Review: Charged (Saints of Denver, #2) by Jay Crownover

Charged (Saints of Denver, #2)Charged (Saints of Denver, #2) by Jay Crownover

Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Page Count: 384
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: eArc from Publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Avett Walker and Quaid Jackson’s worlds have no reason to collide. Ever. Quaid is a high powered criminal attorney as slick as he is handsome. Avett is a pink-haired troublemaker with a bad attitude and a history of picking the wrong men.

When Avett lands in a sea of hot water because of one terrible mistake, the only person who can get her out of it is the insanely sexy lawyer. The last thing on earth she wants to do is rely on the no-nonsense attorney who thinks of her as nothing more than a nuisance. He literally has her fate in his hands. Yet there is something about him that makes her want to convince him to loosen his tie and have a little fun…with her.

Quaid never takes on clients like the impulsive young woman with a Technicolor dye job. She could stand to learn a hard lesson or two, but something about her guileless hazel eyes intrigues him. Still, he’s determined to keep their relationship strictly business. But doing so is becoming more impossible with each day he spends with her.

As they work side-by-side, they’ll have to figure out a way to get along and keep their hands off each other—because the chemistry between them is beyond charged.

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I have to admit that I was a bit leery going into Charged because I haven't liked Avett since she came on the scene in the previous series (Marked Men.) So, I decided beforehand that I would put aside my dislike and try to start with a clean slate. I'm glad I did, because while I can't say I totally love her now, I like her well enough, and that's good enough for me. Quaid, on the other hand, I did love. He was strong, thoughtful, and considerate... and looked perfect on the outside. But inside he was a bit insecure, which made him more likable. I also enjoyed his interesting backstory. He and Avett were complete opposites, but they worked so well together. Of course they had off the charts chemistry, and something just clicked when they were in close proximity.

I love that this was written in dual POV. I just really enjoyed getting both perspectives! It always makes the story more interesting for me. This book had a few surprises along the way, and I was happy with the way the story developed.

I was proud of Avett once she decided to turn her life around. She judged herself more harshly than those she had hurt, and she didn't think she deserved to be let off the hook so easily. But everyone around her surprised her by being supportive, and I was glad they didn't hold her past against her.

Overall, this turned out to be a very entertaining story. I loved seeing some of the 'guys' again, and getting a glimpse of new characters whose stories are coming.

Before I forget, I have to mention that I'm looking forward to more Wheeler! I got the tiniest bit of him in Charged (big sigh...) and it just made me want more, more, more! So it looks like Wheeler and Poppy will be getting their own story soon. I can't wait.

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My rating: 4 stars
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Excerpt and Giveaway - Release Week Blitz - Charged by Jay Crownover

CHARGED - RWB Banner

From New York Times bestselling author Jay Crownover comes CHARGED, the latest in her sexy The Saints of Denver Series, releasing May 24th! Known for her strong heroines and alpha males, you won’t know what hit you as you read Avett and Quaid’s story. Keep reading for more about the Legal Eagle and Avett and order your copy today.



Amazon ** iBooks ** Barnes & Noble ** Kobo

About CHARGED:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the second installment in the Saints of Denver series featuring a bad girl and a by the book attorney who could be her salvation…or her ruin.

Avett Walker and Quaid Jackson’s worlds have no reason to collide. Ever. Quaid is a high powered criminal attorney as slick as he is handsome. Avett is a pink-haired troublemaker with a bad attitude and a history of picking the wrong men.

When Avett lands in a sea of hot water because of one terrible mistake, the only person who can get her out of it is the insanely sexy lawyer. The last thing on earth she wants to do is rely on the no-nonsense attorney who thinks of her as nothing more than a nuisance. He literally has her fate in his hands. Yet there is something about him that makes her want to convince him to loosen his tie and have a little fun…with her.

Quaid never takes on clients like the impulsive young woman with a Technicolor dye job. She could stand to learn a hard lesson or two, but something about her guileless hazel eyes intrigues him. Still, he’s determined to keep their relationship strictly business. But doing so is becoming more impossible with each day he spends with her.

As they work side-by-side, they’ll have to figure out a way to get along and keep their hands off each other—because the chemistry between them is beyond charged.


CHARGED - RWB Teaser 1

And don’t miss the first titles in The Saints of Denver Series!


LEVELED


BUILT


Quaid

She let her arms fall and scooted forward on the chair. She leaned forward and looked at me intently. Her eyes were mesmerizing and I found myself distracted by all the different colors trapped there. I had to ask her to repeat herself when I realized she said something and was waiting for a response from me. I needed to get my head in the game where this girl was concerned…this girl…that was the part I seemed to keep forgetting.

