BOOK REVIEW: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

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From the author of Forever, Interrupted—hailed by Sarah Jio as “moving, gorgeous, and at times heart-wrenching”—comes a breathtaking new novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both.

When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.

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My first Taylor Jenkins Reid book and she’s made me a rabid, obsessed fan girl. After I Do is a startling, honest look into what happens after all the good stuff—of falling in love, of saying I do, and the moment when the honeymoon ends. Lauren and Ryan’s story took every possible scenario out of all of our own marriages. It’s about two people who’ve hit “rock bottom” into their marriage and must decide how to move forward from it. And what they agree on, though somewhat unconventional for most, come to be an insightful and emotionally packed journey.

I found myself mesmerized, totally sucked into their story from the very beginning up until I turned to the last page. I was riveted by the striking simplicity of its narrative; how the author’s words just so coolly flowed throughout the whole book yet it brought out such fierce feelings out of me. It was as if she’d peered through the windows of every couple’s homes and took note of what often becomes heated arguments over the most mundane things. It’s eerie how spot on these moments were and like me, it too will resonate with many of you. What was incredibly astounding for me was the realization that Lauren and Ryan experience from these little arguments; the recognition that they had just merely fallen out of love with one another. And isn’t it sadistically funny how the brunt of our anger and disgust seem to always fall to the ones we’d promised to respect, honor, and love for a lifetime? The defeat and the hopelessness that surround them weighed heavy in my heart because how many of us have been there before?

Though this be a work of fiction, it really was far from pretending because Taylor Jenkins Reid speaks to her readers, married or not through Lauren and Ryan and this to me is what makes for a five-star book. We step into the characters shoes and we live through their pain. Their brokenness, their confusion, their whirlwind journey to finding not only themselves but somehow, in some way, their way back to each other. How does one accept that the person they love the most has become the person they’ve begun to resent and how do you live without the person you can’t stand but cannot live without?

“That’s why we haven’t been having sex. That’s why we never try and please each other. That’s why we are never pleased with each other. Ryan and I are two people who used to be in love. What a beautiful thing to have been. What a sad thing to be.”

The familial element was strong in this book as well. With Lauren, she begins to appreciate the importance of her family during the lowest point in her life. Coming from a close knit family, it made me want to pick up the phone and tell my parents and siblings just how much I treasure them. Ms. Jenkins dives deep into Lauren’s relationship with her own family. Much of this book revolves around the Spencer brood—her sister Rachel, her brother Charlie, her mom and her grandmother. I absolutely loved how they stuck with Lauren, how they gave advice though at times weren’t ones she wanted to hear. They supported her in ways that kept her heart beating, she began to pay attention to each and every one of them in a way that kept her mind busy. Through her family, she somehow re-discovers who she is as an individual, one who is without a husband whom she’d thought she could never be without but instead Lauren finds that the sun continues to rise and that life continues to move forward even without Ryan and the scary yet liberating realization that she is OK with that.

“I’m not reflecting at all, really. I’m starting to just live.”

But being just OK isn’t really what we strive for in this life is it? Through drafted, unsent email letters, both Ryan and Lauren express their regrets, their wishes for the future, and at times even lashing out their anger to one another. This form of unabashed confession, a source of therapeutic release, they somehow begin to heal. Because this book is primarily seen through Lauren’s perspective, it is through these saved, unsent emails that we really get to see how life is moving along for Ryan as well. The funny thing about it is that the author allows her readers to be invested in Ryan’s character even without having him on every page of this book. His words though few in its entirety, were powerful and meaningful. I held on to all of them, to each letter he’d written and I’d hoped that he’d fight for Lauren and their marriage.

“And it wasn’t a passing feeling. It was real. I truly felt there was a hole in my life and the only thing that could fill it was you.”

So do these two somehow, in some way find their paths leading back to one another? I can’t tell you that, it’s something you’ll need to find out for yourselves… However what I can tell you this… So many times, I shed tears for the forgotten love, for the missed opportunities of looking beyond the petty misunderstandings, and for the cruelty shown—in words and in apathetic actions. After I Do jars your emotions, it infiltrates your own private thoughts and heartaches so much so I felt almost violated because how could this author speak so truly through her work of fiction? I cannot express enough just how wonderful and prolific this book is. Intuitive, candid, and exceptionally hopeful—After I Do is one that should be on everyone’s to be read list.

