Friday, November 26, 2021

Review: What the Cat Dragged In by Kate McMurray

What the Cat Dragged In by Kate McMurray
Series: Whitman Street Cat Café, Book 2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
What the Cat Dragged In cover
ISBN: 9781728214573
Release Date: December 7, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

When Paige Danvers isn't managing events for the Whitman Street Cat Café, she is busy navigating dating disasters as a single woman in Brooklyn. Urged by her boss and best friend Lauren to find a distraction from ineffectual dating apps, Paige volunteers with a cat rescue organization, where she actually meets a guy with some real relationship potential.

Recent law school grad Josh Harlow is putting in long hours at a Manhattan law firm as he gets over a messy breakup. When his boss requires him to do some volunteer work, Josh's sister sets him up to help capture feral cats. Partnered with Paige, Josh is insistently drawn to the dynamic event planner and sparks between them fly.

One problem: after a steamy night together, Paige discovers Josh is Lauren's brother and dating him would be a spectacularly awful idea. Particularly considering Paige's track record. They're both in too deep to walk away—but if they let the cat out of the bag, it's going to wreak havoc with friends, family, and jobs alike.

What the Cat Dragged In is a fast-paced, enjoyable romance with four-legged supporting cast members who threaten to steal the show. I adored the world of Kate McMurray’s Whitman Street Cat Café and though I threatened to be sidetracked by the too-cute-for-words felines in the book, the humans at the center of this story were just as endearing.

Paige loves her job as an events manager for the Whitman Street Cat Café. On the surface, she has it all together between her job, friends, and life. The only problem is her dating life is a disaster. Then when volunteering with a cat rescue organization she meets a guy who could be her perfect match. There’s just one problem: he’s her boss’s brother. Having gone through a bad breakup and now drowning in work as a first year associate in a big Manhattan law firm, Josh isn’t in the best place for a relationship. But Paige knocks him off his feet from the first. The two of them just fit and I absolutely adored their easy chemistry together.

Josh and Paige work as friends and lovers which makes it easy to be charmed by their romance. The conflict stems from the fact that Josh is Lauren’s brother and Lauren is Paige’s boss, friend, and the one who brought her into the friend group who is now her family. Lauren (heroine of the first Whitman Street Cat Café book, Like Cats and Dogs) didn’t come off as likeable or understanding for a lot of this story, which was a pity. But the blame for Paige and Josh’s drama can’t all be placed on her: both of them (Paige most of all) get in their own way sometimes. While I was a bit frustrated by the obstacles in the way of Paige and Josh’s happily ever after, they did make sense. The problems seem small from a reader’s perspective but they’re ones I can easily see people causing themselves in real life. Overall, I really enjoyed What the Cat Dragged In. I liked Paige and Josh, they had a fun, easy chemistry, and the cats in the book stole my heart. How is that not a recipe for a good time?

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, November 25, 2021

Review: Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe by Wendy Warren

Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe by Wendy Warren
Series: Holliday, Oregon, Book 1
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe cover
ISBN: 9781335408266
Release Date: November 30, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Harlequin

Is she the one who can bring new love into his darkened heart?

As a new landlord, Dr. Gideon Bowen is more irritating than ingratiating. Eden Berman should probably consider moving. But in the spirit of the holidays—and curiosity about Gideon and his enigmatic past—Eden offers her friendship instead. As their relationship ignites, it’s clear that Gideon is more mensch than menace. With each candle of Hanukkah burning brighter, can Eden light his way to love?

It’s grumpy meets sunshine in Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe. Wendy Warren makes the enemies-to-lovers trope feel fresh and fun in this charming romance.

At thirty-six, Eden Berman is ready to find true love. She knows just the man, too, and he’s the opposite of her grumpy new landlord, Dr. Gideon Bowen. Eden has visible and invisible scars but she masks it with a sunny attitude and a determined spirit. She’s set her sights on handsome and outgoing teacher Brandon, but it’s her way-too-serious, isolated neighbor who keeps pulling her focus. Eden has a tendency to build castles in the air, but she’s a delightful heroine nonetheless. She has hidden vulnerabilities and a kind heart, both of which make her interesting. Gideon is more of a mystery for much of the book. He seems cold to others but he’s really not. He broke my heart and I enjoyed watching him come to life while not losing his quiet nature. He and Eden fit like lock and key, which made it easy for me to fall into their romance. They go from enemies to friends to more in a steady fashion and though I felt the ending was rushed, I still enjoyed their story overall.

