The Play | Book Review

Title: The Play
Series: Briar U #3
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy, Inc.
Publish Date: October 7. 2019
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Sports
Pages: 422
Format: Kindle eBook

What I learned after last year’s distractions cost my hockey team our entire season? No more screwing up. No more screwing, period. As the new team captain, I need a new philosophy: hockey and school now, women later. Which means that I, Hunter Davenport, am officially going celibate…no matter how hard that makes things.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t be friends with a woman. And I won’t lie—my new classmate Demi Davis is one cool chick. Her smart mouth is hot as hell, and so is the rest of her, but the fact that she’s got a boyfriend eliminates the temptation to touch her.

Except three months into our friendship, Demi is single and looking for a rebound.

And she’s making a play for me.

Avoiding her is impossible. We’re paired up on a yearlong school project, but I’m confident I can resist her. We’d never work, anyway. Our backgrounds are too different, our goals aren’t aligned, and her parents hate my guts.

Hooking up is a very bad idea. Now I just have to convince my body—and my heart.

This is the third standalone novel within this series, and I really enjoyed it! I love readying about these characters from the same school and stuff, because you get to see their perspective and kind of grow and root for them when you see them in previous books. It’s great!

Anyway, this story follows two characters: Hunter and Demi. Demi is a character we’ve never met before, but I thought that she was a great addition to the ever-growing Briar Univers(ity) because she is a half-black, half-Latina young woman who wants to become a psychologist, even though her parents (particularly her father) want her to become a medical doctor like he is. But she has her own goals and fascinations, and she’s incredibly smart.

Hunter we first met in the first in the Briar University books and, well, he had quite a roller coaster of a time in that book, so it was nice to see him much more level-headed in this one. I felt that he was well-developed and matured for the time that this took place at, and that he was definitely much easier to take in that the first book. He just wanted to be the best team captain he could be – even going as far as to take a vow of celibacy from sex – and he does a great job at it… for a time (because you know these books have lots of steamy sex scenes in them, haha!).

Another interesting dynamic within this book was that Demi started off in an already existing long term relationship. She was the first character through all the books in the Briar Universe that was in a pre-existing relationship. As far as the relationship goes, it felt realistic in how it was portrayed. There was a sense of unease as the book went along, and I saw what was going to happen for a little while, but it still floored me! Demi handled the situation much better than I was expecting, so that was good.

The plot followed the two as they were both in the same psychology class, and through heartbreak and longing – and lots of shenanigans – and it felt like a very organic progression into the relationship that formed between them. It didn’t feel rushed, and though the situation was a bit stressful at first given what happened with Demi, they managed to face a lot of situations where they encouraged each other.

And of course there were steamy sex scenes. The two characters were extremely attracted to each other – which is great! – and they definitely showed it. If you like your naughty reads, I definitely recommend these books.

I do, however, feel like the ending was a bit… off? Like, I can totally see how it’s plausible, because it’s definitely happened in real life and such, but it just felt so sudden that I was blindsided by it. I didn’t really know how to feel, but I am glad of the end message that Elle put into the book about seeking help if you need it – and please, if you do need help, please seek it out. You’re not alone.

Overall, an enjoyable read in this series. I’m not sure if it’s the last book in the Briar U arc, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

★★★★☆

The Risk | Book Review

Title: The Risk
Series: Briar U #2
Authors: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy Inc.
Publish Date: February 18, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Fiction – Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Kindle eBook

A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy. THE RISK takes you back to the world of hot hockey players, feisty heroines, bro banter, and steamy scenes… 

Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take. 

I’ve gotta say, I definitely enjoyed this book much more than the first stand-alone in the Briar U arc. It was funny, heartfelt, steamy (as always), but also showed more sides to people than just those in the universities, and I think that really played a big role in my overall enjoyment of this book.

Brenna is, probably, my favorite person. She’s tough as nails, she wears red lipstick as her armor, she doesn’t give two shits if someone doesn’t like her, she’s sassy, intelligent. She’s a woman after my own heart. I also very much admire her self-control of her temper in certain parts of the book, because I don’t think I’d be a big enough person to be able to hold my tongue to the kinds of comments she received numerous times from some of the men in the novel.

Jake is… well, he’s a steamy man, I’ll give him that, and he’s alpha, which, if you don’t know what that means, it means he’s the kind of person who’s in charge, who takes the lead, doesn’t take “no” for an answer, is very loyal to his team. Well, Jake will take “no” for an answer, so he’s not the kind of stereotypical jerk alpha that I’ve read in stories before. But he definitely exudes a presence in the book. People just notice him, and not just because he’s handsome as heck.

We also got to see smatterings of Summer from the first book, The Chase, as well as Fitz, Hunter, Mike Hollis, and one new character whom I LOVE and am soooo glad she’s getting her own book: Rupi. I fell in love with her almost instantly. She’s very quirky and determined and very much won’t take “no” for an answer.

