Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Before Time Runs Out (A Charles & Company Romance, Book 1) by Amy Matayo {Review}

Before Time Runs Out (A Charles & Company Romance, Book 1) by Amy Matayo 

Kindle Edition, 223 pages
Published 9 March 2021
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
 
 
 
Graduate student Bree Sanders is failing the one class she needs to get her degree. So when her professor gives her an ultimatum—ace her dissertation or risk having to repeat her final semester—she knows she has to pull out all the stops. After scrambling for an idea, she decides to create her own Ghost Club, a club that blames ghosts for unsolved crimes, the same type of club originally founded two centuries ago by Charles Dickens.

What she doesn’t expect is to find an original copy of one of Dickens’ early works, or to be transplanted into Dickens’s actual ghost club meeting, circa 1870, the instant she picks it up.

When Bree shows up in nineteenth-century England wearing cut-offs and an old t-shirt, her only option is to hide. The Cambridge of 1870 won’t look kindly on a woman dressed like her. So, when Theodore Keyes finds her tucked behind a bookcase at the Trinity College library and immediately demands to know where she came from, she knows he doesn’t belong here either. Turns out she’s right; the same book caused him to time-travel from 1947 almost three months ago and he’s been stuck in England since.

Together, the two vow to work side-by-side in their search for the lost book that will take them home. But as their feelings for one another deepen, Theo and Bree are caught between a desire to return to the lives they each left behind, and the knowledge that if they find the book, they won’t be able to leave together.

In the end, they each must decide which sacrifice is worth making—the one that will cost them their hearts, or the one that could cost them their very existence.
 
   

 
My Review: 5 Stars
 
Time travel can be a little hit or miss for me. Sometimes it's believable and sometimes it's pretty far-fetched, so I was a little nervous. WHY?! I mean, it's Amy Matayo, so of course she could pull off something so unique and interesting, still infuse a healthy dose of her typical style, and totally make it work!  
 
Bree is an overwhelmed college student grasping at straws to get her master's degree and suddenly finds herself flung back to 1870s England--straight into the time of her all-time idol, Charles Dickens. Theo is a fellow time traveler, but from 1947, and together they brave many challenges and perilous experiences to discover secrets and a way back home. I was so intrigued and entertained by the events that unfolded along their journey. So many minor details of the time period were suddenly forefront in my mind and Matayo did a brilliant job of merging three different times.
 
Bree is modern and spunky, but has an old soul stuck in the past. It was amusing to watch her navigate what she feels would be her ideal life. I enjoyed watching her interact with Theo and fell a little bit in love with his adaptability and seriousness. I honestly had no idea how things could possibly come together, yet come together they did. The twists and turns were perfectly complicated, and I'm beyond thrilled that this is Book 1 (that means more is coming--hooray!). 
 
Content: mild romance; mild+ language; mild moments of peril/danger 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Falling For My Sister's Ex by Catelyn Meadows {Review}

Falling For My Sister's Ex (Harvest Ranch Romance Book 7) by Catelyn Meadows

ebook, 186 pages

Published: March 8, 2021

Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given

 

 

If you love the first flowers of spring, the sunlight dancing off rain drops, and a warm breeze brushing across your skin, then you'll love Harvest Ranch in the springtime.

Come for a visit or stay for a while, you're always welcome in this small town.

She's had to force her feelings for him away.
Now that he's no longer with her sister, does she dare take a chance?

Jeremy was the boy next door.
Blaire's first love.
Her first kiss.

After he graduated from college and moved back to Harvest Ranch, his attention shifted to Blaire's twin sister, Savannah, instead. Blaire has been forced to suppress her feelings and watch their relationship grow faster than the tulips in the field her family owns.

But right in the middle of their engagement, they break up.

Savannah claims he cheated.

Jeremy's brother says she did.

Blaire isn't sure who is telling the truth, so she goes right to the source. She meant to remain an impartial seeker of the truth, but talking to Jeremy has always had the ability to scramble her senses. When she finds out what really happened, she's left with a painful decision--

Following her heart means turning against her family's wishes and her own resolve. Can she trust the man she's always loved or is she better off without him?

   

My Review: 3.5 Stars  

Relationships are sometimes very complicated. Twins Savannah and Blaire both fell for the same guy at one time or another--their long-time neighbor, Jeremy. Although he went back and forth between the two, Jeremy is a very reasonable and smart man, and I kept wondering how in the world he ended up engaged to Savannah. Don't worry--the puzzle pieces fall into place, just as with any good story, but I still had to question him. But...cheating isn't my favorite trope.

