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.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Review: A Duke by Any Other Name by Grace Burrowes

A Duke by Any Other Name by Grace Burrowes
Series: Rogues to Riches, Book 4
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781538700327
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Nathaniel, Duke of Rothhaven, lives in seclusion, leaving his property only to gallop his demon-black steed across the moors by moonlight. Exasperated mamas invoke his name to frighten small children, though Nathaniel is truly a decent man -- maybe too decent for his own good. That's precisely why he must turn away the beguiling woman demanding his help.

Lady Althea Wentworth has little patience for dukes, reclusive or otherwise, but she needs Rothhaven's backing to gain entrance into Polite Society. She's asked him nicely, she's called on him politely, all to no avail -- until her prize hogs just happen to plunder the ducal orchard. He longs for privacy. She's vowed to never endure another ball as a wallflower. Yet as the two grow closer, it soon becomes clear they might both be pretending to be something they're not.

Two lonely souls find love among the Yorkshire moors in A Duke by Any Other Name. Every Rogues to Riches book I’ve read I’ve enjoyed more than the last and Althea and Nathaniel’s romance is my favorite to date.

Nathaniel is the kind of hero I adore. To all the world he’s a fierce, terrifying figure, but in reality he’s a total cinnamon roll. Nathaniel has a reason for his seclusion, for not allowing anyone near his home and frightening off anyone who would dare trespass, but to reveal why would be a spoiler. Suffice it to say he’s not doing it for kicks and giggles. But Althea isn’t one to be cowed by a fearsome reputation. Althea may be the sister of a duke, but she grew up in extreme poverty and has faced true evil, selfishness, and greed. She can see Nathaniel isn’t the horrible man he pretends to be and besides, she needs his help. Althea just about broke my heart. She survived a hellish (to put it mildly) childhood and grew up to be a strong, caring woman who does what she can to help others. All she wants is to find love and have a family but society resents her family’s wealth and title. Since they cannot take it out on her brother and sister-in-law because they are a duke and duchess, they target Althea. She’s been bullied to the point where she cannot bring herself to face another season and she hopes that as a duke and her neighbor Nathaniel can give her some tips to make her more successful on her quest to find happiness.

Althea and Nathaniel have fantastic chemistry from the start. She’s unfazed by his growling and blustering and he finds himself intrigued by her against his will. Both of them are unique, well-drawn characters who will grab your heart and not let go. Althea has a quiet dignity and an inner strength that makes her a heroine to cheer for. Nathaniel has a good heart and the mistakes he makes are because he loves so deeply. Individually, they’re fantastic characters. As a couple? They’re dynamite. I didn’t want to put A Duke by Any Other Name down because I so wanted Nathaniel and Althea to find their happily ever after. Getting there isn’t easy; the problems they face aren’t simply Yorkshire mean girls (though those are present and worthy of your loathing) but true obstacles I won’t spoil that cannot be overcome easily. But Althea and Nathaniel’s love is worth fighting for and I was captivated watching their romance unfold.

A Duke by Any Other Name is the fourth book in Grace Burrowes’s Rogues to Riches series but it can be read as a standalone. That being said, I feel that having read the first book, My One and Only Duke, gave me a better sense of the Wentworth family dynamic and made me enjoy this story even more. Althea’s siblings – in particular her intriguing, interfering younger brother – play supporting roles and add warmth and support to Althea’s journey. I love the uniqueness of this series, how harsh realities are woven into the fantasy. None of the main characters have been cardboard heroes or heroines in history, attitude, or behavior and that makes this series memorable. I loved A Duke by Any Other Name from beginning to end and I cannot wait to see what Ms. Burrowes has in store for Constance Wentworth!


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, April 23, 2020

Review: Heiress for Hire by Madeline Hunter

Heiress for Hire by Madeline Hunter
Series: A Duke’s Heiress, Book 1
Publisher: Zebra
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781420149975
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Minerva Hepplewhite has learned the hard way how to take care of herself. When an intruder breaks into her home, she doesn’t swoon or simper. Instead she wallops the rogue over the head and ties him up—only to realize he is Chase Radnor, a gentleman and grandson of a lord, and a man who makes it his business to investigate suspicious matters. Now he’s insisting that Minerva has inherited a fortune from his uncle, a wealthy duke. Only one thing could surprise her more: her sudden attraction to this exasperating man…

Chase can’t decide whether Minerva is a wronged woman or a femme fatale. Either way, he’s intrigued. Maddeningly, with her unexpected inheritance, she has set up a discreet detective business to rival Chase’s own. She may be the perfect person to help him uncover the truth about his uncle’s demise. But as proximity gives way to mutual seduction, Chase realizes he craves a much deeper alliance…

Rival investigators find love in Heiress for Hire. Madeline Hunter’s Duke’s Heiress trilogy is off to a strong start with Chase and Minerva’s book. It has mystery, romance, and engaging protagonists who make it easy to fall into the story.

Minerva is an excellent heroine who is easy to root for. The survivor of an abusive marriage, Minerva has made a new life for herself with the family she has made. She has also started an inquiry service and knows how to make use of her skills and others’ in a time when people would dismiss a woman such as her as an investigator. Chase is also an investigator, though he doesn’t need to do it for money. Chase is an honorable hero who is easy to love, though he questions himself because of some ghosts in his past. His latest case is close to heart; he’s looking into the death of his uncle, the duke of Hollinburgh, who he believes was murdered. He is also trying to track down three women to whom his uncle has left a fortune. Chase’s investigation put him right in the path of the first beneficiary, Minerva.

