This Chick Read: Alpha’s Promise (Dark Protector’s #10) by Rebecca Zanetti

As one of the Seven, Ivar’s mission is to find a way to return to a hellish dimension to save his brother Quade before that world gets crushed. In order to find his way back he needs the help of Dr. Promise Williams, mathematical genius. He’s not the only one who wants her services and he finds himself fighting off the evil Kurjans before they can kidnap her to rescue their own from a similar dimension. With the help of the demon and vampire races he spirits her away so she can find the mathematical formula that will save the day. Spending time with the Dr. brings out Ivar’s alpha side and they soon find themselves creating sizzling chemistry that they both find irresistible.

It was easy to jump right into the story as this is the 10th novel in the series and the third or fourth in this most recent rehabilitation of the story. I wish I could say it was as easy to like these characters but I found it really hard! Ivar is recovering from being lost jumping from dimension to dimension and surviving some horrible physical injuries as well as being mentally wiped out. His character although alpha, seemed more boorish and I just didn’t find the same heart in his character that I did in the heroes of the earlier novels. Promise, also, had some serious warmth issues. For two such cool customers I found it hard to find emotion in their slam bam thank you ma’am sex life, and even less so in their rather stilted dialog.

I have been a fan of Rebecca Zanetti’s and love the earlier Dark Protectors novels, but once she returned to this series after venturing into other novels, she seems to be having trouble finding that magical ingredient again. I did enjoy her Realm Enforcer’s series, which inhabits this same world, but the last couple of books have been so-so and I’ll admit to disappointment. I might think twice before picking up another one of these novels for fear of finding them lacking again.

❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this ARC through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase! Alpha’s Promise (Dark Protectors)

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

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This Chick Read: Dating by the Book by Mary Ann Marlowe

Maddie Hanson was jilted at the altar six months ago. Living in her hometown of Orion surrounded by her friends, she is spending her time trying to bring her bookstore to life while at the same time waiting for her first book to be released. When her publisher sends out ARC’s of her book, she reads a not so nice review by a blogger named “Silver Fox” and retaliates in anger at his questioning her lack of romantic experience. This comment spurs Maddie to look at her past decisions and the men surrounding her to try to find her own real life romance hero.

Dating By The Book is a trip down memory lane of several novels that I and other bibliophiles love. Each man in Maddie’s life representing a hero in one of the novels her book club is reading. A club that is in fact filled with men; her high school boyfriend Dylan, lifelong friend Max, and dependable customer Charlie. Each of whom could be a romantic interest in the likes of Rhett from Gone with the Wind, Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, and Rochester from Jane Eyre. Let’s not forget about the mysterious Silver Fox who develops into an email pal giving solid advice about life, love, and plot points in her novel. I couldn’t help but picture Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan from You’ve Got Mail each time her mail chimed!

Maddie’s journey to find passion and love was intertwined with her need to get her second book finished in time. Each lesson she learns about herself is written into her book, reminding me that each author puts her heart and soul into their novel, regardless of how well that novel is received. Luckily, that’s not a problem with Dating By the Book. Even if it didn’t have all of the literary references to hold my interest the story itself made sense and took me on a journey. It’s one of those books that can be taken as a life lesson to the person who reads it, or it can be tossed into a bag for their summer vacation. Both to be revered and enjoyed.

If you have read Mary Ann Marlowe’s two previous novels, Some Kind of Magic and Crazy Kind of Love you will be happy to hear that she does also have a rock star in this book. Is he the man of Maddie’s dreams? Well, he has a lot of competition, that’s for sure! Even with that familiarity, I was happy to see the author try something a little different in this novel which reads more as a Women’s Fiction novel than a Contemporary Romance. Also, for those readers who are fans of a slow burn romance novel, you’re going to love how the relationship between our heroine and hero develops throughout this novel. By the time they get together you are so ready for it, and I mean that in the best way possible.

It’s summertime and there are so many good books out there to read and not enough time to get to all of them. My recommendation is that Dating by the Book is worth moving up on your TBR pile, putting in your bag when you hit the beach, or digging out of your purse sitting on the train to work in the morning. It’s fun, but it also makes you think about your own choices in life, love and literature.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a free copy of this book from the author for my honest review and it was honest!

