Sunday, May 31, 2020

Review: Bait N' Witch by Abigail Owen

Bait N' Witch by Abigail Owen
Series: Brimstone Inc., Book 3
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781682816097
Release Date: June 15, 2020
Source: Publisher/Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Rowan McAuliffe has been hiding most of her life. Secretly trained in her powers by an unusual source, she'd been taught not to trust anyone. Especially other witches. However, after she was forced to perform a hateful act against her will, she now hides from the Covens Syndicate and their judgement.

Greyson Masters is the Syndicate's best hunter. On top of the danger of his job, Greyson is trying to raise his triplet daughters alone, budding new witches who display an alarming combined power no one understands. Too bad he doesn’t have a clue how to deal with them.

Until Rowan walks in and the chaos settles for the first time in...well, ever.

Little does Greyson realize that his new nanny is the very witch he is hunting, and she’s been hiding right under his nose this whole time.

*This book was previously self published but has undergone a complete re-edit. Scenes were added, things were changed, but the kissing still remains!

Every story in the Brimstone Inc. series has been wholly addictive and Bait N' Witch is no exception. The third magical outing features Rowan, a witch of incredible power who has been taught not to trust her own kind. Rowan also possesses a strong vulnerability, one that a powerful werewolf used to force her to do something horrible. Now Rowan has to hide from the judgment of the Covens Syndicate. And what better place to hide than right under the nose of the hunter sent to bring her in?

Greyson Masters may be the Syndicate’s best hunter, but he’s also a widowed father of preteen triplets who have a power no one can quite figure out. The triplets need a new nanny and Brimstone, Inc. has sent over Rowan, a witch of supposedly little power. Rowan is the first person who has been able to bring peace to Greyson’s household, but there’s something about her that makes him restless. The pull between them is strong, but what will happen when Rowan’s secrets are revealed?

As individuals, Rowan and Greyson are wonderful characters. Rowan is a powerful witch who has survived more than most could deal with and she’s retained her strength and kindness through it all. I loved watching her bond with Greyson’s daughters from the first. Preteens can be scary enough but add in magic? Yikes. Rowan is more than up to the challenge, though. She slides easily into the Masters household and into the hearts of the family itself. Greyson is the best at his job but he’s slightly in over his head in his household. He’s a loving father who is doing his best and it’s easy to adore him. As a couple, he and Rowan click from the start. I loved watching how they seamlessly became a couple, almost without realizing it. But Rowan can’t hide who she is and how powerful her magic is for forever, not from Greyson and not from the werewolves that are hunting her.

Bait N' Witch is just plain fun to read. It has romance, magic, action, and even a small mystery featuring the triplets’ abilities. I was hooked from the beginning and didn’t want to put the book down. I love how author Abigail Owen weaves together all different magical and mythical beings to create a fascinating world. If you don’t mind spoilers for the first book in the series, The Demigod Complex, then you can read Rowan and Greyson’s story as a standalone. I enjoyed everything about Bait N' Witch and I cannot wait to see what happens next in the Brimstone Inc. series.


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

Friday, May 29, 2020

Review: The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis

The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone, Book 5
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062897916
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

Brynn Turner desperately wishes she had it together, but her personal life is like a ping-pong match that’s left her scared and hurt after so many attempts to get it right. In search of a place to lick her wounds and get a fresh start, she heads back home to Wildstone.

And then there’s Kinsey Davis, who after battling serious health issues her entire twenty-nine years of life, is tired of hoping for…well, anything. She's fierce, tough, and she’s keeping more than one bombshell of a secret from Brynn -- her long-time frenemy.

But then Brynn runs into Kinsey's best friend, Eli, renewing her childhood crush. The good news: he’s still easy-going and funny and sexy as hell. The bad news: when he gets her to agree to a summer-time deal to trust him to do right by her, no matter what, she never dreams it’ll result in finding a piece of herself she didn’t even know was missing. She could have real connections, possibly love, and a future—if she can only learn to let go of the past.

As the long days of summer wind down, the three of them must discover if forgiveness is enough to grasp the unconditional love that’s right in front of them.

The Summer Deal is a love note to messy, wonderful families, both the ones we make and the ones we’re born into. Jill Shalvis’s fifth Wildstone novel features the imperfect characters and bumpy roads to a heartwarming happily ever after that I’ve come to expect and enjoy from this series.

