Kiss To Belong Teaser

Are you ready for the next book in the Blairwood University series?

Get your first peek at #KissToBelong 👶

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•••

— BLURB —

  • Best Friends-to-Lovers
  • College Romance
  • Surprised Pregnancy
  • Virgin, Nerdy Hero
  • Party Girl Heroine
  • Forced Proximity
  • Roommates
  • Slow-Burn

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?

Full blurb coming soon.

•••

— TEASER —

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•••


— Kiss To Belong by Anna B. Doe —

Blairwood University (Book Five)

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Release Date: March 18, 2022
Genre: College Romance/ Friends-to-Lovers
📚 Add to your TBR: Goodreads
📘 Pre-order your copy now! Universal Link

•••

📣 Join the promotions!

Cover Reveal: February 25, 2022Release Blitz: March 18, 2022Blog Tour: March 19 – 25, 2022
Sign-up here ➡ Blogger & Bookstagrammer Sign Up

(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.

Follow Anna B. Doe on social media!

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Kiss To Defy by Anna B. Doe

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••

• BLURB •

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! 🙌

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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.

  • Opposites Attract
  • Hate to Love
  • Diverse Characters
  • Contemporary Romance
  • College Romance
  • Slow Burn
  • New Adult
  • Sports Romance

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.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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!

Prequel: Kiss Me First by Anna B. Doe
Book One: Kiss To Conquer by Anna B. Doe
Book Two: Kiss To Forget by Anna B. Doe

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Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo

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Not Meant To Be Broken by Cora Reilly

⚠ Warning: This review contains spoilers!

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••

• BLURB •

Some things aren’t meant to be broken, and therefore can’t be mended – ever. I was one of those things. Whatever had been shattered in the incident would never be whole again.

Amber struggles with the memories of a cruel attack that destroyed her life years ago. Realizing that she’s close to ending it all – something she promised her family to never try again – she moves in with her brother Brian and his friend Zachary to start a new life, and maybe even college. But how can she possibly live a normal life, when even a hug from her brother sends her into a panic attack? While Brian pulls back, Zach seems determined to make her feel relaxed in his presence, and soon her longing to be near him is stronger than her fear. But how can someone like Zach, someone who can have any girl, want someone like her? Someone broken.

When Zach spots Amber for the very first time, he can’t believe she is the same girl his friend Brian described as broken. Suddenly, Zach wants to give up his womanizing ways and help Amber live again – show her that closeness can be something wonderful.

But her brother Brian isn’t the only one who’s worried about the bond that’s growing between Amber and Zach. Even Zach knows that there’s more at stake than the fury of a scorned woman. Amber isn’t like all the girls Zach discarded after a night together – if he messes up, that could break her for good. But Zach can’t stay away from Amber.
Can Zach help her heal? Or will he be the one to push her over the edge?

•••

• MY REVIEW •

Please note: This book contains sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers. It contains graphic sexual assault, violence, attempted suicide, and mental/ psychological abuse. Take into consideration before starting this story. 

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I’ve been a massive fan of Cora’s for years and whilst I had initially discovered her through her mafia series Born in Blood, I knew I wanted to go through her backlist of books when I had the chance. Not Meant To Be Broken was one of her most earliest stories and not mafia related at all. I had previously read reviews on this book and I admit it was partly the reason as to why I hadn’t read it sooner (and partly because for a while there I was strictly an adult, dark romance mood reader). 🤷‍♀️😅

After having read it, I have mixed feelings about the story… mostly the direction it headed and the overall flow. I loved the initial premise. I thought it was intriguing having a main character who had suffered from a brutal, totally heinous experience and is now living a debilitating and limiting life. I’ve read a couple of contemporary romance books that centred around young heroines who were rape victims. Their stories were personal, life-changing journeys of overcoming their demons and having the strength to move on and live their lives.

