Friday, April 26, 2019

Forever in a Kiss (Kissed by the Bay #7) by Susan Hatler {Review}

Forever in a Kiss (Kissed by the Bay #7) by Susan Hatler
Kindle Edition, 147 pages
Published April 17th 2019 by Hatco Publishing 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
Claire Davenport is a hopeless romantic who shared her first kiss with Alex Murphy during a game of Spin the Bottle. Only Alex never pursued her after their kissing session and Claire regrets not telling him about her crush. At twenty-seven, no boyfriends have captured her heart in the same way. Still, she hasn’t given up on finding the one. Unfortunately, Forever Designs, her boutique wedding dress business, is accumulating more bills than invoices so love has to take a backseat for now.

When a famous model books Claire to design her wedding dress, she jumps at the opportunity only to find out the client is her childhood best friend and rival, Missy Peters. Claire and Missy’s friendship imploded when Missy stole Claire’s high school boyfriend. To save her business, Claire has no choice, but to work with Missy. To Claire’s surprise, the best man turns out to be Alex Murphy. Gone is the skinny boy with the awkward-but-endearing kisses. Alex is now a sexy scientist, who for some reason seems determined to stop the wedding, which Claire can’t let happen.

Now, Claire must design the perfect dress for demanding Missy, while at the same time countering Alex’s attempts to break up the bride and groom. Can Claire convince Alex to give Missy and her fiancé a chance, and that true love is possible? And can she do it without him breaking her heart all over again?
My Review: 5 Stars
I love this quaint little seaside town and the characters who live there. The legend of the kiss is such a fun aspect to every book in this series and I always look forward to seeing how it will show up in the story.
Claire is a wedding dress designer and when she's asked to design the dress of her former best friend and #1 enemy, she's hesitant, but does it, all in the name of building her business. Claire is a great character to cheer on, especially as she tries to overcome her past. I wish she could stop by and bring me a pint of ice cream, as we rehash her non-existent dating life, hah!
But the best part of the story, the juiciest secret of all, is that she literally cannot get over her first kiss and even still, all these years later, dreams of it and of Alex and that spin the bottle game. He's ruined her for all men. And guess what?! Surprise, surprise--Alex is the best man of this wedding and is out to sabotage the I-do's, which unbeknownst to him, actually brings Claire front and center in the picture. Who can resist an opposites-attract match made in heaven? I sure couldn't!
In a childhood-crush-second-chance romance, this little gem delivered some swoony sparks, some stolen kisses, some hefty secrets, and a revamping of hopes and dreams. The backdrop setting is perfect for a blossoming love and I can't wait to visit once again.
Content: mild romance (kissing, vague talk of cheating)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Beneath an Italian Sky by Stacy Henrie {Blog Tour Review and Giveaway}

Beneath an Italian Sky by Stacy Henrie
ebook, 320 pages
Published April 23rd 2019 by Mirror Press 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
American heiress Clare Herschel made what she hoped was a love match when she married the handsome, witty Emmett Markham, the Earl of Linwood. A little over a year into her marriage, though, Clare finds herself wintering in Sicily—alone. She is sure the mild climate is the answer to avoiding another miscarriage and Emmett’s apparent indifference, so she’s determined to remain in Italy as long as possible. The last person she expects to show up at the villa is her husband, especially when Emmett confesses he’s there to convince her to return to England.

As the only surviving son of a marquess, Emmett has done everything his father has asked of him—even agreeing to run for a seat in the House of Commons. However, this latest task comes with a nearly impossible caveat. He must convince his wife Clare to come back to England with him in order for them to appear to be a happy couple for his political campaigning. Emmett isn’t confident Clare will agree to the plan, though, not when she seems to want nothing to do with him or the life they’d begun building before she abruptly left him for Italy.

When a massive earthquake strikes Messina, Sicily, claiming the lives of thousands, Clare and Emmett must set aside their mutual misgivings about their marriage in order to survive and lend a helping hand to others. But in the wake of the destruction, they begin to realize they’ve been given a chance to decide if their love is stronger than the upheavals of the past.