“What did you say?” My voice dipped lower than it normally was and I shifted in my seat as other parts of me started to notice all the interesting and attractive things about Avett Walker as well.

“I said, I Googled you.” She swept some of her hair back from where it had fallen over her shoulder, and I literally had to force myself to keep my gaze locked on her face as the motion pushed her chest up higher and tighter against the plain, black T-shirt she had on.

“Oh, yeah? How did that work out for you?” I knew what she would find: my service record, my wedding announcement, my work history from the firm, various tidbits on my most high profile cases, and various articles chronicling my divorce. Most divorces weren’t newsworthy, but when one of the people involved came from money and the other was as high profile as I was, it made for good filer on a slow news day. I was curious to see what her interpretation of the snapshot of my life that existed on the internet was.

She got up from the chair and started to pace back and forth in front of my desk as she talked. “It worked out well enough, I guess. I saw that you were enlisted when you were younger, which explains why my dad immediately liked you.” She looked at me over her shoulder and a tiny grin tugged at her mouth. “He doesn’t usually like anyone instantly. It takes him a while to warm up.”

I listened with half an ear as I watched her brightly colored hair swish around her shoulders. She didn’t come across as the girly or overly feminine type, so I wondered why she had gone with such a delicate and pretty pink when coloring her hair.

“I learned that you’re a Colorado native, that you grew up in the mountains, that your birthday is right around Christmas, which means you’re almost thirty-two, so you’ve accomplished a lot in your career in a short amount of time. I also learned that you own a lot of suits.”

I snorted out a surprised laugh at that last part, which made her stop pacing. She took a step closer to my desk and put her hands on the opposite edge, leaning forward. The new position made her T-shirt gape at the collar, and even though I refused to look down, I could see the hint of a leopard-print bra peeking out. That hint of something forbidden made my mouth go dry and had my pulse kicking. It was a powerful reaction to very little provocation, and I made myself beat it back, forcibly.


About Jay Crownover:


Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point,and the Saints of Denverseries. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

Website ** Blog ** Facebook ** Twitter

CHARGED Goodreads ** Jay Crownover Goodreads


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Waiting On Wednesday (236) 738 Days by Stacey Kade

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

Wednesday has become my favorite day of the week because I get to share the books that I am super excited about and can't wait to read.

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Expected publication: June 7th 2016 by Forge Books

Synopsis from Goodreads:

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers―Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.

Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he's sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

I enjoyed Stacey's The Ghost and the Goth series and Project Paper Doll series, so I added this to my tbr when I first saw it. It's a contemporary, and it sounds more like NA than YA, so it will be nice to read something different from her.

What are you waiting on this week?
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Excerpt and Giveaway: Charged by Jay Crownover


From New York Times bestselling author Jay Crownover comes CHARGED, the latest in her sexy The Saints of Denver Series, releasing May 24th! Known for her strong heroines and alpha males, you won't know what hit you as you read Avett and Quaid's story. Keep reading for more about the Legal Eagle and Avett and order your copy today.

CHARGED - cover

Amazon ** iBooks ** Barnes & Noble ** Kobo


About CHARGED:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the second installment in the Saints of Denver series featuring a bad girl and a by the book attorney who could be her salvation...or her ruin.
Avett Walker and Quaid Jackson’s worlds have no reason to collide. Ever. Quaid is a high powered criminal attorney as slick as he is handsome. Avett is a pink-haired troublemaker with a bad attitude and a history of picking the wrong men.
When Avett lands in a sea of hot water because of one terrible mistake, the only person who can get her out of it is the insanely sexy lawyer. The last thing on earth she wants to do is rely on the no-nonsense attorney who thinks of her as nothing more than a nuisance. He literally has her fate in his hands. Yet there is something about him that makes her want to convince him to loosen his tie and have a little fun…with her.
Quaid never takes on clients like the impulsive young woman with a Technicolor dye job. She could stand to learn a hard lesson or two, but something about her guileless hazel eyes intrigues him. Still, he’s determined to keep their relationship strictly business. But doing so is becoming more impossible with each day he spends with her.
As they work side-by-side, they’ll have to figure out a way to get along and keep their hands off each other—because the chemistry between them is beyond charged.


CHARGED - Tour Teaser 1

And don’t miss the first titles in The Saints of Denver Series!


