Before and Ever Since by Sharla Lovelace
Published by Berkley Trade on November 6th 2012
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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Emily Lockwood, your past is showing…
Emily Lockwood has been sitting on a secret for so long, and buried so deep that she really doesn’t even think of it anymore. Why should she? She has a successful career, an ex-husband who rarely tests her patience, a mother who usually does, and a stubbornly independent grown daughter. Everything is fine, just another crazy kind of normal.
Until Ben Landry comes back to town. From childhood friends to young lovers, Ben and Emily had an unbreakable bond. Or so she thought—until he disappeared for over twenty years without explanation. Seeing Ben again triggers more than mere memories and a tug at her heart. It rips the cover off an old secret that could hurt the people she loves most.
While Emily works to keep her secret safe and her heart safer, her sanity gets a reality check. She’s been seeing things—her past played out like home movies unreeling before her eyes, visions that are making Emily see herself, her family, everyone she knew, and every choice she made, in a revealing new light and a startling new angle. For Emily, seeing her life in rewind makes her realize she has hard choices to make for her future. Choices that may redefine everyone else’s future as well.
In Before and Ever Since, Sharla Lovelace gives us such a compelling story. Not only was this a story about love—found, lost, and found again—but also about what makes a family a family. It’s also about secrets, the good and bad they can bring.
I completely loved this story. Aside from being compelling, it was also magical. I don’t think I’ve ever been so wrapped up in the lives of characters so quickly as I was with these, but that’s probably because Ms. Lovelace throws us for a whirlwind right from the start. I loved that! No build up, just…”get ready, folks! Shtuff’s about to hit the fan!” I didn’t expect to have such depth to the love story between Emily and Ben. I mean, they had a thing when they were teens, I didn’t realize how much bigger than a “thing” it actually was. It was one of those epic friendships from childhood that turns into love, only to have it break your heart in the end. But who did the breaking, reeeeally? I thought I knew…
But now Emily and Ben have gotten a second chance at…something, and no matter how hard they try to fight it, their sparks are undeniable and, oh, so obvious to everyone. I loved their chemistry. And I loved how it was all laced with this tension that was so very palpable. I also really enjoyed the complicated family dynamics. I loved Emily’s mom for wanting to go out and have an adventure. I really enjoyed Emily’s relationship with her daughter, and even the relationship with her sister.
I think the biggest surprise was finding out just how real and emotional this story turned out to be. Even with its fantasy/supernatural elements, where Emily somehow was seeing the past, even then it felt so real. The emotions from these characters were so vivid for me, I cried a few times toward the end. What can I say? When characters and their stories are written this well, I can’t help but feel so invested. And so for all these reasons, I’m really looking forward to reading more from this Texas author.
All He Ever Needed by Shannon Stacey
Series: Kowalski Family #4
Published by Harlequin, HQN on December 18th 2012
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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He won't stay put for a woman, and she won't chase after any man…
Mitch Kowalski lives out of a suitcase—and he likes it that way.
Traveling for work has the added bonus of scaring off women who would otherwise try to tie him down. But when he's called home to help with the family lodge, he's intrigued by the new girl in town and her insistence that she doesn't need a man. If there's one thing Mitch can't resist, it's a challenge.
After a nomadic childhood, Paige Sullivan is finally putting down roots. Determined to stand on her own two feet, she lives by the motto "Men are a luxury, not a necessity." But when Mr. Tall, Dark and Hot pulls up a stool in her diner and offers her six weeks of naughty fun with a built-in expiration date, she's tempted to indulge.
They're the perfect match for a no-strings fling. Until they realize their sexy affair has become anything but casual...
I am one of many people who is a huge fan of this series. There’s just something about the Kowalski family that is completely engrossing. These Kowalski’s are the cousins though, and they come with a lot more baggage. Sign me up!
We actually meet Mitch Kowalski in Yours to Keep, and I can honestly say he left me all kinds of intrigued. He carries himself with the confidence of knowing he could get any woman he wants but, thankfully, isn’t actually cocky. So when Paige totally blows him off OF COURSE he’s going to chase her! It was really fun seeing him work a little for her, but it was only a matter of time before she gave in. I mean, the guy is irresistible! Mitch and Paige had great chemistry and I really enjoyed watching them unknowingly fall in love with each other.
I loved the fact that Paige had only been in town two years, yet she’d heard most all stories about teenage Mitch and his…talents. ;) She really did try to ignore him, bless her heart, but there was no way. He’s Mitch! And he has an amazing smile.