Whilst Amber’s story has the same structure, I found the vividness of Amber’s attack and the situations connecting to that event truly heart-wrenching. As I mentioned earlier, this is one of Cora’s earlier books, but one thing that she’s always managed to do with her writing style is capture readers’ attention. Right off the bat, you know there is something unusual about Amber, and as her story gradually unfolds, the more I was drawn to her as a person and wanting to see how her character would develop.


“Could I even feel safe in someone’s arms? Could I feel safe in Zach’s arms?”


There’s an unease in the atmosphere that plays well in making you feel not only for Amber and her circumstances, but those closest to her who have been just as affected. It feels overall realistic and quite relatable. It’s a tragedy; a work of fiction that hits so much with reality because it’s a situation that’s constantly happening in our society.

I felt for Amber’s struggle to interact with her brother and father the way she used to in the past. I also felt both Brian’s and their father’s frustration and heartbreak over not being able to help her the way they had hoped to. There’s a lot of guilt surrounding this family that you can’t help but sympathize their situation. But looking back, this entire storyline could easily have been depressing and all-out gloomy but Cora has managed to include some lighthearted and warming elements to keep it going too angsty.

I loved Amber’s cat, his presence alone always made me smile whilst reading this book, and I surprisingly adored Amber’s unexpected but very sweet friendship with Reagan. I hadn’t expected Reagan to have such a role that she did, but I quickly grew to love their girly time! To be real, she was the only constant goodness from all the secondary characters… *whispers* and the only one with good sense. 🤦‍♀️

Hmm. Is it weird to say that I actually preferred the hero, Zach when he was strictly being friendly and a hospitable roommate more so than when romantic feelings started blossoming between them? 

There was something so endearing about Amber’s and Zach’s first introduction. I liked the dynamic he brought in by being the outsider who saw Amber in a different light in comparison to her family. What started swaying my opinion of him was his own personal issues outside of Amber and her circumstances. He’s described as a total man-whore who never even considered having a relationship with anyone, and whilst I always enjoy seeing a sexy hero eventually change his bachelor ways once “the one” comes a-knocking, for some reason I can’t quite pinpoint, I wasn’t completely sold on Zach. His behaviour gave me whiplash — one minute he’s the ever-so sweet and thoughtful guy, then the next he’s totally insensitive and such a…. ugh guy! 😒


“Maybe Zach was a mistake, but he was a mistake I wanted to make. It would be my choice.”


Unfortunately, the majority of the cast of characters in this story are of the male variant, and with the exception of Amber’s adorably broody cat and Amber’s father, the rest of the male population included are your stereotypical college douchebag boys — Yup. That’s including both Zach and Amber’s brother Brian! So in saying that, expect tons of eye-rolling drama that I, for one thought was both unnecessary and all around pesky to read through.

Honestly, more than half of the drama within this storyline was brought on by either Zach or Brian. If there wasn’t so much drama, this story would’ve been a lot shorter than it already was. Sigh.

I do however liked seeing the milestones and breakthroughs that Amber accomplishes. However, it would’ve felt a little more believable if they hadn’t come about all too quickly. She’s been in a reclusive, broken state for years, has extreme anxiety and not one for any physical contact… Yet she moves in with her brother and Zach, starts opening up, starts feeling more confident, which forms a romantic (and very much a physical) relationship with Zach all in a span of a couple months?! That’s quite a feat, am I right? 🤔

Whilst there were plenty of elements within that I thoroughly enjoyed, I can’t lie there were also parts that I wasn’t liking as much (hence my mixed feelings).

Amber’s and Zach’s relationship was somewhat of a slow burn at first. I thought their relationship was steadily developing, but halfway through I felt a shift in the pacing of the story. More issues started popping up at once and it felt like since it was nearing the end, it resulted in an abrupt wrap-up. Although the story was told from dual points of view, I truly think even a few more chapters would’ve done the trick in putting some depth to Zach’s life rather than a few scenes were you see him struggle and ultimately brush off his issues with his parents. Not to mention his parents’ relationship is totally fucked up! 

