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.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Review: The Lemon Sisters by Jill Shalvis

The Lemon Sisters by Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone, Book 3
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062741929
Release Date: June 18, 2019
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

Brooke Lemon has always led the life she wanted, wild adventures—and mistakes—included, something her perfect sister, Mindy, never understood. So when Mindy shows up on Brooke’s doorstep in the throes of a break-down with her three little kids in tow, Brooke’s shocked.

Wanting to make amends, Brooke agrees to trade places, taking the kids back to Wildstone for a few days so Mindy can pick up the pieces and put herself back together. What Brooke doesn’t admit is she’s just as broken…Also how does one go home after seven years away? It doesn’t take long for Brooke to come face-to-face with her past, in the form of one tall, dark, sexy mistake. But Garrett’s no longer interested. Only his words don’t match his actions, leaving Brooke feeling things she’d shoved deep.

Soon the sisters begin to wonder: Are they lemons in life? In love? All they know is that neither seems to be able to run far enough to outpace her demons. And when secrets surface, they’ll have to learn that sometimes the one person who can help you the most is the one you never thought to ask.

Love – romantic and familial – is the heart of The Lemon Sisters. Jill Shalvis returns to Wildstone with a book that shows love is messy, complicated, and rarely easy, but oh, so worth it.

Brooke Lemon was an adventurer who sprinted out of Wildstone at a breakneck pace before an accident grounded her and made her feel like she lost herself. It’s been seven years since she returned home and her relationship with her sister, Mindy, is strained. But when Mindy needs her, Brooke steps up. To give Mindy a break, Brooke takes her niece and nephews home to Wildstone, where she’ll have to face old ghosts. I adored Brooke from the start. She carries invisible wounds she’s told no one about and she’s a bit isolated from those she loves at the start of the story. But she doesn’t hesitate to give her sister a break and carry her load. Caring for three spirited children is a bit overwhelming, but it’s Mindy’s sexy neighbor who really throws Brooke off her stride. Garrett was Brooke’s first and only love, but the way their relationship ended means he wants to stay clear of her. Only the two of them can’t resist the pull and it’s not hard for a romance to rekindle when the sparks never died. Like Brooke, Garrett was easy to like. He’s a good man with a huge heart and he rolls with both Lemon sisters’ zaniness pretty easily. Brooke and Garrett are clearly meant to be, but they’re both guarded, wounded, and it’s not easy for either of them to take a risk again. I was rooting for them every step of the way and they broke my heart and put it back together more than once.

Mindy and her husband Linc are the book’s secondary romance and theirs was engaging as well. The two of them are still clearly in love, but love isn’t enough when one person is clearly drowning and the other is working too much to see it. I had a harder time connecting to Mindy, possibly because, like Brooke, I’m the younger sister and have had to handle some of the kinds of things Mindy threw at Brooke. But I could see why Mindy was so tightly-wound and desperately trying to control the chaos in her house. Linc is a good man, but he’s a bit clueless about how hard it is for Mindy to raise their energetic children, run a business, and keep their home perfectly organized while he works long hours. It was nice seeing Linc put in the effort to take his share of the load and to watch he and Mindy reconnect.

The bonds of sisterhood are as central to The Lemon Sisters as the romance. Brooke and Mindy have a strained relationship and Mindy definitely (unintentionally) hurts Brooke multiple times in a way that is realistic. I was as invested in watching them repair their relationship as I was in the romances because it’s clear the two Lemons do love one another, even if that love is sometimes messy and complicated.

The Lemon Sisters is energetic, fast-paced, and filled with all kinds of fun chaos. There are cute kids, cats with attitude, and good – if flawed – characters who will make you smile. Ms. Shalvis creates the best small towns and I cannot wait to see what happens next in Wildstone.


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

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Review: How to Lose a Fiancé by Stefanie London

How to Lose a Fiancé by Stefanie London
Series: Greek Billionaires, Book 2
Publisher: Entangled: Indulgence
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781640637856
Release Date: June 17, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Sophia Andreou has always been the “good daughter” who tried to keep her domineering father happy. She followed the rules and did everything that was asked of her. But this time, her father is asking too much. The family company is crumbling, and her father has arranged a marriage to a Greek billionaire who can save their property business. What?! Umm no thank you. If Cinderella can dress up to win a prince, surely Sophia can do the opposite and ditch hers...

Dion Kourakis has come a long way from being an orphan with only a single friend to his name. Now he runs a billion-dollar investment company and has the respect of everyone in Europe. His charming personality covers a lot of emotional scars, including his desire to make his mentor proud. Dion doesn’t exactly want a bride to go along with his next business deal, and he plans on letting the lass down gently when they meet…

Only, his future bride has turned out to be nothing like what he thought she’d be. She’s quirky and has a habit of turning up to social events in strange outfits. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what she’s up to, but the harder she tries to convince him she’d be an awful wife, the more he wants to convince her they’d be perfect together.

