Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Enemy (It Happened in Charleston #2) by Sarah Adams {Review}

The Enemy (It Happened in Charleston #2) by Sarah Adams

Kindle Edition
Publication: August 29th 2020 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
   
 
It’s been twelve years since I’ve seen him. Twelve years since he won our war of wits by outsmarting me with a tactic I didn’t even know was allowed. But tonight…I resurrect the battle.

Ryan Henderson is back in town for our best friends’ wedding, and I plan on showing him exactly how much I don’t care about him—or the almost kiss he ruthlessly dangled over me after graduation.

A lot has changed since our feuding days. I'm a successful bakery owner now, and I plan to rub every delicious detail of my life in his ugly face.

Just one problem: his face is gorgeous.

He wasn’t supposed to look like this or pursue me like a sexy guided missile. I must stay strong until the wedding is over and Ryan scurries back into whatever alternate universe he escaped from.

His interest in me is nothing but a continuation of the games we played in high school...right?

But the longer he stays, the more I wonder if I’m wrong and his tender smile and heated attentions are genuine. Maybe it’s not a game.

Ha! Who am I kidding? This is Ryan we’re talking about. Of course it’s a game. A game called war. And this time, I will win.
 
My Review: 5 Stars
 
Isn't it known that the closest emotion to love is hate? Ryan and June have been bitter enemies since high school and now, twelve years later, it's still war, especially when June realizes that Ryan has changed.
 
"Gone is the boyishness of his face. Gone are the lanky arms and legs. It's still Ryan staring me down, but Ryan the man. Ryan 2.0. Ryan maple-glazed and covered in sprinkles."
 
The Enemy is a perfectly snarky, hilarious romantic comedy that had me laughing and swooning throughout. Sarah Adams perfects her characters voices and portrays their personalities through their words and actions in ways that bring them to life. June is real (she's hard on herself and lacking trust), and loyal and funny. Ryan is determined, hard-working, a chef, and could charm the socks off a bear.
 
The combination of the battle of wits, pranks, and flirting makes for a delectably swoony concoction and will leave you craving donuts with a silly, satisfied smile on your face.

Content: mild+ romance

Thursday, August 27, 2020

One Southern Cowboy (Romeo Family Romance #6) by Jennifer Youngblood {Review}

 

 
Kindle Edition, 172 pages
Published August 25th 2020 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
 
    
 

Sometimes you have to forget all that you know … to learn how to love again.

The player in the family, Jaxson goes through girlfriends faster than a hot knife through butter. A near fatal accident with a familiar face might be the very thing to give this cowboy a fresh take on love and loyalty.

Jaxson locked his heart a long time ago and has no intention of opening it back up for anyone. Sure, he was heartbroken once when his ex-girlfriend Lemon betrayed him, but that was a lifetime ago. He has long since moved on. Then, why is he seeing Lemon? Was it her at the rodeo? Or a trick of the light?

Coming home from Hartley and Ramsey’s wedding, Jaxson gets the shock of his life when he sees Lemon standing in the middle of the road. He swerves to miss her …

Was she real or did he only imagine it?

Get ready for a suspenseful ride! Where secrets abound and tender love gets a second chance. A place for the heart to remember, even when the head can’t.

My Review: 4.5 Stars

I really enjoy this series because each story about different family members is fast-paced and suspenseful, but there's a healthy dash of romance splashed in, which makes it a lot of fun. Each person in this family is so unique and has a colorful backstory and it's great to get to know them deeper and watch them fall into the love they all deserve.

In this installment, Jaxson, the playboy rancher, gets a second chance with Lemon, the girl who got away. I would NEVER have thought to use the name Lemon, but it's soooo cute and perfectly fits her.  Their flirty and playful banter, as they became reacquainted, was a special treat, which was the perfect foundation for the things they went through as the story and danger climaxed. I love these characters and the distinctive situations they find themselves in.

Youngblood has created an entertaining niche with this family's series and I always look forward to my time in Tennessee with this captivating crew.

Content: mild romance; mild danger/violence


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Her Billionaire's Murder Mystery by Stephanie Fowers {Review}

   

Her Billionaire's Murder Mystery (Billionaire Bachelor Mountain Cove Book 14) by Stephanie Fowers 

Kindle Edition
Publication: August 26th 2020 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
 
     
 
The mystery holds the clues to their hearts.

Aaron Mills has buried his aching heart for years under a charming fa├žade. Success and money can never replace what he lost so many years ago.

Charlize Dean has her hands full keeping her mother from getting banned from Bingo night in their small town of Eureka Springs. When she gets roped into playing a flapper for a weeklong ‘20s Murder Mystery at the hotel where she works, the last thing on her mind is getting mixed up with the charity event’s gorgeous sponsor—no matter how blue Aaron’s eyes are.

