Cover Image: Lead Me Back

Lead Me Back

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Member Reviews

4.5 STARS

Ah CD Reiss writes amazingly strong heroines and Kayla is exactly my kind of girl. A straight shooter, real, relatable. I loved that Justin's celebrity status didn't make a difference to her, that she didn't let his fame take over her life. She was independent, fierce and tough without being hardened. And if anyone could be perfect for a superstar it was Kayla. She was so low maintenance, there was no huge drama with her.
“I need to live the one life I have.” Pushing against my hands, I stood up. “I can’t let you take over. I won’t.”

And Justin was a surprise. He had such a generous, kind heart that cared so much for his friends and family when you looked past all the glitz and glitter. The way he was with his hilarious, meddling grandmother was just heartwarming. Despite his celebrity he was so grounded and focused on what was important. Kayla and Justin felt realistic in a way I didn't expect in a Hollywood romance.
Doing something to make her happy, though . . . that was like a nuclear bomb of unicorns and rainbows in my heart.

I wanted to have a little more explorations of Kayla and her dad's reunion. I adored how they found their way back to each other. There is one story thread I would have liked to see being tied up neatly but these things are a personal preference. Who knows, maybe we get that story in another book. Crossing my fingers here!

CD Reiss's words are magic - she lets us take a look behind the curtain of fame in her Hollywood romance books, lets us see that being a celebrity isn't really all that fun it looks to be on the outside.
I totally enjoyed LEAD ME BACK. If you need to get out of your head? Grab this. If you're feeling blue? Grab this. If you want to laugh a little? Grab this. You get my drift. This was a delightfully cute, quick read and I really can't recommend Lead Me Back enough for everyone who needs a pick-me-up.
He would always be just a little bigger, shine just a little brighter. That was for the world, but for me? He’d always be the man my eyes sought out and my heart expanded for.
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This was a fantastic Hollywood read!!

Kayla has been beat down by the very industry she loves in New York so she decides to move cross country and start again. Her first day in LA doesn't get off to great start and things just keep getting more and more interesting. Justin is Hollywood rock star royalty turned actor but how the mighty fall when they mess up royally. Now there's some woman at his grandmothers house and he needs to figure out her angle and get rid of her. Soon these two realize neither is who or what they thought they were and beneath the surface they both find something more. Something neither realized they were even looking for. But both have ghosts in their past that sometimes haunt you when you least expect it.

**Received ARC through NetGalley. Voluntarily reviewed**
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I really enjoyed this romantic, Hollywood boy band story. It was an easy-going read that held my attention from start to finish. The characters were wonderfully written and very relatable;  the writing was perfect and the story flowed beautifully.

This is an interesting story which, to be honest, was fairly uneventful in the angst stakes, but what made this book so good for me was the way C.D. Reiss wrote her characters, Their personalities, the chemistry, and the fun I had with their constant spats between Justin and Kayla made it a very entertaining read.

Justin is an arrogant entitled pop star who is at the top of his game, and basically has the world at his feet. His bad boy image has at last caught up with him and his so-called "perfect" life isn't all it seems. He has some big problems he needs to sort out in his life, and although every instinct in me said I shouldn't have liked Justin, I just couldn't help myself. There is so much more to this bad boy pop star than we first see.

Kayla was the most entertaining young lady, she is spunky, spontaneous and funny and speaks her mind, I loved the way she treated Justin as though he was just another person she met along the way. Of course, she is nervous when she first starts to work for him and even a little starstruck, but she doesn't let it show and she takes no crap from him, secretly this is why Justin finds himself drawn to her because Kayla grounds him.

Both of these characters work so well together even though they come from entirely different backgrounds and had numerous obstacles thrown in their path, and with their own sets of personal baggage from the past that they are still carrying around, everything in this story just clicked for me. Secondary characters were very strong, especially Justin's Grandma who was an absolute hoot to read.

