Wednesday, February 18, 2015

review || MATCHED { blitz }


Matched by S.E. Hall & Angela Graham

Genre: New Adult
Source: Love Affair with Fiction
Purchase links || amazon | bn | smashwords || add to goodreads

Rating: ★★★★1/2

Date, Mate, Fate: Celebrity Edition
The reality show like no other: Eight men, eight women, one mansion in paradise; their every move caught on camera for the world to see. Among the faces in the house: a mysterious cowboy, a cocky football star, a motocross god, and a broody Alpha calling all the shots. Thorough compatibility testing says everyone’s soulmate is there. Computers’ abilities are boundless, but can they be trusted with matters of the heart? Would you recognize “the one” when you saw them?
 Rated NC-17 for foul language, heavy drinking, and graphic sex.

*Full-length, stand-alone novel.

{ excerpt } .

“Welcome to the beautiful island of Mahé in Seychelles! I’m your host, Tom Peters, and you,” says the man in front of us, spreading his arms out wide, “are the handpicked contestants for the premiere season of Date, Mate, Fate: Celebrity Edition.” He pauses for inserted applause. No, really—a crewman standing off-camera holds up a sign that says, “Insert Applause.”

When the clapping has met the appropriate meter level, Tom continues. “Several faces here, I’m sure you’ll recognize; celebrities from an array of arenas, including sports, the big screen, and even the Olympics have been generous enough to take time from their grueling schedules to join us. And each of them was asked to invite a plus one—anyone—of their choosing, whom we also thank for being here.”

I already feel cramped in my own skin, the endless barrage of cameras and crew filming our every move and reaction in full, intimidating effect. And to top it all off, I’ve just been declared a second-class citizen. Bonus.

I don’t join in on the clapping and whistling; the others’ enthusiasm is far from what I’m feeling. Instead, I burrow deeper into Oakley’s side, shielding my face behind his burly arm and clamping down tighter on his hand. I’m so far removed from my comfort zone, consisting of community college and a job at an off-the-beaten-path truck stop in a Podunk town. But it appears I’ve also landed in a certain circle of hell I’m having trouble comprehending—despite the generous one-week notice.

about S.E. Hall || S.E. Hall is the author of the Amazon Best Selling Evolve Series, Emerge, Embrace, Entangled (novella) and Entice as well as the bestselling stand-alone NA Romance, Pretty Instinct. She has co-written Stirred Up, Packaged and Handled, a collection of erotic short stories with her CP and friend, Author Angela Graham as well as a collaboration titled Conspire, a romantic suspense with friend and author Erin Noelle. She is honored to be a part of the USA Today and NYT Best Selling Devour box set. S.E., which stands for Stephanie Elaine, resides in Arkansas with her husband of 18 years and 3 beautiful daughters of the home, and one married daughter who graced her with two beautiful grandchildren. When not in the stands watching her ladies play softball, she enjoys reading and writing and the occasional trip to the casino. She’s also clutch at Baggo, when it’s warm outside, and definitely the woman to pick on your side for some Flip Cup!

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Angela Graham
about Angela Graham || Angela Graham is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of the Harmony series. She resides in Tipp City, Ohio with her three beautiful children. Collaborating with S.E. Hall, she has released three erotic short stories.
Angela knew she found her calling in the world of fiction the moment she began pounding away at the keys for her first short story in 2012. With a baby on her shoulder, she wrote for about a year before deciding to try her hand at an actual novel. It was the best decision she ever made and since then she continues to bring characters to life in her free time.

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{ review } .

Oh my, what a fun story! I've always wanted to write a "Real World" type story, and am writing a "Bachelor" type story. MATCHED gives us a little of it all.

First off? I absolutely love when the cover of the book matches the story -- I know I've mentioned this before (for sure with BRINGING HOME THE BAD BOY because his tattoos match). The cover of MATCHED is straight from a scene about halfway through the book, and as I read it, watching Harlow enter and see him, I smiled real big and maybe said outloud (in my empty apartment, at least) "Oh! That's the cover!!".

I'm typically a book-binger -- I can, and prefer, to read one book in one sitting... And if I can't, I like it finished within 24 hours. MATCHED really isn't a binge-able book with all the characters and events, but I managed.

