Sunday, August 4, 2019

Review: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Series: Modern Love, Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062878090
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

- Nude pics are by invitation only

- If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

- Protect your heart

Only there aren't any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night... and disappears.

Rhi thought she'd buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won't fumble their second chance, but she's wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

The Right Swipe is a fantastically fun, sexy, uplifting story of finding love in the modern age. Alisha Rai knocks it out of the park with her first Modern Love book, balancing flirty fantasy with deeply emotional, very real world issues.

Rhi is my favorite kind of heroine. She’s intelligent, strong, successful in her career, and has a huge heart. She’s worked hard to make her dating app one of the most successful in the country and to make her company the best and most diverse. This is no easy feat for a black woman in a white male-dominated field. Rhi’s had to work ten times harder than her rivals and I was cheering for her professional success. I loved Crush – heck, I want to work there. I was also rooting for Rhi to find love with Samson. But she has been badly burned personally and professionally by someone she trusted and because of this she has built walls to protect herself. It’s not easy for Samson to get her to give him a second chance after he ghosted her (for reasons which make sense) but Samson is pretty impossible to resist. The former linebacker is a total swoon-worthy sweetheart. Kind, sexy, handsome, and not always smooth – how could I not be charmed? He’s a good man to the core, one willing to walk away from a stellar career in defense of a friend, a man who drops everything to care for a loved one…he’s the picture perfect example of a hero without being cardboard perfect. Samson and Rhi have fantastic chemistry. They made me smile, sigh, and cheer for them every step of the way. Though they plan on keeping things strictly physical, it’s clear to all that they’re a perfect match in bed and out. And as a side note, if anyone thinks explicit consent can’t be sexy, they absolutely need to read this book.

The Right Swipe dazzles with the chemistry between its leads and a diverse, wonderfully endearing supporting cast, all of whom I would love to read about more. But this bright and charming tale also features very real issues. Rhi faces both overt and subtle sexism and racism in the workplace. She has also been traumatized by a predator in more ways than one and this book addresses sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement. Samson’s storyline shines a light on CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in the NFL in a very heartbreaking way. Ms. Rai treats these subjects with the honesty and respect they deserve, weaving them into the story in an organic way and adding depth to the story and its characters.

The Right Swipe is a modern romance in every sense of the word. I absolutely adored the characters, banter, romance, the gentle good humor, and the edge of realism woven into the fantasy. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next Modern Love book!


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Review: Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer

Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
ISBN: 9781538715987
Reissue Date: August 6, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Everyone seems to be getting on with their lives except Maggie. At twenty-seven, she's still serving coffee at Joe's while her friends are getting married, having babies, and thriving in their careers. And now Olivia, Maggie's best friend since grade school, is getting married too. The man in Maggie's life? Well there isn't one, except the guy she has a crush on, Domenic, who works with her at the coffee shop. Oh, and her dog, Solo (the name says it all).

When Olivia comes to town and asks Maggie to be her maid of honor, Maggie is thrilled... but she can't help comparing herself to the new and "improved" Olivia. Way back then, they befriended each other because they both struggled with their weight. Now grown up, Maggie is still shopping in the "women's section" while Olivia went and had gastric-bypass surgery in search of the elusive size 2. But as the wedding nears, Olivia's seemingly perfect life starts to unravel, and Maggie realizes that happiness might not be tied to a number on the scale.

In this wonderful novel, Liza Palmer is both witty and wise, giving a voice to women everywhere who have ever wished they could stop obsessing… and start living.

Conversations with the Fat Girl is one of the most emotionally honest books I’ve read in a long time. Liza Palmer does a fantastic job of conveying body image issues, childhood friendships, and confidence in an organic, relatable way. There are parts of this story that are so raw and relatable to me that they were heart-wrenching and I absolutely loved that. Maggie is twenty-seven years old, has a master’s degree, and her life is stagnant. She works at a coffee shop and gazes from afar at the cute guy she has a crush on, afraid to put herself out there personally or professionally. I sympathized with Maggie and I yearned to see her find confidence, to break out of her comfort zone and go for what she wants.

