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
Elia Winters Reading Order

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.