Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Bolder Version of Me by Cindy Ray Hale {Review}

A Bolder Version of Me (Book Three of the Destiny Clark Saga) by Cindy Ray Hale
Kindle Edition, 114 pages
Published July 3rd 2019 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.

https://amzn.to/2jJvj6b    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46760583-a-bolder-version-of-me

When Destiny and Isaac go public with their relationship, the bullies come out to play. 

Destiny Clark has enjoyed keeping her complicated relationship with Isaac Robinson a secret. But Isaac is excited to declare his feelings for Destiny to the world and convinces her to go public at Homecoming. When the fated day finally comes, and they boldly step into the light as a couple, it’s just as Destiny had feared. Their secret romance has turned into a disaster rivaling scenes from Romeo and Juliet. Bullies emerge from all sides and Destiny and Isaac find themselves in serious trouble.

Although, Destiny has worked hard to be bolder, she’s beginning to discover that standing up for herself comes with a price. As their whirlwind begins to spiral out of control, Destiny fears they won’t be able to hold on much longer. Can their love withstand the blows from their enemies or will the foundation they’ve built together crack and crumble?

A Bolder Version of Me is the third book in a nine-book rewrite of a contemporary sweet romance series called The Destiny Trilogy. In this series you can expect flirting, blushing, and kisses in the woods, but you won’t find any swearing, nudity, or sex. 

My Review: 4 Stars

I absolutely adored this series and I've loved the added details with the rewrite. This contemporary Romeo and Juliet, with a dash of Les Mis, really stole my heart, but I have to say--as a parent of kids the ages of these characters, I would freak out on my kids if they pulled some of this stuff, ha ha.

Destiny is a good girl, but is really coming into her own now. She's the minority in her school and endures a lot of bullying, even from adults, yet she's strong, powerful, and committed. I love her naivety, as she navigates the pathway to her first love. As for Isaac, he's one of those guys who turns out to be pretty amazing, despite his father. He's every girl's dream, yet it's Destiny who intrigues him. The coming-of-age elements are strong with these characters, as they explore new territory and emotions. The volatile feelings are also heavy, as this couple has to deal with oppression on almost every side.

This installment is a little heavier on the religion, since Destiny and Isaac belong to different ones and things need to be sorted out, but there is still enough romance to make this forbidden, secret love swoony. As always, it ended abruptly, but I know things will continue on with the next book.

Content: mild romance; moderate religion; mild violence/peril

Monday, July 15, 2019

Kissing on Third by Heather B. Moore {Review}

Kissing on Third by Heather B. Moore
ebook, 220 pages
Published July 2nd 2019 by Mirror Press 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
 https://amzn.to/2l6kFGW    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42757721-kissing-on-third
His past will never go away. Hers has left deep scars. Together, maybe they can build something new.

Levi Cox carved his baseball game out of the dirt. The hard way. Bouncing between foster homes as a kid, and trying everything he could do to protect his kid brother from bullies, Levi backs down from no one and has a record to prove it. Baseball has given him a purpose and a career. A way to provide for his brother. When Levi meets Finley Gray, he finds things happening to his heart that he never thought possible. She has her own broken past, using boxing as her outlet. Yet the more Levi gets to know Finley, the more he’s convinced they belong together. Breaking through Finley’s tough exterior might be Levi’s hardest challenge ever. But he has a feeling it will be more than worth it.
My Review: 5 Stars
Levi is the member of the Belltown Six Pack who is the hardest to get to know. He's got walls up and has a past that's hard to escape, but he's not one to back away from a challenge. When he meets Finley, he has his work cut out for him because she's ultra tough and seems to be immune to him. 

I've been so impressed with this series! Each woman is unique and somehow captures the hearts of this rag-tag group of swoony baseball men. Finley is a boxer! How cool is that?! Yet, she has some softness to all her toughness and I loved watching her and Levi figure each other out. Even tough Finley needs a little protection and romance.
These characters were written in a way that really made them come alive. Although they're very different from me, I was fascinated by their relationship and felt the heat of their connection licking out of the pages. I also love seeing the Belltown Six Pack interact with each other. Their camaraderie can't be beat and I'm sad to see this series come to an end.