I already fell in love with Harvest Ranch and it was really fun to see it from a different perspective. The tulip fields and festival that Blaire's family runs was so intriguing and I loved visualizing it and smelling it in my mind. I loved the descriptions of the events and the work that went into preparing things. And although complex, I really enjoyed the intricacies of the many different relationships. I adored Blaire and the way she and Jeremy first connected as teens.

Content: mild romance (lots of cheating in marriage, engagements, relationships)


Saturday, March 6, 2021

His Small Town Fresh Start by Lucy McConnell {Review}

His Small-Town Fresh Start (Harvest Ranch Romance #6) by Lucy McConnell

ebook, 186 pages
Published March 1st 2021 by Orchard View Publishing LLC
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given

 

Welcome to Harvest Ranch

Settling in a small town sounds like heaven for Lucky except for the prickly cowgirl with the beautiful long hair. Winning her over could take a lifetime, but what a wonderful like that would be.

Swayzie Westbrook has no patience for rodeo cowboys. They breeze into town, looking for spring flings, and then disappear just when things start to get hot. Lucky claims he's here to stay, but it'll take more than his charming smile and washing the dishes to prove to her heart that he's worth the risk.

Will Lucky be the man he claims and hold Swayzie close? Or will his wild heart lead him back to the life he left behind?

Find out in this clean, small town romance full of romance and family.

 


My Review: 5 Stars

There's something so soothing to my soul about a small town full of a very loyal extended family. Harvest Ranch immediately swept me away to a place where I could almost smell the dirt and horses, feel the cool breeze on my face, and catch real-life glimpses of these delightful characters.   

Hardworking Swayzie and rodeo bronc riding star Lucky come together to help out their brother and sister, who are married to each other, but Lucky gets under Swayzie's skin like a prickly burr underneath a saddle. He loves to rile her up with his flirtatious charm, but she's a tough cowgirl with no patience for that kind of rodeo behavior. I love how intent they each were with their convictions--his was to tease the edge of danger and hers was to stubbornly resist, and this combination was an arrow of swoon straight to the heart.

I didn't want to stop reading this story about an arrogant cowboy and a sassy cowgirl. The whole family and community wrapped me up in a warm hug. I eagerly devoured every page and loved watching the bristles soften, the humor and coquetry emerge, and the chemistry start to ignite at every interaction. Yee-haw! I can't wait for more!

Content: mild+ romance (kissing)


Thursday, March 4, 2021

First Shift (The Wolves of Rock Falls) by AJ Skelly {Review}

First Shift (The Wolves of Rock Falls) by AJ Skelly

Paperback, First Edition
Published 2021 by Wild Rose Press, Inc 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
 
 
 
Sam Wolfe has been in love with Megan Carmichael for years. Too bad she's off-limits. She's human. He's not. When an accidental slip of his teeth endangers Megan and his entire werewolf pack, it's up to Sam to find a solution. Unbeknownst to them, Sam's bite has thrust Megan into the crosshairs of a killer. Sam and Megan must work together to find the threat, protect the pack, and maybe fall in love. But they better do it before the next full moon.  
 
   

 
My Review: 4 Stars
 
It's a little cliche for a werewolf book to have a Wolfe family, but don't let that scare you off. Although this isn't my typical go-to genre, I found it to be interesting and entertaining. I love the world Skelly created, merging humans with werewolves. Although the main characters are teens, there are many moments of swoon, danger, and mystery swirling around them.
 
Sam and Megan are believable protagonists, acting their ages with the drama, jealousy, indecisiveness, and immaturity, but after a slowish accidental start, the growth that occurred within each of them and between them was as intense as the flourishing plot. I found myself deeply caring about what would happen and wondering how it would all resolve, especially when a few twists made their appearances. 
 
This isn't a one-and-done story, but is the start of something intriguing, and I'm looking forward to reading more to see how it will all come together. 
 