LEVELED - cover

LEVELED


Studio portrait of young bearded man --- Image by © pinkypills/Corbis

BUILT


Jay Crownover - author picAbout Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denverseries. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

Website ** Blog ** Facebook ** Twitter

CHARGED Goodreads ** Jay Crownover Goodreads



Avett

I blew out a breath and felt that bottom I had careened onto reach up to embrace me even tighter. “It is what it is. I’ve let both my folks down a lot over the last few years but getting caught up with a guy that would rob the bar, a guy who could threaten my dad’s people.” I shook my head. “I deserve to rot.”

I was being overly dramatic but that’s how I felt. I deserved to sit in jail and so much worse than that. Self-pity was good company down here at rock bottom and I wasn’t ready to let go of the warmth it provided just yet.

He gave me a look I couldn’t read and headed for the door. “I’ll call your parents for you and see if we can have something in place before tomorrow. Working on your case will be a lot easier for both of us if you aren’t incarcerated. Remember, you need to listen to me, Ms. Walker. That’s the first rule in all of this.”

Panic hit me like a truck. What if he called my dad and my dad told him he’d had enough of his problematic daughter and her endless nonsense? What if he couldn’t love me anymore? Jail I could survive; losing my father for good, well, it would be the end of me.

Without thinking I jumped to my feet, which had the chains on both my hands and my legs rattling loudly, and two uniformed officers hurried into the room. I was about to make maybe the worst decision to date but I couldn’t stop the words from sliding off my tongue.

“Don’t call my dad!” Recklessness, thy name was Avett Walker.

The attorney turned around and looked at me like I had grown a second head. He didn’t say anything as the officers moved to either side of me and told me to calm down.

“You can’t call my dad.” The words sounded as panicked and as desperate as I felt on the inside.

His broad shoulders lifted and fell in a shrug like he really couldn’t give a shit that he was about to ruin my life…which was saying a hell of a lot considering where I was.

“I have to.” He sounded bored and impatient with my outburst.

I narrowed my eyes at him, and that vortex of awful, which I always seemed to be smack dab in the center of, started to spin faster and faster around me.

“Then you’re fired.” I saw the cops exchange a look and my rushed words had the blond man turning fully back around to look at me. “I don’t want your help. I don’t want anything from you.”

Finally, there was something other than indifference in his gaze. There was surprise, maybe a hint of admiration colliding with a huge splash of humor in the pale depths.

“Sorry, Ms. Walker, but you didn’t hire me, so that means you don’t get to fire me.” That grin of his, which should be registered as a deadly weapon, flashed across his face again as he watched me, and then he was gone.




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I have to admit that I was a bit leery going into Charged because I haven't liked Avett since she came on the scene in the previous series (Marked Men.) So, I decided beforehand that I would put aside my dislike and try to start with a clean slate. I'm glad I did, because while I can't say I totally love her now, I like her well enough, and that's good enough for me. Quaid, on the other hand, I did love. He was strong, thoughtful, and considerate... and looked perfect on the outside. But inside he was a bit insecure, which made him more likable. I also enjoyed his interesting backstory. He and Avett were complete opposites, but they worked so well together. Of course they had off the charts chemistry, and something just clicked when they were in close proximity.

I love that this was written in dual POV. I just really enjoyed getting both perspectives! It always makes the story more interesting for me. This book had a few surprises along the way, and I was happy with the way the story developed.

I was proud of Avett once she decided to turn her life around. She judged herself more harshly than those she had hurt, and she didn't think she deserved to be let off the hook so easily. But everyone around her surprised her by being supportive, and I was glad they didn't hold her past against her.

Overall, this turned out to be a very entertaining story. I loved seeing some of the 'guys' again, and getting a glimpse of new characters whose stories are coming.

Before I forget, I have to mention that I'm looking forward to more Wheeler! I got the tiniest bit of him in Charged (big sigh...) and it just made me want more, more, more! So it looks like Wheeler and Poppy will be getting their own story soon. I can't wait.

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My Rating: 4 Stars

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Waiting On Wednesday (235) P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

Wednesday has become my favorite day of the week because I get to share the books that I am super excited about and can't wait to read.

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Expected publication: July 26th 2016 by Point

Synopsis from Goodreads:

What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?

While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she's flustered -- and kind of feels like she's falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer -- but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?

From beloved author Kasie West (The Distance Between Us) comes an utterly charming story about mixed messages, missed connections, and the magic of good old-fashioned secret admirer notes.

It's Kasie West, so it's a must read for me. And you know how much I love my contemporaries!

What are you waiting on this week?
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Review: Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

Wild SwansWild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Page Count: 304
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: eArc from Publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The summer before Ivy's senior year is going to be golden-all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad's intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives-and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?