Brynn has come home to Wildstone with a bruised heart and a lack of trust in her own instincts. Brynn is kind, quirky, and somewhat of a mess at the beginning but I loved watching her learn to stand up for herself over the course of the story. The person who pushes her to do that isn’t a love interest, but rather her old summer camp frenemy (and secret half-sister), Kinsey. Kinsey claims to have a black heart but really what she is is fearful. She’s been sick most of her life and has been battling kidney transplant rejection for years. Kinsey feels like she has an expiration date and she doesn’t want to hurt others by letting them in, so she pushes them away first. She and Brynn don’t have the best history, but Ms. Shalvis shows why each of them acted the way they did as children and it makes sense. These are flawed heroines, but they’re relatable because of it and it’s easy to root for both of them.

Brynn and Kinsey’s relationship is central to The Summer Deal, but that doesn’t mean Ms. Shalvis skimped on the romance. Kinsey is clearly in love with her non-boyfriend Deck, a caring, incredibly patient nurse and father. It’s obvious from the start that Deck wants more with Kinsey, but her fear may cost them a shot at happiness. And the main love story is between Brynn and Kinsey’s lifelong best friend, Eli. Eli might just be one of my favorite Jill Shalvis heroes. He’s a sexy-as-sin marine biologist with a marshmallow heart. Eli has been rejected more than once by people who should have loved him and he’s afraid of getting hurt (a theme in this story). But Brynn has always captured his interest so she slides quite easily into his heart. Eli cares for people deeply and it shows every time he’s on the page. He’s pretty much the perfect hero and I can’t count how often he made me melt. It was easy for me to fall into his and Brynn’s romance and even though I could see the obstacles that would inevitably come their way, I was rooting for them every step of the way.

The Summer Deal is a heartwarming story of healing, family, and love. I enjoyed everything about this book and I look forward to revisiting Brynn, Kinsey, Eli, and Deck again soon.


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.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Review: When You Wish Upon a Rogue by Anna Bennett

When You Wish Upon a Rogue by Anna Bennett
Series: Debutante Diaries, Book 3
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781250199508
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Once upon a time in Anna Bennett's When You Wish Upon a Rogue, three young ladies vowed to record their first London seasons and to fill in the gaps of their educations.

She knows what she wants.

Miss Sophie Kendall is happiest arranging the secret meetings of the Debutante Underground, a group of women who come together to discuss the weekly advice column The Debutante’s Revenge. What makes Sophie most unhappy is her impending march down the aisle to a man she does not love. But her family’s finances are in increasingly dire straits.

He makes an offer she can’t refuse.
Henry Reese, Earl of Warshire, hasn’t slept in weeks. Desperate to escape his manor house and its haunting memories, he heads for one of his abandoned London properties. There he meets a beautiful, intriguing woman—trespassing. Reese is far less interested in Sophie’s search for a secret meeting spot than he is in her surprising ability to soothe his demons. So he strikes a bargain with her: his shop in exchange for spending one night a week with him.

Is this love for real—or just a dream?
Sophie never expected this to happen. But she cannot deny the fire Reese sparks in her—and soon their shared desire burns bright. Sophie is irrevocably promised to another. But maybe these two ill-fated lovers can find a way to risk it all—all the way to happily ever after…

When You Wish Upon a Rogue is incredibly sweet without ever becoming saccharine. Anna Bennett’s third Debutante Diaries installment has a gorgeous setting with some fairytale elements that easily captured my interest, so when you add in such likeable characters as Sophie and Reese it’s easy to see why I fell into this story with such ease.

By all outward appearances, Sophie Kendall is the proper society miss. She says and does what she should and without question she will protect her family’s wellbeing by marrying a marquess she doesn’t love. Underneath that, however, is a much more interesting woman. Sophie chairs a weekly meeting of women from all different classes who discuss The Debutante’s Revenge, a column Sophie secretly works on with her two best friends. Sophie has more spirit than most people would give her credit for and she’s a nurturer at heart. Her love of plants and gardening is something even a person with a black thumb like myself can enjoy reading about.

Chance brings Sophie into contact with Henry Reese, Earl of Warshire. The new earl is grieving and unable to sleep when they first meet, but something about her soothes him to the point where he’s able to rest for the first time in forever. Reese is a hero with a good heart and a troubled soul. When he and Sophie strike a bargain – she can use a property he owns to hold her meetings if she secretly meets with him once a week to help him sleep – it gives them time outside what they would ever be able to traditionally have to come to know each other. I loved their secret meetings and the almost fairytale-like setting of the manor garden Sophie and Reese bring back to life. The two of them are free to be themselves and open up in ways they never would normally, making their swift slide into love work for me.

However, sometimes love isn’t enough and that’s the case in When You Wish Upon a Rogue. The earldom Reese inherited needs a lot of help and there’s no way he can rush in and be the wealthy white knight her family requires at the moment. How things work out, I won’t spoil. I will say that the route the characters take is a bit predictable, but that didn’t bother me.