Night at the Opera
Beneath an Italian Sky (April 2019)
Among Sand and Sunrise (October 2019)

My Review: 5 Stars

This time period and the American heiresses are so fascinating to me. It seems that a lot of people in Europe long to find the American dream and those who come back a generation or two later, to find their matches, interests me greatly.

Clare has known hard times and has fallen deeply for Emmett, even though they make a good match and it pleases the marquess. But she's also known loss and some of those recent losses have driven this couple apart.

In a unique twist where the couple is already married, but lonely, a natural disaster is a catalyst in giving them a second chance. The feelings evoked were poignant, tender, and slightly nostalgic, yet I couldn't help but root for this couple to give each other another chance and to open up, communicate, and to forsake all others in order to cleave to each other.

These characters are multifaceted, with deep-rooted expectations to dislodge, but don't underestimate the power of love. I love how the story flashed back to their courtship, as this helps the reader understand how they got to where they are. This touching tale is told in a way that embedded these people smack in the middle of my heart and soul.

Content: mild romance; mild+ moments of danger/peril; very mild elements of religion

Blog Tour Schedule:

April 22nd - Heidi Reads
April 23rd - Peggy Urry

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Waves (Love in Chaos #1) by Amy Matayo {Review}

The Waves (A Love In Chaos Novel) by Amy Matayo
Kindle Edition, 258 pages
Expected publication: April 25th 2019 by SYG Productions 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
Dillon Hayes is twenty-eight and single, an unfortunate status her overbearing family is determined to fix. So when she’s stuck on a cruise ship for a seven-day reunion with the lot of them, she's desperate for any escape she can find, even if it means partnering with a sketchy stranger for an off-the-beaten-path snorkeling excursion. After her mother's last matchmaking attempt, Dillon is more than willing to trade all her good sense for a few hours of solace.

Liam Gamble is stuck in the middle of family vacation hell. The worst part: it's not even his family. This will be the last time he ever accepts a free-vacation invitation from his best friend. At this point, he'd be willing to hand over his life savings to get off this crazy ship. So when he catches one of his friend's cousins sneaking off board, he decides to join her, hijacking her private excursion and nearly blowing her cover. If she gets to leave, so does he.

But what starts off as a secret escape turns into a very real nightmare when their shady tour guide leaves them stranded on an uninhabited island with nothing but the clothes on their backs and no idea how to keep themselves alive.

As hours turn into days, and the weather proves as threatening as their need for food and water, Dillon and Liam must join forces and rely on each other if they have any hope of seeing their families again. Funny thing: sometimes in life, the end of the rope is when you discover everything you value has been in front of you all along. 
My Review: 5 Stars
I went on my first cruise just over a year ago and I'm sooo happy to report that nothing like this happened to me. Phew! Matayo drew me right into this story, evoking emotions I wasn't expecting to feel and delivering a powerful escape with exactly the right amount of romance, adventure, and fear.
Dillon has a big, caring (almost too much) family, and her mother especially is determined to see her married off. This family cruise gets to be too much and Dillon goes off by herself for a little excursion. Luckily for her, her cousin's best friend, Liam, jumps in the boat at the last second and they find themselves lost at sea.
I honestly can't imagine the terror, the intense sun, and the unknowns that Dillon and Liam experienced and I had to keep reminding myself--this is fiction. I loved the way they worked together to survive and especially the way they were both able to explore their tentative feelings with the influences of well-meaning family and friends. But yikes!
Amy Matayo is the type of author who somehow manages to completely transport me from the comforts of my couch to a whole new world, all through her ingenious words, descriptions, and characters. I was knocked flat out with the world's nastiest cold while reading this, yet for a few hours, I was drifting in the tropical sea, being burnt to a crisp by the glorious sun, and getting to know a deliciously handsome man. Maybe it's time to get working on that bikini body... 
Content: mild romance (swoony); mild moments of danger/peril; mild+ language

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Plague by Gregg Luke {Review}