Content: moderate (PG-13) romance (passionate kissing, some innuendo, fade-to-black between a married couple, frank talk of sex); mild + (PG/PG-13) violence (wolf bites and fights/injuries); mild language

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Making the Marquess (Brotherhood of the Black Tartan #4) by Nichole Van {Review}

Making the Marquess (Brotherhood of the Black Tartan #4) by Nichole Van

Kindle Edition
Publication: March 3rd 2021 by Fiorenza Publishing 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
 
 
 
Lady Charlotte Whitaker is devoted to her family, particularly her sister’s son, Freddie. Her late father, the Marquess of Lockhead, died without a male heir. But on his deathbed, her father requested that Freddie inherit the title. Consequently, Lottie’s family has petitioned the Crown to recreate the title with Freddie as the new heir. Lottie wants nothing more than to honor her late father’s wishes. But she unwittingly reveals a wrinkle to this plan.

Dr. Alexander Whitaker is dedicated to his work as a physician in Edinburgh, Scotland. He dislikes surprises—disruptions to his daily schedule, interferences with his ability to care for his patients, and events that might alter his future. He particularly abhors things that threaten to do all three. So when a solicitor calls with news that Alex might be heir to an English marquisate, Alex wants nothing to do with the claim. But the law is the law, and a man cannot revoke his lineage, can he?

Alex does not want to be the new marquess.

Lottie is determined to honor her late father’s wishes.

Their goals should be simple enough to accomplish, right?

But when two kindred souls crash into one another, the resulting conflagration may have consequences neither can anticipate. And Lottie and Alex soon face a difficult truth—sometimes, life makes us choose between two loves, and in order to have one, we must forsake the other.
 
   

 
My Review: 4 Stars
 
I love the Brotherhood of the Tartan and I love the mystery that ties these men together. In this installment, the reader is treated to Alex's story. He is a Scottish doctor who finds himself inheriting a title and all that goes with it in England, which forces him to make some difficult decisions--to accept it or not.
 
The story starts out with an absolutely hilarious scene. I wasn't quite sure how to take it at first, but then it was revealed and actually I laughed out loud. From there, the plot progresses in a manner that represents Alex very well--meticulous and cautious--yet it kept me turning the pages to discover the secrets held within. 
 
I loved to love some of the characters and loved to hate others. Charlotte was delightful and I was so mad at her sister for her antics in regards to Charlotte's future. Alex is a serious gentleman in every way and the way his life tangled and clashed with Charlotte's after an accident had me bracing for the impact of their attraction, especially since it was forbidden.
 
Van writes in a way that smacks me right upside the heart and compels me to give her stories my full love and attention. I loved the twist this book took and can't wait for yet another addition to this series.
 
Content: mild romance (kissing); mild-moderate language (nothing intense, just more than a few); very mild violence (accident, talk of a shipwreck) 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright {Review}

A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright

Paperback, 336 pages
Publication: March 2nd 2021 by Shadow Mountain 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given 



Caroline Gray would rather be daring and intelligent than demure and insipid, which is why she is still unmatched after her third season in London. Her family’s threadbare finances leave Caroline with only one choice to secure her future: sail with the Fishing Fleet to India, where the son of a family friend is willing to consider an engagement to her.

Captain Thomas Scott loves the open sea as much as he despises the three-month, twice-yearly trip his ship makes as he ferries young English girls across the ocean. He can’t imagine what family would allow an innocent young woman to be matched up with the Englishmen of questionable reputation who work and live in India.

But when Miss Gray boards the HMS Persistence, all of Captain Scott’s plans are upended. Miss Gray’s fiery spirit can’t be contained, and he is shocked and secretly delighted at her boldness—and her beauty. But the rest of his passengers aren’t so kind.

Caroline finds herself an outcast among her peers, but Captain Scott becomes an unlikely ally. They share the same passions and interests, creating an undeniable attraction. But they both know any relationship between them is impossible. After all, Caroline has obligations to fulfill in India.

Caroline has until the end of the voyage to decide if she is going to marry a man she has never met or be brave enough to love a sea captain who just might break her heart.
 
   

 
My Review: 4.5 Stars
 
I adore Regency stories and this one had a few unique twists that made it stand out. Caroline is at the end of her options in England and a plan is hatched to send her to India to see if a match can be made there. I've always found these times in this country to be slightly mysterious and fascinating, and this story was no different, especially as most of the story took place on a ship in the middle of the sea.
 
Caroline is a very outspoken, opinionated young lady who has cultivated her interests in topics more than her interest in a match and that fire is exactly what captures Captain Scott's attention. I absolutely loved him and the way he would react to and engage with Caroline. The supporting cast of characters was equally charming.
 
