BLOG TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Pretending


I am thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Shanna Clayton's PRETENDING, organized by Xpresso Book Tours. Read on for my review, and then enter the tour giveaway. And, don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour!

Pretending, by Shanna Clayton
To Be Published March 12, 2014
Publisher:
self-published
Format:
e-book, provided by Xpresso Book Tours
Genre: 
new adult contemporary romance/suspense
To Buy: Amazon 

Rating:  4 STARS

(From Goodreads)
Four years.

That’s how long Wesley Kent has to live with the girl his dad shacked him up with, and then he can collect his inheritance and escape small town life. He gets through the prison sentence by pretending Dahlia Reynolds doesn’t exist. With three years down and one more to go, he doesn’t expect much to change. That is, until the girl that’s not supposed to exist sharpens into his reality, making it impossible to ignore her.

Three years.

That’s how long Dahlia Reynolds has been living with a total stranger. She’s convinced herself Wesley Kent is no more than an illusion in the hallways. It’s easy to do, especially since that same illusion has never spoken more than two words to her. But one mistaken identity later, and she finds herself caught up in the mysterious world Wesley lives in. One by one, he begins knocking down the safe, comfortable walls she built, leaving her wondering what his motives are. Does he want to expose her—or free her?


Pretending was a really pleasant surprise. When I started it, I expected just another new adult book. But, I soon realized that Pretending was like one of those fancy-tinis. You know - it's a martini at its core. But, you add a splash of something else and a twist of another thing, and you have a new drink - a choco-apple-tini. Or whatever. Pretending is a fantastic new adult book with steam and angst and drama. But, it also has a splash of suspense and a twist of mystery. 

Dahlia and Wesley have lived in a huge house together with very minimal interaction for the better part of three years, each formulating opinions about the other based on nothing more than speculation and superficial information. They are both anthropology majors and into treasure hunting, a love instilled by Wesley's father and Dahlia's good friend. As other treasure hunters attempt to steal a particular item, Dahlia and Wesley finally have to work together to stop them. And, they realize their opinions of one another might not have been correct.

I've always been a fan of treasure hunting movies like Indiana Jones and National Treasure. There's something so intriguing about following ancient clues to find items lost by history. Museums are my thing. I'd much rather go to an old city and check out the artifacts than lay around on a beach and get sand in my crack. 

So, maybe that's part of the reason why I loved Pretending so much. It took two things I love - romance and treasure hunting - and mushed them together in a great story. Shanna Clayton is a wonderful writer and knows how to weave a story you won't want to put down. 

Dahlia prefers to be a wallflower, blending into her surroundings. She's lost everyone she's ever loved, and is now content to just stick to her studies, get her degree, and go on the ultimate treasure hunt. She's always been a little afraid of Wesley - always thought of him as a huge jerk. He obviously hates her, but she has no idea why. 

Wesley has a lot of unresolved daddy issues, which he takes out on Dahlia. Well, not really, since he chooses to not even acknowledge her existence. Then, he has a chance to really talk to her and realizes he was wrong about her. When that happened, the change in Wesley was totally swoon-worthy. He admits his mistakes and resolves to make things right between them so they can be friends. 

They share a love of treasure hunting, which was shared by Wesley's family going back generations. Their shared love of ancient mysteries, coupled by the fact that they're both hot and have raging hormones ensure that they won't just stay friends. Shanna knows how to bring the sexy times. And Wesley's chivalry and protective instincts make him a fantastic book boyfriend worthy of all the swoons and sighs. 

As we delve deeper into the mysteries surrounding those who want to beat Dahlia and Wesley to the treasure, as well as some side mysteries surrounding Dahlia's and Wesley's BFFs, I found it easy to get sucked into the story. It was exciting and suspenseful and a lot of fun.  

About the Author


I’m not sure if my mother predestined me to become a romance author when she named me after her favorite Kathleen Woodiwiss book, but that’s what happened. Now I live  and breathe all things books. When I’m not glued to my desk writing, I can be found eating too much chocolate, obsessing over Game of Thrones, and cyber stalking my favorite authors. Keep up with me on Facebook and Instagram. I love hearing from readers!