Aaron can hardly believe he’s falling for his leading lady, and worse, he can’t prove to Charlize he’s not a “player.” When the mystery of the game turns a little too real, can they forget their growing attraction to solve a forgotten crime or is love in the script too?
  

My Review: 4 Stars
 
I loved going to Murder Mystery parties back in high school and college, and it was fun to revisit those times through this book. Billionaire Aaron hosts a party with his friends and hotel worker, Charlize, is coerced into playing a part. Sparks fly in this game, especially when the heat is turned up and it's hard to tell what's real and what's not.

It was super fun to have the element of mystery threaded throughout this charming romance. Jealousy doesn't look too good on Charly, but it was fun to figure out who the characters were, how they related to Aaron, and how good of actors they each were. Aaron is who is he is with good reason, and I loved watching his backstory unfold through the eyes of Charly.

All in all, this slightly chaotic story was a throwback to the past and was so much fun to be a part of. Billionaire Bachelor Mountain Cove is becoming a very cherished small town book destination.

Content: mild romance; mild violence

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Cottage by Coniston (Seasons of Change #5) by Deborah M. Hathaway {Review}

  

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Publication: August 25th 2020 by Draft Horse Publishing
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given 
 
 
 
What could possibly go wrong by asking someone else to make all of her decisions?

After a misguided kiss and subsequent rejection by yet another gentleman, Miss Amy Paxton convinces her brother to make all of her future decisions, especially in finding her a husband. His strategy? She must seek his advice before doing anything. Desperate for a happier future and a fresh start, Amy adopts her new way of life with relative ease. That is, until her new, self-assured landlord begins to meddle in her affairs.

With the passing of his oppressive grandfather, Mr. William Eastwood is finally free. Free to explore business ventures, free to help his parents—and free to marry his childhood friend, Miss Charity Winslow. But matters are complicated when he must help his new tenant, Amy Paxton, stand up to her overbearing brother. William soon discovers, however, that Amy is not as defenseless as she seems.

Anxious to discover the reasoning behind her behavior, William determines to uncover the real Amy, and an attraction sparks between them. But when challenges arise, Amy must protect herself as William struggles to choose between what his heart longs for—and what his duty demands.

The fifth book in the Seasons of Change series, The Cottage by Coniston, is a stand-alone novel. Check out the other books in the series to discover stories about change and love.

My Review: 5 Stars
 
What a delightfully charming story! Amy's had a couple of potential relationships fail before they even really began and decides to enlist the help of her brother, Hugh, to help her out. Siblings are so much fun, and sometimes annoying, and this relationship was portrayed in a fantastically ideal way.
I hate making decisions so I totally get her reasoning to allow Hugh to do so on her behalf.
 
Amy is the type of character that I envy--she is precocious, amusing, blunt, sweet, and slightly naive, all of which lead to some great situations, especially between her and William Eastwood. William is finally free from his grandfather's thumb and I enjoyed watching him become who he truly desires to be, but I love, love, loved the interactions between him and Amy best of all. They always left me with a silly smile on my face.
 
This Regency romance offered the perfect blend of fun, swoon, banter, and assumptions. I was enthralled from the very start and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time in the Lake District with these characters. And now, I've got to check out the rest of the series (which can be found below).
 
Content: mild romance
 
Other Books in the Series:
 
Book One: The Road Through Rushbury by Martha Keyes
Book Two: A Forgiving Heart by Kasey Stockton
Book Three: The Last Eligible Bachelor by Ashtyn Newbold
Book Four: A Well-Trained Lady by Jess Heileman
Book Five: The Cottage by Coniston by Deborah M. Hathaway
Book Six: A Haunting at Havenwood by Sally Britton
Book Seven: His Disinclined Bride by Jennie Goutet

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Highlander's Hidden Heart (Veteran's Club #3) by Julie Coulter Bellon {Review}

 The Highlander's Hidden Heart (Veteran's Club #3) by Julie Coulter Bellon

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Publication: August 20th 2020 by Stone Hall Books 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
 
     
 
A duke's daughter. A Highland warrior. And a love worth fighting for.

Lady Elizabeth, daughter of the Duke of Barrington, has done her best to secure an advantageous match, but a shy nature, combined with a stutter, hasn't helped her cause. After two Seasons, her father won’t wait any longer and promises her to a man she despises. There doesn’t seem to be anything Elizabeth can do beyond wish for a freedom she’ll never have---until a charming Highlander appears and makes all her dreams of a love match seem within her reach.

