Wednesday, May 24, 2017

[ARC Review]: "Small Change"

romance novel covers, contemporary romance, Royal Pick, Small Change by Roan Parrish
Small Change by Roan Parrish
Publisher: Monster Press (June 1, 2017)
Series: Small Change, 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance


Ginger Holtzman has fought for everything she’s ever had—the success of her tattoo shop, respect in the industry, her upcoming art show. Tough and independent, she has taking-no-crap down to an art form. Good thing too, since keeping her shop afloat, taking care of her friends, and scrambling to finish her paintings doesn’t leave time for anything else. Which … is for the best, because then she doesn’t notice how lonely she is. She’ll get through it all on her own, just like she always does. 

Christopher Lucen opened a coffee and sandwich joint in South Philly because he wanted to be part of a community after years of running from place to place, searching for something he could never quite name. Now, he relishes the familiarity of knowing what his customers want, and giving it to them. But what he really wants now is love.

When they meet, Christopher is smitten, but Ginger … isn’t quite so sure. Christopher’s gorgeous, and kind, and their opposites-attract chemistry is off the charts. But hot sex is one thing—truly falling for someone? Terrifying. When her world starts to crumble around her, Ginger has to face the fact that this fight can only be won by being vulnerable—this fight, she can’t win on her own.


Small Change is the first book in a series that will include M/F and M/M romances.



Where to Buy*:
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Reviews of Parrish's Previous Novels:


In the Middle of Somewhere (#1)



My Review:







“I just know that I like the bits of you I’ve seen, and I want to see the rest.”





This book . . . Oh, this book was basically complete perfection for me. It was adorable, it was sweet, it was sexy, and it packed a few emotional punches, too. The romance was great, the writing was as well, and the characters were relatable and lovable. And did I mention adorable, because Christopher was so adorably sweet.





Small Change is related to one of Parrish’s previous books, In the Middle of Somewhere (a M/M romance which I also loved), though this can easily be read as a standalone. We’re introduced to Ginger in ItMoS, as she’s the best friend to Daniel, the hero for that book.  In fact, these two storylines run almost parallel as far as the time frame, so there’s a scene or two that overlaps between the two books, just, obviously, from a different POV.





"And she’s kind of short, but her body language is like she’s six feet tall. Commanding. She’ll stand there with her hands on her hips and her elbows out and even though she’s little it’s like there’s a bubble around her that no one will disturb. Like one of those scratchy cats that lies right in the middle of the bed and lets you pet it sometimes but glares if you try to move it one inch."





Ginger is a strong, kickass heroine. She’s a tattoo artist who has worked her way up and now owns her own parlor – not an easy thing to do for a woman in the industry (more on this later). She’s also an artist and does amazing paintings on paper, not just ink on skin. She’s obviously got plenty of tattoos on her own body, as well as a few piercings (nipples), and a killer hairstyle (shaved on one side, her naturally curly hair on the rest). Oh, and did I mention she’s bi – or, technically, she self-identifies as queer on page, but my point is she’s not straight. Ginger is also Jewish, though she’s not active in the religious part of her identity. I mean, seriously, there’s a lot to love about her character, and that’s before you even get into the story itself and her POV, to see just how determined and fierce she is -- to the point, unfortunately, where many in her life have a hard time connecting with her, find her too rough or standoffish.





And then he winked at me. Not the friendly wink of a barista. A filthy, promise-laden wink that shifted his grin from charming to sexy as hell. I was kind of impressed he’d managed to pull it off and I just looked at him for a minute, a smile threatening.