Plague by Gregg Luke
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published April 1st 2019 by Covenant Communications 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
Professor Mitch Pine knows all too well the history of epidemics, so the startling new information he’s discovered has him racing to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Mitch has uncovered a startling pattern: dramatic environmental changes always occurred prior to devastating outbreaks, and current climate change may be such a catalyst. But before his plane lands, Mitch’s journey takes a terrifying turn. He is intercepted by a woman who represents a dangerous faction whose interest in Mitch’s research opposes his mission to save lives. To secure Mitch’s cooperation, his research assistant is being held hostage. With so many lives on the line, Mitch embarks on a turbulent trip around the world, uncovering pieces of the puzzle until he ultimately holds the key to prevent—or precipitate—global devastation. Unless he can find a way to stop the lunatics behind his abduction, a plague the likes of which the world has never known will be unleashed.
My Review: 4 Stars
Mitch's trip to the CDC turns terrifying when he's "kidnapped" and taken on a scavenger hunt around the world. He's made some interesting conclusions, but what he discovers along the way is startling. He assistant is also being held hostage and the story goes back and forth between these two settings in this race against time.
There were times when the scientific jargon was over my head or didn't capture my full attention, but  this story of predicting a future plague was fascinating and at times, fast-paced, but meandered along for the most part. 
I wasn't always sure who to trust or what the motives were, which always makes for a fun suspense and keeps me guessing. It's always interesting to have an author weave in scenarios that could be possible, as they make my mind start churning, wondering at possibilities. I loved the last part of the book, especially the new characters. Overall, an entertaining read that creeped me out.
Content: mild+ violence; moments of peril  

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My Not So Wicked Ex-Fiance by Jennifer Peel {Review}

My Not So Wicked Ex-Fiance by Jennifer Peel
Kindle Edition
Published April 12th 2019 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
He rocked her world. She wrecked his. Now their worlds are colliding again.

Expensive schools and etiquette classes never prepared Shelby Duchane for Ryder Prescott. He taught her more about life in his hay field classroom beneath a blanket of stars than anyone. Under that Georgia sky, she pledged forever to the farm boy with soul-melting chocolate brown eyes, even though it meant forfeiting her large inheritance. She couldn’t wait to clip coupons and buy clothes off the sales rack until death do they part. But then she receives some photos of her intended with someone she had not intended. Brokenhearted, Shelby flees her hometown for Colorado without bothering to say goodbye to her cheating ex-fiancé.

A year later and wiser, Shelby’s doing her best to move on while running her boutique in Carrington Cove, when Ryder shows up and challenges all she thought she knew. Perhaps he wasn’t the wicked ex-fiancé she believed him to be after all. But will Ryder be able to swallow his pride enough to see why she was so persuaded? Will he realize before it’s too late that the only way to heal his own broken heart is to mend Shelby’s?
My Review: 5 Stars
I grew to absolutely adore Shelby in My Not So Wicked Stepbrother and I was sooo excited to get her backstory! Her fiance, Ryder, cheated on her, but when he shows up in her new hometown, she learns that everything didn't happen exactly like she thought. My world was rocked!
Shelby is a privileged rich girl, and I love that she throws that all to the wind to make a name and place for herself in life. How many women could do that? I adore this Southern belle, especially her sass, attitude, and charm, that wrap her beauty and brains up with a big, fluffy bow.
I'm a sucker for a good, loyal Southern boy (yum--I can almost hear that accent...) and Ryder proves to be just that. In fact, he goes above and beyond what I expected of him and I could see exactly why Shelby was so broken up over losing him. Send over a fan because the heat that sizzles between this couple will melt the makeup right off your face!   
And can we just talk about the other characters for a minute? Bobby Jay almost stole the show and I loved having the familiarity of Sawyer and Emma (Book 1) throughout this story. 
Let's give a big hand to Ms. Peel for delivering a romance so delicious that it rivals buttery biscuits and sugary, secret recipe, birthday cake. I, for one, am completely satisfied.
Content: mild+ romance (swoony, kissing, making out, some innuendo); mild language; mild+ religion 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Match for Mr. Write by Jennifer Shirk {Review}

A Match for Mr. Write by Jennifer Shirk
Kindle Edition, 148 pages
Publication: April 16th 2019 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
Get ready for ten weeks of romance in the Bahamas with a new series brought to you by some of the best authors in the inspirational and sweet romance genres…

Ten delightful - and standalone - novellas linked by one matchmaking week. You’ll want to devour each one!

