Quinn Just six years old when my brother was snatched off the street, I grew up in the aftermath of tragedy. While other kids were happily playing in the sandbox, I was hiding under press conference podiums listening to my parents beg for Jake’s safe return.
People ask if I’m screwed up after what happened, and I never know how to respond. Life after the kidnapping is all I’ve ever known. Well, that and being the youngest brother to a rock star. Jake was the ultimate survivor. The prodigal son. My king.
But I’m not that worshipful kid anymore, and I’m tired of walking a step behind. I’ve got the talent. I’ve got the drive. And now I’m coming for Jake’s throne.
Jess What to do with a runaway rock star in my passenger seat?
Jess of yore would’ve jumped at the chance. Hell, she’d already be in his lap by now. She was fearless and fun and sexy. She lived like there was no tomorrow… until tomorrow came calling and delivered her an ultimatum: repent or risk losing it all.
And so responsible Jess was born, the good girl who paid her rent and watered her plants and put others before herself. The new, improved version of myself represented stability and a roof overhead. Yet sometimes… sometimes I missed that reckless girl. Wild Jess. God, she’d been so fun.
And now Quinn was here, built like a god and asking me to play. One mindless afternoon of fun. Surely I could spare that for a future rock legend. I could bring old Jess back for just one day.
I’m not going to lie: Cake is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved everything about Jake and Casey. Some of the other McKallister siblings’ books were hit or miss for me, and Next In Line started off a little slow. But by the time I got to the end of the book, I had fallen hook, line and sinker for Quinn and Jess.
Quinn is carrying around so much baggage as a result of Jake’s abduction, and grew up in the shadow of his big brother and all that Jake is. His meet-cute with Jess, a ride-share driver and star homes tour guide, is perfect because she has zero clue who Jake is when she becomes his Getaway Girl. Jess, too, has known tragedy in her life, and she and Quinn are kind of kindred souls. Their connection grows organically, and they share an amazing day together. After that, tho, Jess ghosts Quinn because she has a secret of her own that she doesn’t want brought to light. But fate intervenes again, and Quinn and Jess cross paths once more.
There is a lot that both Quinn and Jess have to unpack in this book. She calms his rough edges, and Quinn really comes into his own as a result of his relationship with Jess. Next In Line is full of heart and heat, lots of emotion and a twist that I wasn’t expecting. There is a FANTASTIC scene with Jake and Quinn, and it brought tears to my eye. I was so happy with Quinn and Jess’ story by the time I got to the end, and the epilogues were excellent. There is a great set-up for Grace’s book, the youngest of the siblings, and I can’t wait to read that one!
I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.
Meet J. Bengtsson
J. (Jill) Bengtsson is the bestselling author of the Cake Series. She writes contemporary novels focused on love, humor, passion, and family. Her heroines are strong, nurturing, and quirky while her heroes are what dreams are made of – gorgeous, committed, and in need of a little saving. A native Californian, Jill’s novels are set under the glittering lights of the West Coast entertainment industry.
They are for the dreamer in all of us.
Jill resides in Ventura County, California. She’s married to the Swedish boy she met as an exchange student her junior year in college and they have three children, a golden retriever, and two ragdoll cats.
Sam Maxwell was supposed to be an accomplished referee.
When Sam’s grandfather passes away, she is forced to return home. Sam has no idea how much her life is about to get turned upside down. When she meets Drew Morgan, the large attractive Zamboni driver at the rink, snark flies. Neither of them knows they share a past, a past that is about to show up and confront them both.
This close proximity, high heat and humour story contains a bunny slipper wearing heroine, a meddling pet donkey and an accidental dose of marijuana leading to laughs.
She’s a hockey ref with a lot to prove as a female in the business. He saw his pro dream smash to pieces after an injury. They butt heads immediately upon meeting, but once Sam and Drew realize that they need to work together in order to receive the inheritance her grandfather left each of them, they need to find a way to move past their first impressions. First impressions that weren’t so great.
This book had a lot to offer, and it’s a nice slow burn as these characters realize just how wrong they were about the other and eventually fall in love. The characters are relatable, and I love Sam as a strong heroine, fiercely independent. And Drew has a chip on his shoulder when they first meet, but calms her down and centers her. Off Side is the first book I’ve read by this author, and while I liked it, I didn’t love it. I’m not sure why, but I just didn’t connect with Sam and Drew the way I hoped I would, and for that reason, this book lacked oomph for me.
