Finding Purgatory by Kristina M. Sanchez

Finding Purgatory by Kristina M. Sanchez

Finding Purgatory Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Finding Purgatory by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Ani Novak’s beautiful life is shattered in the blink of an eye. Lacking direction after her family is shattered, she seeks out the little sister she walked away from when Ani was nineteen. Ani’s not sure if she wants to make amends or just reconnect with someone who doesn’t have a reason to pity her.

Tori Kane barely remembers her big sister or her parents, and having grown up in foster homes, she’s never known unconditional love. On the brink of turning eighteen, Tori thinks she has life all figured out, until her sister walks back into her life and Tori finds herself in a situation she can’t handle alone.

Neither sister knows how to deal with their new life or how to find happiness. But perhaps by leaning on each other they can find some middle ground. They might not be able to grasp the brass ring, but just maybe they can find purgatory.

Finding Purgatory is a contemporary story that incorporates women’s fiction with some new adult. Told in third person point of view, we are treated to the lives of both sisters—one who is just becoming an adult and one who has to put the pieces of her life back together. Ani has guilt over leaving her little sister once she finds out Tori didn’t get a happily ever after with an adoptive family, and she’s also feeling guilty over how she had to back out of the lives of her in-laws. Tori thinks she’s got life all figured out. She’ll soon be eighteen and be able to leave the foster system behind.

The story showed the true emotions of both women, at times so emotional it brought me to tears. It had a very true-to-life feel to it. Nothing was sugar-coated. Being pregnant is not always a blessing, and Tori’s pregnancy was an interesting contradiction to Ani having just lost her very young daughter. Neither sister knew quite how to handle the pregnancy, and we got to experience their raw emotions as they felt them. Both Tori and Ani showed tremendous growth throughout the story.

The secondary characters also had a very real feel to them. Raphe was extremely patient with Tori, yet at times his frustration showed through. West was quite a charmer but also offered pearls of wisdom to Ani just when she needed them most. I really enjoyed Shane and Ian’s story as well. There was a lot of activity packed into this book, but Ms. Sanchez did a great job of incorporating it all and making it feel natural.

Although this definitely falls into the category of “happily ever after,” it also offers a difficult life lesson. Life can be messy and far from perfect, but snatching your moments of happiness and holding on to them makes all the difference.

The few minor editing mistakes did not detract from my enjoyment of this book. I would definitely read more by this author.

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Pros & Cons by Sydney Logan

Pros & Cons by Sydney Logan

Pros & Cons Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was gifted a copy of Pros & Cons by the author. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Jenna York has made a good life for herself as a con artist and doesn’t understand why her partner wants to stop living the life and settle down—especially since her partner is in love with one of their rivals. The other half of the rival con artist team, Ethan Summers, pushes all of Jenna’s buttons every time they cross paths. With Jenna’s father pressuring her to get out of the business, she wants nothing more than to keep him out of the line of fire.

Ethan is attracted to Jenna; there’s no denying that. What he doesn’t realize is that his feelings may run deeper than he thought he was capable of. When tragedy strikes, Ethan and Jenna band together to fight their common enemy, but more surprises are in store for the conniving couple, and suddenly all their plans and dreams look different than before. With more at stake than ever, they’ll be in for the fight of their lives to save their family.

Pros & Cons is a contemporary romance with a little bit of thriller added in. I loved the idea of the main characters being involved in a life of crime, yet somehow they were still the “good guys” of the story. The tension between Jenna and Ethan as they pushed each other away was exciting without being overdone. I especially enjoyed the way they bickered back and forth while their feelings remained just under the surface.

The story included some secondary characters who were also easy to love. Ethan and Jenna were each partnered with their best friends, and their best friends fell in love with each other. The relationship between their partners was well-incorporated into Jenna and Ethan’s story, enough so I felt an attachment to this secondary relationship as well. We also got a peek into the lives of Ethan’s parents, Jenna’s father, and Ethan’s pilot who became an important part of the story.

