Sunday, May 11, 2014


If I Stay (Montgomery Manor, #1)Series: Montgomery Manor #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: 5/12/14
Format: eARC
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3 stars

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Ryan Lucas would rather be anywhere but Ransom Creek, Connecticut. After losing his high-adrenaline career as a Hollywood stunt driver, he's had to tuck his tail between his legs and take up employment as a chauffeur for the Montgomerys, a wealthy hotelier family.

Amy Sanders has returned home to Ransom Creek to take over her mother's former position as nanny to the Montgomerys—bringing her close to dashing Jake Montgomery once again. She grew up with a major crush on Jake, and it's not easy to leave those feelings behind, even though her friendship with the hard-edged family chauffeur, Ryan, has a sizzling undercurrent of undeniable attraction.

Amy's determined to prove to Ryan that life at Montgomery Manor isn't all bad, but each time they draw closer Jake swoops in. Amy is torn between two men—and two worlds. And Ryan is rapidly coming to learn that if he wants to make Amy his, he'll have to prove to her that life downstairs can be everything they both want

From the moment I saw If I Stay, I've been anxious to read it. Tamara Morgan is an author whose work has come highly recommended to me. As much as I anticipated this book, though, I had a hard time connecting with it. To be honest, I can't even pinpoint why that is. I don't think it was a mood issue, because I was anxious to dig in. I liked the cover, the premise. It could be that the story felt as if it were opening mid-scene. I didn't know these characters, but felt as though I were meant to. I did get my bearings on the "who's" and "what's" after just a bit, but never felt that I settled into the story.

I did like Ryan and Amy, and sympathized with what brought them to Montgomery Manor. They were both kind and yearning towards one another. Amy was a sweetheart, very plucky (never thought I'd say that word). Ryan was a bit aloof and gruff, but melted a but for Amy's charms. They both had interesting backgrounds, and I liked that the story explored where they came from, why they landed at Montgomery Manor, and what they wanted from life beyond there.

If I Stay seems to set up for a love triangle in the beginning, but didn't push it heavily. For those who're triangle averse, there's no contest between Ryan and Jake.  Jake is never a serious, or even minor contender for Amy's heart. He was such a sleeze, but eventually became sort of endearing. The plot focused more on Amy's connection to the Montgomerys and Ryan's longing to return to his former career. Their story had a very nice resolution.

Despite my lack of overwhelming enthusiasm for If I Stay, it was a nice story. I wouldn't discourage anyone from giving it a try.

Favorite Quote
  He was lucky to be around people who cared enough to change their plans to suit his weaknesses. Luckier to have a job. Even luckier still to be alive. That had to count for something.
  One of these days, he'd figure out what.

Unfiltered & Unlawful (Unfiltered, #1)Series: Unfiltered #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Payge Galvin
Publication Date: 1/14/14
Format: eARC
Pages: 224
Source: Author
Rating: 3 stars

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After a night-shift shooting of a drug dealer in The Coffee Cave, twelve strangers each walk out with more than $100,000 in dirty money, a pact never to meet again, and the chance to start over…

Until that night, Sasha "Sugar" Kovac spent her days selling coffee to the co-eds at ASU Rio Verde and her nights trying not to run back to her ex… or join the throngs of girls lusting after her friend, Adam.

But why should Sugar give in to the Harley-riding tattoo artist when his longest relationships haven't lasted more than a weekend?

Sugar's life takes a turn for the dangerous when someone comes looking for the people connected to the Cave shooting and the cash they split. To protect herself and those she cares about, Sugar has to get out of town–and fast. When Adam insists on coming with her, Sugar finds herself holed up in a tiny house with a hot man, a stash of cash, and a lot of secrets.

Can Sugar protect both her life and her heart when temptation is so close? Or is the past she's fled going to catch up with her?

Unfiltered and Unlawful has one of the greatest opening lines I've read:

  First there was sex, and then came death. I just had no idea that the two were so tangled together until everything fell apart so spectacularly.