This book was well worth the read and one that I thoroughly recommend.
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I enjoyed Lead Me Back for a few reasons but I loved it because C.D. Reiss wrote a Hollywood story with a grandmother as a secondary character that actually played an important roll, which she named Louise and gave her the nickname Weeze . That’s probably not going to mean a whole lot to some of you, but it doesn’t matter because there’s plenty of other reason to #oneclick this book!

This is one of those stories that reads like magic. At its core, it’s just a story of two people fumbling thru getting to know each other and trying to make a go of it with a ton of obstacles in their way. But that’s just the core. The reality is that one is a celebrity and the other is one that is averse to said limelight, hence the obstacles. They both come with baggage they’d like to shed and history they’d like to move forward and away from and if they could just look past the trees and see the forest, they’d see the sensational future they have ahead of each other, together as a unit!

I thoroughly enjoyed the echo the story had to real life events and circumstances while also maintaining the illusion of romance fiction. This wasn’t a modern take of any tale, it was a fictional story embedded in modern day society’s circumstances and I for one enjoyed that realism. It added credibility to every action and reaction in the story and it allowed me to believe in the story wholeheartedly! Plus, the story was fun!!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this author’s work for many years and every time I read one of her books, I am reminded of what a powerhouse writer I believe her to be. It doesn’t matter what project she undertakes, whether it be a dark romance or a feel-good contemporary romance, they always have her signature edge to them that always keeps me on my toes while I read. They are always sexy, emotional, anticipatory, and passionate! I know I’m reading fiction but I feel enriched after I read them, every single time!
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Mary – ☆☆☆☆
Kayla has left New York from a bad situation and Los Angeles doesn't seem to be starting off any better. She gets a traffic ticket, and a new phone number that turns out to be the old number for a famous singer/movie star. But on a good note, she gets a call from Louise, who is said singer's grandmother, and she thinks Kayla is Justin's assistant and wants roses delivered to her house.

Justin is trying to revive his image after the boy band broke up. He is working on a movie that he hopes will help with that. When he sees the girl standing in his grandmother's kitchen wanting money, he thinks she is a reporter. He likes Kayla from the start. She is feisty, and doesn't take or want anything from him. She just wants her money back from the roses and to leave.

Can Justin convince Kayla to work on the movie set so she will be close to him? Will Kayla accept the job as a way to get her name out for her own career? Will there be a chance for a relationship for Justin and Kayla?

I really liked this story but there were parts I rushed through that seemed to drag on. This is a first for me from this author and I look forward to reading more from her.


Ruthie – ☆☆☆☆
I really enjoyed this fun, fast-paced, and romantic novel. It all starts with Kayla destroying her old New York numbered sim card and buying a new one, with an LA number, only for it to turn out to be one which has only recently been disowned and she gets a call from a woman called Louise, asking her to deliver some flowers. We immediately get to see that Kayla is a good woman, as she does as asked, so as not to disappoint. Well, what a surprise she gets when she finds ex-boy band lead Justin Beckett at the address she was given. What follows is a really fast ride into crazy!

Justin has been decried as the bad boy and is now banned by his manager from seeing the rest of his band, even having his phone number changed. This makes him furious, but at the same time he needs to see whether his dream of an acting career can work out, so he agrees to the rules. Fate hands him Kayla... a beautiful woman who turns up at his grandmother's place, all because she has his old number.

As their lives intertwine, we get to meet two really interesting leads and the people around them. I loved reading about Kayla's skills as a designer, and seeing her be a real friend and champion to Evelyn. As we get to understand why, I only admired her more. It is a clever and important twist to the story. Add in the reasons behind Justin's fall from grace, and how much he wants to set the record straight, and it is difficult not to want the best for these guys.

There is some lovely humour, some drama, and without doubt, a blossoming romance under some difficult circumstances. I did enjoy the lack of angst between the two of them, rather that it radiated outwards. I really do recommend this as a lovely piece of escapism.


Mary Jo – ☆☆☆
The story was interesting but the way Justin's character spoke was very off putting to me. Yes, it's a vernacular that younger people use most often, but for me, it didn't do anything for the story. If I had listened to an audio of the book perhaps it wouldn't have taken me out of the story as much, if at all.

