Whenever we’re looking for something new to read we can always rely on our XOXperts to give us a great recommendation! Check out their reviews of three fantastic novels (two of which are already on sale) and get reading! 

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

close-enough-to-touch-9781501139260_hr-1Why haven’t I heard about Colleen Oakley before? I feel as though I’ve been missing out on a majestic creature of writing and storytelling.
So many emotions surged through me as I read this novel. None of which I had expected, because what initially drew me to it was the quirky, colorful cover. Then the synopsis intrigued me with such a complex character.
I loved the style in which Oakley writes. It has an effortless flow that doesn’t come off as trying too hard to be anything or make the reader feel a certain way. The beginning is broken up well enough to give a good background on Jubilee and help the reader understand her situation. It’s heartbreaking to say the least.
A diagnosis of a rare allergy to human touch explained why Jubilee nearly died after a boy kissed her for the first time. Even touching something that had ‘prolonged contact’ with another person can cause a rash on her skin.
Her dependence on her mother to pay for whatever she needed comes to an abrupt halt when she passes away. Jubilee is suddenly forced to find ways to start living instead of just existing. Through that process, she learns to experience people in new ways and finds strength that she never even considered possessing.
Eric’s story is also told as he journeys—and struggles—through divorced, single parent life. It’s hard not to instantly fall for this single dad as he cares for his children; especially his adopted son, Aja.
Eric and Jubilee have cute and awkward interactions. They have a very true romance in the way that it slowly progresses with a natural ease.
Review by Zandalee M. 
Close Enough to Touch is on sale March 7th from Gallery Books!

First Step Forward by Liora Blake

first-step-forward-9781501155116_hrWhat happens when a hippie-chic organic farmer down on her luck and a grumpy NFL star at the end of his career meet by chance? One whirlwind romance that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end!

I’m a huge fan of Liora Blake’s so I was excited to get my hands on a new book by her’s and First Step Forward did not disappoint. I was pulled into the story from the first few paragraphs all the way to the end. I loved Whitney’s character and her free spirit and how she wanted to do things on her own, even if it hurt her in the end. Cooper on the other hand, he was not so easy to like at times, he was rough around the edges, but once you got to know him, he truly was a teddy bear at heart.  He wants to end his career on his own terms, but things keep going against him and he has to make decisions he may not be ready for. When Whitney shows up in his life totally out of the blue, he seems to find peace with her and things start to look up.

Both of these characters are struggling with things in their lives and watching them lean on one another (one more than the other) to cope with things, was beautiful. Their love story was pure, amazing, and sweet. They became stronger together, and truly found out there was more to life than what they thought. I wished that Whitney would have been more up front with Cooper with how dire things were for her, but in the end things worked out as they should, but it did put a strain on them and I wanted to strangle her at times for not telling him, but I understand her reasoning for it as well.

This story pulled at my heartstrings and was the perfect relaxing read. There wasn’t a ton of drama, and it was just a beautifully written love story. The secondary characters were amazing and I can’t wait to get to know them better as well. If you’re looking for a sweet romance with two completely opposite characters, I highly recommend First Step Forward by Liora Blake! It’s definitely one to add to your TBR list today!

Review by Chrissy F. 

Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce

flirting-with-fame-9781501126833_hrFlirting With Fame was a pleasant surprise. This was a coming of age story which had me on an emotional rollercoaster. I was laughing, crying and swooning for these characters.  But I must admit I was frustrated at the beginning of the story that I almost DNF’d this book.  Elise Jameson is the secret author of the bestselling Viking Moon series (which I imagined similar to The Twilight saga fandom). Her decision to have anonymity is due to a tragic childhood accident that left her badly scarred and deaf.  I understood her choice to stay out of the spotlight but I disliked how she would not stand up for herself when dealing with her hired imposter Veronica. Veronica is the ultimate mean girl and was so cruel. But my curiosity had me sticking with the story and I am glad I did.  I would have missed out on the heartwarming moments Elise has with her friends and the strength she finally discovers to take control of her life.

Flirting With Fame is a unique and moving story.  I loved the author aspect and connected with the enthusiastic fans she met. As much as I hated Veronica I can’t wait to read her story in the next book. Underneath the meanness lies secrets that I am sure will have us on another emotional ride.  This was an impressive debut for author Samantha Joyce and I look forward to reading more from her.


Review by Kathy A.