We all know Hazel for her dark, emotional, and lethal romances, but, hello world, Ms. Grace has just shown another side of herself and it’s a good one.
Crazy For This Girl is an uber emotional, contemporary romance of two best friends, Cal, and Laynee. Cal and Laynee meet at her cabin’s lake house one summer and the rest is history. Through letters, calls, and visits to the lake, their friendship continues to grow and it’s a beautiful one until it isn’t. Here is where Hazel’s tortuous mind takes over and she has found a new way to torment us, with a different repertoire of words, evoking a new skill set of emotions, and feelings.
While there were MANY times throughout this book that I found myself cursing at these characters (both primary and secondary), felt like pounding my head against a wall, or downright facepalming, I also fell in love.
Despite being claimed by another reader (Dee😉), I also need to stake my claim to him. Cal is a beautiful soul, who has bravely withstood a lot. He has burrowed his way deep inside, forever leaving me with a piece of him. He is an understanding and sweet soul who has metamorphosed into the biggest a-hole with a chip on each of his shoulders. Despite all this, I fell in love with Cal.
Laynee is this vessel full of love, freely giving it away to anyone that she holds near and dear. Are things easy for this sailor swearing, bullheaded, and quick-witted girl? Nope, not even close, but this is Laynee, she’s tough when she needs to be and feisty.
CTFG is chock full of amazing characters with a prodigious storyline and plotline. Be prepared to swoon, laugh, cry, and get mad.
Beyond the Roses was one of my most anticipated reads this year, yet, when it came time to sit down and read it, I was scared. I had heard all the hype and had read the blurb almost a million times and I wanted it. No, I needed this book in my life, but was afraid of what Monica is going to pull out of me. I finally found the courage to dig in after supplies were sufficiently stocked. You know the usuals, tissues, chocolate, and a drink, particularly a rum and soda.
BTR is everything you have ever hoped to achieve in writing/reading a book. The character development was beyond anything I have read. The storyline flowed from beginning to end with ease and Monica’s plotline was top notch. While reading, it was evident that she did her research and did this well, because the first tear fell at 5% (approximately).
These characters, Roman, Lola, Sadie, June, and others were gripping and real. I was so invested into these characters, that I was one of them. I could feel everything they were going through, everything they were experiencing and everything fearful of what might happen, because I have been there and could empathize. As I am sitting there bawling my eyes out, I still had hope that things would turn out well for the gang. The closer I got to ‘The End’, the more emotionally invested I had become. I felt my world splintering into a million pieces with the hope that I will be fixed at the end. Let me just say, I do not know if I will ever be ok again. Beyond the Roses, has set a new gold standard for future books. You know, those books that want to make you feel. The ones that stir up all kind of emotions. It has been three days since I read BtR and I am still shedding a few tears. Monica James has emotionally and spiritually changed me, and I am ok with that.
As I mentioned earlier, Beyond the Roses revolves around Lola Van Allen and Dr. Roman Archibald. They develop a relationship that may be unconventional but is perfect for them. As time passes, they realized that they have found ‘their person’ that fills their heart perfectly. Two individuals who have become one.
Lola is a 25-year-old, who has decided to spend her summer at camp named Strawberry Fields, where she will be a camp counselor. Without going into detail, let me just say, that this is where she needs to be. Where she feels, she would be the most needed and wanted.
“Never underestimate your impact on the world. You just may be someone’s reason for living”.
Dr. Roman Archibald, (insert water works), is the staff physician at the camp, while working at a hospital as well. He feels that his life’s work is to work and keep himself busy. Out of everyone, he is the person that I found was the most emotionally invested. He had a horrible amount of weights on his shoulders and a wall eclipsed so high that even a pole jumper could not reach the top. Roman has his own individual story and it was delightful to see this big guy fall.
Beyond the Roses is so much more than an emotional dirty bomb that is thrown in your lap waiting to go off and fill your life with the emotions of the character/situation. It is about love. A rare love found in the most unconventional places. The acceptance of situations and surroundings, despair, sacrifice and most notably hope.
“I would rather live a day being loved by Roman, than live a lifetime without him by my side.”
I feel like I need to apologize. I feel and fear, that no matter what I write, it will never be enough to express the greatness and multitude of emotions that bounce off the pages when reading Beyond the Roses. I will reiterate, you will need Kleenex and something comforting to you, whether that be a blanket, a pet, or a special reading area. Monica James has not only hit this one out of the park, but she has also won the Super Bowl and effortlessly raised the Stanley cup above her head after winning. This one will truly stay with you and permanently take up residence within your soul!
“Lead with your heart…and you’ll find me. Always.”
This book is not for everyone and I get that I really do, but if there is one book that you should take a chance on, I believe, this is the one. Roman and Lola’s story is not one you would easily forget.
***PS…I really thought I was going to make it through this whole review without crying. WRONG! I read a passage I had highlighted and, BAM, instant crying.