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“What didn’t really jive with me was the overall chaotic feeling of the characters and storyline. There was just a bit too much going on for my taste. I never fully connected with the main character or any of her love interests and, because of that, there was no one I was rooting for her to end up with.” The Oxford Comma Momma

“…I felt this book in my soul.” A Scholar Review

Click this link to purchase!* Dating by the Book

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? (6/24/19)

Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, so here goes!

JUST FINISHED

Alpha’s Promise (Dark Protector’s #10) by Rebecca Zanetti

First Sentence Read: “Across the windy cemetery, beyond the rows of gravestones, a man leaned against a pine tree and watched her.”

JUST STARTED

Every Last Breath (Final Hour #1) by Juno Rushdan

First Sentence Read: “No need to waste a bullet.”

I was disappointed in Zanetti’s novel so I picked up this new-ish Juno Rushdan novel. It’s a romantic thriller and started out F-A-S-T. I’m enjoying it so far! I have to admit, that first sentence is kind of dull though…

A new week means a new book! What are you reading this week?

Have a great week reading!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: My 5 Most Anticipated July’19 Releases

Recently I was looking at my NetGalley ARC’s trying to map out my reading schedule and realized I didn’t have any books I had to read for a July release. What?!! Immediately I wondered if I missed any and Googled Goodreads most popular list of July releases to just double check. There are some good ones on the list but surprisingly only a few that were on my radar. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton being releases but I like certain genre’s and there are only a few that hit my sweet spot.

It’s kind of nice to know I can read for pleasure and maybe get a head start on my August ARC’s, cause you know, I over-requested for that month. Sooo many August releases this year! Anywho… here are some July releases that I’ve added to my TBR, and got in line for a few of them at my local library.

DEB’S TOP 5 RELEASES FOR JULY

5) Protect the Prince (A Crown of Shards #2) by Jennifer Estep

Release Date: 7/2/2019

Publisher: Harper Voyager (Harper Collins)

Genre: Romantic Fantasy

I loved the first novel in this series and can’t wait to dive into Protect the Prince!

Synopsis:

Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona, but her problems are far from over.

First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room.

Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre.

Dark forces are also at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, her immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes Evie wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen.

Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s … well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her.

Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…

Click this link to purchase! Protect the Prince (A Crown of Shards Novel)

4) Under Currents by Nora Roberts

Release Date: 7/9/19

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Thriller

Nora Roberts is sometimes hit or miss, but I do like her Romantic Thriller’s, and well she is Nora Roberts and always hits my TBR.

Synopsis:

For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they’ve come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back…

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.

Click this link to purchase! Under Currents

3) Maybe This Time by Kasie West

Release Date: 7/9/19

Publisher: Scholastic Trade Publisher

Genre: YA Contemporary

Not sure how I missed this one because I really like this author and this looks so cute! If you like YA, you need to check this one out.

Synopsis: One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year’s Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn’t so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.

Click this link to purchase! Maybe This Time

2) The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Release Date: 7/9/19

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Women’s Fiction

I actually did ask for an ARC of this novel and got rejected… BOO! I love Berkley books but for some reason I only get about 50% of the books I request. Regardless, this author wrote one of my top funniest books The Garden of Small Beginnings, and I hope for a repeat every time and so she lands on my TBR again…

Synopsis: Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own…shell.

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book. 

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.) 
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee). 
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

Click this link to purchase! The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

1)Sweep of the Blade (Innkeeper Series #4) by Ilona Andrews

Release Date: 7/16/19

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Romantic Fantasy

It is not a secret that I’m having a secret love affair with the writing team called Ilona Andrews. LOVE this series, and really any series they write. This date just dropped this week and I AM SO EXCITED! They release each chapter for free on their website, but I always wait for the entire book to release to read it.

Synopsis: Maud Demille is a daughter of Innkeepers—a special group who provide ‘lodging’ to other-planetary visitors—so she knows that a simple life isn’t in the cards. But even Maud could never have anticipated what Fate would throw at her.