Sparks fly from the start between them, but the romance is a slow burn one. Minerva carries scars from her brutal first husband and Chase is sensitive to her needs, fears, and always puts the choice in her hands. There’s a struggle between Chase wanting to be protective and Minerva wanting her independence, but it’s not played for false drama and these are organic bumps on the road toward happily ever after. The two of them suit each other perfectly, both in business and in bed. I enjoyed watching them open up and learn to trust one another with their pasts, secrets, and fears. Their love story builds from a foundation of mutual respect, understanding, and lust and it was a joy to watch unfold.

Heiress for Hire is the first in the Duke’s Heiress trilogy and I cannot wait to see what Ms. Hunter has in store for the next two heiresses. There are a few mysteries in this book, among them the questions of who murdered Chase’s uncle and why did Hollinburgh leave Minerva a fortune. I enjoyed watching Chase and Minerva work through the various mysteries, each in their own investigative style. The question of who murdered Hollinburgh and why looks to be a mystery that will span the trilogy, but there are very interesting suspects and the puzzle pieces laid out in this book are sure to keep me interested in the next two. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Heiress for Hire and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in the Duke’s Heiress series.


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, April 21, 2020

Review: Close Up by Amanda Quick

Close Up by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove, Book 4
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9781984806840
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Welcome to Burning Cove, California where 1930s Hollywood glamour conceals a ruthless killer…

Vivian Brazier never thought life as an art photographer would include nightly wake-up calls to snap photos of grisly crime scenes or headshots for aspiring male actors. Although she is set on a career of transforming photography into a new art form, she knows her current work is what’s paying the bills.

After shooting crime scene photos of a famous actress, the latest victim of the murderer the press has dubbed the “Dagger Killer,” Vivian notices eerie similarities to the crime scenes of previous victims—details that only another photographer would have noticed—details that put Vivian at the top of the killer’s target list.

Nick Sundridge has always been able to “see” things that others don’t, coping with disturbing dreams and visions. His talent, or as he puts it—his curse—along with his dark past makes him a recluse, but a brilliant investigator. As the only one with the ability to help, Nick is sent to protect Vivian. Together, they discover the Dagger Killer has ties to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood royalty and high society. It is a cutthroat world of allure and deception that Vivian and Nick must traverse—all in order to uncover the killer who will stop at nothing to add them to their gallery of murders.

Amanda Quick perfectly balances flash and glam with secrets and murder in Close Up. I adore the rich, atmospheric world of the Burning Cove series and it was oh-so-easy to fall into Vivian and Nick’s story.

Vivian Brazier has the boldness of a Katharine Hepburn character. She left her family’s wealth behind in order to make it as a successful artist in the modern style. Vivian freelances as a crime scene photographer to pay the bills and struggles with casual sexism, the bias in favor of traditional art, and hiding her crime scene photography job so that she’s taken seriously as an artist. I enjoyed this so much that I could easily have read a book just on Vivian’s photography career. Vivian truly sees people when she photographs them and her slightly supernatural sight makes her great at what she does. It also puts her in the crosshairs of the “Dagger Killer” when she picks up on details at a crime scene that the police missed. Protection comes in the form of Nick Sundridge and his dog, Rex. Rex is quite the scene-stealer, but his owner can hold his own. Nick has a supernatural skill of his own that includes callback to Ms. Quick’s Arcane Society series. The handsome private investigator has lucid dreams that help him solve cases, though some would see the dreams as a curse. It will take both Nick and Vivian’s skills – plus the help of some Burning Cove series favorites – in order to catch a killer.

Close Up is heavy on the suspense and I enjoyed the twists and turns the story took. That doesn’t mean Ms. Quick neglected the romance; in fact, it works really well. Both Vivian and Nick have had rocky relationships in their past (Nick in particular) but it’s clear they are made for each other. They are understanding, nonjudgmental, and supportive of one another. They also have an easy chemistry that makes watching their love story unfold a delight.

Close Up is the fourth book in the Burning Cove series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. As with every book in this series, I love the world Ms. Quick has created. Glamour hiding a seedy underbelly is often a theme and it’s an enjoyable one. Lush, engaging, and with mysteries and a romance that satisfy, I thoroughly enjoyed Close Up and I cannot wait to return to Burning Cove.


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 20, 2020

Review: #VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE by Nicole Byer

#VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE: The Fat Girl's Guide to Being #Brave and Not a Dejected, Melancholy, Down-in-the-Dumps Weeping Fat Girl in a Bikini by Nicole Byer
Photographs by Kim Newmoney

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Autobiography
ISBN: 9781524850746
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

The actress, comedian, and podcaster extraordinaire’s guide to being a #brave, bikini-wearing badass.

If you’ve ever seen a fat person post a bikini shot on social media, you already know that they are #verybrave, because apparently existing in a fat body in public is #brave. I, Nicole Byer, wrote this book to 1. share my impressive bikini collection and my hot body with the world and 2. help other people feel #brave by embracing their body as it is. In this book, I share my journey to becoming #brave, give you my hot tips and tricks—on how to find the perfect bikini, how to find your own #bravery, and how to handle haters—and serve you over 100 bikini looks.