“All that matters in this life is that you try. All that matters is that you open your heart, give everything you have, and keep trying.”

We Like It Big Tunes:  

Music “All I Ask” by Adele

Choreography by Will B. Bell
Filmed and Edited by Jose Omar Hernandez
Danced by Dj Smart and Zola Williams

I will leave my heart at the door
I won’t say a word…
They’ve all been said before, you know
So why don’t we just play pretend
Like we’re not scared of what is coming next or scared of having nothing left!

Look, don’t get me wrong
I know there is no tomorrow
All I ask is…

If this is my last night with you
Hold me like I’m more than just a friend
Give me a memory I can use
Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do
It matters how this ends
‘Cause what if I never love again?

I don’t need your honesty
It’s already in your eyes and I’m sure my eyes, they speak for me
No one knows me like you do
And since you’re the only one that matters
Tell me who do I run to?

Look, don’t get me wrong!
I know there is no tomorrow
All I ask is

If this is my last night with you
Hold me like I’m more than just a friend
Give me a memory I can use
Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do
It matters how this ends
Cause what if I never love again?

Let this be our lesson in love
Let this be the way we remember us
I don’t wanna be cruel or vicious
And I ain’t asking for forgiveness
All I ask is…

If this is my last night with you
Hold me like I’m more than just a friend
Give me a memory I can use
Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do
It matters how this ends

‘Cause what if I never love again?

 

 

About the Author:

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Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author, essayist, and TV writer from Acton, Massachusetts. Her debut novel, Forever, Interrupted, has been optioned with Dakota Johnson attached to star. Her second book, After I Do, was called a “must read” by Kirkus. Her most recent novel, Maybe In Another Life has been featured in People, Cosmo, Bustle, Good Housekeeping, PopSugar, USA Today and more.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and their dog, Rabbit. You can follow her on Twitter @tjenkinsreid.

 

Good-bye, with Love By Niquel – Blog Tour

Title: Good-bye, with Love.
Author: Niquel
Release Date: Jan 15, 2016
Find on Goodreads
Have you ever wished you could have something so bad, even though you knew it was forbidden?
Jonathan Gates was just that—forbidden. He was everything I could ever want in a man: charming, a great listener, open-minded, and funny. It also didn’t hurt that he was easy on the eyes.
We’d been through a lot together: breakups, makeups, firsts, lasts, and anything else you can imagine. I was once told he was my soul mate, but I refused to believe that.
I didn’t want to love him. I didn’t want to fall for him because…he was my best friend!
But I did, and I fell for him hard. I was in love with my best friend, and it was time he knew how I really felt.
MICKEY ROSE’S DIARY
Age: Sixteen
Diary Entry: Broken
Dear Diary,
Here I am again, bawling my eyes out, heartbroken, and feeling so numb that I’m scaring myself. I feel like I’m being punished for wanting to love someone. Why is love such a tormenting thing for me? I wish someone could take the feeling of love away from me so I wouldn’t keep getting hurt. My heart feels like someone put their hand on my chest and dug their nails into my heart until it was a second away from stopping. 
When will it stop? The pain of rejection—that’s what this has to be. Once I fall for someone and make it clear they’re all I want, they slap me in my face and tell me with their actions that they don’t love me in the same way, whether they mean to or not. It took me a while to let him back in after the last time and now it’s happening all over again and I can’t face this hurtful truth. I never thought he’d put me through this again and now that I’m older and really understand what true love means, I didn’t think I’d be here all alone again. 
This was complete bull and the stupid note he left didn’t make things any better. How could he do this to me? And leave me a note so vague I don’t even know why he’s really leaving? Who would try to hurt his family? 
I tried so hard not to fall for him again and what does he do? He takes my heart, stomps on it, and buries it in the dirt. 
I can’t deal with this right now. Screw you Jonathan Gates. Even if it takes me years, I will get over you, and you better not try and weasel your way back into my life.
Good-bye to this chapter of my life. It’s time to grow up and enjoy the next few years.
-Michelle
Niquel is a self diagnosed coffee addict, lover of rice and beans, and chocolate—preferably not all together. She’s the creator of multiple stories full of love, passion, and power. She may toss in a ghost story every once in a while.

When she’s not busy taking care of her two little girls, she’s writing or creating graphics Or you can find her binge watching TV with her significant other. 