The whole plot was fresh and fun. You'd think because it takes place in such close confines it would get a little stale, but that was definitely not the case. I was hooked from start to finish, but...the story felt like it just suddenly ended and I wanted a little bit more. An epilogue or just one more chapter would have made it perfection.
 
Content: mild romance; mild moments of peril/violence 

Monday, March 1, 2021

The Billionaire's Stray Heart (Burke Billionaire Romance #2) by Rachelle J. Christensen {Review}

The Billionaire's Stray Heart (Burke Billionaire Romance #2) by Rachelle J. Christensen

Kindle Edition, 198 pages
Published December 16th 2017 by Peachwood Press 
 
 
 
 
One billionaire, a stray puppy, and a beautiful dog trainer discover that love changes everything.

Jordan Burke, billionaire owner of Burke Enterprises doesn’t have time to date. His sister thinks it’s time for him to find love and sets him up with her best friend, but Jordan can’t leave his work behind. After the disastrous date, a stray puppy saves his life, and Jordan meets a woman who makes him rethink his priorities. 

Madison is attracted to Jordan from their first meeting but wary of his billionaire status. Despite her fears, she can’t ignore the pounding of her heart and the sparks flying between them or the tender way Jordan has with his new puppy. 

Jordan starts to change his life to make room for the woman he loves, but when a business opportunity comes his way, will he be able to keep his resolve or will his heart stray again?  
 
  

My Review: 4 Stars
 

A love a good meet-cute and this one was adorable, and as an added bonus, it also involved a mischievous little puppy. Jordan and Madison have an instant attraction and Roxie the pup helps bring them together after that first connection.

Is it possible to be a successful billionaire without being a workaholic? Maybe, but definitely not in Jordan's case. He eats, sleeps, and breaths work, and I love how Roxie and Madison mellow him out, helping him realize there's more to life than work.

Christensen writes some enchanting scenes that involve both that cute (and somewhat destructive) pup and a charming blossoming romance. It was easy to identify with bits and pieces of the characters and to get caught up in their story. What a lovely, light escape!

Content: mild romance


Friday, February 26, 2021

Hope for Christmas by Rachelle J. Christensen {Review}

Hope for Christmas by Rachelle J. Christensen

Kindle Edition, 152 pages
Published October 3rd 2016 by Peachwood Press 
 
 
 
This heart-warming, inspirational romance from Award-winning and Bestselling author Rachelle J. Christensen is part of the Christmas Kisses: Echo Ridge Anthology. Read the bonus sneak peek of the newest Echo Ridge addition included!

Anika Fletcher hates Christmas--its promises of good tidings and hope for the future are as tinseled as the ornaments on Kenworth's Hope Tree. Despite her feelings, Anika wants to maintain her daughter's faith in the magic of the season and gladly accepts a second job working with the handsome Carlos Rodriguez to restore Kenworth's old fashioned soda fountain. Carlos is no stranger to hard times and slowly shares his life of light and joy with Anika as they work together. Just as her fragile soul begins to feel hope again, an ill-timed act of charity changes everything. Anika isn't sure who she can trust or if hope is worth nurturing--especially at Christmas when it's easy to enjoy a kiss and believe love can last longer than the season.
 
   

 
My Review: 4 Stars 
 
When a grinch meets a dashing elf, sparks fly. I love Echo Ridge and this heartwarming story of a single mom down on her luck really hit the spot. Anika is doing everything she can to give her daughter, Megan, a good Christmas and her co-worker Carlos sets out to help her.  

The Hallmark movie feel of this story was sweet. I love a book with a little substance and this one delivered with not only a darling romance, but moments of conflict, threaded with glimmering strands of hope. Christensen does a good job of bringing magic to the hearts of her readers with this charming, feel-good story.

Content: mild romance; brief moment of peril/danger

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Harvey's Bashful Bride by Krystal M. Anderson {Review}

Harvey's Bashful Bride by Krystal M. Anderson

Kindle Edition, 127 pages
Published February 19th 2021 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.

 

In theory, sending for a bride through a Matchmaker was a sound plan. In reality, it couldn't have been more disastrous...

As Cottonwood Creek's newly elected Mayor, Harvey Dennett is in need of a bride. Utilizing Chicago's most successful matchmaker certainly seemed like the answer to all his problems, but when Martha, his wife-to-be, faints the minute she arrives, he wonders whether he made a giant mistake.

