Saturday, August 26, 2023

Review: Curves for Days by Laura Moher

Curves for Days by Laura Moher
Series: Big Love from Galway, Book 1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Curves for Days
ISBN: 9781728278056
Release Date: August 22, 2023
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

How is Rose Barnes supposed to build the home (and life) of her dreams when her big, burly contractor keeps scowling at her?

Rose Barnes has got curves for days—and to Angus Drummond, the big, bearded contractor working on her new house, she's the perfect thorn in his side. Little does she know Angus is perturbed on a daily basis by his attraction to this cheery, smart-ass woman with her sunshiny enthusiasm, her kindness, and her beautiful body.

Angus feels he has a debt to pay to the world and doesn't deserve love until he pays it. Best to keep his mind on his work and his hands to himself. But the more Rose sees of Angus's gruff, honorable thoughtfulness, and the more rusty laughter she surprises from him, the more she wants him too.

As their unlikely friendship becomes love, antagonism turns to partnership, and Rose's house becomes a home. But Rose is keeping a secret that could blow up everything with Angus, and sure enough, it comes to light at the worst possible time…

After winning the lottery, Rose Barnes has set out to finally live her life. Through a twist of fate (or rather, a twist of bad weather) she ends up in Galway, North Carolina. The welcoming town feels like the home she’s always wanted and the cute little Victorian fixer-upper is the house of her dreams. Or at least, it can be with the help of a good contractor.

Angus Drummond is a veteran who is always looking to give back. When he’s not helping vets, he’s a contractor. He’s big, bearded, and grumpy, and has no chance against the sunshiny Rose. Her curves make his mouth water and she constantly surprises him. But for a man who always feels like has to give more than he takes, what will happen when he learns her secret?

Curves for Days is sweet, fun, and tugs on the heartstrings at unexpected moments. Laura Moher’s debut romance packs a lot of heart and has me hoping she’s got plenty of stories planned in her Big Love from Galway series.

It was easy for me to love Rose. She absolutely broke my heart at the beginning with how lonely she was. She was hurt badly in the past and has struggled for so long that I wanted to see nothing but good things in her life. Winning the lottery gives her a shot to live a life and give back to others, which she grabs with both hands. I loved watching her try and find ways to do good wherever she could. I also loved watching her become confident in her body. She’s sweet, kind, and never stops learning. She’s easy to root for because she’s the kind of person you’d want in your life if she were real. Angus, in turn, is a veteran who carries scars both internal and external. He can be set in his ways and Rose shakes things up. I loved that he couldn’t stop himself from falling for her and the two of them just slide into love so sweetly.

Curves for Days is fast-paced for the most part and I liked watching Angus and Rose build a life together, sometimes without them realizing it. The story did feel like it was spinning its wheels a bit in the middle, but everything came together in the end. I loved the town of Galway and the friends Rose makes along the way. Almost everyone is warm and welcoming and those who are not have a story of their own to tell. It’s a lovely story with good people and a kind heart. I finished it looking forward to more Big Love from Galway books.

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

Review: The Highlander’s Secret Avenger by Heather McCollum

The Highlander’s Secret Avenger by Heather McCollum
Series: The Brothers of Wolf Isle, Book 4
Publisher: Entangled: Scandalous
Genre: Historical Romance 
The Highlanders Secret Avenger cover
ISBN: 9781649371201
Release Date: August 21, 2023
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled
Heather McCollum Reading Order

Drostan Macquarie, the fierce battle-hardened Highlander, was still a young lad when his father first warned him of the ancient curse on the Macquarie clan. Should any of our kin sire a bastard, the entire clan will be cursed to die out. Drostan vowed then to live his life alone, far from the reach of the curse. But on the eve of Beltane, a sizzling kiss with a mysterious lass ignites Drostan’s blood…and threatens his vow.

Amelia MacLeod is on the run, desperate to escape her past, and an abusive family. But Wolf Isle isn’t just a place to hide, it may be her only hope of redemption—if she can doom her clan’s enemy, the Macquaries. Only, she imagined her enemy would be a hideous brute, not a big, brawny, and kind-hearted Highlander like Drostan.

