synopsis sounded great, etc. I was really excited to read this one but it just did not work for me. The synopsis had me thinking the book would go this way but it ended up going another, if that makes any sense. I also struggled with the amount of people in this book. I literally could not keep up with who was who, who was with who, etc. I eventually stopped trying. Also the drama was a bit too much. It seemed like there was ALWAYS something going on. It was just too much for me. I did struggle with connecting with the main characters. I just didn’t care one way or the other about them. I never felt invested in their lives. I will say, I enjoyed the friendship between Phoebe, Frankie and Negin (I hope that’s the three who had the epic friendship anyway). I loved how they were always there for each other, even through some very embarrassing times. If you’ve read the book, you know which scene I’m referring to. That’s true friendship right there.

I think the biggest issue was Phoebe being in love with Luke. The same guy she went to school with but only spoke to him 5 times in 7 years. She was very much in love/obsessed with him. Turns out it was just the idea of Luke that she was in love with. I mean, how else could you love someone you don’t know and have barely spoken to? Luke Taylor wasn’t someone I wanted Phoebe with anyway. He was this self centered, constantly wavering jerk. He didn’t know what he wanted but wanted to keep everyone on standby just in case he decided to lean towards them for THAT day. I’m not sure if we were supposed to root for Phoebe and Luke but I definitely didn’t.

There was one thing that I really enjoyed in this book. Abbey and Luke trading random greeting cards with each other on special occasions was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely something I want to start doing haha.

Overall, I truly wanted to love and enjoy this book. I tried my hardest to look at the positive side of things but it just didn’t work out.

Jessica

Ace of Hearts by Chantal Fernando Review & Release Blitz

Ace of Hearts (The Cursed Ravens MC, #1)
Title: Ace of Hearts
Series: The Cursed Ravens MC #1
Author: Chantal Fernando
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: June 11, 2018
Blurb
The New
York Times 
bestselling author of the “swoonworthy and addicting” (Kim
Karr, New York Times bestselling author) Wind Dragons
Motorcycle Club series is back with more bad boy bikers in this first novel in
the Cursed Ravens Motorcycle Club series.

Erin Dawson had the perfect life growing up in a perfect home with a
perfect family. Her parents gave her and her sister everything a child could
want. But after learning that the man she’s called “dad” her whole life isn’t
actually her biological father, Erin is determined to find the man who is.

Armed with her original birth certificate, she finds her father, but begins
questioning if her mom had been right all along to keep this information
buried. It turns out he is the president of a motorcycle club, which could not
be further from the life Erin leads. But, she’s determined to get to know the
man who she gets her striking blue eyes from. Despite getting what she wants
and finding her biological father, it’s the slightly older, much rougher but
incredibly sexy biker Ace that catches Erin’s eye.

As the new “princess” of the Cursed Ravens, Erin is learning a whole new
world, but her father has made it clear she is off limits. Will Ace follow his
President’s orders or will he put his heart ahead of his duty? A sizzling tale
of family and passion, Ace of Hearts features Fernando’s
signature “snark and sass” (Booklist) and is perfect for fans of Kristin
Ashley.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and text
Review

This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased, honest opinion.

Sooo good! I’m really happy that I gave this book a chance. I love motorcycle romances and this one did not disappoint. I really wish I had the next book in my hand. I read this book in about 1.5 days. I could’ve finished it in one sitting if my eyes would’ve let me.

If you don’t already know, this is a story about a girl, Erin, who finds out her father isn’t her biological father. Come to find out, her father is the president of a motorcycle group. Erin charges into the motorcycle home base and demands to see her father. That takes some serious guts…I loved watching Erin getting to know her father and his mc group. So many times I would bust out laughing and have to close the kindle cover to regroup lol. I LOVE books that make me feel that way.

Erin…..Trouble was a great nickname for her. I had some issues with Erin I will say. I felt she was immature and childish at times. She would throw these fits or make certain comments that would have me shaking my head. There was this quote in the book along the lines of saying she may be bratty and stubborn but her good qualities are worth putting up with the bad. I felt that to be very true. I could overlook her bratty times and focus on her other qualities which truly made up for those few times.