Learn more about Shanna Clayton --> Website / Facebook / Twitter



Giveaway

Enter below for a $25 Amazon gift card.

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COVER REVEAL - Ripped (Real #5)

Can't get enough of Katy Evans' Real series? Are you DYING to know Pandora's story? RIPPED (Real #5) is due out in December, and I can't wait! For now, let's settle with finally taking a peek at the cover. Ready?


Is that a guitar I see? EEP! The rockers are my absolute FAVORITES! So, what do you think of the cover of RIPPED?

Ripped (Real #5), by Katy Evans
To Be Published December 16, 2014
Publisher:
Gallery Books
Genre: 
new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

(Synopsis) - Every woman wants me -- except the one I sing for.

Seattle shakes with anticipation: they call it the concert of the year. They say girls are getting pregnant just thinking about Crack Bikini being in town.

But when you love a girl, you don't leave her with nothing but a ring and a promise.

Any man with half a brain should know..

So what did I expect my girl would do when she saw me again? Well, for starters, she loathes our music. Particularly the song I wrote about her. When I sing it, the stadium is in an uproar. Thousands of fans scream my name like I'm a god -- but yeah, not her. Crystal clear: the girl's not happy to see me.

Black hair, black boots, a bad attitude, that's her -- Pandora Stone is a freaking man-eater and she's out for my blood.

That's alright.

Let her come at me. Because I'm out for her heart and, this time, there's no way she can stop me.



FOOTBALL FRIDAY & ARC GIVEAWAY - Meet Stella from All Lined Up


It's Friday, so you know what that means! It's FOOTBALL FRIDAY, and this week, it's my pleasure to introduce you to the quirky, fun-loving Stella Santos from Cora Carmack's ALL LINED UP (Rusk University #1). Stella is BFF to Dallas Cole, and lover of men and football. You ready to meet her?

Meet Stella Santos


Appearance: tiny, pixie haircut, exotic eyes, olive skin
Characteristics: outgoing, artistic, loves football, parties and guys, tries to coax Dallas out of her shell but protects her at the same time


I LOVE Stella. She has a tendency to get a little carried away with her free-spirited ways, but Dallas is her perfect opposite. She has the ability to bring Stella back down out of the clouds and remind her that actions always have consequences. 


True to her nature, Stella is an art major, so she's creative and very fashion-forward. For all of her wild ways, Stella is able to rein it in if she thinks Dallas is upset or in trouble. Then, Stella can be every bit of a lioness as what Carson thinks Dallas is. 



All Lined Up (Rusk University #1), by Cora Carmack
To Be Published May 13, 2014
Publisher:
William Morrow
Genre: 
new adult contemporary romance
To Pre-Order:  Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

(From Goodreads) In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.




So, what do you think of Stella? Want to know more? Cora Carmack and the members of her Rusk University street team are sharing our favorite Stella moments from All Lined Up today. Check them out here:

Giveaway
Want a chance to win an signed ARC of ALL LINED UP, plus some awesome swag? Enter the giveaway below!

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Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop


I love Easter. It comes in the spring along with leaves on the trees, tulips (which, incidentally, are my favorite flower), and the opportunity to tell winter to kiss it.

It also comes with the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader and Read Now Sleep Later.

Things have been pretty busy with me lately. Work has been insane. The kids are both busy with spring sports. I'm getting ready to go to BEA. And, of course, I've been reading a lot of good books. Admittedly, my creative juices are a little sludgy at the moment. So, I'm going to be a bit boring this time. Sorries.



The winner of my hop will get to pick one book of their choice, up to $15. If you're from the US, that book will come from Amazon. If you're from anywhere else, I'll get it from The Book Depository.  Just fill out the Rafflecopter, and don't forget to check out the other stops - there's lots of chances to win cool stuff here! Good luck!


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EXCERPT: Tease (The Ivy Chronicles #2)

Tease (The Ivy Chronicles #2), by Sophie Jordan
To Be Published May 27, 2014
Publisher:
William Morrow
Genre: 
new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

(From Goodreads)
What happens when a girl who always calls the shots meets a guy who's too wild for even her?

A born flirt and good-time party girl, Emerson has never had a problem finding a willing guy. She's always chosen her hookups carefully, and she's never broken her three cardinal rules:

Never let them see the real you.Never fall in love.Always leave them begging for more.

