Are you ready for the next book in the Blairwood University series?
Get your first peek at #KissToBelong 👶
— BLURB —
Virgin, Nerdy Hero
Party Girl Heroine
Maddox has been in love with his best friend for as long as he can remember, but to Alyssa he’s always been just that, a friend. Now that they’re forced to live together, will she finally see what’s been there all along?
(By signing up you automatically enter to win one of TWO signed paperbacks of Kiss To Belong – OPEN INTERNATIONALLY. The winners will be chosen randomly at the end of the book tour and e-mailed for shipping info).
— ABOUT THE AUTHOR —
Anna B. Doe
Anna B. Doe is a young adult and new adult contemporary romance author. She writes real-life romance that is equal parts sweet and sexy. She’s a coffee and chocolate addict. Like her characters, she loves those two things dark, sweet and with little extra spice.
When she’s not working for a living or writing her newest book you can find her reading books or binge-watching TV shows. Originally from Croatia, she is always planning her next trip because wanderlust is in her blood.
She is currently working on various projects. Some more secret than others.
She’s a figure skating prodigy. He’s a guy from the wrong side of tracks.
They belong to two completely different worlds…
After dedicating her entire life to figure skating, Rei Mitchell-Nagasaki is ready for a little bit of normal. And what’s more normal than attending college?
Zane West has had a rough life, but he’s found his way out of Ashton Heights and he isn’t about to lose it all when the demons of his past come knocking at the door.
… that are about to collide on the ice.
Rei has one semester to show her father that she can have it all—a normal life and making it to the Winter Games—but it’s not so easy when there is a broody hockey player standing in her way. Once heated arguments turn into sharing the rink and late-night kisses, neither of them will be able to resist the pull.
Will they manage to defy the odds or was their love doomed from the very beginning?
• MY REVIEW •
Another amaaaaazing addition to the totally addictive college romance series; Blairwood University by Anna! 🙌
Right from the very beginning this story had me engaged with that zinger of an opening scene between Rei and Zane… 🔥 *phew!*
If you adore sports romances, specifically hockey romances — this series is a must read. You can technically read each one as standalone books, but as someone who’s read them all, I can tell you now, you’ll want to read them in release order. The world-building from the first book sets the atmosphere not only within Blairwood, but amongst the friends, and from there it’s an ever-expanding world as you get to know more and more about each character in length through the books that follow.
Anna has kept it consistent with another character-driven story with well-paced storytelling as it delves into two opposite characters who find themselves having more in common than they first realized. The dual points of view was a perfect choice in sharing their story because you get in-depth insights into their relationship and compare where their heads are at on certain situations. Whilst Anna has already introduced some multicultural diversity when she first introduced these friends in the first book— Kiss To Defy is the first amongst them with leading characters who are POC (person/people of colour).
Although, both the hero and heroine are of colour, their different multicultural backgrounds alone wasn’t necessarily the biggest factor that was in the forefront of the story. If anything, it was mentioned more in passing as their overall social standing was more so the main obstacle in their budding relationship.
I connected with Rei fairly easily just from the description of her appearance alone. 😅 As a fellow Asian and a shorty to boot, Rei simply felt like someone I could relate and be friends with in real life. As the story progresses, you quickly discover with her personality she’s quite a likable character as well. She’s a person who’s ambitious yet yearns for some work/life balance by choosing to divide her time from skating with school and making friendships.
What I love about the books in this series is the dynamics amongst the friends, and this one was no different. It gave it a lot more dimension having all these secondary characters have some participation in creating layers within the story no matter how minor. In my opinion, Zane’s and Rei’s story was somewhat more sombre in comparison to all the previous couples that I found the few lighthearted moments throughout were refreshing breaks from the weighty issues that both Zane and Rei were dealing with. There’s just enough lightness and comic relief to keep their story from going too serious.
Please note this story contains some sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers. It delves into addiction, domestic abuse, and violence. Recommended for readers of age only.
I do have to point out that whilst I found the majority of the friends in this story very agreeable, I did find one in particular I was not a fan of. I found them to be a little pushy, rude, in-your-face, and at times disrespectful of others’ feelings. I won’t be naming names for a couple of reasons, one being that this is a no spoiler review, and two, this particular character has a book in the works (if sources are correct), so I’m hoping that my annoyance of said character doesn’t go any further than this book and that in my eyes they’ll have some redeeming qualities. 🙏
The entire book was an enjoyable read, but I would’ve preferred more build-up not only in their relationship but in the overall storyline too. Yes, there’s quite a slow burn romance going that kept me on the edge of my seat, but the overall story felt like it lacked a little more oomph that the other books in the series had in spades. I found certain plots started out well enough but fizzled by the end leaving it a little anti-climatic, whilst other plots felt like they came out of nowhere that it left me a little taken aback.