I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.
If you want to stay in touch and read my next releases, I’d love for you to join me on this journey.
AH-MAY-ZING! Jack and Stella’s story is an emotional rollercoaster like no other that I’ve read by Corinne Michaels. Yes, I’ve said in the past that such-and-such story is better than the last. And I’ve always meant it… but Could Have Been Us totally blew me away! The secret history between Jack and Stella, how they have been in love with one another for 15 years but didn’t want to betray Grayson, how they come together during a crisis — it was all so well-written, pulls on the heartstrings, and had me in tears.
This book had me hooked from the first chapter, and I knew it was going to be a doozy. Twelve years of keeping their history together a secret, 12 years of ignoring what they felt for one another, 12 years of emotional baggage and not wanting to date someone else… I was ALL IN to see how Stella and Jack were going to make things work. The beginning of this book overlaps Return To Us (Grayson and Jessica’s story), and I loved seeing some of those scenes from Stella and Jack’s POVs. Like when Jack gets drunk and shows up at Grayson’s place swearing that he shouldn’t want to like “her” — now knowing that “her” is Stella!
Once Stella and Jack finally decide to give their relationship a go, I loved how strong they were together. I really thought that there was going to be a point where their past history and current situation tear them apart, but they fall back on one another and it was so wonderful to see them be so supportive and really work through things together.
One of my pet peeves in the best friend’s sister trope is when a romance is considered forbidden. I really liked that in Jack and Stella’s case that they were both afraid/hesitant to be together because of their shared tragic past and how Grayson would potentially view that event — not that they weren’t together because Grayson forbade Jack from dating his little sister for some arbitrary reason.
Could Have Been Us is a wonderful tale of past mistakes, future choices, what could have been, what should have been, and what finally is!
I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.
Corinne Michaels is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of romance novels. Her stories are chock full of emotion, humor, and unrelenting love, and she enjoys putting her characters through intense heartbreak before finding a way to heal them through their struggles.
Corinne is a former Navy wife and happily married to the man of her dreams. She began her writing career after spending months away from her husband while he was deployed–reading and writing were her escapes from the loneliness. Corinne now lives in Virginia with her husband and is the emotional, witty, sarcastic, and fun-loving mom of two beautiful children.
The cocky jock I once wanted to kill with my bare hands is now the only one I trust with my heart.
In a city full of corruption and darkness, knowing who’s on your side gets harder to determine every day. Especially now that Vin’s on the warpath, passing out threats he fully intends to see through to the end. His power here in Cypress Pointe seems limitless, but there’s no time to see if that’s true. I’m prepared to make sacrifices to keep my family safe.
Even if what’s sacrificed is my own happiness.
As our circle of loyal friends becomes clear, we cling to it, because it’s all any of us has. But if there’s one thing Vin didn’t count on, it’s that blood isn’t always thicker than water.
He might just find out firsthand why it’s never wise to cross the king’s queen.
A great conclusion to Blue and West’s story! This book really shows how far this couple has come since the first book, when they just hated the sight of one another.
As they try to come up with a solution to the issues posed with West’s dad, Blue and West really work together. At one point, I thought the book was going to go in a different direction regarding Vin’s illegal activities, but I was relieved that it didn’t go the way I thought it was going to!
This book concludes the trilogy for Blue and West, but there is much more to come in this series. I can’t wait for Dane and Josslyn’s story!
I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.
I left our hometown—a place she once called paradise—when we were just a couple of dirt poor teenagers. I left to flee the aftermath of a horrifying event that completely broke us. And now, ten years later, I’m going back to face the wreckage that I thought I’d put behind me—my father’s gruesome legacy, the trauma of our past, and the girl who survived it all without me by her side.
She hates me now for leaving her behind and I don’t blame her.
I don’t blame her, but I want her.
I want her, even though I know I should stay away from her.
I could be dangerous.
I am my father’s son, after all.
Content Warning: This book contains brief scenes of violence and is premised around a theme of trauma and healing. Some parts may be triggering to some readers—discretion is advised.
Sunny Shelly’s Review: 5 Stars
Wow, this book was tough. This is the first book I’ve read by Brynn Ford and I was kind of blown away.