But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy's ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past...

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Wild Swans was a lovely contemporary that was beautifully written. I'm still thinking about how this book made me feel.

The protagonist, Ivy, was likable and relatable. She's had a great life (or believes she's had a great life) being raised by her grandfather. Growing up with the expectations of a small town, she's always tried to live up to her family name. Her quiet life is turned upside down when her mother comes home for the first time in 15 years with 2 younger sisters that she never knew about. Ivy starts taking a closer look at the life she's had and starts to see the flaws. Ivy has always strived to be extraordinary and to do things to please her grandfather. Now she's feeling inadequate, and having her mother back in her life just makes everything worse. I really felt for Ivy and what she had to deal with. I just wanted her to be happy.

The supporting characters were a varied group. I liked getting to know Ivy's sisters, Grace and Isobel. Grace was cute and adorable. Isobel was a bit mean at times, but I tried to be understanding towards her and give her a chance, just like Ivy did. But I have to say that Ivy's mom was the worst mom ever. The way she treated everyone around her was terrible. Who says things like that to your own daughters? I just really wanted her to go away because things would have been so much better without her around. Ivy's best friends were awesome and supportive. One of them had a little brother who identified as a girl, and I have to say that I was very fond of him!

I loved the romance that was in Wild Swans. It wasn't the main focus of the story, but there was just enough to keep things interesting. There's also sort of a love triangle, but I really didn't mind it because 1/3 of it was one sided. Personally, I preferred Alex over Connor. Sure, Alex was a bit dramatic, moody, and possessive, but he felt real to me. Connor was just okay, and the safe choice for Ivy, but I didn't really get to know him well enough to really 'like' him.

Overall, Wild Swans was a great read. If you enjoy reading Sarah Dessen, then you should definitely put this on your tbr.

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My rating: 4 stars
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Waiting On Wednesday (234) Charged (Saints of Denver #2) by Jay Crownover

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

Wednesday has become my favorite day of the week because I get to share the books that I am super excited about and can't wait to read.

 photo Charged_zpscgbyycgx.jpg

Expected publication: May 24th 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Avett Walker and Quaid Jackson’s worlds have no reason to collide. Ever. Quaid is a high powered criminal attorney as slick as he is handsome. Avett is a pink-haired troublemaker with a bad attitude and a history of picking the wrong men.

When Avett lands in a sea of hot water because of one terrible mistake, the only person who can get her out of it is the insanely sexy lawyer. The last thing on earth she wants to do is rely on the no-nonsense attorney who thinks of her as nothing more than a nuisance. He literally has her fate in his hands. Yet there is something about him that makes her want to convince him to loosen his tie and have a little fun…with her.

Quaid never takes on clients like the impulsive young woman with a Technicolor dye job. She could stand to learn a hard lesson or two, but something about her guileless hazel eyes intrigues him. Still, he’s determined to keep their relationship strictly business. But doing so is becoming more impossible with each day he spends with her.

As they work side-by-side, they’ll have to figure out a way to get along and keep their hands off each other—because the chemistry between them is beyond charged.

I have this to read for review, and I'm trying to go into with an open mind. I actually really like Quaid from the little bit I got of him in Built. It's Avett that I'm having a hard time with. I just haven't liked her since she came on the scene in the previous series (Marked Men.) So, I will attempt to read this while trying to forget why I dislike her. Wish me luck.

PS. I don't like the cover either. But maybe that's just me.

What are you waiting on this week?
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Spotlight on Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood, Excerpt and Giveaway


Wild Swans By Jessica Spotswood
Sourcebooks Fire
Fiction
Pub date: May 3, 2016

Purchase:



Today I'm spotlighting Jessica Spotswood's new book, Wild Swans.
Keep reading for more about Jessica, her novel, an excerpt, plus a giveaway!

Synopsis:

Will Ivy fulfill her destiny as a dazzling Milbourn woman? Or will the pressure from her family cause her to crumble?

The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden—all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?

But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past…


Chapter One:

Granddad says all the Milbourn women are extraordinary.

Amelia, the Shakespeare professor up at the college, says cursed.

Judy, the bookseller down at the Book Addict, says crazy.

Here in Cecil, girls are still expected to be nice. Quiet. All sugar. Maybe a little spice.

But not us. We Milbourn women are a complicated lot.