Only a few things kept this from being a five-star book in my opinion. I would have liked to see a little more of the actual con jobs that Ethan and Jenna pulled, either separately with their original partners or together once they formed their own team. We got more detail of their home life than their adventures. I also felt the climax was a little lacking in action, although I still enjoyed the resolution of the plot very much. Thankfully the few minor editing issues didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, I was caught up in Ethan and Jenna’s lives and really liked this book. I will definitely read more by this author.

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The Sapphire Legend by E.L. Tenenbaum

The Sapphire Legend: Part 1 by E.L. Tenenbaum

Sapphire Legend Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of The Sapphire Legend by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Sapere knows she’s different from everyone else in her tribe when she realizes she’s inherited her father’s gifts—gifts only a son is supposed to inherit. When her tribe is attacked on her wedding day, her gifts are put to the test as she tries to save as many people as she can. But leading them into the Wild is a dangerous choice. She’ll need to use her talents to find safety while protecting her secret so she’s not ostracized from those who are left.

When Sapere and her people find another group of survivors, they band together to rebuild their lives while trying to decide how to shape their future. Everyone else has a set place in the new order—everyone except Sapere. She’s caught between being a young woman who was recently widowed and being the last member of her family who can sit on the tribe’s council. Yet as a woman, she’s not readily accepted into the council either. And the revelation of her gifts will either solidify her spot as a council member or push her away for good.

The Sapphire Legend is a young adult fantasy about a young woman who has to determine who she really is outside of her tribe’s expectations of her. As the story begins, Sapere is already struggling with learning to use and hide her gifts, including the physical manifestation of those gifts, for fear of being an outcast among her people. She’s also about to embark on a new life as a married woman, following the tradition of her tribe. But when tragedy strikes, she’s thrust in the middle of even more changes in her life.

The story was well written and kept my attention throughout. I enjoyed watching Sapere struggle to find herself while trying to stay within the accepted guidelines of life in the tribe. Her character showed good growth in herself as well as in her friendships. For a while, she didn’t recognize any of the things she’d done as being especially helpful to the tribe or any one person in particular, giving her a quiet strength, but eventually she began to recognize her own strengths and started to take her place as a leader among the people. I also enjoyed the personalities of several of the secondary characters.

Through all this character growth, at times it didn’t seem like the story was going anywhere. The tribe was stuck in a holding pattern, not making any decisions on their fate until near the end of the story. While the story will continue in the next book, I would have liked to see a little more happening in this book.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more by this new author.

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With Brave Wings (Breaking Free Book 2) by Cara Dee – Release Day and Review

With Brave Wings (Breaking Free Book 2) by Cara Dee – Release Day and Review


With Brave Wings Cover

Sequel to Breaking Free. Book II of II.

What happens once you’ve broken free?

Sophie Pierce has shed every part of her old life. She has said goodbye to her father, the friends she once partied with, and even the man she may have lost her heart to. Now, it’s time for her to spread her wings and become the person she wants to be, and she’s more than ready to work for it. But much like the paparazzi Sophie has come to despise, the past will sneak up on her—much sooner than she could’ve imagined. It’s only a matter of months before she learns that her final night in Vancouver was never the end at all. It was the beginning.

When Tennyson Wright lets Sophie go, he knows something has to change. He’s lost sight of who he is, and the wakeup call isn’t pretty. Deciding to take a page from Sophie’s book, he begins a journey of self-discovery, though everything comes to a screeching halt when he learns through the tabloids that the girl he can’t stop thinking about is pregnant.

Their romantic relationship may have ended, but soon their co-parenting responsibilities bring them together to play the Hollywood game by their own rules.


5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of With Brave Wings by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Sophie Pierce has broken free from her old life. She’s stopped her partying ways, stopped seeking paparazzi attention, paid all her debts, and moved out of her father’s house. But growing up also meant she had to give up the man she was falling for. Now that she’s on her own and making a respectable name for herself, her life is about to change in a major way—again.