It’s Matchmaking Week at an all-inclusive resort on a private island in the Bahamas. Each guest has been expertly paired and is here to enjoy one full week with their match. While there’s no money-back guarantee on the paid trip, the participants are guaranteed to find love!

This is A Match for Mr. Write...
Magazine editor Gemma Carmichael has been secretly in love with her co-worker Blade for 5 years and when he suddenly breaks off his engagement, Gemma decides this is her chance to woo her man. He signs up for a matchmaking getaway and she decides to do it too, positive they're a match. But to her surprise, she's matched with Sawyer Bennett, a brooding romance author who only came on the island to write and who doesn't even believe in love. (Obviously the Sterling sisters have no idea what they're doing!)

Romance author, Sawyer Bennett, did not sign up for this. He thought his travel agent cousin was sending him on a nice, normal vacation in the Bahamas, not to bad reality TV recreation. The only romance he's interested in is the one between his characters. After all, family history has shown him that true love is just fiction, which is why he's so good at writing it. But now, he's stuck in a romance book situation, with contracts that can't be broken and matched to the pretty but kooky redhead, Gemma. (Obviously, the Sterling sisters have no idea what they're doing!)

However, the magazine Gemma works for would provide great publicity for his next release, so he agrees to help her win her true love in exchange for her putting his book on the reviewer's upcoming list. Seems like an easy enough way to pass the week. Sawyer still doubts the existence of true love but by the end of the week, he can’t help but wonder if he could finally have found the write woman for him after all.

My Review: 5 Stars
Did someone say "Bahamas?!" I'm in love with the idea of this new series, especially with the romantic setting, and can't wait to read all of these stories of this matchmaking week. 
Gemma has been "stalking" her co-worker, Blade, and just knows they're a match made in heaven so when the Sterling sisters match her with grumpy romance author, Sawyer, she's just a little put out. 
I adored the plan that is hatched between Gemma and Sawyer. So many laughs were had as this duo worked hard to get what they both wanted. These characters are quirky and fun, which made for a very entertaining read. And do you know what? I'm kind of dying to read one of Sawyer's romance books--why isn't he real?! 
I love the way Shirk weaves a wonderful tangled story of realizations, humor, and romance, and just the right dose of reality--I could have read about these characters for 100 more pages. 

Content: mild romance; mild+ language
Find all the Resort to Romance novellas at Amazon or visit the authors’s websites!

A Messed-Up Match by Jessica R. Patch

A Meddled Match by Jill Kemerer

Met Her Match by Susan L. Tuttle

Moonlight Match by Kristina Knight

Unexpected Match by Constance Phillips

Match Me If You Can by Krista Phillips

Mismatched Melody by Jodie Bailey

Rematched by Julie Jarnagin

Match You Like Crazy by Johnnie Alexander

Monday, April 15, 2019

A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd {Review}

A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd
ebook, 352 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Shadow Mountain 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
Inspired by a true story

Hawaiian Islands, 1779

As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawaiʻi, and he taught her everything he knows—how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him die, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook’s translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with her homeland and her people—and Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John’s guilt over the death he caused, and Maile’s guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle—a secret she’s kept hidden from everyone on the island.

When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.
My Review: 5 Stars 
Just over a year ago, my husband and I were lucky enough to visit the Captain Cook monument on the Big Island of Hawaii. We hiked down in and spent several hours enjoying the beauty of the area and the clear, tropical waters and that's all I could picture as I read this beautifully written book.
Maile and John come from such different worlds. I loved how the story was told from Maile's first-person point-of-view, but also alternated with John's journal entries. The writing probably isn't true to the late 1700s in terms of style, but it evoked such vivid images in my mind and was an intricate song of language that spoke to my soul. I loved learning more of the history and traditions in such a heartfelt, entertaining, and alluring way.
While the story is built around tragedy, hope rises up through the ruins and engages the heart. I loved this story--it's left a deep and lasting impression on me.
Content: mild+ violence (war, battles, death); mild romance