Wednesday, May 22, 2019

With Your Permission (In The Heart of A Valentine, #5) by Stephanie Nicole Norris: I'd Give My Heart on A Platter for This Valentine Brother

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With Your Permission (In the Heart of a Valentine, #5) by Stephanie Nicole Norris
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It was their first encounter that landed them in newfound territory. 

Up and coming wedding planner Bri St. James is in the height of her career. As the CEO of Building Bridges LLC, Bri is driven by determination for success, and each day makes for new opportunities abound. However, while planning the wedding of one of Chicago’s hottest couples, Bri’s focus is shifted when the strum of a nocturnal voice captures her attention. Being an empath has empowered her sense of compassion for others, so she’s not only drawn to him because of his broken heart but also from a fierce attraction that sparks her interest and tap dances on a groove on her heart. Getting involved with someone who’s not open to love may prove to be the most difficult road Bri has ever journeyed, but she’s unable to stop herself from falling into an irresistible tango of love. 

World-renowned photographer Raphael Valentine hasn’t been in the public eye since the tragic death of his fiancée four years prior. To date, his time is spent helping his charity of choice—educating the community about the dangers of driving while intoxicated. For him, love is a thing of the past until meeting Bri St. James at his brother’s rehearsal dinner made Raphael question what he’d always believed to be true. There was no explanation for the riot of pulsing sensations that ripped through his core when his eyes met hers. The unquenchable heat that followed stirred his soul, sending his heart on a quest he himself hadn’t agreed to venture on. As a friendship between the two flourishes, and they're cloaked in a dynamic surge of desire, Raphael is met with the ultimate challenge: surrender to a second chance at love or abandon his happily ever after for a lifetime. 
This book was sexually intense. Heavy laden with sexual innuendo and romantic prowess, With Your Permission, is erotic and lovely.

With Your Permission, could put any of these popular romance titles on its knees. Eloquently written characters, grin-inducing romance; and sex that lit up the pages, made this novel a sure winner.

Bri runs a wedding planning business, and her company has grown exponentially. Things are looking up. Her career is on the uptick, but her love life is nonexistent.

Raphael. She wants this man bad always has. But Raphael is not looking her way. Fiercely good looking with a foreign tongue, Raphael is a walking, talking wet dream. Except, he’s not dating anyone right now—not even, Bri

The highlight of this book is the chemistry between our hero and heroine. Their sexual chemistry was off the charts.

Talk about sexual tension. Whew.

Every moment, every French phrase was something to behold. This beautiful chocolate man spoke French fluently and wet-panties inducing-ly.

It was a treat to watch them come together, and come together they did, in a romantic, sexy meeting.

The romance was on point and perfectly paced. It had just the right amount of slow-burn. 

The plot was clear and easy to follow. The book was well put together and thoroughly entertaining.

This series is so good and I highly recommend it. 

But, you can't have Raphael, he's mine.

Monday, May 20, 2019

All Things Burn By Jodie Slaughter: If This Is The Way Fire Burns, Burn Me Up and Consume Me



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All Things Burn by Jodie Slaughter
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A woman forced to take dark, desperate measures for the sake of her safety seeks out a man who deals exclusively in doling out death sentences. What sparks between them is just as unavoidable as it is life-changing.

Halle Temple is a good person; she doesn’t know anything as surely as she knows that. A successful black woman who uses her expensive law degree to work full-time at a women’s legal aid center, she has no doubt that her entire existence is being spent in the service of others. That perfectly normal life takes a deadly turn, however, when she crosses paths with a man who is willing to go to extreme measures to take possession of her.

After he sets his threats on her family, Halle begins to question every moral she has ever held dear as she realizes that there is only one way to get him out of her life for good. To do that, though, she needs a bit of help.

Callum Byrne is an Irish-American hitman who has made a life out of robbing others of their own. Darkness has always lurked inside of him and he has no qualms about setting it free - especially for profit. Halle enters his life suddenly, bringing with her an intensity that he has never felt before. It isn’t long before Callum’s narrow view of himself is twisted and challenged.