The plot centered a lot around the hockey tournaments that Jake’s team, Harvard, and Brenna’s dad’s team, Briar, are preparing for and to face each other to go onto nationals, but it also centers a lot around Brenna striving to get her dream internship. I appreciated seeing that side of the field and how, yes, even today there’s a lot of misogyny in the sports broadcasting field. It was believable the way some of the men talked about women, and like I said earlier: I applaud Brenna for holding her tongue, because I really don’t think I would have been able to.

There was also a smaller second element to the plot that played into it about Brenna’s past, and let me tell you: the story behind her past was a shock that I did not see coming and I literally did a double take reading it. Definitely a good plot twist.

The dynamic between Brenna and her father is also one I understand, even if my own dad isn’t quite like hers. I understand how hard it is to want to be close, but not understanding how to get close, or when that closeness faded away. And the ugly shame that comes with feeling you’re a huge disappointment to your parent. It was very much a real moment, and I almost cried as a result of it.

The sex scenes were quite steamy, as expected of these Briar University books, which I’m not complaining about. The scenarios were different almost each time, the romance aspect felt a little rushed, but also the chemistry between the two had already been established, so it was an overall great element to the story.

I only wish there had been a different ending. Not that the ending was bad, I was just hoping we would have seen slightly farther into the future, or that there had been just one more chapter.

But I definitely recommend the book if you’re reading the Briar U arc, and even if you’re not and want a steamy romance, then definitely pick this one up!

★★★★½☆

Disney-a-thon TBR

That’s right, I’m joining another readathon! Everyone’s coming up with a lot of good ones lately, so I’m excited to join!

And, really, if you don’t know me by now: hi, my name is Rayna and I love Disney.

So as soon as I saw there was going to be a readathon based around Disney, OF COURSE I HAD TO JOIN. Disney-a-thon, here I come!

Let’s go over the details of the readathon and then I’ll jump into my team and my TBR!

Hosts: Izzy of izcurrentlyreading, Ally of nature of pages, Francisco of Books Under Covers, and Divya of celebrityreadshush.

Time: August 1st-31st

There are four teams for this readathon, and each of the hosts is going to be head of their team:

  • Izzy is hosting Team Aladdin
  • Ally is hosting Team Tangled
  • Francisco is hosting Team Lion King
  • Divya is hosting Team Mulan

Each team has their own prompts and reading goals, but I’m going to talk about my team: Team Aladdin!

So each team has a total of five books to read (this is including the group book for their specific team), and each group has a special ability granted to them by one of the characters in their movie!

Here’s the prompts and how many points they’re worth:

  • Jasmine: a book that features royalty – 10 points
  • Aladdin: a book that includes romance – 10 points
  • Magic Carpet: a fantasy book – 10 points
  • Jafar: a book that sucks you in as if you’re in a trance, and one you must read only at night/in the dark – 25 points
  • Abu: this is the group book: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell – 50 points

Our special ability is granted by, you guessed it, Genie! Our special ability allows us to DNF a book if we’re not liking it and keep our points for that specific prompt, excluding the group book.

I’m pretty excited because for my TBR I picked books that I think are going to be really fun to read – and they’re all ebooks, which makes me feel like I’m reading faster, even though I’m probably not lol

Here’s my TBR!

  • Jasmine: Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
  • Aladdin: The Risk by Elle Kennedy
  • The Magic Carpet: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
  • Jafar: The Wicked King by Holly Black
  • Abu: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

I’m going to take it easy this month and only participate in this readathon. Last month kind of overwhelmed me, haha!

Let’s Chat!

Can you keep one jump ahead of the bread line? One swing ahead of the sword? Or are you going to be swept under by the Cave of Wonders? (If you’re participating in this readathon, let me know and tell me what team you’re on!) Which book are you most excited to read in August?

The Chase Book Review

Title: The Chase
Series: Briar U #1
Authors: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy Inc.
Publish Date: August 4, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Fiction – Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 378
Format: Kindle eBook

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother. 

And that his best friend has a crush on me. 

And that I just moved in with them. 

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates? 

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing? 

He knows where to find me.

Diving back into the stories of the college students of Briar U was something I was really looking forward to! I remember loving the original four books of the first series, instantly hooked on the hot hockey dudes and the beautiful girls they fell in love with.

This story, though? It… kind of fell flat for me. But that’s not to say that it still wasn’t enjoyable as far as entertainment value is concerned.

So let’s talk about the characters first:

Summer is Dean’s sister (he’s the main lead in The Goal) and as such, she’s drop dead gorgeous like her brother and has just a big of a personality as he does. And as much of a sex drive as he does. Of course she’s more than just that, and it’s often revealed and talked about throughout the story how she wants to be seen as more than just her family’s money or more than just her looks: she may not be academically smart, but she’s got a lot of passion for fashion, which is what she’s studying; she believes in woman power and building other women up instead of tearing them down; and she had an orbit about her that draws people in.