Jagged Line Paradise is told in two parts — 10 years ago and then the present, when Andres returns to their small desert town a decade after a traumatic event turned Avalon’s upside down and he took off. Everything was perfect and sweet the night of her 18th birthday, and then it all fell apart the next morning. While Avalon was afraid to leave their hometown afterwards, Andres felt like he had no choice other than to leave town afterwards. They never spoke again, until 10 years later when he comes back home to make a documentary about the tragedy that hit their small town.
Avalon felt like she was deserted when she needed Andres the most. He felt like there was no way they could build a life together with the reputation that was following him. Their reunion doesn’t go well at first, but eventually these two figure out how to bury the demons between them and realize that their love for the other never faded.
It’s not an easy book to read, and there is a lot of angry sex involved, so beware if that isn’t your thing. But at it’s core, Jagged Line Paradise is all about finding beauty and strength, that our scars are badges of honor, and that peace and paradise can be a person, not a place.
This emotional story is full of angst, but a beautiful one! I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.
About the Author:
Brynn Ford is an author of dark and dirty romance for daring readers. She is a lover of the dark, twisted, and playful and strives to bring the unmentionable aspects of passionate romance into her stories.
Brynn resides in the Midwest with her husband and sons, whom she expects will someday be embarrassed by their mom’s books. When she isn’t obsessively writing, you may find her binge watching favorite shows while eating far too much junk food or fanatically reading, always seeking to lose herself in the emotional roller coaster of a damn good story.
She is quite the idealist, despite her fascination with the wicked and warped aspects of humanity. Some of her stories may run out of words before a happily ever after, but she’s a firm believer that her characters continue to live on outside the pages in the minds of her readers. Stories don’t end just because there aren’t any more pages to turn.
Hearing the disbelief from my best friend’s mouth makes the events of my failed date sting that much more.
I would like to make it known, I have a lot more swagger than what it seems. I don’t normally ask a girl out, have her fail to recognize it’s a date, and then give me a high five–as if I’m her wingman–and take off with someone else.
No. Normally I’m the one taking the girl home but with Stella, it’s been one failed attempt after another and frankly, I’m done trying.
But thanks to my best friend getting married in Hawaii right before the school year starts, I’m stuck on a tropical island, watching Stella parade around in what she claims is a bathing suit.
Unfortunately, that’s not the worst of it, just the tip of the iceberg. Because what I think is going to be a relaxing vacation, avoiding the one girl I can’t seem to make it work with, has turned into a spectacle of being recruited as Stella’s doting fake fiancé so she can save face with an old “friend” from high school.
Now I’m navigating through purgatory while trying not to get turned on by the way she holds my hand or kisses my jaw. It’s all fake, that’s what I keep telling myself, even though it feels entirely too real.
“Do you want to sit next to Stella on the airplane?” Arlo asks.
“What? Fuck, no,” I say while turning up the game so I can hear the announcers over my tedious, wedding-planning best friend.
Arlo snatches the remote from my hand and turns off the TV. The room is silent for a moment before uproarious objections fill the air.
“Gentry is up next,” Gunner, my other best friend and former teammate, complains from next to me. “He’s three for three so far.”
“We need to talk,” Arlo says in that stern, alpha-like voice that won over his fiancée. Little does he know it doesn’t work on me.
I reach for the remote but he swats my hand with a resounding thud, causing me to yank my hand back. “What the actual fuck, man?”
When I decided to have the guys over to my loft, I assumed we’d tear up some wings, drain some brews, and watch the Bobbies game. Never in my wildest fucking dreams would I have pictured Arlo Turner, the grumpy curmudgeon of the Forest Heights English department, to roll in like a beaming bride, holding a wedding planning folder to his chest, and consume the night with questions about what he should wear and if coconut cake is too “Hawaiian-y” for his Maui destination wedding.
But here we are.
“Cut the crap, Romeo.”
“Cut what crap?” I reach over to the coffee table and pick up my almost empty glass of beer.
“I’m not about to have the Bickersons attend my wedding, so what the hell is going on with Stella?”
“Nothing is going on,” I answer, then take a small sip of my beer, making the liquid last so I don’t have to get up for a refill.
Gunner leans in and asks, “If we get to the bottom of the problem, can we turn the TV back on?”
“Yes,” Arlo answers.
“Then it was the baseball game he took her to.”
“Dude,” I say in protest while sitting up on the couch. “What the fuck happened to don’t say anything?”