A dash of Hanukkah spirit adds festivity and a cast of interesting, endearing supporting characters add heart. Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe is a great book to curl up with when you need to find some light in the dark.

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, November 22, 2021

Review: The Becoming by Nora Roberts

The Becoming by Nora Roberts
Series: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 2
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Fantasy 
The Becoming cover
ISBN: 9781250272706
Release Date: November 23, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

The world of magick and the world of man have long been estranged from one another. But some can walk between the two—including Breen Siobhan Kelly. She has just returned to Talamh, with her friend, Marco, who’s dazzled and disoriented by this realm—a place filled with dragons and faeries and mermaids (but no WiFi, to his chagrin). In Talamh, Breen is not the ordinary young schoolteacher he knew her as. Here she is learning to embrace the powers of her true identity. Marco is welcomed kindly by her people—and by Keegan, leader of the Fey. Keegan has trained Breen as a warrior, and his yearning for her has grown along with his admiration of her strength and skills.

But one member of Breen’s bloodline is not there to embrace her. Her grandfather, the outcast god Odran, plots to destroy Talamh—and now all must unite to defeat his dark forces. There will be losses and sorrows, betrayal and bloodshed. But through it, Breen Siobhan Kelly will take the next step on the journey to becoming all that she was born to be.

Return to the world of the Talamh, a world of the Wise and the Fey, of dragons and trolls; a world a fallen god seeks to destroy. In The Becoming, Nora Roberts continues to build on what she started with The Awakening, weaving a story of light versus dark. And at the center of it all is Breen Siobhan Kelly, the key to Talamh’s rise or fall, and a woman coming into her full power.

The Becoming is very much a bridge book, for better or worse Much of the story follows Breen as she continues to learn more magic, develop her craft, train to fight, and search for clues as to what her evil grandfather is planning to do next. By her side is her best friend Marco, a man who is thrown for a loop after being transported from Philadelphia to Talamh. Breen and Marco are both easy to like and their bond is one they cherish above all else. I loved their friendship and how they always supported one another. Despite being a city boy, Marco is quickly enveloped in Talamh and Breen’s friends and family become his. I enjoyed watching Breen and Marco become further enmeshed in Talamh but it did grow repetitive. As a longtime fan of Nora Roberts it pains me to say the first half of this book is painfully slow. There’s a lot of filler with small bursts of excitement as we follow Breen, Marco, and Keegan on their daily tasks. At a little over halfway the story picks up the pace, as Breen travels to the Capital. There politics and false faces add drama and interest, but the story still doesn’t hit its full stride until the last third of the book. There insidious evil creeps through and forces our heroes to come together and act. I was hooked at the end, though what occurred was still just a taste of what I hope is to come in the final book.

The Becoming isn’t a romance, but there are love stories throughout. From the slow and steady to the lightening quick, from tragic to one-sided, and more – love is the counterpart to the dark and violent elements of this story. Breen and Keegan’s romance, the one you would expect to be the most prominent, remains understated. I liked them together and I actually enjoyed that they are focused on saving the world more than exploring what they could have together. The practicality of it makes sense, though because I expect a romance when I read Nora Roberts I hope to see more sparks between Keegan and Breen in the final installment.

The Becoming moves the overarching plot of the Dragon Heart Legacy series forward but on its own it’s a book I liked but didn’t love. I enjoyed my time in Talamh, liked watching the characters grow and relationships develop, but the pacing made the story drag a bit. I am, however, very much looking forward to seeing what comes next as Breen and all those who stand with her in the light take on pure evil.

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, November 17, 2021

Review: All the Feels by Olivia Dade

All the Feels by Olivia Dade
Series: Spoiler Alert, Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
All the Feels cover
ISBN: 9780063005587
Release Date: November 16, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, Gods of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he's dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.

Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to mention his Cupid fanfiction habit.

When another scandal lands Alex in major hot water and costs Lauren her job, she’ll have to choose between protecting him and offering him what he really wants—her. But he’s determined to keep his improbably short, impossibly stubborn, and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. And on a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves: anything at all.

An impulsive, sexy television star meets his match in a no-nonsense therapist in All the Feels. Olivia Dade’s second Spoiler Alert novel features two likeable characters who are easy to root for, but the romance missed the mark for me.