Watching Sophie become her best self has given Tennyson Wright a push to better his life. No more being a hermit. Tennyson’s getting back to the things he loves in life and reinventing himself. Just as he’s back in the swing of things, shocking news drops into his lap. He’s about to become a father.

Co-parenting under normal circumstances is a challenge. But for Sophie and Tennyson, it’s the ultimate trial. Sophie is still learning how to be independent. Tennyson is still learning who he is. They both live in the spotlight. And neither one is ready to deal with the feelings they have for the other.

With Brave Wings is the sequel to Breaking Free by Cara Dee. This is not a standalone book. You can find my five-star review of Breaking Free here if you haven’t read that yet. Both of these books were amazing and had me wishing for my very own Tennyson.

When we left Sophie and Tennyson at the end of the last book, they both had grown by leaps and bounds and realized continuing their relationship wasn’t in their best interest, no matter how much it hurt to let the other go. As we pick up on their lives a few months later, they’re both just getting to the place where they can be around the other without as much pain, when life throws them a major curveball. Sophie is pregnant, and as the father, Tennyson is back at the forefront of her life.

Both main characters still have a lot of growing to do in this story, and they accomplish it in a way that makes the eventual rekindling of their romance much healthier than it would have been otherwise. Sophie can’t focus on having a man in her life when she’s still trying to figure out how to live it on her own, not to mention throwing a baby into the mix. And Tennyson, although older and wiser, had cut himself off from the things he loves and no longer wants to live his life that way. They each embark on their own journey while maintaining and strengthening their friendship with each other.

In Sophie’s quest to be independent, she ended up going a bit overboard. She wouldn’t allow anyone to help her, even though sometimes she didn’t want to do everything on her own. She learns to balance independence with letting her friends help and ultimately realizes none of the people she looks up to are able to do everything on their own. Sophie also has some family issues to deal with. Although she’s created a wonderful little family of her own, her father has had a wakeup call and wants to be part of her life again. She’ll have to decide if her heart is big enough for forgiveness.

Tennyson stole my heart in the first book, and he takes an even bigger piece in this sequel. The way he loves his son from the moment he finds out he’s going to be a father is so touching it had me in tears. And the way he cares for Sophie, wanting to help her but knowing when to back off, is enough to turn the hardest heart into a sap. Cara Dee also follows through with Tennyson and Sophie embracing their age difference instead of using it as a reason to keep them apart, and the resulting encounters practically melted the pages of my e-reader.

The secondary characters were also well-incorporated into the story. I found myself loving the bits and pieces we saw of Brooklyn, Asher, and Noah, and I was thankful for the inclusion of their lives in this story.

At the end of the day, this is a celebrity romance, which is one of my favorite things to read. The balance of normal life and fame was perfect, putting With Brave Wings right up near the top of my list of favorite books. All of my reviews of Cara Dee’s work can be found under the Author Spotlight tab.


Noah hummed, pausing at some action movie that had recently started. “Throwing up, gaining weight, moody…”

“I haven’t been moody.” Sophie got defensive.

He chuckled. “Uh-huh. That’s what my sister said before she found out she was pregnant.”

That was funny. “How did I not know you have a sister?”

It was Noah’s turn to shrug a little, which made him drop a spring roll on the floor. “Where’s Cujo? Shit.” He licked some sauce from his T-shirt. “Shit, shit, sorry about that.”


“Pick it up,” Sophie laughed. “Max isn’t eating that crap. Now, about your sister?”

“Oh, right.” He picked up the roll and shoved it into his mouth. “She lives in Berlin, so we don’t see each other often. We text and Skype and stuff. She’s got two cute kids, but I hate when they visit our parents in Pittsburgh. Makes my folks wonder when I’m gonna settle down.”

“Poor you,” Sophie mocked. “So you don’t want kids of your own?”

“Fuck no, I’d ruin them.” Noah went back to flipping channels. “Unless they pop out as hockey fans. Then we’re good.”