The Milbourn legacy goes back four generations. Folks were just starting to drive over from Baltimore and Washington, DC, to buy my great-great-grandmother's portraits when she tried outracing a train in her new roadster. It stalled on the tracks and she and her two youngest were killed instantly. My great-grandmother Dorothea survived and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for her love poems-but she was murdered by the woman whose husband she'd been sleeping with for inspiration. Grandmother painted famous, haunting landscapes of the Bay, but the year before I was born, she walked out the back door and down to the water and drowned herself. My mother had a voice like a siren, but she ran away from home the second time she got knocked up, and we haven't seen her since.

And me? I don't feel crazy or cursed. But I've grown up in this house, haven't I? So I don't know. Maybe there's no escaping it.

I'm home alone tonight, and a storm is sweeping up the Bay. Through the open french doors I can hear the waves crashing against the shore. They make a frantic shh-shh, like a desperate mama rocking a colicky baby.

I hear mothers do things like that, anyhow. I wouldn't know.

I've been reading Jane Eyre for about the twelfth time, but I set it down on the coffee table and leave the warm lamplight to go stand in the doorway. The wind catches at my hair and flings it back in my face. I push it away and squint down at the beach.

Lightning hasn't split the sky yet, but I can taste it coming. The air's so thick I could swim through it.

Jesus, but a swim right now would be delicious. I imagine tearing off my blue sundress, running down the sandy path, and diving right into the cool waves of the Chesapeake. I could swim almost before I could walk. Part fish, Granddad says. But he doesn't like me to swim by myself. Says it isn't safe, especially for a girl, alone and at night. That's one of his rules. He's got about a million. Some of them I fight; some I just let be. Given how his wife killed herself, it seems reasonable enough to humor him on this.

Behind me, something rattles in the wind and I startle. Goose bumps prickle my shoulders in spite of the heat. Lately it feels like a storm's coming even when the sky's blue. Like spiders crawling through my veins.

My friend Abby tells me I need to quit worrying and relax. It's going to be golden, this summer before our senior year. There will be barbecues and bonfires and lazy days volunteering at the town library. She doesn't believe in family curses or premonitions of doom. Her family has its own troubles, but they're not town lore.

My friend Claire says "fuck the family curse; you're your own woman." Claire's all rebellion and razor-sharp edges-especially since her dad had an affair with his secretary and moved out (such a cliché). Claire doesn't believe in fate; she believes in making choices and owning them.

But she's not a Milbourn girl.

The rain starts with a fury. It pelts the windowpanes and drums against the flagstones out on the patio. The wind picks up too, sending the gray curtains spinning into the room like ghosts. I pad back toward the sofa, trailing my fingers across bookshelves stacked with Great-Grandmother Dorothea's prize-winning poetry. All along the walls hang Grandmother's landscapes-our pretty Eastern Shore transformed by twisting rain clouds. She only painted hurricane weather.

They were all so talented. Troubled, sure. But look at their legacy.

What will mine be?

Granddad's had me in all kinds of classes: piano, flute, ballet, gymnastics, oil painting, watercolors, landscapes, portraits, creative writing... I threw myself into every new subject, only to be crushed when I didn't show a natural aptitude for any of it.

I'm on the swim team, but I'm never going to be an Olympic athlete. I'm an honors student, but I won't be valedictorian. Sometimes I write poems, but that's just to get the restless thoughts out of my head; my poems have never won any awards. I am completely, utterly ordinary.

Granddad won't give up; he thinks there's some bit of genius hiding in me somewhere. But over the last couple months... Well, I'm getting tired of trying so hard only to end up a disappointment. Maybe that's not how this works. Maybe whatever spark blessed or cursed the other Milbourn girls skipped a generation.

To hear people in town talk, the women in my family weren't just gifted; they were obsessed. And those obsessions killed them, three generations in a row. Maybe four. For all I know, my mother could be dead now too. Do I really want to continue that tradition?

Outside, thunder growls. Inside, something rattles. I stare up at the portrait of Dorothea as it twitches against the exposed brick wall. Just the wind, I reassure myself. There's no such thing as ghosts.

Dorothea was fifteen when her mother painted her. She wears a royal-blue shirtdress and matching gloves, and her hair falls in short brown curls around her face. She wasn't what you'd call pretty-too sharp featured for that-but there's something captivating about her. She stands tall in the portrait, shoulders back, lips quirked. It's not quite a smile. More like a smirk. A year later, she'd survive the collision that killed her mother and sisters. Her broken leg never healed quite right, Granddad says; she walked with a limp the rest of her life.

Lightning flashes. The lamp flickers. Rain is puddling on the wooden floor. I should close the doors, but Dorothea's eyes catch mine and somehow I don't want to turn my back on her portrait.