Content: mild violence; mild romance; mild language
Welcome to Belltown!

KISSING ON THIRD is Levi's story.

Six baseball players meet in the college town of Belltown, Massachusetts, becoming best friends, their lives intertwining as they each get called up to the Major Leagues. Follow Sawyer, Cole, Axel, David, Ryker, and Levi in these six swoony sports romances.

More Belltown Six Pack Romances:
Hitching the Pitcher
Falling for Centerfield
Charming the Shortshop
Snatching the Catcher
Flirting with First
Kissing on Third

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A Kiss for Santa by Susan Hatler {Review}

A Kiss for Santa (Kissed by the Bay Book 8) by Susan Hatler
Kindle Edition, 108 pages
Published June 28th 2019 by Hatco Publishing 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
 https://amzn.to/2RWfAx9    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45030646-a-kiss-for-santa
Forced to sell her family store in Blue Moon Bay, all Anna Bell wants is to convince buyer billionaire Peter Locke that tradition is better than change, but the magic of Christmas just might give them both the best gift of all: love.
My Review: 4 Stars

Anna loves tradition and all the feelings that accompany it, but when a lot of struggling businesses in Blue Moon Bay are bought up by Peter Locke, she takes matters into her own hands to ensure her family's story stays with the family. 

Anna is a little deceptive in her motives towards Peter at first, but I love how love grasps her heart and changes her. She's an adaptable character and Peter has the best of intentions, which makes them a likable couple. 

Blue Moon Bay is steeped in traditions, especially with the romantic legend of a kiss. The cozy, feel-good feelings extend throughout the story and the Christmastime elements only add another dimension to that coziness. Susan Hatler has creative a vividly wonderful small town with many wonderful characters and stories to be told and I always love my time spent here within the pages of her books. A Kiss for Santa is no exception.

Content: mild romance 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Falling for Her Billionaire Best Friend by Maria Hoagland {Review}

Falling for Her Billionaire Best Friend by Maria Hoagland
Kindle Edition
Expected publication: July 9th 2019 by Red Leaves Press 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
Kissing your best friend is a gamble. One amazing lip-lock could destroy the friendship or be the start of true love—but you won’t know unless you try it . . .
With heavy iron gates, two security stations, and a groundskeeper's cottage, The Cove has everything a billionaire could ask for in a home. Dubbed Billionaire Bachelor Cove because of the residents' single status and income portfolios, The Cove is the perfect place to hide away from the world. But, as the residents soon find out, they can't hide from love.

Billionaire next-door neighbors Mary Alice Howe and Ryland Neilson have mothers who are are lifelong best friends. But throwing their children together for everything from Camelot Cruise birthday parties to cotillion classes has ensured a close friendship, not the hoped-for romance.
Excited to become the newest CEO of his father's company, Ryland takes a risk that just might ruin the company. Taking a chance on a relationship with his best friend Mary Alice, however, seems even more foolish. Sure, he’s had a slight crush on her for a while now, but they can’t get their timing right to give a romantic relationship a shot.
Already unsure what she wants to do with her career and her relationship with pro soccer player Camden Sharpe, adding new and thrilling feelings for her best friend causes Mary Alice’s world to spin upside-down. One thing she does know is that she wants a fairy-tale romance. Ryland may look like the part of the handsome prince—tall, dark, and gorgeous—but can a woman be swept off her feet by someone she shared orthodontist appointments with?
When a personal ad brings the two together, they realize that maybe they don’t actually know everything about each other. Discovering new sides to their personalities adds a surprising layer to their relationship. Yet when old expectations arise, they’ll have to decide if it’s better to stay in the safety of the friend-zone or jump down the rabbit hole of the unknown and risk everything for love.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, this full-length sweet/clean contemporary billionaire romance is similar to your favorite Hallmark movie and will bring a smile to your day!

My Review: 4 Stars

This installment of the Billionaire Cove series is inspired by Alice in Wonderland, but I didn't totally get the references. The quotes at the beginning of the chapters did show some of their feelings and emotions, but the plot didn't seem to follow Alice's story at all, aside from the names--Mary Alice and her parents, Lewis and Carol.