She snorted a giggle and ate some more.

“Seriously, though.” He pointed his fork at her. “You sure you’re not pregnant?”

“Oh my God, yes.” Sophie rolled her eyes. “I think I’d know if I was growing a person. Besides, I haven’t had sex since July—whatever date the wrap party was.”

It was mid-November now.

“The twenty-fifth,” he murmured, pensive. “So…that would make Tennyson the dad.”

She ignored the pregnancy crap and stared intently at her food. She’d never said anything out loud to Noah about her and Tennyson, though most people had their suspicions.

“I’m not pregnant, Noah.”


“You’re pregnant, Ms. Pierce.”

Sophie sat in her doctor’s office and stared, waiting for the punch line.

The doctor went on with a nod. “That’s what’s been causing your body to change so quickly. You are pregnant.”

Sophie waited some more, and then she let out a nervous laugh. “Be serious, please. What’s wrong with me?”

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with you,” he told her patiently. “You are simply pregnant. Now, since I know you have a demanding schedule, I took the liberty and made you an appointment with a colleague for an ultrasound—right after we’re done here.”

She pursed her lips. Her brain was completely blank aside from the word “pregnant” going on a loop.

There was no way.

She was only twenty-one. She hadn’t had sex in…almost four months. Four fucking months.

“I imagine this is coming as a surprise for you.” The doctor went through a stack of papers that sat on his desk. “I have the records here from your doctor in Vancouver, and you’ve said your period’s been irregular?” With every word the doctor spoke, more color drained from Sophie’s face. “Due to your previous condition with undernourishment, that can obviously affect your ability to get pregnant, but it’s far from impossible—”

“I’m on the pill!” she blurted out.

All of a sudden, her breaths came out fast and shallow.

Holy shit, this couldn’t be happening.

She and Tennyson had been protected, goddammit. They’d used condoms until they’d spoken about safety. They’d both been clean, and she was on the pill.

“Did you ever miss taking one?” the doctor asked gently. “Remember, birth control is never one hundred percent.”

“Oh my God,” Sophie whimpered.


Coming out of the bathroom after his shower, Tennyson fastened his watch and tapped it pointedly for Asher to get off the damn phone. Tennyson would’ve been more patient if it weren’t for the fact that this was his vacation and he was hungry as fuck.

Asher nodded and held up a finger. “Okay, that’s great,” he told whomever he was on the phone with. “No, I was only surprised because she’s worked so hard. But it’s good that she’s not canceling.” There was a pause, and Tennyson wondered if they were discussing Sophie. “Rescheduling is fine, and have the interviewer fly out if she wants to stay in LA for whatever reason.”

By the time he wrapped up the call, Tennyson had dressed in a pair of jeans and a hoodie, and he sat down on the edge of his bed to find his eye drops in his toiletry bag.

“What’s up?” he asked.

Asher’s brow furrowed and he scrolled down on his phone. “Sophie. I need to call her tomorrow. Remember I thought she was canceling a bunch of appointments?” Tennyson frowned and nodded, and Ash went on. “She’s not—but she’s rescheduling, and I don’t know why.”

Tennyson didn’t know what to say, other than he was worried. Ever since she’d put her diva antics and princess behavior behind her, she’d been nothing but accommodating. She always pushed herself to be her absolute best.

“You ready to go eat?” Ash asked.

“Yeah.” Tennyson ducked into the bathroom real quick to insert some drops into his eyes, and then he grabbed his wallet before they left.

On the way to the restaurant, he made a mental note to call Sophie when he got back to the hotel. If something was wrong, he wanted to be there for her.

The desert town was lit up for Christmas, but it didn’t really feel like the holiday had arrived.

“Hold on.” Asher grabbed Tennyson’s shoulder as they were passing a bodega. “What the fuck is this?” He walked over to a newsstand and snatched up a magazine.