Then Shaw comes along. A hottie from the wrong side of the tracks, he's immune to her flirtatious banter and come-hither smile. After rescuing her from a disastrous night at a biker bar, he doesn't even try to take her to bed--he calls her a tease and sends her home instead. Unable to resist a challenge, or forget the sexy, dark-eyed, bad-boy biker, she vows to bring him to his knees.

But instead of making Shaw beg, Emerson finds herself craving him. For the first time in her life, she's throwing out her rule book. Suddenly, she's the one panting for a guy she can't control--a guy who won't settle for anything less than the real Emerson and who forces her to do things she's never imagined, including facing a past she thought she'd buried.

A guy who just might leave her wanting more. . . .


I am loving Sophie Jordan's The Ivy Chronicles. Did you read Foreplay (The Ivy Chronicles #1)? That was some good stuff there. You can check out my 4.5-star review here

Now, you can read an excerpt from Tease, the second book in The Ivy Chronicles series! It's a pretty hefty excerpt too, thank you Ms. Sophie Jordan. You can find it here

Check back here in a few weeks to read my review of Tease!
 

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This is one meme I can get on board with - I LOVE lists! I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Top Ten Nine Bookish Things (That Aren't Books) That I'd Like to Own


1. Window seat - I don't really have any good places in my house for one of these, but dang. I have ALWAYS wanted one of these. And, you can't tell me this doesn't look like a place you could just spend hours reading a good book.


2. Hammock chair - Okay. So I enjoy reading in comfort. I'm actually looking into getting one of these for underneath my back deck. I have visions in my head of lounging in my hammock chair with my nose buried in a good book while my kids play on the swings in the back yard. Now that sounds like a slice of heaven.


3. Bookshelves - Duh. I'm addicted to books. I have lots of them and am always running out of space in which to put them. What I'd really like are floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with one of those rolling ladder thingies.


4. Headboard sconces - I like to read in bed, but reaching for my light on my nightstand takes precious seconds away from my book. It'd be so much more convenient if my light was attached to my bed. I might get a whole two additional sentences in that way. It's all about streamlining.


5.  Kindle Paperwhite - I have a sneaking suspicion that my 3rd Gen Kindle with keyboard is fixing to bite the dust. I can't live without my Kindle! I don't need a Fire - too many bells and whistles. I just want to read books. A Paperwhite would be perfect.


6. Bookish t-shirts - I love t-shirts, and they're even better when there's a bookish message on them. I especially prefer t-shirts that don't actually include the name of the book on them, but rather a quote or a reference instead. It starts conversations and makes me feel like I'm in on a secret. Bonus points if you know what book this t-shirt is from. :)


7. Bookish jewelry - I have a few of these, and I love them. They're so fun.


8. Laptop - I *may* be stretching things here, but since 90% of the time I'm on my laptop, I'm doing something bookish - blogging, trolling author websites and other blogs, hanging out on Goodreads, etc. And, to be honest, my laptop is absolutely ancient by current standards. I got it about 8 years ago. I KNOW. It's high time Krista gets a new toy.


9. Bookish tat - I'm a wuss. I have no tats. None. Zero. But, if I ever got up the courage to get something marked on my body - FOREVER - I think it'd be cool to find a meaningful quote from a book and immortalize it that way. More bonus points if you know which book this quote came from. 

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: All LIned Up (Rusk University #1)

The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

All Lined Up (Rusk University #1), by Cora Carmack
To Be Published May 13, 2014
Publisher:
William Morrow
Format:
e-book, provided by the author via Edelweiss
Genre: 
new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.


Cora Carmack does it again. All Lined Up was nearly impossible to put down and so satisfying. For once in a new adult book, this isn't a story of two tragically broken people who need each other in order to feel whole. Sure there's some drama and definitely some angst, but moreover, this is a story about love and putting first things first. It's about dedication and football and the fact that there are "no easy days." 

Dallas Cole has grown up a Texas high school football coach's daughter. That means she has always ate, slept and breathed football whether she wanted to or not. And she hasn't ever wanted to. She'd rather dance than do anything. But, when it's time to go to college, she honors her dad's wishes and concedes to attend Rusk University for a year before going to dance school. Unfortunately, her dad comes along and becomes the university's new football coach. Her dreams of being able to party and especially date without her father's watchful eye always on her are gone.