Ace had this swagger that just pulled me in right away. Ladies just flocked to him. He seemed very suave and yet, he didn’t give off player vibes. He admitted to never having cheated on anyone and never intends to. Ace has this code of honor even while being in a MC and all that goes with that.

I fell so hard for the guys in the MC group. I hope they all get their own story and happily ever after. I loved reading about Ace and I’m most looking forward to Rogue’s story which is book three. Overall, I had a blast. Realistically I rate this a 4.5 I just wish Erin wasn’t so bratty at times to give this a full 5 stars.

Purchase Links

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS

GOOGLE PLAY

Image may contain: 1 person, text
Coming Soon
Knuckle Down (The Cursed Ravens MC, #2)
Releasing July 9, 2018
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Going Rogue (The Cursed Ravens MC, #3)

Releasing August 6, 2018

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Image may contain: one or more people and text

Author Bio

New York Times, Amazon & USA Today Bestselling Author Chantal Fernando is thirty-one years old and lives in Western Australia.Lover of all things romance, Chantal is the author of the best selling books Dragon’s Lair, Maybe This Time and many more.

When not reading, writing or daydreaming she can be found enjoying life with her three sons and family.

Chantal loves to hear from readers.

Author Links

The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R. Shrum Review

The Art of French Kissing

The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R. Shrum

2 Stars

This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased, honest opinion.

This story almost felt like two different stories in one. The first half we have students competing in a cooking competition. Two of the students, Carter and Reid, clash immediately upon meeting each other. This sets off a chain reaction of sabotage and psychological warfare. I absolutely enjoyed the cooking aspects to this book. I love me some Food network and this was identical to their challenges. It was fun to see how they would react to each of the challenges and the drama that went along with the students.

As I was saying, we had parts of Carter and Reid loathing each other to the maximum. It had bits of flirty undertones to it but nothing major. About halfway through, things shift. Suddenly Carter and Reid have feelings for each other and don’t know how to deal with it. I will say, I didn’t like the zero to sixty with their relationship. I didn’t feel we had enough time to go along with their relationship turning more romantically. It starts to feel super awkward and super rushed. It just didn’t flow very well in my opinion.

I think one of my issues with this book was my dislike for Carter. She felt very selfish but at the same time self conscious? It was a weird combination for sure. I kept getting whiplash with her reactions to things. It was like she would be mad that someone wasn’t taking her opinion into consideration, but then when they said go with whatever you like…she was pissed they weren’t helping? I didn’t get it….

Reid on the other hand was a sweetheart. I really enjoyed his character. He would surprise Carter by cooking her special things so she could experience them for the first time. It melted my heart. I also love how supportive he was. I think Carter could take a few lessons from him on that.

Overall, this story had so much potential. I did like it but certain things just overshadowed it. I would still like to try other books by this author and see how they go.

Jessica

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard Review

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

4 Stars

I just finished reading this and have no idea how I feel lol. I think I envisioned the series ending a certain way and it didn’t…so I’m completely thrown off. I felt the ending was also too open-ended for my tastes. I won’t go into more details because spoilers but yeah. It almost feels like we need a novella to tie everything up. I prefer clean cut endings. I don’t like it when they end and I have to imagine different scenarios…..It’s just not my cup of tea. I’ve heard we are getting some novellas set in this world so I hope the author gives me a true wrap up to one of my all time favorite series.

One of the things I enjoyed most in this book was the longing between two characters. Actually, there was quite a bit of longing between several characters BUT I’m specifically referring to a certain couple. ((Don’t you just love it when you are trying to write up a review and keep it spoiler free? lol!!)) The moments between this specific couple were just the best. I craved more and more from these two throughout the entire book.

I truly loved how the Scarlet Guard kept fighting for what was right. It wasn’t easy and it went against everything that everyone knew up until that point. But still, they kept pushing and fighting for justice. I admired their perseverance.