The first half was gripping and set the world-building but in my opinion, the second half was a bit anticlimactic. I think if Cora was to ever go back and revamp this story, an epilogue is definitely in order. The ending completely left me with so much unanswered questions and the overall storyline just felt incomplete.

Not just with Zach and Amber but with the side stories and secondary characters as well. For example, Amber’s brother Brian had a seriously unhealthy relationship with his girlfriend. What happened to them? I can’t possibly (and sorta refuse to) accept that they’re still together. Then, there’s of course Zach’s own personal story and his own demons. They weren’t exactly sorted by the end. And one of the things I desperately was curious about was Amber’s self “therapy” sessions. It was never mentioned if she continued on with it, and if not, it seems a little sad knowing the girl she was having these chats with no longer has Amber as her support system.

Ugh. Questions. Questions. Questions. I could go on. I would’ve rated it higher if it had a proper ending.

It might not sound like it but despite all my hang-ups and issues with this story, I did overall enjoy reading it. There’s a bit of suspense included, and like all of Cora’s books it was easy to follow. I liked seeing Amber’s growth and the friendship she’s made. Even with Zach’s inconsistency, I respected the fact that he truly cared for Amber, a gentleman in regards to her feelings and ensuring her empowerment. And I can’t deny, despite all the drama surrounding Amber, she had people who were willing to go above and beyond to assist her, to make her as comfortable as possible, and to know that she is loved.


“Sometimes you’ve gotta fall before you fly.”


This was an ugly-cry type of new adult romance story. It had some great elements, an interesting plotline, and a complex heroine. Even though the storyline was centred around a tragedy, I found the realism of the characters’ emotions authentic that I couldn’t help but get invested in their lives.

If you’re a fan of Cora’s and like me, wanting to check out her non mafia related books, then give this one a go. You might find it refreshing to read one of her contemporary romance books! 😉

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐¾

•••


Read more reviews for Cora Reilly’s books! 

🩸 Born In Blood Mafia Chronicles

Luca Vitiello by Cora Reilly
Bound By The Past by Cora Reilly
Bound By Blood Anthology by Cora Reilly

🔥 The Camorra Chronicles

Twisted Loyalties by Cora Reilly
Twisted Emotions by Cora Reilly
Twisted Pride by Cora Reilly
Twisted Bonds by Cora Reilly
Twisted Hearts by Cora Reilly
Twisted Cravings by Cora Reilly

📚 Standalone Romance/ Novellas

Sweet Temptation by Cora Reilly
The Dirty Bargain by Lylah James & Cora Reilly
King Thrushbeard by Cora Reilly
Forbidden Delights by Cora Reilly
Fragile Longing by Cora Reilly

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Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo

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Good Girl Complex Teaser

Take a look at Elle Kennedy’s upcoming release!

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GoodGirlComplex_Cover

•••

— BLURB —

She does everything right. So what could go wrong?

Mackenzie “Mac” Cabot is a people pleaser. Her demanding parents. Her prep school friends. Her long-time boyfriend. It’s exhausting, really, always following the rules. Unlike most twenty-year-olds, all she really wants to do is focus on growing her internet business, but first she must get a college degree at her parents’ insistence. That means moving to the beachside town of Avalon Bay, a community made up of locals and the wealthy students of Garnet College.

Mac’s had plenty of practice suppressing her wilder impulses, but when she meets local bad boy Cooper Hartley, that ability is suddenly tested. Cooper is rough around the edges. Raw. Candid. A threat to her ordered existence. Their friendship soon becomes the realest thing in her life.

Despite his disdain for the trust-fund kids he sees coming and going from his town, Cooper soon realizes Mac isn’t just another rich clone and falls for her. Hard. But as Mac finally starts feeling accepted by Cooper and his friends, the secret he’s been keeping from her threatens the only place she’s ever felt at home.