As the job she’s given him becomes more complicated by the minute...so do Callum’s feelings for her.

Content Warning: this book contains themes of violence and murder as well as mentions of domestic violence.
All Things Burn burned right through me from page-to-page. This is the sinister, dark interracial romance you never knew you needed.

I knew from page one; that ATB was a winner; from page one people.

Halle is being stalked, and that’s putting it mildly. Her ex can’t seem to let go and seems to feel entitled to her even though their relationship has long since ended.

So, she decides to kill him. Okay, she hires Callum to do it. Callum has been a hit-man for as long as he can remember. It’s in his breeding. Get the call, meet up, and get out. But things don’t go according to plan and as the reader, you’ll be glad they didn’t.

I might be a little weird but I can almost always get into dark romance. I might not be right in the head, but I digress.

This book is as so expertly written I had to keep reminding myself that Slaughter is a debut author. I mean, like hell she is. The pacing? On point. The build up? On point. The backstory? On point? I mean, there are no rookie mistakes; or immaturity to any of this.

The slow burn was just right while allowing the reader to get fully engrossed into each of the characters—all the while expecting when they would come together. And, it did not lack at any point.

I really cannot complain, but I can rant. This book was effing good. Point blank and a period. Halle was perfect; she remained wholly black and her blackness wasn't ignored or disregarded because the love interest was white. There was respectability between the two. And Slaughter did not harp on details, but she gave enough for it to satisfy the reader.

When Callum slipped that bonnet on her head while she dozed off I’d like to die. Pure respect without doing too much. The love was timely and believable. No insta-Love was to be found and thank goodness for it. This is a novel-meal is to be devoured in small bites—to allow for savoring.

If this is the literature Slaughter is writing; you veterans better watch out because she’s coming for necks. I will gladly lay down like a lamb for Slaughter for these types of delicious romance novels.

Very well done, Jodie. Very well done. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Bland by Michael Stephenson

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Bland Michael Stephenson
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To become what you dream to be, the old you must DIE!

Getting ahead takes sacrifice, commitment, and the ability to “integrate” into the company culture while abandoning your own culture. Alaminti Dranas has heard it all from her boss before. As one of only two black women in her office, even she’s starting to believe the one idea she has resisted. That idea? That the odds are stacked against blacks and other minorities, black women especially. This is no more evident to her than when the newest hire gets what should have been Alaminti’s promotion. Just over ten years of dutiful service ignored for flimsy reasons. She’s grown tired of that narrative. But work is currently the most important thing in her life. There has to be a way to get ahead. Indeed, there is. 

Things start to change when she is invited to join a mysterious group that promises untold success. “We make dreams come true.” All Alaminti has to do is make it through an extended initiation process that far exceeds the bounds of normal. In fact, what they want her to do is outrageous, unsafe, maybe even deadly. But with her life both at home and at work stagnant, she gives in to quiet desperation. Little does she know how much things will change, how much she will change, how much she will lose. For only after the process begins do her nightmares start, her sanity falters, the “beasts” come, and she grows obsessed with asking her mirror one question: What am I becoming?
 
Bland is the weirdest book I've ever read. With the essence of satire; Bland is unlike any approach to blackness in literature I've ever read.

Reminiscent of Get Out with the gore of US, Bland tells a unique story of blackness and whiteness—and how they clash.

This is one of those books you don’t have to do much to get, but there is a lot underneath it that will require more in-depth attention to detail.

But, I will say this when I talked about it out loud, I realized how genius it really was.

Imagine being black and getting skipped for every single promotion for every single undeserving white person in the company? Easy, I’d imagine. That’s where Alaminti is. She’s been working hard at her current job for years, but a promotion seems to keep abating her. 

She’s finally had enough. But, it’s how she goes about it, that changes the course of her life. At the loose recommendation of a friend of a friend, Alamanti agrees to several procedures. As a result, she will get the promotion she so desperately wants. A nip and a tuck here is what she agrees to, but they take more than that every single time. 

Changes in her outward appearance and even her tastes ensue with every operation. And, Y'all, it is something to read. With these changes, so comes the changes to the things and people around her. When did her co-worker get such a huge butt and hips? And, just what are those creatures she keeps seeing? Are they even creatures at all?

The book is weird. At least its approach is. It is genius. The blurb is a little vague—but it's a rollercoaster ride.

Every action, and sentence is intentional. I had to sit back and digest it to see the bigger picture. A lot is explained at the back of the book. It will have you nodding and shouting out in agreement. Bland gets it. Stephenson gets it. 

I don’t want to get into much of the detail for fear of spoiling it. But this book is like an onion, every layer revealed an even more in-depth look at blackness juxtaposed to whiteness. And, gosh it’s good. Because it makes sense; and it makes sense of it all. 

I want to be more articulate and explain the idiosyncrasies and underlying meanings, but it's best you read it and develop your own understanding.

 A great novel with deep meaning. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

I Think I Might Love You Christina C Jones: I Think I Might Love This Book "A Quickie- Review"


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I Think I Might Love You Christina THEE C. Jones
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Jaclyn Love is a magnet for trouble - it seems to follow her wherever she goes. 

Unfortunately for Kadan Davenport, she also seems to be a magnet for him - even after a disastrous first impression that leaves him - literally - black and blue. 

Jaclyn is busy trying to find some sort of balance, and Kadan is just trying not to get swept up in the chaos. 

In a small city like Blakewood, it's hard to avoid each other... especially when each additional encounter makes them wonder if they really want to. 

"I Think I Might Love You" is a first-in-series novella.
Christina C. Jones never ceases to amaze me.  I Think I Might Love You had a lightness to it I’m unaccustomed to from Jones, but it was obviously a CCJ project. The engaging writing, the flow, it was all her—the gems that make these projects distinctly Christina C. Jones shone in this novel.

Jaclyn is a bad girl; in and out of trouble since she was a youth. She’s all bark, and she has a bite to match. Looking to rest her head at her sister’s place she encounters Kadan, butt naked and livid. What is she doing there? In his home? Jaclyn does the only respectable thing she can do at a time such as this, she hauls off and punches him. This laughable moment sets a precedent for Jaclyn’s personal life and the story itself.

CCJ’s books are not heavy angst projects, but this book is different: light, humorous and unassuming.

I laughed out loud a lot, and I can be a hard nut to crack. But this book was downright funny!

Not only is it funny, but it also has a solid easy to follow plot and a romance that flows fluidly with no unnecessary angst and drama. As an angst fiend, I did not miss it.

And Jaclyn’s family members, Chile, they are a mess! I can’t wait to get to know them—the parents included. This is a fun series, and it promises to be another great addition to Jones’ catalog.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

#ROMBKLOVE DAY 15: Unforgettable Family: We are Family!

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Romance normally focuses on the coming together of the MC’s and while that’s really why we’re all here; I wanted to use this post to highlight family. Whether the family is doing the falling in love, or simply interfering—family in romance is important.

 Most of what’s featured below is a lot of siblings, but that’s all happenstance; it just worked out that way.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my post!


Without further ado:

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The Wrights Brothers series by Christina C. Jones:
If you follow this blog, you know how much I adore Ms. Jones—and pretty much everything she writes. This series was no exception. You get doctor love, school love, and bestie love. There's a little of everything for everyone---including sexy, successful chocolate men who are brothers.

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 I Think I Might Love You BOOK ONE (Love Sisters Series) by Christina C. Jones:
While we're discussing Christina C. Jones let's talk about her latest release, I Think I Might Love You. Aside from being funny as heck, there's a solid series building here. Not to mention, the cover is vibrant and so gorgeous. You will not want to miss out on this fun series! The book starts off with the MC kicking someone in the jewels and getting arrested for going Jazmine Sullivan on an ex's car.

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In The Heart of A Valentine Series by Stephanie Nicole Norris:
This series...whew! These chocolate brothers will give you a run for your money. There is something for everyone. With Your Permission is my favorite so far. A French-speaking black man is my cup of tea. And, the sex scenes in it are unmatched. Such a worthwhile series—and such stellar writing.

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The Holliday Sisters Series by Nicole Falls
This is such a fun series—and I love that it started with the holiday season. I adore Christmas. I have a mini ELF living inside of my body. You'll laugh, swoon and cry. My words can't do this series a service. Read it. Brave Hearts is my favorite, see Immigration, fake marriage—and friends-to-lovers.

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Strickland Sisters by Alexandra Warren
Sisters with romance tropes for everyone. A nice addition.

Maker of Sunshine: Only for Love (Lewis Family Book 1) by [Nichelle, G]

Maker of Sunshine (Only For Love) by G. Nichelle
I imagine that there will be more books. It seems prime for a series. I like novels that have the entire family featured in the novel—from the grandmother on down. You get a good dose of romance and family in this one.

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The Connecticut Kings Series by Christina C. Jones and Love Belvin
I wasn't going to include this one but with a family at the helm of a football team. I couldn't NOT include it. A family of men and a woman run a football team—and it is a very interesting dynamic. And the romance is not slacking either! A sports romance worth reading!

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After Ever (A Paradise Cove Story) by Santana Blair
I really enjoyed the brother and sister dynamic in this romance. The brother was super protective, and though the sister did not speak—she gave him a run for his money. It was very interesting to watch, and it made me wish I had a brother willing to go to such lengths to protect me. Also, the way the story unfolds, and the romance—ugh so good!

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To Marry a Madden Series Sherelle Green
When I picked up #Blessed by Malakai, I knew I had to include this series. Imagine waking up one day as a Twitter sensation, because of your psycho of a kind-of-an-ex created the hashtag: #BlessedByMalaki, and sharing your private parts for the world to see. The book kicks off with our MC on the run from a horde of women hoping to be blessed by Malaki. Get this series, you'll enjoy it.

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Snowflake Nia Forrester
If you follow this blog, you know how I felt about this book. Though the father is incarcerated; his presence was very strong—and it gave the MC character—along with his mother who never gave up on the love she shared with his father. Aside from the romance, the parents were the stars of this novel; showing that love knows no time or distance.

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MacLaine Girls Series Shelly Ellis
A diverse group of women, the MacLaine Girls are a force. A family-run (all women) dance studio; with the matriarch at the helm; this series is a nice addition to any shelf. If you like younger men and older women romance; book one is a good place to start.

Thanks again for stopping by and checking out my post. And, thanks Ana, for asking me to be a part of #RomBkLove.

This list features a dynamic (though small) portion of some outstanding black writers and authors. Black romance is important and though it is often ignored in the public arena; as it pertains to accolades, and awards—Black romance has been here and is here to stay. The vibrancy, love, sex and romance you seek as a romance novel lover—is all here. Don't let a brown face deter you. You're missing out. 

Follow me on @blklitreviews on Twitter to stay abreast of black romance and black literature.

Also use the hashtag #RomBkLove and share your recs! I can't wait to see them all!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Play For Your Love (For Your Love Series) by Ashley Nicole


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Play For Your Love Ashley Nicole
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In order to find love, you have to take a chance. You have to open yourself up to the possibility of being hurt. You have to expose yourself in a way that you usually wouldn’t; allow others to see vulnerabilities that you try to hide. 
Journalist Aria Smith tried that three years ago and it ended in disaster. Now, she’s just trying to focus on moving up the ladder in her career. She’s just been handed the most coveted interview in sports writing, so it looks like she’s well on her way. 
Basketball star Tory Barker is fresh off of a championship season and is in high demand right now. He’s riding high off of his success, avoiding drama as he does so. His usually introverted and stress free lifestyle is upset when he comes face to face with Aria. She’s everything he never knew he wanted and everything he plans to get. 
Aria’s not sure she’s ready for the likes of Tory. Yes, he’s a sweetheart. Yes, he’s easy to talk. However, living life in the limelight was never her dream. Nor, was dating a basketball player. She’s throwing up strong blocks every time he makes a move. Tory knows she’s worth it and is more than ready to play for her love. Can he win is the question…
Play For Your Love was well done. It was well-written, humorous and even romantic. But when it delved into sexual assault, I gave this promising read the side eye.

Aria is a writer. She writes for her friend's popular magazine; which brings her into contact with baller, Tory. Aria is interviewing the up-and-coming basketball player on his endeavors and his plans for the upcoming season. The plan was a phone interview, but because of many scheduling conflicts, they meet in person. When they meet in person, sparks fly.

Both are hesitant to start something but love is not taking no for an answer.

Love was on front street in Play For Your Love. The way the relationship developed really gave the reader something to root for. Tory was everything you look for in a book boyfriend: successful, attractive, warm and giving. Aria was also a solid character. She had a rough reality, had a shaky family, but was also warm and fun. Her relationships with her friends were humorous and fun.

The real issue is the way the sexual assault was presented and dissected in this story. Without being too spoiler-y, Aria is a sexual assault victim. However, it doesn't appear realistic but creates the conflict that was initially missing from the story.

I can see where the author was going with this section of the story. But, I felt untrustworthy of the MC, and disturbed with the handling of sexual victims. That's not to say the author was being gross and dismissive. It was off-putting in its presentation. I can't really explain without giving too much away. But, this is a fair warning.

Otherwise, it's a decent read that's worth reading.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Single AF (Social Experiment, Book #1) by Sherelle Green


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Single AF Sherelle Green
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SINGLE: Unmarried or not involved in a stable relationship. 

MEEKA  
The pure term ‘being single’ makes me want to gag every time I hear it. To me, the worst part is the fact that you’re constantly reminded of your status. Like, do you really think I can forget I’m single? I’ve dated more Mr. Wrong’s than I can count, and now, the network that I work for wants me to share my f***ed-up dating history with the world. To make matters more humiliating, my arch nemesis — aka Mr. Missed Opportunity — has a front row seat to my walking, talking mistakes.  
  
TONE 
To say working with Meeka on this assignment is bound to go badly, would be an understatement. We’ve never gotten along, and I have a good reason for staying clear. Everything about her screams … extra! So, of course when our network needs me to assist her with her project, I’m intrigued to hear what her exes have to say about their past relationship. Maybe I’ll get some insight into her character or validate my assumptions. Or unbeknownst to me, I might just find myself connecting with this loud, crazy woman more than I ever thought I would. They say don’t mix business with pleasure. Funny, I never liked that rule.
 
Single AF had a promising start that quickly turned into a lackluster though amusing middle and later ending.

Single AF stars Meeka, Tone and their supporting cast of friends. Meeka is crazy. At least that’s how she comes off. Mostly, she’s just an insecure woman camouflaging her relationship and abandonment issues. She does so with overzealous and mostly amusing random acts of insanity.

Meeka was a fun character, and the story was equally fun—to a certain degree.

The romance between her and Tone was less fun. While I enjoyed the fun-like banter between the two; once they got serious, I wasn’t so sold on their partnership.

It felt insta-lovey, because though they bantered, and there was a build-up to their pairing—it felt forced. There wasn’t much emotional connection. It felt surface and things just kind of happened between them, expectedly and in a quick moving manner.

Their lovemaking and romance were silly. I thought even the serious part wasn’t serious enough. This book is mostly humorous with little seriousness—which is fine, but I personally would have liked equal parts of both. There was an immaturity to Meeka’s character I didn’t care for. But, that’s me.

Readers looking for a good laugh will enjoy Single AF; especially if you are single AF. It’s not lacking in relatable content.