The characters throughout this series are such memorable ones. I can’t help but picture where they are now and how their lives have changed. That’s another reason I’m hoping for more post War Storm novellas. Tell me all my faves are living their best lives ever!!

Overall, this book was a mammoth. I think it could’ve been shorter realistically. I also didn’t care for the pacing in the first half. I needed more push to the plot, more drive to get me invested in this finale. The second half was very dramatic/action packed as expected. However, I wish it would’ve slowed down just a bit to let the moments we’ve been building up to for several books last longer. I’m a huge fan of this series and still highly recommend it to everyone. It will always hold a special place in my heart. I cannot wait to read what this author comes up with next.

Jessica

Burning Up by Jennifer Blackwood Review

Burning Up (Flirting with Fire, #1)

Burning Up by Jennifer Blackwood

3.5 Stars

This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased, honest opinion.

So, something happened while reading this book that has never happened to me before. I liked the book but didn’t like the couple….so weird right?! I didn’t even think this was possible while reading a romance. How can you enjoy a book but not like the couple?! That’s exactly what happened though. First time for everything I suppose.

First off, I don’t think these two are a good match. I didn’t feel the chemistry between them. I think they are on different paths in life and just not a good fit. Erin doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know what she wants. Jake is the complete opposite. He has his daughter, his career, his friends, etc. He just needs his other half to share his life with. Erin doesn’t know where she wants to live, she doesn’t know how she feels about her family, she second guesses every decision she makes etc. Erin just isn’t ready for the life Jake is living. They also gave up too easily when things got hard. I think if this is true love and the person you are truly meant for….it wouldn’t be that easy to let it walk away.

I did really like the town and the secondary characters in the story. It was so much fun seeing Jake’s sisters running around and interacting with Bailey. The families on both sides were just awesome. I’d take either one of them honestly. I also loved the small town vibes this town had. Every time they mentioned the bakery, I could almost smell the baked goods through the pages. Also, the story was really well written. I was impressed that an author could make me smell baked goods from printed pages lol. I did enjoy the story overall but just couldn’t get into the couple. Luckily, this is a series and I will definitely be continuing on with it. I cannot wait to see whose story is up next.

Jessica

Arrogant Devil by R.S. Grey Blitz and Review

R.S. Grey’s newest romantic comedy, ARROGANT DEVIL, is available now! Find out more about it below and pick up your copy today!

 

Review

This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased, honest opinion.

Rachel Grey strikes again!!! I swear I fall more in love with her writing with every book I read by her. Can she even write a mediocre book!? I don’t think she can!! This was one of those slow burn romances that I’m usually not a fan of but MAN, did it work for me this time. Whew!!! I did the big cheesy grins and laughed SO much with this one. This author never fails to bring humor to her romances and I love it!!

Meredith Avery was such a fun character. She leaves her emotional abusive husband in California to set out on her own. Meredith has a half sister, Helen, who works on a ranch in Texas. Meredith flees to the state of Texas in the middle of the night only to find her sister on vacation in Paris, France. Helen has the owner, Jack McNight, set her up with a place to stay and a job knowing good and well that Meredith won’t be able to stick it out thanks to her lavish lifestyle. Little does anyone know, Meredith has determination and persistence on her side. She is willing to do what it takes to make it on her own. I admired her so much for her willpower and dedication. I also loved that she gave Jack a taste of his own medicine attitude wise.

Jack is known for being a standoffish, gruff type of guy. He’s not the warm and fuzzy guy that you randomly shoot the bull with. (Using Texas language since this is a Texas themed book lol) Jack runs Blue Stone Ranch which entails a ranch, vineyard, luxury bed and breakfast, a restaurant, and a wedding venue. Needless to say, he has his hands full. I wasn’t so sure about Jack with his abrasive attitude at first. He definitely grew on me as the book continued. By the end, I was swooning let me tell ya! Jack’s patience with Meredith was beyond charming!! I appreciated him not pressuring her in any type of way. He’s one of a kind for sure.