There's no such thing as ghosts, I remind myself.

Then the room plunges into darkness.

I run for the french doors, but before I can get there, I slam into something. Someone.

My heart stutter-stops and I shriek, scrambling away, slipping on the wet wooden floor.

"Ivy!" Alex grabs my arm. His fingers are warm against my skin. "It's just me. Chill."

"Jesus! I thought you were a ghost!" I take a deep breath, inhaling the salty breeze off the Bay. My pulse is racing.

"Nope, just me." He waves a flashlight. "Soon as the lights started flickering, Ma told me to bring you this. She knows how you get about the dark."

I fold my arms across my chest. "Shut up. I'm not scared of the dark anymore."

"Uh-huh. Sure." Alex shines the flashlight up over his face like a movie monster. I should have known better than to mention ghosts. He'll tease me about it forever. Remind me how he used to sneak over and scare Claire and me during sleepovers, how I used to sleep in my closet during thunderstorms, how I had a night-light till I turned thirteen.

"Gimme that." I reach for the flashlight.

"If you're not scared, why do you need it?" He holds it above his head. I'm tall-five ten-but the summer we were fourteen, Alex got taller, and he still hasn't stopped lording it over me. As he stretches, his shirt lifts to reveal taut, tanned abs.

I drag my eyes back to his face, but sort of leisurely like. He got soaked on his sprint from the carriage house, and his red T-shirt is molded to his muscled shoulders. The summer we were fifteen, he started lifting for baseball, and the girls at school went all swoony over him. I am not immune to a nice set of abs myself-but Alex is my best friend. Has been since we were babies, since my mother ran off and Granddad hired Alex's mom, Luisa, to be our housekeeper. There's nothing romantic between Alex and me.

That's what we decided after prom. What I decided. Alex and Luisa and Granddad are the only family I've got. What would happen if Alex and I started dating and it didn't work out? It would be awkward and awful, and I don't want to risk that. And if it did work? The baseball coach up at the college has already scouted Alex, all but promised him a scholarship if he keeps his grades up this year. If we were dating, Alex would be one more thing tying me to Cecil.

"I hate you," I mutter.

"No you don't." He gives me a cocky grin. Sometimes I think he's waiting for me to change my mind about us, but I'm not going to. Once I make a decision, I stick with it.

But the house presses around us, cold and quiet and more than a little spooky, and I fight the urge to snuggle up against him.

The front door slams. "Ivy!" Granddad hollers.

Just in time to save me from myself.

Alex relinquishes the flashlight. "I better go." Granddad gets a little skittish about Alex being here when I'm home alone. Alex and I have never given him any reason not to trust us, but when your only daughter goes and gets herself pregnant twice before the age of twenty, you maybe have reason to be a little overprotective.

Like I said, I pick my battles.

"You going to be okay now that the Professor's home? No more ghosts?" Alex licks a raindrop from his upper lip and smiles. It's his placating-Ivy smile, the one that says I let my imagination run away with me. The one he uses when I get all dreamy over a boy in a book or want to watch an old black-and-white movie or point out shapes in the clouds. The one that makes me feel like maybe I am a Milbourn girl after all-sensitive and selfish and bound for a bad end.

I grit my teeth, but the worry in his brown eyes is genuine. "Yep. I'll be fine."

"Okay. See you." He jogs off through the rainy backyard.

"Ivy?" Granddad cusses as he knocks into something out in the hall.

"In here!" I pull the french doors shut.

He limps into the room, tossing his battered briefcase onto the sofa. He nods at me and the flashlight. "How long has the power been off?"

"Not long. Couple minutes." I smile as he heads right for Dorothea's crooked portrait and straightens it. He might be a professor, but he's only absentminded when he wants to be.

"What've you been up to?" he asks.

"Nothing. Reading." I wave my copy of Jane Eyre at him.

"Reading isn't nothing, young lady. Not in this house." He gives me a smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes and plops down into his brown leather recliner. "Have a seat. There's something I want to talk to you about."

That feeling slams into me again-impending doom-and I shiver. My skin feels like it's coated in cobwebs. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing we can't handle." Granddad stares up at Dorothea. "You know that student of mine? The one who's working in my office this summer?"

"Connor Clarke." As if I could forget. He's a rising sophomore who's somehow made himself indispensable. He aced Granddad's upper-level Twentieth Century American Poets course last semester.

Granddad nods. "I invited him over for lunch tomorrow. Remind me to leave a note for Luisa."

I raise my eyebrows. "Tomorrow's Wednesday."

