Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Thoughts On: True by Erin McCarthy / Rush Me and Running Back by Allison Parr

True (True Believers, #1)
Series: True Believers #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publication Date: 4/1/14
Format: Paperback
Pages: 235
Source: Purchase
Rating: 5 stars

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When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory.
Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t seem to stay away from her, and even when Rory knows she should push him away, something about him makes it nearly impossible for her to resist--even though her heart is at stake...
Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost…
My Review
Because I'm literally the last of my close friends to read True, I'm going to be brief.
Now that I've read two books in the True Believers series, I will say that it is a fantastic series. No hesitation. I love that True was more than it seems from the description, that it wasn't simply the story of the bad boy and the virgin. It wasn't a sexual awakening or frivolous at all. True is a love story, pure and simple, of a two people who are near opposites, but fit together so very perfectly.
Tyler and Rory were not one-dimensional characters, defined by the sexuality or social standing. They both held many layers, and that complexity really bonded me to both. Tyler grew up in such turmoil, and works so hard to keep his brothers together. He wants more out of life, but doesn't know that he'll ever get it. Tyler has a tough exterior, but is vulnerable with Rory. He's cocky, yet not really conceited. He was brave, yet scared to give his heart to a woman whom he deems too good for him. I loved that he loved Rory exactly as she was.
Though I couldn't find any of myself in Rory, I connected with her deeply. I would say that is testament to McCarthy's ability to bring these characters off the page, make me love them. Rory was...she was just Rory. Logical to a fault, quiet and unassuming, always withholding herself and her emotions. I loved who Rory became with Tyler. That she wasn't afraid to push him, question him, and love him. Once Rory decided to open up to Tyler, it was like she became a better version of herself. She was still way literal, but she also joked more. Hugged more, allowed people to truly know her.
Oh gosh, I sound like a sap. And I am one when it comes to books such as this. I think what I love about this series is that it is just so real. The characters don't come packaged with the right words or decisions, they mess up and they grovel and they learn and grow. That sort of experience is what I love so much about reading.
There was a moment in True that struck me hard, and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. It's when Tyler and Rory are discussing Streetcar Named Desire, and Rory just can't understand why these characters are behaving so illogically...
  "If they would just communicate with each other, they could resolve all their issues in ten minutes."
  "That's what makes the book so realistic," he told me dryly. "Real people don't discuss this shit with each other."
  He had a point. I didn't really discuss my emotions with anyone either. I had spent most of my life being a silent observer. "Oh."
  In one fell swoop, I got it. Literature wasn't intended to be about perfect people, it was about flaws, very real and very deep human flaws.
That is an excellent reminder, I think.
If you're looking for a deep, intense, sexy and fun New Adult series, True Believers is, without a doubt, one of my favorites.

Favorite Quotes
  I smiled. I couldn't help it. There was something really charming about him, I had to admit. It was like he knew exactly who he was, and he wasn't afraid to show himself to anyone. And while, yes, he was the bad boy who smoked and was tatted up and wouldn't hesitate to punch someone in the face, he also liked to read. I admired that.  
  I kissed him. I closed my eyes and guided my mouth up to his, pouring all of my emotions into the touch. I wanted him to understand that I understood, that I thought he was amazing for the way he dealt with his life. That the fact that he still found reasons to grin and laugh were testament to his true nature, that his desire to take care of his brothers spoke volumes about his character.
  ...I wasn't sure what to say, but for the first time, I realized that words don't always tell everything. That my fingers brushing across his hip, my lips caressing his jaw, could speak for me.
  "I don't ever want to be with anyone but you," he murmured into my hair, kissing my temple.
  I could feel my smile in the dark. "Are we Facebook official then?"
  "We're more than that. We're the real deal."
  "True. We are."
  Tyler had been right. I hadn't understood then that love and passion weren't logical, that you could stand outside and observe and say that someone was behaving ridiculously, but that when you were the one in the room, nothing made sense but the volcano of emotion that erupted when you were with your lover.