Gunner unapologetically shrugs. “I really want to watch the Bobbies kill the Rebels in interleague play.”
“What baseball game?” Arlo asks. “Do you mean the game you took her and Cora to?”
“Yup.” Gunner pops a chip in his mouth from the bowl on the coffee table. “Except Cora wasn’t supposed to go. It was supposed to be a daaate,” Gunner drags out.
“You asked Stella out?” Arlo asks, shocked.
“Way to sell me out for a game, you dick.”
Not showing an ounce of remorse, Gunner stands from the couch and takes my glass from me.
“I’ll top you off. You’ll need it.”
Seething, I pass my hand over my head and say, “Yeah, I asked her out. She invited Cora. End of story.”
“That’s not the end of the story,” Gunner says from the kitchen, the open concept of my loft allowing his voice to carry to us easily.
When you think a friend is trustworthy and then they go and shock your fucking nuts right off by divulging everything you told them in secret . . . without even a blink of an eye. Gunner is dead to me.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t say anything to Arlo about what happened, given he’s one of my best friends, right? It’s simple. Gunner got me drunk and I relished in the comfort of far too many cold beers and a listening ear. If it wasn’t for that, I’d have kept my mouth shut, because the entire incident was fucking humiliating.
Between you and me, I’ve liked Stella Garcia, the Spanish teacher at Forest Heights, for a while now. Far too long actually. I can’t quite pinpoint when it happened, but all I know is over the three years I’ve known her, I’ve been pining after the girl for the majority of the time.
Fucking bold, quick-witted with a sharp tongue, loves sports, shy when it counts. Flat-out gorgeous with her long, wavy brown hair and fascinating green eyes that have a ring of brown around the pupil. She’s had my attention for a while and last year, I decided to finally make a move.
Enough was enough. We shared too many dinners together as friends. She’s pressed her lips to my beer glass without a second thought way too many times. The moment presented itself, I grew a pair, and asked her out to a baseball game knowing she loves watching the sport as much as I do.
But fuck did it backfire.
“What’s the end of the story?” Arlo asks, growing agitated. His patience runs thin, which is surprising, given his profession of educating the youth.
He’s not going to drop it.
Arlo’s relentless when he wants to know something.
Dragging my hand down my face, I say, “It was supposed to be a date.” Gunner sits next to me and hands me my refilled glass, which I gladly take. “She invited Cora. Which was fine. We had a good time, I still sat next to Stella, and we shared jokes even if there was a third wheel. But it was what happened afterwards that—”
“That gutted him,” Gunner finishes for me. When I snap a look at him, he smirks. “That’s what you told me. Just thought I’d help tell the story.”
“I wasn’t gutted.”
Maybe I was a little.
Hell . . . I was humiliated.
Gutted isn’t a strong enough word for what happened.
“What the fuck happened after? Christ. Why are you taking so damn long to get to the point?” Arlo practically growls.
“Go easy on our guy.” Gunner grips my shoulder. “He was embarrassed, man.”
“It’s fine, I’m over it now,” I say in a passive-aggressive tone.
“You’re clearly not if you and Stella can’t even be in the same room together. I don’t want anything ruining this trip for Greer, and your constant arguing with Stella is driving everyone fucking crazy.”
“Great, then I just won’t talk to her. Simple.”
“Just tell him,” Gunner says, nudging me.
Staring down at my beer, I quietly say, “She went home with someone else that night.”
The room falls silent.
They don’t have to react for me to know what they must be thinking. They know I’ve liked Stella for a while. They know I’ve been trying to figure out a way to ask her out.
And this . . . hell, this was an epic fail on my end.
It wouldn’t be as bad if I weren’t already carrying a chip on my shoulder about the way I was forced to twist my life around.
Five years ago, everything changed.
Five years ago, I was stripped of the one thing that brought me life.
A ruptured Achilles tendon ended everything for me.
I never got the chance to appreciate my last game.
I never had the opportunity to sit on the field and say goodbye.
Instead, playing professional baseball was stripped from me and I was forced to fall back on my teaching degree I earned while playing in college.
To say I’m bitter, resentful, and fucking angry . . . yeah, that’s an understatement.
I live with regret daily and harbor more animosity than anyone should.
So, when I took Stella to the game, on a date, hoping to tell her how I feel, and she went home with someone else, it fucking stung.
