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.