A Greek billionaire meets his match in How to Lose a Fiancé. I’m generally not one for billionaire romances, but how could I resist one where the heroine pulls a reverse Ugly Duckling and is armed with a taxidermy fox? Author Stefanie London does a good job of mixing humor and heart in this story.

All her life, Sophia Andreou has worked to keep her father happy. She’s so close to getting her freedom when the man pulls the rug out from under her and says he’s arranged a marriage for Sophia. Marriage to a Greek billionaire may sound like a dream to some, but Sophia has no desire to be controlled by anyone ever again. She can’t refuse for fear of what might happen to her mother, so she’s determined to drive Dion Kourakis away with eccentric outfits and a few unique interests (see aforementioned fox). Sophia is a kind, likeable heroine who’s been put in a hard spot and won’t let herself be walked over. I liked her spirit and found her easy to root for. As for Dion, the man has a great deal of patience. He has a heartbreaking past that drives his present and really made me feel for him. I enjoyed watching him roll with the punches and handle whatever Sophia threw at him. I won’t spoil his reasons for agreeing to the arranged marriage in the first place, but suffice it to say they make sense for his character. Dion is pretty much perfect book boyfriend material, so I was eager to see he and Sophia fall in love once he got to see the real her. The two of them are well-suited and there isn’t any false drama, which I greatly appreciated.

How to Lose a Fiancé is the second book in Ms. London’s Greek Billionaires series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. I really enjoyed Sophia and Dion together, but I will admit I didn’t find them or their romance very memorable, which is a bit of a downside for me. Baroness Sasha Foxington III was definitely the breakout star of this book, a fairly impressive feat considering she’s stuffed. But even with this quibble, I still recommend How to Lose a Fiancé to anyone looking for an entertaining contemporary romance that’s fast-paced, warm-hearted, and fun.


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.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Review: Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781984804020
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days…can he?

Waiting for Tom Hanks is a light, fluffy read that’ll make you want to curl up and watch a ’90s rom-com after you finish it. Like our heroine, Annie Cassidy, I grew up watching rom-coms like Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail with my mother. These movies have always been joyful, brought hope, and made you want to find a Tom Hanks-like person of your own. Author Kerry Winfrey drew me in immediately with her buoyant tone and clear love of rom-com tropes.

Waiting for Tom Hanks is a bit of a difficult book for me to review. I wanted to love it; the nostalgia factor alone could easily sell me on this story. But I struggled a lot with Annie’s character and – try as I might to like her – she simply wasn’t the Meg Ryan/Sandra Bullock/Nora Ephron hybrid she envisioned herself as. Annie is a writer with dreams of becoming the next Nora Ephron and finding her very own Tom Hanks. Her obsession with rom-coms was endearing at first and Ms. Winfrey did show why these movies touched Annie so deeply. But Annie’s insistence on framing every event in her love life through the lens of a movie did start to grow tiresome as the story went on. She showed a distinct lack of growth and maturity, and nowhere was this more apparent than in her relationship with Drew. Drew Danforth is a Hollywood hottie filming a rom-com in Annie’s neighborhood. To Annie, Drew is no Tom Hanks and despite the fact that he’s never anything less than nice and patient, she’s pretty rude to him for a good portion of the book. Why Drew falls for her is beyond me and I really wanted to shake the man and tell him to run for it. He’s a funny, likeable hero who loves his family and is genuinely kind to the quirky characters of Annie’s hometown. So why he sticks around a person who runs hot-and-cold, believes every tabloid headline she reads, and alternates between trying to shove him in and push him out of her fantasy narrative is beyond me. The plot requires it, is all I can say.

Annie is the center of Waiting for Tom Hanks and I just couldn’t connect with her. But fortunately Drew and a strong supporting cast lifted the book back up. Annie’s sci-fi/fantasy-loving uncle charmed the heck out of me, her best friend, Chloe, was vibrant and endearing, grumpy coffee shop owner Nick made me smile, the even grumpier Dungeon Master Rick made me smile, and even the slightly odd duck Gary made me laugh (and want to get the details on his marriage because that guy has one crazy interesting story, I’m sure of it). So even though Waiting for Tom Hanks didn’t quite live up to the promise of its premise, I would still read more of Ms. Winfrey’s work.


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.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781984802798
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn't want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

Uzma Jalaluddin puts her own spin on Pride and Prejudice with Ayesha at Last. I cannot resist Jane Austen retellings, so I eagerly dove into this tale. What I found was not just a fresh new take on a classic, but an engaging story in its own right with memorable characters.