I did however liked seeing no game-playing between Rei and Zane. They both knew they had a bond and it felt very genuine seeing them whenever they were together.
As I said at the very beginning, this is another great addition to the series. I think it’s a must read for those who have come to love the series and invested in seeing each character get their own story. I admit Zane wasn’t on my radar as much as some of the other guys, but after having read Kiss To Defy, I have a newfound respect for him. Despite his difficult upbringing, it’s never discouraged him from wanting a better life for himself and willing to work hard for it. He’s also quite a considerate gentleman— which he proves time and time again with Rei. 😊
What I also enjoyed about this story besides the slow burn romance between the two, is the vivid feature of both Rei’s and Zane’s perspective sports. Especially Rei’s figure skating. Anna has managed to put a lot of detail and sport “lingo” that wasn’t overly done or overbearing to read about. On the contrary, I found it all fascinating and at times felt like I was actually learning a thing or two about each sport. Both Zane’s passion for ice hockey, and Rei’s ambition in her figure skating career were evident and figuratively oozed out of the pages. Right along with the unwavering support they had for one another in achieving their goals.
Their romance was far from easy but it was sweet and, in the end, triumphant. What started out as a misunderstanding between the two ended up being such a solid relationship. They might have had differences, but Rei and Zane are undoubtedly perfect for one another. Anna has written another swoon-worthy couple whom I can look forward to seeing make appearances in future books.
This one in particular had a lot of elements and tropes included. If you like any and all in your romance reads, then I recommend you give this one a try.
Hate to Love
I may have had a couple of hang-ups with some plotlines and certain characters in this book, but I can’t deny Anna’s writing style is effortless to follow and gets you invested in fairly early on. I love the consistency in effort and detail Anna puts into each of her books in this series that it’s hard not to want the next one right away.
Thank you Anna B. Doe for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💜
🔔 Interested in reading Kiss To Defy? Grab your copy here: Universal Link
🏈 Read my reviews for the Blairwood University Series!
Katherine Adams never thought she’d end up in a small town in Texas, but when things start to go south, it’s the perfect place to escape to.
Emmett Santiago, Bluebonnet’s golden boy, never imagined he’d fall so quickly, but one glance at Kate and he’s a goner.
Moving in with Katherine’s aunt her junior year of high school is the safest choice for her sister, and Katherine plans to do everything she can to make Bluebonnet their home. That most definitely doesn’t include flirting with a certain boy, no matter how charming his smile is.
Katherine might not believe in love, but Emmett is determined to win her over. When the sparks start to fly, who’ll be the one to make the first move?
• MY REVIEW •
Lé siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. 😍😍😍
This is just what I needed — a good ol’ wholesome and heart-filled romance story! This may be a prequel in the Blairwood University series and set in Bluebonnet but it gave just as much (if not more) feels as the other books already released. Ugh. I am officially calling Emmett my new favourite hero of this series! As much as I love a bad boy as the next chick, there’s something so special about a young well-mannered, sweet and caring gentleman!
I wholeheartedly believed Emmett whenever he set his mind to something or whenever he made a vow to Kate. He’s a straight-up good guy! There’s just nothing else to say. He’s one of those one in million guys any girl would kill to find… and it just so happens Kate managed to snag him without even trying! Dagnammit! 😄
What I truly love about this series is the groups of characters Doe creates to enhance her stories, and this book was no exception. I don’t think there was a single secondary character who wasn’t a friend or family member of Emmett’s who I didn’t like. They bring such contrast and dynamic to the group and their relationship with not only Emmett but Kate as well. I have to be honest there’s a couple of characters I’m actually hoping would one day get their own book, just so I can see what they’ve gotten up to since the time here. They’re just as developed as the protagonists with side stories of their own that I found just as entertaining to read through.
Whilst Emmett brings in the loyalty, openness, and trusty country boy charm to this story, Kate on the other hand is the new girl and comes off as someone who’s a little guarded and sceptical of trusting people (and rightfully so) — that is until Emmett (along with his best friends) brings her out of her shell and starts getting her to really open up and give Bluebonnet a chance.