Because now Amelia’s discovered a way to destroy the Macquarie Clan for good—if she can bring herself to infiltrate the clan, seduce Drostan, and bring about the Macquarie curse. Of course, she hasn’t accounted for the far-reaching consequences of her own dark past…or her traitorous desire for the Highlander she came to destroy.

A woman determined to avenge her brother falls for the very man she’s come to destroy in The Highlander’s Secret Avenger. Heather McCollum returns to Wolf Isle and the Macquarie brothers who are trying their best to break the family curse.

Drostan Macquarie rescues kittens and damsels in distress, so how can you not adore him? The Macquarie brothers must find the true meaning of love and not father any children out of wedlock in order to break the family curse. Drostan is determined to not be the cause of his family’s downfall…and then he meets Lia. The mysterious woman with secrets won’t tell him why she wants to come to Wolf Isle, but even with the red flags in front of him Drostan can’t help but fall for her beauty and strength.

Amelia MacLeod is desperate to escape her brutal brother and thinks the only way to find safety at home is to prove her worth by destroying the Macquaries. Of course, once she gets to know them and their clan she can’t bring herself to do it, but will the lies catch up with her? Drostan isn’t the monster she was raised to believe he was, and she falls hard and fast for the Highland warrior. Lia and Drostan have an easy chemistry that makes the pages of The Highlander’s Secret Avenger fly by. I really liked them together and their romance had a good mix of sweetness and spice. I was rooting for Lia’s secrets not to come between them, but what happens I’ll leave readers to discover.

Lia and Drostan’s story is the fourth in the Brothers of Wolf Isle series but you can jump in here if you like. The evil pirate Jandeau is always a threat in the background, ready to destroy the brothers and the women they love. There’s also the family curse, which features heavily in this story. I look forward to the Macquaries breaking the curse and seeing their home and loved ones safe and sound. I am very much looking forward to the youngest Macquarie brother finding love and breaking the curse once and for all.

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, August 19, 2023

Review: Home for the Challah Days by Jennifer Wilck

Home for the Challah Days by Jennifer Wilck
Series: Holidays, Heart and Chutzpah, Book 1
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition 
Home for the Challah Days cover
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781335594228
Release Date: August 22, 2023
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Harlequin


Turning the bitterness of the past…

Into a sweet future!

When big-city advocate Sarah Abrams returns home for the High Holy Days, she’s got a lot on her mind—especially whether to marry her perfect-on-paper boyfriend. The last person she wants to encounter is Aaron Isaacson, her first love and the one who broke her heart. But after Aaron and Sarah join forces to fight an act of hate, it’s clear that their deep connection never abated. If only they could forgive one another for the past…in time for a sweet new start!

A new year brings a second chance at love for two former sweethearts in Home for the Challah Days. Jennifer Wilck brings excellent Jewish representation – religion, culture, and community – to her first Holidays, Heart and Chutzpah book.

Sarah left her hometown for DC and she’s rarely looked back. She has a successful job, a boyfriend with political ambitions, and she has turned herself into someone fit, successful, and independent. But in a Hallmark-level twist, she’s back home for the High Holy Days and returning to her small hometown brings her in contact with the boy she left behind. Aaron runs his family’s deli and even though he and Sarah broke up ten years ago, the feelings they had for each other never died. Of course, layering over that is a measure of bitterness for how things ended. Will Sarah choose her high-power life in DC and the perfect-on-paper boyfriend who wants to marry her? Or will she choose her hometown and the man she never quite got over?

I had mixed feelings about Home for the Challah Days. I liked Sarah and it was interesting to see her find herself and start to question how she let herself be molded into someone who didn’t entirely fit her. She had friends as well as Aaron that she disappeared from when she went to DC and I would have loved to see more of her reconnecting with them. Aaron, I struggled with. He’s hotheaded and angry and it bugged me how he kept comparing the Sarah he knew with the Sarah who is there now, as if one was better than the other rather than different. I never fully warmed up to Aaron and it made me hard to root for the romance. The love story leans heavily on the foundation built in the past and Wilck did a fair job of showing us said foundation. However, there was something missing for me – a romance, a spark, something of that nature – that made the romance fall a bit flat.