Nicole Byer is the main reason I watch Netflix’s Nailed It! and I love her sense of humor, so of course I jumped on the opportunity to review this book. #VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE is funny, honest, and #brave all rolled together with over one hundred photos of Ms. Byer rockin’ different bikinis.

Any fat person knows that showing even a little bit of skin on the internet makes you either #brave or subject to relentless trolling (or both). Ms. Byer gives the middle finger to haters in this book and shares her journey to being #brave and embracing her love of bikinis. I loved Ms. Byer’s snark, sass, and refreshing honesty when it comes to finding the courage to love yourself, live your life how you want to, and deal with the haters who feel the need to comment on your body. I may not be ready to be #brave like Ms. Byer, but I definitely finished this book with a better mindset.

Most of the book consists of photos and they are gorgeously done. Ms. Byer doesn’t just look great in the photos; Kim Newmoney captures her spirit as well. All in all, #VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE is a funny and emotionally honest book that encourages people to be #brave and screw the haters.


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, April 18, 2020

Review: The Virgin and the Rogue by Sophie Jordan

The Virgin and the Rogue by Sophie Jordan
Series: The Rogue Files, Book 6
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9780062885449
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A love potion…
Charlotte Langley has always been the prudent middle sister, so her family is not surprised when she makes the safe choice and agrees to wed her childhood sweetheart. But when she finds herself under the weather and drinks a “healing” tonic, the potion provokes the most maddening desire…for someone other than her betrothed.

With the power…
Kingston’s rakehell ways are going to destroy him and he’s vowed to change. His stepbrother’s remote estate is just the place for a reformed rogue to hide. The last thing he wants is to be surrounded by society, but when he gets stuck alone with a wallflower who is already betrothed... and she astonishes him with a fiery kiss, he forgets all about hiding.

To alter two destinies.
Although Charlotte appears meek, Kingston soon discovers there’s a vixen inside, yearning to break free. Unable to forget their illicit moment of passion, Kingston vows to relive the encounter, but Charlotte has sworn it will never happen again—no matter how earth-shattering it was. But will a devilish rogue tempt her to risk everything for a chance at true love?

The Virgin and the Rogue is a fast-paced romance with a bit of an old school historical romance feel. It begins with Charlotte accidentally being dosed with an aphrodisiac, leading to a heated encounter with Kingston, the stepbrother of Charlotte’s brother-in-law. Kingston is shocked by this and though he doesn’t stop Charlotte’s actions, he doesn’t take advantage of her either. I struggled with this part of the story because – while I can see author Sophie Jordan likely intended the “tonic” to be a device to open Charlotte’s eyes to her true wants and needs – the way it played out felt uncomfortable to me. An aphrodisiac that effectively takes over Charlotte made her first sexual encounter with Kingston unpalatable to me, though I think the intent was for the scene to be sexy. This all happens in the beginning of the story so it’s not a spoiler and I give the detail more so people know what they’re getting into with this book.

Troubling beginning aside, The Virgin and the Rogue is an OK romance. Charlotte was a rather insipid heroine hiding behind a bland engagement, her role as the “boring” sister, and the excuse that she was dosed with an aphrodisiac. She finds her voice over the course of the story, but it’s not the most interesting voice out there and it takes her quite some time to be honest with herself. Charlotte is, in a word, unobjectionable. Kingston is the more interesting of the pair; a reformed rogue who is at loose ends when the story begins. Kingston is the illegitimate son of an earl and a courtesan and watching his mother waste away and his father continue his hedonistic lifestyle without any care has left a big impact on him. I liked Kingston and wished we delved further into his character and his tense relationship with his stepbrother than we did. Kingston is a good mix of gentleman and rogue and he brings Charlotte out of her shell. Their romance is push-pull and felt a bit shallow at times, but I liked where they ended up.

I had major issues with The Virgin and the Rogue, but it was by no means a bad book. Ms. Jordan has an engaging writing style and the pages of the story practically flew by. Charlotte just wasn’t the heroine for me and the initial premise of the story made me uncomfortable in a way the author probably did not intend. Still, I will happily read the next Rogue Files book, The Duke Effect, because Charlotte’s scientist sister Nora was utterly fascinating and I cannot wait to see what Ms. Jordan has in store for her.


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, April 16, 2020

Review: Shift Out of Luck by Abigail Owen

Shift Out of Luck by Abigail Owen
Series: Brimstone Inc., Book 2
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781682815984
Release Date: April 20, 2020
Source: Publisher/Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

The Montagues and Capulets have nothing on the Canis and Banes wolf packs. The two have been feuding for ages. The brutal murder of the Banes’ alpha only added fuel to the fire. And now there’s only one way to bring peace—the current alphas of each pack, Marrok and Tala, need a mating of convenience.

Tala has her doubts. A thousand of them.

Never mind that Marrok drives her body to levels of desire her vibrator has trouble keeping up with. If she can’t get her inner wolf—or her people—on board, forget peace, because she'll lose the tenuous control she has over the Canis pack. Her new mate is just so damn alpha. He’d better learn to play nice or Tala will have to show him who’s boss.

But Marrok has plans of his own, and nothing and no one, not even Tala herself, can resist an alpha…

*This novella was previously self published as The Worse for Were but has undergone a complete re-edit. Scenes were added, things were changed, but the kissing still remains!