Rush Me (New York Leopards, #1)Series: New York Leopards #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: 4/8/13
Format: Kindle
Pages: 272
Source: Purchase
Rating: 4.5 stars

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When post-grad Rachael Hamilton accidentally gatecrashes a pro-athlete party, she ends up face-to-face with Ryan Carter, the NFL’s most beloved quarterback.

While most girls would be thrilled to meet the attractive young millionaire, Rachael would rather spend time with books than at sporting events, and she has more important things to worry about than romance. Like her parents pressuring her to leave her unpaid publishing internship for law school. Or her brother, who’s obliviously dating Rachael’s high school bully. Or that same high school’s upcoming reunion.

Still, when Ryan’s rookie teammate attaches himself to Rachael, she ends up cohosting Friday night dinners for half a dozen football players.

Over pancake brunches, charity galas, and Alexander the Great Rachael realizes all the judgments she’d made about Ryan are wrong. But how can a Midwestern Irish-Catholic jock with commitment problems and an artsy, gun-shy Jewish New Englander ever forge a partnership? Rachael must let down her barriers if she wants real love–even if that opens her up to pain that could send her back into her emotional shell forever.
My Review
After reading Imaginary Lines and falling completely in love with The New York Leopards series, I was so pumped to start Rush Me. Despite reading the last book first (as I'm prone to doing) and knowing how the characters end up, I wanted to know how they earn their happy ending. Given how loving and sweet Abe from Imaginary Lines was, I kind of expected the same thing out of Ryan Carter. Boy, was I wrong, but that's okay.

Ryan Carter is a veteran quarterback for the New York Leopards. Because he's a famous athlete in the one of the world's largest cities, Ryan is a bit jaded when it comes to women and relationships. When he accidentally meets Rachael Hamilton (nothing says awkward like stumbling into a bj session), who's most undecidedly not impressed by his celebrity status, Ryan is at first disbelieving, but then becomes intrigued. Rachael grew up with her face in a book, she doesn't notice athletes and assumes their all dumb jocks. After repeatedly insulting Ryan, who isn't quite sure she's not being coy and trying to manipulate him, writes him off as someone she could never take seriously. 

A series of coincidences, along with some really adorable teammates (especially Abe) keep Ryan and Rachael in each other's orbits. As they get to know one another, the two begin to see the real person behind that fa├žade. Ryan is defensive and a bit insecure. Rachael can be really patronizing when it comes to athletics, not impressed by his money and refuses to let him treat her. All of this has him convinced that she believes he's not good enough for her. As for Rachael, she just doesn't see how the famous Ryan Carter, who's dated supermodels, could ever be seriously interested in her. These two had a hard road, and I won't lie, they frustrated me to the max. BUT. I love that Parr made these two into complicated, layered characters who had to learn to trust each other, and know that the other was for real. That frustration, the build-up, made the happy ending all the more worth it.

Loving this series!

Favorite Quotes

  As though he could read my thoughts, he smiled in satisfaction. Or maybe my face held no originality compared to all the others he had read. I thought, why not? We were alone. He didn't know that I didn't do one-night stands, that I didn't care for frat-boy jock types, that I wasn't that girl. And he was beautiful, and I was lonely, and maybe, just briefly, I could let down my walls and be carefree and reckless and young.

  He met my gaze, his bright and unflinching, a lake in August, sky at dawn, and my heart pitter-pattered. "Is this a game?"
  Shocked, I shook my head. "No. No, not at all."
  He let out a breath. Behind him, the guests moved slowly, a blurred sea of wool and sold, black and jewel tones. Ryan stood out, the one note of reality in the wash of strangers. "Because I don't think I could deal with that." 

