Saturday, February 29, 2020

Review: Murder at Pirate’s Cove by Josh Lanyon

Murder at Pirate’s Cove by Josh Lanyon
Series: Secrets and Scrabble, Book 1
Publisher: JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.
Genre: Male/Male Mystery
ASIN: B0826X61C9
Release Date: February 29, 2020
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo
Josh Lanyon Reading Order

Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he's inherited both a failing bookstore and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate's Cove on Buck Island, Rhode Island, it’s full steam ahead!

Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though probably as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there's that little drawback of finding rival bookseller--and head of the unwelcoming-committee--Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration.

Still, it could be worse. And once Police Chief Carson learns Trevor was killed with the cutlass hanging over the door of Ellery's bookstore, it is.

A quaint seaside town with picturesque streets, adorably-named shops, and pirate-themed celebrations…Pirate’s Cove is practically made for a postcard. It’s exactly the kind of change New York screenwriter Ellery Page needs. Well, it was until a dead body shows up in his newly-inherited bookstore. Ellery is having a hard enough time saving the failing bookstore and trying to keep the crumbling mansion he’s also inherited from falling down around his ears, so being accused of murder is almost enough to make him want to run screaming back to the city. If he wants to make a go of it in Pirate’s Cove, Ellery will need to think like the detectives in the books he sells and – much to the consternation of handsome the police chief Jack Carson – discover who is trying to frame him before time runs out.

Murder at Pirate’s Cove is a delightful cozy mystery with interesting characters and a quirky town I can’t wait come back to. I admit, cozy mysteries aren’t my usual fare but I love Josh Lanyon’s writing so of course I wanted to give this a try. I’m so glad I did, for this book was a fast-paced, fun, and completely addictive.

Ellery isn’t a detective – heck, he doesn’t even read mysteries – but when someone’s trying to frame you for murder, you (at least in fiction) put on your deerstalker cap and get to work. Ellery has a bright, engaging personality that drew me in even when he’s at his most exhausted and frustrated. He’s also readers’ entree into the world of Pirate’s Cove with its cleverly named stores and gossipy residents. I enjoyed the bits of Pirate’s Cove that were introduced in this story and I cannot wait to learn more as the Secrets and Scrabble series goes on. The most intriguing character in Pirate’s Cove is its police chief, Jack Carson. We only get a taste of the real man behind the badge in this story, but oh, what a deliciously intriguing taste it is. There’s no romance in Murder at Pirate’s Cove, but the energy fairly crackles between Ellery and Jack and I can’t wait for the promise of what’s to come.

The question of who murdered the rather unlikable Trevor Maples is at the center of the story and the mystery itself is wholly engaging. I loved watching Ellery put everything together and Ms. Lanyon keeps the twists coming while still making it believable. Since this is a cozy mystery there is no on-page violence or sex, but even to a non-cozy reader like myself the book isn’t missing anything from the lack of it. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Murder at Pirate’s Cove and I cannot wait to learn more about Ellery, Jack, and the residents of Pirate’s Cove!

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.

Review: Bad Bachelor by Stefanie London

Bad Bachelor by Stefanie London
Series: Bad Bachelors, Book 1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781728213774
Paperback Reissue Date: March 3, 2020
Source: Publisher/Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Everybody's talking about the hot new app reviewing New York's most eligible bachelors. But why focus on prince charming when you can read the latest dirt on the lowest-ranked "Bad Bachelors"—NYC's most notorious bad boys.

If one more person mentions Bad Bachelors to Reed McMahon, someone's gonna get hurt. A PR whiz, Reed is known as an 'image fixer' but his womanizing ways have caught up with him. What he needs is a PR miracle of his own.

When Reed strolls into Darcy Greer's workplace offering to help save the struggling library, she isn't buying it. The prickly Brooklynite knows Reed is exactly the kind of guy she should avoid. But the library does need his help. But as she reluctantly works with Reed, she realizes there's more to a man than his reputation. Maybe, just maybe Bad Bachelor #1 is THE one for her.