Upon seeing it was a tabloid, Tennyson rolled his eyes. “Since when do you read gossip?”

Asher turned and slapped the magazine to Tennyson’s chest. “Since I learned your ex is pregnant.”


Tennyson held up the magazine and saw the headline.

“The Party Princess is Pregnant!”

Having lived and breathed the industry for years, Tennyson was ready to brush it off as bullshit, but then he saw the grainy photos. Three of them on the cover, one with a circle around Sophie’s belly. Then a centerfold that was all about her. Several photos of Sophie, Max, Brooklyn, and Maliah on the beach.

Sophie was wearing what looked like cotton shorts and a bulky sweatshirt, but at some point, she had unzipped it. And it was clear as day. Her snug top underneath the hoodie hugged a small, yet very distinct baby bump.

Photo after photo. Sophie and Maliah were tossing a tennis ball for Max to chase, and the wind blew the shirt aside. So many angles of proof. She was pregnant.


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Book I

Breaking Free

Breaking Free Cover

Book I of II.

The Hollywood scene has always fit Tennyson Wright like a too-tight sweater. A highly respected director, he has managed to avoid the games and power plays of Tinseltown. Until now. To gain more publicity for the film he’s shooting, the studio has decided a PR relationship is in order, and soon Tennyson finds himself pushed into the spotlight with one of the actresses on set. Rich, spoiled, much younger, party princess Sophie Pierce.

Sophie, famous for being infamous, got her part in the film due to her daddy, the studio chairman. But there’s more to her than wild nights and drunken tabloid photos, and she’s aching to prove it. Under Tennyson’s protective wing, she begins to navigate the uncharted territory of responsible adulthood and takes the first steps toward a legitimate, lasting fame based on her talent, not her reputation.

But in order for Sophie to truly soar on her own, she’s going to have to shed every part of her life.

Freedom has a price.

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There aren’t many things better than picking up my Kindle and getting completely sucked into a whole new world—where words morph into images and characters’ moods suddenly reflect my own. Aside from good plot and writing, for me, it boils down to relatable characters.

As a writer, I’m not finished until the men and women in my books come to life, until I can see them as real people, until I can connect with them. Which means I write what I want to read: everyday heroes and heroines who have the same struggles we all do. They evolve, have flaws, make mistakes and amends, learn, and find the endings they fight for.

Those are the characters who take the readers on a journey away from work, laundry, grocery shopping, and to-do lists.

When I’m not writing, researching, or brainstorming, I’m either planning my next trip (never-ending bucket list!), reading, watching hockey, or spending time with family and friends.


Lost in Us (Lost Series Book 1) by Layla Hagen

Lost in Us (Lost Series Book 1) by Layla Hagen

Lost in Us Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

Having just come off a six-year relationship, Serena isn’t interested in risking her heart. In fact, she’s not much into risk-taking at all. Serena wants to concentrate on finding a job where she can earn enough money to help out her parents. When she meets the enigmatic James, a one night stand is all she’s interested in, but there’s something about James that draws her to him. Maybe it’s the sense that he’s just as broken as she is.

James is a self-proclaimed commitment-phobe. His jealousy knows no bounds and it cost him dearly in the past, so it’s best if he doesn’t get attached to anyone. But he finds a kindred spirit in Serena, and as much as he wants to stay away, he can’t. Together they could be stronger than they are apart, but only if Serena can break down James’ walls.

Lost in Us is a new adult romance that has that elusive quality of drawing you in and forcing you to keep reading. It isn’t something I can put my finger on, just something about the writing that kept me turning page after page even when I didn’t like the characters’ actions.

James is definitely an alpha male, and I both loved and hated him for it. He knew what he wanted and he went after it. He was able to separate work from fun while doing both to the extreme. He convinced Serena to take chances in life she wouldn’t otherwise have even considered, and ultimately she was a better person for it. Learning to take a risk like jumping out of a plane made it easier for her to take a risk with her heart.