Alec Ramsay unexpectedly inherits an earldom and must leave his beloved Scottish Highlands to present himself in London and settle the estate affairs. After meeting his new neighbor, Lady Elizabeth, he feels a connection to her that he’s never felt with any other woman. Alec makes every effort to further their acquaintance, but soon finds out that Elizabeth could be swept out of his reach before they have a chance to explore the feelings between them. With everything at stake, can he risk all for a chance at love−−before it’s too late?

**Originally a novella in the Timeless Romance collection, but now a full-length novel with more twists, turns, and romance!
 
My Review: 5 Stars
 
As much as I love the Regency time period, I can't imagine being forced to make a match, especially at the whim of a father who doesn't take my feelings into consideration. Elizabeth is a sweet and darling girl, but she has a stutter, which makes her feel "less than" in her father's eyes. But Alec, a dashing Scot, sees her for her, and their electric connection ignited my attention and captivated me. This forbidden association penetrated itself smack dab into the center of my heart and I was all in.
 
This book is full of loyalties, exploration, evaluation, and difficulties, but those elements only serve to add a richness to this already flavorful story. I loved the characters and enjoyed watching them become self-aware and release the hidden facets of their personalities. Even the villains were well done, and combined with a sweeping plot, this whole story was told in an engaging way that drew me right in and allowed me to be engulfed for a time. And who wouldn't enjoy a great escape in this day and age?
 
Kudos, Ms. Bellon, for writing yet another amazing story!
 
Content: mild romance; mild violence 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Just Like Home (Harbor Pointe #4) by Courtney Walsh {Review}


Kindle Edition
Publication: August 18th 2020 by independently published
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given

    
 
Prima ballerina Charlotte Page has a life any dancer would envy, but the tragic loss of her best friend, Julianna, leaves her wanting more. Or maybe—less. In an effort to make her life about something other than accolades and applause, Charlotte leaves professional ballet to save Julianna’s small-town dance studio. This lands her directly in the path of cranky high school football coach and Julianna’s older brother, Cole Turner.

Fresh off a state win and a bitter divorce, the last thing Cole expects is for a prima ballerina to chip away at the wall he’s grown quite comfortable hiding behind.

Will their fledgling relationship be strong enough to weather the storm of old secrets and a haunting past? Or will Charlotte lose the new, simple life she’s given up everything to gain?
  

My Review: 5 Stars
 
One of my biggest dreams in life from when I was little was to be a ballerina. Unfortunately, we couldn't ever afford the cost of the lessons, but I did take a beginning ballet class in college for a fitness credit and enjoyed it. Charlotte has paid the price to become one of the best ballerinas in the country, but never feels good enough. When her Julianna, her best (and only) friend, dies, something in her shifts and she begins to make changes. And oddly after reading her story, I'm very grateful for the path my life took.

Walsh does a fantastic job of creating small town Harbor Pointe and all of its inhabitants. Cole, Julianna's brother, is the perfect hero for this sweet and extremely touching story. Charlotte is innocent and naive, yet tremendously strong. And together? Read the story and find out how amazing (and swoony) things are.
 
I loved the connection I felt to these characters and the balance of all the different emotions, along with solid and flawed characters, convincing writing, and amazing contradictions made for one of the most impressive novels I've read this summer. I felt like a fish, as I was drawn into this story hook, line, and sinker and completely caught from the first page until the last.

Content: mild romance; mild religion

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Governess of Banbury Park by Julie Matern {Review}



Kindle Edition, 175 pages
Published April 14th 2020 by Cedar Fort, Inc
Source: I was gifted a copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.

  

At the reading of her father's will, Sophia Cavanaugh learns that she is suddenly destitute. Impoverished, grief-stricken and alone, she sees only one course open to her - becoming a governess. With little experience and no references, securing a position proves more difficult than expected until she finds a champion in the dashing and well-connected Charles Mortimer. he quickly captures her heart but are the feelings mutual?

Sophia is provided a position by his meddling mother and the two are parted, but fate thrusts them back together. Will Sophia risk her heart and confess her love?

My Review: 4 Stars

Although this Regency romance was slightly predictable, it was a sweet and enjoyable read. Sophia handles her tough situation fairly well and I loved watching her develop friendships and strength as she looks to her uncertain future when she finds herself left with nothing after the death of her father. Of course, a lovely connection with Charles, the man who captures her interest, proves to be charming, especially as she forges ahead with her plans to become a governess. He's a delight and a great support to her, offering a solid friendship and a hint of forbidden romance.

The governess angle almost had a gothic feel to it, which was very interesting. Again, Sophia manifests an inner strength that anchors those around her, but may not be enough to withstand the formidable mother of Charles, along with the mystery and dominance surrounding the home she works in.