Bashful Martha, on the other hand, is happy for her change in circumstance but unaccustomed to the wilds of her new frontier home. When a string of robberies plague the citizens of Cottonwood Creek, Martha enlists the help of two stalwart friends to conquer the threat, endearing her to the people of the town. Will her efforts be enough to win the heart of her husband?

Harvey's Bashful Bride is part of the multi-author series Matchmaker's Mix Up but can be read as a standalone story. Readers can expect a sweet happily ever after.
 

   

My Review: 5 Stars 

This darling historical western romance was so sweet. The book begins with an intriguing prologue, setting the story up for a matchmaking mishap--can you imagine? It was simply wonderful!

Harvey is the mayor of a western town in Nevada and doesn't know how to handle Martha, who is completely opposite of his marriage request. With help from her new friends, Martha grows and adapts, while a mysterious string of robberies shadows the town. 

I adored Martha and watching her metamorphosis. I loved watching her find her place and fit into it like a missing puzzle piece. But the surprisingly sweet, slow-burn romance was what really warmed my heart. 

This small town is full of feel-good characters and charm and the story was heartwarming in its entirety. 

Content: mild romance; mild religion


Monday, February 22, 2021

My After-School Tutor (Sweet Mountain High: Year Two #1) by Randi Rigby {Review}

My After-School Tutor (Sweet Mountain High: Year Two #1) by Randi Rigby

Kindle Edition, 157 pages
Published December 1st 2020 by Sweet Heart Books 
Source: Kindle Unlimited
 
 
 
Wanting to be someone's first choice is never enough...

Milla

It's like the universe dumped on me from day one. It wasn't enough that I had to put up with having Jasmine--a walking, talking, breathing Barbie doll--for a sister.

"Let's make Milla short, so she'll ALWAYS have to look up to her as well."

Fine. I'd never wanted anything of hers anyway.
Until a certain blue-eyed boy crossed my path, that is.
And he fell head over heels.
For my sister.
Of course he did.
How can I help Zayn with his studies and still escape with my heart intact?

Zayn

Getting a scholarship to play college football had been my dream since I first learned to throw a spiral as a kid. And I had the talent. Just not the grades. College programs expected their quarterbacks to not only pass their classes, but to do so by a comfortable margin. That was a skill set I needed to work on.

Maybe I needed more help than I thought.
I had an online tutor who wouldn't tell me who she was.
An ex-girlfriend I couldn't shake.
And the new girl, Milla, really didn't like me--everybody liked me. I'm a likable guy.

Whatever. I could take a hit. I'd just rather be run over by a charging defensive lineman than get on the wrong side of Milla Kent. Which I somehow managed to do. Girls.
Forget math. I needed a tutor for the opposite sex.
 
   

 
My Review: 4 Stars
 
I loved high school. That doesn't mean I would want to go back, but I have good memories and this series transports me back to my past. I don't know a lot about football, but I loved going to the games and cheering my school on and in this first book of the new year at Sweet Mountain High, Milla becomes an assistant to the team and takes her job seriously. It would be hard to be a new student for your senior year, and I loved watching Milla figure her life out and thrive in her new environment.

Zayn doesn't make a good first impression, but his charm, animation, and sincerity made him grow on me very quickly. I loved how opposite they were from each other, yet how likable they both were. The tutor angle was a tiny bit strange, since it was anonymous, but that's kind of what made it so enjoyable. I liked the way Rigby switches back and forth between points of view and really gets into the characters heads.

If a cute high school romance is your cup of tea, be sure to check out this book and this series!

Content: mild romance; very mild violence (sports related)

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Second Chance (Griffin Force #5) by Julie Coulter Bellon {Review}

Second Chance (Griffin Force #5) by Julie Coulter Bellon

Kindle Edition, 180 pages
Publication: February 20th 2021 by Stone Hall Books 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
 
 
 
Griffin Force tracks a dangerous terrorist to Libya, but the only man on their team that can infiltrate the terrorist's lair is Augie---their computer tech. They'll take a huge risk with an undercover asset who gets Augie in and assures them he won't be killed.

But who can the team really trust when the op goes sideways?
 
  

 
My Review: 5 Stars
 
I wonder if Bellon has extreme anxiety while writing this series because I sure have moments of it while reading these books! The Griffin Force is off to Libya and danger, terrorists, and threats of death abound. Augie is immediately suspicious of Rian, who is helping the team, and the secret he learns isn't what he expected and leads to more peril than he ever could have imagined.
 