Ayesha Shamsi is a poet who has to put aside her dreams for practicality. She doesn’t have the privileges her flighty cousin does, nor she does she resent the younger woman her stream of potential matches, though many in her community arch their eyebrows that Ayesha is still unmarried at twenty-seven. Ayesha is a smart, likeable heroine who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She’s also just a little bit lonely, so of course I wanted her to find love with Khalid. Khalid Mirza grabbed my heart faster than you can say “Mr. Darcy.” He’s a conservative Muslim man and dresses as such, which means he’s often the target of quick judgments even among other Canadian Muslims like Ayesha (not to mention the venom from the Islamophobe at his office). People often judge Khalid by the way he dresses and his quiet reserve is mistaken for condescension. Khalid is shy, a bit awkward at times, and not without his flaws. But he’s also quick, loyal, and endearing once you get past the surface. Sparks strike immediately between Khalid and Ayesha, but they definitely don’t get along. It’s a clash between traditional and non-traditional views at first, with both characters certain they are right. It was fun to watch Ayesha and Khalid work past their misconceptions, to see what’s beneath the surface. Their romance develops organically over the course of the tale, in quiet moments as they find middle ground, and the two of them made me melt.

Ayesha at Last is filled with vibrant secondary characters who help bring the book to life. I can’t count the number of times Ayesha’s grandparents made me smile and oh, how I would love to read a book about Khalid’s sister, Zareena. The only downside to such an energetic supporting cast is that they sometimes pulled focus from Khalid and Ayesha. This is especially the case when it comes to Ayesha’s spoiled cousin, Hafsa, and Khalid’s mother, Farzana. If there’s one thing I never wanted from Pride and Prejudice, it was more page time devoted to Lydia and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. I did sometimes lose patience with the drama in this story, but by the end Ms. Jalaluddin brought all the characters to a satisfying conclusion.

In Ayesha at Last Uzma Jalaluddin blends many elements of Austen’s classic with contemporary romance and Muslim traditions and culture. So even though some of the drama was a bit much for me at times, it was balanced by sweet moments like watching a modern day Lizzie and Darcy fall in love during a paratha making lesson. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Ms. Jalaluddin writes next.


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 2, 2019

Review: Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh

Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781984803597
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Nalini Singh Reading Order

Kidnapped as a young girl, her psychic powers harnessed by a madman, Memory lives a caged and isolated existence…until she comes face-to-face with a wolf. Labelled an empath by her bad-tempered rescuer, Memory knows that her 'gift' is nothing so bright. It is a terrible darkness that means she will always be hunted.

But Memory is free now and she intends to live. A certain growly wolf can just deal with it.

Alexei prefers to keep his packmates at bay, the bleak history of his family a constant reminder that mating, love, hope is not for him. But Memory, this defiant and fearless woman who stands toe-to-toe with him awakens the most primal part of his nature--and soon, he must make a choice: risk everything or lose Memory to a murderous darkness that wants to annihilate her from existence…

Return to the beloved world of the SnowDancer pack in Wolf Rain. I love all of Nalini Singh’s pairings, no matter what the combination of human, Psy, or Changeling is, but I admittedly have a soft spot for Psy-Changeling pairings. Combine that with returning to an area in the Psy-Changeling world that already has a strong grip on my heart and it’s no surprise I was eager to dive into this book. Ms. Singh did not disappoint. Alexei and Memory are engaging, interesting, endearing protagonists and their romance is lovely to watch unfold.

Memory is a survivor, a fighter, and – quite simply – a wonderful heroine. She was kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years, suffered mental violations that would break most, and still managed to keep her core self alive and vibrant. We first meet her after a heartbreaking loss, one that touched me deeply, and I was immediately drawn to her. I loved her spirit and strength, how even though she was physically weakened and led to believe she’s a monster she doesn’t break. When she’s introduced to the empaths, Arrows, and Changelings, Memory blossoms, quickly coming into her own when she has friendship and support. I loved her journey and was eager to see her find love with the Alexei. The gorgeous wolf is loving, a protector to the core, and bears invisible wounds that bleed daily. He’s lost so much, but he never stops giving. Alexei melted my heart and I was glad to see him start to heal over the course of the story. He and Memory fit one another like lock and key and their slide into love is seamless. I loved watching them challenge each other and their romance was fun, sexy, and heartwarming all at once.