Once a wife to a powerful vampire knight, Maud and her young daughter, Helen, were exiled with him for his treachery to the desolate, savage planet of Karhari. Karhari killed her husband, and Maud—completely abandoned by his family—has spent over a year avenging his debts. Rescued by her sister Dina, she’s sworn off all things vampire.

Except… In helping Dina save the world, she met Arland, the Marshal of House Krahr, one of the most powerful vampire houses. One thing led to another and he asked for her hand in marriage. She declined. Arland is not used to hearing the word ‘no;’ and try as she might, Maud can’t just walk away from Arland. It doesn’t help that being human is a lot harder for Maud than being a vampire.

To sort it all out, she accepts his invitation to visit his home planet. House Krahr is extremely influential and Maud knows that a woman—a human, with a very questionable past—who’s turned down a proposal from its most beloved son won’t get a warm reception. Maybe she’s not sure about marrying Arland, but House Krahr isn’t going to decide for her. Maud Demille has never run from a fight, and House Krahr will soon discover that there’s a lot more to Maud than they’re expecting.

Click this link to purchase! Sweep of the Blade (Innkeeper Chronicles Book 4)

Whelp, those are my Top 5 releases in July. I’m sure yours are different than mine, so…

What books are you really eager to read that are being released next month?

Until next Sunday!

Deb

Friday YA: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The first book in a new series by the authors of the Illuminae Files, Kaufman and Kristoff once again create an action packed science fiction space opera. Aurora, part of a team sent off planet to inhabit a new planet, was woken from cryo-sleep to find over 200 years had passed. The only living survivor of a ship of people, she is rescued by cocky cadet and team leader Tyler Jones. Along with the rest of his team, Aurora navigates a new world where she is being chased by an unknown enemy because of powers she doesn’t know she posses. Aurora Rising takes off from the first word read and doesn’t slow down until the last page.

Auri may be the catalyst for this plot but it’s the entire cast of characters that hold my interest. I’m going to share the description from the synopsis because really it says it best…

“A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates 
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering”

There are so many different relationships and sub plots at play between the five cadets I was inundated with surprise after surprise making me second guess who plays what part. These are not the obvious caricatures I am used to seeing in YA action novels. Auri is a sympathetic heroine but has hidden depths even she is only just discovering. Tyler seems to be the obvious hero, after all he’s the leader of this team of super smart rejects, but is he her romantic interest? As I turned each page something new was revealed that made me second guess my expectations of where the plot was leading and I was totally excited that I kept being surprised.

Overall Aurora Rising was a classic good versus evil plot, the main characters were charming, irreverent, funny, loving, and heroic. The villains? Super scary! All the traits expected in a great action filled sci-fi novel. This one was right in my wheel house and I enjoyed the heck out of it. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“The premise of Aurora Rising is also not as complex as any of the books in the Illuminae Files trilogy, nor is it anywhere near as unique. It’s pretty much your standard heist plot, but in space, and I’ve read better. Still, to its credit, this book is exciting, if a bit drawn out at times—though often when we get lulls, it’s because of character development, which is why I give some of the wonky pacing a pass.” The BiblioSanctum

“The first thing I’m going to mention is the fact that I read this book with a perma-smile on my face. The dialogue and character interactions are fantastic! Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff are hilarious! The way these characters talk to each other had me laughing pretty much the whole way through. “ Bionic Book Worm

Click this link to purchase!* Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle)

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick all Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

This Chick Read: Wherever She Goes by Kelley Armstrong

When Aubrey Finch is running at the park she see’s what appears to be a child kidnapping, a little boy pulled into a car against his will. She reports it to the police but when no one reports a child missing they treat her like she’s delusional and ignore her report.As a mother herself, Aubrey can’t let this crime go and starts to investigate on her own. Her investigation starts to reveal pieces of her past that she’s tried desperately to keep hidden from her estranged husband and brings her to the attention of some dangerous suspects.