Alex is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s so loving, protective, and open it’s easy to fall for him. He’s got sex appeal in spades and loves the spotlight, but somehow his need for attention isn’t annoying because he’s got charm and a good heart. He’s open about having ADHD, which I really appreciated. But Alex’s impulsivity is threatening to derail his career and his showrunners have hired a minder. Enter Lauren. She’s a former ER therapist hired to keep Alex in line. Alex may have a good heart but his unfiltered mouth leads to some backhanded compliments (they make sense in his mind but since Lauren isn’t in his mind it’s cringe-worthy). Lauren is smart, sensible, and caring. She isn’t beautiful and Dade doesn’t mask the cruelty someone who looks like Lauren faces. Though Lauren spends a lot of the reacting to Alex, when we do see her independent character she’s really interesting and I enjoyed her personal journey.

I loved Alex and Lauren’s chemistry at the start. Their banter is fun, his provoking and her shutting it down made me smile. They also take care of each other and learn about one another which I really enjoyed. I loved them as friends, but when All the Feels turns to lust the story just didn’t work for me. I really liked Lauren and Alex individually and as friends but I didn’t feel any romantic chemistry from them. When things heated up it felt inorganic, which was a letdown. From there, the story rockets from lust to love which felt forced, even taking into consideration Alex’s open, emotional nature. It’s a pity because after finishing Spoiler Alert I was really excited to read Lauren and Alex’s story. In the end, I had mixed feelings about All the Feels. I really liked Lauren and Alex, enjoyed their friendship, and loved Alex’s relationship with his castmates, but the romance wasn’t my cup of tea.

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, November 4, 2021

Review: The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams

The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
The Fastest Way to Fall cover
ISBN: 9780593101926
Release Date: November 2, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Britta didn’t plan on falling for her personal trainer, and Wes didn’t plan on Britta. Plans change and it's unclear if love, career, or both will meet them at the finish line.

Britta Colby works for a lifestyle website, and when tasked to write about her experience with a hot new body-positive fitness app that includes personal coaching, she knows it's a major opportunity to prove she should write for the site full-time.

As CEO of the FitMi Fitness app, Wes Lawson finally has the financial security he grew up without, but despite his success, his floundering love life and complicated family situation leaves him feeling isolated and unfulfilled. He decides to get back to what he loves—coaching. Britta’s his first new client and they click immediately.

As weeks pass, she’s surprised at how much she enjoys experimenting with her exercise routine. He’s surprised at how much he looks forward to talking to her every day. They convince themselves their attraction is harmless, but when they start working out in person, Wes and Britta find it increasingly challenging to deny their chemistry and maintain a professional distance.

Wes isn’t supposed to be training clients, much less meeting with them, and Britta’s credibility will be sunk if the lifestyle site finds out she’s practically dating the fitness coach she’s reviewing. Walking away from each other is the smartest thing to do, but running side by side feels like the start of something big.
The Fastest Way to Fall is a delightful, emotionally honest romance. From coach/trainee to friends to lovers, Britta and Wes’s journey was lovely to watch unfold.

Britta is an assistant at a lifestyle website, wanting that promotion to writer. She’s got the talent but she has equally talented competition. There’s one writer spot open and she’s going for it by writing about FitMi, a fitness app that supposedly has trained coaches and a healthy mentality. Britta is fat and owns it; she loves her body and doesn’t think that wanting to get fitter has anything to do with not loving herself or how she looks. Wes is the CEO of FitMi and he’s in a rut at the beginning of the story. He’s got the financial stability he’s always craved, having grown up in an unstable home with an addict mother. But sitting behind a desk isn’t for him so he decides to get back into coaching. Britta is his first client and the two of them have fun banter from the very start. I loved watching them text through the app and I can’t count the number of times they made me smile. It’s not long before they’re getting into ethical grey-zones, each keeping their jobs a secret when they meet to train in person. There’s push-pull as each is afraid to go for what they want, but it’s clear these two fit like lock and key, making it easy to root for their romance.

What stood out to me the most was the way author Denise Williams gave a strong core of emotional honesty to Britta’s journey. She loves herself and the way she looks, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be hurt, can’t have moments of doubt or have her self-esteem dinged up. Britta has her ups and downs in a realistic way that’s sure to be relatable to many. I really loved her personal journey and enjoyed seeing her confidence increase, watching her fall in love with fitness, and all without feeling like she needed to change how she looked or acted. Wes finds Britta hot from the first and I loved that he saw and appreciated her for all that she is. He has his own hurdles to overcome but Britta is there to support him as much as he is her. It’s a great give-and-take that makes the story all the stronger.

The Fastest Way to Fall has fun banter, a slow burn romance you can cheer for, and a happily ever after that will make you smile. I adored Britta and Wes and I can’t wait to read more of Denise Williams’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.