Mary Alice and Ryland have been best friends for years and their families would love for them to get together, but the stars have never aligned. The book goes back and forth between their points-of-view and I did enjoy reading about their inner thoughts and feelings. Maria Hoagland always does a great job of portraying her characters in ways that make them easier to relate to and sympathize with. Although new feelings arise, I felt the romance was on a very slow track, which is probably more natural for life-long friends, but I wanted more. 

I did think it was fun to have these two discover unknowns about each other, because sometimes when you know someone for so long, you think you know everything there is to know about them. Surprises like these are good. I also liked the Steampunk elements, which made the story unique. This is a sweet, realistic romance and I really did enjoy it.

Content: mild romance 

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Billionaire's Mountain Bride by Elizabeth Bromke {Review}

The Billionaire's Mountain Bride: Married in Maplewood (Maplewood Sisters #5) by Elizabeth Bromke
Kindle Edition, 122 pages
Published July 1st 2019 
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Booksprout. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given. 
Fans of Debbie Macomber will enjoy this sweet take on the country mouse and the city mouse. The Billionaire's Mountain Bride is the first installment in a heartwarming spin-off series following the lives of four small-town sisters.

Maplewood innkeeper Mary Delaney always thought she'd marry a down-home local. Until she met big-city billionaire Kurt Cutler. Early love gave way to a blissful engagement. But as the wedding date nears, Mary finds out Kurt's wealthy lifestyle may not be compatible with her small-town values. She questions whether her fiancĂ© really is “the one" or if her dream wedding is clouding her judgment.

Kurt Cutler found his soul mate in sweet Mary Delaney. But marriage means compromise. Kurt has to move his booming tech business and big-city lifestyle to Maplewood Mountain, where campfires reign king and the internet is a thing of the future.

Kurt must decide if he can assimilate into Maplewood and into Mary’s life. And Mary must decide if it's a marriage she wants...or just a wedding.

Order and find out what becomes of Maplewood's first romantic duo, Mary and Kurt.

My Review: 4 Stars

This is such a sweet series, but I don't think a reader would be lost starting with this one. Yes, the backstory to Kurt and Mary's romance makes it that much better to know, because you realize that it's not always a happily-ever-after once the book ends, but there are still issues to work through. Relationships can be difficult, especially when two people from such opposite worlds are trying to merge onto common ground. Bromke does a great job of showing these differences and allowing the reader into the lives of these characters for a time.

Love knows no bounds, no incomes, and no lifestyles, as is apparent with Kurt and Mary. I enjoyed watching them figure things out, as they finally lock down a wedding date and deal with expectations, hopes, and dreams. I grew to love Kurt and Mary and was excited to read more about their story.

Content: mild romance

The Billionaire's Mountain Bride is the Maplewood Sisters saga finale but the first installment in the spin-off series, Married in Maplewood. Readers will most appreciate reading about the Delaney sisters in chronological order. Check out these other titles today:
Christmas on Maplewood Mountain (Meet the youngest sister, Mary, just before she lays eyes on Kurt Cutler)
Maplewood in Love (Follow Mary and Kurt into their short story sequel, where love at first sight struggles to survive)
Return to Maplewood (Find out if middle-child Anna can slow down with blue-collar stud Dutch McCree)
Missing in Maplewood (Fall in love with older sister, Erica, and her husband Ben, who might be falling out of love in this dramatic suspense)
Murder in Maplewood (Oldest sister, Bo, needs a partner in crime to uncover Maplewood's darkest secret. Is Keegan Flanagan up to the task?)
The Billionaire's Mountain Bride, Married in Maplewood (Can Maplewood's favorite couple overcome their differences? Find out if a wedding in is store for sweet Mary Delaney and her handsome Prince Charming)

Friday, July 5, 2019

Before We Say Goodbye by Michelle Pennington {Review}

Before We Say Goodbye (Summer of First Kisses #1) by Michelle Pennington
Kindle Edition, 138 pages
Published June 28th 2019 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
My first kiss has always belonged to him.
I've always shared everything with my best friend—except my biggest secret.
She doesn't know I have a crush on her big brother.
There's a really good reason I've never told her. She hates all the girls who throw themselves at Tate. The last thing I want is for her to start hating me too.
But now that we've graduated and I'm about to leave for college, suddenly I've realized how much I'll regret never taking a chance on what I want most.
Then she dares me to kiss someone before summer ends—a push to break me out of my shell. So really, she can only blame herself for this, right?
Because I've always intended my first kiss to be with Tate. And I'm starting to think he won't mind. In fact, he might want it as much as I do.