Shift Out of Luck is a seriously sexy, wholly engaging read. There is no sophomore slump in the Brimstone Inc. series; Tala and Marrok’s story was impossible for me to put down.

The Canis and Banes shifter packs have been locked in a violent feud for ages. Alphas Tala and Marrok are determined to find a way to bring peace, so they agree to a mating of convenience. Only there is nothing convenient about the fire that burns between them. Tala and Marrok are hot as hell together and suit each other perfectly. It’s clear to see that they’re made for each other, but it’s not easy when two alphas mate. Their mating didn’t wipe out the animosity between their packs and Tala in particular is being hit by the blowback from her pack. Issues of dominance, equality, and power make things hard for Tala and Marrok and I liked that they had to really work for their happily ever after. Marrok in particular has something to learn about stepping back when all he wants to do is protect his mate. His mistakes don’t come from a place of sexism, which I appreciated, but nevertheless I could understand why Tala was so frustrated.

Tala and Marrok have a sizzling chemistry that makes Shift Out of Luck seriously addictive. Author Abigail Owen makes it so easy to root for Tala and Marrok as they work toward their happily ever after. There is no false drama in this book, which I really appreciated, only logical obstacles that are anything but easy to overcome. Tala and Marrok’s sense of duty, honor, and loyalty combined with their fierceness and caring made them fantastic protagonists. And when you add that in to an engrossing, sexy love story…well, it’s easy to see why I adored this book. I cannot wait to see what comes 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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Review: Eating Vegan by Dianne Wenz

Eating Vegan: A Plant-Based Cookbook for Beginners by Dianne Wenz
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Genre: Cookbook
ISBN: 9781646117543
Release Date: April 14, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Your favorite foods made vegan—75 simple, plant-based recipes

If you’ve been considering going vegan but fear missing out on flavor, here’s some good news. Eating Vegan is packed with 75 mouthwatering vegan recipes that are simple to make and includes a starter guide to plant-based eating. Of all the vegan cookbooks, this is the one that seasoned vegans wish they’d had in the beginning.

Try plant-powered dishes inspired by familiar favorites, including French Toast and Baked Ziti. You’ll find nutritional information with every recipe, plus first-timer tips to help you get the most out of your meals. If you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet, this standout among vegan cookbooks makes it easy.

All vegan cookbooks should include:

• Starter meal plans—Begin with one plant-based meal per day and work up to all three with meal plans that make adopting veganism painless.
• Your vegan kitchen—Learn about plant-based staples to have on hand, from tofu to nutritional yeast.
• Fundamental foods—Unlike some other vegan cookbooks, this one offers techniques for cooking foundational foods like beans, lentils, grains, and tofu.

When it comes to vegan cookbooks that provide easy and delicious plant-based recipes, Eating Vegan is a step above the rest.

Eating Vegan is a great starter cookbook for anyone looking to incorporate vegan meals into their lifestyle. If you’re worried about an author coming across as preachy, then Dianne Wenz is here to set you at ease. She’s got an easy, non-judgmental way of writing and a touch of humor when it comes to preconceived notions about vegans.

There are no hard-to-find, high-end, or artificial ingredients in Eating Vegan, which I really appreciated. Instead you’ll find plant-based alternatives to classic recipes that will please the palates of dedicated vegans and non-vegans looking to diversify their meals. There are a lot of meals I couldn’t try because of specific food allergies I have, but everything in here looks simple and easy. This cookbook won’t blow you out of the water, but it’s useful, practical, easy to follow, has good tips and quick allergy information, and the recipes I’ve tried taste good. For me that’s everything I need for a cookbook to be a staple in my kitchen.


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, March 31, 2020

Review: Highland Conquest by Heather McCollum

Highland Conquest by Heather McCollum
Series: Sons of Sinclair, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781640637474
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Cain Sinclair has a plan. In order to finally bring peace to his clan, he will wed the young female chief of their greatest enemy. Only problem: capturing her and forcing her back to Sinclair castle doesn’t exactly make her want to say yes. Ella Sutherland may be clever, passionate, and shockingly beautiful, but what she isn’t is willing.

Every attempt Cain makes to woo her seems to backfire on him. A gift? The kitten practically claws his eyes out. A competitive game of chess? Even when he wins, he loses. It seems the only time the two ever see eye to eye is when they’re heating up Cain’s bed. Still, the only thing Ella truly wants is the one thing he cannot offer her: freedom.

But when Cain discovers she’s been harboring a secret—one that could threaten both clans’ very existence—he’ll have to decide between peace for the Sinclairs or the woman who’s captured his heart.

Two strong, clever heads of opposing clans are the perfect match on and off the battlefield in Highland Conquest. Heather McCollum has kicked off her Sons of Sinclair with an engaging enemies-to-lovers tale.

Cain Sinclair was raised to be a conqueror. After the death of Cain’s mother, his father raised his sons to be the biblical Four Horseman, determined to see the Sinclairs rule a united Scotland. As the new chief of the Sinclair clan, Cain’s first order of business is to take over the holdings and people of their enemies, the Sutherlands. When he captures Ella Sutherland, the Sutherlands’ chief, Cain decides marrying her and absorbing her clan would be the best and most peaceful solution. Only Ella has no intention of submitting and giving away the birthright she’s held onto. It’s the perfect stage for a battle of wills, mostly because Cain and Ella are perfect for each other. If their clans weren’t warring, their love story would be a simple one. But duty and family are heavy burdens for each to bear.