Sophie’s book is the third in the Debutante Diaries, but having not yet read First Earl I See Tonight or The Duke Is But a Dream I can safely say it reads well as a standalone. I did enjoy Sophie’s friendship with Fiona and Lily and the themes of women supporting other women were strong in this book, which I loved. With its lush background and endearing characters When You Wish Upon a Rogue is the perfect historical romance to escape with.


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.

Review: Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Female/Female Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780593102527
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A showrunner and her assistant give the world something to talk about when they accidentally fuel a ridiculous rumor in this debut romance.

Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn't come at a worse time—threatening Emma's promotion and Jo's new movie.

As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.

With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?

There are some books that make you smile just thinking about them and that’s exactly what Something to Talk About does for me. Meryl Wilsner’s debut won me over with their endearing characters and a lovely slow-burn romance that made me sigh.

Jo is one of my favorite kinds of heroines: the secret softie. Jo is a Hollywood powerhouse with brains, skill, and savvy you have to admire. But even after three decades in Hollywood and a number of Emmys to her name, as a Chinese-American woman Jo still faces racism and sexism constantly, especially now that she’s been announced as the new writer/producer for a James Bond-type franchise. Jo knows how to navigate Hollywood, but she’s had to build high walls to protect herself. Underneath those walls is a marshmallow heart and a spine of steel. Jo shows her caring in actions rather than words and she made me melt more than once. As for Emma… A bisexual Jewish cinnamon roll? Yes, please! Emma is so kind and caring, an emotionally demonstrative heroine who frequently made me smile. She’s got a strong work ethic and is a quick study, but she is unsure of herself when it comes to what direction she wants to move professionally.

As individuals, Jo and Emma are fantastic characters, well-drawn and an endearing mix of strength and vulnerability. Together their chemistry is fabulous and makes the pages of Something to Talk About fly by. The romance between Emma and Jo is extremely slow-burn. Both Jo and Emma are wary of risking their hearts by revealing their feelings. Jo is also very conscious of her position as Emma’s employer and the power disparity that results from that. Added to that she’s aware of the age gap between them and the racist and ageist blowback from some corners of Hollywood that she may face. Emma also faces comments, innuendo, and outright sexual harassment because some people think she slept her way to the top. Given the characters’ histories and the events of the story, the fact that the romance takes so much of the story to build worked for me. Jo and Emma’s love story felt solid by the end of the book, which may sound staid and boring but it’s not; I loved these two together.

Emma and Jo are the heart and soul of the book but the supporting cast rounds out the story and helps bring it to life. I loved Jo’s friendships that were depicted, both with her lifelong best friend, Evelyn, and with Emma’s sister, Avery. And Emma’s relationship with her family – complete with their teasing – warmed my heart. All in all, Something to Talk About is a book that can lift your spirits and make you smile. Jo and Emma are both strong, intelligent heroines with kind hearts that make them easy to root for. Their love story builds piece by piece in an organic way and the result is a lovely, fulfilling romance I cannot wait to enjoy again and again.


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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781984806505
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans for what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store. Jesse wants to keep the store open. His brothers want to tie off loose ends and close shop…

Part-time shop employee Kerry Fuller has kept her crush on Jesse a secret. When she overhears his impassioned plea to his brothers to keep the knitting shop open, she volunteers to help. Unlike Jesse, Kerry knows the “knitty-gritty” of the business, and together they make plans to reinvent Strong Knits for a new generation.

But the more time they spend together, the stronger the chemistry builds between them. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe their relationship can last longer than she can knit one, purl two. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her forever and always. After all, real men knit.

Real Men Knit is a love note to family and community that would be perfect for a movie. It was oh-so-easy to fall for Kerry and the Strong family; so much so that I didn’t want to put the book down.

In the wake of his adoptive mother’s death Jesse Strong finds himself at loose ends. He’s always been seen as the brother who didn’t live up to his potential and now that Mama Joy is gone he doesn’t seem to know what to do. But when his brothers start to talk about selling their mother’s shop, Strong Knits, Jesse finds his focus. Strong Knits isn’t just important to their family – it’s a piece of the heart of their Harlem neighborhood. I loved watching Jesse find his passion, seeing him carry on his mother’s legacy but also making it his own. Jesse finds himself over the course of the story and he’s so loveable that you can’t help but be sucked into his journey.