Boston born and raised, she’s always been a creative soul: attending multiple colleges to develop her love of the visual arts.

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COVER REVEAL: Where Lightning Strikes by AL Jackson

WHERE LIGHTNING STRIKES
A Bleeding Stars Novel Book 3
By: AL Jackson
Release Day March 22

SYNOPSIS
Do you know what it feels like right before lightning strikes? How you can feel the current running through your veins? The trembles of warning that ripple through the air? It was a thrill Tamar King chased all her life until it became the very thing she had to escape.
For the last four years, Tamar King has hidden herself in an isolated world she created. She was safe. No one could touch her. Until Lyrik West walked through her door.
He’s the lead guitarist for Sunder and everything she can never have. The dark and beautiful rock star becomes everything she craves.
Lyrik’s life has been devoted to his band and that success has cost him. Bitter, hard, and filled with regret, he refuses to lose himself again, but from the moment he sees her, he wants one night with Tamar King.
The gorgeous bartender is more than he bargained for. Their attraction is consuming. Their desire overpowering. With one touch, they ignite.
But is it worth the cost of getting burned?
She’s a gorgeous nightmare and he’s a wicked dream…
WHERE LIGHTNING STRIKES, a Bleeding Stars Stand-Alone Novel
Exclusive Pre-Order on iBooks: http://bit.ly/WLSiBooks
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/WLSGoodreads

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e42d6b4161/? ABOUT THE AUTHOR A.L. Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary and new adult romance. She first found a love for writing during her days as a young mother and college student. She filled the journals she carried with short stories and poems used as an emotional outlet for the difficulties and joys she found in day-to-day life. Years later, she shared a short story she’d been working on with her two closest friends and, with their encouragement, this story became her first full length novel. A.L. now spends her days writing in Southern Arizona where she lives with her husband and three children. Connect with A.L. Jackson online:www.aljacksonauthor.com To stay up to date with important news on A.L. Jackson, including new releases, sales, and exclusive specials and excerpts, text “jackson” to 96000 to subscribe! FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/aljacksonauthor TWITTER: https://twitter.com/aljacksonauthor GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5784542.A_L_Jackson?from_search=true AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/A.-L.-Jackson/e/B007RK7ZOU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1407086006&sr=8-2-ent Website: http://www.aljacksonauthor.com/ HTML

We are so excited to bring you the Cover Reveal for AL Jackson’s upcoming WHERE LIGHTNING STRIKES releasing March 22, 2016. We can’t wait for you to fall into this sexy emotional novel!

Where Lightening Strikes__ebooksm     Where Lightening Strikes__ebooksmDo you know what it feels like right before lightning strikes? How you can feel the current running through your veins? The trembles of warning that ripple through the air? It was a thrill Tamar King chased all her life until it became the very thing she had to escape. For the last four years, Tamar King has hidden herself in an isolated world she created. She was safe. No one could touch her. Until Lyrik West walked through her door. He’s the lead guitarist for Sunder and everything she can never have. The dark and beautiful rock star becomes everything she craves. Lyrik’s life has been devoted to his band and that success has cost him. Bitter, hard, and filled with regret, he refuses to lose himself again, but from the moment he sees her, he wants one night with Tamar King. The gorgeous bartender is more than he bargained for. Their attraction is consuming. Their desire overpowering. With one touch, they ignite. But is it worth the cost of getting burned? She’s a gorgeous nightmare and he’s a wicked dream… WHERE LIGHTNING STRIKES, a Bleeding Stars Stand-Alone Novel

Exclusive Pre-Order on iBooks

 

ADD TO GOODREADS

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aljacksonphotoA.L. Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary and new adult romance.

She first found a love for writing during her days as a young mother and college student. She filled the journals she carried with short stories and poems used as an emotional outlet for the difficulties and joys she found in day-to-day life.

Years later, she shared a short story she’d been working on with her two closest friends and, with their encouragement, this story became her first full length novel. A.L. now spends her days writing in Southern Arizona where she lives with her husband and three children.

Connect with A.L. Jackson online:www.aljacksonauthor.com

 

To stay up to date with important news on A.L. Jackson, including new releases, sales, and exclusive specials and excerpts, text “jackson” to 96000 to subscribe!