Wherever She Goes combines action and psychological thriller making this a very easy, gripping, read. Aubrey’s character and background is part of the mystery. How does this mom have the skills to investigate a crime that even the police think is a waste of time? Each reveal about her past makes her more fascinating and as she unravels the mystery. As a mom she often second guesses her own decisions making the contrast of diving into a dangerous investigation even more compelling. Who is this woman and why has she settled for what has become of her life? That’s an even greater mystery and one that I relished discovering the reasons why.

As I read this novel I realized there were actually a few different mysteries I was trying to unravel. 1) Aubrey’s background 2) the missing child and 3) the reason why her relationship fell apart with her husband. Kelley Armstrong does a great job of intertwining all of these mysteries so that each reveal is intertwined with a personal reflection Aubrey has about her life. I loved how all of those ties bound the novel into one cohesive, solid piece of fiction. This was a story that didn’t get bogged down in descriptions, but was told through the eyes of a woman going through some big emotional revelations. The only negative was that the ending didn’t quite give me that happy glow, but after mulling it over for a bit I realized it was pretty realistic.

Wherever She goes was easy to read and really interesting! I’d totally recommend it to anyone who loves a fast moving mystery.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (St. Martin’s Press) for my honest review and it was honest!

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“Overall, Wherever She Goes is a nice read with good writing and great characters. The premise is intriguing and the fast pace keeps you reading, but the plot could have been a little more fleshed out. The ending is also a bit underwhelming, but it does lend a hopeful tone to Aubrey’s story that makes it a nice conclusion to the book.” Owls Reads

Click this link to purchase!* Wherever She Goes: A Novel

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

This Chick’s Audio Review: The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

Calla Fletcher was born in the wilds of Alaska but raised in the bustle of Toronto after her mother couldn’t handle the extremities of living an Alaskan life. Now 26 years old and having never met her father Wren, Calla gets a call out of the blue telling her that her father has been diagnosed with an illness. After much trepidation, she flies to Alaska to meet him and get to know him over one week. Can this city girl live the Simple Wild? Her father’s right hand man, bush pilot Jonah doesn’t think so and can’t wait to see her gone. Wanting to prove to herself, and him, Calla makes some big adjustments that see’s her getting closer to her father, but also making friends (and maybe something more) with Jonah, both of which will make leaving Alaska that much harder.

I listened to the Audio book narrated by Rebekkah Ross and was pretty thankful that I listened mostly at night with a big box of tissues at my side. Rebekkah voiced Calla perfectly and did a great job with all of the other characters as well!

I think for most people who live in a big city it was pretty easy to visualize how different an Alaskan setting would be for a girl like Calla. Growing up in a social media world, cell phone in hand, and able to order take out or a pair of shoes is a much different lifestyle than those living in the Wilds of Alaska. Internet is dicey, daylight hours are either 24/7 or zero to none, and beauty products don’t make the news. The growth in Calla from the beginning of her trip to her last day was enormous. She noticed and no longer allowed herself to be defined by those things and I really liked her more for that.

I am a sucker for great father daughter stories and this one was just wonderful. Wren, Calla’s father, was a very quiet, humble man who had let his life and family get away from him. After 12 years of not talking to his daughter I loved how he slowly showed his emotions for her and they grew closer in gradual moments. For me, it was this relationship that made the book so great. Jonah was awesome too, don’t get me wrong. He and Calla’s bitter feud and funny dialog kept the pace of the book from dragging and brought in comic moments that were really needed. He also had an inner heart of gold that made the end of the book special, but it was Calla’s growing love for her father that just touched my heart.

Sometimes a book just fits with your needs at that time and The Simple Wild was the perfect book for me at this time in my life. Not to be overly dramatic or anything, it just hit all the right notes for me and I’m not sure if it would have even a few years ago. I couldn’t help but give this a five rating because of that. Oh, and I wasn’t joking about the tissues. Keep them on hand! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“K.A. Tucker is the queen of subtle romances. I love how she slowly weaves them into her stories and builds them up to the point where the sexual tension becomes explosive. Jonah and Calla’s banter was entertaining as hell and I loved the pranks they pulled on one another. These light-hearted moments definitely balanced out the heavier moments in this book.” The Romance Corner

“Ultimately, this wasn’t just a romance book but a beautiful story on a girl learning that family can come from any setting. That, in the end, it’s not about where you are, but who you’re bringing with you along for the ride (I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true)!” Taylor Talks Books

Click this link to purchase!* The Simple Wild: A Novel

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? (6/17/19)

Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, so here goes!