The rest of the book was good, the story was sound and the characters of Kayla and Justin were well written. Both Kayla and Justin needed a way to grow up, to mature, and the book did a good job of showing the complexities of each of their lives and how the each had to make decisions that were the best for them, not the other party.

Over the course of the book, we got to know the inner circles of both Justin and Kayla's families and I must say, they are a great group of supporting characters.
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This one is tough to review. The writing is fine and clean but I just couldn't connect with any of the characters. I couldn't feel any chemistry with the leads and honestly there just didn't seem to be much going on. It all felt anticlimactic.
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Lead Me Back features the story of Kayla Montgomery and Justin Beckett. Kayla is cutting all ties with her old life and drives cross country to Los Angeles. She wants to start over. She stops to change her phone number. While she is driving she gets a phone call from an older lady about buying some flowers for her boyfriend. Kayla doesn't want to old lady to not have her flowers so she shows up with them in hand.

When she gets there she learns that the older lady is the grandmother of Justin Beckett. He's a boy band rebel with a cocky attitude. He gets Kayla a job, and his grandmother keeps forwarding calls to Kayla trying to get her together with Justin. 

Kayla takes the job as she needs a fresh start. Justin and Kayla start hanging out and have feelings for each other. Both are battling issues from their past. Can they work together to get through their issues. Will it tear them apart?

I really liked this book.

** I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
#LeadMeBack #NetGalley
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4.25 stars-LEAD ME BACK by CD Reiss is a stand alone, contemporary, adult, erotic, romance storyline focusing on clothing designer Kayla Montgomery, and one-time teen heartthrob turned actor Justin Beckett.

Told from dual first person points of view (Kayla and Justin) LEAD ME BACK follows the building romance and relationship between twenty five year old one-time teen heartthrob/ musician turned actor Justin Beckett, and clothing designer Kayla Montgomery.  Justin Beckett was once on top of the world with his boy band turned pop artists but everything quickly spiralled out of control when alcohol, drugs and rumoured infidelity destroyed what was left of the friendships and love. Now on a strict schedule with no outside contact from his former mates, Justin needs to succeed in the world of acting, or say good bye to what’s left of his career. 

Kayla Montgomery needs a new start after her life imploded back in New York. A new phone number found our heroine with the former number of rock star Justin Beckett, a number that would pull Kayla into the world of our storyline hero. Working on Justin’s latest movie in the costume department brought Kayla up close and personal with a man who was about to push all of her buttons but demons from the past were about to resurface for both Kayla and Justin pushing Kayla out of Justin’s life when  issues of trust threaten their already tenuous situation.

The relationship between Justin and Kayla begins acrimoniously when Kayla begins receiving all sorts of phone calls for our storyline hero, phone calls from one-time bandmates and friends who would rather Justin jumped off the face of the earth. Kayla has come to LA for a fresh start, and dating Justin Beckett was about to implode when the paparazzi and Justin’s manager begin to stalk our story line heroine. The $ex scenes are intimate and passionate without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

We are introduced to Justin’s bandmates who are all struggling with what was and what will never be:  Shane, Gordon and Chad; Justin’s PR manager Ken Braque; Kayla’s sister Talia, and their father Raymond;and several members of the movie crew including Evelyn, Eddie, and Francine. Here’s hoping the author has plans for more story lines focusing on the members of the band.

LEAD ME BACK is a story of betrayal and vengeance; miscommunication and misunderstanding; secrets, lies, romance and love. The character driven premise is fast paced, captivating, heart breaking and poignant; the characters are colorful, animated, playful and lost; the romance is emotional and provocative.  LEAD ME BACK is an impassioned story of two people who found one another when no one else was willing to give them a chance.

THE READING CAFÉ: 4.25 stars-LEAD ME BACK by CD Reiss is a stand alone, contemporary, adult, erotic, romance storyline focusing on clothing designer Kayla Montgomery, and one-time teen heartthrob turned actor Justin Beckett.