Cain and Ella are strong, honorable characters who have their work cut out for them. Cain is trying to not only do right by his clan, but to live up to the legend his father wanted him to be. Ella was raised by a monster and has spent her life protecting others. Cain and Ella are easy to like and they have wonderful chemistry. Cain’s wooing and Ella’s escape attempts bring a liveliness and energy to what would could otherwise be a heavy book. There is a core of respect to the romance that I really enjoyed. And though Ella is Cain’s captive, there is expressed consent when things turn carnal. Everything about Cain and Ella’s romance worked and I was rooting for them to find a way to get their happily ever after. Both have hard choices to make throughout the story and sometimes the easiest road isn’t what’s best or what’s right for the one you’re coming to love and the people you hold dear.

Highland Conquest is the first book in the Sons of Sinclair series and I finished it looking forward to more. In particular, I cannot wait to see what Ms. McCollum has in store for the youngest brother, Bàs.


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, March 24, 2020

Review: Home with You by Liza Kendall

Home with You by Liza Kendall
Series: Silverlake Ranch, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780593098028
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Anything is possible in Silverlake, Texas when love takes the reins…

Rhett Braddock swore to himself that he'd never return to Silverlake. But when the opportunity arises to buy a piece of his lost, happier youth, he's drawn to the community--and the family--he once loved. Mending fences might not be as hard as he thought--until he ends up in bed with his best friend's sister.

Julianna Holt is over Rhett Braddock. So what if he's a self-made billionaire? His less than flattering dash the morning after they spent the night together made it clear he wants nothing to do with her. Besides, she has her horses and the Holt stables to save.

So when Rhett buys the Holt property as a favor to her brother, Jules makes him feel as welcome as a skunk at a garden party…but is it possible that Rotten Rhett isn’t so rotten after all? Or is the Texas heat melting her resolve to hate him?

I adored Liza Kendall’s first Silverlake Ranch book, Walk Me Home, so I couldn’t wait to see what the authors had in store for the billionaire Braddock brother, Everett. I eagerly dove into Home with You ready to fall in love with Rhett and Jules. The good news is, I did love Rhett. The bad news? I didn’t love his story or the woman he fell in love with.

To start things on a positive note, Rhett was far more endearing than I thought he’d be, given the way his siblings talked about him in the previous book. After the death of his parents, Rhett was forced to leave Silverlake and attend a boarding school in order to capitalize on his brilliant mind and set him up for success. Unfortunately no one ever asked Rhett what he wanted, which was to be at home with his remaining family and become a rodeo cowboy. Still, Rhett became a glowing success, a self-made billionaire who uses his wealth and status as armor. He’s smart, hardworking, and super sexy, but also quite vulnerable. It was easy to fall in love with Rhett. Is he perfect? No. But his mistakes come from an honest place of trying to do right by everyone, even if sometimes misunderstands what the right thing to do is.

One of the things Rhett does is return to Silverlake and buy Holt Stables as a favor to his best friend, Grady, and his family. Only no one told Julianna Holt, Grady’s sister and Rhett’s one night stand that went horribly wrong the morning after. Jules is furious that her dream of one day taking over the family business has been shattered, even though she’s guaranteed a lifetime job as manager. I understood why she was furious at first because her parents and brother treat her like a child and don’t listen to her ideas for the stables. The problem is, the longer the book went on the more I realized that maybe the Holt family treats Jules like a child because she acts like one. She’s selfish, rude, and can’t even be bothered to take care of basic things all other adults do, like buy necessities. I gave Jules a lot of leeway to begin with (1) because of her history with Rhett and (2) I don’t mind deeply flawed characters so long as they grow. To me, Jules never grew as a character. The only time she considered anyone other than herself was when her aunt advised her, but even that was problematic. Her aunt Sue has a terrible and tragic backstory that has made her cynical and though that’s completely understandable, Jules should be aware enough not to follow Sue’s advice. Honestly, Jules’s love of animals was pretty much her only redeeming quality.

The romance between Jules and Rhett is a struggle for me to believe. I don’t understand why he falls for her and there’s a plot twist you can see coming that was aggravating because it forces their hands rather than requiring them to act like adults and come together naturally. There was so much false drama and quite a bit of sexism coming from secondary characters that I grew frustrated. I hate to say it, but I finished Home with You feeling like Rhett would be better off without Jules. Perhaps if they had spent some actual time as a couple their love story would have been more believable. Instead, it felt like their happy ending was shoved in at the end in a rather tone-deaf way given the incredibly emotional, heartbreaking scene that preceded it.

Despite the fact that Home with You made me angry at some points, I’m still looking forward to reading more Silverlake Ranch novels. There were things I enjoyed about this book: Rhett repairing his relationship with his siblings, his love for his old horse that made me cry buckets, and I do like the authors’ writing. But this book simply wasn’t my cup of tea and I wish Rhett had been given a more satisfying love story.


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.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Review: Dictatorship of the Dress by Jessica Topper

Dictatorship of the Dress by Jessica Topper
Series: Much “I Do” About Nothing, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780425276259
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

As the dress-bearer for her mother’s wedding, Laney Hudson has a lot more baggage than the bulky garment bag she’s lugging from New York to Hawaii. Laney is determined to prove she’s capable of doing something right, but running chores for her mom’s fairytale nuptials is proving to be a painfully constant reminder of her own lost love.

