Thursday, July 9, 2015

SERIES REVIEW - Ever After Series - Stephanie Hoffman McManus


TITLE:  Ever After Series 

AUTHOR: Stephanie Hoffman McManus

Reviewed by Johnaka

Book 1 - Finding Ever After

It's been three years since she left everything she knew behind, but Jaxyn is finally done running, and returning home to Boston face the friends she abandoned without warning and the nightmare that still wakes her in the night.

Back in the childhood home that holds all of her memories from before life showed her that 'happily ever afters' don't come easy, she is unsure of what the future holds. The one thing she definitely wasn't expecting was Kyden McCabe, the hot, tattooed and pierced musician she meets her first night back.

All she ever wanted as a little girl was to be swept off her feet by a prince, but Ky is nothing like the heroes from the stories her mom used to read to her. He's arrogant, frustrating and completely wrong for her. He lives his life one night stand at a time and she knows he's nothing but trouble.

Still haunted by her past and afraid to let anyone see the scars she hides, she fights the attraction she feels for Kyden and wonders if she'll ever find her storybook ending. Then a monster from her past threatens to rip away her chances before she realizes that maybe she already found it.

Content Advisory 17+ recommended

My Review:

*contains many spoilers* 

Jaxyn (Jax) Zane has not had a easy life. She lost her mother to cancer at the age of twelve. Only to float in the foster care system until the state found her dad. 
Her dad is the worst kind of man, a notorious mob boss that the government cannot pin. She found out she had three siblings, Shane who was older then her, then Ryan and Cathryn who were younger. They never got along with her and made her life hell. 
Thankfully though she had Sabastian (Bas) Cross and his dad and brother. They were her neighbors when she lived with her mom. She met Bas when she was five and they were inseparable, the very best of friends. Oddly never lovers, more like siblings. 
Jax's father put her in the sights of a psycho. He never believed her when she told him about all the times her hurt her. Causing Jax to run right after graduation without telling anyone where she was going. Three years later she finally comes home, thanks to Shane convincing her. 
Chris (Bas' brother) and Bas take her back in. She meets their friends; Ace, Spade, Marcus, Kyden, and more. They all fall under her spell. 
Conner her crazed Stalker is still out for her. Leaving her with a chaperone every night. The boys won't leave her alone. Shane even tries to step in to protect her from his former best friend, landing him in the hospital. He credits Jax for him getting out of the family business and tells her that he learned alot from her. 

"Loving someone is one of the bravest things you can do. It’s a choice you make that requires you to give a part of yourself, but you become even stronger for it. You’ve always had that strength inside of you. So when you doubt yourself or think that doesn’t matter, know that it that matters a hell of a lot to me, because if it weren’t for you, I might have made the biggest mistake of my life." 

Kyden has it bad for Jax and has since he first met her. He lives to be the playboy and he doesn't stand a chance to bed her. He's jealous of the easy relationship she has it Ace, even though he has nothing to worry about. 

"I’ve never let a girl come between us and I don’t want to now, but I want you. I understand why I can’t have you, but please don’t f*cking ask me to watch one of my best friends have you." 

The book is filled with sexual tension between the two. And whenever Kyden can he throws sexual innuendo's at her. 
Like this one when she's riding on his bike with him; 

"I can think of worse ways to go than squeezed between your thighs Princess." 

The book is full of Jax watching the guys play every night, dodging her dad and Conner, fighting her feelings for Kyden, and eventually fighting for her life. 
I didn't know if I was going to get the HEA I wanted between the two, but I did. It just took Conner almost killing her to make Kyden see the light. I like how both had to wade through their own problems before they could come together as a couple. 

Most of all I love how Stephanie never let Jax waver from her beliefs. I love books about bands, but Stephanie made this book about more than that. She made each and everyone of them into more than just a band member. She made it feel as if I could easily be friends with the whole group as well. They felt that real to me. 

Star Ratings:

Plot- 4/5 
Character- 4.5/5 
Heat- 4/5 
Writing style- 4/5 
Overall- 4.5/5 

Book 2 - Chasing Ever After 

Andrew Reid had it all planned out. Serve his country for four years and then marry his high school sweetheart.

Sadie Pierce had everything her heart desired. The love of Clayton West. Sacrificing her life of privilege to be with him was an easy choice. He was all she needed.

This is the story of two people who thought they had it all. This is the story of two people who lost it all.

When Drew's dream of happily ever after died, so did the boy that he was. He threw himself into being the best Marine he could, and as one half of a scout sniper pair, Ace was born.

Now, the bass player for the hottest band on the rise, he's well on his way to having it all again. One thing he knows he wants is the green eyed girl whose life collided with his when near tragedy struck someone close to both of them.

The events of Finding Ever After brought them together, but Sadie won't make it easy for the playboy rock star to win her heart. Not when she's already suffered so much heartache. But Ace isn't afraid to fight for what he wants. Even if that means chasing after the stubborn red head determined to run from him.

Can two people who lost so much, find more than they ever hoped to dream for?

My Review:

(Contains many Spoilers)

Chasing Ever After is about Sadie Pierce and Andrew (Ace) Reid. You met them both in Kyden and Jax's story. Sadie is Jax's best friend from her time away and Ace is part of Ky's band. They shared a kiss while Jax was in the hospital. Let's just say emotions were high. Ace had every intention of claiming Sadie even after Jax woke, but she wouldn't give him the time of day. 

Sadie is from a prominent family out west. They disowned her when she fell in love with a boy from a lower class then them. But she didn't care. They got engaged before he deployed with his unit. He was a man of honor and integrity. Unfortunately he lost his life while serving, leaving Sadie alone. Worst of all shortly after his death she miscarried his baby. She had no one, until she met Jaxyn. They healed each other. After everything with Jax she ends up moving to Boston to be close to her. 

Ace is from a middle class normal family. He joined the Marines right out of high school. While deployed his fiancĂ©e left him for another man. When he got out him and his best friend Spade settled in Boston. Where they then met Kyden, Chris, and Bas. Then the band started. They had hit it big enough to go on a European tour, only to come home early after having a stranger answer Jax's phone when he called. Telling him she had been stabbed multiple times and left to die. They all got on a plane to come home to her. Ace loves her like a sister, but can't help be a little envious of her, he wants to find love. 

I felt awful for Ace the whole time he was trying to get Sadie. She wanted absolutely nothing to do with him. Finally after a while he managed to win her over. When Ace, Kyden, and Jaxyn took her home to see her sisters he learned why she was the way she was. Her parents were awful, one sister was shy, the other threw herself at Kyden, and the youngest was rebellious. 
He took her to meet his family and Sadie learned what a real family was like and fell in love with them. The women took her in and they cooked and laughed together. Heck his grandma was a riot, who wouldn't love a woman who talked like a teen. 

"They all have nice butts. I wouldn’t mind giving any of them a little squeeze or bite." 

That's what grandma said about Ace's band members! But that doesn't mean they had it easy once he got her. A run in with his ex almost ruined them. Along with Sadies insecurities. She didn't think she would be enough for him, he's a Rockstar and she hadn't slept with anyone since her ex. But Ace proved himself. 

"I hope you don’t think it’s too creepy, but from almost the instant I met you, I was captivated by you . I snuck each of those pictures because I couldn’t help myself. I wanted something to look at when I was on the road. Not every part of what I do is exciting and glamorous, and there were many times I wished I was just home, instead of on a bus or in a hotel, feeling exhausted and worn out. When that would happen, I would look at your pictures. Not in a weird way though." 

And to fit her push his awesome status he took in Sadies baby sister Mia when she ran away from home. Got her to stay with them during school break. Then when Mia got in a car accident and Sadie tried to push him away, he stood his ground. When her ex's family was harassing her everyday, him and Spade stepped in. 
They get the HEA they deserved. And his proposal, totally fantastic! I have a feeling I will be reading this again so I can swoon over Ace. I love the dynamic of this group of friends and can't wait to keep following them. 

Star Ratings:

Plot- 4/5 

Character- 4/5 

Heat- 4/5 
Writing style- 4/5 
Overall- 4/5 

Book 3 - Fighting Ever After

Senator's son. Ivy league dropout. Lead singer for Boston's hottest band on the rise. Bad boy most likely to break a good girl's heart. Kyden McCabe is all of those things and so much more.

His trust; you can't have it. His heart; he'll never let you touch it. He's not interested in love. He deals in pleasure only. That's all he wants and all he offers. When Jaxyn stumbles into his life like a princess straight from some bullshit fairytale, she will be no exception . . .

You've already heard the story from Jaxyn's point of view, now take a peek inside Ky's head and find out just what it is that makes him so hard to like, but so easy to love.

This is a retelling of Finding Ever After from Ky's point of view. It can be read before or after Chasing Ever After (Ace and Sadie) but should be read after Finding Ever After.

My Review:

(Contains Many Spoilers)

Fighting Ever After takes us back to Kyden and Jax's story, but this time it's all from Kydens point of view. 

Kyden never had a healthy relationship growing up. He didn't go to school, he had tutors that came to the house. His parents basically had him to complete the family look for his father's voters since he's a politician. They never bonded with him and basically saw him as a prop. The only person who gave him the time of day was Elaina, his violin instructor. She was less then professional and took advantage of a kid/teen who wanted attention. After she left him he went a little nuts and decided he would never give a woman the time of day other than to have sex with her. Then it all changed when Jax walked into the bar. 

"I never fucking saw her coming. She was like a damn meteor , burning bright and hot, crashing into me and changing everything." 

This time you could feel his struggle to stay away from Jax. Boy did he fight it. From the moment she landed in his lap he didn't have eyes for anyone else. He tried to have sexual relations with other women, but he couldn't stop the feeling that he was betraying her. He could never complete the act. 

When she moved in after Connor burned he house, he loved it. Not because she cooked and cleaned. But just spending time with her, playing video games, watching Supernatural, whatever she wanted her to do. He didn't want her to leave. Then when he finally let her in and tried the whole boyfriend thing, it was basically his kiss of death. He never wanted it to end. Then when the band got signed he basically decided to push her away. Mainly because she told him she loved him. 

After a while he told her all about Elaina. With the band going off of tour he did what he thought was best and walked away. After he felt like he was just a shell of himself. 

"Once you’ve loved someone you can’t just forget what that’s like. You can live your whole life in the dark, ignorant, but once you’re exposed to that first ray of light, suddenly you’re aware of the darkness . Jaxyn wasn’t just a ray of light; she burned brighter than the whole damn sun." 

On tour he was basically a recluse. He didn't feel like himself. When he left Jax he left the best parts of him with her. Then when Ace came into his room and told him about her being attacked it was game over. He knew he would do everything he could to get his girl back. When they got to the hospital he refused to leave her side. Kyden spilled everything to her while she was in her coma. 

"I didn’t deserve you, but I loved you in that moment and every moment after, even when I didn’t show it. I need you to wake up Princess, so that you can forgive me again. I screwed up so bad this time." 

We all know that they got their happy ending. It was interesting to see it from Kydens perspective. I won't lie this made me love him a little more than I did after the first book. Fighting Ever After made it more clear how much Kyden was hopelessly in love and committed to Jaxyn then we thought before. They definitely bring out the best in each other and I can't wait to keep following them through everyone else's stories. 

Star Ratings:

Plot- 4/5 

Character- 4/5 

Heat- 4/5 
Writing style- 4/5 
Overall- 4/5 

Book 4 - Saving Ever After

Reckless. Wild. Out of control. Mia's life is spiraling headlong into trouble and she can't seem to stop it. She's desperate to feel loved, desperate to feel anything besides alone. One bad decision after another leaves her on the verge of losing everything. The only person who can save Mia from herself is the last person in the world who wants to. So why does he keep showing up to her rescue?

Chris is living the dream. The band is selling out concerts and their records are turning platinum. He's in a good relationship, and the last thing he needs to worry about is some kid hell bent on destroying her life. She's selfish, impulsive, way too young and headed for trouble at break-neck speeds, but in the rare moments that he gets a glimpse of the girl under all that, he can't help but be drawn to her, and he can't seem to stop himself from playing her white knight. Will he be able to pull her out of the darkness, or will she drag him down with her?

My Review:

(Contains Many Spoilers)

This is Chris Cross and Mia Pierce's story. You've known Chris from the beginning of the series and met Mia in Ace and Sadie's story. 
Chris has always came off as the responsible older brother. Mia on the other hand was the rebellious young girl. In the time that Chris has known her she has ran away from home and almost died in an auto accident where alcohol was involved. Yet when he met her he felt like they were the same. 

In this story Mia moves from Seattle to Boston for college. She doesn't want to be the disappoint of her family anymore and wants to lose her party girl status. Right away she accidentally makes friends with the wrong group. Not only do they drink too much but they also do drugs. She tries to keep clean of it. 

Chris and Mia keep having run ins all over. He drives her home after an engagement party held in honor of Ace and Sadie. When her family ditches her on family weekend at college they spend the weekend together. Playing video games, playing pranks on each other, going hiking, and just having a good time. Mia goes to Australia with the band to watch Kyden and Jax's baby. So they have a ton of outings together and have a blast. Until his girlfriend makes a surprise visit and won't let him hang with his friends. After that him and Mia babysit Abby (Bas's baby) and Abel (Jaxs) so they can all go out on a date. 

During this time Chris sees two sides of Mia. The side she puts on for everyone and who she actually is. He sees how emotionally damaged she is. There were several times that he picked her drunk butt up to make sure she got home safe. Then the next morning would lecture her. Finally it got so bad that she got alcohol poisoning and he had to rush her to the hospital. Since he wasn't family they wouldn't let him stay with her. 
While in the hospital Mia finally broke. She couldn't stand the sad look Sadie gave her. Or her mother and her ultra-biznitch attitude who cut her off. Or her father's absence as whole. During this time she loses the only friend she really has a guy named Kris. So she gets into cocaine thanks to that bad group she met when she first joined college. 

It took a month of not seeing or hearing from Mia before he showed up at her door. Chris knew that she was shutting everyone out. He could tell right away that she was on drugs. The beautiful vibrant girl he loved spending time with was gone. The girl in front of him was just a broken she'll of her. He tries to convince her to get help and at the same time admits he has feelings for her but won't act on them because it wasn't the right time. Which he was right about. But it was the wrong thing to say. 
Mia ended up back in the hospital and then rehab. She wouldn't see him or talk to him. She wanted to get better on her own and then try to get him. Spade brought her the turtle Chris bought her in Australia with a message... 

"“He asked me to bring this. He wanted to bring it himself, but we weren’t sure what seeing him would do to you right now. He also asked me to tell you that you were always enough and that you always will be.” 
And that got her through. 

"He’d been saving me in little ways even then, and through it he’d been telling me what neither one of us could see then. He’d felt what I’d felt all along. It had been there between us, pulling us to one another, but he’d been fighting it and I hadn’t been ready for it. I hadn’t been in a place to let anyone love me or save me, because I had to figure out how to love myself and save myself first." 

Chris and Mia do get the ending they deserve.  I cannot think of a better ending for such tortured souls. They really did make a great couple. The pain and hurt in this book felt so real that it's hard not to wonder if Ms. McManus wrote from experience. It's a beautiful tortured story with a HEA. It reminds us that not all things in life are easy, but the fight is worth it. 

Star Ratings:

Plot- 4.5/5
Character- 4/5
Heat- 3/5
Writing style- 4/5
Overall- 4.5/5 

Amazon Page for Stephanie Hoffman McManus

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