Do you know what stung more, though?
The fact that she looked right past me and instead went for a rookie on the Bobbies.
Why go out with a washed-up baseball player turned phys ed teacher with a slight limp in his walk, when you can go out with an unmarred professional baseball player?
Yeah. There’s resentment for a reason. She chose the star. That’s who she wants.
That’s who I’ll never be.
And that’s why I plan on staying as far away from Stella Garcia on this trip as I can.
And when we get back to Chicago and the school year starts, everything will go on as planned.
Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.
Too easy, right?
Sunny Shelly’s Review: 5 Stars
AH! Stella and Brock’s story was everything I wanted it to be! These two just COULD NOT get on the same page!
Miscommunication abounds in this story, and it leads to lots of frustration and hurt and anger on both their parts. Neither one of them actually comes out and says how they feel about the other until it is almost too late, and that’s a shame because they are made for one another.
Stella and Brock’s relationship is so easy. They were best friends for a long time before either of them realized that they wanted something more from the other. That friendship is a solid base for them, but Stella has some family drama she needs to work through before she can be the woman that she thinks Brock deserves to be with. And all Brock wants to do is be there for her, to hold her hand, be the shoulder she cries on…. The guy is a saint when it comes to waiting for Stella to be ready to take their relationship to the next level!
I loved all the shenanigans with this group of friends. The way that the guys and the girls both come together for each other is amazing. And I love the interactions between the girl group and the guys as well. Those text messages between the guys crack me up! I know that Cora’s book is coming next, and I would love to see a Keiko/Kelvin book. And this has all made me realize that I would have loved to have read a longer story between Gunner and Lindsay. Oh well!
Great job, Meghan! Bravo! I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.
I swear I didn’t mean to flirt with the world-famous Brayden Clarke—especially not right in the middle of an interview for a job.
It was a slip—or perhaps a gut reaction to his smoldering eyes and deep, sexy voice.
To my total disbelief, they give me the assignment. My task is simple: advise Brayden and his band on how to communicate with their fans. Easy-peasy. Or so I thought…
I can handle the job, but the sexy lead singer who’s intent on getting under my skin might be too hot to resist.
But our lives are too different. His life is under constant scrutiny. I thrive on freedom and spontaneity. I like exploring the streets of New York and meeting up with my siblings without needing security detail.
But when we’re together, all our differences fade, and I can’t get enough of this man. And he won’t quit until he makes me his.
Say You’re Mine starts off a new spinoff series from Layla Hagen’s Irresistible Bachelors series. It is a standalone, but the connections between the characters in the IB books are explained well enough.
This instalove story is entertaining and lighthearted. Brayden’s band needs some social media assistance to connect with their fans, so Isabelle is hired to do an analysis. There is an instant connection between them, even though they (of course!) try to resist one another. I love that Isabelle doesn’t care that Brayden is one of the biggest rock stars — and of course that is what he finds intriguing about her. She could care less about who he is, and he finds the possibility of being in a real relationship with her intriguing. She’s kind, honest and down to earth, and the more time Brayden spends with her, the more he realizes that he wants to be with her.
But Isabelle and Brayden can’t live their lives in a bubble. Will she be able to handle the scrutiny and life in the spotlight that goes along with being Brayden Clark’s girlfriend? Will their romance go past the expiration date of when Brayden’s band leaves for their next tour? There are many ups and downs to their relationship as they navigate trying to find a middle ground. This story was well-written, and Isabelle and Brayden are great characters who are easy to connect with.
I look forward to seeing more from the Gallaghers in this series! I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.
Meet Layla Hagen
Welcome! My name is Layla Hagen and I am a Contemporary Romance author.
I fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later. I write romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world. And I drink coffee. Lots of it 😀
She was never mine to keep, still I took every second that girl was willing to give me.
I always knew she’d go back to him.
But I never expected she’d take a piece of me with her.
He changed my life forever, and it happened long before our two weeks together.
I didn’t mean to fall for him.
But how could I not when he gave me the most precious gift of all?
We’re Made of Moments (A Cole Creek Novel) is the first book in a brand new, small town romance series by Molly McLain. This series is full of Molly’s guaranteed feel-good vibes, amped up emotion, and page-sizzling heat. If you liked the River Bend and Velocity series, you will LOVE Cole Creek!