Bellon always does a great job of adding some romance and an emotional connection with her suspenseful stories and the situations are terrifying, giving the reader a glimpse into some pretty realistic circumstances. I love seeing old friends from previous books make appearances--these characters are a tight-knit family and their experiences bind them together in unfathomable ways. 
 
This fast-paced adventure is well-written and thrilling and this installment ends on a slight cliffhanger, leaving me eager for more.
 
Content: very mild romance; PG-13 violence (relating to war, terrorism, hostages, etc)  

Friday, February 19, 2021

Sisters of Shadow and Light (Sisters of Shadow and Light Book 1) by Sara B. Larson {Review}

Sisters of Shadow and Light (Sisters of Shadow and Light Book 1) by Sara B. Larson

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Tor Teen 
Source: Audiobook, but I also own a copy
 
 
 
The night my sister was born, the stars died and were reborn in her eyes....

Zuhra and Inara have grown up in the Citadel of the Paladins, an abandoned fortress where legendary, magical warriors once lived before disappearing from the world--including their Paladin father the night Inara was born.

On that same night, a massive, magical hedge grew and imprisoned them within the citadel. Inara inherited their father's Paladin power; her eyes glow blue and she is able to make plants grow at unbelievable rates, but she has been trapped in her own mind because of a "roar" that drowns everything else out--leaving Zuhra virtually alone with their emotionally broken human mother.

For fifteen years they have lived, trapped in the citadel, with little contact from the outside world...until the day a stranger passes through the hedge, and everything changes.
 
   

 
My Review: 4 Stars
 
Mysteries and secrets swirl around the magical hedge that has Zuhra and her sister, Inara, locked within. This story captures the depth of a sister bond well, also allowing for their individual growth as they strive to unravel things. The danger, adventure, tension, budding romances, and complicated relationships (especially with family) drew me right in. There is an underlying sense of urgency flowing in a current beneath the plot that sometimes left me feeling a bit anxious, but I loved the traditional fantasy elements that were showcased in a unique way.

Larson does a good job of incorporating the beliefs of two clashing worlds and the persistence and loyalties needed to merge and compromise such a skirmish. I liked the characters right from the start and enjoyed watching this new world develop throughout the pages. The magical elements were well done and although the story started out a little slow, it gained momentum as the book progressed and the culmination of events was definitely worth the wait.
 
Content: light innuendo, mild romance; mild violence

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ever Only Friends by Shaela Kay {Review}

Ever Only Friends by Shaela Kay

Kindle Edition, 230 pages
Published January 26th 2021 
Source: Kindle Unlimited
 
 
 

They were only ever friends... but is that how they're going to stay?

When Amie’s fiancé breaks off their engagement, she does what any rational, 24-year-old law student would do: eats her weight in Ben & Jerry's and pawns the ring her ex-fiancé could have sold a kidney for. But Amie's got more problems than her expanding waistline: her entire world was planned around (and by) Derek. Without him, she doesn't even know how she likes her coffee, let alone what she wants to do with her life.

Jason is stuck running the family business, when all he really wants to do is make filet mignon and perfect his crème brûlée. When his childhood friend shows up next door with a broken heart, he takes it upon himself to cheer her up, just like he did when they were kids. She's only around for the summer—what could possibly happen?

Amie and Jason were only ever friends, so when sparks start to fly it catches them both off guard—especially since Jason’s culinary dreams are about to come true and Amie finally has her life figured out. With summer drawing to a close and Amie heading back to school, will their friendship survive the tug-of-war between them? Or will the summer end with more than just Amie's broken heart?

   

My Review: 5 Stars

It's so easy in life to go along with what makes others happy. I don't like conflict and don't enjoy rocking the boat, so I could understand and relate to Amie and how she found herself trapped in a persona that doesn't truly reflect who she used to be. A quick jilt just before walking down the aisle was actually the blessing in disguise that helped her dig out her long forgotten identity. I enjoyed discovering who Amie really was.

After a move back home, Amie reconnects with her childhood best friend, Jason. I loved how they each helped each other recognize their potential and callings in life. Fantastic characters are what really drove this book deep into my heart. I love good connections and the feel-good warmth of friends, familiarity, and love.