I’m young and rich, and some may even say I’m beautiful. But I would give anything to be somebody else because after being extraordinary all my life, all I wish for is…silence.
My name is Lola Van Allen, and there’s no easy way to say it, but…I’m dying.
When my doctors reveal all hope is lost, I decide to spend the time I have left sharing my experience at Strawberry Fields, a summer camp for terminally ill children. No matter my fate, I yearn to make a difference.
Things are quiet and slow-moving until I meet him.
Dr. Roman Archibald.
From the moment our lives entwine, he pushes me until breaking point. But for someone who has nothing left to lose, I push back twice as hard. Roman challenges me in ways I never imagined, revealing things aren’t always what they seem.
This is my story…and how I got a second chance at life.
Monica James spent her youth devouring the works of Anne Rice, William Shakespeare, and Emily Dickinson.
When she is not writing, Monica is busy running her own business, but she always finds a balance between the two. She enjoys writing honest, heartfelt, and turbulent stories, hoping to leave an imprint on her readers. She draws her inspiration from life.
She is a bestselling author in the U.S.A., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, and the U.K.
Monica James resides in Melbourne, Australia, with her wonderful family, and menagerie of animals. She is slightly obsessed with cats, chucks, and lip gloss, and secretly wishes she was a ninja on the weekends.
Best. Book. Hangover. Ever! I have loved everything LJ writes, because this girl CAN WRITE! With that said, everything I have read before (All Saints High, Sinners and Saints, The Kiss Thief, etc.), feel small and inconsequential compared to Playing with Fire! Sure, they all received five stars, but if that is the case, PWF should receive a million stars.
I love West, but for the usual reasons. He is grumpy, sour, bitter, an a-hole, underground fighter, who can ‘drop panties wherever he walks’ hot. A popular bad boy, who is reckless, fearless, has a death wish and is broken. Needless to say, he is a fantastic male Hero with baggage to boot.
The star, though, of this whole book is Grace. I am madly and deeply in love with her. She is your unconventional, flawed modern heroine. She is strong, feisty, insecure, loaded with self-esteem issues (yes, she can be strong and still lack confidence), loyal, lovable, and the source of local fodder. She is a fighter with the true heart of a phoenix. Grace is inspirational and a character to look up to.
Leigh has completely outdone herself. Playing with Fire is raw, emotional, gritty, gripping, and above all, a love story for the ages. A love story that is raw, slowly simmering from friendship to more. If you want angst, this is for you. If you want, drama, this is for you. Above all, if you want an emotionally driven, no holds barred, self-loving book, this is definitely for you. Playing with Fire is consuming, so consuming, that I did not even realize I was crying through most of it.
“The worst day of your life gave me the best version of you.”
I do not think I could ever write how incredible this book is and still do it justice. Simply put, it is magnificent. I was unprepared for the trek that I was taken on, but lord knows, that I will willingly go through it all over again. If you only read ONE book this year, Playing with Fire is that book. Without a shadow of doubt, this book is most definitely in my best of 2020 books.
I have been a fan of the Mendoza series since Cabezon and of Ms. Croft since the beginning. There is one thing that she always brings to all her characters and that is heart, a passion if you will. Whether you have a troubled child with familial issues, a teenage mother stuck in an unhealthy living situation or an adult with commitment issues, their characters are passionate. This is completely evident within Jugador. This book is about Marco and Lily. Their heartfelt, emotional, and sometimes not so magical relationship has developed over many years.
Vicente and Emilio both have stolen my heart for different reasons, but I’ve found that I need to find a little more space in my heart for Marco Cruz. He might be my favorite family member yet. He is a scared and troubled boy with family issues who grows up to be a scared and troubled man with family issues and too much money at his disposal. My heart broke to read about this football God who had it all yet underneath all that hard-exterior shell he was still a scared little boy trying to take care of himself.
Lily is the only female in the Mendoza family (poor girl), who is highly overprotected and therefore, treated like a little kid. She has always had a little crush on the football stud who happens to her brother’s best friend. You know what that means, Lily is off limits. There are many misunderstandings between the Mendoza’s, Marco, and Lily when a secret comes to life. With that, Lily does not see Marco for another ten years. Lily is a super sweet, yet feisty individual. She would help anyone out if only asked and it is because of this that something unexpected happens.
Marco and Tiger Lily seem fated to be together, but sometimes, fate can be wrong and the next thing you know, you are a missed connections ad on Craigslist. It is so gut-wrenching and emotional as a reader to go through these obstacles along with Marco and Lily. I cried, sometimes a lot, screamed, had to walk away, and often re-read parts to make sure that I got it. Rose wrote these two characters fantastically. They tore apart my heart and then stitched it back up wrapped up in a pretty, shiny bow.
Jugador is, by far, one of my top reads. It was authentic, humbling, spicy, hot, enlightening, cry inducing, and overwhelmingly bewitching. Grab Kleenex, your support animal/object and dive into ‘that’ book of the year, Jugador!