If you love best friends and first love in a story that will make you laugh and swoon and die for more, grab this book today! 

My Review: 4 Stars

Kat has just graduated from high school and has never been kissed, but she's sure been crushing hard on her best friend's older brother. Piper, the friend, has a mission to see her three best friends kissed by summer's end. There's something always intriguing to me about this trope and it was fun to watch it unfold, especially with a few unexpected twists.

Summertime is magical, especially when you live in Florida by the beach, but when you add a first love, first kiss, and first romance into the equation, it's like unicorns and rainbows. Tate is a typical older brother and a huge flirt, but once he gives his heart, there's no question about where he stands.

Once that first kiss was given, butterflies erupted in an earth shattering movement across my stomach because Holy Swoon! That kiss was well worth the wait!

These characters are sweet and fun, but I wished a few parts had been developed a little more. I wanted more juicy details and wasn't completely satisfied--it was like eating half a donut, instead of  the whole thing. But the story line is fun and definitely swoony, and I'm excited to read the rest of this new series!

Content: mild romance (kissing, swoony)

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Burned Billionaire by Jennifer Griffith {Review}

The Burned Billionaire by Jennifer Griffith
Kindle Edition, 210 pages
Publication: June 28th 2019
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
 https://amzn.to/2LzRB5W    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46181093-the-burned-billionaire
He’s a burned spy with one last chance in the field to recover his life and fortune. She’s a divorced teacher on a mission to rediscover her lost self.

Understated billionaire and intelligence operative, Birch Cardon is searching to know who burned him and destroyed his career at the CIA. Another agency, the shady Entity, has offered him a second chance. If he fulfills a series of missions for them, they’ll not only unlock his accounts, they’ll give him his life back.

Or so they say.

Spies never know whom to trust.

With one last mission to fulfill, Birch jumps at the chance to head back to his college town of Getaway Bay to prevent the kidnapping of a diplomat’s daughter. Working undercover at a bakery, he’s going to save the girl and himself in one fell swoop.

High school English teacher and former cheerleader at Birch’s university, Arden Pike is fresh off a bad divorce after her dead marriage finally buried itself. Because her counselor friend encouraged her to head to a place where she remembers being the Real Arden, she returns to Getaway Bay.

However, her choice of old friends to reconnect with is a huge mistake. Her party-gal pal leaves Arden high and dry—with no phone, no ID, and no access to her hotel room. Arden is stranded.

Then, Arden shows up in Birch’s bake shop desperately hoping to meet her missing flaky friend. He can’t believe his eyes. Could the girl of his college-years dreams who dumped him hardcore possibly be his contact for this mission?

When he signed up for this job, what this burned billionaire didn’t know was that his second chance wouldn’t be just at salvaging his career—but at reclaiming love with the girl who got away.
My Review: 4 Stars
I love Jennifer Griffith's books and this one was no exception. Birch and Arden have a slightly different story, as there is an element of suspense that flavors the swoony romance with a hint of danger. 
Birch and Arden reconnect in a surprising way and I love a second chance romance, especially with "the one who got away." Birch has sacrificed much in his life to save the world and it comes at a high cost. Arden is trying to find herself again after her divorce and their immediate connection is spontaneously rekindled in a bakery. Birch and Arden had a deep connection based on intellect, Shakespeare, Donne, and other poetry and words and they are able to pick right up where they left off. I was intrigued with their association and ability to finish each other's quotes. They are each quirky, yet complementary to one another's character, and I enjoyed watching their connection deepen as they spent time trying to figure out a solution to their sticky situation.

I love Hawaii and really appreciated the unique aspect to the setting. While the plot is sticky and slightly suspenseful, it's not intense. Being trapped in a situation with someone attractive definitely made their predicament entertaining and bearable and I loved the swoon.
Content: mild romance (some innuendo, kissing); mild peril/danger