There’s nothing to hate about either one of the lead characters. Kate may have her little hang ups but there’s a reason for it, but it no way makes her a disagreeable person. It’s the exact opposite, really, and it’s what makes her human and so relatable.
One thing that constantly popped into my head about this book is it has a lot of heart. I was almost taken aback by how much these characters are willing to go and beyond for those they love. Call it a cliché but this is definitely one of those “love conquers all” type of stories and I was digging it! ❤
It’s a coming of age, young adult romance that had me teary-eyed practically from start to finish. Doe has successfully gotten me invested in not only Emmett and Kate’s blossoming love story but their own personal stories as well. It evoked such emotion out of me. Ugh. I can’t say enough positive things about this book. I even reread it right after the first time because I was nowhere near ready to close the book (excuse the pun) on Bluebonnet.
Besides the slow-ish burn (but luckily not cruel) romance, you’ll find out the reasons behind Kate and her sister’s move to Bluebonnet. It’s unsuspecting, gave this story more dimension, and keeps you second-guessing the direction in which the story will head. Told from both Emmett and Kate’s points of view, the storytelling is very well-paced and had me hooked with the gradual development of their relationship. With high school drama, family struggles, secret crushes, and new friendships, it honestly gave me such nostalgia. Ahh youth. Hehe.
Young Adult Fiction
There’s so many romance subgenres/ tropes within this storyline yet they all work so well together. Even if you’re not a huge fan of sports (football) in your romance reads, this will still hold your attention. All the relationships in this book whether they were purely platonic or romantic, were believable and in my opinion developed quite organically. It didn’t feel forced or written in to pad the story. There’s hilarious banter, a little fire between our hero/ heroine, and honest to goodness moments throughout that’ll have you happy sighing.
*singsong voice* Loved it! It’s one of those books you can read over and over again and not get tired of. One of the best small town, teen romances I’ve read in such a long time. I would absolutely recommend not only this book but the rest of the books in this series. Such a great insight to a couple who were not necessarily in the foreground of the Blairwood University series but were always a couple that held my interest because of how easy-going and happy they always seemed within the group. So chuffed we got to see Emmett and Kate’s story. Well deserved and beautifully told!
If you’re looking for a feel good, lighthearted read, you have got to add this one to your reading list. You’ll sure giggle, swoon, tear up, and possibly hold your breath on more than one occasion reading through it. Amazing world-building where you truly feel transported to small town living, a tightknit community, and fresh country air! 😉
Thank you Anna B. Doe for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💛
🔔 Interested in reading Kiss Me First? Grab your copy here: Universal Link
Read my reviews for the books in Blairwood University!
This was a much anticipated read for me. I immensely enjoyed the first book in the series, and the way Yasmin and Nixon were first introduced in it gave me such a buzz for their story. They had such electricity between them in the little interaction they had in that book that I could only imagine the level they would reach when it was their turn to be in the forefront.
Kiss To Forget does not disappoint. I was invested and deep within the world of Blairwood University right from the very first chapter. This is only my second book of Doe’s but I feel like I’ve been missing out on all her addictive storylines and effortless writing style.
Omigosh. This book is a gradual build-up of pure excellence. I loved every minute of it. There is such sorrow and heartbreak throughout that it was difficult not to get affected by these characters and their lives. When I think about the emotions I went through reading this book, the one that stands out to me the most is gut-wrenching sadness. I was constantly teary-eyed. I think Doe has scored a touchdown with this one! There’s such layers, world-building, character development, and constant growth within all the relationships. It’s hard to fault when there’s so much depth and substance exhibited.
Kiss to Forget is now one of my favourite contemporary romances read this year and one I am sure to read over and over again. Yes, I am willing to break out more tears over Nixon and Yasmin!
Steadily paced and told from both their points of view. Nixon and Yasmin may very well be dealing with separate issues in their lives but they work at it together seamlessly. I don’t know how else to say it… it just works! The way they share, listen, and simply provide any kind of support they can is what truly makes their relationship one you can’t help but dreamily sigh over. What started out as an entertaining battle of glares, snarky comments, and heated arguments, gradually turns into a slow realization that they may actually have more in common then they initially thought. It’s a sight to see! 😍 An organically developed relationship formed from understanding and acceptance — to friendship — to blossoming love.