First off, let's meet our castmates:

Cruz: Motocross racer. Big brother to Emma -- huge protector of her, too. Probably a bit too protective. All-around good guy even though he doesn't always promote that side of him...
Emma: Cruz's "plus-one". She's the one who really wanted to go on the show. She's petite and probably the sweetest one on the show. Cruz likes to think she's a little niave thing and tries keeping her in a bubble.
Jensen: DB. That is all.
Jasmine: Jasmine is the celebrity in the Jensen/Jasmine duo. She's an ex-porn star, and unfortunately, the catty witches of the house don't let her forget it. She's trying hard to change her persona. She's honest to goodness a sweet girl. Becomes a great friend and ally. Real name: Miranda. 
Oakley: Football star. Tells his plus-one they're going on the show to rekindle their romance (and for PR purposes) -- they were high school sweethearts and are back on after a many-year break. However, it comes out that his true reason is to be sure that what he and Harlow have is true and will withstand tests.
Harlow: Just your average girl-next-door. Head over heels in love with Oakley. Maybe a little naive but a good person. Stands up for the girls she becomes friends with -- even if that means going toe-to-toe with a super hardheaded big brother. A little bit of a voyeur ;) Your book's narrator. 
Callie: At first you want to hate her -- especially when she becomes one of those "other girls" and goes down on Cruz (to which Harlow watches from the shadows and Cruz catches -- let me say, he's really good at the dirty talk that's directed at Harlow but can be easily thought to be said to Callie). But Callie's a sweetheart and you can't help but like her. She doesn't want to step on toes.
Dana: I didn't really get to know her that well. I probably didn't like her.
Peyton: Movie star. Here for movie publicity purposes.
Ivy: See Peyton.
Court: Rodeo cowboy. He's the good twin.
Wyatt: Rodeo cowboy. He's not only the 'bad' twin, but he's an ass to the extreme.
Dalton: Nadia's trainer. I didn't really get a feel for him.
Nadia: I hate her. She and her Russian accent can go and do nasty things elsewhere.
Rachel: Comedien. She and Nadia make a great nasty duo. Don't like her.
Miles: Even though he came with Rachel, he's a good guy. I liked him....even more so at the end.

I have to say -- it's hard enough writing a book about two characters, with sub-characters in the background. However, kudos to S.E. Hall and Angela Graham because there really aren't sub-characters. Every single name in this book has a significant role and their personalities just shine on the pages.

Without giving too much away about the book (because it would be easy to spoil a good bit of it), I enjoyed the friendship that became of Callie, Harlow, Emma, and Jasmine... even Cruz when he decided to tag along. I felt that Harlow was a bit naive when it came to Oakley -- or maybe it's just Oakley who was naive. You don't need a computer program to tell you if what you feel will last the test of time. No relationship is perfect and you have to work for it. 

I loved Cruz and his loaded glares/stares/looks. Maybe I just like the brooding type ;) I even found him to be, dare I say, funny. After he catches and talks dirty to Harlow while getting a little attention down there from Callie, he further mortifies Harlow by whispering "Sweet dreams..." to her. Granted, things are a bit awkward between them the next day but I think that was mostly on Harlow.

Some of the challenges were ridiculous. One would be extremely sexy, and the other would make your roll your eyes with the ease of it. Of course, there was always that 'twist' that really made you roll your eyes, but hey, that's what ratings call for, right? I knew name would go here was 'Dimple Guy'! Granted, it's not like he confesses to it, but he does repeat the action. I think, ok, well I know due to his stating it at the end, he had a thing for "her" since the beginning...

Oh! And while not a castmate, can I say how much I loved Producer Adam? I really loved him. A lot. He's a good guy...

Also, I didn't find the 'confessionals' to be true monologue. I would have liked them to be more like the cast member talking to the camera, and not like a book...
...but I didn't like the end! OK, so I liked the end, but I WANT MORE HARLOW & HER PERSON. I heart them a little-lot'a bit.
"And do me one favor. Remember this moment--how perfectly we fit together and how crazy I am about you. 'Cause for as long as I've lived and through all that I've done, I've never felt anything even close to this. I want more, gorgeous--more time, more you, more us."

{ giveaway } .
A Signed Copy of Matched & a Swag Pack! 

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