Bad Bachelor is the kind of book I hate to stick a rating on. I absolutely loved the main characters, the romance, and Stefanie London’s writing. But the story also had some big drawbacks that kept me from falling in love with the book overall.

Let’s start with the good, shall we? I adored Reed and Darcy. Darcy is a librarian and the black sheep of her family. She’s hardworking and cares so much, which I absolutely loved. She’s also incredibly vulnerable between the contentious relationship with her mother and the way her engagement ended the day before she was supposed to be married. She has walls a mile high, but that’s nothing compared the walls Reed has around his heart. Reed is rich, polished, and a PR whiz. But no one sees the man beneath the glossy exterior…until Darcy. Reed has seriously deep old wounds he doesn’t allow anyone to see and they make him unwilling to open his heart and trust any woman. He’s dedicated to his job and being the best, not because of ego, but because the money allows him to care for his ailing father. Aside from wanting to push people away, Reed’s pretty much the perfect hero. He and Darcy are dynamite together and I loved watching them put together a fundraiser for her library. They’re a perfect match even though on the surface they seem nothing alike. The fact that they outwardly seem so different but inwardly have a lot in common is what makes them such an appealing couple. Their love story is easy to fall into and Ms. London makes it impossible not to root for them.

I adored Darcy and Reed so much that I hate to say anything bad about Bad Bachelor. However…the Bad Bachelors app plot was beyond aggravating. The Bad Bachelors app is – in essence – a Yelp review site of New York City’s bachelors. In a place as big as NYC, the number one “Bad Bachelor” isn’t a predator, criminal, abuser, liar, user, addict, cheater, or even someone who doesn’t tip well. No, it’s – brace yourself for the horror – a man who doesn’t want to commit. It’s necessary to roll with this premise or the entire book falls apart, so I knowingly went into this willing to suspend disbelief. The problem is, the more I saw Reed’s hard work being torn apart, his personal and professional reputation being shredded by this popular app, the more sour the taste in my mouth. The more the popularity of the app grew, the more it was like watching a good person be repeatedly kicked in the face not just by bitter and shallow exes, but workplace rivals and possibly internet trolls. The last bit is not altogether implausible, which makes it all the more depressing.

Bad Bachelor has good characters, an engaging and sexy romance, and a background plot that just left a bad taste in my mouth. Darcy’s two best friends, Remi and Annie, are featured in the next two Bad Bachelors books. I loathed Annie and will likely pass on her story, but I adored Remi and I love Ms. London’s writing so I will definitely be reading the next book in the Bad Bachelors series, Bad Reputation.

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.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Review: The Bachelor by Sabrina Jeffries

The Bachelor by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Duke Dynasty, Book 2
Publisher: Zebra
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781420148565
Release Date: February 25, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Sabrina Jeffries Reading Order

Lady Gwyn Drake has long protected her family’s reputation by hiding an imprudent affair from her youth. But when her former suitor appears at Armitage Hall, manhandling the heiress and threatening to go public with her secrets, it’s Gwyn who needs protecting. Her twin brother, Thorn, hires Joshua Wolfe, the estate’s gamekeeper, to keep her safe in London during her debut. As a war hero, Joshua feels obligated to fulfill the assignment he has accepted. But as a man, it’s torment to be so very close to the beauty he’s fought to ignore…

With handsome Joshua monitoring her every move, Gwyn would prefer to forget both the past and the parade of money-seeking bachelors at her coming out. But Joshua is unmoved by her attempts at flirtation, and the threat of blackmail still hangs over her. With danger closing in, Gwyn must decide which is the greater risk: deflecting a scoundrel’s attempts to sabotage her—or revealing her whole heart to the rugged bodyguard she can’t resist…

A vibrant lady and a wounded war hero are a match just waiting to happen in The Bachelor. After seeing sparks fly between Gwyn and Joshua in the first Duke Dynasty book, I couldn't wait to read their story. The result was a bit of a mixed bag for me.