Told from dual first person points of view (Kayla and Justin) LEAD ME BACK follows the building romance and relationship between twenty five year old one-time teen heartthrob/ musician turned actor Justin Beckett, and clothing designer Kayla Montgomery.  Justin Beckett was once on top of the world with his boy band turned pop artists but everything quickly spiralled out of control when alcohol, drugs and rumoured infidelity destroyed what was left of the friendships and love. Now on a strict schedule with no outside contact from his former mates, Justin needs to succeed in the world of acting, or say good bye to what’s left of his career. 

Kayla Montgomery needs a new start after her life imploded back in New York. A new phone number found our heroine with the former number of rock star Justin Beckett, a number that would pull Kayla into the world of our storyline hero. Working on Justin’s latest movie in the costume department brought Kayla up close and personal with a man who was about to push all of her buttons but demons from the past were about to resurface for both Kayla and Justin pushing Kayla out of Justin’s life when  issues of trust threaten their already tenuous situation.

The relationship between Justin and Kayla begins acrimoniously when Kayla begins receiving all sorts of phone calls for our storyline hero, phone calls from one-time bandmates and friends who would rather Justin jumped off the face of the earth. Kayla has come to LA for a fresh start, and dating Justin Beckett was about to implode when the paparazzi and Justin’s manager begin to stalk our story line heroine. The $ex scenes are intimate and passionate without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

We are introduced to Justin’s bandmates who are all struggling with what was and what will never be:  Shane, Gordon and Chad; Justin’s PR manager Ken Braque; Kayla’s sister Talia, and their father Raymond;and several members of the movie crew including Evelyn, Eddie, and Francine. Here’s hoping the author has plans for more story lines focusing on the members of the band.

LEAD ME BACK is a story of betrayal and vengeance; miscommunication and misunderstanding; secrets, lies, romance and love. The character driven premise is fast paced, captivating, heart breaking and poignant; the characters are colorful, animated, playful and lost; the romance is emotional and provocative.  LEAD ME BACK is an impassioned story of two people who found one another when no one else was willing to give them a chance.

THE READING CAFÉ: http://www.thereadingcafe.com/lead-me-back-by-c-d-reiss-a-review/


GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3320186253


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GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3320186253


AMAZON. COM: https://www.amazon.com/review/R3K77N9GDJDD9H/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8


BOOOKBUB: https://www.bookbub.com/reviews/3697814506


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Chapters/Indigo (Sandy_At_The_Reading_Cafe) posted
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This book just made me smile and swoon throughout the entire read. I loved every minute of reading this. I loved the banter and the chemistry between the characters. I loved the storyline that held me captive. I loved all the feels that you get from reading it and still feel after. CD Reiss can write any genre and I will read. I can't wait to see what she brings us next.
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I loved Ms Reiss's previous Hollywood romances so I had to read this one, guess I am just unable to resist the ordinary girl who gets to fall in love with the Hollywood star.  

Justin came across as arrogant, entitled and selfish at the beginning of the book especially when he first met Kayla by accident when she gets his old phone number.   His Gran calls (and what a character she is!) and suddenly Kayla finds herself doing a favour for someone she has never met.  Luckily Justin manages to sort of redeem himself when he gets her a job on on the film set which is where sparks start to fly between them.  Though start to fall for each other they both have issues to deal with from recent events which are threatening both of their careers.  Kayla to leave New York in disgrace, and Justin's behaviour caused him to be cut off from the rest of his band.   