JUST FINISHED

Kingdom of Exiles (Beast Charmer #1) by Maxym M. Martineau

First Sentence Read: “By the time evening fell, three things were certain: the gelatinous chunks of lamb were absolute shit, my beady-eyed client was hankering for more than the beasts in my possession, and someone was watching me.”

JUST STARTED

Rock Bottom Girl by Lucy Score

First Sentence Read: “Downsized, broke, and dumped, 38-year-old Marley sneaks home to her childhood bedroom in the town she couldn’t wait to escape twenty years ago.”

After an epic fantasy my fall back to cleanse the palate is a contemporary romance! I love sports themed romances and soccer was my game. This rom-com looks really cute! I hope it lives up to my expectations!

What are you reading today?

Deb

This Chick Read: Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer #1) by Maxym M. Martineau

Exiled Beast Charmer Leena Edenfrell was betrayed by her lover and has resulted to selling her beasts, something that is forbidden by death for a Charmer. On the run, she foils an assassination attempt taking the assassin captive in order to strike a deal with the head of the order of assassins. Noc has a deadly secret of his own that he thinks could be tamed by a Beast Charmer. Together they strike a deal and in searching for beasts they find something in the other that fills the void in their hearts.

Kingdom of Exiles has all of the elements of a great romantic fantasy adventure. I loved the newness of the world Maxym M. Martineau developed. I don’t think I’ve read a fantasy novel that had an advanced level of Beast Charmer characters and the little that was revealed in this novel only makes me want more to read. There were elements of magic and a mysteriousness to the Order of Cruor assassins, the way they used shadows to move quickly or jump from place to place was a little bit reminiscent of Christine Feehan’s Shadow Rider series, although this setting is completely different. I liked that the assassins were revived after death but could still get someone pregnant? I definitely wanted to learn how that would be possible!

Kingdom of Exiles also used my favorite romantic trope of enemies to lovers. I L-O-V-E when two adversaries come to admire traits in the other that makes them fall in love, yet, they are resistant to it happening. This novel portrayed that tension really well and kept me reading that “just one more” chapter.

The only negative for me about this novel was that it started so strong but somewhere around 2/3’s of the way through the pace slowed just enough for me to get impatient. I’ll admit to rushing through a couple of chapters until that pace picked back up again towards the end of the book. The ending was great, leaving the reader with a little hint about what direction the next book may take. I just wish this author had the next book coming out soon! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I was given a free ARC of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“Overall,I loved Kingdom of Exiles! It was enchanting, magical, unique, and surprisingly sweet. The romance was well-written. It wasn’t too much but engaging enough. I really adore this book.” Discover Elysian

“All in all, this is one of my favorite books that I have read this year. The characters were well developed, and the plot was fun and unique. I loved everything about it. If you like fantasy & romance, this is the book for you.” Caffeinated Fae

Click this link to purchase!* Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer)

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

Blog Tour! Rules We’re Meant to Break by Natalie Williamson (Excerpt)

I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for Natalie Williamson’s young adult novel Rules We’re Meant to Break! This dramatic sounding synopsis makes it sound like a one night read!

Synopsis: Honest and full of heart, this clever contemporary romance debut deftly combines utterly relatable family drama with all the sweetness and uncertainty that comes with falling in love.

Rule #1: Don’t get attached.

Amber lives by strict rules to survive her mother’s love life: Always keep your eyes on the horizon and never get close to anyone connected to Mom’s boyfriends.

But after they move in with Kevin, the latest of her mom’s “soul mates,” the rules become increasingly difficult to follow. Kevin’s daughter, Cammie, keeps acting like Amber’s friend, even though she’s definitely not. And Jordan—star basketball player, hottest boy in school, and Cammie’s best friend—keeps showing up at the most inconvenient moments.