The other big storyline in Conversations with the Fat Girl revolves around Maggie being the maid of honor in her childhood best friend’s wedding. Olivia and Maggie were a dynamic pair as teenagers, two plus size girls who were outcasts but who also were true and close friends. But after her gastric bypass, Olivia became obsessed with becoming her ideal self, which is a size two with a fairytale past she has dreamed up. Maggie doesn’t fit into the fantasy world Olivia has created for herself and again, I loved the way Ms. Palmer handles this. Maggie tries to cling to a friendship that isn’t there anymore; what is there is something sad and toxic. It’s understandable why Maggie fights so hard for her friendship with Olivia and it’s a great examination of a complex friendship that has so much history but has come to an end.

There is a lot to love about Conversations with the Fat Girl. The emotions it brought to the surface for me make this a story I will definitely remember. So why four stars instead of five? Well, I didn’t expect or want Maggie to be the perfect heroine, but her flaws did tend to grate on my nerves. She can be childish, petty, judgmental, and her attitude frustrated me quite a few times for reasons which would be spoilers. One non-spoiler example is, while I understand why she gets annoyed with her boss’s attitude in some areas, you cannot blame a supervisor for being irritated that you’re always late for work and seem to spend a good part of your shift chatting in the back room. There’s also a romance element to this story which fell kind of flat for me. Perhaps if Domenic had been better fleshed out and their interactions more developed it would have been a more interesting part to the story.

I have a soft spot for protagonists with body image issues and rarely have I seen it handled so well as it is in this story. I also found the exploration of childhood-to-adulthood friendships where two people have grown far apart engaging and relatable. Maggie did frustrate me at times and if it weren’t such an emotionally vulnerable story I might have rated it lower. But when this book shines, it shines bright and I think that’s what makes it special.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Review: Don’t Give Me Butterflies by Tara Sheets

Don’t Give Me Butterflies by Tara Sheets
Series: The Holloway Girls, Book 3
Publisher: Zebra Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance with Paranormal Elements
ISBN: 9781420146301
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Pine Cove Island calls to her soul…

As the Queen of Impulsive Decisions, Kat Davenport has found herself without a job or a place to live. So settling on Pine Cove Island isn’t the sanest choice—meaning it’s perfect. Like the mysterious Holloway cousins, Kat has her own unique gift. In her case, it’s a knack for communicating with animals. Which makes getting hired at the local animal shelter feel like kismet. Especially when she finds a room to rent at a nearby lavender farm—complete with a sweet landlord and her brawny grandson—a guy who happens to give Kat an all-too-familiar flutter in her stomach…

Jordan Prescott isn’t back in Pine Cove to find romance. He’s here to sell the family farm, a fact that bewilders Kat. A former foster kid, she can’t understand why he’d give up his childhood home. So when the big-hearted beauty starts bringing home strays from the shelter, Jordan is suddenly her adversary. Until their fiery disagreements turn into fiery kisses…

Now Kat is falling for a man who will likely make her homeless yet again. Unless she learns how to lend her considerable powers to taming the beast lurking inside this prince…

Don’t Give Me Butterflies is a heartwarming, fun tale of finding home. Tara Sheets’s third Holloway Girls novel has all the magic and sweetness I’ve come to expect from the series plus an extra dose of adorableness from a sizeable supporting cast of furry and feathered friends.

Kat Davenport has always been looking for somewhere she’ll belong and she thinks she might have found that place in Pine Cove Island. I loved Kat’s spirit and resilience, her quiet vulnerability and her huge heart. She has the ability to communicate with animals and she’s determined to save as many as she can. Kat is a heroine easy to love so of course I was rooting for her to get everything her heart desired. But while sparks fly immediately between Kat and Jordan Prescott, the road to happily ever after isn’t an easy one. Jordan grew up on Pine Cove Island and he can’t wait to escape and it return to his life in New York. While I can’t imagine anywhere better to be than the idyllic Pacific Northwest town, Ms. Sheets does a good job of showing why Jordan is so determined to sell his family lavender farm and leave. His childhood was anything but perfect and he’s worked long and hard to make the life he has. Though Jordan can be a bit gruff, once you get past his walls he’s got a marshmallow heart that made me melt. He and Kat make a dreamy couple. They bicker, banter, and have amazing chemistry. They made me smile over and over and I adored the mix of sweetness and sensuality in their romance.