At thirty, Gwyn would definitely be on the shelf (even as the daughter of a deceased duke and sister of three current dukes) if it weren’t for her fortune. But Gwyn has a secret she believes might keep her from the love she dreams of and when her past comes back to haunt her in the form of a blackmailing villain, it’s clear she’s in over her head. Help comes in the form of Joshua Wolfe, a wounded war hero determined to regain his position in the military even though he’s injured. Gwyn is bright and lively, but secretly vulnerable and Joshua is grumpy, hurting, and unhappy with his current place in the world. They’re clearly begging for a wonderful love story and I did like them together. Their romance ticked all the boxes, but there was a bit of the usual Sabrina Jeffries magic missing in their story.

Gwyn’s former suitor who is now blackmailing her adds an edge to the story. Malet is a villain worth loathing and I wanted to see Gwyn free of him. There’s an added twist to the Malet storyline to further draw Joshua into it that I’m not sure was absolutely necessary, but I was game to go along with it if only to see our protagonists bring Malet down. But the tension Malet brought to the story had nothing on the push-pull between Gwyn and Joshua. Joshua doesn’t want to be attracted to Gwyn and she doesn’t care for it when he runs hot and cold. Class differences aren’t really an issue; Joshua may be the impoverished cousin of a duke, but since that duke is Gwyn’s half-brother (and Joshua’s sister is married to one of Gwyn’s other half-brothers) nobody has to worry about their family approving of the match. And speaking of their muddled family tree, the family dynamics at play in The Bachelor were a delight. The love, frustration, and interference siblings bring is on full display in this book and adds depth to the story. I loved watching Gwyn and Joshua interact with their family members, so even though this book was just an ok read for me, I really cannot wait to read the next Duke Dynasty book.

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

Monday, February 17, 2020

Review: A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos

A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062974846
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Lumi Santana is a chef with the gift of synesthesia—she can perceive a person’s emotions just by tasting their cooking. Despite being raised by a single mother who taught her that dreams and true love were silly fairy tales, she decides to take a chance and puts her heart and savings into opening a fusion restaurant in Inwood, Manhattan. The restaurant offers a mix of the Dominican cuisine she grew up with and other world cuisines that have been a source of culinary inspiration to her.

When Lumi’s eclectic venture fails, she is forced to take a position as a sous chef at a staid, traditional French restaurant in midtown owned by Julien Dax, a celebrated chef known for his acid tongue as well as his brilliant smile. Lumi and Julien don’t get along in the kitchen--to say Lumi is irritated by Julien’s smug attitude is an understatement, and she secretly vows never to taste his cooking. Little does she know that her resolve doesn’t stand a chance against Julien’s culinary prowess.

As Julien produces one delectable dish after another, each one tempting Lumi with its overwhelming aromas and gorgeous presentations, she can no longer resist and samples one of his creations. She isn’t prepared for the feelings that follow as she’s overcome with intense emotions. She begins to crave his cooking throughout the day, which throws a curveball in her plan to save up enough money and move on as soon as possible. Plus, there’s also the matter of Esme, Julien’s receptionist who seems to always be near and watching. As the attraction between Lumi and Julien simmers, Lumi experiences a tragedy that not only complicates her professional plans, but her love life as well…

I adore a good culinary romance and I couldn’t wait to read A Taste of Sage. I enjoyed Lumi and Julien’s love of cooking and the way author Yaffa S. Santos writes those scenes will make foodies and non-foodies alike salivate. Lumi’s gift for Dominican fusion creations and Julien’s traditional French cooking were the highlights of this book, but unfortunately there wasn’t much else that I loved.