This is a slow burn romance dealing with some serious issues that have to be resolved before the end, but the story is captivating and emotional and I loved it right to the end.
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3.75- 4 stars. This was a good book! Lead Me Back is a standalone book and is Justin and Kayla's story. After a disastrous job situation in the fashion industry in NYC, Kayla leaves for LA to live near her sister and reacquaint herself with her estranged father. On her first day in town, she gets a new, local cell phone number. Her first call is from a older woman looking for her grandson, Justin, to do her a favor. Kayla doesn't know who Justin is, but she decides to do the favor for the older lady herself. When she arrives at the lady's house, she meets her grandson, who is actually Justin Beckett, the famous bad boy, boy band hottie. His band has recently broken up after some major drama and tabloid news. Justin changed his number to try to keep from being dragged in the band's drama and to clean up his reputation by distancing himself from the members. But he decides he still wants his messages from his old number and he is attracted to Kayla. So he hires her to give him his messages. So begins a fun flirtation between them. They both like each other and eventually begin a relationship. The two have to deal with Justin's drama and Kayla's past, but they come out together strong and in love in the end.

I really liked Justin and Kayla. Justin was a different kind of hero. He was part Justin Beiber and part Justin Timberlake to me. He was a modern guy and a star, but was really a doll and a sweetheart. He only had eyes for Kayla. Kayla herself was a sweet and snarky, take no stuff from others, kind of girl. She wasn't blinded by Justin's star power. But once she got to know him, she only had eyes for Justin too and was good at standing up for herself and not letting herself get walked all over. The two of them made a great match and had lots of fun banter. This was a safe, "low angst between the couple", witty read. Even though Justin was a star, I never felt a power imbalance between the couple. The story was good and the writing as well. I really enjoyed this one.

Overall, this was an entertaining, sexy and sweet read! I enjoyed seeing Justin and Kayla's relationship develop. I look forward to more from Ms. Reiss in the future.
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Seamstress running from her problems meets a famous singer/actor. They both had emotional baggage and complicated lives. But they were extremely emotionally attached. I enjoyed the story and I was definitely Entertained by all the side characters. Unfortunately this book dragged for me and was a little long in parts. But I would definitely try this author again.
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3.5 Stars

Lead Me Back is the latest release from C.D. Reiss about a young woman running from a bad situation that needs a break and a guy who’s had it all handed to him but sees it all tumbling down like a house of cards. Our heroine Kayla returns to LA after spending most of her life living on the east coast. She needs to salvage what’s left of her career while laying low from the publicity she left in NY. Justin is a former boy band member that has decided to branch out into movies and a solo career, but some previous actions have him on thin ice with almost everyone in Hollywood.

Kayla gets a new phone to really start fresh in LA and is unlucky enough to be assigned Justin’s old number. When we’re first introduced to Justin I, like the savvy heroine, was prepared to not like him. First of all his name is Justin Beckett (too close to Bieber for my taste) and he’s described as wearing douchecore style clothes. But the amazing thing is C.D. manages to take that questionable exterior and flip our expectations by giving us a genuinely sweet and interesting man.

Kayla is the kind of no nonsense chick I want in my contemporary books. She’s had some hard knocks and is doggedly picking herself back up and trying again. She accepts a job working on Justin’s current movie project. Even as barbs are exchanged we can see the chemistry that will pull these two together. The relationship could have been very skewed due to their different circumstances, but we’re given a truly equal pairing which I found refreshing to a Hollywood story.

I loved that both Justin and Kayla worked to sort their own issues out, with the support of the other. Neither had to have someone “fix” their problems for them and I loved the characters all the more for their ability to support each other. Both Kayla and Justin had to fix some of the relationships in their lives before they can have their happy ever after, and C.D. manages to give us that resolution in a very satisfying way.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book (my first from this author) and only had minor issues with the way Justin talked. I couldn’t stand how much he said “nah”, but it’s such a minor quibble in a truly entertaining book. If you think you don’t like a Hollywood story, I’d challenge you to give this one a try. I’ve never read such a grounded portrayal of the costs of fame in a romance before. I’ll definitely be seeking out more from this author in the future.

Content warning for descriptions of abuse towards women.

~ Lindsey
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Kayla is after a fresh start and a cross country move is supposed to offer just that.  To make the new beginning even more real she decides to change her number.  Little does she know the flow-on consequences of that decision.   