So when she’s mistaken for the bride and bumped up to first class, Laney figures some stress-free luxury is worth a harmless white lie. Until the flight crew thinks that the man sitting next to her is Laney’s groom, and her little fib turns into a hot mess.

The last thing Noah Ridgewood needs is some dress-obsessed diva landing in his first-class row. En route to his Vegas bachelor party, the straight-laced software designer knows his cold feet have nothing to do with the winter weather.

When a severe storm leaves them grounded in Chicago and they find themselves booked into the last available honeymoon suite, Laney and her in-flight neighbor have little choice but to get better acquainted. Now, as her bridal mission hangs in the balance, perhaps the thing Laney gets right is a second chance at love.

Air travel is unpleasant on a good day, so having travel plans go awry isn’t the scenario you’d think of for a classic “meet-cute.” Yet that’s exactly what happens in the utterly charming Dictatorship of the Dress. Jessica Topper’s first Much “I Do” About Nothing is a fast-paced, engaging read featuring two loveable characters brought together by chance.

Laney and Noah were so easy to adore. Laney is a former comic book artist and she’s so creative and fun that I wish she were real just so we could be friends. She’s had a hard time lately after losing a loved one, not to mention the pain and hardship that lead up to that loss (if I’m being vague, it’s to avoid spoilers). She also has a tumultuous relationship with her mother and being the dress bearer for her mother’s wedding (not to mention having her travel plans go awry) is bringing those family problems to the forefront. Laney is a wonderful mix of vibrancy and vulnerability and I so wanted her to get a happily ever after of her own. And Noah… Oh, Tech-Boy. He’s in over his head with a fiancée he doesn’t love who is constantly changing wedding plans without his consent, stomping over his feelings, and having her dear daddy try and bully him. Noah comes across as straight-laced, but meeting Laney opens him up, helps him find the person he was that has been lost over time. The two of them seem like opposites, but they fit so incredibly well. Their romance was so fun to watch unfold and I practically devoured Dictatorship of the Dress because I couldn’t wait to see how things would work out for them.

One thing I was concerned about going into Dictatorship of the Dress was the possible cheating element and I’m sure that’s a concern for others. Noah is engaged and his fiancée being a total nightmare (which she is) isn’t an excuse to cheat in my book. Fortunately it isn’t in Noah’s either. I can’t say how things play out or I’ll spoil the whole story, but suffice it to say Ms. Topper makes it work perfectly.

Dictatorship of the Dress is both tons of fun and deeply emotional. What other story would give you moving past grief, finding love, and encounters with a pack of Elvii? I adored this book from beginning to end.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Review: Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
Series: Modern Love, Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062878137
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings < eyes emoji >

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!


One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a random guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire encounter with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae has the world swooning. Going viral isn't easy for anyone, but Katrina has painstakingly built a private world for herself, far from her traumatic past. Besides, everyone has it all wrong...that #CafeBae bro? He isn't the man she's hungry for.

He's got a < peach emoji > to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina's ever seen, offers his family's farm as a refuge. Alone with her unrequited crush feels like a recipe for hopeless longing, but Katrina craves the escape. She's resigned to being just friends with Jas--until they share a single electrifying kiss. Now she can't help but wonder if her crush may not be so unrequited after all…

Girl Gone Viral is a genuinely sweet romance with two protagonists so kind and giving that you can’t help but be swept into their love story. The beginning of this book is familiar if you remember the “Plane Bae” viral phenomenon in 2018, where someone grossly violated the privacy of her neighbors on a plane by tweeting out their interactions, reporting on what they said, speculating on their actions, and generally weaving a story without their knowledge or consent and feeding it to Twitter. In Girl Gone Viral a similar situations happens to former model Katrina King and it’s horrible. Katrina has anxiety and a panic disorder and she’s worked hard to build a life where she feels safe going to even a few places without worry. She guards her privacy and with good reason, so it was even more heartbreaking to watch that privacy be violated when she speaks to a handsome stranger in a café. After someone live tweets the interaction (and makes up some things to go along with it) and it goes viral, Katrina feels the need to get away. Her bodyguard (and longtime crush with amazing eyebrows), Jas Singh, sweeps Katrina off to his family farm in Northern California… And that’s where things get really interesting.

Katrina and Jas are so kind and self-sacrificing that they trip over themselves trying to give the other what they want. It’s incredibly sweet, but their wariness and caution have also kept each from revealing their true feelings to the other. Getting out of their normal routine may just be the push these two cinnamon rolls need to take a risk and let their feelings show. Author Alisha Rai takes what would otherwise be a fairly straightforward romance and gives it depth and breadth by introducing real-world issues into the story. As previously mentioned, Katrina has a panic disorder. I love that she’s so matter-of-fact in how she copes and how Jas interacts with her in the midst of an attack. Mental health problems can’t be cured, only managed and I appreciated that it wasn’t sensationalized but that we see how Katrina builds her world around her to accommodate her needs without shame. Jas also has very real-world issues to face in this story. The military veteran suffers from PTSD and he struggles with communicating and asking for what he needs, even when he’s among those who love and care for him. Add in family drama for both heroes and you have a very full story, but Ms. Rai weaves everything together effortlessly.