I loved that Meredith didn’t let her past dictate her future. She didn’t let her emotionally abusive ex ruin her outlook on finding love and that happily ever after. I found that so inspiring. The underlining point was: Looks can be deceiving. Just because someone looks happy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are. As I mentioned earlier, this was a slow burn romance but it was well worth the wait. Sometimes love creeps up on you without you even suspecting it.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I loved it even more that it was set in Texas. The small town setting was another bonus for me. I love how tight knit small town’s are. They always have each other’s backs and support each other no matter what. Super cute!!! Highly recommend this one, as well as any other works by this author.

About ARROGANT DEVIL

Everyone in Cedar Creek, Texas, knows Jack McNight is an arrogant devil. Physically, I get it: he’s tan and fit, with coal-black hair that’s clearly been scorched by hellfire. Oh, and his personality? It burns just as hot.

When I show up on the doorstep of Blue Stone Ranch, I’m run-down and rockin’ my last pair of underwear. I’m hoping for a savior, but instead, I find him.

My opinion of Jack is marred by a dismal first impression, but his opinion of me is tainted even before I arrive. He’s heard I’m a spoiled princess there to take advantage of his goodwill. To him, I’m more trouble than I’m worth.

Our button-pushing banter should get under my skin. His arrogance should be a major turn-off. Problem is, devils are known to offer their own form of temptation.

Every one of his steely glares sends a shiver down my spine.

Every steamy encounter leaves me reeling.

Sure, it could be the Texas heat messing with my head, but there’s no way I’ll survive the summer without silencing him with a kiss and wrestling him out of those Wranglers.

Who knows…going to bed with the devil might just be the salvation I’ve been looking for all along.

Add ARROGANT DEVIL to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on ARROGANT DEVIL now:

AMAZON US: https://amzn.to/2JVt7jh
AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2rotxI6
AMAZON CA: https://amzn.to/2rpdedz
AMAZON AU: https://amzn.to/2ro9mdp

About R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey is the USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels, including THE FOXE & THE HOUND. She lives in Texas with her husband and two dogs, and can be found reading, binge-watching reality TV, or practicing yoga! Visit her at rsgrey.com

Website | Twitter | Facebook | R.S. Grey’s Little Reds Facebook Group | Newsletter | Instagram

 

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard Review

King's Cage (Red Queen, #3)

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

3 Stars

Quotes:

“To stand in front of a person who is your whole world and be told you are not enough. You are not the choice. You are a shadow to the person who is your sun.”

“Those who know what it’s like in the dark will do anything to stay in the light.”

“Now I’m in a king’s cage. But so is he. My chains are Silent Stone. His is the crown.”

“As you enter, you pray to leave. As you leave, you pray to never return.”

Review:

If you know me, you know I love the Red Queen series. However, I didn’t enjoy this one that much. The first half was immensely boring. I wasn’t enjoying it whatsoever but when I reached the second half I realized why we had that first portion. There would’ve been so many what if scenarios had that situation not happened. So while I wasn’t a huge fan, I got its purpose. There was a meaning behind it.

It’s really hard to mention names or what’s going on without spoiling things. I’ll just say the first half had very little action. I felt we were constantly in this one person’s thoughts and literally nothing was going on. It just drug on for what seemed like half the book. The second half made up for the first part by far.

Overall, I just didn’t vibe with this book. I felt there was too much time spent in someone’s thoughts. There was also too much time describing the surroundings and giving background information to things I felt weren’t necessary. I really wanted to love this book but sadly it fell flat for me. I also struggled with a certain character and their actions. I won’t go into details but it was very frustrating. I will say I loved the quotes in this book. So many great lines were sprinkled throughout the book, especially towards the end. I have higher hopes for the final book, War Storm.

Jessica

I Dare You by Ilsa Madden-Mills Review and Blitz

IDareYou-SBPRBANNER-BTWall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills brings you a brand-new heartfelt, sexy contemporary romance with I DARE YOU is LIVE!

I-Dare-You-Final-Goodreads

Bad Ass Athlete: I dare you to…
Delaney Shaw: Who is this?