Carson McClain spent two years at community college before transferring to Rusk so that he could play football for the famous Coach Cole. As a walk-on, he knows his chances of ever QBing for their football team are slim to none, especially since the current QB, Levi, is one of Coach Cole's favorite players. Carson is determined to focus and train hard for that chance, though. But, when he meets Dallas - neither of them realizing who the other is - that focus is blown to bits. He is utterly captivated by this "Daredevil" girl. But, when things on the team go to crap, Carson is finally at the cusp of realizing his dream. If Coach Cole doesn't find out he's in love with his daughter, that is. 

I love sports-themed books, which is kinda weird, since I don't come from a family with a lot of jocks. I've always embraced the team mentality. I love the idea of a group of people who work so closely together to accomplish a goal that they almost become like a second family to each other. I was never on a sports team in high school (I never really inherited any athletic genes - I was one of those artistic girls), but I always imagined that was what it was like. That team mentality is in full effect in All Lined Up, and it made me love it all that much more.

Cora Carmack is one of my auto-buy authors. I've been a huge fan ever since Garrick Taylor was discovered reading Shakespear in a bar, so when I found out she was writing a new series about a college football team in Texas, I was all, "Yes, please!"  

All Lined Up was captivating from the very beginning. It's told in dual POV, so we have the benefit of  hearing Dallas' internal musings about being an only child raised by her football-obsessed father, and Carson's thoughts about the responsibility he feels toward his family and his hatred of Spanish class. The relationship between Carson and Dallas explodes with the first meeting, then cools when they realize the complications of them being together. It's a tough situation for both of them. Dallas has resolved to never date football players - especially her DAD's players. Plus, she plans to get out of there n a year. Carson needs to focus on getting a permanent slot on the team and on keeping his grades up, so he doesn't have time for girls. 

Dallas is such an awesome character. She's spunky and quirky and awkward. She's also a little spitfire. Having grown up around a bunch of guys, she seems to have grown a pair of balls via osmosis. Despite the fact that she can handle herself around a bunch of sweaty, testosterone-filled guys, she still gets tongue-tied around her dad. At least at first. After she meets Carson, though, he instills in her some much-needed confidence to actually talk to her dad about what she wants. Which is to dance. 

"I don't know anything about this guy except that his eyes make my mind fuzzy and his muscled arms make my mouth water, and the things he keeps saying... they burn - beginning in my flushed cheeks, blazing through my blood, and curling between my legs until I feel like I have to squeeze them together just to keep from combusting on the spot." 

Carson is this amazingly chivalrous guy. His family doesn't have much money, so he's put his dreams of QBing for a big university on hold for two years while he goes to the local community college and helps out on his parent's farm. But, now that he's finally at Rusk, he's determined to catch the coach's attention and get a scholarship. He kinda has to if he wants to stay. Making moon-eyes at a girl was definitely NOT in his plans. But, when he sees Dallas screaming on a balcony, he's intrigued and captivated. 

"I won't do anything you don't want me to do. But, if you don't tell me what that is, my mind is going to keep thinking of all the things I want to do to you, and the list is already very, very long."

All Lined Up gave us a good introduction to the rest of the members of the Rusk University football team that are sure to be featured in future books (hint - Silas comes next!). We also meet Dallas' wild child bestie, Stella, who's a ton of fun in her own right. 

Dallas' relationship with her dad is equally as important to this series as her relationship with Carson. Dallas and her dad have grown apart as football has encroached on her place in his life. He doesn't understand where she's coming from and she has no desire to live in his world of first downs and play books anymore. She is desperate to branch out on her own, and her dad is oblivious to the fact that his daughter is miserable.

"Good is never good enough. One of Dad's mottos."

All Lined Up was exciting and fun. The relationship between Dallas and Carson was sweet and tension-filled. There's not nearly as much sex in this book as what we've seen in Cora's other books, but I didn't mind that - it fit the story and the characters' personalities. This was an awesome book about figuring out what's really important and then going after it. I can't wait for you to read it.  
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