Tagged: Contemporary

Full Tilt Boogie

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

TRB Twit Full Tilt Boogie Review
TRB reviews Leslie Scott’s Full Tilt Boogie

About the Book

Full Tilt Boogie; Leslie Scott
New Adult; Romance; 262 Pages

Publisher – Date published

Breanna Casey has only ever wanted two things in life: to race and to get the hell out of Arkadia, Texas. Stifled beneath her family’s turbo-charged reputation, she’s got her thumb firmly on the self-destruct button. A night of hyper-driven racing and rebellion leads to a one night stand with the one guy who knows how to press all her buttons: Noah McKay.

Torn apart by the toll of his high-intensity enlistment in the Marines and guilt-ridden by what he’s seen, Noah McKay left the military to find peace. A chance encounter sends him working for the parents of a raven-haired Amazon goddess with a tongue that cuts sharper than any knife. Quiet is the last thing he’ll get.

Finally, she gets her chance. Calloway Racing wants her to drive for them. But that’s not all they want. A good friend of her father’s, Calloway insists she take Noah along for the ride. Suddenly, her dreams are feeling more like a nightmare. Will they be able to help each other, maybe even find love, when living life full tilt boogie?

About the Author

Award winning author of Two Hearts, One Stone and the Arkadia Fast Series, Leslie Scott has been writing stories for as long as she can remember. The happier the ending, the better. Currently, she lives and writes amidst her own happily ever after with her soul mate, son, and domestic zoo. http://www.lesliescottwrites.com

Reviewer’s Review

The good folks at Casey Performance are back in the third installment of Leslie Scott’s Arkadia Fast series. Strap in and hang on for the wild ride that is the love story between Breanna Casey and Noah McKay.

Breanna’s the baby of a family that revolves around racing. Her big sister’s getting married. Her brother’s getting married. It seems that everyone she loves is changing and moving on – leaving her behind. What’s worse, her father refuses to let her do what she truly desires: racing.

Noah wants peace. Quiet. A refuge from the dark memories playing havoc in his brain after the violence of an Army deployment. He seems to have found a home with the Casey family business, and he’d rather not lose what little peace he’s found.

Except that Breanna’s on a path to self-destruction. When Noah steps up to stop a drunken assault on Breanna, things between the two heat up. And like the street and drag race cars they work on,  their relationship goes from zero to too-fast… overnight. Too bad the two get along like cats and dogs.

Fast paced and well-executed as the first two books in the series, Full Tilt Boogie will pull you along (yeah, it was another late night as I read this one in a single sitting). Breanna’s fate has been three books in the making, and Noah is entirely lovable for all his quiet calm and broodiness. This novel can be read as a standalone, but some events will be more relatable if you read the previous two novels.

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TRB reviews Leslie Scott’s Full Tilt Boogie

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and paperback editions here.

Also by Leslie Scott

Two Hearts, One Stone (Standalone Cowboy Romance Novella)

The Finish Line (Book 1, Arkadia Fast)

Hot Lap (Book 2, Arkadia Fast)

Interview with Leslie Scott, 2019

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The Lieutenants’ Online Love

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

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Jenn reviews Caro Carson’s The Lieuntenants’ Online Love

About the Book

The Lieutenants’ Online Love; Caro Carson
Adult; Contemporary Romance; 224 Pages

Harlequin Special Edition; Original edition (May 1, 2018)

What happens when your internet crush…

Shows up in real life?

First Lieutenant Thane Carter has experienced great success as the senior platoon leader of a military police company at Fort Hood. But tbh, his love life stinks. Thane wishes his maddening—and off-limits—new coworker, Lieutenant Chloe Michaels, could be more like his online friend “BallerinaBaby.” It’s complicated, all right—especially when Thane learns that his workplace nemesis and his internet crush are one and the same!

About the Author

Despite a no-nonsense background as a West Point graduate and U.S. Army officer, Caro Carson has always treasured the happily-ever-after of a good romance novel. After her military service, she worked in the healthcare industry with a Fortune 100 company, talking science with doctors who were rarely handsome bachelor Texans like the doctors in her books. Now a USA Today bestselling author and RITA™award winner, Caro is delighted to be living her own happily-ever-after with her husband (who actually is a handsome Texan) and their two children. They live in the great state of Florida, a location which has saved the coaster-loving theme park fanatics a fortune on plane tickets.