The late night text is random, but “Bad Ass Athlete” sure seems to know who she is…

Delaney Shaw.
Good girl.
Lover of fluffy kitties and Star Wars.
Curious.

His dare? Spend one night in his bed—a night he promises will be unforgettable—and she can solve the mystery of who he is.

She knows she shouldn’t, but what else is she going to do with her boring Valentine’s Day?

One sexy hook-up later, her mind is blown and the secret’s out.

Maverick Monroe.
Bad boy.
The most talented football player in the country.
Just ask him.

Too bad for him Delaney’s sworn off dating athletes forever after her last heartbreak.

But Maverick wants more than one night and refuses to give up on winning Delaney’s heart. She isn’t one to be fazed by a set of broad shoulders.

After the semester ends, will the bad boy land the nerd girl or will the secrets they keep from each other separate them forever?

Download Today or Read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US I Amazon Universal

Add to Goodreads

REVIEW

This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased, honest opinion.

First off, This story was so much more than a typical romance. There were a lot of factors going on and a lot of hardships that our main characters face. It does have cutesy moments, don’t get me wrong. In fact, I had this biggest grin on my face while reading this book. At times I had to turn my Kindle off just to stop cheesing so hard.

The main guy, Maverick Monroe, truly has a heart of gold. He is definitely one of a kind!! I LOVED his cocky attitude and the enormous amount of confidence this guy had. Maverick had this way of being cocky but not obnoxious. Which isn’t easy to do, I might add. Maverick was juggling an obscene amount of things while in college. He was a star member of the football team, did workouts, school, and took care of his family. Things weren’t always easy and we see Maverick dealing with all of these things throughout the story. I fell in love with him easily and you will too.

The female MC of the story was Delaney. Delaney was into Star Wars, cats, and had a quirk of nervous sneezing. It was more adorable than it sounds lol! Delaney was such a down to earth character. I loved her friendship with her roommate Skye. Honestly, all the side characters were a great addition to the book. I loved Maverick’s best friend/roomie Ryker as well.

A few things to note, I read this story in less than 24 hours. It was a great read and hard to put down. I will say the ending felt a bit too unrealistic for me. I expected things to turn out differently than what they did. BUT, it was still a great story and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait for Ryker’s story that’s up next in this series. This is my first book by this author and I definitely will pick up more from her! 4 Stars.

EXCERPT

Prologue

Freshman year

Delaney

Welcome to Magnolia, Mississippi, where locusts are as big as your hand and iced tea comes with a double helping of sugar.

It’s also home to the best damn annual bonfire party at prestigious Waylon University, which is currently happening right now in the middle of a cotton field.

But…

I shouldn’t even be at this party.

It’s mostly for Greeks and jocks and popular people, yet here I am, a mere freshman, hanging out with my bubbly redheaded roommate, Skye.

“See?” she says as we take in the bonfire. “Isn’t this better than watching cat videos on a Saturday night? What do you want to do first?”

I sigh, feeling nervous. Ever since I moved here from North Carolina, I’ve been pushing myself to try new things. Might as well put a crazy college party on that list. “Let’s get a drink.”

She claps and excitedly replies, “Done. Alcohol at two o’clock.” We weave through the crowd, headed in that direction, and eventually we reach the bar, which is really just a long collapsible table someone set up. On top are various bottles of alcohol, and I grab the Fireball to pour shots. I’ve just tossed mine back and set down my cup when a prickling sensation washes over me, giving me goose bumps.

My gaze moves across the crowd, stopping on a tall guy with dark blond hair, broad shoulders, and a cocky smile. Aha. He’s been staring at me, and now that he’s caught, he raises his glass as a half-grin crosses his face.

I blush wildly as I adjust my black cat-eye glasses. I’m not used to such blatant male attention.

Skye—who’s followed the trajectory of my gaze—spits out part of her drink. “Oh my God, do you know who that is?”

“Obviously I should,” I say dryly.

Her mouth flops open. “You really need to get out more.”

My eyes drift back to him but keep moving as if I’m not staring. “So who is Mr. Hottie McParty Pants?”