From the start of Girl Gone Viral it’s clear that Jas and Katrina are in love with each other, but their actual romance is slow to burn. I do wish I had seen more of them together once they were romantically linked, but it wasn’t too big an issue for me because they operated as a team so well from the start of the book. I really enjoyed Jas and Katrina’s romance and I know I keep using the word “sweet” but it fits them perfectly (even when things get spicy). Girl Gone Viral feels modern in every way, but there’s a timeless quality to the gentleness and quiet strength of Jas and Katrina’s characters that means this book will be enjoyable for years to come.


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, March 17, 2020

Review: Badger to the Bone by Shelly Laurenston

Badger to the Bone by Shelly Laurenston
Series: The Honey Badger Chronicles, Book 3
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781496714404
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

She’s the woman he’s been hired to kidnap. But ZeZé Vargas has other ideas… like getting them both out of this nightmare alive. Just one problem. She’s crazy. Certifiably. Because while he’s plotting their escape, the petite Asian beauty is plotting something much more deadly…

Max “Kill It Again” MacKilligan has no idea what one of her own is doing with all these criminal humans until she realizes that Zé has no idea who or what he is. Or exactly how much power he truly has.

But Max is more than happy to bring this handsome jaguar shifter into her world and show him everything he’s been missing out on. A move that might be the dumbest thing she’s ever done once she realizes how far her enemies will go to wipe her out. Too bad for them Zé is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her alive . . . and honey badgers are just so damn hard to kill!

Return to the weird and wonderful world of Shelly Laurenston’s Honey Badgers Chronicles with Badger to the Bone. Max’s book is a rip-roarin’ ride that’s a whole lot of fun, even though there are a lot of missed opportunities.

Badger to the Bone is Max’s story and for those who have read Hot and Badgered and In a Badger Way (which I recommend doing before reading this book) Max was the borderline sociopath MacKilligan sister. I was curious how Ms. Laurenston would turn her into a heroine without doing a character lobotomy. The answer is a bit of a mixed bag. Max is still deadly and full of attitude, but she’s no sociopath. She has previously unknown deep and longstanding friendships beyond her sisters and her best friend Dutch. She’s also far more stable and if not well-adjusted, then the closest approximation you’d find in this world. Because I’ve read the previous two Honey Badger books I found the lack of consistency in her character jarring, as Max didn’t so much grow as a character or reveal hidden layers as suddenly have those layers appear because it suited the story. In terms of storytelling, it felt like some shortcuts were taken. But that doesn’t mean I disliked Max – far from it. She’s violent and crazy, but also fun and caring.

A mad MacKilligan needs an unflappable hero, and ZeZé Vargas was a delicious one. Zé has no idea he’s a shifter at the beginning of the book so watching him discover this part of himself he never knew was a delight. Zé is so catlike it was hilarious and I can’t count the number of times he made me laugh. I really liked Zé and Max together, but their romance did feel at first underplayed and then rushed. I wish it had developed more organically. I also wish Zé had played a bigger role in the events of the story, but he was mostly an observer which was a pity.

There are a number of plots to be tied up in Badger to the Bone and a host of familiar faces from both this series and the Pride series show up to play a part. I can’t say much without spoiling things, but I did enjoy watching everything come together. If I had one issue it was that Max and Zé were distanced from many resolutions, which was a bit frustrating. I wanted them to be more important to their own story than they were.

Badger to the Bone is a difficult book to put a star rating on. There were so many missed opportunities that I am saddened by. However, I had a genuinely wonderful time reading this book. It was fast-paced, funny, and totally bonkers – I loved reading it. Ultimately this book is like cotton candy: thoroughly enjoyable but missing substance. But hey, who doesn’t like cotton candy once in a while?


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, March 16, 2020

Review: Matzah Ball Surprise by Laura Brown

Matzah Ball Surprise by Laura Brown
Publisher: Entangled: Lovestruck
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781682815427
Release Date: March 16, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

This Passover is starting to feel like the ten plagues might be coming back to haunt them before the weekend is over…one hilarious misstep after the next.

Gaby Fineberg just wants to get through Passover Seder without her “well meaning” family playing matchmaker. She needs a date, just for one simple meal—that includes singing, the history of her forefathers, and not one bit of yeast. The hot guy at her gym would be perfect. He probably hates bread, anyway, with a body like that. But when she finally works up the nerve to ask him...he doesn’t hear a word she said.

Levi Miller is deaf and happily single. Initially, he doesn’t know why this beautiful woman is talking to him, but it’s clear she needs help—and suddenly so does he. In a very complicated situation, Levi finds a simple solution. Gaby will pretend to be his new girlfriend to bail him out, and he’ll return the favor. But he didn’t bargain for a family dinner quite like this one…

Matzah Ball Surprise is a bright and fun romance that will make you smile. I admit I picked up this book simply because I’ve never read a romance set during Passover and I was thrilled to see one out there. I’m so glad I did, because Gaby and Levi are endearing characters and their love story is delightful.