Lumi Santana is a likeable heroine and she’s easy to care about, especially after the heartbreaking closure of her restaurant. I hated seeing her dream shattered and I was rooting for her to succeed professionally every step of the way. In the meantime, Lumi has to pay her bills and that means taking a job as a sous chef at a traditional French restaurant owned by mercurial chef Julien Dax. Julien is shown to be a hot-tempered snob in the beginning, but that kind of fades. Julien isn’t an easy character to pin down, mostly because he isn’t as well-drawn as Lumi. Julien is, in essence, whatever the plot needs him to be at any given moment. He’s temperamental, he’s rude, he’s smitten, he’s obsessed, he’s devoted… There are some hints at depth to his character, but because he’s so inconsistent nothing really sticks out. Their romance is rather shallow and seems based on lust and a shared love of food more than anything else. I wanted to like them as a couple, but I really couldn’t work up any enthusiasm and simply did not care about their romance.

A Taste of Sage starts off as a fairly straightforward opposites attract story and I was totally ready to enjoy this beloved trope. But partway through things seem to just fall apart. There’s an overreliance on Lumi’s gift of synesthesia to further the plot and there’s also a minor “bad guy” who may not be so bad after all…? I can’t be entirely certain because many of the characters simply change according to what the plot calls for. I did like Lumi’s friends and would like to explore their characters more. But aside from Rafelina and Jenny, the rest of the supporting cast is thinly-drawn and inconsistent in their behavior. I also didn’t like that Ms. Santos defined every single heavy character by their weight and in incredibly frustrating terms. I grew tired of hearing people referred to as “portly,” “fleshy,” and “Michelin Man.” For example, I would have liked to learn more about Julien’s sister and the family dynamics that are brought up and then dropped, but sadly all I know about her is that she works in HR and is – to use this book’s term – “portly.”

A Taste of Sage had potential, but ultimately missed the mark for me. I enjoyed the culinary aspects of the story and Lumi was an interesting heroine for much of the book, but I wasn’t sold on the romance, the inconsistent characters, or the dropped storylines.

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, February 16, 2020

Review: The Demigod Complex by Abigail Owen

The Demigod Complex by Abigail Owen
Series: Brimstone Inc., Book 1
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781682815427
Release Date: February 17, 2020
Source: Publisher/Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

When Lyleia Naiad was head-hunted by Brimstone, Inc., for her job as Executive Assistant to a high-powered billionaire demigod, she was given one directive—do NOT fall in love with Castor Dioskouri. Doesn’t matter if he’s the son of Zeus and can electrify a room with a single glance. As an ex-nymph, she possesses a unique ability—a gift from the goddesses to protect nymphs from the randy gods—to resist her boss's charms.

Or so she thought.

He insists she accompany him to an alpha wolf shifter mating ceremony, an event where the pheromones fly, and so do clothes...and inhibitions.

Goddesses save her, because Castor has stolen into Lyleia’s heart, and she’s not so sure she can hold out much longer…

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

The Demigod Complex is a fun spin on the Greek gods and nymphs. I so enjoyed Castor and Lyleia’s story that it was impossible for me to put it down.

Leia is a nymph who lost her spring and – by extension – her family centuries ago after angering a powerful entity. She’s never been fully happy since, but she’s come back to life working as Castor Dioskouri’s Executive Assistant. Though he’s the son of Zeus, his demigod status doesn’t prevent Castor from also knowing loss. He’s been living half a life since his wife died so long ago. He requested Brimstone, Inc. send him an assistant who wouldn’t fall for his charms, which is why they sent Leia, whose powers as a nymph provide her with a natural resistance to gods. What that natural resistance doesn’t cover is the attraction between the two that springs naturally. It’s clear from the start that Castor and Leia are made for each other. But both are afraid to open their hearts and take a risk; Leia especially since she fears an old enemy may be coming for her again. But when the two attend an alpha wolf shifter mating, the additional pheromones may be enough to get them to lose their inhibitions and take a chance on a happily ever after that would last for eternity.