But James could also be pigheaded. When he made a decision, no one else had a say in it. While he could comfort Serena and help her heal from the tragedy that struck her life, he was unwilling to share his own pain and let her help him.

One of the things I didn’t like about this story was how quickly the characters went back and forth in their decisions. At points, it felt like every time I turned the page they had switched positions on who was mad at whom. In one scene where they were broken up, Serena was the one who wanted to get back together, but within the same scene she became the one who broke up with James, leaving James begging her to get back together. It was also difficult to buy his change from commitment-phobe to committed-relationship-guy.

There were a few things that didn’t quite make sense, like why Serena called her best friend’s mother Mrs. Haydn when she’d lived with them for several years and why James took his team rafting after drinking and not having any sleep. There were also several editing errors including extra words, missing words, and missing punctuation, and the e-book wasn’t formatted properly. Parts of it used a lighter font, which didn’t show up when I was reading on a black background. There were entire sections I couldn’t read unless I switched to a lighter background. The epilogue had opening quotation marks set to the bottom of the line, and there were extra blank pages between chapters.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and would read more by this author, though I would suggest another round of editing and a professional formatter.

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Finding Purgatory by Kristina M. Sanchez – Promo

Finding Purgatory by Kristina M. Sanchez




In one short moment, Ani Novak’s life is turned upside down. Her beautiful family is destroyed and she is left completely alone. With an unnamed desire, she seeks out the little sister she had walked away from when she was nineteen.

Tori Kane is barely eighteen, jaded, and reluctantly in need of her sister’s help. While Ani is in the position to financially support her sister, the one thing Tori really needs money can’t buy and Ani no longer knows how to give—trust.

Neither of them expected paradise, but they want more than the hell their lives have become. There has to be a middle ground between heaven and hell where they can just be.

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Public Display of Everything by Cara Dee

Public Display of Everything by Cara Dee

Public Display of Everything Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

Cory Matthews can’t keep a job and is just barely keeping his head above water living in hostels in London. When he’s approached in his favorite pub by a nervous younger man offering him a job, Cory has no choice but to hear the man out. Flynn Wright runs a successful website for voyeurs, and his members have been begging for the chance to see Flynn in action. But Flynn doesn’t think he’s appealing enough to satisfy his members, so he wants to hire Cory to pose as his body double. As desperate as Cory is for money, he accepts Flynn’s offer—to masturbate in a location where the members will be able to watch.

Cory’s attraction to the quirky younger man only grows as they spend more time together and become friends. But he’s been burned before and is afraid to put himself out there. All he wants is to be able to be himself and not be judged for it. When he finally expresses his intentions, Flynn is more receptive than expected. Both men have some demons in their past to work out before they can truly be happy. Leaning on each other might be just the thing they need.

Public Display of Everything is a wonderful male/male romance that will have you falling in love right along with Cory and Flynn. Neither man is unsure of their sexuality, yet they both have issues to deal with and show growth throughout the story. I loved the format of the book, which began most chapters with a message from an unknown person to Cory. It gave hints to Cory’s past, but I was surprised by the revelation of who the messages were from and what the issue was.

Flynn is so adorable you’ll want to keep him for yourself. He’s quirky and nerdy, and he’s extremely unsure of himself at the start of the book. Watching him become more confident throughout the story was so satisfying. I loved when he apologized for cursing but then cursed even more, and also how his expressive vocabulary continued even in the height of passion. Flynn knew his social skills were lacking, and every time he looked up how to handle a situation on the internet, I fell in love with him even more. By the end of the book, his confidence had grown by leaps and bounds.

Even though Cory was a confident character right from the start of the story, there were still some things that brought out his insecurity, like the fact that he was a klutz and could make a mess of the simplest situation. His protectiveness of Flynn was sexy without going overboard. But Cory also had to learn there was a difference between showing off his sexual orientation just because he could and actually being comfortable with who he was and who he loved.