I'll drool over Ben and Jerry's any time, but it was Jason's cooking creations that left me with a wet spot on my shirt. I loved the flow of this story--the pacing, comfort, delicious descriptions, and dazzling chemistry made for a great story. This is my first book by this author and it won't be my last.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Proper Charade (Proper Scandals Book 2) by Esther Hatch {Review}

A Proper Charade (Proper Scandals Book 2) by Esther Hatch

Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 1st 2020 by Covenant Communications 
 
 
 
 
Lady Patience Kendrick was born to a life of privilege, and with the London Season looming, she finds herself facing unprecedented pressure to adhere to the rules of society. Unfortunately, the free-spirited young woman is anything but proper. Patience's elder brother, a former military man, bemoans his sister's antics - but when he accuses her of incurable frivolity, it is simply more than she can bear. Determined to prove her brother wrong, Patience undertakes a drastic experiment: she will disguise herself as a maid and demonstrate her ability to work as hard as anyone.

Taken on as household staff by her brother's former general, Patience soon learns that willingness and ability are two very different things. While her plan sounded promising in theory, the reality is that she is out of her depth - and the irresistibly charming son of the house isn't helping matters. Patience soon finds herself embroiled in a charade far more complicated that she imagined. With both her pride and her heart at stake, she is determined to prove her brother wrong - even as her plans spiral delightfully out of control.
 
   

 
My Review: 5 Stars
 
I don't know why I waited so long to read this book, other than there are just too many books and so little time. Hatch writes a darling, unconventional story that captivated me from the very first page.
 
Patience is a stifled young lady and hatches a hair-brained plan to pose as a maid for one month in her older brother's general's home. From the moment she steps into this other world, mishaps and predicaments, along with humor and swoon, abound. 
 
I loved Patience as a character. She was so cheerfully unpredictable and optimistic, which made for a great time as she stepped into yet another charade. The layers were delightful and very entertaining. Anthony is much more serious, yet Patience managed to unraveled his uptight persona with her winsome personality. Separately they're each likable in their own rights, but together, they're wonderful.
 
Hatch does a fantastic job with this story. The romance is sweet with great sparks and banter. There are so many facets to so many of the characters and each nuance plays a part in the plan in some way. I adored everything about it and can't wait for another proper scandal!
 
Content: mild romance

Monday, February 15, 2021

Wrong Train to Paris (Romance on the Orient Express #2) by Jennifer Moore {Review}

Wrong Train to Paris (Romance on the Orient Express #2) by Jennifer Moore

Paperback, 208 pages
Published December 1st 2020 by Covenant Communications 
 
 
 
At nineteen years of age, Julia Weston fancies herself a capable woman, far too old to require a traveling companion. But at the insistence of her overprotective father, Julia finds herself aboard the Orient Express in the care of an approved escort. In an ill-advised demonstration of independence, Julia leaves the train on a quick errand and then re-boards and sleeps away her exhaustion. Upon awakening, however, she realizes her plan went terribly awry: she boarded the wrong train and is now stranded alone in the French countryside of Provence.

Now she must rely on the help of Luc Paquet, a young French farmer who offers her accommodations with his aunt while Julia awaits the next train to Paris in five days’ time. As she settles into the rhythms of the household alongside Luc and his aunt, Julia learns more than she ever dreamed she would about France, farm life, and her handsome rescuer. There is more to Luc than meets the eye, and their chemistry is undeniable. But Julia and Luc are from different worlds, and all too soon, the train will bear Julia back to a life that suddenly feels incomplete.
 
   

 
My Review: 5 Stars
 
The whole concept of finding love on the intriguing Orient Express caught me from the very start and this installment delivers more of the same. I've noticed one common character--a mysterious man by the name of Nicholas, whose pipe smells differently for different people. 
 
In this story, Julia is on her way to Paris in 1900 and while trying to prove her independence, finds herself in the middle of the French countryside. The farm life and simpler times brought up wistful, sweet feelings. Julia is adventuresome and proper, and while Luc is charming, he is all about duty and honor, which is very admirable. 
 
I loved the adventures Luc and Julia embarked on, while trying to help her reach her father in Paris. I enjoyed the setting immensely and I was especially fond of the animals. Moore does a great job of taking the reader along on this escapade with her engaging writing style.
 
If I have one piece of advice, it's this: DON'T get off the train and DON'T listen to a man with an interesting smelling pipe! Okay, fine. What's interesting is that love wouldn't have been found without this mistake and sometimes veering off the path is exactly where you're meant to be. 
 