I was instantly enveloped in the world-building that was introduced in the first book — the friendships, the different dynamics, and the overall campus atmosphere. This book just expanded that world into so many more layers and possibilities — not only with the current secondary characters, but with new ones introduced that leaves you just as intrigued. Not only are you excited to read Nixon and Yasmin’s story, but in the back of your mind you’re anticipating the next set of characters to be featured.
But let’s go back to Nixon and Yasmin for a minute here…
I can’t put into words worthy enough to describe how much chemistry and zing these two have with one another. It didn’t matter if they were throwing hateful words back and forth or if they’re doing a complete 180 and being supportive, no questions asked. Their connection’s just palpable, swoony, and so relatable.
It’ll be tough to top this couple and their relationship off in my books. They physically, emotionally and mentally went through a roller coaster. Whilst there was a shit ton of heartbreak, Doe has wonderfully added enough lightness in between to keep this book from going too dark and depressing.
The dynamic between Nixon and Yasmin is one that goes so well with the enemies to lovers/ hate to love romance trope. It may be a stereotypical story of the popular jock and the overachieving nerd who eventually fall in love, but it damn well works!
But in saying that, these characters are so much more than their status quo. For one thing, Nixon isn’t all about sports, parties and hookups. You’ll see a different side to him here. One that’ll have you falling for him. Hard! But what got to me most was his imperfectness. He has flaws and makes mistakes, but what is so endearing about him is his willingness to try, his reliability, and most importantly his heart. You won’t always agree with his decisions, but you’ll sympathize because you know overall his heart is in the right place.
Yasmin on the other hand comes off as a no-nonsense young woman, who’s ambitious and goal-oriented. She practically has her future all planned out, but what happens when unexpected events get in the way of all those plans? The way Yasmin grows and evolves throughout this journey is just as emotional. You’ll feel for her and her vulnerability.
It’s amazing how two very different people from different backgrounds, who are dealing with completely different life changing matters, together find peace and common ground.
I can’t tell you guys enough how much this story unexpectedly blew me away. I already found it at such a high level of quality storytelling in the first half of the book, but once things escalated further in the second half, it reached an entirely new level. Everything from the atmosphere, to the relationships, to the build-up of their emotions was intense. You’ll discover relatively early that not everyone comes away from this story unscathed, yet there’s such suspense to see how things will unravel.
Kiss to Forget is new adult contemporary romance, that consists of an uphill journey, complex characters, a spectrum of feels, and one that’ll leave you both exhausted yet soothe at the same time. As Nixon is a college football player, there’s somewhat of a sports (American football) theme in the background but very minimal.
The story mirrors real life situations with certain subject matters that can be triggering for some readers. But it’s also an eye opener to the struggles some people go through in their lives. Beautifully told with all the highs and lows. It may be a work of fiction but I felt like it was portrayed with such realism that you cannot help but connect with these characters and go through their journey right alongside them.
I am all in for the secondary characters too! The support system they’ve created for one another, and the overall vibe of each personality that gives their group such diversity. All I can say is I hope we get a chance to see a lot more of them in the future!
You will get invested fairly quickly. It’ll break you (even if it’s only a little bit) but it will be well worth it. Have tissues at hand — you’ll need them! I highly recommend this series and especially this book! It can technically be read as standalone but you’ll be doing yourself a favor by reading Kiss To Conquer first to get this world and the characters in all its entirety.
Thank you so much to Anna B. Doe for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💗
After a terrible accident took everything from Callie Stewart, enrolling at Blairwood University is supposed to be a chance at a new beginning.
Living his best life, Hayden Watson, star wide receiver for the Blairwood Ravens, is heading straight for the NFL draft and nothing is going to stand in his way.
The present brings them together.
Their paths were never supposed to cross, but when they do, all those old demons and feelings come rushing back. Hayden thinks he knows all about Callie’s life before Blairwood and he’s not ready to let go of the past, much less forgive her for what she has done three years ago.
One thing’s for sure… it’s going to take more than a kiss to conquer their broken past.
— MY REVIEW —
Any expectations I had about this book prior to reading it was thrown out the window because this story was far more than it seemed. Based on the blurb I was expecting just a stereotypical storyline of two people who started off on the wrong foot, hated each other ever since, until certain circumstances push them together where they eventually develop romantic feelings.
Boy, was I wrong! Ha. 🙈
This story was so much more. So much! Callie and Hayden have such a deep history with one another where one thing just led to another. It snowballed from there to where you see them in the present after having ran into each other for the first time in years and having their past just come flooding back.