•••


— Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy —

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Release Date: February 1, 2022
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
📚 Add to your TBR: Goodreads
📙 Pre-order your copy now! Universal Link

Kiss To Forget by Anna B. Doe

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••

— BLURB —

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•••

— MY REVIEW —

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.

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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…

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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.

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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!

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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.

RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥/5

Thank you so much to Anna B. Doe for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💗

•••


Read my review for Kiss To Conquer!

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Blairwood University (Book One)

📔 Kiss To Conquer by Anna B. Doe


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Sending out good vibes to you guys! Happy reading and as always, catch you in my next one! Xo

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The Dare by Elle Kennedy

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•••

— BLURB —

College was supposed to be my chance to get over my ugly-duckling complex and spread my wings. Instead, I wound up in a sorority full of mean girls. I already have a hard time fitting in, so when my Kappa Chi sisters issue the challenge, I can’t say no.

The dare: seduce the hottest new hockey player in the junior class.

Conor Edwards is a regular at Greek Row parties…and in Greek Row sorority beds. He’s the one you fall for before you learn that guys like him don’t give girls like me a second glance. Except Mr. Popular throws me for a loop—rather than laughing in my face, he does me a solid by letting me take him upstairs to pretend we’re getting busy.

Even crazier, now he wants to keep pretending. Turns out Conor loves games, and he thinks it’s fun to pull the wool over my frenemies’ eyes.

But resisting his easy charm and surfer-boy hotness is darn near impossible. Though I’m realizing there’s much more to Conor’s story than his fan club can see.

And the longer this silly ruse goes on, the greater the danger of it all blowing up in my face.

•••

— MY REVIEW —

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Okay…

First off — I was not expecting to score an early copy of The Dare. I had a plan of rereading the first three books in Briar U before the release of this one so all the characters were fresh in my mind. But now, after having read this… my new game plan is to go back to the previous books because I am nowhere near ready to say goodbye to this amazing world that Elle has created.

If you’re unaware Briar U is a spin-off series to Elle’s original NA sports romance series; Off-Campus. If you read my reviews for those books (I’ll put the links at the bottom of this review)… I was 100% a Dean Di Laurentis fan! Solid. Like, nothing was going to sway me away from him. As far as I was concerned Dean was… King. Bae. Swoon worthy. Book BF Goals! Whatevs.

But in struts (yep…struts) Conor Fucking Edwards and practically squeezes himself into the throne right alongside Dean.

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I love Elle’s heroes in both her sports romance series’ because whilst they’re popular and seem to have the image of well-put together people, they’re nowhere near perfection that the rest of the student body seem to think. They have their own insecurities just like anybody else. They’re not your stereotypical arrogant jocks that think they’re better than everyone else. They’re also not all about the sports either. They’re witty, intelligent (they actually take their education seriously), have manners, standards, and are truly loyal individuals.

Conor is all those things and more. You couldn’t ask for a better friend and boyfriend!

“He’d rather make people around him feel good about themselves, even when it provides no personal gain for himself.”

You’ll see a lot of insecurities in this book. Just like the previous books in the series, you get to see these characters’ backstories prior to Briar University and hockey. You’ll see what hang ups they have about themselves and their family dynamics in comparison to their relationships with their friends.

Conor has a shady past that haunts him. But despite lingering issues, he manages to keep a very easy-going, level headed attitude for the most part — which I have to say in my opinion plays a essential role in some situations of this book.

Conor and Taylor are a perfect match. They balance each other out and whenever one of them is down, the other knows just how to pick them back up. The way they support one another when they don’t have the strength or courage to do it for themselves is one of the uplifting aspects of this book. Put aside all the fun and games, and blossoming romance between these two and you’ll see the strong friendship they’ve formed (even if it started from an unusual situation).

You’ll discover with this series (along with the Off-Campus series) is that all these leading characters have different, yet quite realistic situations that they’re dealing with that’s relatable no matter your age.

