The Risk (Briar U #2) by Elle Kennedy

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ARC provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

#1.) The Chase ★★★★★

I’m not sure what the world has done to deserve Elle Kennedy and all the amazing stories she keeps giving us set around this hockey team, but we are so damn blessed, friends. I hope she continues to write them forever. And The Risk was so sexy, so funny, and so phenomenal. Reading this was pure joy, and my biggest complaint is that I wish we had an extra epilogue, because I want and I need more. The Risk perfectly plays with the enemies to lovers trope, but also adds the fake dating element, and I was truly living my best life while reading this story.

Brenna Jensen – Daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, and a bit of a bad girl. Even though she has had some awful things happen in her past, she is strong, confident, and isn’t going to let anyone boss her around. Plus, she is focusing on getting a jumpstart with a hockey news internship.

Jake Connelly – Captain of the Harvard’s hockey team, and already all-star. He has signed with the Oilers for the next season, but is trying to win it all his last year in college, and cannot risk any distractions for him or his team.

“I know you’re Chad Jensen’s daughter. I know you would take any opportunity to mess with my players’ heads. I know we’re probably going to be facing off with Briar in the conference finals in a few weeks”

And Brenna and Jake’s paths cross when Jake meets up with Brenna to tell her that she is being a distraction to one of his players. Which, Brenna obviously doesn’t listen to, even if she isn’t really romantically interested in the other Harvard player. But it is the perfect set up for Brenna and Jake’s paths keep crossing as enemies, even if they can’t stop thinking what it would be like if they were lovers.

Plus, we have seen the chemistry between these two characters brewing for so dang long, and even when they are disagreeing on something, their banter is perfection. And they are both the perfect amount of hard and soft, I’m not even going to hint at it, I’m just going to say this: this book has the best sixty-nine sex scene I’ve ever read. Like, there were so many elements that made it so sexy, but it was amazing.

In this story we really see a lot of people in the sports industry be very nasty and hold some very misogynistic views. Sadly, Brenna experiences this first hand when trying to enter the field she eventually wants to work in. But even more sadly, this is something that so many women deal with in our world, too. I’m sure most of who have been to a sports bar, you have heard people say some gross stuff about women interviewers for any pro-sport. But I really loved and appreciated Brenna, and a few other women, trying to break those toxic cycles.

I also loved how this book constantly discusses how bad things that have happened to you in your past are not your fault, even if you can’t help but feel an immense amount of guilt over them. People make bad choices all the time, and just because you love someone and were a part of their life when they were making bad choices, does not mean that those bad choices are your fault whatsoever. This is constantly brought up throughout the book, and I think survivor’s guilt is something that we should talk about more in society, and I really appreciate how it was handled in this book.

I’ll be honest with you, I thought this installment was going to be my favorite out of everything that Elle Kennedy has written, and I truly kept thinking that until around the 85% mark. I just didn’t love the ending of this one, and I felt like the coach being a jerk was just a quick and kind of dumb bump in the road to give us one like little unnecessary angst plot. Which I would have been able to overlook, if we would have seen a really romantic or sexy scene after. But it just got wrapped up, and the Epilogue was more about personal success than relationship success, so it left me wanting so much more. I don’t know, I feel bad saying this, but because the book was so freaking amazing and unputdownable for 85%, that last 15% just felt like such a letdown and left me a bit sad upon closing the book. But I still loved this story as a whole.

Overall, Brenna is, without question, my favorite protagonist from the entire Off-Campus world. And I honestly might even go as far as to say that Jake is my favorite love interest of them all, too. They are both the characters that I would want to date the most, but they are truly so damn perfect for one another. I won’t lie though, I am dying to get Hunter’s book, so I am ready to pray every night that The Play will end up being his book. Also, side note, I do not want Hazel to come back into the story or be a love interest. So, I’m extra crossing my fingers and limbs for that not to happen. But yeah, this was a wonderful installment. I read it in twenty-four hours because I couldn’t put it down. The sex was mind-blowing. The set up was glorious enemies to lovers perfection. And I truly can’t wait to see what comes next.

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The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for explicit sex, a lot of misogynistic comments (always challenged), talk of past loss of a loved one, drug addiction and substance abuse, use of the word cr*zy, talk of past miscarrying, and a panic attack.

#1.) The Deal ★★★★
#2.) The Mistake ★★★
#3.) The Score ★★★★
#4.) The Goal

❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

 

The Chase (Briar U, #1) by Elle Kennedy

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ARC provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“I feel like too many girls fail to remember one vital truth: we deserve someone who gives us one hundred percent. Half-assed effort isn’t effort. Half-assed love isn’t love.”