Christopher is the owner of a coffee and sandwich shop in the neighborhood. He’s also got ginger hair and freckles; the hair color makes for a bit of joke between the two, since he’s used to being nicknamed “Ginger” for his hair while Ginger is her actual name (and no, she doesn’t have red hair). I’m realizing I have A Thing for freckled ginger heroes, because Christopher is the second such hero I’ve read, and loved, this month. Anyway, there’s more than just freckles to love about Christopher. He is seriously such a sweet, caring hero, a total caretaker, and gives so much of himself to those that he cares for. He’s more beta than alpha, and I cannot even begin to explain all the reasons why he stole my heart, because there were so many moments, so many actions and lines, that made me happy sigh all over him. 12/10, would totally keep him for my own, if possible. 😊 But since he’s such a perfect match for Ginger, I *guess* I’ll have to leave him to her instead. Dammit.




Also, quick mention, here’s another reason why I love Christopher, and this book in general: NO SHITTY EX-GIRLFRIENDS!





I liked that he seemed to have only good things to say about the women he’d had relationships with.





Yes, please, can we get more of that? Now Ginger had one shitty ex, but he doesn’t pop up in the book, which I very much appreciated.




Small Change is told entirely from Ginger, 1st POV, but we do get emails/texts from Christopher to his brother, Jude, at the beginning of every chapter. I loved these letters. For one, it gives us that little glimpse into Christopher’s POV in general, which I very much appreciated. But it also shows us how he sees Ginger and their budding relationship, as well as his interaction and deep love for his brother. Watching Christopher giving everything to support and be there for Jude is so heartbreakingly beautiful and it defines who Christopher is to a T. We see some of that taking place outside of the letters, too, as Ginger finds out about Jude and how Christopher tries his hardest to always be such a rock for Jude, both when they were younger and to this day. Did I mention how much I freaking loved Christopher? Because he’s great.




Speaking of Jude, I’m so glad to hear that his story is next. He needs a HEA, and I was drawn to his character here, needed to know more, even as the peek into his story here hurt. I’m certain his book will tear my heart out, but I’m ready anyway.




Trigger warning, mostly related to Jude: there is some pointed, though a bit on the vague side, mention of suicide attempts, self-harm, and depression. It’s not graphic, but it’s there, so just be aware and take care of yourself, okay?




Okay, back to Ginger and Christopher. Their romance starts off when Ginger’s coffee pot breaks and she has to – GASP! --- leave the house early in the morning to get coffee. Which is pure hell, of course, because:





“I broke my coffeemaker,” I grumbled. “And I can’t without caffeine.”

“Can’t what?”

“Anything.”





Christopher is working that morning, and does a bit of friendly, light flirting with her. She’s interested in him, but she’s also very much against relationships and opening up to others, so she’s trying to keep her distance. She doesn’t get the pot replaced for a few days, which means she has to keep returning, so more cute dancing-around-each-other ensues. Their romance is a bit of a slow build up, because Ginger is so hesitant to give this something between them a try. But slow does not equal boring or nonexistent – quite the opposite. Instead, we see all these adorable, cute moments as Christopher gently, well, woos her, gets to know her, shows that he supports her and wants to be there for her completely. He’s never pushy with her, but he’s always there, and she starts to realize that she’s getting used to that. To the point that when she walks in for her coffee one morning and he’s not there, she misses him. Same when, after a few days of bringing her special sandwiches in the evening while she’s finishing up her work, and he’s not there one night, she worries that she did something already to push him away, that he’s finally seeing why so many don’t try to get close to her. Of course it’s not that, and after he ribs her a bit for showing that she missed him, he tells her as much.




There were so many great moments between these two, so many quotes that I highlighted (….like, a shit ton and I’m not even sorry for it). I just loved these two, loved seeing them slowly open up to each other. Ginger’s knee-jerk reaction is always to pull away, to lash out, because she fears having people get close and then hurting and leaving her. And she does do this to Christopher; I saw that “Oh, shit, no, Ginger” moment coming and it definitely hurt me almost as much as it hurt both of them. But they do get through it in the end, and I believed in their relationship 100%.




The heat level here is delicious hot, though perhaps not quite the hottest out there. I didn’t care, what was there was enough to still burn the pages and make me a happy reader. For example: That quickie alley scene though! I know, I know, you’re probably a bit iffy of anything called the “alley scene” but trust me, it is hot! Tons of passionate kissing and a little good ol’ fashioned hand job and fingerbang against the building wall. Orgasms for both. Though the fingerbang for her does turn into some quick clit licking for her big O, because Christopher is a (dirty) gentleman like that.