Amber has reasons for every one of her rules, and following them is the only way to protect her heart when her mom inevitably moves on. But as she spends more time with Kevin, his daughter, and especially Jordan, she starts to wonder if the rules might be worth breaking this time.

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Rules We’re Meant to Break is a charming, heartachingly real story of family and young love by debut author Natalie Williamson.

Here’s a sample excerpt of the novel, enjoy!

A little while later Hannah comes out to join me, food and smoothies for both of us in hand. “Thanks,” I say, taking mine from her and immediately digging in to my sandwich. 

“Of course,” she says, sliding in across from me. The restaurant is a lot quieter now, and the line that was snaking to the door when I got here is now completely gone. “Ugh, my feet are killing me.” 

“Busy morning?” 

She nods, reaching for her spoon and taking a bite of soup. “Totally wild. The post-church crowd always is though.” 

“Amen,” I say, and we both laugh. 

Then Hannah’s grin fades and she levels me with an expectant look. “So. How’d it go yesterday?” 

And there it is. I’m surprised it took her this long to bring it up. 

“Fine.” I reach for my sandwich again. “My room’s pretty big, and it’s on the opposite side of the house from Cammie’s, so that’s a bonus.” 

“That’s good,” Hannah says, still watching me carefully. She knows how much I’ve been dreading this weekend, and even though we got into a fight over me not wanting her to help with the move, she still wants to make sure I’m okay about it. Hannah has a big heart. It’s one of the many reasons I’ve kept her around so long. “Was she there at all? Cammie, I mean.” 

I shake my head. “It was supposed to be her weekend with Kevin too. At least that’s what Mom said.” 

“Awkward,” Hannah says.

“Tell me about it.”

Honestly, Cammie is the part of this whole move that’s been stressing me out the most. Kevin is the fifth guy since my dad that we’ve lived with, the third who has kids of his own. But he’s the first person my mom has dated who has a kid that goes to my school, and when you add in the fact that Cammie and I are only a year apart and that her parents’ divorce was Big News last year, awkward doesn’t even begin to describe it. 

“Well,” Hannah says, because there’s really nothing else to say about this whole situation that we haven’t covered ad nauseam in the last few weeks. “Is the unpacking going okay at least?” 

I think of the maze of boxes I had to navigate this morning when I was trying to find my work clothes, and of the judgmental look Buffy gave me when I tripped over a stack of books on my way to get her more water from the bathroom. No way am I telling Hannah this though. It’d make her worry more, and she already does enough of that where I’m concerned. “Yeah. I mean, it’s slow. But it’s coming along.” 

“Good,” she says, smiling now. “You know I’m always game to help if you need it, right?” 

This last part comes out a little uncertain, and I get this prickle of guilt that she’s still so clearly worried about our fight. 

“I know you are. It’s just, you know the rules, Han, and you know why they matter more than ever now. I don’t want to mess with the status quo this early in the game.”  

She nods, her smile fading a little even as a grim sort of under- standing settles over her face. “Of course,” she says quickly. “I get it.” 

Desperate for a change of subject, I reach for my smoothie, take a long drink, and then say the first thing that pops into my head. “Did you know Jordan Baugh lives in Harper Ridge?” 

“What!” Hannah sits up straighter in her seat. “How did I not know this? How do you know this?” 

“I saw him while I was walking Buffy last night,” I admit. “His house is next door to The Castle.” 

“No shit?” she says, her expression gleeful. “Maybe he can be, like, your escape plan if things get too weird at home. You can walk Buffy over to his house all the time.” 

“I think you’re getting a little ahead of yourself, Han. I don’t even really know him.” 

“Yeah, but you’ve always wanted to get to know him.” She waggles her eyebrows at me. “So this new proximity can be your in.” 

I shake my head at her, but I’m fighting a smile now. And I can’t help picturing Jordan how I saw him last night, lit up from behind, his expression earnest as he watched me leave. “Maybe.” 

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Rules We’re Meant to Break