Apparently the previous owner of the number hasn't quite cut ties and implores Kayla to take messages for him in return for his assistance in providing her with a leg up for her fresh start.  Although Kayla doesn't want to turn down a chance for a fresh start she isn't keen on the idea of being indebted either and would prefer to make a name for herself based on her own worth.  Unfortunately, her situation does not afford her with the luxury to have many choices so agrees to assist. 

What neither expected was the undeniable draw they felt when around each other.  With the undeniable pull, they could only deny themselves for so long.
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Kayla had a job she enjoyed working for a high profile designer until a workplace incident garners attention that she wants no part of.    She has relocated to California to be close to her sister and maybe repair the relationship with her father that was fractured when her parents divorced.   

Justin was part of a successful band and his feelings for his bandmates were more like brothers.    When scandal erupts the band is no longer together and Justin finds himself trying to follow his dreams of acting and is to have no contact with anyone from his past.

When Kayla is given his old cell phone number their worlds collide both personally and professionally.    What started out as an arrangement regarding the calls turns into so much more but when their pasts resurface only they can decide if the reward of being together is worth the risk.

Kayla’s strength and resilience shines through while Justin is so much more than his reputation which combined with their humorous interactions and hot chemistry make this an enjoyable story.
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This a first of reading CD Reiss and I was definitely not disappointed. I love Kayla. She is a strong, confident woman. She wasn't going to back down to anything. I love Justin. He is a famous singer that went through some stuff as well. He was just trying to help and that is not how the world viewed it. He is stubborn. I was cracking up at these two. They both just want to get back to a normal life. I love these two being together. I highly recommend this book. You won't be disappointed.
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Kayla and Justin were fun to read. I didn't quite feel the angst when dram rolled in, but I did enjoy these two at the end of the story. I wanted a bit more full story. This is a full novel, but I needed to be hooked in from the first few chapters. It just came a little late in the story. I love CD Reiss and her books. It is still a story that you can smile with at the end.
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CD Reiss is an automatic one-click author for me. No matter what she writes, I will read it. 
Lead Me Back is more of a light contemporary romance for Ms Reiss, but don't count it out. That's what plenty of people want now. Nice romance, low drama and chemistry. You definitely will get that with Justin and Kayla. CD Reiss still made me want to follow the story of a young ex-boybander and the fashion designer woman who falls for him. 

Ironically enough, while I was reading this book, I was listening to another book that had a famous musician falling for a "regular woman". So obviously it isn't an original idea for a romance, but the characters and their journeys couldn't have been more different. I mean, you take a kind of douchey ex-boybander (Justin) trying to make it on his own because of things that have happened in and with the group members and throw in a woman (Kayla) that is trying to forget her past in NY and make a name for herself in California and you get a fun and entertaining romance. You get CD Reiss' LA! She writes LA and it's characters in a way that you feel that you belong there and as if you know these people.

Justin and Kayla's story told in dual POV starts with her getting Justin's old phone number when she goes to get a local number when moving to California. The two end up meeting because of his grandmother. I love that spry old lady! I love this idea and what could happen when you get a new number. That was fun and original. What if you ended up with someone's old phone number that happened to be famous? This is one take on what could happen and it is fun and filled with some great one liners from these two.

"The only thing a period ends is a sentence." 😂

Justin is kind of douche (see above 😉), but it fits him and his character. Because he's also sweet and always looking out for everyone else. He's obviously younger, but he's also misunderstood. And when he meets Kayla, he has met his match. He's used to everyone falling at his feet and telling him YES. Kayla is tough, hard and willing to tell him NO, but she also has a heart of gold. She may me hard on the outside, but she can soften for the right touch.

I liked these two characters and their banter. They were fun and entertaining and sexy. Their story was more light, but the stuff that happened to them before they met each other was a bit more drama filled. I liked that we got to touch on those aspects and their story came full circle so they could be with each other after 'fixing their pasts.'