“If you don’t know him, you don’t deserve to know. But, he’s H-O-T—like Chris Hemsworth hot. I dare you to flirt with him.” She wiggles her eyebrows at me, knowing full well that for some reason, I can’t resist a dare. Normally rather reserved, a dare gives me permission to be someone I’m not.

So does Fireball. I sling back another shot.

“I’ll bring you a donut every day for a week if you flirt with him,” she adds, watching me.

My ears perk up. “The ones with edible glitter?”

She nods, and I toss a quick glance back to him. Our eyes collide again, and a zing of connection fires between us. He has a strong, handsome face and a stance that has masculine written all over it. A smile tips up his full sensuous lips, and—

Two brunettes—twins, no less—approach him, one on either side, and wrap their arms around his waist. He smiles down at them. Oh. Well then.

I turn back to Skye and frown. “Player. Not interested.”

She waves her hands in my face. “He likes you—I saw it on his face.”

I snort. “Probably gas pains. Your dare is not accepted.”

We hear our names being called from the other side of the party and turn to take in the helmet-haired Martha approaching us, which is taking some time due to the fact that she’s wearing stilettos and a slinky halter dress. She carefully picks her way through the crowd, nudging people out of her way—sometimes rudely—as she focuses on us. Great.

“Incoming mean girl,” I mutter under my breath.

Like us, Martha Burrows is a freshman and lives on our floor. Rather full of herself, she announced within a week of meeting us that she’d no longer answer to anything but Muffin, a nickname she’d given herself.

She eyes us both, a look of superiority on her pretty face. “I didn’t know you two were invited to this little shindig. Obviously, I know all the right people, so I’m always invited.” Her gaze zeroes in on my outfit and she rears back. “What on earth are you wearing, Nerd Girl?”

“Clothes.” I stiffen at her name for me as I tug on my fitted Star Wars shirt and the pleated red miniskirt I made from a man’s shirt. My long pale blonde hair is up in curled pigtails, and I went a bit heavy-handed with the shimmery eye shadow and red lipstick. It’s not your typical look for WU—which is anything monogrammed—but I’m learning to ignore the raised eyebrows.

Skye, the peacemaker among us three, clears her throat and nods her head at the guy who’s been staring. “Delaney has an admirer, but she doesn’t know who he is.”

Martha-Muffin follows Skye’s gaze, eyeballing the mystery man over my shoulder. She gives me an exasperated look. “That’s Maverick Monroe, you idiot. He’s the biggest football star in Mississippi and the freshman recruit of the year. Word is, though, girls like you aren’t his type—not at all.” Her hand flicks a stiff honey-colored curl over her shoulder.

My teeth grind together. “Martha, if you think I care what you think about me and whether or not a quasi-famous football player is interested in me, then you are confused.”

Her lips tighten. “It’s Muffin now, and why do you have to use such big words? What does quasi even mean?” is her cutting reply.

Skye’s eyes get as big as saucers, and I assume it’s because Martha-Muffin and I are about to finally have it out. I can’t stand her, and she can’t stand me. We just…clash.

But that isn’t what has Skye in such a titter.

She points over my shoulder, and I get it.

It’s the person standing behind me, the one I can’t see. I feel a nervous sneeze coming on and—thank God—I somehow push it down.

A husky voice reaches my ears. “Quasi means seemingly or supposedly. What she means is I’m probably not a famous football player but rather one that’s been highly touted but is without merit.”

Oh, shit. The voice is rich and smooth with just enough southern drawl to make a girl swoon. He also sounds halfway intelligent.

I turn around slowly. Mr. Tall, Blond, and Football is right in front of me wearing a cocky smile.

How in the hell did he get over here so fast?

You know that moment when everything stops and the next breath you take is the first one of the rest of your life? That’s what it feels like as Maverick Monroe stares at me with his piercing blue eyes.

I glance down and take in the sculpted chest and hard biceps.

I look back up and see a chiseled jawline that’s defined and lined with a slight scruff. I see the thin pink scar that slices through his left eyebrow, and it does nothing to detract from his appeal.