  Ryan smiled a little tightly. "Hey."
  Andi, never known for tact, spoke loudly, as though she was double-checking. "Ryan Carter. The football player."
  "Yeah." He kept the syllable short, and his eyes sought mine.
   I leaned into him. "He's also a very talented crayon cartographer, punster, and he makes mean French toast."
Running Back (New York Leopards, #2)Series: New York Leopards #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: 10/1/13
Format: Kindle
Pages: 229
Source: Purchase
Rating: 4 stars

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Natalie Sullivan is on the verge of a breakthrough most archaeology grad students only dream of: discovering a lost city. Her research points to a farm in Ireland, but to excavate she needs permission from the new owner: the Michael O'Connor, popular NFL running back. 
On TV Mike seems so charming and good-natured that Natalie figures getting his cooperation will be a breeze. So she's not prepared to deal with the arrogant—and adamantly opposed—man she meets in person. Or the way one look from him sends shivers down her spine… 
Determined to kick-start her career, Natalie travels across the Atlantic and finds herself sharing an inn with Mike, who has come to Ireland in search of his roots. She tells herself her interest is strictly professional, but the more she gets to know him, the harder it is to deny her personal attraction to the sexy sports star. And when Mike confides why he refuses to allow the dig, Natalie must decide if she can follow her heart without losing sight of her dreams.
My Review
After enjoying the glimpses of charming Mike O'Connor in both Rush Me and Imaginary Lines, I was pretty excited to read his book. I just knew I would continue to love the red-headed, Irish-American running back. I did, but Mike also surprised me with the man behind the smile and easy-going nature. Running Back turned out to be quite different than the other books in the series, but I enjoyed it.
What really surprised me was how little the story revolves around Mike's team. This makes sense since it's the off-season and a huge part of the story involves the land Mike and his sisters inherit in Ireland. Land Natalie Sullivan wants to excavate in search of a rumored lost city. After a series of awkward, tense encounters about the excavation (a given, in this series), Natalie heads to Ireland in hopes of talking Mike into letting her team move forward with their plans.
As Natalie comes to know the land and the people of the land, she begins to fall in love, not only with her dream of a lost city, but of this place, exactly as it is. She also begins to fall in love with Mike, in Ireland for his uncle's funeral and to reconnect with his family. Natalie's feelings do not go unrequited. In fact, Mike O'Connor falls even harder with the determined, brilliant Natalie. The two have (spoiler alert!) issues, to navigate while falling in love. Mike's involve his family's troubled, secret history, and how he's run away from the issues for so many years. Natalie's skeptical about love, knows two people can fall for each other, but believes it never lasts. This belief in the fleeting nature of love has lead Natalie to a life of wandering, running from true connections. Mike wants make her believe in their love, and to take the beautiful life that's within her grasp. Oh...I loved, loved the ending to Running Back, full of swoons and smiles.
It's a struggle, Natalie's journey is very inward-focusing and what I love to see for women of her age in novels. Once again, we have a New York Leopard who knows who he want, what he wants. We have a young woman working her way through the world, looking for happiness and learning to see it, accept it.
I'm so happy I finally gave this series a try. If you're looking for a sports romance series with players who are even bigger heroes off the field than on, New York Leopards will fill that spot.
Favorite Quotes

  If I pulled up just the smallest bit, if I pushed up on my toes... I kissed him. His mouth moved against mine with the ease of long familiarity, as though we’d been kissing for years, as though this was a kiss that had been and would always be part of who we were.
  I could have stayed there forever, with the wind, the waves, the sun, Mike’s lips moving against mine.