He runs a hand over his bristly gray beard. "And?"

"Wednesday is Luisa's day off. Has been for years."

"Ah, I forgot." He steeples his fingers together. "You work the late shift tomorrow, don't you? Maybe you could join us."

Like I said-he's only forgetful when it suits him. "And make you lunch?"

He shrugs. "You might enjoy yourself. Connor's a good kid. Smart. Driven. He wrote an excellent paper on Dorothea. Most students are too intimidated to write a critical essay about my mother-in-law. It earned him an A on the paper and in the class."

"So you've mentioned." He hardly ever gives As in that class. Connor's probably an insufferable suck-up. "Impressive for a freshman."

"Would've been impressive for a senior." Granddad grins. He gets a kick out of my "competitive spirit," as he calls it. But he's the one who raised me to be ambitious, to think I could do anything I put my mind to. "I offer that class every spring. You could take it yourself."

We've had this conversation a million times. "If I stay here"-which I might, because I'd get free tuition and the college has a good swim team and a strong English program, and I worry about leaving Granddad all alone-"I'm not taking your classes. It would be too weird."

"It wouldn't be weird unless you made it weird," he insists. "You'd have to earn your B like everybody else."

"Except Connor," I grumble, bristling that he thinks this boy is smarter than me.

"Connor's an exceptional young man." Granddad casts a dubious look at Jane Eyre. "Really, Ivy. You'd rather study the nineteenth-century English novel than twentieth-century American poetry?"

I stick out my tongue at him. "I am dying to take Amelia's class on the nineteenth-century English novel, and you know it. Her Women in Shakespeare too."

Granddad sighs. "No accounting for taste, I suppose."

I grin, flopping back against the worn leather sofa. "You're the one who raised me to be a feminist. And you're perfectly capable of using the stove yourself, but I suppose I can make you and Connor some lunch. He's not a vegetarian, is he?"

"Oh, I hope not." Granddad shudders. "He seems so promising."

I smile, tucking my feet beneath me. "Is that all you wanted to talk about? The way you looked, I thought it was something dire."

"Actually..." He clears his throat. Drums his fingers on the armrest. The back of my neck prickles; it isn't like him to hem and haw. "I heard from your mother today."

"My-mother?" The word feels foreign on my tongue, like one you read in books and know how to spell but never learn to pronounce.

I must have misheard. Granddad hasn't talked to my mother in years. She signed away her rights to me when I was four, and he hasn't been in touch with her since.

Has he?

The lamp flickers back on. It illuminates the tired slump of his shoulders, the crow's feet perching next to his blue eyes. "Erica called me at the office. She... Well, the gist of it is that she's being evicted from her apartment and needs a place to stay. She asked to come home. I told her that I had to talk to you first, but I don't see how we can say no."

She left before I was two years old. Got pregnant again, dropped out of college, ran off with her boyfriend to New York City, and hasn't looked back since. Not once. Granddad says it's impossible for me to remember her, but I do. I think I do. White-blond hair and a smoky alto.

"I could say no." I click off the flashlight. "She needs a place to stay, so suddenly she remembers we exist? That's bullshit. That's not how family works."

I've never gotten a birthday card from her. Not a single Christmas present.

Granddad sighs, pinching the bridge of his long nose. Same nose as mine. What did I inherit from my mother? Her height? Her mouth? There are so few pictures from when she was my age.

Maybe she took them with her.

Or maybe she threw them away. Maybe she didn't want the memories any more than she wanted us.

When I was little, I prayed for her to come home.

But I'm seventeen now, and this is way too little, way too late.

"I know," Granddad says. He's the one who raised me to believe that family is everything: duty and love and legacy. "But we have to think about your sisters."

"Sisters?" I clutch the flashlight, knuckles white. "More than one?"

"Came as a surprise to me too. Isobel is fifteen. Grace"-his voice wobbles. That was Grandmother's name-"is six."

I've got sisters. Two of them. I wonder if they are perfect little Milbourn girls with marvelous talents. I wonder if they know that I exist.

"I know this won't be easy for you, Ivy. It won't be easy for me either. But Erica and her husband are getting divorced, and she lost her job, and she needs a place to stay. It took a lot for her to ask. I couldn't turn her away." He avoids my eyes and fiddles with his big, silver watch.

Those are his tells. Granddad is a terrible poker player.

"You already said yes," I realize. "When are they coming?"

"Saturday."

That's four days from now. I run my fingers through my long hair, catching at the tangles. "I see." My voice is frosty.

"It's only temporary. Just till she can earn some money and get back on her feet. I'm sure she'll want to get the girls back to their schools in September."