Wolf Rain is the third book in the Psy-Changeling Trinity series, but fans of the original Psy-Changeling books will be delighted to see many of their favorite heroes and heroines play supporting roles in this story. Whether you’re new to the series or are a longtime fan, it’s impossible not to be drawn to the supporting cast. The SnowDancer and DarkRiver packs are filled with wonderful, vibrant characters that bring warmth and energy to the page. They add depth to the world while never pulling focus from Memory or Alexei and I loved seeing all the various friendships intertwine and come into play. I recommend at least being familiar with the Psy-Changeling world before starting Wolf Rain, as the troubled state of the PsyNet is an important plotline. The PsyNet is barely holding together with the help of the empaths, and a new power has arrived that could mean the disintegration of large parts of the Net, killing thousands of Psy at a time. I found this storyline as compelling as the romance and I love how Ms. Singh keeps developing her world in new and fascinating ways. The only downside to this is that after I finished the book I desperately wanted to keep going and discover what happens next in the Psy-Changeling Trinity world.


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.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Review: Love at the Shore by Teri Wilson

Love at the Shore by Teri Wilson
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781947892507
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

She came to the beach to write…
But she’s getting distracted by the surfer next door.


Jenna, a single mom and successful author, has five weeks to deliver her next young adult novel to the publisher. This year’s summer getaway with her kids will be a working vacation.

The only problem? Lucas, the devil-may-care surfer in the beach rental next to hers. He cranks up his music at night, hosts loud volleyball matches, and allows his dog to run around at will.

Jenna often blames him for her writer’s block. But before long, she begins to see a new side of her neighbor at the shore. Maybe opposites do attract…but will that attraction fade like a sunset once summer is gone?

Love at the Shore is the perfect beach read. It’s a sweet story with endearing characters, a scene-stealing dog, and a romance that will make you smile.

Jenna is a single mom and an author with a hit debut under her belt. She’s taking her kids to the shore for the summer, hoping that while they’re at camp she can get over her writer’s block and finish the sequel she needs to submit in five weeks. It’s easy to like Jenna. She’s a loving parent, a good friend, and though she may come across as tightly-wound, the stress she’s under makes it understandable and her organizational bent made me smile. Her well-ordered world is knocked off its axis when she meets her neighbor, Lucas, and his energetic dog. Lucas may seem like a total beach bum at first glance, but I loved peeling the layers back to his character. Lucas is charming and easy-going, sure, but he has a good heart and the way he bonds with Jenna’s adorable kids is sure to make you melt.

Strikes spark between Lucas and Jenna at first meeting, but it was fun watching them initially try to deny the attraction. What follows is a slow-burn romance that is a joy to watch unfold. Teri Wilson’s writing always keeps me engaged and this story is no exception. The setting and the characters come to life on the page and I finished this book a well-satisfied reader. Love at the Shore is based on the Hallmark movie of the same name. Though I haven’t yet seen the movie, I hope it has the same energy and heart Ms. Wilson’s book does.


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.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Review: The Wicked Viscount by Heather McCollum

The Wicked Viscount by Heather McCollum
Series: The Campbells, Book 3
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781640637979
Release Date: May 27, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

1685, Scottish Highlands

Cat Campbell knows all about Nathaniel Worthington, fifth Viscount of Lincolnshire. The determined Englishman is never far from Finlarig Castle, where his sisters train women to do more than read and write. And thanks to the fiery kiss they shared nearly a year ago he is never far from her thoughts. No one ever trained her how to forget an irresistible man.

Nathaniel knows he should keep his distance from the fierce Scottish lass, but when an urgent letter from Queen Catherine calls Cat to London, he can’t resist volunteering to escort her. The tension between the two has simmered for months, but the long journey in close quarters creates a raging wildfire that could burn them both.

Secrets of their past and the treachery lurking at court put both their future together and their very lives at risk.

Cat Campbell is a healer, a fighter, and a Highland Rose. She’s a plain-speaking woman who fights with bow and arrow or dagger rather than words. But when Queen Catherine needs the help of a Highland Rose in court, Cat is the best candidate to go to her aid. Whitehall is a world away from what Cat knows, filled with scheming, politics, and words that could be far more deadly than a knife. The only person she can trust is her escort, Viscount Nathaniel Worthington, whose sisters run the Highland Roses School. Nathaniel drives her mad, mostly due to the attraction that’s been simmering between the two of them for over a year. Close quarters make the pull between them harder to resist. But can their burgeoning relationship survive the danger that awaits them at court?

Two strong-willed characters with excellent chemistry find love in The Wicked Viscount. Heather McCollum has brought both the glamour and the seedy underbelly of seventeenth century court life to life in this book, but it’s the Nathaniel and Cat who grabbed my attention from the start and made the pages of the story fly by.