But Jesse can’t reopen the knitting shop on his own. He needs the help of Kerry Fuller, his mother’s part-time employee and the woman who knows Strong Knits best. Kerry has just finished her degree in children’s counseling and art therapy and should be looking for a full-time job in her field, but she can’t resist helping Jesse. Kerry has always been the typical “girl next door” to the Strong brothers and sometimes that frustrates her…especially when it comes to her longtime crush, Jesse. Kerry has always been in the shadows and I enjoyed her journey over the course of Real Men Knit as she takes her place in the sun. She’s an incredibly giving person (sometimes to her own detriment) and her heart of gold plus the way she cares for everyone around her makes her a heroine you can root for.

Real Men Knit is Jesse and Kerry’s story, but author Kwana Jackson brings the world of Strong Knits alive with an endearing supporting cast. Jesse’s sometimes troubled relationship with his brothers was one of my favorite parts of the book. I desperately hope each brother gets a book of his own (especially my favorite, the sensitive Noah). All four men are so different but Mama Joy brought them together and made them a family. Mama Joy may have passed before the beginning of the book, but her presence and the impact she had on her boys’ lives and her community is felt throughout. The only downside to this is that she sounded like such a generous, strong, loving, downright incredible woman that I wish I could have “met” her.

The romance is where Real Men Knit falls short. It had the potential to be a good slow-burn love story, but it never quite hit the mark. At one point, one of Jesse’s brothers indicates that he doesn’t know if Jesse sees Kerry as a mother figure, sister, or lover and that’s part of the problem. The romance plotline doesn’t really take hold until near the end of the book and I never felt any growth or true change in their relationship, aside from giving into mutual attraction. Jesse and Kerry aren’t a bad couple – they’re far too likeable for that. Rather, there was something missing that made the romance fall flat. If this book were general fiction instead of a romance, my overall enjoyment of the book wouldn’t have really changed if they hadn’t ended up together. Ms. Jackson definitely showed that Kerry and Jesse love each other, but even by the end it didn’t feel like they were in love. That one plot issue aside, I adored Real Men Knit and I’m eager to read more about the Strong family.


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 11, 2020

Review: The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781538733332
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Strong-willed and proudly single, an engineer walks out when her parents set her up with a lawyer – but when work brings them together again, she just might give love a second chance.

Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents' latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she's out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later -- the new lawyer hired to rescue her struggling company. What's not surprising: he's not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.

Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He's also infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance? Find out in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy debut about first impressions, second chances, and finding the love of your life in the most unexpected way.

Enemies-to-lovers is never so entertaining as when you have strong, intelligent protagonists who don’t back down. The Trouble with Hating You is an engaging romance with well-drawn characters who bring the story to life.

Liya is a heroine with a spine of steel and a marshmallow heart – I loved her. She’s prickly when it comes to Jay and is constantly pushing him away. But when you’ve been betrayed in the worst way, sexually assaulted, constantly have gossiping aunties giving you the side-eye, and are practically shunned by your community…well, you have more than enough reason to put up walls. Liya comes from a traditional Hindu community and she’s a black sheep both by choice and because she was once made a victim by those who should have protected her. Nevertheless, she’s a brilliant, hardworking, successful biochemical engineer with a heart of gold. She’ll do anything for those she loves and I absolutely adored watching her with her three best friends, Reema, Sana, and Preeti (who I desperately hope gets a book of her own).

Jay is an equally successful lawyer, one who is tasked with trying to rescue Liya’s company. The two of them don’t hit it off at the start. Liya is ambushed by her parents trying to set her up with Jay and he has no idea why she took off at their first meeting. It isn’t exactly the meet-cute most people dream of. But Jay is made of sterner stuff. He’s a sexy, loving, caring hero who is devoted to his family. He also doesn’t put stock in gossip but gets to know people for themselves and is intrigued rather than afraid of a woman who speaks her mind and doesn’t conform to tradition for tradition’s sake. He’s a perfect match for Liya, but he’ll have to get past her walls first. Mutual attraction helps with that and I adored not only the sizzling chemistry he and Liya had, but the way Jay also stood up for what he wanted, which was not just a meaningless fling. There’s a lot of push-pull in The Trouble with Hating You and that’s normally something I tire of, but in this case it worked. Jay and Liya have to work for their happily ever after and I was rooting for them every step of the way.

Both Liya and Jay come from a more traditional background and author Sajni Patel does a great job of depicting both the positive and negative sides of this. Ms. Patel brought depth to the world she created this way and also with the depth and unique voices she gave her supporting cast (I absolutely adore Jay’s mother). The only downsides to this book for me was a side plotline that could have been fleshed out better or eliminated (Jay’s guilt over the death of his father) and that Liya was a bit too harsh in the beginning (though I love imperfect characters and her words were understandable to a point, I felt she crossed over into mean territory a few times). But overall I thoroughly enjoyed The Trouble with Hating You; it’s a strong debut and I cannot wait to see what Ms. Patel 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.