The setting of this Kowalski book, and I believe the next few to follow, is different than the first three. We are now in Whitford, Maine, and it is a small town, where everyone knows everybody and all of their business. No secret is safe…which makes for a completely fun setting! I love these type of towns, especially when we get to hear about all the trouble these Kowalskis got into as youngsters. The Kowalski family owns the North Star Lodge in town. It’s been passed down to Mith and his siblings now, and his brother Josh runs it for all of them. I think Josh’s story will turn out to be my favorite…but Ryan’s will probably be the more emotional one. Ryan is another of Mitch’s brothers we meet in this book.
Shannon Stacey writes this series in a way that makes it impossible not to feel part of it. I care about them SO MUCH! I really do! And I’m completely looking forward to reading what comes next.
Crash (Visions #1) by Lisa McMann
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Publication Date: January 8th 2013 by Simon Pulse
If what you see is what you get, Jules is in serious trouble. The suspenseful first of four books from the New York Times bestselling author of the Wake trilogy.
Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that.
What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode…and nine body bags in the snow.
The vision is everywhere—on billboards, television screens, windows—and she’s the only one who sees it. And the more she sees it, the more she sees. The vision is giving her clues, and soon Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it’s someone she knows. Someone she has been in love with for as long as she can remember.
In this riveting start to a gripping series from New York Times bestselling author Lisa McMann, Jules has to act—and act fast—to keep her vision from becoming reality.
GUYS!! This sounds so freaking good!!! I’m ready to dive into this sure to be suspenseful series. :) Also, that cover is so striking!
I’ve read so many amazing books this year, many of which were from debut authors, but you won’t see them on this list. To me this list is for authors with books published prior to this year whose books are loved by many, and were new to me this year…so here we go!
1. Maya Banks (KGI series) – I like that this series is so action packed, yet so touching at times. I cry pretty much every book, lol. I look forward to reading more from Maya, as she has many beloved series out there. (My KGI reviews)
2. Kristan Higgins – If I’m ever in the mood for a book that will make my heart smile, I’ll pick up a Contemporary Romance novel by Kristan. I read three of her books this year and loved each one. (My Kristan Higgins reviews, here and here)
3. Shannon Stacey (Kowalski Family series) – Another great Contemporary Romance author. Shannon’s books are guaranteed to put a smile on my face. :) (My Kowalski series reviews)
4. Tracey Garvis-Graves – Tracey’s On the Island is one of the two self-pubbed/later-bought-by-Penguin books I read this year. I loooooved it! Such a unique love story. (My On the Island review)
5. Tammara Webber – Tammara is the second self-pubbed/later-bought-by-Penguin author. Like SO MANY people, I loved her book, Easy. (My Easy review)
6. Jandy Nelson – The first book I read this year was Jandy’s The Sky is Everywhere...easily in my Top 5 of this year, and one of the books I talked about a lot, even though I never did review it. It was too hard!!
7. Miranda Kenneally – Guys! I very recently finally read Miranda’s books and I LOVED THEM SO MUCH! Check out my review of Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker to see why!
8. Jennifer E. Smith – The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight…THIS BOOK! ALL THE FEELINGS!! I need to read all of her books for this reason.
9. Jessica Shirvington (The Violet Eden Chapters) – It’s rare when a sequel can elevate a series that started out ok for me…Jessica did this very thing. And she’s Australian and is super awesome. (My Embrace and Entice reviews)
10. Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) – Need I say why? Really? Ok, read these then. :)
Hi, everyone!! I am so very excited to share this with you today! :)
Jess (<-that’s me!) Reads Your Favorite Books will be a new feature starting this January here on Gone with the Words!
The feature is exactly what it’s called. I know…oh, soooo original, Jess. The truth is, I like it. Ha!
I asked a few friends to select a book from their favorites for me to read! This idea came to me one night as I was laying in bed, thinking about all the books my friends love that I have yet to read. So, I thought, what the heck. I’m going to ask them to tell me what to read.
The posts will consist of my thoughts on the book and a small featurette on the blogger whose selection it is. I’ll tell you a little bit about them and their blog, as well as their reason for picking this book for me to read. I will also include the next month’s selection so you can (hopefully) be looking forward to it. I will be using random.org to see what book I will read next from the list. At this time I plan to have this as a monthly feature, but I may do it bi-monthly eventually. Maybe eventually I’ll even open the submissions to everyone! It’s a thought, but right now we’re sticking to this format.
Now lets get to the good part! Whose selection did random.org pick for me to read this month??
And who happens to be #3??
Looks like it’ll be Amanda’s pick in January!! So look for my post on Storm’s Heart sometime at the beginning of the month!
I also want to say thanks to the people who have so kindly sent me their picks. Thank you for being excited and supportive about this feature. I hardly ever come up with anything original for my blog, lol, so I’m really excited about this one. :)