Review: Elle Maxwell’s Us, Again

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I want to begin by thanking the author, Elle Maxwell, for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. When I saw the cover and read the synopsis, I couldn’t wait to read it, and I feel so fortunate to have been able to read an ARC edition.


Synopsis
One look at Graham Wyatt, the former love of Mackenzie’s life, and she almost forgets that for the last five years she’s vowed off love indefinitely. Five years ago, Graham broke both Mackenzie’s heart and her spirit, but she’s successfully built herself back up again. Although, Graham’s past is dark and complicated, his heart is still set on Mackenzie even after all this time. With the baggage that comes with past heartbreak, this second chance at love is more complicated than either Graham or Mackenzie realize.


Us, Again is for fans of:

  • second-chance romance
  • suspenseful elements in romance
  • books with complex, flawed, and deeply human characters
  • romance with an independent and strong heroine who continually advocates for her best interests

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked
:
Oh gosh there was so much to love in Us, Again. Y’all we’re going to have to break it down a bit. First, the writing to form the character’s personalities was impeccable. These characters were deeply flawed and deeply human. They had fears, desires, and hopes. And I’m not just talking about the two main characters (who are just…amazing) but also about the cast of secondary characters who not only held their own but surpassed my expectations.

Mackenzie’s character was my favorite though due to her originality and independence. I have never seen a character in the romance genre like her. She loved and cared for Graham so deeply, but more than that, she cared and loved herself. The message that Mackenzie sends to adult women is so important. There is a special scene between her and her mom where they discuss deal breakers in relationships and it almost broke me. I wanted to repeat this advice to my younger self.

The plot was also great. I would characterize this as suspenseful second-chance romance. There are great suspenseful scenes in Us, Again and especially so once it ramps up toward the end. However, my favorite aspect of the plot was the relationship between Mackenzie and Graham. Us, Again tackles important, fundamental issues and roadblocks that occur in every day relationships. It doesn’t sugarcoat what it means to love someone. It shows the gritty, dark underbelly of love — the place where it’s vulnerable and scary. Us, Again doesn’t shy away from the soul shattering aspects of love and it’s all the better for it.

Overall, I’m so happy and fortunate that I was able to read this book and go on this journey with the characters. There is a spinoff coming on one of the secondary characters and you can believe I will be lining up to read it! Us, Again gets a 5/5 from me.

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Ratings:
My overall: 5/5
Steam: 4/5
Romance: 5/5
Friendship: 5/5

Goodreads: 4.76/5


Get More Info: sign up for the author’s newsletter; connect with the author on Instagram; find Us, Again on Amazon

Us, Again is Elle Maxwell’s debut adult romance. It publishes on November 11, 2019, and is available for pre-order here.


About the author: Us, Again is author Elle Maxwell’s debut novel.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Cover Reveal: RS Grey’s His Royal Highness

HRHEbooksCoverY’all, the cover reveal for RS Grey’s upcoming release, His Royal Highness, is here! I absolutely love the colors in the cover for this one. I had no idea what to expect, but I love the dual blue and pink tones.

His Royal Highness is a romantic comedy, and the synopsis sounds amazing. It publishes on November 14th and I seriously cannot wait. Seriously. Cannot. Wait. If you’re interested in reading more from this author in the meantime, I have a review on Make Me Bad and Coldhearted Boss. I also have a RS Grey author highlight where I talk about all my favorite RS Grey reads.

Check out the synopsis for His Royal Highness below!

I’ve spent eight years wishing I’d fall out of love with Derek Knightley. Blowing out birthday candles, chasing after shooting stars, making it rain spare change into mall fountains—every time it’s the same wish: forget about Derek.

But the day he walks back into my life, I realize there are two things time has yet to soften: my feelings for him and his chiseled jawline.

It’s infuriating that my heart still races when he walks into a room. I refuse to fall prey to old unrequited love, so I decide the less I’m around him, the better. Avoidance is key.

Unfortunately, Derek isn’t going to make it easy. As a teenager, I would have crawled on my hands and knees to attract his attention. Now I can’t seem to escape it.

I’m not sure why he’s bothering. He’s not just out of my league—he’s out of my tax bracket. As the sole heir to the Knightley Company, he’s as close to American royalty as you can get. As for me, I’m just a part-time princess at Knightley’s flagship magical theme park.

I spend my days playing make-believe, but Derek has no use for fairytales. His unwavering confidence makes it clear he thinks I’ll surrender in the end.

He’s just biding his time.
Making me sweat.

His Royal Highness always gets what he wants.
And he wants me.

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Author Highlight: Elle Kennedy

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A series I started here on the blog is “Author Highlights.” It’s a whole post where I gush about my favorite authors. This week it’s Elle Kennedy, one of my favorite romance authors.

Elle Kennedy is a NY Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She writes romantic suspense, and contemporary adult romance. I have read eleven Elle Kennedy books, and I’m slowly making my way through her entire collection. EK books are not new here on whim&witty. I’ve written a review on The Risk and talked about Elle Kennedy books on my mashup romance genre post. To celebrate the most recent release, The Play, I’m here to tell you about my experience reading EK books!


Off-Campus series
The Off-Campus series holds a special place in my heart because these were some of the first new-adult romance books that I read. I’m so happy it was because this series got me hooked on the genre. While each book is a standalone, they follow the same character group so I’d still suggest reading from the beginning.

This series consists of The Deal, The Mistake, The Score, and The Goal. This series takes place on a college campus and each of the heroes play hockey. Y’all know I love a good sports romance and hockey is my favorite. The Deal is my favorite by far because I love Hannah, the main character. She’s sassy, outspoken, and career-driven. Sign me up!