But the scene that completely killed me was later on. Five words: Make out and dry hump. ß How to kill TBQ, basically. I fucking love a good dry hump, but it’s almost always ignored in romancelandia, where PIV is the Ultimate Sex Scene Goal. Don’t get me wrong, I love those sex scenes, too, and they were done well here, but give me some variety, give me some buildup and sexual play other than just PIV, please!





I reached between us to feel him and his eyelids fluttered. “You make me hard all the time,” he muttered against my mouth. I gritted my teeth against the wave of desire that washed through me. Being wanted, knowing this gorgeous man wanted me as much as I wanted him, made me lightheaded. “Tell me why?” I gasped out, embarrassed, but I needed to know it was real. “Please?”

Christopher rubbed the pad of his thumb over my lower lip and my eyes slid closed. He spoke low into my ear. “It turns me on to watch you tattoo. To see you concentrating, marking someone, changing them. The way you walk fucking gets to me. You stalk around, with your hands on your hips and your chin up, and your gorgeous ass out.” I snorted and he grabbed the ass in question. “It’s like you’re constantly about to fuck someone or fuck them up.” He nipped at my neck and I writhed.

“What else?” I gasped as he pressed his hips up, letting me feel the erection straining his jeans.

“Your voice,” he said. “So hot. And I’m serious about the swearing. I don’t know why it turns me on, but it does. It’s like…I don’t know, like you’ve got so much passion simmering away that normal words aren’t strong enough. Or maybe I just like it because your mouth’s so gorgeous that dirty words make me think about other dirty things…”

His hands trailed slowly down my ribs, then he pinched my nipples, sending jolts through me, the piercings turning the pleasure to pain and back again. I swore and bit his ear and he groaned, pulling my hips down and squeezing my ass.

Then he kissed me, our tongues tangling furiously and I moaned into his mouth, never wanting the kiss to end. We kissed until we were breathless, his hips lifting off the couch, mine grinding down, seeking friction.





There are some really cute moments that won’t make much sense without the full context of the story, but I’m going to mention them quickly anyway, because I’m a tease like that:
  • Her birthday cereal bar
  • Care Bare stare power (and later tatts)
  • Her final painting and her  new sign for his shop 





It was time to let go of everything in my life that was reaction. It was time for action instead.





Okay, stop me, because I could happy sigh over these two all day long. So one more thing that I loved about this book and then I’ll wrap it up here.




I loved seeing the tattoo artist world through Ginger’s eyes – the good and the bad. I hated that UGH, sexism and dickbag men are rampant in the industry, and that it affects her and all other women working in it. But I LOVED the social media campaign she starts and the kickass girl power + tatts stories that come from it. So not only do we get a solid, swoon-worthy romance, but we also get a frank discussion of what it’s like for women trying to make it in a male-dominated industry like tattooing (hell, what it’s like to be a woman in the world, period), and I so love when my romance novels do things like that.





Small Change will easily be one of my top favorites for this year. I literally have nothing noticeable to point to as a “Well, this bugged me/didn’t work for me”. I was a very happy reader – even when I was feeling all the feels! – from beginning to end. This romance had me swooning all over the place, which is easy to see if you take a look at my Twitter feed full of quotes. I cannot wait for book 2, especially knowing that it’s Jude’s story. I’m 100% sure it’s going to hurt before he gets his HEA, but I’m also 150% sure that: A) I’m going to love it and B) it’s going to be worth it. So, bring it on, Parrish, I'm ready for the feels.



5 STARS! 


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I received an e-ARC of this book from the author.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Roan Parrish; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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If you want to read more quotes that I highlighted, check out my Twitter!


Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on May 25th for a chance to WIN an ecopy of your own!



Enjoy!


Until Next Time,


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  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

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