I’m not totally in love, but I’m far from disappointed. I’m standing in the middle of the road on this one.

If you like your romance novels fun and light with a little angst—this is the perfect read for you.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Heartbreak U by Johnni Sherri


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Heartbreak U Johnni Sherri
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Four diverse young women meet after attending a very popular HBCU; each at a crossroads in their lives. Born and raised in the heart of Brooklyn, Franki doesn’t take crap from anyone. After relentlessly being hurt by the men in her life, she finds herself using them for the one thing she believes they’re good for. Sex. But when she’s labeled for her promiscuity and a new tragedy strikes, how will she recover? Paris, on the other hand, has led a life of privilege out in Beverly Hills; one that didn’t include very many minorities in her circle. When her mother sends her off to an HBCU in hopes that she’ll reconnect with her people, she finds herself culture shocked. Asha, the local girl, is a complete slacker when it comes to school and anything else that doesn’t align with her future plans of becoming a basketball wife. She is a user and a mastermind manipulator that will ultimately have to pay a price. Then lastly there’s Hope, the good girl. Raised by her father and brought up in the church, she’s been sheltered most of her life. But when she falls hard for the big man on campus and gets her heart crushed to pieces, will she persist? 

Told from each character’s distinct point of view, this narrative is about each young woman navigating the dynamics of sex, love and heartbreak in college. Being outcasts in their own right, these four young women ultimately forge a very unique bond.
Heartbreak U is heavily romance and relationship-based. It is thoroughly entertaining, but the girls lacked the closeness I was expecting. 
Paris, Asha, Hope, and Franki are from four different worlds. They could likely, if possible, be from four different universes. They differ in every way. And, when the four came together as roommates, the differences were stark.
College is a precarious time for any adult, and watching these four ladies navigate college, love, and life—brought back memories. My experience at college wasn't nearly as dramatic but I remember showing up to campus and moving into my dorm—not having the slightest clue who I was, or what I would be doing. It is an opportunity for growth and self-discovery, and it is also so for the four.
Though the ladies had little-to-nothing in common, there was a shared growth process, which mostly took place in their relationships. There were a lot of firsts: first love, first times, first time for opening up.
They learned a lot about themselves as it pertained to how they navigated love. There wasn't a lot of self-discovery outside of that. It was the relationships they developed, romantically, that brought about change, growth, and revelation. 
While I didn't completely understand every single relationship, there were takeaways from all of them: Learning to love completely, letting go of inhibitions, learning to trust and re-finding your faith, and learning to be open-minded. 
The characters are like onions, and now that I'm aware we're getting more stories, we've just barely revealed the first layer.
Asha was hard to love. She brushed the girls off and typically gave off attitude, but you get to see a little of why she's like that. Hope is a sheltered church girl with so much to learn—and learn she does. Franki's had a tough-go but with the love of a preacher's kid, learns that there's more to life than the hurt she's had to and continues to experience. Paris is spoiled. Attending this HBCU is the first time she's been in a place where she's not the only black person. She seems to take in all in stride, just barely being shocked by it all.
The book is good. But, there's a lot more to dive into. The story ends off in a cliff-hanger, which was shocking. There's no sign that this book is a series—so the way the book ended took me by surprise. I'm still not sure if this is a good or bad thing. I'll let you know when the next book releases.
The book is worth getting into, if not for its realistic take on college life. Though I found the lingo to be a little dated (I'm from New York, we've stopped saying Ma as a term of endearment some time ago. So, hearing it always catches me off guard.) the book is very now, and I think readers of any age will appreciate this take on college life.
I will warn you this book contains rape. So, if this is a trigger—do not pass go. While I felt that portion of the book isn't handled as well as I would have liked—I respected that it was included. Only because this is a part of college life that's normally ignored, so I respect the author for trying to talk about it. It's delicate. So, this is fair warning. 
It unpacks a lot, and for a series, it's a great start. I'm interested to see where the author takes this story and the characters.