Taylor struggles with a lot of personal issues that she deals with all throughout the book. It’s insecurities that a lot of people can connect with on one level or another. Body image, self-doubt, low self-esteem, and a lack of confidence in one’s self worth are serious matters, and they are all present in Taylor’s personal story. Not to mention the fact that Taylor is a young woman who’s still navigating through life at school. But she’s also caring, thoughtful, humble and just so darn adorable.

Elle is not afraid of tackling difficult subject matters in her books, and The Dare is a great example of the awareness she puts out there, by having her characters really open up about these topics — and in turn as a reader (who may or may not know much about certain issues) learns more and becomes mindful of it.

But I should warn, besides the sensitive matters that these characters face, there’s also some sexual harassment and breach of consent within that may trigger some readers. Nothing graphic, but it is present.

Elle did an amazing job of discussing these matters with care, leaving not only her characters with power and choices to do something about it (which I know is not always the case in reality), but in this particular instance it left me feeling satisfied with how things concluded.

It’s well-paced with great expansion to an already ongoing world-building, and told from dual POVs. There’s a lovely balance of light and shade within their story. It’s never too heavy that it leaves one feeling drained, but it’s not a fluffy love story either. It’s current, full of substance with deep content and obvious character growth from both Taylor and Conor as individuals and as a couple.

One thing that stood out to me was the positive support system both these leads had. Other than the swoony romance, I’ve always loved the friendships that Elle has introduced in her books. This one did not disappoint. Their friends play significant roles in their lives.

With Taylor, she has a kickass bestie who not only is a firecracker but would easily throw down for Taylor in a heartbeat. She’s also not afraid to give Taylor a wake-up call whenever needed.

With Conor, it’s his teammates/ roommates who’ve become his close friends and have his back in any situation (despite their unrelenting but hilarious banter). They were the perfectly timed comic relief.

Theirs was a rollercoaster of a relationship with a lot of push and pull, a lot of second-guessing, and doubt that will have you going through a range of emotions from frustrated and anxious to hopeful and optimistic.

“Worst case, I get a good friend out of the deal. Best case, I screw her brains out. Win-win either way.”

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😂😂 Oh Conor… *shakes head*

And whilst hockey is undeniably present in this book, it was however hockey-light in comparison to the other books in the series. There’s a good chunk of it in the first half but as Taylor and Conor’s relationship develops further, hockey eventually takes a back seat.

The friendships here is by far the strongest highlight in my opinion with the secondary characters — but mostly between Taylor and Conor themselves. Some of my fave parts were them just getting to know one another, or casually chatting about random things. It was effortless, and lighthearted, and organic — and no doubt the introduction scene where their stories kicks off is a part of the book I’ve must’ve read numerous times by now because it’s THE funniest thing I have read in a long time. I’m talking snort-laughing and tears-in-my-eyes kinda funny!

This book will leave you with a smile on your face and feeling just a little bit lighter. If this was the final book (and I’m talking about Elle never going back into this fictional world again), then I say it ended beautifully.

“Listen up, everybody! It’s time to play Dare or Dare.”

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If you’re game, then I highly recommend you get onto this one immediately! The message and life lessons are insightful and uplifting. And you will love Conor Edwards. He’s a beautiful human being (albeit fictional, but meh.. still beautiful nevertheless).

RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥/5

Thank you so much to Elle Kennedy for the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy! 💗

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— The Dare by Elle Kennedy —

Briar U (Book Four)

SaveTheDateRelease Date: June 16, 2020

Add to your TBR: Goodreads

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•••

If you’re interested in any of my other reviews for Elle’s books, check out my reviews below for her Off-Campus series! 📚

The Deal by Elle Kennedy
The Mistake by Elle Kennedy
The Score by Elle Kennedy
The Goal by Elle Kennedy

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Start the Briar U series now!

The Chase is currently FREE on Amazon

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If you’re an avid romance reader, and you enjoy reading sports romances, then you gotta check out both of Elle Kennedy’s NA college series’. You won’t be disappointed. I guarantee it. 😊 Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo

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