Home for the Challah Days is more than just the love story, however. It’s about community and Judaism and this is where Wilck’s writing shines. Aaron and Sarah are both really invested in their community and Wilck weaves this throughout the story perfectly. Even in a town as friendly as theirs, there’s still antisemitism and harsh realities of hatred to face. There’s also hope, allyship, friends, and family to counter the dark. It’s a dose of reality in an otherwise television special love story that grounds the story. So even though I had mixed feelings about Aaron and Sarah’s story, there was enough that I did really like about the book that I’m looking forward to the next Holidays, Heart and Chutzpah tale.

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, August 5, 2023

Review: Codename Charming by Lucy Parker

Codename Charming by Lucy Parker
Series: Palace Insiders, Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Codename Charming cover
ISBN: 9780063040106
Release Date: August 15, 2023
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Petunia De Vere enjoys being the personal assistant to lovable, bumbling Johnny Marchmont. But the job has its share of challenges, including the royal’s giant, intimidating bodyguard, Matthias. Pet and Matthias are polar opposites—she’s spontaneous and enthusiastic, he’s rigid and stoic—but she can sense there’s something softer underneath that tough exterior…

For Matthias Vaughn, protecting others is the name of the game. But keeping his royal charge out of trouble is more difficult than he imagined because everywhere Johnny goes, calamity ensues, and his petite, bubbly assistant is often caught in the fray. Matthias hates the idea of Pet getting hurt and he’s determined to keep everyone safe, even if it means clashing with his adorable new coworker.

When a clumsy moment leads to a questionable tabloid photo, the press begins to speculate that Pet is romantically involved with Johnny. To put an end to the rumors, the royal PR team asks Pet and Matthias to stage a fake relationship and the two reluctantly agree. But as they spend more time together outside of work, they begin to wonder what real emotions this pretend connection might uncover. Especially when a passionate kiss leaves both of their heads spinning…

Petunia De Vere is the personal assistant to the newest member of the royal family. It’s a job she excels at, but she never expected her career to include being launched through the air by her accident-prone boss. Johnny Marchmont is a sweetheart, but his mishaps are quickly becoming a habit and Pet is frequently in the crosshairs. This doesn’t sit well with Matthias Vaughn, Johnny’s intimidating bodyguard and frequent catcher of Pet. When the tabloids try to stir up trouble for Johnny and make up a story about him and Pet, the royals’ PR teams ask Pet and Matthias to pretend to date and dispel the rumors. The only problems is the fake dating starts to feel all too real…

Codename Charming is a delight! It’s sweet, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking – Lucy Parker absolutely nailed it. I’ve been so eager to read Matthias and Pet’s story ever since their brief encounter in Battle Royal and it was definitely worth the wait.

Matthias is a case of still waters running deep. The former foster child, now royal bodyguard, is familiar with loss, loneliness, and pain. Matthias is protective and has a huge heart that most don’t take the time to see. His looks make him intimidating but he’s oh-so-gentle in reality. Pet is the sunshine to his grumpy. She’s a whirlwind of bright energy and she’s so warm and welcoming I wish she were real so I could be friends with her. But Pet’s sunny exterior also masks pain and vulnerability. Life hasn’t always been as easy for her as one might think, but that doesn’t stop her from being kind and generous. She and Matthias may be pretending to date for the paparazzi but the attraction between them is one hundred percent real. Their romance is a slow burn delight. I loved the tension building between them as they find love, support, and happiness together.

Some books just lift your spirits and Codename Charming is one of those for me. Pet, Matthias, their friends and family are hilarious and this book actually made me laugh out loud. Parker’s mix of humor and heart was top-notch and just left me smiling. You don’t have to have read Battle Royal to enjoy this book but I highly recommend it anyway.

Codename Charming is the perfect story to be swept away by. It’s as charming as the title suggests and is filled with endearing characters, hilarious antics, moments that will tug on your heartstrings, and a love story that is wholly romantic.

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.