Elle Kennedy and her steamy hockey romances are back. And, like, what a damn blessing. This is the happiest I’ve been reading a book all damn year. These new characters completely won me over. All the cameos from the people we already love were perfection. The banter and jokes literally had my sides hurting from giggling. And, this book actually had some really important topics like ADHD and how learning disabilities can impact you in college, how growing up in the middle of abusive parents can have detrimental effects, how judging people based off their looks is really gross, and how you should always go with your gut feeling, especially when it comes to creepy men in a position of power.

You all, I loved this. The ARC hit my kindle at about 8 PM last night, and I quickly ate dinner and spent the rest of my night completely immersed in this college that I missed so much! And like I said above, we get to see Garret, Logan, Tucker, and Dean, but this is a whole new hockey team, even if a couple of the guys have had minor parts in the original quartet. And The Chase really focuses on:

Colin Fitzgerald – Tatted, video game loving, hockey player. Like, the dream, right? But Fitz is struggling with abuse from his past, and never allowing anyone in. That is, until he meets a girl who he wishes, more than anything, he didn’t want to let in so badly.

“In college, I’ve made more of an effort to be social, but deep down I’m still the guy who wants to remain invisible. Summer is the most visible person I’ve ever met.”

Summer Di Laurentis – Dean’s littler sister has just transferred to Briarwood! She’s pursuing a degree in fashion, but she unapologetically loves it (and herself), regardless of the judgement people want to throw her way. The only problem is, she doesn’t have a place to live since she transferred schools so quickly. But Dean talks to Fitzy, Hollis and Hunter, since they are living in his old house, which totally has room for his baby sister.

And all that good angst ensues.
*clutches pearls forever*
The sexual tension. Lord, help me.

“…He just happens to be THE UNICORN. The tall, sexy, tattooed, hockey-playing unicorn of a man who I might have a teeny-weeny itsy-bitsy crush on. Okay, fine. A big motherfucking crush on.”

But we also get to see a lot of Hunter, which is deserving of a whole other paragraph. Okay, here is the thing about this book; I loved it with my entire heart and soul, and I don’t even have a word combination for how happy it made me while reading, but, if I was Summer, I would have wanted to date Hunter over Fitz. There I said it. I’m terrible. But it’s the truth. It’s honestly the only “negative” thing I can say about this book, and I loved it so much that it’s not really a negative.

The other character that we are newly introduced to is the hockey coach’s daughter, Brenna! And like… Hi, my name is Melanie and I really want to date Brenna. Like, in the bar, with her black bralette? I was swooning, friends. I was like, “there are hockey boys at this table, too?” She deserves the entire world, and I support her (probable) traitorous ways!

Summer was easily my favorite in this book though. Gosh, I feel like 2018 is just the year of me writing too many personal reviews, but Summer just really resonated with me. I know others won’t feel this way, but Summer really meant a lot to me. I’ve been judged because of the way I look forever, and people always form these terrible, awful, superficial, opinions of me, especially at bars and parties. And I get it, people are like, “wow, you have it so rough being (with some people thinking that you’re) pretty” but like, people can be really horrible and nasty. Also, I’m loud, and outgoing, and passionate, just like Summer. And people judge her for that, too, but seeing how she handles it, very realistically, warmed my heart. Seriously, Summer is easily one of my favorite characters of 2018.

“You know who else was viewed as a fluffy sorority girl?” she challenges. “Elle Woods. And you know what she did? She went to law school and showed everyone how smart she was, and then she became a lawyer and everybody loved her, and her slimy ex tried to win her back and she sent him on his way. The end.”

This book also tackles rape culture, especially in colleges, where it is easier to tell the girl she over reacting, than to break the cycle of the abuser. Also, obviously because Summer is comfortable with her sexuality, she was asking for it. And Elle Kennedy always delivers these points in a negative light, showcasing how gross our world can be and how hurtful stereotypes are. And having this be in a book set in college? It’s even more important.

Summer’s ADHD and learning disabilities are also always at the forefront of this story, and I was living for it. Seeing Summer being insecure and embarrassed about needed more help, time, and attention, is something so important and I wish more people could read this book for that alone, honestly. Everyone learns differently, and medication doesn’t always impact lives for the better, and Summer’s voice is so dang important. I just love her and everything about her character. Seriously.

“Loving yourself is hard enough. Silencing the inner critic borders on impossible.”

Yet, this book is light, and fun, and I honestly never laugh at books, but I always get tears in my eyes from laughing at this series. I just feel like the banter is written expertly, and so realistically. And this book is really sexy. Like, there isn’t a ton of sexual content, if I’m being honest, but the build up is perfection. And the few scenes that it does have? Pretty damn hot, I’m not going to lie.