I have been in Gaby’s place at Passover, so I totally sympathize with her wanting a fake boyfriend to play buffer against a well-meaning family. Gaby is a vibrant, colorful character who absolutely hates change (something I also sympathize with). She isn’t perfect, but she’s got a genuinely good heart and is on guard against being lied to because she’s been hurt before. Asking the hunky guy at her gym to be her fake date may have been a spontaneous act, but it was the best thing she could have done for herself. Levi is a sensitive, caring hero who will make you swoon. He’s a Deaf Studies teacher and is deaf himself, so he is patient and understanding while teaching Gaby how to communicate. Levi has his own family issues and an ex-fiancé who is making things complicated for him. Because he tries so hard to take care of everybody, Levi makes mistakes. But they’re mistakes that come from being too nice and giving a person, so you really can’t hold that against him. Gaby and Levi’s whirlwind romance is sweet and enjoyable, though there is some unwanted drama I could see coming due to the aforementioned ex-fiancé that I didn’t quite love. Still, they made Levi and Gaby made a wonderful couple and I liked their romance overall.

What makes Matzah Ball Surprise stand out are two things author Laura Brown weaves into the story incredibly well: (1) Passover and (2) two strangers – one hearing and one deaf – learning to communicate. It’s clear on both topics Ms. Brown knows what she’s talking about and the story is the richer for it. Both protagonists are Jewish, which I loved (it’s surprisingly rare to find this) and Ms. Brown does a fantastic job of showing Passover traditions, adding layers by portraying not only characters who keep Passover but those who are more lax. There are a number of things that felt incredibly real to me, but you absolutely do not have to be Jewish to enjoy this story. As for Levi and Gaby learning to communicate, this was incredibly well done. Gaby doesn’t pick up ASL overnight and it’s eye-opening for her how many things hearing people take for granted or do and are unaware that it excludes deaf people. Levi has grown up with a family who easily communicates with him and he has plenty of deaf friends. I appreciated his patience and instructiveness and found it added a lot to the story. There is a richness and a depth to this otherwise fluffy story that comes from injecting realness into the fantasy. All in all, Matzah Ball Surprise is a fun contemporary romance that – unlike matzah itself – is thoroughly enjoyable.


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, March 9, 2020

Review: Love Around the Corner by Amanda Weaver

Love Around the Corner by Amanda Weaver
Series: The Romano Sisters, Book 3
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781488054013
Release Date: March 9, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Carina Press

The last thing Gemma Romano needs right now is her first love coming back home. She’s trying to keep her family’s bar from being bought up and developed into some glass eyesore, just like all the other family businesses in her beloved Brooklyn neighborhood.

Like it or not, she’s in charge of the Romano legacy, and she can’t afford to risk it—or her heart—on Brendan Flaherty. Not now and not ever again.

Brendan’s old neighborhood is changing fast, but some things are still the same. Gemma’s as devoted to her family, her neighbors, and the bar as she’s always been. And she’s still the one woman he can’t seem to forget.

Gemma’s determined to steer clear of Brendan at first. Not only did he break her teenage heart, but now he’s grown up to be a property developer—he’s the enemy. Staying away from him would be a lot easier if she didn’t find him so infuriatingly attractive. Their chemistry still burns as bright as it ever did. But their painful past is still there, too, and Gemma’s not sure she’s ready to risk her dreams, her business, or her heart on Brendan a second time.

I adore a good second chance romance and Love Around the Corner hits all the right notes. Gemma and Brendan’s story is chock full of emotion; love, fear, hope, distrust, and the terrifying sensation of taking a risk for a chance at something more all blend together wonderfully to create a satisfying romance.

Since the death of her mother, Gemma Romano’s focus has been on her family. She’s never truly allowed herself to dream, instead putting all her time and effort into making sure her sisters succeed and that she keeps the family bar running. The only moments she stole for herself were fourteen years ago when she lost her heart to – and then had it broken by – Brendan Flaherty. Gemma is sometimes a prickly heroine, but she’s easy to like and respect. She works so hard to keep her beloved family bar up and running, but times and her section of Brooklyn are changing and old fashioned bars simply aren’t drawing in new customers. I hated watching her struggle, especially when it’s clear she’s doing it out of a combination of love, fear of letting go, and a sense of responsibly, rather than true passion. I wanted to see her spread her wings, to take a chance on herself and her incredible talent in the kitchen.

Gemma is forced the face the music when Brendan comes back into town. Her first love is all grown up and hotter than ever, but he’s also a property developer – aka the enemy. Of course, Brendan isn’t the bad guy she wants to paint him as. Like Gemma, he’s done what he’s had to do to support his family from far too young an age. It was easy to adore Brendan, especially when he was so clearly head-over-heels for Gemma. They may not have been equipped to handle the curveballs thrown at them as teens, but those times serve as a solid foundation for their second chance at love. Ms. Weaver does an excellent job at conveying the depth of emotion that time, distance, and hurt feelings couldn’t break down. It’s clear Gemma and Brendan are one of those couple that are simply meant to be, even if Gemma is resistant and afraid to risk her heart.

Love Around the Corner is the third book in the Romano Sisters trilogy, but as I haven’t yet read The One I Love to Hate or Love and the Laws of Motion I can safely say this book stands on its own. That being said, after enjoying the family dynamic so much in this story I will definitely be picking up Jess and Livie’s books. Familial love is just as important to Love Around the Corner as the romance and it makes Gemma and Brendan’s world all the warmer for it. I truly enjoyed Gemma and Brendan’s book. It’s heartwarming, sexy, vibrant, and hopeful.


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.