Need a lighter CD Reiss book? You got it. You're not getting her "normal" more intense and alpha filled book, but you're still getting a story that is so LA. Bright lights, big city and a couple of up and coming characters that you will be sure to enjoy. 3.75 star
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This is a really great book. I love a celebrity Romance. Love Kayla and Justin. Cd Reiss writing and story telling is amazing. It's so good want to read it again. Highly recommend it.
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Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I’m shameless…at least in writing. As the vaguely anonymous reviewer here, I can fan-girl over C.D. Reiss, and you can assume I’m shameless even when my cheeks are pink from my adoration for her brand of romance. Now, to be clear, I know her brand runs the gamut of tropes, and she can be as dirty as you want in a romance or she can be a bit more buttoned-up. If I had to characterize her newest book, Lead Me Back, it’s a bit more buttoned-up (not by much, though) than I’m used to from her. However, that seems so inconsequential when you consider the genius of her brain. Now, I’m SURE I’m going to overdo this review. I’m sure I’m reading WAY too much into Lead Me Back. For gosh sakes, I earned my master’s in English and Literature. I spent YEARS learning to read and read EVERYTHING into that reading, picking it apart and contextualizing it with literary theory…blah blah blah. BUT if I am going to take this review too far and if I’m going to read into Reiss’s newest book, so be it. I’m putting myself out there and who cares. Right?

At the most basic level, I loved Lead Me Back. This book is more of her Hollywood series, so there are characters from earlier books who show their faces which is fantastic, wonderful, everything you love about Reiss. Additionally, her heroine, Kayla, is a ballsy broad for lack of a better term. She takes no prisoners and she gives back to Reiss’s hero (which he loves) what he deserves for his entitled self. Kayla is the person you want in your corner when you must slay your dragons. She’s honest and insightful when she isn’t self-flagellating over past choices. And Reiss’s hero, Justin…ahhh…hold on to that name as it clues you in to her inspiration for him, is layered. At first glance, you don’t see it. In fact, there were times when Justin made me a little crazy by his actions. When your life is driven by others for so long, you tend to lose yourself, and Justin has fallen prey to this. I think this is typical of Hollywood, and Reiss does a fantastic job of showing that struggle, but it also makes him frustrating at times. However, as we know, romance needs moments of conflict to keep the readers engaged or they will lose interest and close the book. All of these qualities make this book worthy of a read. No question. 

But…but…but… here is where I can’t help but want to believe what I suggest to be Reiss’s writing genius. And yes, once again, I may be reading into this, but please bear with me. In the story, Justin has been cast as Mr. Darcy in another iteration of Pride and Prejudice (honestly, what a miscast but he does well apparently). If you’ve ever read one of my favorite books of all times, then you know, or might know, that Pride and Prejudice illustrates the consequences of misperceptions. And for this book, C.D. Reiss, takes that idea and creates an allusion to P&P within Lead Me Back. She doesn’t recreate P&P; she carefully crafts its truths into her story in a way that feels like it could be a different version of it. Again, I might be reading this idea into her story, but there were moments that felt like a parallel to Austen’s story. And if I’m right, then, in my mind, Reiss is a genius. Yes, I know writers do this all the time, and yes, I think they are geniuses too especially if they write it as nuanced as Reiss has. But for Lead Me Back, it works, and it works well.

Along with that level of genius, Reiss interweaves the story with pertinent social issues: the #metoo movement is in this story, mental health issues are here, the dangerous specifications of the fashion industry and the relationships that support it find purchase in Lead Me Back, etc. If you think Reiss left the heavy lifting for another book, she didn’t. If you think this is simply about a former boy bander turned actor romancing a future fashion guru, you’re wrong. The qualities of Reiss’s storytelling that make it important reside in Lead Me Back hidden behind the facade of Hollywood, and it makes this book nerd silly. My fangirl flag is flying once again after reading one of her books. 

If I haven’t sold you on the characters or story or $exiness of C.D. Reiss’s Lead Me Back, then I have not articulated myself well enough, and you should one-click it anyway. You can trust Reiss to tell stories that will titillate, challenge, and steam your glasses. Lead Me Back is more of that with the added depth of story that makes Reiss’s romances feel necessary.
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