There’s a crackling energy between Castor and Leia that makes it easy to fall into their romance. Author Abigail Owen knows how to pack a punch in a short space and sets the foundation for the romance quickly allowing readers to be swept up in a love story that’s both sexy and heartwarming. Leia and Castor are both powerful and protective in their own ways and I absolutely adored these two. Ms. Owen weaves mythology wonderfully into this modern day boss/secretary romance and the appearance of gods, nymphs, and shifters give familiar tropes a fresh new feel. All in all, The Demigod Complex is a fast-paced, sensual, action-packed read and I cannot wait to see what’s 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.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Review: Wild Nights by Katherine Garbera

Wild Nights by Katherine Garbera
Series: Jokers Wild, Book 2
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781640638655
Release Date: February 10, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Master illusionist Nicholas Pine has learned the hard way that nothing—and nobody—is what they seem. So when he runs into sexy antique shop owner, Zelda Quincy, he knows there’s more to her than meets the eye. Still, what he sees is very, very intriguing…and he can’t get her out of his head.

Zelda has spent her whole adult life running away from her family’s reputation. She’s changed her name and tried to move on. The last thing she wants is to return to the world she left behind, even with someone as hot as Nicholas by her side.

But after one hot night––she’s addicted––and so is he.

Too bad the skeletons in Zelda’s closet won’t stay hidden for long…

Magic and Sin City are simply made for each other, just like Nicholas and Zelda. The bright lights of Vegas and the spectacle of Nicholas’s illusions are a dazzling backdrop for a sleek and sexy romance in Wild Nights.

Nicholas and Zelda are both likeable characters with old wounds that their burgeoning romance brings to the surface. Zelda comes from a famous magic family, but after a trick went horribly wrong in her teens, she’s put the world of magic behind her. Mostly. Having changed her name and moved across the country, Zelda can’t quite resist the allure of magic and runs an antique shop that specializes in magic props. Zelda doesn’t want to get sucked back into the world she grew up in, mostly because of the painful memories it brings up. So when sexy magician Nicolas Pine comes to her shop looking for his stolen Houdini water cabinet, Zelda tries to resist her attraction to him. But the pull between them can’t be denied and the longer he and Zelda are together the harder it is for her to tell him the truth about her family.

Love and lies have gone hand-in-hand for Nicholas for so long that he’s always on the lookout for Zelda to betray his trust in some way. With this kind of setup, it’s easy to see the drama coming from a mile away. That being said, the way things played out actually worked pretty well. Both Nicholas and Zelda are self-aware enough to recognize their issues and what triggers them and though there is some expected drama, it still feels fairly organic. The romance between them takes a while to build, then goes full-speed halfway through. I do wish the pacing had been a bit faster in the first part of the book and that the emotional component had been slowed down and allowed to develop more naturally in the second.

Magic and illusions are like catnip for me, so I was very eager to dive into Wild Nights. Once the pacing picked up I enjoyed the story immensely. I haven’t read the first Jokers Wild book, One Night Gamble, but this book easily stands on its own. That being said, I liked Katherine Garbera’s writing enough that I’ll definitely be reading the rest of this 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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Review: The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062909879
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A wedding planner left at the altar? Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.

Marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning—absolutely off-limits—ex-fiancée. And she loathes him.

If they can nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.

Soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again…

A wedding planner left at the altar who is forced to work with the best man who helped ruin her wedding-that-wasn’t? Sounds like a great recipe for an enemies-to-lovers romance to me. But to say I’m divided on how I feel about The Worst Best Man is pretty accurate. I didn’t enjoy the first half of the book and there are a few times I contemplated just not finishing it. I’m glad I resisted, for the second half is wonderful.