Jenn’s Review

Typically, I’m on the fence about military romance, as a former Army wife and Army civilian. I love the love stories, but frequently, the [military] lifestyle is romanticized and my enjoyment is killed by the “I’m pretty sure someone’s going to at least get a counseling statement off that…” reality-check in the back of my head. So when I met Ms. Carson at a romance lit convention and had the opportunity to talk to her about The Lieutenants’ Online Love, her personal experience with military law and her attention to detail just on the cover sold me on giving this one a try.

Thane Carter would love to have a life outside his career as a military police officer. Sadly, his only success so far has been with a whimsical online relationship with a woman he knows only as “BallerinaBaby”. His dreams take a downhill slide when the gorgeous woman he meets at an apartment complex barbeque turns out to be the new coworker in his company on Fort Hood. 

Chloe Michaels is fresh out of West Point and already tired of the attitude she gets as a new lieutenant in Fort Hood’s military police force. She’s a woman. She’s a West Point grad. And the guys, especially Lieutenant Carter, all expect nothing but failure and weakness as she works her way into her new position. Only her online friend, “DifferentDrummer”, seems to have any faith in her ability to do her job and do it well. And while he’s there to listen when she needs an understanding shoulder to lean on, she has to be careful about the details of her life. They had an agreement, after all.

Carter and Michaels clash in the office and on patrol, delicately dancing around military regulations as they each struggle with their love-hate relationship. And when Carter discovers that BallerinaBaby is closer than he realizes, the tensions ratchet up several notches.

I blew threw this book in one sitting, then picked it up and read it again the next day. I appreciate Ms. Carson’s respect of military law (and not bending around it to make things simpler), and her attention to the little details. With a background in military law running through my own marriage, I didn’t find myself sitting back and asking Hubby (a former Army JAG paralegal) if something sounded off to him. At. All. 

I’m impressed and working my way through my TBR pile to make room for some more Caro Carson.

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Jenn reviews Caro Carson’s The Lieuntenants’ Online Love

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and paperback editions here.

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Braking Hard

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

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Jenn reviews Gloria Joynt-Lang’s Braking Hard

About the Book

Braking Hard; Gloria Joynt-Lang
Adult; Romance; 204 pages

The Wild Rose Press, Inc; 1 edition (February 12, 2020)

Gage O’Neill is an all-around nice guy and an Adonis in coveralls. With a thriving automotive business, a gorgeous girlfriend, and his ADHD under control, life is pretty incredible. But when he loses a loved one, Gage’s perfect world unravels. Prone to bad choices, he’s desperate to quell his rash behavior. Thankfully, hiring a curvy mechanic is the one impulsive decision he’s gotten right.

Eden Sampario is destitute as a result of a confrontation turned violent with her former employer. When Gage mistakenly offers her a job, she readily accepts. But soon she wonders if she made the right decision. Resisting her sexy boss proves more challenging than an engine rebuild. Her only other option? Give in to temptation and risk not only her career but also her heart.

Welcome to Big C’s automotive shop, a place where more than cars overheat.

About the Author

Gloria Joynt-Lang was born in France and raised in various locales throughout Canada. Before she started writing contemporary romance, she worked in the criminal justice system—technically spending time behind bars.

As a Canadian, she’s fanatic about hockey, poutine, and apologizing.

She currently resides in rural Alberta with her husband and their two dogs.

Jenn’s Review

Gloria Joynt-Lang is earning her chops as a sensitive author of neurodiverse characters in romance fiction, with her second book, Braking Hard, which features a strong female lead in a nontraditional career and a male protagonist coping with adult ADHD.

Gage is nothing short of determined. The owner of an auto repair shop in a small Oregon coastal town, each day is a struggle to stay focused on the things he needs to accomplish while managing his employees and a failing relationship. His mentor passes away suddenly, and Gage is sent adrift, trying to find his feet on his own. When he’s forced to fire one of his mechanics, he faces further challenges finding someone qualified. Until he stumbles upon “Ed’s” resume. 

Eden’s life was turned upside down in a moment of violence when her boss makes inappropriate sexual advances and threatens her. She’s lost her job and she’s on the edge of losing everything else. While she’s a good mechanic and technician, finding another job in the career she loves is challenging – men either don’t believe she can do the work, or she’s subjected to demeaning and dehumanizing work conditions as a woman. When she learns that a former teacher has passed away, she makes an effort to attend his wake and runs into Gage.

Ms. Joynt-Lang treats her characters’ challenges with tenderness and honesty in this story that might just have been written about the little coastal town I live in. She nails the quirky nature of the town’s inhabitants and weaves together all the little ways that people intersect in a tiny town. Gage’s struggle with his ADHD is real and honest. Eden’s challenges as a woman in a male-dominated career field are honest. 

Quirky, funny, and touching, I would recommend Braking Hard to fans of contemporary romance. It’s the first in a new series, and I eagerly look forward to the next installment.

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Jenn reviews Gloria Joynt-Lang’s Braking Hard

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and paperback here.

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Also by Gloria Joynt-Lang

Beyond Circumstances

Author Interview with Gloria Joynt-Lang for Braking Hard

The Finish Line

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

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Jenn reviews book 1 in Leslie Scott’s Arkadia Fast series, The Finish Line

About the Book

The Finish Line; Leslie Scott
Adult; Contemporary Romance; 368 Pages

The Wild Rose Press, Inc. (Champagne Rose) (December 11, 2017)

Another night at the races is more than burnt rubber with a hit of nitrous. For one young woman, it’s navigating trauma, love, and loss in the stifling Texas heat under the watchful gaze of her brother’s best friend and reigning King of the Streets, Jordan Slater. Home in Arkadia again, Raelynn Casey starts to heal from a terrible incident at college. She finds love in Jordan, a member of her brother’s circle of racing buddies. When another in the racing circle, the guy who took her to her high school prom, exposes his feelings for Raelynn, tragedy erupts like a tank of race fuel. Guilt, remorse, and pain must be overcome before Raelynn and Jordan can race to The Finish Line.

About the Author

Award-nominated author of Two Hearts, One Stone and the Arkadia Fast Series, Leslie Scott has been writing stories for as long as she can remember. The happier the ending, the better. Currently, she lives and writes amidst her own happily ever after with her soul mate, son, and a domestic zoo. http://lesliescottromance.com/

Jenn’s Review

Leslie Scott brings the high-octane, sizzling romance to her readers in book 1 of the Arkadia Fast series, The Finish Line.

Raelynn Casey comes from a family steeped in street racing, and she’s just returned home from a disastrous attempt at running away from everything she’s known. What else can a girl do when the man she’s loved all her life tells her he doesn’t want her? Problem is, running away only created more problems, and Raelynn isn’t about to tell her family, let alone her adrenaline junkie friends, any of whom would happily rearrange the face of the man who hurt her.

Jordan Slater? He tried his best to pretend he doesn’t want Raelynn, because one of his best friends would be crushed. But he can see the shadows lurking in Rae’s eyes, and with his own past haunting him, he finagles his way past her defenses to get to the painful truth.

As Jordan and Raelynn grow closer, will their love and friendship last when disaster claims the life of someone they both love?

Leslie Scott drives this story forward with emotional and sexual tension that pulls out all the stops. I’d already read book 2 in this series, and I was still swept away with every twist and turn in this plot. Hot contemporary romance at high speed.

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Jenn reviews book 1 in Leslie Scott’s Arkadia Fast series, The Finish Line

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle, Audiobook and Paperback here.


Also by Leslie Scott

Two Hearts, One Stone (Stand-Alone Novella)
Hot Lap (Book 2 Arkadia Fast)
Full Tilt Boogie (Book 3, Arkadia Fast)

Author Interview, 2019


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Chasing Lightning Bugs

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

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Jenn reviews JL Keathley’s Chasing Lightning Bugs

About the Book

Chasing Lightning Bugs; JL Keathley
Teen/Young Adult; Romance; 138 Pages

Merfire Publishing (August 15, 2019)

Angel is a surfer from California. He has money and an ego to go with it. Before his grand college adventure, he gets booted off to Arkansas for the summer to visit his dad. He believes it’s a cruel, unusual punishment and that this will be the worst time of his life, but he couldn’t be more wrong…

Faith is a waitress at the local diner in a small town in southern Arkansas. Happy and not expecting life to change much, her only goal was to support her family. She never thought everything could change so much in one summer, some for the better and some for the worst.

Faith and Angel are from completely different worlds, but it doesn’t matter. Sometimes fate has a plan for you, even if you don’t have one for yourself…

About the Author

。☆✼★J.L. Keathley is a self-published author who focuses on YA Fantasy. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and two daughters. She loves animals and has a variety of pets. She has always loved to read and decided to write what she wants to read about. She likes to travel with her family and find adventures.★✼☆。

Distant Memories (The Shadow Realm, Book 1) Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/t6-d3zWgFk8

。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆   。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆
Amazon Book Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B2GYGKT

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17740041.J_L_Keathley

GoodReads Book Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38743860-distant-memories

J.L. Keathley Blog:
https://jlkeathleyyaauthor.wordpress.com/

J.L. Keathley Facebook:
https://facebook.com/J.L.Keathley/

J.L. Keathley Twitter:
https://twitter.com/jlk_ya_author

J.L. Keathley Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/j.l.keathley/
。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆   。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆

Jenn’s Review

Young adult author, JL Keathley, branches out into Contemporary YA Romance in her new release, Chasing Lightning Bugs. California bad boy meets Sweet Southern girl in this inspirational, happily ever after perfect for young teens.

Angel is a California city-boy who loves to surf, hang out with pretty girls, and generally postpone the doom and gloom of college and adult-hood. So when his mom tells him it’s time to catch the plane that will take him to the tiny town of Fouke, Arkansas for a visit with his dad, he did what teens do best – he procrastinated and complained. He doesn’t want to spend his summer in a little hick-town with nothing to do.

Faith just wants to live her quiet little life in Fouke. The people there are friendly, she loves her church, her sister, and her mom, and she sees no reason to even look twice at the pretty city boy. He’ll just leave at the end of summer, and she’s got her priorities straight.

So when Angel proves there’s more than what she can see on the surface, she does her best to hold him at bay. Until her life starts to fall apart, and he offers her a shoulder to lean on and blows all her preconceived notions out the window.

Ms. Keathley presents a sweet little love story with a true happy-ever-after in this little volume. Its simple voice and diminutive length will have you adding her other work to your to-be-read pile.

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Jenn reviews JL Keathley’s Chasing Lightning Bugs

Buy the Book

This book is available on Kindle here.


Also by JL Keathley

Distant Memories (Shadow Realms book 1)


Find out what we’re reading and what we’re loving in our monthly newsletter, Between the Lines. You can sign up for it here.

Thrice Read Books will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at books@thricereadbooks.com. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices here.


Also by JL Keathley

Distant Memories (Book 1, The Shadow Realm series)

Good Luck with That

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

Jenn reviews Kristin Higgins' GOOD LUCK WITH THAT - Contemporary Women's Fiction with a dash of romance
Jenn reviews Kristin Higgins’ Good Luck with That

About the Book

Good Luck with That, Kristan Higgins
Adult, Humor, 480 Pages
Berkley (August 7, 2018)

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults. 

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her. 

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves. 

A novel of compassion and insight, Good Luck With That tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

About the Author

Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 18 novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Her books have received dozens of awards and accolades, including starred reviews from Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist. She is a five-time nominee for The Kirkus Prize for Best Work of Fiction, and her books regularly appear on the lists for best novels of the year of many prestigious journals and review sites. If you want to keep up with Kristan’s new releases and get a free short story, sign up for her mailing list at www.kristanhiggins.com.

The proud descendant of a butcher and a laundress, Kristan lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband, two long-lashed children, a couple of frisky rescue dogs and an occasionally friendly cat.

Jenn’s Review

I had the good fortune of attending a writing class taught by Kristan Higgins over the summer, and when I had the opportunity to read one of her full novels, I jumped on it. Good Luck With That is warm, witty and honest women’s fiction with a hefty dose of romance in the second half.

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley met at “fat camp” in their teens and became fast friends for life. Georgia and Marley share a house (kind of), but try to stay in touch with Emerson over the years. But the best of intentions go awry, and Georgia and Marley are called to Emerson’s hospital bedside just hours before their friend passes away. In their grief, they agree to follow the instructions in an envelope that they aren’t allowed to open until after Emerson’s funeral.

Good Luck With That is an honest and compassionate look at life with obesity and eating disorders, as well as a window into how society treats women based on their weight and size. As a woman who’s struggled with weight and eating disorders all my life, I found myself between the pages of this book. I’ve lived so many of the experiences that the protagonists endure, and their eventual triumph is heartening. The book also prompted some honest conversation at home with Hubby and Daughter (who is 13 and already struggling with society and her weight). These conversations will continue and battles will be won and lost, much like the trio in this book.

Have a hanky handy for this book, and be compassionate with yourself and others as you read. Five stars and highly recommended!

Jenn reviews Kristin Higgins' GOOD LUCK WITH THAT - Contemporary Women's Fiction with a dash of romance
Jenn reviews Kristin Higgins’ Good Luck with That

Buy the Book

 This book is available in Kindle, Library Edition, paperback,  and in audio book editions from Amazon  [affiliiate link}

Off the Map – Review

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

Jenn reviews Sierra Dean's Adult Action/Suspense Romance OFF THE MAP
Jenn reviews Sierra Dean’s Adult Action/Suspense Romance Off the Map

About the Book

Off the Map, Sierra Dean

Adult, Romantic Suspense, 220 Pages

Sierra Dean (October 2, 2018)

Her last job won’t be a day at the beach.

Harper Barton has one reason and one reason only to be in Colombia, and it isn’t for fun in the sun. As an expert in “acquiring” antiquities, she’s been tasked with collecting a valuable necklace from a gala. The problem? A drug kingpin wants the piece for himself, and won’t let a cat burglar get in his way.

Diego Morales is in Colombia doing research for his next book. The mild-mannered professor was expecting dusty books and boring lecture halls, not a beautiful woman sweeping him onto the dance floor and planting a kiss on him before being chased out of the building by armed guards.

Harper and Diego find themselves neck-deep in trouble when they’re kidnapped by the drug kingpin, but things go from bad to worse when they both go overboard and end up lost in the middle of the Colombian jungle. Can they stay alive long enough to get home? Can they stop fighting long enough to realize there’s more than just jungle heat simmering between them?

Off the Map is high-stakes adventure with spark, snark, and plenty of danger. 

About the Author


Sierra Dean is a reformed historian. She was born and raised in the Canadian prairies and is allowed annual exit visas in order to continue her quest of steadily conquering the world one city at a time. Making the best of the cold Canadian winters, Sierra indulges in her less global interests: drinking too much tea and writing urban fantasy.

Ever since she was a young girl she has loved the idea of the supernatural coexisting with the mundane. As an adult, however, the idea evolved from the notion of fairies in flower beds, to imagining that the rugged-looking guy at the garage might secretly be a werewolf. She has used her overactive imagination to create her own version of the world, where vampire, werewolves, fairies, gods and monsters all walk among us, and she’ll continue to travel as much as possible until she finds it for real.

Jenn’s Review

Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider in Sierra Dean’s action romantic suspense Off the Map, complete with a snarky, dare-devil heroine and anthropology professor (albeit far less daring) hero.

Harper Barton’s career as a specialty cat burgler goes sideways as the intelligence reports for a quick grab-and-go job in Columbia turns out to be utterly wrong. In an effort to get out alive, she wrangles an unassuming man into a dance at the museum gala, plants her prize in his pocket, steals a hot kiss and attempts to make a getaway.

Diego can’t believe his luck. He’s in Columbia to study some artifacts that appear to be from a lost warrior culture, and has a speech to give at the museum gala. So far, his trip has been less than exciting, and his sister back home has pestered him for years to have an adventure. When the beautiful woman who invited him to dance kisses him so passionately that he can’t wait to see her again, he thinks he might finally accomplish his sister’s challenge.

Until the beautiful woman dashes away, with armed guards on her heels.

The pair alternate between attraction and bickering over the course of the ensuing days, trying to survive their explosive escape from captivity and certain death at the hands of Columbia’s most notorious and insane drug lord. Free of his clutches, can Harper and Diego survive the jungle to make it back to safety?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Dean’s world-building and character development are spot-on. The tension, both sexual and plot, kept me reading long past bedtime, and her twists in the plot kept me guessing what misfortune might befall the couple right up to the end.

This was a satisfying story, but I felt it ended very abruptly. Ms. Dean does suggest that this may have a sequel, but with so little space between the couple’s reunion and the end… The only other down-side of my review of the book is that the editing was incomplete, but not so much as to make the book unreadable.

Off the Map is an adult read, steamy, without edging off into erotica. Action-packed, thrilling, and immersive, this one gets a thumbs up.

Jenn reviews Sierra Dean's Adult Action/Suspense Romance OFF THE MAP
Jenn reviews Sierra Dean’s Adult Action/Suspense Romance Off the Map

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Pieces of Me – Review

About the Book

Pieces of Me, Carrigan Richards

Teen/Young Adult Drams 302 Pages

Carrigan Richards Publishing (August 13, 2013)

One second. 

