REVIEW & EXCERPT w/ GIVEAWAY: The Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha Young

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Release Date: June 27, 2017

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“I know how to watch my back. I’m the only one that ever has.”

India Maxwell hasn’t just moved across the country—she’s plummeted to the bottom rung of the social ladder. It’s taken years to cover the mess of her home life with a veneer of popularity. Now she’s living in one of Boston’s wealthiest neighborhoods with her mom’s fiancé and his daughter, Eloise. Thanks to her soon-to-be stepsister’s clique of friends, including Eloise’s gorgeous, arrogant boyfriend Finn, India feels like the one thing she hoped never to be seen as again: trash.

But India’s not alone in struggling to control the secrets of her past. Eloise and Finn, the school’s golden couple, aren’t all they seem to be. In fact, everyone’s life is infinitely more complex than it first appears. And as India grows closer to Finn and befriends Eloise, threatening the facades that hold them together, what’s left are truths that are brutal, beautiful, and big enough to change them forever…

♦4.5-STAR REVIEW♦

The Impossible Vastness of Us is a wide-reaching, hard-hitting Young Adult novel that bravely takes on varying painful topics. It’s moving and powerful and simply told. One that hurts to experience, but the kind that mends your soul in a very romantic, but tough-love kind of way. That feeling will continue to resonate long after the book has closed.

From self-esteem issues to the intricacies of status and the teenage ego, this novel traverses much without feeling overwhelming or shallow on the issues at hand. I’ve yet to read a YA novel like this with such closely-knitted female characters fighting the odds against them in becoming more than what is expected of them as ‘rivals’ or non-equals. Young easily crafted an entire cast of characters who all played their parts perfectly. I usually love novels for their love stories, but I have to say that while I loved the love story here, I fell harder for the bond of family, blood or not, that radiated from this story. Each character brought such depth and vividness to this story, a kind of 3-D nature to it, that it was a joy to experience every aspect of it.

It’s easy to connect with a character like India, even if your experiences were nothing like hers. Young made her tough, but likable, a hardass, but a joyful smartass. She wasn’t a typical YA heroine; her compassion and inherent need for justice never wavered, instead consistently proving her selflessness and rationality even in moments where it benefited her in the least. There’s something powerfully magnetic about that, something we can admire. What made her an outsider radiated strength instead of weakness, and those like Finn and Eloise were drawn to that.

I originally fell for Young with her earlier YA series and have been hoping she’d venture back to the genre one day; I can tell you it came with the perfect story. A beautiful cover that matches the story within, one overflowing with the beauty of love, family, and, most of all, friendship, The Impossible Vastness of Us was a poignantly moving and compassionate tale of acceptance, hope, and self-love. Love comes in many forms as does what one can take away from this novel. I could’ve kept going and I do hope there comes a day when we meet these characters again.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

“Headmaster Vanderbilt would like to introduce himself.”

Headmaster Vanderbilt turned out to be a guy probably only five years or so older than Theo. I expected someone stuffy, pretentious and more than a little condescending, but Headmaster Vanderbilt—a tall, reed-thin man who wore a tiny pair of rimless glasses perched on his big Roman nose—was warm and welcoming.

His welcome, in fact, would be the warmest I’d receive that day.

My first class was Microeconomics and to my horror Eloise, Finn and their whole crew took the class. I hadn’t been expecting to see them all together in one class and while the teacher introduced me I had to quickly put my mask of indifference on.

Eloise didn’t acknowledge my presence as I took a seat on the other side of the classroom. My eyes drifted to Finn but he was staring at the teacher, almost too studiously, like he was trying to avoid my gaze. I shook that suspicion off, knowing Finn thought he was superior to me—I probably wasn’t even on his radar.

Not that I cared if I was on his radar or not.

My Microeconomics teacher was pretty cool and I got through the class not feeling totally out of my depth. I considered that a positive for the day.

Fiction Writing was next and Charlotte was in my class. When I walked in, her eyes lit up and I thought I detected the beginnings of a smile before a thought passed over her expression. Her shoulders slumped, and she looked like she wanted to blend into the background.

I decided to ignore her weirdness and waved at her as the teacher approached to introduce herself. The teacher saw my exchange with Charlotte and insisted I sit with her.

“Hey,” I said as I took the seat beside her.

Charlotte gave me a half smile, half grimace. “Hi.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t cheat off you.”

Her answer was a tremulous smile.

Encouraged, I nodded at her violet dress. “That color looks awesome on you.”

Appearing almost taken aback, Charlotte glanced down at the dress and ran her fingertips over it. “Really? Bryce said it washed me out. She said I look trash in it.”