“Daddy’s here!” Jett shrieks from the first floor and, just like that, my stomach drops to my toes.
Lane winks. “You got this, gorgeous.”
I know I do. But that doesn’t mean I have to like any part of it.
When he turns away, I paste on my game face and chink my armor firmly into place, just like I do every other Friday. I also send up a prayer for extra grace this week, because these exchanges seem to be getting harder and harder. I’m not sure why, but I feel the unease creeping in a little more with every swap.
“Mama, come on!” Jett yells again, and I pull in a deep breath. Shoulders back, girlfriend.
I make it halfway down the stairs when my son yanks the front door open and launches himself at the brick wall of a man standing on the other side.
Big arms wrap around our little boy and lift him from the floor, while my lungs hold every ounce of air in my body hostage.
My son adores his father. Of that, I am absolutely certain. And when aquamarine eyes, the exact same color as Jett’s meet mine over the top of our little boy’s head, I realize that no matter how hard I try to prepare myself, this will never get easier.
Sunny Shelly’s Review: 5 Stars
We’re Made of Moments is the first book I’ve read by Molly McLain, and I was totally hooked on Jesse and Hayden’s story! This second-chance romance is the rip your heart out and piece it back together kind of tale that I love to devour! The prologue hooked me, and the rest of the book was just as gut-wrenching.
Hayden and Jesse knew each other socially from around the small lake town where her parents had a cabin and he was from a local family. He always liked her, but respected that she had a boyfriend. They shared a few moments of pure connection over the years, so when Hayden’s boyfriend, Lane, cheated on her, Jesse was the guy she sought out when she escaped to her family’s cabin. Their two-week fling was never supposed to amount to anything more, and when Hayden eventually returned home, she reunited with Lane… and stayed with him even after discovering that she was pregnant with Jesse’s child.
Jesse.. wow. What a stand-up guy. I knew from the first time he and Lane were introduced in this book that I would be rooting for Jesse to get the girl. The guy is a super dad, and everything he does is for Hayden and their son, Jett. Even though he is hopelessly in love with Hayden, he respects her relationship and is the best co-parent he can be. But when Lane and Hayden split and she admits that she’s had feelings for him all along, Jesse wants his shot at truly making his family his.
The reunion between Hayden and Jesse isn’t easy. There are some issues they both have to hash out as far as their insecurities and personal demons, but We’re Made of Moments is a beautiful journey as they do exactly that. My heart broke for each of them at times, and I was overjoyed to see them finally get their happily ever after. This book is the gut-punch kind of story that gives you all the feels!
I will definitely be looking for more of the Cole Creek series! I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.
Molly McLain lives in a tiny Wisconsin town with her husband, three kiddos, and two adorable German Shorthaired Pointers. She’s addicted to 80’s ballads, 90’s rock, cheesecake, and office supplies, and she’s been scribbling down love stories in spiral notebooks since she was old enough to daydream about hunky boys and happily-ever-afters. Now, she turns those daydreams into steamy, small town romance novels.
Gabriel’s Album Sian Ceinwen
(Cruise Control Heroes, #1)
Publication date: March 14th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
The rock star always gets the girl…
I’m living my dream. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a rock star. And now here I am, about to start my first big tour, when she comes along.
From the second we meet, she’s all I can think about.Asking her to come on tour with me is easy. But she’s shy, insecure, and the paparazzi scare her. We live in two completely different worlds.
I love her and I know that she’s worth fighting for. The problem is, I’m not sure if love is enough.
Gabriel’s Album is the first book in the Cruise Control Heroes series. It’s the companion novel to The Album. Fall in love with Gabriel and Ariana all over again as Cruise Control embarks on their first world tour.
Sebastian hands us our bottles of water and walks over to a trunk with ‘DREAMS COME TRUE’ written on it. He opens it and pulls three journals and pens out if before giving one of each to both me and Hayden.
“This is called the Wisdom Tree,” Sebastian informs us. “You write your thoughts, ideas, or dreams in these books. People add to them all the time. I thought this might be good for you, Gabriel.”
I flick through the journal he gave me, reading the thoughts, dreams, and ideas that other hikers have contributed. My heart rate increases as I consider what I should add to this. I close my eyes and take some deep breaths while I think about it. I’ve just achieved a life dream, probably my biggest one, but I know what I want. I begin to write.