  He kissed me. His hands slid along my back, pressing me closer and his tongue met mine in a slow, perfect dance and I no longer cared what was right, who we were. Not tonight, with a dome of fast stars blazing far above us. Not here, on this portal into a different world, a different reality, one that was just us and warmth and beauty.  I wanted to have him, for him to have me, to belong to each other here in this wild land on the edge of the world. So I packed my reasons for coming to Ireland away in a little box at the back of my mind, and when he lay down on the cold hard stone, I followed.
"Mike. Michael O’Connor. I love you. When I hold objects from thousands of years ago, I get this feeling, this glow that spreads through my chest and warms spots I didn’t know were cold, that makes me smile without realizing it—and it is nothing compared to how I feel around you."
  He lowered so his forehead rested against mine. In the shadows of our faces his eyes gleamed like amber. "You are not broken. You are not too much work. And I believe that we will be together until I die. I believe it enough for the both of us."
  "That's too heavy," I whispered.
  "Then I will change your mind. I will stay with you, and love you, until you know that this is not going to change, that we will not fizzle, that we are every single chemical out there and that they are bound together so tightly that they will keep us warm."

About Erin McCarthy

Erin McCarthyUSA Today and New York Times Bestselling author Erin McCarthy sold her first book in 2002 and has since written almost fifty novels and novellas in teen fiction, new adult, and adult romance. Erin has a special weakness for New Orleans, tattoos, high-heeled boots, beaches and martinis. She lives in Ohio with her family, two grumpy cats and a socially awkward dog.

About the Allison Parr
Hi! I'm Allison Parr, author of New Adult romance novels. I'm also a chocoholic, a history buff, a reader. (I also like to marathon watch disaster movies). You can write me at and read my debut novel, RUSH ME, now!

 photo AndreaSig_zps3f75055b.jpg


  1. Oh yaaaas, Andrea! I loved True so hard! My favorite novel in that series and Sweet & Believe were very good too. Can't wait for the last book :) McCarthy made compelling characters and Rory was so easy to connect with. And Tyler. TYLER. LOVE. HIM!! I'm also glad to see that you enjoyed Rush Me. The romance seems adorable :) As for Running Back, yay for a foreign love story ;) So happy that you're enjoying this series as well :)

  2. I am very very curious about the New York Leopards series. It sounds so good, especially now that I know one of them takes place in Ireland. Great reviews Andrea!

  3. Despite my qualms about sharing fuck buddies, I really enjoyed Rory and Tyler. Great review!

  4. Great reviews. Been eyeing these two series for a while now and I'm motivated to start them after reading your thoughts. They both seem enjoyable. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Does sound powerful, and I could probably relate deeply to Rory as well.

  6. Yeah, I don't tend to communicate very well, either. I let it pile up and pile up and then it all comes out in one big long mess. Maybe that's why it irritates me when book characters do that. Adding some new books to my TBR!!

  7. I love that you read books out of order like me :)
    I haven't started on this series yet but it's still on my TBR. I love that quote you shared at the end of your review. You know I love flawed characters. Since I really liked Foreplay and this one features another virgin that you liked, I'll push this up on my TBR :)

  8. True is the only book in the series I've read so far, but I really liked it. I loved all of the SCND references and how it was used to make points. I need to read the 2nd book so bad.

  9. So love True! Glad you did too.

  10. Yay! I loved True too!! I'm so glad you liked them. And yes that was quite a moment when she had that realization. I can't wait to see what you think of the rest of them. I finished Shatter this weekend and whew it was an intense one.

  11. Great reviews, Andrea. I have True waiting on me, so now I'm in a hurry to read it. :) And I'm so glad that starting with the last book first didn't ruin the experience for you reading the earlier books in the New York Leopards series. I'll have to give that series a whirl sometime.

  12. I don't know about True, I struggled with the authors stuff before, might give it another chance but oh so glad you enjoyed Rush Me, cannot wait to read that one myself

  13. Erin McCarthy's series is a perfect example of what NA should be. I love that the characters are not perfect, and their lives are messy because as you said, that's how real life is.

    I haven't heard of The New York Leopards series but I'm sure I'd love it if you did, Andrea. Must put it in my TBR! Great reviews!

    And so jealous you went to Book Bash! I missed out because of the ALA. Maybe next year. :)


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