Of course she did. I got more than a few mean girl vibes off that girl. “Well, she’s wrong. It’s really cute.”

“Thanks.” Charlotte gave me a shy smile before wariness replaced it and she turned determinedly to face the front.

Her body language told me not to push talking to her, but I felt hope.

Smiling inwardly, I faced forward, too, and listened to the teacher as she started class.

Two classes passed and I already had more homework than I’d ever had back at Fair Oaks High. I wasn’t freaking out about it just yet, considering I had no friends and no extracurricular activities to distract me from all the schoolwork, but once I did I’d have to find a way to juggle it all.

As I was walking toward my next class I noticed the glances and full-on stares from my new schoolmates. Their looks varied from curious to sneering and I felt a tingle of wariness across the back of my neck. Turning a corner on my search for my Modern European History class, I came face-to-face with my stepsister-to-be and her girls. They sashayed down the hall like an ad for a TV show about beautiful popular high school kids, long hair fluttering out behind them like silk, long trim legs on display in their designer dresses and elongated by their Jimmy Choo sandals.

Eloise saw me, looked right through me and kept on walking without a word.

My skin felt hot with embarrassment at her obvious cut.

I watched her disappear around the corner with her best friends before looking around the hallway. That’s when I realized I hadn’t been imagining the sneers of my classmates.

A sick feeling settled in my gut as I wondered what the hell was going on.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Samantha Young is the New York Times,  USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of adult contemporary romances, including the On Dublin Street series and Hero, as well as the New Adult duology Into the Deep and Out of the Shallows.  Every Little Thing, the second book in her new Hart’s Boardwalk series, will be published by Berkley in March 2017. Before turning to contemporary fiction, she wrote several young adult paranormal and fantasy series, including the amazon bestselling Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy. Samantha’s debut YA contemporary novel The Impossible Vastness of Us will be published by Harlequin TEEN in ebook & hardback June 2017.

Samantha has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for On Dublin Street, Best Romance 2014 for Before Jamaica Lane, and Best Romance 2015 for HeroOn Dublin Street, a #1 bestseller in Germany, was the Bronze Award Winner in the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2013, Before Jamaica Lane the Gold Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2014 and Echoes of Scotland Street the Bronze Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2015.

Samantha is currently published in 30 countries and is a #1 international bestselling author.

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COVER REVEAL: The Time in Between by Kristen Ashley

The third and final book in the Magdalene series has a cover and it’s stunning!

Magdalene Series Book Three; Standalone

Release Date: August 29, 2017

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After a painful loss, Cady Moreland is coming to Magdalene to start the next chapter of her life. A chapter that began eighteen years ago but had a heartbreaking ending. The time in between was full of family and friendship, but Cady could never get the man she fell in love with all those years ago out of her heart.

Coert Yeager has learned to live without the girl who entered his life right when she shouldn’t and exited delivering a crippling blow he never would have suspected. The time in between was full of failing to find what he was missing…and life-altering betrayal.

But when that girl shows up in Magdalene and buys the town’s beloved lighthouse, even if Coert wants to avoid her, he can’t. A fire in town sparks a different kind of flame that won’t be ignored.

As Cady and Coert question the actions of the two young adults they once were thrown into earth-shattering circumstances, can they learn from what came in between and find each other again?

 

♦SERIES♦

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

kristen-ashley-headshot

Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

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REVIEW w/ EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: I Knew You Were Trouble by Lauren Layne

Oxford Book Four; Standalone

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♦BLURB♦

New York City’s hottest bachelors are stirring up trouble in this fun, flirty Oxford Novel, as a love triangle forces a feisty beauty to choose between winning back Mr. Right or giving in to Mr. Wrong.

Taylor Carr has it all—a sleek job in advertising, a stunning Manhattan apartment, and the perfect man to share it with: Bradley Calloway. Even after Bradley dumps her for a co-worker on move-in day, Taylor isn’t worried. She’ll get her man eventually. In the meantime, she needs a new roommate. Enter Nick Ballantine, career bartender, freelance writer—and longtime pain in Taylor’s ass. Sexy in a permanent five-o’clock-shadow kind of way, Nick knows how to push Taylor’s buttons, as if he could see right through to the real her.

Nick’s always trying to fix people, and nobody could use a good fixing more than Taylor. Sure, she’s gorgeous, with mesmerizing silver eyes, but it’s her vulnerability that kills him. Now that they’re shacking up together, the chemistry is out of control. Soon they’re putting every part of their two-bedroom apartment to good use. Then Taylor’s ex comes crawling back to her, and Nick figures she’ll jump at the chance to go back to her old life—unless he fights for the best thing that ever happened to him.