Let’s get the bad out of the way, shall we? Lina was left at the altar by Andrew, who hints that his brother and best man, Max, may have said something that spurred him to ditch his own wedding. Since he was drunk at the bachelor party, Max doesn’t remember what he said. Three years later, Max and Lina are paired together to present a pitch that could be a big deal for Lina’s business and help Max get out of his brother’s shadow at work. The problem is, Lina still holds Max responsible for what happened on her wedding day. Why, when it was Andrew who left her at the altar and didn’t even have the decency to tell her himself? I’m not really sure. It would have made sense if (1) Lina had been in love with Andrew and still brokenhearted three years later (she wasn’t, she isn’t, and she barely spares him a thought) or (2) Lina and Max had a friendship or some form of relationship before the wedding that made Max’s behavior feel like a betrayal (they barely knew each other). Since neither of these are the case, Lina’s attitude toward Max and the ways she tried to punish him came across as juvenile, even though I can see why Lina might have wanted a target for her anger and embarrassment (even if that target didn’t deserve it). I wanted to shout at Max to cut his losses and run for it. What made me stay with this book was Lina’s relationship with her loving family and author Mia Sosa’s infusion of Brazilian culture. Lina is a first generation Brazilian American and Ms. Sosa does an incredible job of weaving her heritage into this book. She also does a great job of showing why Lina tries so hard to control her emotions, confronting the bias and dismissiveness Afro-Latinx women face in the workplace when emotions get involved. Ms. Sosa does this so well that I stuck with the book even though I was incredibly frustrated by Lina and Max’s interactions. I’m so glad I did.

Once Lina and Max start to lean into their mutual attraction and the emotional pull between them, The Worst Best Man shines. The two of them start to grow, to confront their fears, wounds, and vulnerabilities. The second half of this book is fantastic; funny, heartwarming, charming…there’s so much to enjoy. I loved that Max was a safe space for Lina to let down her guard. He’s a genuinely good, thoughtful, dependable man who deserves to be seen for all that he is on his own. And I love that Max saw the real Lina and fell for all that she is. He doesn’t try to change her professional image, doesn’t suggest she become someone else to win a job, but supports her every step of the way. It’s not a smooth road to happily ever after for these two, but you understand the bumps in the road and it becomes easy to root for them. So while I’m torn on how to rate this because I had such differing views on the first versus the second half, I will say that I was very happy with how Lina and Max’s story ended and I’m looking forward to reading more of Ms. Sosa’s work.

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

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Review: The Story of Us by Teri Wilson

The Story of Us by Teri Wilson
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781947892705
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A bookstore owner…
her former high school sweetheart…
And a box of old love letters
that could change everything.

Jamie always adored True Love Bookstore and Café, and now she’s the owner. But businesses are struggling in her small town, and her beloved store is threatened by a new retail development scheme.

Sawyer, Jamie’s former high school sweetheart, startles her when he comes to town for the first time in fifteen years. She soon learns he’s the architect of the proposed development and he’s there to sell local business owners on his plan. Sawyer had no idea that Jamie had bought the bookstore and poured everything she had into it. If he takes it over, he’ll break her heart a second time.

Jamie’s discovery of a box of old love letters and valentines might hold the key to saving her shop. And after all this time, could love be in the cards for Jamie and Sawyer, too?

The Story of Us is a love letter to books, community, and – most importantly – love in all its forms. Teri Wilson manages to deliver a Valentine’s romance that is incredibly sweet without ever edging into saccharine territory.

Jamie may be on a romantic hiatus – the current love of her life is her cat, Eliot – but she believes in true love. More importantly, she believes in True Love Bookstore and Café, the bookstore she owns that has been her lifelong dream. Jamie also loves her picturesque Oregon town, but the business district is suffering and a retail development company is closing in, determined to crush the district and turn it into a generic retail space. Jamie is determined to save her bookstore and the business district, but she doesn’t count on the architect the developers send in: Sawyer, Jamie’s high school sweetheart.

Sawyer and Jamie are at loggerheads for much of The Story of Us. Both of them have opposing goals and have solid reasons for trying to swing the town council vote their way. How this storyline plays out is predictable, but any other outcome would have been unsatisfying given the circumstances. Being on opposing sides is no match for true love, especially when Jamie discovers old valentines and love letters in her bookstore. Both were an incredibly sweet touch; the letters especially as they have an important lesson for Jamie and Sawyer. The push-pull of love that never died versus opposing goals did start to drag a bit, I will admit. Still, I could not help but be charmed by the delicate sweetness of the story overall. The Story of Us is a lovely romance with nods to The Shop Around the Corner/You’ve Got Mail, which makes it a perfect Valentine’s Day read.

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.