I loved this story from start to finish, and would definitely recommend it to fans of male/male romance. I’ve reviewed several other books by Cara Dee, and all reviews can be found under the Author Spotlight tab.

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The Sapphire Legend by E.L. Tenenbaum – Promo

The Sapphire Legend by E.L. Tenenbaum is available for pre-order! Release day is August 27. A review for The Sapphire Legend will be posted right here on Rach Lawrence Books on release day.

Sapphire Legend Cover


Sapere has always been different. In her tribe, select families are blessed with a gift that is passed through the generations from father to son. But something went wrong when Sapere was born, because she has her family’s gift and she shouldn’t.

When Sapere’s village is attacked the night of her wedding, the survivors flee to the Wild in hopes of finding refuge in a dangerous place stalked by deadly predators. There they struggle to protect what little remains of their tribe and their traditions, many of which don’t seem to fit into their new life. Out here, Sapere feels like an outsider on the precipice of two worlds, unable to fit into the old way, unaccepted by the new, and terrified of being shunned by both.

Through the survivors’ fight for survival, Sapere learns that she can be a victim of circumstance or master of fate. Can she rise above the nature of her birth and mold her own future? Can she be herself and earn the villagers’ respect? Or will she forever be shackled by the anomaly that makes her different?

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Laid Out (Worth the Fight Book 4) by Sidney Halston

Laid Out (Worth the Fight Book 4) by Sidney Halston

Laid Out Cover

2 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided an Uncorrected Proof of Laid Out by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Violet Channing doesn’t know what life is like without her two best friends, Jeremy and Cain, until the boys are deployed when she’s sixteen. She’s left behind with mounting confusion thanks to her father’s issues with her weight, an explosive first kiss from Cain, and then being shunned by Cain and asked out by Jeremy. Twelve years later, Violet is trying to learn how to date again after her fiancé, Jeremy, is killed in action.

When Cain Sorenson comes back into Violet’s life, things get more confusing than ever. He’s ex-military but still works dangerous missions, and he’s involved in both MMA and underground fights. Cain has always been in love with Violet, but his guilt over Jeremy’s death won’t allow him to be anything more than her friend. Now Violet needs someone to teach her how to date, and Cain is the man for the job. They spend a few steamy days together, but when it’s over, each of them has to decide whether they should admit their true feelings or not.

Laid Out is a contemporary romance that just didn’t win me over. Part of the issue is that the copy I received was completely unedited, causing confusion throughout. There were incorrect wording choices that changed the meaning of a sentence. One character’s name was changed in parts of the story. Sometimes points of view were mixed together. I contacted the publisher to request a cleaner copy once it was available, but I was told the uncorrected proof was all that would be available. The issues were not limited to grammatical errors. They also extended into parts of the plot.

The other part of the issue is that the whole thing was a bit too cliché and sometimes unbelievable. Cain and Violet watched porn together, which led to them getting all hot and bothered. He continually pushed her away because of guilt, yet he was willing to sleep with her to teach her how to date. Cain was also extremely jealous of seeing Violet with another man.

Violet, Jeremy, and Cain had been best friends all their lives, yet they grew up in military families. It was entirely unrealistic for all three families to be stationed at the same bases all the time, allowing them to maintain such closeness. It also didn’t really fit that there would be a three-year age gap between Violet and the boys. If Violet and Cain were such good friends, I didn’t understand how she would have let him give her the silent treatment for so long once they were reunited. I also didn’t quite buy the fact that Violet happened to end up living in the same town as Cain along with her two new best friends.

Violet also was not a strong character. She constantly said she was okay with her weight, but then she’d put herself down because of her body image. The back and forth made her characterization weak.

Perhaps in the final version, some of these issues were ironed out, but there wasn’t enough believability for me to think the entire plot could be fixed prior to publication. I wanted to like this book because the summary and cover drew me in (although I later found that the cover image didn’t totally match the main character’s description). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find enough I enjoyed to rate this positively even with the understanding that errors would be cleaned up.

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Happy reading!