 

Out of Bounds (Boundaries #1) by A.R. Barley Review

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Out of Bounds (Boundaries #1)
by A.R. Barley

Stars: 4

Reviewed by:
Michelle

Synopsis:
When the weather outside starts cooling down, inside the dorm things are heating up. Can these college roommates fall in love without going out of bounds?

Beaten and heartbroken, Jesse Cole is placed in a new dorm room after his last roommate attacked him. Just wanting to be left alone to heal in peace, he’s shocked when tall, dark and dangerous-looking Nick Moretti walks in.

Nick doesn’t have time to tiptoe around his new roommate—he’s too busy working in order to pay for school. But something about Jesse brings out his protective instincts. As their cautious friendship grows and becomes loaded with sexual tension, he wants to make Jesse comfortable.

Enter the perfect plan: a line of tape down the center of the room. Boundaries established.

But as innocent movie nights become hours-long temptation marathons, and whispered chats from across the room delve into straight-up dirty territory, crossing the line has never been so satisfying.

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I really enjoyed this book. I’ve never read anything by this author before. And I just love reading new (to me!) authors! I feel like I found a diamond in the rough! And I had no clue she was an established M/F writer Aleah Barley.

Nick and Jesses journey was a bumpy one.

Jesse had something traumatic happened to him by the hands of someone he thought was a good friend. And it was really hard to move on or feel comfortable in his own skin after the whole incident.
Nick…. his new roommate had his own set of issues going on. He liked to be by himself. And not get close to anyone.
But once Jesse moved into his room. He just felt that he needed to help him out.

I loved how Nick thought of ways to make Jesse feel welcomed and safe in their room. He was super patient with Jesse. I felt their relationship happen naturally. Nick took things slow and he let Jesse set the pace of how things would go with them.

The drama between Nick and Jesse I felt was a little over the top. I mean… It all could have been worked out just by having a simple conversation. I just hate how something so little gets blown way out of proportion.
I also felt the whole Ryan situation was more than enough drama for the book. But I wish we would have gotten more from Ryan. He was a big part of the book. But he just pops in a couple times. And then nothing really.
I felt like we should have gotten more from him or the whole situation. I would have loved to get into Ryan’s head.

This was a good book. I read it in one day. Can’t wait read the next book in this series!

*ARC provided by publisher via netgalley*

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A.R. Barley is a writer of humorous (she hopes) contemporary romance for everyone. She writes M/M romance under the name A.R. Barley and M/F romance under the name Aleah Barley. After living all over the United States, she recently moved to Motor City with a fluffy Maine Coon Cat who is constantly trying to appropriate her computer. She also lives with a rambunctious Labrador and a sexy engineer who can wiggle his ears. She is preparing for the zombie apocalypse while she works on her next book.

Website
Goodreads
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COVER REVEAL: RoomHate by Penelope Ward

RoomHate

(A standalone)

A Contemporary Romance novel

New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

Penelope Ward

Cover designer: Letitia Hasser, r.b.a designs

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Add RoomHate to your TBR list on Goodreads!

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Pre-order your copy on iBooks HERE:

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Sign up for Penelope’s mailing list now dnbe the first one notified of releases: http://eepurl.com/MnXoH

RELEASE DATE: February 15, 2016

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Blurb

From New York Times Bestselling Author, Penelope Ward, comes a new standalone novel.

Sharing a summer house with a hot-as-hell roommate should be a dream come true, right?

Not when it’s Justin…the only person I’d ever loved…who now hates me.

When my grandmother died and left me half of the house on Aquidneck Island, there was a catch: the other half would go to the boy she helped raise.

The same boy who turned into the teenager whose heart I broke years ago.

The same teenager who’s now a man with a hard body and a hardass personality to match.

I hadn’t seen him in years, and now we’re living together because neither one of us is willing to give up the house.

The worst part? He didn’t come alone.

I’d soon realize there’s a thin line between love and hate. I could see through that smug smile. Beneath it all…the boy is still there. So is our connection.

The problem is…now that I can’t have Justin, I’ve never wanted him more.

Author’s note – RoomHate is a full-length standalone novel. Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

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Meet Penelope Ward

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Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor, before switching to a more family-friendly career. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 11-year-old girl with autism and a 9-year-old boy. Penelope and her family reside in Rhode Island.