Cat is very much a rose with thorns; beautiful but deadly. She’s smart, honest, and even when out of her depth and under pressure she stands strong. Cat has survived tremendous loss and hardship and has vulnerabilities, yet she remains a fierce protector willing to stand up for anyone who needs it. I adored her from the start and I couldn’t wait to see her fall in love with Nathaniel. Nathaniel was raised in his father’s image, but he’s a far different man from his sire. He has a strong core of honor, a protective streak a mile wide, and a distaste for the machinations at court. I was excited to see Nathaniel and Cat get together, as they struck sparks off one another in previous Campbell books. The two of them did not disappoint. The energy between them crackles and their dialogue as they travel to London made me smile more than once. When they give into their desires, The Wicked Viscount gets deliciously – dare I say it? – wicked. While it’s clear they’re made for each other, the ghosts of Cat’s past and the bindings his father’s will have placed on Nathaniel mean that love may not be enough for them to get their happily ever after.

Queen Catherine did not call for a Highland Rose out of misplaced alarm, which means much of The Wicked Viscount deals with unearthing traitors, palace politics, and venomous mean girls. Much like Cat, I’m not one for court gossip, deception, or intrigue but I was still engaged in the story, especially when seeing things through Cat’s eyes. I cannot say much about what happens at court for fear of spoiling the story. Suffice it to say that Ms. McCollum kept things interesting and I enjoyed watching the action build to an exciting climax.

The Wicked Viscount is the third book in the Campbells series (previously known as the Highland Roses School series), but it can easily be read as a standalone. I’ve enjoyed every book in this series with its brave Highland Roses who defend themselves and others and the men who love them and do the same. I cannot wait to return to the Highlands and see what Ms. McCollum has in store for the next Campbell hero or heroine!


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, May 19, 2019

Review: Just Past Two by Elia Winters

Just Past Two by Elia Winters
Series: Comes in Threes, Book 2
Publisher: Entangled: Scorched
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Polyamorous Romance
ISBN: 9781097208777
Release Date: May 20, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Abby Burke put her wild days behind her, determined to be the adult she thought she needed to be. It was just a phase, right? But when her college reunion reveals her...adventurous...past to her straitlaced gentleman of a husband, Abby is terrified he’ll reject her.

Except Sam is more than intrigued by what has his normally bold wife flushing with embarrassment…and desire. So when he and Abby stumble onto an especially hot scene that takes them over the edge, he proposes a challenge: confess their deepest fantasies and fulfill them together.

As their playful explorations escalate, their forays into exhibitionism and kink shift the way they see each other and their relationship—for the better. But when Sam finds himself longing to see her pleasured by other men, and Abby’s all in, they wonder if this will make their marriage stronger or end up tearing them apart.

Just Past Two is an interesting, engaging story about a married couple who are completely in love but perhaps their relationship isn’t all it could be. After college, Abby buried her wild past like it was a shameful secret, determined to become what she believes a successful, respectable person should be. When her secrets start to come out at her college reunion, she’s scared of what her straight-laced husband, Sam, will think of her. Abby is shocked to learn that not only does Sam not judge her, he’s intrigued and the two of them begin to explore their fantasies and reevaluate how they’ve defined their marriage.

Elia Winters always writes sex-positive books and Just Past Two is no exception. While Abby does judge herself, I loved watching her work through this and come to the understanding that there is nothing wrong or shameful about her desires, even if they don’t fit the conventional lines society has drawn. It helps that she has such a supportive partner in Sam. Sam has a vanilla past, but once he’s given the freedom to explore his desires, he isn’t afraid to communicate with Abby about what he wants and to listen to what she wants. It isn’t always easy for them, as neither wants the other to get hurt or feel like they don’t completely love them.

It’d be remiss of me to write about Just Past Two and not mention how hot the book is. As Sam and Abby explore their fantasies, things get wonderfully dirty pretty quickly and they stay that way. The one niggling issue I had with this is that I wish the book were a bit longer. Abby and Sam explore multiple kinks and since we don’t dive too deeply into Sam’s character I would have liked to spend more time in his head. Abby’s journey from beginning to end felt earned and at times I felt like Sam’s was glossed over. Still, I enjoyed Just Past Two overall. I loved the communication between Sam and Abby, the way they addressed their fears, expectations, and feelings honestly. And it doesn’t hurt that erotic moments were sexy as sin. I finished this book a well-satisfied reader and I cannot wait to see what the next Comes in Threes story brings.


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, May 18, 2019

Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Male/Male New Adult Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781250316776
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston's Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn't always diplomatic.

You know those books that just make you happy you’ve read them? The kind with characters who grab your heart and a story that makes you smile days after you’ve finished reading it? Red, White & Royal Blue is one of those books for me. Casey McQuiston’s debut is bright, engaging, fun, sexy, and the deeper you fall into the story the more it touches your heart.