He’s perfection.

He’s air.

Which I desperately need right now, because I can’t breathe.

He smirks, as if reading my mind, and I scramble to pull myself together. Someone calls his name—it’s a girl’s voice, probably one of those twins—but he doesn’t budge.

His eyes rove over my skirt, glasses, and lips. “The question is…do you even know what makes a good football player?”

“Nice hands?”

His lips twitch. “Hardly.”

“A tight end?” I smirk, feeling sassy…which is weird. I don’t know who I am right now, but it’s like my mouth has a life of its own, saying things I normally wouldn’t.

Martha-Muffin chokes on her drink at my remark and Skye watches me with glee, clearly excited that I have the attention of someone who is apparently very important at Waylon.

I put my hand on my hip. “The question is…why do I need to know?”

“You don’t. All you need to know is I’m the best.”

I suck in a little breath at his arrogance.

A guy walks past us and claps him on the shoulder. “Badass game last week, Mav. Rock on.”

“Thanks, man.” Maverick acknowledges the compliment and lifts his chin, his eyes never straying from mine.

“What position do you play?” I ask. “Quarterback?”

He smirks. “Middle linebacker—defense.”

“Sounds fancy.”

He laughs.

Skye, who’s been eavesdropping unabashedly, sighs with a dreamy expression on her face. “His stats are the best in the country.” She clears her throat. “I-I only know that because my brother is a huge fan, I swear.”

“Hi, Maverick,” Martha-Muffin says as she edges closer to him, nudging me out of the way with her sharp shoulders. “Remember me?”

He focuses on her. “No.”

She glowers. “I was in your dorm room with your roommate last week. You said hello to me.”

He shrugs. “A lot of girls come through. I can’t remember them all.”

Oh. My. God. He is arrogant, but I like how he just shut her down.

Martha-Muffin’s face reddens and she mutters something under her breath, flips around, and flounces off. Good riddance.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Skye is drifting away too, giving me a thumbs-up.

Whatever. I am not going to flirt with this guy…am I?

He’s definitely got something about him, something that makes my body buzz. I tilt my chin up, taking in how tall he is. He has to be at least six-four.

His gaze drifts over my face. “You know there’s a legend here at Waylon about our famous bonfire party?”

“Oh?”

He smiles, a flash of white on his handsome face. “Legend says the first person you kiss at the party is the one you’ll never forget. It might be years later, and still their face is the one you dream about.”

“Sounds like hocus-pocus.”

He lifts that mesmerizing left eyebrow. “I like to believe in legends—after all, I am one.”

I smirk. “Probably a game made up by some frat-boy-slash-jock wanting to kiss all the girls.”

He pauses for a moment as if thinking, and then he steps in closer, so close that I can see the varying shades of blue around his pupils. “May I?”

My heart does somersaults.

“May you what?” I ask, my voice low, but I know what he wants. My body is already leaning toward him, wanting it too.

“This.” He kisses me, an almost imperceptible touch as he brushes his full lips against mine. The contact of our mouths is electric, sparks of fire skating along my skin.

As if from a distance, I hear someone calling his name. It’s a female, and she’s pissed.

It’s one of the twins probably.

And I’m jealous.

But, I don’t look. We pull away, and I stare at him as he stares right back. A stillness settles over the party, although I don’t think anything’s actually changed. The music is still playing. People are still talking. Beers are being passed around.

Yet…

We’re connected.

Two stars in the black velvet sky.

Two ships passing in the night.

Oh, fuck, stop the nonsense, I tell myself.

“What was that?” I ask, my voice breathless.

“That’s your first kiss of the bonfire. Now you’ll never forget me.”

And then, before I can think of a reply, he’s gone.

I watch him go back to the twins, frustration coiling inside of me as I exhale.

It would be two years before I kissed him again.

IDY-AN

About Ilsa


Ilsa LogoWall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap. She’s best known for her angsty, heartfelt new adult college romances.

A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice; Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero.

She’s also addicted to frothy coffee beverages, Vampire Dairies, and any kind of book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females.

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