Stalk Her: Facebook | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Private Fan Group

Other books from Penelope Ward

Sins of Sevin

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Cocky Bastard

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B&N: http://bit.ly/1EjxNpY

Stepbrother Dearest

Amazon  http://amzn.to/1mFNMeg

B&N: http://bit.ly/1taMFjG

iBooks: http://bit.ly/YER0mT

kobo: http://bit.ly/1fJaaBs

Gemini

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1vgk1SE

B&N: http://bit.ly/1KfmLHD

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Jake Undone (Jake #1)

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1dJrHBC

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My Skylar

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1obOG2F

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Jake Understood (Jake #2)

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iBooks: http://apple.co/1DQQwgC

kobo: http://bit.ly/1LQ7Fvk

COVER REVEAL: Dare Me by Rebecca Shea

We are so excited to bring you the Cover Reveal for Rebecca Shea’s DARE ME! DARE ME is a sexy contemporary romance releasing March 28, 2016. We can’t wait for you to fall into this novel…if you dare!

DARE ME - cover

Cover created by Regina Wamba with Mae I Design.

Preorder Exclusively at iBooks

Add to your Goodreads

 

About DARE ME:

Five coworkers.

Four drinks.

Three glances.

Two fleeting smiles.

One dare.

A dare that will change my life.

That’s all it takes to send me plummeting into the arms of the mysterious Holt Hamilton. Behind his crystal blue eyes is a secret, one that screams danger but calls to me anyway.

My name is Saige Phillips.

I never walk away from a dare.

 

 

Dare ME - full cover wrap

 

 

EXCERPT:

“I was watching you, Saige. I enjoy watching you.” Maybe that was bold of me, but I don’t care.

She audibly gasps, her chest rising and falling with each quick breath she takes.

I fix my eyes on hers and continue. “And I saw you watching me.”

Her upper lip twitches as she thinks of a sarcastic comeback. I can see the vein in her neck throbbing, along with the beat of her pulse before she finally whispers, “We shouldn’t do this.” She pulls a green olive off the toothpick floating in her martini, then she pops it into her mouth. The green olive matches her eyes perfectly.

I watch her shift uncomfortably in her chair for a few seconds before I respond. “Why not?”

“Because you’re my boss.” So naïve, sweet little Saige is.

“I’m actually not,” I tell her.

She frowns. “You own the company I work for, same thing.”

I clarify, “I’m part owner of the company you work for.”

She sighs. “Holt, this is just drinks. That’s all.” But her eyes tell me she wants more.

I lean closer to her. “It’s never just drinks, Saige.”

 

 

Author Photo - Rebecca SheaAbout Rebecca Shea:

Rebecca Shea is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Unbreakable series (Unbreakable, Undone, and Unforgiven) and the Bound and Broken series (Broken by Lies and Bound by Lies). She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her family. From the time Rebecca could read she has had a passion for books. Rebecca spends her days working and her nights writing, bringing stories to life. Born and raised in Minnesota, Rebecca moved to Arizona in 1999 to escape the bitter winters. When not working or writing, she can be found on the sidelines of her sons’ football games, or watching her daughter at ballet class. Rebecca is fueled by insane amounts of coffee, margaritas, Laffy Taffy (except the banana ones), and happily ever afters.

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter |Instagram |Goodreads

 

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PS…..You’re Mine by Alexa Riley Cover Reveal


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Add this to your goodreads shelf now. You know you want to.

 

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Katie Lovely signs up her class for a project, writing letters to Marines serving overseas, but a calculation error means she has to participate along with the class.

She isn’t prepared for what happens after she gets the first letter. 

Sergeant Major Mark Gunner is serving his last tour and looking forward to getting out of the Marines. When he gets a letter that captures his heart, everything suddenly changes.

Their worlds connect and letters flow, creating a love unlike any other.

But when their time is up and the letters stop, will his claim remain?

 

Warning: This is a super quick, sweet, and dirty read with a small Valentine twist. *whispers* Don’t worry, it’s a happily ever after!

 

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Alexa Riley is two sassy friends who got together and wrote some dirty books. They are both married moms of two who love football, donuts, and obsessed book heroes.

They specialize in insta-love, over-the-top, sweet, and cheesy love stories that don’t take all year to read. If you want something SAFE, short, and always with a happily ever after, then Alexa Riley is for you!

Author Links

Twitter  Facebook Website  Goodreads  Amazon Page  Instagram

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