Seventeen-year-old Corinne has everything. Her life. Family. Friends. Boyfriend. But in that one second, she loses it all. Now she’s left with harrowing nightmares. Hallucinations. And panic attacks that seem to come out of nowhere. She tries everything to take the pain away, but there’s only one option she sees as a true way out.

When Corinne is sent to live in a psychiatric institution, she doesn’t want to talk. It’s pointless. They can’t help her. But slowly Corinne opens up and wants to remember what it’s like to be happy so she begins reliving her past life to her doctor. She knows she can’t live in the past, but she sees no future and is faced with the hardest decision of her life.

About the Author

Carrigan is the author of Pieces of Me, a young adult contemporary romance, and the Elemental Enchanters Series, a young adult paranormal romance. She was born in Cullman, Alabama, but grew up in Birmingham, and moved to Atlanta at 18. She earned her BA in English at Kennesaw State University. For as long as she can remember, she was always making up stories and characters inside her head, sometimes using her dolls to act out the scenes.

When she’s not writing (which is rare), she’s spending time with her family and friends, listening to music, playing with her two furbabies, or cheering on her Atlanta Braves.

Jenn’s Review

Another debut novel. YA/teen lit, not exactly romance, but it has a sweet little love story built into it.

This wasn’t an easy read for me. I kind of knew it wouldn’t be when Carrigan emailed me about reviewing PIECES OF ME. My family has front row seats to the unpleasant faces of mental health problems, and this stirred some painful memories.

Corrine is dealing with a lot. So much, that her parents are checking her into a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. She’s been through a lot, and at seventeen, she doesn’t have the life experience to sort out who she can really trust.

The author’s style feels a little clunky to me, not uncommon in debuts, but she more than makes up for it with realistic, sympathetic characters. I had a few moments when I needed to put the book down for a reality check (I really wanted to have a heart to heart with the protagonist, Corrine, about her less-than-best-friend, Lisa, who has serious issues of her own).

This is a teen read, but as a parent, I would approach this with caution. I would like my own daughter to read this, because, at 13, she’s already dealt with a suicidal friend. However, the storyline is heavy, and I’m not sure her attention span would stick it out. Without pulling out my personal soapbox, mental health issues, especially anxiety, depression, and PTSD are things that need to be talked about. They need to be on the table, and it’s time for the stigma to fall away. Ms. Richards takes a giant step in that direction with this story.

All of that said, the writing is a bit stiff, and the flashbacks get blurry, making the timeline a little hard to follow at times. This is one of those times that I would encourage the reader to stick it out. The story is worth it. The ENDING is worth it. Grab your tissues and hang on, because the further you get into the book, the harder it is to put down.

For those who might write this off as a depressing book, I challenge you to stick it out. Millions of people deal with these kinds of debilitating mental health issues every day, and Ms. Richards adeptly portrays the headspace of someone (especially a young someone) at the end of their rope.

And spoiler alert: the story has a happy ending. It’s not a unicorns and rainbows happy ending, but it’s a well-written happy ending. Four stars, and a standing ovation for Carrigan Richards for tackling this book.

Jenn reviews YA Fiction PIECES OF ME, a Carrigan Richards novel, in this edition of Thrice Read Books' review blog.

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 This book is available in Kindle and in paperback editions from Amazon  [affiliiate link}

Mindfulness – Review

About the Book

Mindfulness, Mark Williams, and Danny Penman

Adult Health 288 Pages

Rodale Books; 1 edition (November 13, 2012)

Mindfulness reveals a set of simple yet powerful practices that you can incorporate into daily life to help break the cycle of anxiety, stress, unhappiness, and exhaustion. It promotes the kind of happiness and peace that gets into your bones. It seeps into everything you do and helps you meet the worst that life throws at you with new courage.

The book is based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBCT revolves around a straightforward form of mindfulness meditation which takes just a few minutes a day for the full benefits to be revealed. MBCT has been clinically proven to be at least as effective as drugs for depression and is widely recommended by US physicians and the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence—in other words, it works. More importantly, it also works for people who are not depressed but who are struggling to keep up with the constant demands of the modern world.

MBCT was developed by the book’s author, Oxford professor Mark Williams, and his colleagues at the Universities of Cambridge and Toronto. By investing just 10 to 20 minutes each day, you can learn the simple mindfulness meditations at the heart of MBCT and fully reap their benefits. The book includes links to audio meditations to help guide you through the process. You’ll be surprised by how quickly these techniques will have you enjoying life again.