I enjoyed the endearing characters and the appeasing plot. Like I said, it was slightly predictable, but it was like coming home to a plate of comfort food, and it soothed and satisfied my soul.

Content: mild romance; mild danger/violence

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Breach of Promise (Forever Home Romances, Book 3) by Jennifer Griffith {Review}



Kindle Edition
Published August 11th 2020
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.


Aircraft mechanic and secret sci-fi novelist Cash Conway has been transferred to his hometown of Torrey Junction the week of his 30th birthday, a place he hasn’t visited once since he left for tech school. The second he rolls into town, he nearly crashes his vintage truck.

It’s Annabel Houston!

He can’t catch up to her, but he will. And if she’s available, he’s going after her.

Dental assistant and former actress Annabel Houston has waited on her birthday for the past twelve years for Cash Conway to return and make good on his promise to marry her. After all, he signed the contract that said he would if they reached 30 unhitched.

But he’s been slow to appear, and the town’s most-eligible bachelor is wearing away at Annabel’s defenses with proposal after proposal.

When Cash’s plans go awry, the only choice he has is to take Annabel to court and sue her for breach of promise.

A return to hometown romance with a sweet reunion, a secret identity, and Beauty and the Beast echoes, Breach of Promise is Book 3 in the Forever Home Romances by award-winning clean romance author Jennifer Griffith. All books in this series have a sweet "reunion" theme, sweet and satisfying kisses, and a guaranteed HEA.


My Review: 5 Stars

Torrey Junction is the perfect setting for this forever home series and I loved the contract that was forged between Cash and Annabel. I love the trope of getting together on a certain date if both parties are still single and Cash makes good on that promise by the skin of his teeth. Their reunion is ultra-sweet and I loved watching Cash trying to woo Annabel and make her his once again.

As part of the deal, Cash makes Annabel promise to allow him five dates (and a couple of kisses) and these dates were the sweetest, most creative activities ever! If I wasn't in love with him before, I definitely would have been after, but Annabel is a tough cookie. What really solidified my love for Cash was the way he connected with and treated her father.

These characters are winsome and the romance is electrifying. Swoon, swoon, swoon! My heart has been stolen and locked away in this quaint, wholesome town and I've loved my time spent here.

Content: mild romance (swoony kisses)

Friday, August 7, 2020

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith {Review}


Hardcover, 337 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by Poppy
Source: Library


Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and—finally—a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

My Review: 4 Stars

There was something soft and sweet about this throwback story. In an age where texting and social media are all the rage and the ways that most teens seem to communicate through, it was refreshing to see Lucy and Owen, two vastly different people from opposite worlds, have a fluke meeting, an exciting couple of days during a power outages, and then keep in touch through emails and postcards.

Reminiscent of Sleepless in Seattle--teen-style--this book really touches the heart, especially through this year of growth, change, and self-awareness and discovery. The angst is strong, while the whisper of romance is secondary. I was expecting romance to play a bigger part, but this is the type of story that takes the reader on a journey and stays in the shadows of the mind for a few days.

Content: mild language; very mild romance

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Tier 1 (Tier Trilogy #1) by Cindy Gunderson {Review}

Tier 1 (Tier Trilogy #1) by Cindy Gunderson
ebook, 315 pages
Published September 2019 by Button Press LLC 
Source:  Kindle Unlimited

https://amzn.to/39Rl0ma   

A virus nearly wiped out the human race. But is controlled survival a future worth living?

The post-apocalyptic routine couldn’t be better for Kate. Doing her part to rebuild the world’s population, her husband and their genetically privileged children are her pride and joy. But as her spouse becomes distant, she fears her flawless family is on the brink of collapse.

Confused and distraught as he continues to withdraw, Kate finds comfort in a handsome younger man who mentors her son. But as she and her new beau become entwined, her husband suddenly reasserts his claim. And giving in to his renewed loyalty could set their carefully ordered society ablaze.

Will Kate build the life she dares desire or be stained by betrayal?

Tier 1 is the first book in the thrilling Tier science fiction trilogy. If you like heartfelt characters, clean romance, and thought-provoking takes on dystopia, then you’ll adore Cindy Gunderson’s binge-worthy tale. 
 
My Review: 5 Stars

Gunderson does a great job of building a futuristic society based on three tiers. I could actually visualize this happening one day, which was eerie in some ways. Kate is a solid protagonist and it was very enjoyable to watch her try and balance her duties with her own wishes in a seemingly impossible system.