Don’t Give Me Butterflies is the third book in the Holloway Girls series, but it can be read as a standalone. One of the things I loved the most about this book is that Kat’s friendship with Juliette and Emma Holloway is every bit as important to the story as her romance with Jordan. Like Kat, the Holloway cousins have magical abilities and I loved seeing the three of them together. There’s also a bit of a mystery thrown in here, though what it’s about I’ll leave readers to discover.

A lovely romance and great female friendships would be enough to make me enjoy Don’t Give Me Butterflies, but it’d be remiss of me to write about this book and not mention the scene-stealing animals. From the graham cracker-loving Waffles the miniature donkey to a one-eyed goat to dogs and cats and more, Kat’s magical ability and her pure love of all animals shines and adds a wealth of humor and heart to this book. I adored Don’t Give Me Butterflies from beginning to end and I cannot wait to re-read it!


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Review: Archer by Debra Kayn

Archer by Debra Kayn
Series: Hard Body, Book 1
Publisher: Forever Yours
Genre: Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9781455577101
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

She's on the run…
Jane Beaumont currently has in her possession: a cat, a hundred grand in cash, and a pistol. She's on her way home to Bay City, Oregon-and away from the nightmare of her violent ex-boyfriend. She'll lay low at Beaumont Body Shop, a car detailer that runs a private investigation agency in the back. The only wrench in her plan is Kage Archer: sexy, strong, and intent on protecting Jane at all costs. She's wanted Kage forever, but putting him in harm's way is not a risk she's willing to take.

He's not going anywhere
Kage is no stranger to the dark side of life, but he's always walked on the right side of the law. Yet when Jane expressed her interest in him years ago, he pushed her away for her own good. Now, after learning of all she's endured, Kage can't leave her side-or hide his need for her. When a frightening situation turns dire, can Kage convince Jane that the safest place to be is in his arms?

A woman on the run from an abusive ex finds safe harbor with the man who’s always loved her in Archer. Debra Kayn’s first Hard Body story is fast-paced and energetic, but I wasn’t a hundred percent sold on the characters.

Kage Archer is a man trying to break free from his family legacy. Kage can be a bit of a domineering alpha sometimes, but I liked how hard her fought to stay on the side of good when it would be so easy to do otherwise. He’s been head over heels for Jane for years, so when she comes back home, frightened and hurt, he’ll do everything he can to help and protect her. Kage pushes Jane to become her old self, something which didn’t always sit well with me with what she had been through. As for Jane…she was the part of Archer I struggled with the most. I liked that she was able to find herself again, but man did she have quite a few TSTL moments. She and her friends jumped (or tried to) willy-nilly into dangerous situations in ways I think were supposed to be comical or fierce but really came off as juvenile at best. The romance between Jane and Kage moved quickly, but Ms. Kayn did an excellent job of showing the foundation between them. Whether it works or not considering Jane’s past is really up to reader preference.

The action of Archer is fast-paced and there are various levels of bad guys to keep the suspense going. I thought Ms. Kayn did a good job of blending the action and the danger, but since I was never really attached to the characters I wasn’t glued to the story. That’s not to say Archer is a bad book – it’s not. Jane and Kage just weren’t entirely my cup of tea so I wasn’t deeply invested in their book. That being said, I was very interested in some of the side characters and I’d love to read a book about Jane’s brother.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Review: How to Forgive a Highlander by Michelle McLean

How to Forgive a Highlander by Michelle McLean
Series: The MacGregor Lairds, Book 4
Publisher: Entangled: Scandalous
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781640638365
Release Date: July 8, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

William MacGregor will lie, spy, and happily die to protect his clan from their greatest enemy. But when he kidnaps the wrong woman, he triggers the very events he’d been working so hard to prevent. And puts everyone in danger.

Rose Thatcher will do anything to protect her lady and return them both safely to English soil. But the damn Highlander who snatched her off the docks has done nothing but get in her way. She’d love to ditch the bastard, but if they want to save their respective loved ones, they are going to have to stay together.