Alex is the son of the first female President of the United Sates and a California senator. He’s whip-smart, politically savvy, and can charm anyone. Anyone, that is, but the Prince of Wales. From the moment they met, Alex and Henry were oil and water. And when Alex’s irritation with the prince escalates into an altercation at a royal wedding, the two find themselves needing to do some transatlantic damage control. A fake friendship leads to a real one...that leads to something much more.

I’ll be honest: at first I wasn’t sure I’d like Alex. He was smart, charming, and I adored his relationship with his sister, June, and his best friend Nora, the granddaughter of the Vice President. But Alex was also a bit arrogant and had a beef with Henry, who I freely admit won me over from the start. However, by a third of the way in I was getting to know Alex and understand him better. Not only did I start to like him, but by the end of the book I completely loved him. He’s unbelievably funny, deeply loyal, caring, and his desire to fight for what’s right shines bright. He’s also the perfect match for Henry. Henry’s life has never been entirely his own and he’s been taught to guard his heart and hide a big part of who he is. The part of him that Alex originally sees isn’t the true man at all, but the polished, uncontroversial mask he wears as member of the royal family. I loved learning about Henry through Alex’s eyes and to see both young men come fully into their own over the course of their story.

As individuals, Alex and Henry are delightful heroes who are easy to become attached to. As a couple they are phenomenal. Their slide from dislike to friendship to lust to love is beautifully done and allows the love story to develop organically. Between the top-notch banter and Alex and Henry’s fantastic chemistry, I can’t count the number of times the two of them made me laugh or touched my heart. There are so many joyful, sweet, and sensual moments in Red, White & Royal Blue that I dare your heart not to melt.

It’s not an easy road to happily ever after; the reality of both Henry and Alex’s political situations means that love may not be enough to see them and their families through. A good portion of the romance is interwoven with Alex’s mother’s bid for reelection. I loved how Ms. McQuiston handled both and I found this storyline compelling. The America of Red, White & Royal Blue isn’t perfect (homophobia, racism, and sexism do still exist), but the chords of hope, optimism, and determination that run through this book were uplifting and made me tear up a time or two.

I truly loved Red, White & Royal Blue. Henry and Alex’s story was vibrant, emotional, and deeply compelling. The characters were quick on the draw and the banter alone could have made me enjoy this book. Add in a richly-drawn cast and a romance that made my heart sing and it’s clear why I could not help but fall in love with this story. I desperately hope we get books for Henry and Alex’s loved ones (Nora was a particular favorite of mine), but no matter what Casey McQuiston has in store for readers, I’ll be first in line to buy her work.


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, May 12, 2019

Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Series: The Kiss Quotient, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780451490827
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can't turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn't go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working...but only on herself. She's hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

The Bride Test is a fast-paced, engaging romance. Helen Hoang writes such vibrant, emotionally honest characters that I can’t help but be sucked into her stories.

Esme broke my heart and put it back together more than once. Normally I have issues with characters who keep secrets, but I understood Esme’s actions and because Ms. Hoang writes her struggles so well, her keeping secrets didn’t frustrate me like it normally would. Esme is a hardworking, kind soul who has been repeatedly made to feel like she’s not good enough, not “classy” enough, not deserving, and so forth. Her mix of strength and vulnerability grabbed my heart and I loved watching her come into her own, to learn that she is worthy in every way. Her personal journey was one of my favorite parts of The Bride Test and I was rooting for her success every step of the way. Watching her find love was really a bonus and when the hero in question is Khai, it’s a big bonus. Khai is brilliant and kind, but he has ghosts in his past which make him feel like he has a heart of stone. Khai is autistic and – as with her last book, The Kiss Quotient – Ms. Hoang does an incredible job of writing a protagonist with autism. The fact that he’s autistic doesn’t define Khai, but it is a part of him and Ms. Hoang shows how this affects his internal and external reactions in a realistic way. I adored both Khai and Esme, so of course I wanted to see them get their happily ever after. The two of them fit well together, but there was an ineffable spark that just seemed to be missing from their romance. As invested as I was in the characters, their love story was a bit of a letdown because there was nothing pulling me in, no electric chemistry to make their falling in love a compelling journey.

The Bride Test is the second book in the Kiss Quotient series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. I did like the few appearances Michael (of The Kiss Quotient) made, though they did have the unfortunate side effect of reminding me how much more exciting his and Stella’s chemistry was. It would also be remiss of me to write about The Bride Test and not mention Quan. I desperately hope Quan gets a book soon because Khai’s sexy, loving, compassionate brother just about stole every scene he’s in. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Bride Test. While I had some issues with the romance, the characters were so interesting and richly drawn that I finished the story a satisfied reader, one who hopes for more Kiss Quotient books.