Content: mild romance

Friday, February 12, 2021

Give Me One Good Reason (Shaped by Love #4) by Michelle Pennington {Review}

Give Me One Good Reason (Shaped by Love #4) by Michelle Pennington

Kindle Edition, 243 pages
Published February 4th 2021
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given



No calling dibs on dream guys.

Why do short girls always get the tall guys?

Don't they know that those of us who more closely resemble giraffes than dainty little wood sprites should have first pick of any guy who isn't eye level with our cleavage?

But what happens when the embodiment of all my tall-girl fantasies gets hired to work at Booms and Nibbles?

My short best friend snags a date with him first.

What do I get to do? Butt heads with him all day every day as I try to educate him on selling women's underwear, that's what. He's opinionated, blunt, and... Sigh. It's no use. He's amazing. Especially when his beautiful brown eyes glint at me from behind those nerdy glasses—sending messages that both confuse and captivate me.

Well, Adam had better fortify those walls he keeps putting up because I've always been the type to go after what I want. And my sights are set on his heart.

Get ready to laugh and flutter and possibly even squeal a little. This is Angela's story and things are about to get fun. Don't hesitate. Grab your copy now.
 
   

 
My Review: 5 Stars
 
There are a lot of things that I adore about this series but one of the biggest is the message that all women are beautiful and important, no matter their shapes or sizes. Angela is tall--very tall--and because of that, she endures many comments and jokes, which leads her to feel insecure about her height, going as far to call herself a giraffe. It seems that we always want the opposite of what we have, but landing a job at Booms and Nibbles was perfect for her and she excels at what she does. 
 
Angela is the type of character that I want to be best friends with. Not only is she sweet and fun, but she is passionate about her interests and loyal to her friends. Working closely with the new guy causes the butterflies to swarm. Adam is a great character too--hilarious, sometimes clueless, easily embarrassed, yet kind. I loved catching glimpses of past characters and I'm settling right into this company, so please don't take it away any time soon!
 
Pennington has found a solid niche with this romantic comedy series. I was on the treadmill reading and I was snorting and laughing so hard at a few different parts--I almost lost my footing! The unexpected moments of humor, stolen glances, burgeoning friendship, and swoon were captured perfectly and the nod to Korean dramas set my heart afire. Lucky for me, I know for sure at least one more book will be coming and I cannot wait!

Content: mild+ romance (kissing, some light innuendo, talk of underwear since that's the type of company B&N is)

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Dear Clara by Shelly E. Powell {Review}

Dear Clara by Shelly E. Powell

Kindle Edition, 282 pages
Published February 9th 2021 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
 
 
 
He thinks she is a rare beauty. She knows he is charming on paper. Both hope for romance, but when letters are no longer enough, Clara must face the truth and decide whether to let go of pride or protect her heart.

For the first time in her life, Clara Everton has done something truly improper. She has written to a gentleman she hardly knows, simply to avoid an unwanted marriage proposal and perhaps to prove to herself that her first London season was not such a disappointment after all. As one letter grows into many and her feelings for James Thayne deepen, Clara begins to wonder whether a letter is as innocent a thing as she once thought. Meeting Mr. Thayne in person shakes her hopes, and she must reconcile herself to the unexpected truth. Yet, as circumstances continue to bring them together, Clara can't help but question whether opening her heart to Mr. Thayne is riskier than protecting it.
 
   

 
My Review: 5 Stars
 
Sometimes a debut novel is a little rough, as it takes a few stories to find a groove, but that was definitely not the case with this charming book! Powell captures the spirit of the Regency time, or how I like to imagine it, with her lively characters, dreadful rakes, cases of mistaken identity, and clandestine romances. I was held captive by these pages and couldn't wait for all the pieces to fall into place.
 
Clara is slightly persnickety in her quest to find love and won't settle for just anyone, yet I found myself identifying with her sweet and caring personality. I love how she fell into friendships and found herself in interesting situations, which she handled with grace. Mr. Thayne is an appealing character, with his determination and awkwardness. The combination of the whole cast of characters was delightful.
 
There are many intricate threads holding this story together and each tangent was entertaining in their own rights. It was fun to tie things together as the plot progressed and while the events weren't necessarily action-packed, the gentle and steady nature was very engaging.
 
Content: mild romance (some vague innuendo, kissing)