Jenn’s Review

I picked this book up some time ago, and due to Life happening (including buying a house and various upsets to my usual routine), this eight-week plan took me almost four months. Did that affect the overall benefits of the plan?

Not at all.

This book was worth taking my time to get through. Between practical explanations in each chapter, the downloadable, guided meditations, and independent practice, I finished the book with more tools than I began with (and I have been meditating for years).

The authors of MINDFULNESS lay a solid foundation of research and application before starting the reader on a series of weekly steps, gradually building on the previous week’s learning and practice.

This is more than a simple how-to book. You *could* just read straight through, but the better investment of time would be to tackle one chapter a week. Repeat the week until you are comfortable with the given practice before you move on.

I’ve read a number of books on meditation and mindfulness, but this is, by far, the most practical of them all. I’ve fallen back on the tools learned in this book to manage stress, anxiety, panic attacks and dietary issues. Definitely worth trying if you are interested in deepening your mindfulness.

Jenn shares her experience with the book, MINDFULNESS - AN EIGHT WEEK PLAN, on this edition of Thrice Read Books' review blog.

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This book is available in Kindle, Audiobook, paperback, hardback and CD Audio formats from Amazon. [affiliate link]

Unfinished – Review

Thrice Read Books review blog post - UNFINISHED by Amy Snyder - Adult Contemporary Women's Fiction

About the Book

Unfinished by Amy Snyder

Adult Contemporary Women’s 262 Pages

Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC July 25, 2017

Mirabelle is a writer who just can’t finish any of the stories she starts. When her twins leave home for college, they take with them Mirabelle’s sense of identity. As she strives to adjust to her empty nest she is visited by someone unexpected: a character from the very first novel she ever attempted to write.

Characters from all of her unfinished works begin to materialize in her home, in her car, at her job. They talk, yell, and some even throw things at her. Mirabelle can see them, smell them, touch them and though she knows they’re not real, she can’t help but engage them. She created them, after all. They become part of her daily life and she finds herself alternating between hiding them from and sharing them with her almost-always-doting husband, Alex.

Some of Mirabelle’s characters are like good friends, encouraging her to finish something she’s started. Others manipulate her for their own needs and storylines. Good and bad, these characters are part of her and Mirabelle discovers she needs to both fix and finish them before they destroy her life, her sanity, and her marriage.

About the Author

Amy Snyder began writing when she realized the strange things that happened in her imagination were far more interesting than the things that happened in her real life. After earning her degree in Radio, Television, and Film from Northwestern University, she worked at a financial brokerage house, a nationally published magazine, an advertising agency, and most recently, an elementary school as a Math Tutor, Substitute Teacher, and Library Paraprofessional. But she’s always been a writer. UNFINISHED is her first novel. Read more at www.amysnyderauthor.com.

Jenn’s Review

A cautionary tale for aspiring authors, Unfinished is a tense tale of dreams deferred and the high price of leaving projects incomplete. While this isn’t the first story of its kind that I’ve read, it’s the first that hit close to home for me.

Mirabelle is facing middle age, an empty nest, a job she hates, and the sudden appearance of the characters she’s written into the collection of unfinished fiction sitting in her closet.

As one protagonist after another shows up to confront their creator, Bella alternatively wants them to leave her alone and considers that she might be going insane. The problem escalates, forcing her to confess to her husband, who starts out understanding, if dismissive and progresses to taking Bella to a mental health professional for help. Ultimately, Bella has to choose between her creativity and her marriage as the plot develops.

As I dived into this story, I found myself alternately wishing the protagonist would stop whining, and seeing far too much of myself in the story (12 manuscripts on my WIP shelf… Yup). This is more than a story about a middle-aged woman on the brink of insanity – it also touches the tender points of finding balance in a marriage and standing up for your own dreams.

This is told in first-person, and while the dialogue is snappy, there were moments when I wished the protagonist would quit complaining to herself and DO something. The author definitely captured the troubles that we married writers face (we’re not always free to stop and capture great ideas, after all), and the timeless space that many of us slip into when deeply absorbed in writing a story.

This was a fast-paced story that kept me turning pages, even when it felt a bit draggy. A must-read for aspiring authors and women headed towards that scary, middle age/empty nest time.

Thrice Read Books review blog post - UNFINISHED by Amy Snyder - Adult Contemporary Women's Fiction

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This book is available from Amazon in paperback format only. [affiliate link]