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

I Knew You Were Trouble is an enemies-to-lovers romance with the added bonus of a roommates dynamic. Pitting together two complete opposites, LL employed her signature wit and humor to slowly and sexily bring together the wandering worker hero and the always-serious heroine with wonderful results.

Fascinating and probably one of the least Lauren Layne like heroines to-date, Taylor’s deep-seated emotional wall created a true enigma of a woman. LL portrayed her very well, giving Taylor just enough warmth to counteract her icy demeanor. She was like a newborn in the world of emotion and I quite enjoyed seeing her use those legs for the first time most especially with the one man who saw under all of her layers. With a man like Nick, the always-supportive kind, Taylor was truly out of her depths, and he, too, battled that life-long wall she’d erected. But all of those qualities and agitation worked very well together, ramping the tension higher and higher.

I love a good angst-y romance that has animosity-conflicted relationships where they didn’t want to want the other, but the attraction was so instinctual that nothing could stop it, and you get that with I Knew You Were Trouble. As co-workers, as roommates, these two fought that sexual tension at every angle, but their resistance was halfhearted at best. It wasn’t my favorite of the series, and I assume it’s because these are pretty new characters whereas in the others we had met each guy/gal and gotten to know them prior to having their book, but I certainly still loved it. Nick’s charm and Taylor’s sass led to an explosively sexy love story…one with all the fun we expect from an LL book.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

Bradley froze when he saw her, and she was pretty sure she saw the urge to turn and run flicker across his face.

Again she felt a stab of disappointment. In him. And in herself for apparently having misread him. She’d thought he was better than this.

Bradley’s eyes moved between her and Nick, and though he didn’t look all that surprised at seeing them bickering, his gaze grew hard as he saw Nick’s hand on Taylor’s face.

Nick, naturally, took his sweet time removing it, and she resisted the urge to kick his shin.

“Morning, Bradley,” Taylor said, pleased that her voice sounded calm and friendly. As well it should. She’d had plenty of practice over the better part of a year pretending that she and Bradley were nothing more than colleagues.

Other than a few close friends who knew they were dating, they’d done a mostly decent job of hiding their romantic relationship from coworkers. Better than she and Nick had done hiding their antagonistic one.

“Hey, Taylor. Nick,” Bradley said.

He entered the room and reached for a coffee mug, turning his attention toward the other man. “Didn’t realize you’d taken on another assignment. What for?”

“Not sure,” Nick said, checking his watch. “Have a meeting with Cassidy in a few to find out.”

“Here’s hoping it’s an offsite gig that takes you far, far away. Maybe he needs someone to cover Siberian winters,” Taylor said to Nick, even as she watched Bradley out of the corner of her eye.

“Don’t need to travel to find severe winter. It doesn’t get any chillier than right here,” Nick retorted, waving his hand over her head in a storm cloud gesture.

She shoved his hand aside, her attention still on Bradley, who was determinedly avoiding her gaze.

Coward.

It was going to be darn hard to get him to see reason when he wouldn’t even make eye contact.

Nick, ever too perceptive for his own good, noticed the tension and gave a quick look between her and Bradley, his gaze turning speculative.

She shot him a warning look that clearly said, Don’t.

He shot an answering smile that clearly said, Watch me.

“Bradley, don’t suppose you’re in the market for a roommate?” Nick asked, his voice deceptively casual.

Bradley’s head snapped up, and finally, finally his blue gaze collided with Taylor’s. Dammit. Why did he have to be so beautiful? He was like a mischievous angel, all twinkling blue eyes, dimples, a sexy cleft in his chin, dark blond wavy hair . . .

“What?” he asked Nick distractedly, still looking at Taylor.

“Taylor here wants to share her original crown molding with someone.”

Bradley winced, and Taylor felt a little surge of gratitude toward Nick. He couldn’t have known it, but it was the perfect jab. She and Bradley were both into prewar architecture—had eaten up the broker’s description of all the building’s original elements.

Taylor should be sharing that crown molding with Bradley. And he damn well knew it.

His eyes met hers in silent misery—an apology that she wasn’t quite ready to accept. Heck, she wasn’t even ready to acknowledge it, because she had no intention of being dumped. Not by him, not by any man.

Taylor ignored the guilt written all over Bradley’s face as she held his gaze. “Yes, it seems I unexpectedly have a free bedroom and more rent than I can afford. If either of you knows anyone looking for a roommate . . .”

