Book Review: Ramping Up by Zoe Dawson

Confession time: I don’t watch a lot of extreme sports, so when I think of skateboarders, I have a preconceived notion of punk kids with baggy jeans and spiked hair. I know, it’s narrow minded, especially because I know in reality that skateboarding takes a huge amount of talent Despite my version of skateboarders, I was excited to read a book about extreme sports, as it wasn’t a trope I’d tried yet.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A surfer turned skateboarder is picked up by a well known sports agency and finds himself attracted to his new agent. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Surfer Dude to Skater Boy
Gunner has been raised by his controlling father to be a surfer, but because of the way he’s been “trained,” he hates it. So he latches on to skateboarding as something he enjoys and is good at, never thinking of it as a career. A video of him skating goes viral, though, and catches the eye of one of the people at Mavrick All-Stars, a sports agent company. The owner’s daughter, Lena, finds Gunner and offers to represent him. And by offers, I mean talks him into signing with the company.


Gunner is cautious about the whole thing, partly because he knows his dad is going to throw an epic fit and partly because going pro means possibly losing his love of skateboarding. But Lena is nothing if not persuasive, and the fact that Gunner is attracted to her doesn’t hurt. He signs with the company and the ball starts rolling on his rise to athletic fame.

Business vs. Pleasure
On the flipside, Lena is attracted to Gunner as well, but she knows she needs to tread carefully when it comes to mixing business with pleasure, especially because her father had been embroiled in a scandal years ago when he started a relationship with a client. But knowing and doing are two different things when the hormones go high octane, and Lena isn’t able to stick to her good intentions.

Dicks Everywhere
Besides the whole “should we/shouldn’t we” conflict, there are some other shenanigans happening to Gunner and Lena. Lena is dealing with a competing agent who’s super shady and also happens to be working with Gunner’s dad to force Gunner back to surfing. Also, the douchie dad is stalking Gunner and causing scenes at his competition, threatening to find and hurt his mother and sister who left home years before.

Did I mention the guy was a complete asshat?

Girl Power
Though I was a little unsure at first, I ended up liking this book. I loved the fact that the top agents at Mavrick were women (or at least the ones showcased) and that they completely rocked at their job without being too perfect. In fact, Lena starts out having a full on Jerry Maguire moment where she questions her integrity and whether or not she’s following the mission of the company. Competent, yet flawed, is a combo for a great character.


Hard Edge, Soft Heart
Gunner is also awesome. He’s got a rough edge, but it comes from being abused by his father for years. Mostly he’s just a sweet guy who did what he had to to protect his mom and sister and who doesn’t want to fight his attraction to his agent. Also, he meets a little girl who wants to be a professional skateboarder, and I loved how he supported her and became a friend and mentor to her.

The Romance Factor
While I enjoyed the relationship between Gunner and Lena, I didn’t get overly mushy over them. I think the emotion of the book came in the form of the conflict brought in by outside forces. While they’re sweet together and there was definitely some romance, it was a little more low key. 3/5

The Steam Factor
When the sexy times happened, we knew they happened, but we didn’t get too much detail or dirty talk. 3/5

Final Thoughts
If there was anything that annoyed me it was the nickname of McHotstuff that Gunner gave Lena. I don’t know why, but it just seemed silly to me. It wasn’t a dealbreaker though, and I enjoyed the book overall. Do I think extreme sports is going to be on my radar? Maybe. It might depend on the context. But I definitely want to read more of this series.

Book Review: Forgotten Promises by Jessica Lemmon

The Lost Boys series by Jessica Lemmon takes a more serious tone than a lot of contemporary romances I’ve read. This one especially takes it to some dark places. While it’s a good read that I recommend, it is NOT a light and fluffy read by any means.

Trigger warnings: This book contains themes of physical and sexual abuse and molestation, pedophilia, and suicide.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A released prisoner vows to get the proof he needs to send his father to jail, and a girl he knew in high school may hold the key to helping him…if he doesn’t get arrested for kidnapping her. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

First World Problems
On her 21st birthday, Morgan finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her. This is the worst thing to happen in her world, so she plans to spend the rest of the night getting drunk and trying to forget his betrayal. But when she sees Tucker at the convenience store and goes to talk to him,  she sets herself up to find out that there are worse things in the world than being dumped.


From the Past
Tucker knew Morgan in high school and even once saved her from being raped. But he was also the juvenile delinquent who’s father was the chief of police. When he hears sirens and panics, he kidnaps Morgan and takes her to a friend’s cabin to hide out while he decides what to do. Morgan is understandably scared at first, but she’d been fascinated by Tucker in high school, and now she finds herself attracted to him.

Dark & Light
You’d think this was a case of Stockholm Syndrome, and I suppose there’s a little bit of that, but it goes deeper. Tucker needs Morgan’s father, a lawyer, to help him put his father behind bars before he gets involved in a camp for boys and does to them what he did to Tucker and his brother for years. Because of his past, Tucker doesn’t like to be touched and he can’t trust anyone. But Morgan represents purity for him, and when she reaches out to him, showing him true kindness and affection, he’s torn between wanting to accept her gift and wanting to push her away so as not to dirty her with what he perceives as his own darkness.

A Sad Truth
Rape is used quite a bit in romantic fiction, and it’s often something visited upon the heroine. Having the hero be the victim was definitely a turn, but one that the author handled well. Tucker knows that what happened to him wasn’t his fault. Yet he feels dirty and unworthy of love. Though he accepts Morgan’s affection at the cabin, he doesn’t believe himself worthy to be with her.

Perception is Everything
As for Morgan, even though they’re only together a few days, her whole outlook on life is changed, just by knowing what happened to Tucker and understanding that his juvenile delinquency wasn’t a rebellion against his father, it was a way to escape him. Yes, this happens only over a short time, but it’s not beyond the realm of belief, and the pacing is perfect for the intensity of the characters and their relationship.

The Romance Factor
Morgan and Tucker have a history of sorts, and though they seem to fall for each other quickly, their background keeps this from being a case of insta-love. Tucker’s tragic past makes Morgan’s need to accept and heal him that much stronger. Though there’s not that romantic angst I enjoy, the conflict and angst from other areas is powerful, and the way the characters come together is both sad and hopeful. 4/5


The Steam Factor
The few scenes there were had enough detail to “see” what was happening, but this one wasn’t hardcore erotic, and I’m actually thankful for that. In a story with such dark themes, I think there had to be a good balance between the plot and the sex, and the balance was definitely there. So while I’m only giving it a 3/5, I’m doing so with much respect Jessica Lemmon for handling this topic well.

Final Thoughts
This quick read (it’s more of a novella) isn’t going to be for everyone, and I say that because I know readers who don’t want dark themes in their romance. However, I really enjoyed it, and I especially liked that not only was a difficult subject tackled with grace, it was done in a way that shows that it’s not just women who can be victims of horrible crimes against their bodies.