"September? But that's the whole summer!"

And this summer was supposed to be perfect.

Every summer, Granddad signs me up for activities: writing camp up at the college or watercolors at the Arts League or a production of Oklahoma at the Sutton Theater. This year I put my foot down: no classes. I'm volunteering at the library and I'll be swimming every day. I need this, I told Granddad-a real summer. A break before senior year and all its pressures: captaining the swim team, copyediting the yearbook, taking three AP classes, and applying for college. And most of all (though I didn't say this part) I am desperate for a break from the restless, relentless search for my talent.

Granddad agreed, as long as I promised to submit some of my poems for publication.

How am I supposed to relax with my mother and newfound sisters living here all summer long.

"Can she do that?" I ask. "Take them out of New York? Their dad won't mind?"

"I don't get the sense that Isobel has a relationship with her father, and Grace's dad-" Granddad clears his throat, avoiding my gaze again. "They don't live in New York. Haven't for a while. They're over in DC now."

"Oh. I see," I say again.

And I do. Clear as day. My mother's been living two hours away, and she still couldn't be bothered to come visit. To join us for Thanksgiving dinner. To cheer me on at one of my swim meets.

I'm not even worth a tank of gas.




About the Author

Jessica Spotswood is the author of the Cahill Witch Chronicles. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, and works as a children’s library associate, with her husband. Visit jessicaspotswood.com.




Connect with Jessica Spotswood:

Website - http://jessicaspotswood.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/jessica_shea
Tumblr-http://jessica-spotswood.tumblr.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JessicaSheaSpotswood
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27015393-wild-swans


Praise for Wild Swans:

★ Ivy’s journey is handled perfectly, and it’s her story at heart. For anyone who suffers from too-heavy expectations, Ivy will ring true in this engaging, nearly flawless coming-of-age novel. — Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“A thoughtful, relatable story about a young woman attempting to figure out her own worth against the ghosts of her past.” — Booklist

“A strong coming-of-age story.” — School Library Journal

WILD SWANS is the kind of thoughtful, summery book you’ll want to savor under starry skies or read on a porch swing with a glass of lemonade nearby. This compelling story of a girl trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be vs. who everyone else expects her to be manages to feel both fresh and like a timeless classic. Highly recommended for Sarah Dessen fans. — Paula Stokes, author of Girl Against the Universe and The Art of Lainey

A beautiful novel about the complexity of family and the magic of first love. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. — Lauren Barnholdt, author of Two Way Street and Heat of the Moment

A story of first love and self-discovery as sweet as it is compelling. — Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, author of The Summer After You and Me

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Waiting On Wednesday (233) The Long Game (The Fixer #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

Wednesday has become my favorite day of the week because I get to share the books that I am super excited about and can't wait to read.

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Expected publication: June 7th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Tess Kendrick, teen fixer extraordinaire, returns in a pulse-pounding thriller about a deadly conspiracy at the heart of Washington.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate's campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess's guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can--and cannot--be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she's about to discover first-hand that power always comes with a price.

Perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and Ally Carter, the second book in this thrilling series will leave readers breathless.

I loved the first book in this series, and I have an eArc of this that I'm dying to start reading.

What are you waiting on this week?

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Movie Review: Poldark (Season 1)


Title: Poldark
Season 1, 8 Episodes
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 60 minutes per episode
Starring: Aidan Turner
Release Date: June 21, 2015
Genre: Period Drama, Romance

Synopsis:

Ross Poldark returns home after the American Revolutionary War and rebuilds his life with a new business venture, making new enemies and finding a new love where he least expects it.

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This review is for the first 3 episodes of season 1.

The Good:

I was hooked by the end of the first episode! The main character, Ross Poldark, is determined to make a better life for himself and those around him. He isn't afraid to speak his mind and do what's right, even if it hurts him in the end. Ross is a very likable character, and I love how he adds a bit of lightness to the story now and then with his humor and good cheer. And did I mention how handsome he is? Because he is. And now my shallow moment has passed....

Fabulous acting from the secondary characters. They really made the story come to life. The scenery and cinematography were excellent.

The Bad:

Some of the characters are just awful people, which is to be expected, but that doesn't mean that I have to like them. There's really nothing that I haven't enjoyed about this series so far.

If this were a book:

It is a book! Or rather, a series of books. I haven't read them, so I have nothing to compare.

Final thoughts:

I really didn't know what to expect when I starting watching Poldark, but I ended up loving it! I can't wait to watch the rest of Season 1.

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