Reminds me of a recurring nightmare I used to have, about accidentally killing someone, then covering it up despite logic. Then I just waited for the boom. To be caught and punished.

So when an obviously bad dude is killed while assaulting Sasha, all those present agree to cover it up. I could understand why Sasha wanted to, and even Jess, but why I really didn't understand why everyone else went along with this insane plan. The cover-up was rushed (one of the involved happened to have access to a family-owned crematorium. Convenient.) But. Each subsequent installment apparently follows another character. Given that each played a different role in the cover-up. I assume the details will gradually be filled in.

Unfiltered and Unlawful had an almost-cinematic feel to it. With it's unique concept and very morally-compromised characters, I could absolutely see it being a gritty indie film.

I do have the next installment, and plan to read it eventually. While I can't say it inspires urgency, I am curious about what happens next.

Favorite Quotes

  "I like that you look." His eyes swept me from top to bottom slowly. "I look at you, too. I have for a long time."

  When Adam walked out of the bathroom, he looked like an invitation to all the sins I wanted to commit.

About the authors
Tamara MorganTamara Morgan is a contemporary romance author of humorous, heartfelt stories with flawed heroes and heroines designed to get your hackles up and make your heart melt. Her long-lived affinity for romance novels survived a B.A. degree in English Literature, after which time she discovered it was much more fun to create stories than analyze the life out of them.

Whether building Victorian dollhouses, consuming mass quantities of coffee and wine, or crying over cheesy 1950s musicals, Tamara commits to her flaws like every good heroine should. She lives in the Inland Northwest with her husband, daughter, and variety of household pets and only occasionally complains about the weather.

Payge GalvinPayge Galvin has always wanted to be a writer. She also loves spending time with her friends, so after a few cosmos at the pool with her besties, the idea for her new series UNFILTERED was born. Together the group wrote twelve books about twelve strangers who share a dark secret. . . and who all want to find love—because, really, who doesn't?


  1. Great reviews! Thanks for sharing!

  2. The first one sounds decent but the second one gives me a headache just reading the synopsis O.o


    I'm curious about Unfiltered & Unlawful just because I enjoy gritty reads and as it's reads likes a movie is another plus going on for it.

  4. Oh now I'm even more intruigued regarding Unfiltered and Unlawful. Great review Andrea, love the comment on the cinematic feel :)

  5. Happy Mother's Day, Andrea!!

    Great reviews! Both books have me curious but I won't hurry to read either. I worry about you feeling as if If I Stay started at a point where you already knew the characters. And Unfiltered & Unlawful sounds like it stretches the point of belief but I like that it felt cinematic to you.

    Enjoy YOUR day!!

  6. Sorry these didn't wow you, Andrea. I always find it really hard to write a review for reads that I "liked" and were just okay. It's hard to come up with things. You did a great job with both of these. :)

  7. I'm having the same thoughts while reading If I Stay right now. Loved the cover, the premise, and I so loved the first two books Morgan released(her last few were hit or miss for me, I'm afraid). But I'm just not feeling the full connetion to these characters! I'm about 75% through, and while I'm liking the story, it's just, well, okay. Sexy and fun at times, but nothing amazing. I hate that feeling -- hate trying to explain why the book is just average. Ugh!

    Well done -- you captured many of the things I've had issues with in the book. :) Like you, I would still recommend it though. And I still love her Highland Games books!


  8. Hmm Unlawful and Unfiltered sounds pretty interesting. And ooo it's free right now. Nice. I grabbed it up to give it a go :)

  9. I think I just downloaded U&U. I hope you give one of Tamara's other books a try at some point because I really think you would enjoy her humor. This wasn't my favorite either.

  10. Sorry the first book was just okay, it looked like it was going to be a cute read and I guess it's all it really was.

    Okay, the second. Yup that is a great opening sentence. I just downloaded it cause it was free too :D

  11. Just okay, huh? Think I'll pass then.

  12. These both sound good, but obviously very different. I can see why they would be middle of the road for you though. If I Stay is kind of flirting with me up there, so I might have to give it a try.


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