One thing that the blurb doesn’t hint at is that Kiss To Conquer centers around a sensitive subject. Callie was involved in a traumatic event that not only kicks off her introduction but something that is always in the forefront as this story develops along. It can be a difficult matter to add into any romance novel and not have it feel too heavy and depressing, but in my honest opinion Callie (and Hayden’s story) was written in such a clever way where you don’t get the full impact of her trauma in one go — Anna has kept it to a minimum, gradually revealing more and more of her past so as the reader starts getting an idea of what Callie has gone through so when the time comes when she does eventually share her entire past, it’s not a complete surprise.
It didn’t stop the tears though. Uh-uh.
This book will cause a flood! 😭😭 I kid you not. I hadn’t expected to cry as much as I did but it just wouldn’t stop. I was relatively prepared for the moment when Callie and Hayden’s pasts would come out but I hadn’t considered the emotion these characters would ooze out of the pages. I haven’t in a long time felt such sympathy for fictional characters. The hurt and pain that exuded from them was so realistic and so relatable that you can’t help but mourn right alongside them.
“I can pretend all I want that I’ve changed. But the sad truth is, some things? They always stay the same.”
However. Whilst I can say all these positive things now that I’ve read the entire book, and have had time to let it all sink in, I must admit whilst I was reading it, my first impressions of these characters were a little more on the annoyed side. I couldn’t understand why Callie and Hayden were acting immaturely towards one another when they could’ve just avoided confrontation by keeping silent or leaving the room. I felt like they went out of their way to be snarky with one another, and whenever their friends would question it, they merely brushed it off as if it wasn’t a big deal.
As a reader who usually can’t stand characters who constantly bicker, I’m glad I didn’t give up on this story because Callie and Hayden evolved over time, learned to listen, accept, and understand the other’s struggles. It’s slow paced, and their relationship was definitely a slow burn but it was well worth the wait. Their hesitancy to reconnect, along with the mystery of their past provided the storyline with enough build-up and curiosity to keep you engaged and seeing on how things will unravel.
A factor I wasn’t expecting but was happy to discover quite early on is that Callie isn’t your stereotypical stunner of a female protagonist. She has scars (physically, emotionally and mentally), and right off the bat I knew she would be a character so many people can relate to, one way or another. She carries a heavy burden throughout this book and it’s utterly heartbreaking.
As for Hayden… When you think jock, you can’t help but automatically assume that he’ll be an asshole who thinks he’s god’s gift to women. Okay yes, he was that stereotype at the beginning, but his POV also shows a completely different side to him. Dare I say his true side…?
These characters have layers. They have progression. They transform and mature.
Add that to a modern day backdrop and secondary characters that are just as much personable and intriguing, and this world that Anna has created is one full of substance and sentiment. There was a nice amount of “sports” within this sports romance… 😄 and not just in the background.
Told from both Callie and Hayden’s POVs, you’ll see there’s a lot of sorrow and heartbreak in this story. But was well balanced with the addition of friendship. Anna has created and included a diverse group of people to not only provide support for our main protagonists, but also add lightheartedness, and easy-going humor. Each one of these characters — from Hayden’s best friends and teammates, to Callie’s roommate and classmates have their own voices and strong personalities, which I look forward to seeing more of as this series expands.
“I’d rather battle the demons that haunt us with kisses than words.”
A truly enjoyable read. There was some tears, giggles, and an overall feeling of content. These characters are great examples of imperfection, learning from mistakes and the strength to move on with life and making the most of your time. Anna was able to write about a difficult subject and put a lot of care and effort into making it quite relatable. I love Callie’s growth and the steps she takes to work through her struggles. I love that she’s a working progress. I love that Hayden is such a strong support system, and an overall gentleman. I love that you can look back from beginning to end and clearly see character growth. Not going to lie there were times I felt frustrated with their actions and there were small things I didn’t necessarily agree with, but in the end, just like their friends, I couldn’t help but root for Callie and Hayden to find their happiness!
A highly recommend read for any NA/ adult reader who’s looking for a bit of angst in their contemporary romance books, and who enjoys a bit of hate-to-love!
Thank you to Anna B. Doe for the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy! 💗
🔔 Interested in reading Kiss To Conquer? Grab your copy here: Universal Link
Thank you for reading 😊 Make sure to check out my Contemporary section of my Book Reviews if you’d like to read more sports romance reviews. Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo