Tag: DNF

Book Review and Blog Tour:  The Lipstick Bureau, by Michelle Gable

Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

Title:  The Lipstick Bureau      
Author:  Michelle Gable   
Genre: Historical Fiction    
Rating:  DNF

1944, Rome. Newlywed Niki Novotná is recruited by a new American spy agency to establish a secret branch in Italy’s capital. One of the OSS’s few female operatives abroad and multilingual, she’s tasked with crafting fake stories and distributing propaganda to lower the morale of enemy soldiers.

Despite limited resources, Niki and a scrappy team of artists, forgers and others—now nicknamed The Lipstick Bureau—find success, forming a bond amid the cobblestoned streets and storied villas of the newly liberated city. But her work is also a way to escape devastating truths about the family she left behind in Czechoslovakia and a future with her controlling American husband.

As the war drags on and the pressure intensifies, Niki begins to question the rules she’s been instructed to follow, and a colleague unexpectedly captures her heart. But one step out of line, one mistake, could mean life or death…

This seemed a bit erratic, and the transitions between POV characters were clunky. I felt very distant from all the characters—they were more paper dolls than actual people. And….Niki wasn’t a very likable person. I read 38% of this before realizing I didn’t care about her or what happened to her because she was pretty cold and heartless.

Michelle Gable is a bestselling author. The Lipstick Bureau is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Graydon House in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Book Haters’ Book Club, by Gretchen Anthony

Image belongs to Harlequin/Park Row.

Title: The Book Haters’ Book Club      
Author: Gretchen Anthony
Genre: Fiction   
Rating:  DNF

All it takes is the right book to turn a Book Hater into a Book Lover…

That was Elliott’s belief and the reason why he started The Book Haters’ Book Club—a newsletter of reading recommendations for the self-proclaimed “nonreader.” As the beloved co-owner of Over the Rainbow Bookstore, Elliott’s passion and gift was recommending books to customers. Now, after his sudden death, his grief-ridden business partner, Irma, has agreed to sell Over the Rainbow to a developer who will turn the cozy bookstore into high-rise condos.

But others won’t give up the bookstore without a fight. When Irma breaks the news to her daughters, Bree and Laney, and Elliott’s romantic partner, Thom, they are aghast. Over the Rainbow has been Bree and Laney’s sanctuary since childhood, and Thom would do anything to preserve Elliott’s legacy. Together, Thom, Bree and Laney conspire to save the bookstore, even if it takes some snooping, gossip and minor sabotage.

This just wasn’t a good fit for me. The book started off so slowly, and the characters came across as being hateful and rude to each other, so I just couldn’t read more than 20%–and even that felt like a slog.

Gretchen Anthony lives in Minneapolis. The Book Haters’ Book Club is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Park Row in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blot Tour:  Small Town, Big Magic, by Hazel Beck

Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

TitleSmall Town, Big Magic     
Author:  Hazel Beck  
Genre:  Fantasy  
Rating:  DNF

Witches aren’t real. Right?

No one has civic pride quite like Emerson Wilde. As a local indie bookstore owner and youngest-ever Chamber of Commerce president, she’d do anything for her hometown of St. Cyprian, Missouri. After all, Midwest is best! She may be descended from a witch who was hanged in 1692 during the Salem Witch Trials, but there’s no sorcery in doing your best for the town you love.

Or is there?

As she preps Main Street for an annual festival, Emerson notices strange things happening around St. Cyprian. Strange things that culminate in a showdown with her lifelong arch-rival, Mayor Skip Simon. He seems to have sent impossible, paranormal creatures after her. Creatures that Emerson dispatches with ease, though she has no idea how she’s done it. Is Skip Simon…a witch? Is Emerson?

It turns out witches are real, and Emerson is one of them. She failed a coming-of-age test at age eighteen—the only test she’s ever failed!—and now, as an adult, her powers have come roaring back.

But she has little time to explore those powers, or her blossoming relationship with her childhood friend, cranky-yet-gorgeous local farmer Jacob North: an ancient evil has awakened in St. Cyprian, and it’s up to Emerson and her friends—maybe even Emerson herself—to save everything she loves.

Emerson got on my very last nerve with her constant assurance that SHE was right and everyone else was wrong. I was intrigued enough to read 20%, but then I realized I’d been annoyed by her the entire time, so I just stopped reading.

Small Town, Big Magic is the first novel in a four-book series.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Graydon House in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:  Mr. Perfect on Paper, by Jean Meltzer

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

TitleMr. Perfect on Paper    
Author:  Jean Meltzer
Genre: Romance  
Rating:  DNF

The perfect Jewish husband should be:

* A doctor or lawyer (preferably a doctor)

* Baggage-free (no previous marriages, no children)

* And of course—he must be Jewish

As the creator and CEO of the popular Jewish dating app J-Mate, matchmaker Dara Rabinowitz knows the formula for lasting love—at least, for everyone else. When it comes to her own love life, she’s been idling indefinitely. Until her beloved bubbe shares Dara’s checklist for “The Perfect Jewish Husband” on national television and charming news anchor Chris Steadfast proposes they turn Dara’s search into must-see TV.

As a non-Jewish single dad, Chris doesn’t check any of Dara’s boxes. But her hunt for Mr. Perfect is the ratings boost his show desperately needs. If only Chris could ignore his own pesky attraction to Dara—a task much easier said than done when Dara starts questioning if “perfect on paper” can compete with how hard she’s falling for Chris…

This just did not work for me. These characters didn’t work for me. Dara’s anxiety was described in such excruciating detail it bogged everything else down, and Chris…well, the first time he meets Dara, there’s no sign he even notices her. A few minutes later he’s remembering his physical attraction to her…that wasn’t even hinted at in that first meeting. Those two things just don’t go together.

Jean Meltzer lives in Virginia. Mr. Perfect on Paper is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:  The Last of the Seven, by Steven Hartov

Image belongs to Harlequin/Hanover Square Press.

TitleThe Last of the Seven    
Author:  Steven Hartov  
Genre:   historical fiction
Rating:  DNF

A lone soldier wearing a German uniform stumbles into a British military camp in the North African desert with an incredible story to tell. He is the only survivor of an undercover operation meant to infiltrate a Nazi base, trading on the soldiers’ perfect fluency in German. For this man is not British born but instead a German Jew seeking revenge for the deaths of his family back home in Berlin.

As the Allies advance into Europe, the young lieutenant is brought to recover in Sicily, where he’s recruited by a British major to join the newly formed “X Troop,” a commando unit composed of German and Austrian Jews that’s training for a top secret mission at a nearby camp in the Sicilian hills. They are all “lost boys,” driven not by patriotism but by vengeance.

This DNF was all me:  solid writing and characterization, I just wasn’t in the right headspace to read this at this time. I was intrigued by the subject, as this was something I’d never heard of in my WWII historical reading, but it just wasn’t a good choice for me right now.

Steven Hartov was born in Connecticut. The Last of the Seven is his newest book.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Hanover Square Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:   Point Last Seen, by Christina Dodd

Image belongs to Harlequin/HQN.

TitlePoint Last Seen    
Author:  Christina Dodd
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  DNF


When you’ve already died, there should be nothing left to fear… When Adam Ramsdell pulls Elle’s half-frozen body from the surf on a lonely California beach, she has no memory of what her full name is and how she got those bruises ringing her throat.


Elle finds refuge in Adam’s home on the edge of Gothic, a remote village located between the steep lonely mountains and the raging Pacific Ocean. As flashes of her memory return, Elle faces a terrible truth—buried in her mind lurks a secret so dark it could get her killed.


Everyone in Gothic seems to hide a dark past. Even Adam knows more than he will admit. Until Elle can unravel the truth, she doesn’t know who to trust, when to run and who else might be hurt when the killer who stalks her nightmares appears to finish what he started…

I really tried with this one. The first 15% or so felt a bit erratic, with a series of coincidental occurrences that just weren’t believable mixed with character actions that just didn’t add up. Then, Elle’s actions just became too far-fetched for me, and Gothic itself was peopled with characters that just weren’t believable, and I had to give up at about 40%.