Somewhere along the grueling journey to Scotland, their constant bickering turns into something more. Something worth fighting for. But how can an English lady’s maid, who longs for the safe, comfortable life she had in London, find love with a Highlander who can’t wait to wipe England’s dust off his feet? If they can’t defeat the enemy they accidentally led home, they might not live long enough to find out.

Escape to the Highlands with How to Forgive a Highlander. Michelle McLean’s fourth MacGregor Lairds book is fast-paced, engaging, and easy to enjoy thanks to its charming protagonists.

Will is a hero on a mission. Not just to protect his clan from the villainous Fergus Ramsay, but to prove himself to his loved ones. Will’s eagerness to prove himself sometimes causes him to make mistakes (kidnapping Rose because he thinks she’s a spy, for example), but his heart’s in the right place so it’s easy to see why Rose forgives him. As for Rose, I defy you not to adore her like I did. She’s lady’s maid who is loyal, protective, resourceful, and brave. When her life is turned upside-down and she finds herself in a dangerous situation with only a virtual stranger she can trust, Rose doesn’t quail. She’s not invincible, but she is quick and strong and I was eager to see how she and Will would work together to save their loved ones.

A fair amount of How to Forgive a Highlander takes place on the road, which allows for Will and Rose’s romance to develop organically. I enjoyed watching them bicker then fall for one another. They are a couple who simply fit and though the romance was somewhat understated, it was still satisfying.

How to Forgive a Highlander is the fourth book in the MacGregor Lairds series, and if you don’t mind major spoilers from previous books then it can be read as a standalone. This story does wrap up the series nicely and I’m glad we got to see Will and Rose get their happily ever after. However, if you’ve read the previous book, How to Blackmail a Highlander, then you know the outcome of a good portion of the events in this book, which means the stakes aren’t as high. Still, I enjoyed Rose and Will’s story. It has a sweet romance, likeable characters, and Ms. McLean’s writing swept me away for an enjoyable ride.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Review: Unsung Heroine by Sarah Kuhn

Unsung Heroine by Sarah Kuhn
Series: Heroine Complex, Book 3.5
Publisher: DAW
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780756415730
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Lucy Valdez is many things: fight trainer/bodyguard to superheroines, fabulous vintage fashion plate, undisputed karaoke queen at local joint, The Gutter. She is also one of the toughest fighters in all of San Francisco without superpowers. So why can't she seem to confess her feelings to her longtime crush Rose Rorick, head of the San Francisco Police Department's Demon Unit?

Well.... actually, she knows why. She's afraid Rose won't like the real Lucy, the Lucy underneath all the fabulous bravado. (She is still fabulous underneath that bravado--just in a different way.)

When a mysterious new karaoke star rises up at The Gutter and eclipses her, Lucy finds her confidence further shaken--and when strange, seemingly supernatural happenings threaten both this new star and The Gutter's very existence, she must rise to the challenge and investigate alongside Rose. Will Lucy be able to vanquish the demonic threat to her beloved karaoke haven, confess her true feelings to Rose, and reclaim her karaoke throne?

Unsung Heroine is fresh, fun, and fast-paced. It has all the quirky action I’ve come to expect from Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex series plus a romance that will make you smile and sigh.

Lucy may not have superpowers, but that doesn’t stop her from being one of the most fearsome fighters in all of San Francisco. Lucy is a fantastic heroine. She’s vibrant, quick-thinking, caring, tough, has a fun sense of fashion, and she’s a local karaoke star. Beneath all of that, she’s also deeply vulnerable. She’s been hurt and guards her heart so fiercely she’s afraid to go for what she wants. And what she wants is Rose, head of SFPD’s Demon Unit. Rose is quiet, serious, strong, and a total geek. I absolutely loved Rose and I really wish we had her point of view in this story, but I’m biased because she’s one of my favorite characters in this series. Rose and Lucy are friends, but it’s easy to see they’re meant to be so much more. Lucy has her reasons for holding back and I understood them, but I was rooting for her to take a risk with Rose because I knew they’d make a dreamy couple.