I really liked that the main characters in this series are adults with families, as it gave more credibility to a believable reality. There is also a slight edginess to this tale, with love and passion, loyalties and friendships, and secrets and betrayal, with a healthy dose of mystery. I loved the characters, but honestly--I'm not sure who to really trust, and just when I think I knew what was up, I was surprised.

This world is built slow and steadily, but by the end, it was quite thrilling, and has me desperate to clear my reading schedule and finish out the series.

Content: moderate romance (innuendo, implications of intimacy with very mild descriptions leading up to fade-to-black)

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Penelope (Fairweather Sisters #1) by Anya Wylde {Review}

Penelope (Fairweather Sisters #1) by Anya Wylde
Kindle Edition, 268 pages
Published 2015 (first published January 13th 2013)  

 https://amzn.to/2DpdR0e    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26111429-penelope
Leaving behind the rural charms of Finnshire, Miss Penelope Fairweather arrives in London with hope in her heart and a dream in her eye. The dowager, no less, has invited her for a season in London, where she will attempt to catch a husband.

Thus begins our heroine’s tale as she attempts to tackle the London season with all her rustic finesse. Unfortunately, her rustic finesse turns out to be as delicate as a fat bear trying to rip apart a honeycomb infested with buzzing bees.

What follows is a series of misadventures, love affairs, moonlit balls, fancy clothes, fake moustaches, highwaymen, sneering beauties, pickpockets, and the wrath of a devilishly handsome duke.
 

My Review: 4 Stars

Penelope is a super fun (and funny) Regency romance and I was constantly laughing at Penelope's naivety and uncomfortable scrapes. I hate finding myself in situations such as she found herself in, but it was refreshing to be able to laugh along with her, and at her, as I realized that it's not the end of the world to be so thoroughly unsettled.

Penelope is a light-hearted and almost backwards character and coming to London to make a match is her dream. Right from the start, she steps out on the wrong foot and things only slide downhill from there, but in the most humorous ways possible. I loved the camaraderie that she shared with Anne and every ensuing mishap and adventure that came their way.

The Duke is handsome, unruffled, and stern, and I wanted to warm up to him faster than I did. It drove me crazy at how harsh and unlikable he was--I know his severe behavior was part of the conflict of the story, but I wanted to see a few more cracks in his facade.

Overall, this is an enchanting and amusing story that brought many embarrassed smiles to my face.

Content: very mild romance; mild language

Monday, August 3, 2020

Once Upon a Date (Do-Over Date Series Book 6) by Susan Hatler {Review}

Once Upon a Date by Susan Hatler
Kindle Edition, 110 pages
Published June 30th 2020 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
 
 https://amzn.to/39K0mEg    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53948643-once-upon-a-date
 
It wasn’t a glass slipper that Michelle Moss left behind at the Masquerade Ball, but a beat up laptop. Her driver remained human, her ride didn’t turn into a pumpkin, and thank goodness she didn’t see any mice waiting for her in her condo. But Michelle did spontaneously kiss her masked Prince Charming and was determined to find him.

Tracking down her missing laptop using a locator app, she fully expected birds to sing, rice to fall from the sky, and the credits to roll when she found her potential true love. Instead, she found the editor, Brooks Keller, who rejected her modern fairytale manuscript. He told her the book was unrealistic, unimaginable, and unpublishable. Oh, and he’s also the ex who dumped her in high school.

Michelle urgently needs the book advance to bail her not-so-wicked but irresponsible stepbrother out of a financial mess. But she doesn’t want to change her fairytale ending. So, Michelle and Brooks make a deal: they will retrace her character’s steps from the book and if Brooks falls head over heels for Michelle then Brooks will publish the book Michelle’s way. If not, then Michelle will make the requested changes.

As Michelle tests out the life she always dreamed of, she discovers the chemistry with Brooks is still there after all these years. She knows Brooks is only playing the part of the hero, but everything feels so real. If she acts on her feelings, though, will he break her heart a second time?


My Review: 5 Stars

This whole series is absolutely adorable and I loved the fairytale theme in this bookish romance. I also love how each cover accurately reflects the heroine, and of course, this one is no different.

A masquerade ball is the perfect setting for a romantic first meeting between Michelle and her Prince Charming and an expected kiss was the icing on the cake. I gasped out loud when the masks came off later and didn't stop swooning, laughing, and devouring from that point on. Brooks and Michelle are perfectly matched and I loved the book elements swirling throughout their romance, especially with the reenactments.

This princess-like tale isn't without challenges, both in their personal lives and in their relationship, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching them work things out and cheering on their happily-ever-after. From start to finish, Hatler delivers a charmingly delectable distraction that was almost hotter than this summer day (but clean, of course) and I loved every minute of it.

Content: mild romance