She’s also a lot of drama. Like. Holy crap, a lot of drama. I found myself often thinking that a lot of her reactions were over the top and that they didn’t really warrant to be as such for the situation. I get that’s supposed to be her personality, but a lot of the reactions seemed forced or even out of character.

Colin Fitzgerald is one of the hockey players for Briar U and he’s a tattooed, video game designing man who wants to work for a big game company when he graduates. He’s even made his own video game and has others he knows beta test it, which is pretty cool. He’s also very sexually driven, I found throughout this story, which is fine but sometimes I thought it was a bit much. He also has a bit of social anxiety, which is understandable given his back story and the way he grew up.

So, as far as plot goes: there was a lot of back and forth between Summer and Fitz (obviously, it’s not called “The Chase” for nothing) where they would often inner monologue how they’re very attracted toward the other and they want to get in each other’s pants, but never know what the other is thinking.

My biggest issue with this was how it made the characters feel so shallow and kind of two dimensional. So much of the plot centered around the sexual aspects that I felt it took away from the characters and their growth, because I actually did find the stuff happening outside and around them interesting.

I found that the anxiety was handled really well, though, and it was very believable how the characters tried to cope with their anxiety, either on their own or with help from another.

Overall, I found this to be a book that focused highly on entertainment value than on character development, which is fine, but I still wish we could have seen more come out of the characters. Some of the situations felt forced or rushed or pretty unbelievable, but otherwise it was a fun story with steamy scenes and some laughs.

★★★☆☆

The Goal Book Review

thegoalTitle: The Goal
Series: Off Campus #4
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: September 26, 2016
Genre: New Adult – Romance
Pages: 350
Format: Purchased eBook

She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

This review is for a companion novel, but there could be some spoilers ahead.

I love this series so much. As my first foray into New Adult, I am not disappointed.

This last book in the Off Campus companion series followed Tucker and Sabrina, a hockey player and a very serious law student. When the two make eye contact from across the room one day, they are instantly attracted to each other in a very serious way, and boy did the heat turn up.

When this story first started I knew what was going to happen eventually because it was mentioned at the end of The Score, so I knew what to expect in one sense, but I didn’t expect to be so interested in both of the characters and their lives separately and together.

Sabrina James is very serious and driven in anything she does. Her stubbornness often causes her to wipe herself out, but she wants to succeed so much and to get into the school of her dreams: Harvard. She’s working two jobs, going to school full time, and studying her butt off to achieve these dreams. I found that her resilience was very refreshing and I liked seeing someone so committed, but even I was like, “You’ve gotta relax a little, bro.” I found that sometimes she was very high strung, but I think a lot of that had to do with anxiety and how she dealt with it in her own terms.

Of course, then when John Tucker showed up, a lot of that changed.

Tuck is a very charming, smart, caring Southern gentleman and I loved him. I thought he was very mature compared to the last three guys in this series, but he was also just as horny as the others. I loved that he tried very hard to pursue Sabrina – and that he even realized he was going into “stranger danger” territory at one point and backed down a bit. But after that his pursuit wasn’t pushy, but it was something that I could definitely see happening in real life. I thought that the way he strived to be a businessman and achieve his dream was also just as awesome as Sabrina’s wish.

And then The Thing happened, and oh man, I needed to know what the two were going to do in the situation.

And this is where I’m going to drop some spoilers because I need to air a few things that bugged me and also excited me:

  • When Sabrina found out she was pregnant, she was scared, and I don’t blame her at all in her given situation. She had a craptastic home life, she was under a lot of stress, and she didn’t know what to do in the situation, but when she told her friends and her friends suggested abortion and almost tried to push it on her, I felt myself getting very annoyed because it’s not their body, therefore not their decision. I was just ruffled that it was mentioned so casually, like it was the one and only option, until a few paragraphs later they were going to totally support her. It just felt off and weird.
  • I’m glad she went through with it and everything, but I wished that we could have seen a bit more? I mean there were a lot of big instances like finding out the gender and the birth (which was hilarious), but I just wished for a little more.
  • I was like, “Sabrina, stop being so damn stubborn and worrying and just tell the guy you love him!” I wished it had happened sooner than the last 3% of the book. But I’m still glad it happened.
  • That girl is so resilient! Taking care of a baby through Harvard? That’s amazing.
  • I love her and Tuck together, I really do. They balance each other out and I think that they meshed well together.
  • I was creeped out by Ray the whole time, and I wasn’t super fond of Sabrina’s Nana, and then Tuck’s mom, though coming from a place of love, was just cruel the way she approached Sabrina about everything. But hey, it happens, and I know that.

There are plenty of sexytimes that happen in this book just like the rest of them, but I think there’s a lot more dirty talk during the act than in the previous books, but I could be wrong. Either way, it was very good.

Overall I felt that this book wasn’t the best in the series, but I’m glad Sabrina’s and Tuck’s relationship was still explored because there was just a lot there and so much developed and came from it.

I rate this book 4/5 stars and highly recommend it if you’ve read the rest of the Off Campus series.