Romance is only one part of Unsung Heroine – there’s also a new demon threat shaking things up. A demonic force is attacking a new talent – and Lucy’s new rival – at The Gutter. Attack confetti and possessed mic cords? It’s all in a day’s work for Jupiter/Tanaka, Inc. Evie, Aveda, Bea, and co. are on hand to help save the day and the results are quirky, fun action sequences. If you don’t mind some spoilers from the first two Heroine Complex books (the majority of this story takes place between books two and three) you can jump right into Unsung Heroine. If you’re a fan, you’ll delight in seeing all your favorites, though the focus of the story never strays from the main characters or plot. I adored seeing Evie and Aveda help Lucy not only battle demonic forces, but figure out her love life (I can’t imagine ever not having a soft spot for Aveda). All in all, Unsung Heroine was a blast to read. It’s got strong heroines, a sensual and oh-so-sweet romance, and a fantastically fun plot that makes the pages fly by.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Review: Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries

Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Duke Dynasty, Book 1
Publisher: Zebra
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781420148558
Release Date: June 25, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Sabrina Jeffries Reading Order

A series of stepfathers and a difficult childhood have left Fletcher “Grey” Pryde, 5th Duke of Greycourt, with a guarded heart, enviable wealth, and the undeserved reputation of a rogue. Grey’s focus on expanding his dukedom allows him little time to find a wife. But when his mother is widowed yet again and he meets the charmingly unconventional woman managing his stepfather’s funeral, he’s shocked to discover how much they have in common. Still, Grey isn’t interested in love, no matter how pretty, or delightfully outspoken, the lady…

Beatrice Wolfe gave up on romance long ago, and the arrogant Duke of Greycourt with his rakish reputation isn’t exactly changing her mind. Then Grey agrees to assist his grief-stricken mother with her latest “project”: schooling spirited, unfashionable Beatrice for her debut. Now that Beatrice is seeing through Grey’s charms to his wounded heart, she’s having trouble keeping him at arm’s length. But once Grey starts digging into her family’s secrets, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her family…or with the man whose lessons capture her heart…

Sparks fly when a guarded, conventional duke meets a spirited, unconventional lady unimpressed with his position in Project Duchess. Sabrina Jeffries kicks off her Duke Dynasty series with an engaging romance filled with likeable characters and a mystery that’s bound to keep this series interesting.

Until age ten, Fletcher “Grey” Pryde had an idyllic life with his mother, stepfather, and four siblings. But when he was taken back to England by his uncle, Grey’s life changed forever. Though he clearly loves his family, he keeps them at arm’s length and has walls around his heart. But when his stepfather dies, he doesn’t hesitate to go to his mother’s side. He’s prepared for memories to bombard him, but what he’s not prepared for is his mother’s newest “project”: preparing the lovely Beatrice Wolfe for her debut. Beatrice is his half-brother’s cousin and she is a breath of fresh air to Grey. She is forthright and sees value in people, not titles. Beatrice knows all-too-well that being a duke doesn’t make a man a gentleman. The two of them come from very different circumstances, yet it’s clear they’re made for each other from the start. I loved watching Beatrice and Grey fall in love. They’re unfashionably honest with each other, which helps break down some of the walls around their hearts. I enjoyed their dialogue and the chemistry that sizzled between them. Ms. Jeffries makes it incredibly easy to root for them because they’re such a likeable, well-matched couple.

Love, however, may not be enough for Beatrice and Grey to get their happily ever after. It isn’t a difference in station that makes things difficult, but rather a mystery. Was Grey’s stepfather murdered? The possibility seems increasingly likely and in his search for answers, Grey is forced to delve into Beatrice’s family’s secrets. Both Grey and Beatrice are pulled by duty, loyalty, and love and their burgeoning relationship may not survive the answers they find. How things work out, I’ll leave readers to discover on their own.

Grey and Beatrice are the heart of Project Duchess, but their families add depth to the world and make the book stand out. Grey’s mother has been married and widowed three times, all to dukes, and I adored her and Grey’s brothers and sister (the bright and vivacious Gwyn especially). The family dynamics were every bit as engaging as the romance. Between the overarching series mystery and the delicious tension between Gwyn and her future hero, I am on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what happens in the next Duke Dynasty book.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.