“With any other guy, I’d probably take the bull by the proverbial horns. As in, put my literal hand on his literal penis.”

Oh, and another thing I want to praise this author for was the use of video games and nerd culture in general. I always get apprehensive that I’m going to dislike books that have this element, because they never feel “Authentic” or whatever, but Elle Kennedy did such a damn good job. Even with Twitch and streaming! And oh my gosh, Fitz has a popular MMORPG friend who has a stream, and his name was Morris, and maybe it was just a coincidence, but it makes me feel like Elle knows who Sodapoppin is! And it brought me so much unreasonable joy! But she also talks about the toxic masculinity in the community and how some dudes will think girls like Summer are “faking it” or “not nerdy enough” and all the other gross accusations stereotypes. Seriously, this book is so well done. Also, I’d totally play Fitzy’s game in a heartbeat.

Overall, I just love this series. It’s seriously a tier above anything else out in the NA Romance genre. Seriously, Elle Kennedy is truly the queen of the genre at this point! And The Chase is my favorite thing she’s ever written. I can’t wait to read The Risk next year. Especially because Elle has so many things brewing, I can’t wait to see Brenna and (hopefully) a certain rival and I need to personally get to know. Thanks.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Trigger and content warnings for sexual content, use of the term “spirit animal” (in 2018, really?), drug use, attempted sexual assault, a weird comment about audiobooks that had me side-eyeing, girls on girl hate (always challenged though), a lot of gross and judgmental comments, a little body shaming towards men in bathing suits and what “looks good” or whatever, a lot of rape culture comments (again, always challenged), and shitty parents.

#1.) The Deal ★★★★
#2.) The Mistake ★★★
#3.) The Score ★★★★
#4.) The Goal

 

Paper Princess (The Royals, #1) by Erin Watt (Elle Kennedy & Jen Frederick)

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I was having a rough two days mental health wise, so I just wanted to drop everything on my TBR and read something I didn’t really have to think about, but I knew I’d probably enjoy. I wanted something fast paced, with an addicting story, and maybe some sexy times, and Paper Princess was the perfect pick for me.

By looking at some of my friends’ reviews I feel like I really need to say that this is not a YA book in the slightest! This is NA and has a lot of sexual scenes that should only be read by mature audiences! This has many erotic scenes and for sure should have a sexual content warning.

As for trigger warnings: losing a parent, underage sexual content (17), physical abuse, sexual assault, attempted rape, underage drinking, drug use, addiction, a lot of slut shaming, and a lot of toxic male masculinity. So please use caution before going into this book.

And there are a lot of weird gender role expectations in this book, too. Like, the main female protagonist has to cook spaghetti because they boys can’t figure it out. And then, later, she can’t figure out the football teams, but she brings up the lion on the helmet. There are more of these instances sprinkled throughout the book, and I wasn’t offended, it just feels… not so great reading.

Also, because I know most of you follow me for my fantasy reviews, I always feel it necessary to state that I rate erotic books differently than other books! I know many of the relationships are toxic and problematic and I completely understand that they wouldn’t be the healthiest and/or most ideal of starts for people in real life, but I love steamy reads and I rate them purely off my enjoyment, and I truly did enjoy Paper Princess.

Paper Princess is cowritten by Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick under the pseudonym Erin Watt. And Elle Kennedy has written one of my favorite NA series of all time, the Off-Campus series, so I knew I had to eventually try out this series, too. And I’m so happy that I finally did.

And Paper Princess stars a young girl named Ella, who has only known a life of jumping from new city to new city where her and her mom can barely make ends meet. But after her mother’s death, Ella is trying to survive on her own. And all she wants to do is get a high school diploma, so she can go to college and eventually give herself a stable life.

Then, a man appears out of nowhere, claiming to be her mystery father’s best friend and business partner. He promises to give Ella a better life, because her father, too, has tragically just passed away.

Ella is then thrown into the Royal family, where the man that is trying to help her also has five sons himself. And let’s just say that they are not the most open to the idea of their father taking in a random girl. And they all basically just think the absolute worst of Ella, right off the bat.

“You may have lost your family, but you’re not alone anymore, Ella. You’re a Royal now.”

Ella is quickly thrown into the world of prep schools and old money, while she is dealing with the grief of losing her mother, and the hope of starting a better life.

I’m not going to say this book is perfect, it’s far from it, but I read this in one sitting because I truly just couldn’t put it down. The romance is amazing, the angst is out of this world, and I’m just a sucker for a good hate to love relationship and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Also, I need to start Broken Prince immediately, because Paper Princess ends on maybe the worst cliffhanger I’ve ever read in my entire life.

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