I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I’ve succeeded in achieving my goals. What does it mean if I can’t have you?
It’s the thought that I’ve been struggling with since Ariana left. I thought that what we were building together could become something much more. The possibility that she might not come back to me is too painful to bear. I have to cling to the hope that Heather will get through to her while she’s back at home, and we can get through this.
A single tear drops from my face and splashes on the page, causing the ink in front of me to blur. I wipe the other tears from my face and close the book before walking over and placing the journal and pen in the trunk again.
I cough and ask, “Are you guys done?”
“Just finished,” Hayden smiles.
“I’m done too,” Sebastian nods.
If either of them notices my tears, they don’t mention them, and we continue on our way to the sign. On the way there, Sebastian stops and drops the backpack on the ground before pulling out my phone.
“You can check it if you want,” he says as he holds it out to me.
My heartbeat increases as I take it from him, and I can barely breathe as I check the screen. Nothing. I take a deep breath and fight back tears. Surely, Heather should’ve gotten a hold of her by now.
I hand the phone back to Sebastian without saying a word, or even unlocking it. He puts it away without further comment, but for the rest of the hike, my mind is a blur. I can’t focus on the amazing scenery; I can only focus on my inner turmoil. Everything is wrong. I hate knowing that I’m going to see the Hollywood sign without Ariana. She should’ve been here.
When we get to the point where we can see the sign, we finally see other hikers. Sebastian was right about the Burbank Peak Trail being a solitary hike. I see a couple of the other hikers take photos of us, but they don’t approach us.
“Should we go and try to climb the sign?” Sebastian asks with a cheeky grin on his face as he gestures to the chain-link fence protecting it.
“Pass,” Hayden laughs. “I don’t feel like being arrested today. Can you even imagine what Cooper would say?”
“You’re not talking me out of it,” Sebastian smirks, then looks at me, and his face drops. “Okay, bad idea, I guess. Well, let’s get pictures. I’ll put them on Instagram and make Heather jealous, at least.”
We take selfies in front of the view of the sign below us. I’ve gotten so used to posing for photos that when I look at the ones we’ve taken, you can’t even tell that my heart is broken and every cell in my body is aching for Ariana. I look like any other guy out on a hike with his friends.
Sebastian takes some more pictures of the view, then we have a drink of water before beginning the hike back to the car.
When we reach the Wisdom Tree again, I say, “Wait a second.”
I open the trunk and pull out another journal and pen. I open it to write another message.
If you don’t come back to me, I know the pain will fade. My love, though? That will remain the same.
I know Ariana will never read this, but it doesn’t matter. I feel better for writing it down. It’s the truth, as well. I can barely stand to think about her not coming back to me, but even if she doesn’t, I will always love her. I kiss the words on the page, wishing they were Ariana’s lips, and place the journal back in the trunk.
By the time we get back to the car, I’m tired, both physically and emotionally. Sebastian and Hayden talk on the way back to the hotel, but I’m grateful that they don’t push me to talk at all. As soon as I reach the quiet darkness of my hotel suite, I pull out my phone again and see nothing of interest. People have called and messaged, but none of them are Ariana. So, I call her.
Hi, I’m Sian Ceinwen and I live in Western Australia with my husband and two kids. I started writing this in the third person but it was just odd. A little bit about me, I’ve enjoyed writing all my life, getting the worlds and characters in my head down for other people to enjoy is my passion.
Writing a book wasn’t something I ever thought I could really do but inspired by a song, I aimed to do it. With a lot of coaxing from my friends for me to finish it so they could find out the ending.
I released Gabriel and Ariana’s story, The Album, on March 14th, 2020. Harrison and Heather’s story, The Wedding, came out on June 6th, 2020. Sebastian and Lita’s book, The Baby, was released on November 18th, 2020.
The first book in the companion series, Gabriel’s Album, is available for pre-order and will be released on March 14th, 2021. It’s Gabriel and Ariana’s story retold from Gabriel’s point of view.
I hope that you will fall in love with the Cruise Control world the same way that I have.
I turn toward the door to see Carter, Jace, and Jace’s girlfriend standing there. The guys look just as shocked to see me as I am to see them, but the girl next to Jace is most likely picturing ways to murder me in her mind.
“You two know each other?” Amelia asks.
She grunts. “Not exactly, but I know enough of her to know she’s a fucking bitch.”