Truly though, The Deal, The Mistake, and The Score are all 5/5 books for me. EK has such a unique voice and the way she captures characters in their early twenties is so realistic! Another thing I love about this series is the complex family dynamics included in each book. It helps give each romance depth.

The Goal is my only 3/5 rating for this series and this is mainly because it includes a trope that is one of my least favorites. (If you want spoiled click my books tab > browse by trope). Take this with a grain of salt though, because you may totally love this one if this trope is one you’re into. Clearly this one is an outlier for me!

I would recommend starting here if you haven’t read EK before.


Briar U series
The Briar U series is a spin-off of the Off-Campus series. It takes place on the same campus and the hero characters are similarly on the hockey team. Again, each can be read as a standalone, but it follows the same group so I’d still suggest starting at the beginning.

This series consists of The Chase, The Risk, and The Play. The Risk is my favorite book out of this series. The main character, Brenna, was so funny to read through. She’s totally badass and takes on feminist issues in a male-dominated career/workplace. The Risk also features two of my favorite tropes enemies-to-lovers and fake relationship. Read my whole review here (it’s a 5/5.)

I gave The Chase a 4/5. While I really enjoyed this story, I got a little annoyed with the hero going back and forth. I still highly recommend it though!

The Play is the most recent release and I gave it a 3.5/5. I just felt a little disconnected from this book. I’m hoping to post a full review soon and when I do, I’ll link back here. There is a bit of OM/OW in the beginning before our two characters get together and this always brings the romance down a bit for me. Again, this is just a personal choice for me and it may be right up your alley.

I still recommend starting with Off-Campus, but definitely check out Briar U to get to know the new characters and see glimpses of how the old characters turned out!


Him series
The Him series is a collaboration between Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen. This is a M/M romance and also features two college hockey players. (Can you see a theme? I love hockey.) This consists of two books: Him and Us. This is a second chance romance and it really explores the complex dynamics of how a friendship can translate to a romance and it’s a sweet first-time m/m romance. EK and Sarina Bowen are magic together. Him was a 5/5 for me and Us was a 4/5.

If you like sports romance and m/m, this series is a must!


WAGs series
The WAGs series is a spin-off from the Him series and is co-authored again by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen. (WAGs = wives and girlfriends). This series has two books: Good Boy and Stay. This series also follows hockey players, but this time they’re professional players so the characters are a bit older. Stay is my favorite in the series because I just love our main characters, Hailey and Matt. The angst and buildup between the two is *chefs kiss.* Stay is a 5/5 for me.

I rated Good Boy a 4/5. I really enjoyed this one and it has such great humor. Wedding planning drives the plot and it makes for hilarious content. This one isn’t a full 5/5 just because I couldn’t deeply connect with the characters (I typically need some big emotional scenes for this to happen.) I still highly recommend it, especially if you’re in the market for sports romance with a lot of humor!

Ok y’all that’s all I’ve got for my second “Author Highlight.” I’m already planning my next few highlights, but in the meantime check out some of Elle Kennedy’s books.


Get More Info: visit Elle Kennedy’s website; get more information on the Off Campus series; get more information on the Briar U series; get more information on the Him series; get more information on the WAGs series.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. All books mentioned were purchased by me.

Review: Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland’s Park Avenue Player

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“It’s okay to smile in the midst of darkness.”

Synopsis
To say Elodie and Hollis got off on the wrong foot is an understatement. After the two get into a fender bender, they realize Elodie was on her way to interview for a caretaker position for Hollis’ young niece. Although initially rejected, Elodie ends up with the job and her relationship with young, Hailey quickly builds. Of course, the sexual tension between Hollis and Elodie quickly builds as well. But, the two soon realize that life has a way of complicating things and their pasts are a lot more complicated than they think.


Park Avenue Player is for fans of:

  • slow burn romance and the nanny/caretaker trope
  • romances with emotional plotlines
  • dual-POVs

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked:
I truly didn’t know what to expect going into this book, but I loved it. I connected instantly with Elodie and rooted for her from beginning to end. I love how strong willed, dedicated, and loyal she was. She served as a patient, empathetic role model for Hailey, and it made me love her even more.

Hollis was also a great lead to read about. He was dynamic, and I loved how he grew into a great father figure for Hailey.

Of course, I also loved the couple themselves. They didn’t have the typical miscommunication-driven plot issues, which was so refreshing. Instead the couple felt real and their struggles and their conflicts were understandable. Their relationship was also slow-build which y’all know is my favorite. There was also some seriously sexy buildup between Elodie and Hollis that had me yelling at them in my head to just get together already.

Fair warning, though, this book was emotional and heart wrenching. For me, it wasn’t as emotional as Hate Notes (another book by this author-duo), but it definitely still pulled at all my heart strings. Ultimately, this book was about hope. It’s a beautiful story and it’s definitely recommended by me.

What I didn’t like:
The only thing I didn’t love about this book was the alternating time lines. There are some sections that take place in the past to explain a character’s backstory. While it was 100% necessary to understand the story and connect with the character, I just have a personal preference for linear stories. I’m always rushing back to the present sections to see what happens next. Again, this is a personal preference and not really an issue with the story.

Overall, I really loved this one and it gets a 4.5/5 from me.

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Ratings:
My overall: 5/5
Steam: 4/5
Romance: 4/5
Friendship: 5/5

Goodreads: 4.54/5


Get More Information:
Park Avenue Player is new adult contemporary, and it was published on September 23, 2019. It’s available to purchase here. As of 9/23/19 it is available on Kindle Unlimited.

Links: connect with Penelope Ward on Instagram; connect with Vi Keeland on Instagram; visit Penelope Ward’s website; visit Vi Keeland’s website


About Penelope Ward: Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance.

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.

About Vi Keeland: Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author.  With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over one hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-six languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.