Bradley’s handsome face twisted regretfully, and he set his coffee aside, taking a step toward her, apparently forgetting—or not caring—that Nick was still in the room.

“Taylor. Damn it. I told you—”

“Actually, I do,” Nick said, interrupting.

Taylor forced her gaze away from Bradley’s pleading face toward Nick’s smug one. “You know someone who needs a roommate?”

“Yup.” He crossed his arms and watched her.

She made an impatient gesture with her hand. “Who? It can’t be one of your ex-girlfriends—I don’t want to inadvertently hear any gross details about you. And not one of your frat-boy guy friends—my living room isn’t cut out for Call of Duty.”

“Yeah, because that’s all I do all day.”

She rolled her eyes. “Okay, for real, who is it?”

His grin was slow, sly, and the very definition of trouble. “Me.”

 

♦SERIES♦

Each book is an interconnected standalone.

6 - Irresistibly Yours

Oxford Book One

Purchase:  Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo  | My Review

2 - I Wish You Were Mine

Oxford Book Two

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6-someone-like-you

Oxford Book Three

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♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

LaurenLayne-Headshot-Official

Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of more than a dozen contemporary romance novels.

Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. A year after moving from Seattle to Manhattan to pursue a writing career, she had a fabulous agent and multiple New York publishing deals.

Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and plus-sized Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll likely find her running (rarely), reading (sometimes), or at happy hour (often).

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PAPERBACK RELEASE w/ GIVEAWAY: Colorado Mountain Series by Kristen Ashley

One of my favorite series by Kristen Ashley (but, I mean, who am I kidding? I love all of her series) now has the first three books out in Trade Paperback, previously in just Mass Market Paperback. They are now bigger and with new covers! Don’t worry, the Mass Markets are still available, and hopefully the rest of the series will soon follow suit because we know how much of a stickler we all are for mismatching series covers/editions. Make sure to read to the bottom and enter the giveaway!

Colorado Mountain series Book One; Interconnected Standalone

Purchase: Kindle | Trade Paperback (norm $9.99, now $7.40) | B&N | IndieBound | Target

Nina Sheridan thought she’d found the perfect man who would become the perfect husband. She was wrong. When Nina realizes the man she planned to grow old with doesn’t know her at all, it’s time to rethink her idea of perfect. And what better place to get her life in order than a remote Colorado mountain town halfway around the world?

Gnaw Bone, Colorado, may not be flashy or cosmopolitan, but it’s got a brand of hospitality all its own. Nina isn’t entirely sure she’s ready to trade the life she thought she wanted in England for cozy evenings in her mountain retreat, and she definitely isn’t sure she’s ready to handle the connection she feels to the owner of her rental house, Max Holden . . .

Nina didn’t come to Colorado to find love, but even the best-laid plans can go awry. Now, if Nina can let go of her past, Max-and a future in Gnaw Bone-might just be the perfect second chance she’s been waiting for.

 

Colorado Mountain series Book Two; Interconnected Standalone

Purchase: Kindle | Trade Paperback (norm $9.99, now $7.40) | B&N | IndieBound | Target

When you lose everything, anything is possible.

Lauren Grahame needs a whole new life. A simpler life. After leaving her cheating husband, she moves to Carnal, Colorado, takes a job as a waitress, and realizes she might have finally found the hometown she’d been searching for. Except things are about to get a lot more complicated . . .

Lauren’s fresh start does not include her growing feelings for her boss, Tate Jackson. She’ll take the new friends, the new job, not to mention the incredible banana bread from the local coffee shop, but love is not on the agenda.

However, the people of Carnal know chemistry when they see it, and they’re not about to let Tate and Lauren miss their chance.

 

Colorado Mountain series Book Three; Interconnected Standalone

Purchase: Kindle | Trade Paperback (norm $9.99, now $7.40) | B&N | IndieBound | Target

All you need is a little luck.

Lexie Berry has had nothing but bad luck. You name it, Lexie has probably survived it-or worse. But there’s only so much bad luck a girl can take, and now one promise is all that stands between her and a brand-new life.

When that promise brings her to Carnal, Colorado, Lexie isn’t sure the rough, yet strangely charming, town is for her. But there’s something Carnal has that might just make staying around worth it . . . and that’s Ty Walker.

For five years, Ty was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he wants revenge on the people who framed him. Lexie knows there’s a difference between vengeance and justice, and she’ll do everything she can to make sure Ty gets the latter. And with the good people of Carnal on their side, Lexie and Ty might finally find their luck is changing for the better.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

kristen-ashley-headshot

Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

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