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.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Review: Tightrope by Amanda Quick

Tightrope by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9780399585364
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn moved to Burning Cove to reinvent herself, but things are not going well. After spending her entire inheritance on a mansion with the intention of turning it into a bed-and-breakfast, she learns too late that the villa is said to be cursed. When the first guest, Dr. Norman Pickwell, is murdered by his robot invention during a sold-out demonstration, rumors circulate that the curse is real.

In the chaotic aftermath of the spectacle, Amalie watches as a stranger from the audience disappears behind the curtain. When Matthias Jones reappears, he is slipping a gun into a concealed holster. It looks like the gossip that is swirling around him is true—Matthias evidently does have connections to the criminal underworld.

Matthias is on the trail of a groundbreaking prototype cipher machine. He suspects that Pickwell stole the device and planned to sell it. But now Pickwell is dead and the machine has vanished. When Matthias’s investigation leads him to Amalie’s front door, the attraction between them is intense, but she knows it is also dangerous. Amalie and Matthias must decide if they can trust each other and the passion that binds them, because time is running out.

After a brush with death, former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn has started fresh in Burning Cove. She and her aunt have purchased a mansion that was once owned by a famous psychic who came to an ill end and they’ve turned it into the Hidden Beach Inn. But when their first guest – Dr. Norman Pickwell – is murdered by his robot creation, the rumors start flying that perhaps the inn is cursed. Enter Matthias Jones, an investigator connected to Burning Cove’s most notorious mobster. Matthias is on the hunt for a prototype of a cipher machine Pickwell is rumored to have had. And he’s not the only one on the hunt for the machine, which means Amalie is now in danger. With her life and her business on the line, Amalie isn’t content to sit on the sidelines while Matthias investigates. Close quarters means the sizzling attraction between them is nearly impossible to resist. But if Matthias and Amalie want a chance to find out if that attraction could lead anywhere, they have to survive the dangerous figures closing in on them…

High glamour meets dark and dangerous secrets in Tightrope. I love the world of Burning Cove that Amanda Quick has created so I was eager to dive into this book. I’ve gone back and forth in the days since I read Amalie and Matthias’s story and while I did enjoy reading it, to me it simply wasn’t one of Ms. Quick’s more memorable stories. Amalie and Matthias are both likeable protagonists. Amalie has a strong spine, which I liked, and Matthias’s human lie-detector ability (a callback to Ms. Quick’s Arcane Society series) was intriguing. However, I never felt like I got to see too far beneath the surface, which was a pity. Their romance felt like a bit of an afterthought, though the bones of a good love story were there. The ineffable spark I’m used to from Ms. Quick’s characters seemed to be missing, so I wasn’t as invested as I would have liked to be. Don’t get me wrong – neither the characters nor the romance were bad, merely not as engaging as I would have liked.

The mystery and suspense elements are where the energy is at in Tightrope. There’s quite a bit going on that I can’t really talk about without spoiling the story. Murder and a missing cipher machine are only the beginning of the action. Ms. Quick deftly handles multiple plotlines and points of view, weaving things together so well that by the time everything comes to a head you won’t want to put the book down.

Tightrope is the third book in the Burning Cove series, but it can be read as a standalone. Characters from The Girl Who Knew Too Much and The Other Lady Vanishes do play supporting roles and fans of the series will delight in seeing some favorite faces again. Even though I was a bit let down by the romance part of this romantic suspense, the mystery elements and rich atmosphere were highly entertaining.


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.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Review: Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible by Mia Marlowe

Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible by Mia Marlowe
Series: The House of Lovell, Book 2
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781516106639
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

With the dowries of all the season’s debutantes exposed in its scandalous pages, The Bachelor’s Bible is a handy tool for an earl in need of an heiress…

Edward Lovell, newly minted earl, bears a weighty responsibility: to restore his family’s estate to its former grandeur. The task requires not simply a wife, but a wealthy one. Thanks to The Bachelor’s Bible, he already has a particular lady in mind. He has only to convince her sponsor that he will make a suitable husband. There’s just one complication: the sponsor is none other than the only woman he’s ever loved—and inexplicably lost. Now a young widow, Lady Anne Howard is more beautiful than ever…

Anne is not about to be taken for a fool a second time. When they last met, Edward was Lord Bredon, the man she adored—the man who destroyed her dreams of a happy future. Now he is pursuing the hand of the young lady Anne must keep safe from unscrupulous suitors. But who will protect Anne from the earl who still possesses her heart?…

Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible is a charming second chance romance with likeable characters and a satisfying happily ever after. In the wake of his father’s death, Edward Lovell, Earl of Chatham, is in need of funds in order to save his estates. Edward is an honorable man who feels the weight of responsibility toward those who depend on him, which is why it’s easy to swallow his decision to marry for money. When he discovers a guide to the wealthiest debutantes of the season, it seems a sign. All Edward has to do is marry Martha Finch and his problems will be solved. It’s a practical decision and given his title and looks it shouldn’t be too difficult to secure the lady’s hand. There is just one problem: Martha’s sponsor is Lady Anne Howard, the woman Edward once loved and lost. Like Edward, Anne is a sympathetic protagonist. She has suffered heartbreaking loss and an unhappy marriage; widowhood is freedom and she isn’t looking to give that up.

The connection between Anne and Edward is positively electric and it’s clear they’re made for each other, which made it easy enough to root for their happily ever after. But Edward’s duty to his title and the financial strain that goes with it isn’t a simple obstacle to overcome. I enjoyed seeing the push-pull both feel between duty and desire. With Anne and Edward so often finding themselves at an impasse, the story did sometimes slow down, but I wasn’t overly bothered by this and read the book in one sitting. There was an interesting mystery thrown in near the end of the story and the bulk of the action in the book takes place in the last quarter. I do wish the intensity had been turned up on the suspense plotline and woven more through the book, but I did like the way multiple plotlines converged at the book’s climax. There was also an interesting reveal in the story (one I can’t reveal without spoiling the book), but nothing came of it, which was a pity because it would have been interesting to see Edward’s reaction.

Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible is the second book in Mia Marlowe’s House of Lovell series. You don’t have to have read The Singular Mr. Sinclair in order to follow along, so long as you don’t mind some minor spoilers. As a fan of the first book, I was delighted to revisit Caroline and Lawrence and I’m sure readers new to the Lovell family will enjoy their scenes as well. Overall I liked Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible quite a bit, but I will admit that two days after finishing the book neither the story nor the characters stand out in my mind. Still, it’s an enjoyable story to pass the hours with and I do hope Ms. Marlowe continues the House of Lovell series because I’d love to read Ben Lovell’s 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.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Review: The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory
Series: The Wedding Date, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781984802194
Release Date: July 16, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other

After an "oops, we made a mistake" night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa's wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they're comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won't fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn't looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?

But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don't fall in love.

The moment Maddie Forest and Theo Stephens met sparks flew – and not in a good way. Yet though they rub each other the wrong way, they are both best friends with Alexa Monroe. So when she needs them, Maddie and Theo put aside their differences for the sake of their friend. Except one night something happens and the simmering sexual tension that’s been lying in wait beneath their barbs boils over and Maddie and Theo wind up in bed together. Once they give into passion, it’s harder for them to resist the pull between them – especially since being in Alexa’s wedding party throws them together. Neither of them wants Alexa to find out, get her hopes up, then be crushed when Theo and Maddie inevitably break up, so they agree to a secret affair. Only the longer they spend in each other’s company, the more the two of them find out that the person they love to hate might just be the one they’re meant to love…

The Wedding Party is an enemies-to-lovers story at its finest. In Maddie and Theo’s romance Jasmine Guillory has delivered a story that’s sexy, sweet, funny, and just plain charming.

Maddie is the kind of heroine you wish were real so you could be friends with her. She’s bright, kind, funny, and loyal. She’s also a talented stylist working on building her business and I loved the peeks we got into her career. On the surface, Maddie comes off as more relaxed which is part of the reason she and Theo – a man she at first believes to be condescending – don’t hit it off when they first meet. Theo is the mayor of Berkeley’s press secretary and on the surface he’s straight-laced and unflappable. But though he’s focused and dedicated to his job, there’s so much more to him. Yes, Theo is the kind of man who makes margaritas from scratch (down to the simple syrup), but I loved that about him. I adored watching Maddie and Theo peel back one another’s layers and see that they’re not so different after all. The two of them just click in bed and out. Their slide from lust to love is seamless and simply lovely to watch unfold.

The Wedding Party is set in the same world as The Wedding Date and parts of Alexa and Drew’s story are woven through this book. But if you don’t mind some minor spoilers then Theo and Maddie’s story can be read as a standalone. The Wedding Party has all the things I enjoy about Ms. Guillory’s books: it’s fast-paced, fun, and the happily ever after leaves you smiling. Another aspect of this story that also appeared in The Wedding Date and The Proposal is that it features protagonists who are both focused on furthering their careers and each respects and supports the other’s work – I cannot express how much I love this. Every book I’ve read of Ms. Guillory’s I enjoy more than the last and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for readers.


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.