“Woah,” Kennedy steps in. “Easy, Paige.”
“Yeah, babe. Let’s calm down a little,” Jace tries, but she’s not having it.
She rips her arm out of his hold. “No! Fuck no! She tried to put you away for life, Jace. For life!”
The reminder of my best friend’s murder trial is a slap in the face, and my testimony was based off my belief that he actually did it. If I had seen the tape showing the other angle before I got on the stand, I never would have agreed to testify. The one thing I can see, though, is that Jace seems to value his life a little more than he used to, because he doesn’t try to calm his girlfriend down again.
Paige glares at me as she steps forward and into my face. “I don’t know what the fuck you’re doing here, but let me make one thing clear: if you try fucking with my friends, my family, we’re going to have serious issues.”
There is absolutely nothing that I find intimidating about this girl. To be honest, it looks like I could have the right guy punt her across a football field. But I can respect her loyalty to her friends and the courage to jump into the lion’s den to defend them.
I used to have that.
She turns around and walks back toward Jace. “Come on. We’re leaving.”
“No. Allow me.” I interrupt and my eyes find Carter’s. “Suddenly, this is the last place I want to be.”
Neither Kennedy or Amelia try to stop me as I slip out the door—not that I expected them to. They’ve been friends with them longer. Of course, Carter manages to take everything from me. He took Davi. Now he already has Kennedy and Amelia. There’s no way those two will have anything to do with me once I start doing things to get back at Carter, and nothing will stand in the way of my plans.
As if he has an actual death wish, the door opens and Carter comes running out, calling my name. I consider not stopping. I’m sure nothing good can come from talking to him, but my anger is enough to get me to freeze.
“Don’t leave,” he tells me. “I’m sorry for what Paige said.”
I balk. “For what Paige said? That’s what you’re sorry for?”
Running his fingers through his hair, he sighs. “Not the only thing, but it’s something I’m sorry for. Can we just go somewhere and talk?”
A bark of humorless laughter echoes out of me. “No. I don’t want to go anywhere with you. I don’t even want to fucking look at you.” My fists clench, and I can feel my nails digging into my skin as he stays quiet. “You just have the perfect life, don’t you? You’ve got your team and your friends and your family. And where’s mine? Oh. That’s right. Six feet under, right where you fucking left her.”
Sunny Shelly’s Review: 5 Star
Wreck My Plans is another great story in the North Haven University series by Kelsey Clayton, telling Carter and Tyeler’s story. It is a standalone, but events are referenced from the previous book, Change My Game, but I think the reader would be fine not going in without that background.
Now we know exactly why Tyeler transferred to NHU, and why she’s gunning for Carter: She wants him to pay for the death of her best friend, Davi. Even though Jace was wrongly tried for having killed Davi, Tye holds Carter responsible. After all, he was Davi’s fiance, and she blames him for taking her best friend away from her.
This book is all kinds of twisted, and Tye is really out of control. Some of her paybacks are harmless pranks but she crosses the line to illegal more than once. And Carter just takes it all because he’s been in love with her for years, and knows that she’s suffering and hurt. While it’s a bit outlandish that Tye never pays for anything she does, I read it knowing that I had to suspend belief. Carter carries his own guilt over Davi’s death, and has been worried about Tye ever since. He knows that her grief is consuming her, and rather than being pissed off about her antics, he is genuinely terrified for her own mental health. The worst part of it all is that Carter has the info that would make Tye stop it all, but he knows that revealing the truth to her about Davi would hurt her even more.
Wreck My Plans is a second-chance story with a bit of hate, lust, love, revenge and forbidden romance between two enemies to lovers who have both been hurt by events of the past and find a shred of peace in one another to move forward. I think Carter and Tye may be my favorite couple of this series so far… but I can’t wait for Easton and Kennedy’s story!
I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.
About Kelsey Kelsey Clayton is an internationally selling author of Contemporary Romance novels. She lives in a small town in Delaware with her husband, two kids, and dog.
She is an avid reader of fall hard romance. She believes that books are the best escape you can find, and that if you feel a range of emotions while reading her stories – she succeeded. She loves writing and is only getting started on this life long journey.
Kelsey likes to keep things in her life simple. Her ideal night is one with sweatpants, a fluffy blanket, cheese fries, and wine. She holds her friends and family close to her heart and would do just about anything to make them happy.