Christina Dodd is a bestselling author. Point Last Seen is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/HQN in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:  For Butter or Worse, by Erin La Rosa

Image belongs to Harlequin/HQN.

Title:   For Butter or Worse   
Author:   Erin La Rosa
Genre:   Romance
Rating:  DNF

All chef Nina Lyon wants is to make a name for herself in the culinary world and inspire young women everywhere to do the same. For too long, she’s been held back and underestimated by the male-dominated sphere of professional kitchens, and she’s had enough. Now, as co-host of the competitive reality TV series The Next Cooking Champ!, she finally has a real shot at being top tier in the foodie scene.

Too bad her co-host happens to be Hollywood’s smarmiest jerk.

Restaurateur Leo O’Donnell never means to get under Nina’s skin. It just seems to happen, especially when the cameras are rolling. It’s part of the anxiety and stress he has come to know all too well in this line of work. So nothing prepares him for the fallout after he takes one joke a smidge too far and Nina up and quits—on live TV.

To make matters worse, the two are caught in what looks like a compromising situation by the paparazzi…and fans of the show go absolutely nuts. Turns out, a “secret romance” between Nina and Leo may just be what their careers need most.

Now all they have to do is play along, without killing each other…and without catching feelings. Easy as artisanal shepherd’s pie. Right?  

Initially, I liked Nina, and thought Leo was a total tool. Then I realized they were both jerks and stopped reading. Nina’s best friend was great, but Nina herself and Leo were both so selfish and concerned only with what made them look better. And they were just mean. No, thank you.

Erin La Rosa lives in Los Angeles. For Butter or Worse is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/HQN in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:  Ruthless, by Gena Showalter

Image belongs to Harlequin.

Author:   Gena Showalter
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating: DNF

Micah the Unwilling, fae King of the Forgotten, can tame even the most violent of beasts. Forged on the battlefield, this iron-willed warrior considers his soldiers his family, and he will stop at nothing to reclaim their dispossessed land. Gearing for war with a sadistic enemy, he is disciplined and focused—until a feral beauty he encountered long ago wanders into his camp.

Viori de Aoibheall wields a terrifying ability to sing monsters to life. Having spent her childhood in a forest, raising herself and her frightening creations—the only friends she’s ever known—she’s ill prepared for the scarred royal and his fearsome brutality. Not to mention the ferocity of their connection and the carnality of his touch. But the real problem? Her brother is Micah’s greatest foe. And though the sensual king makes her burn, she must stop him, whatever the cost.

It really pains me to say this, but I didn’t read more than 15% of this because it was…not good. I’m normally a big Gena Showalter fan, especially her YA novels, but this…I just couldn’t do it. It was very clichéd, like a bad rip-off of a fairy tale. And the characters were unlikable. Micah was a jerk, concerned about himself—and his insta-love, which is another cliché. Viori was just an all-around terrible person, completely selfish and self-absorbed, cruel, and erratic. And…she has this mysterious history in New York, although she lives in the fae kingdoms, which wasn’t really believable for me. The worst thing, and the deciding vote for me not wasting any more time on this novel, was the mention of Cookie the Uncrumbled. If that’s not a bad, b-rate movie name, I don’t know what is.

Gena Showalter is a bestselling author. Ruthless is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:   The Boardwalk Bookshop, by Susan Mallery

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:   The Boardwalk Bookshop
Author:    Susan Mallery
Genre:    Fiction
Rating:  DNF

When fate brings three strangers to a charming space for lease on the California coast, the Boardwalk Bookshop is born. Part bookstore, part gift shop, part bakery, it’s a dream come true for Bree, Mikki and Ashley. But while their business is thriving, their personal lives are…not.

Bree, wounded by brilliant but cold parents and her late husband’s ultimate betrayal, has sworn to protect her heart at all costs. Even from Ashley’s brother, a writer and adventurer who has inspired millions. He’s the first man to see past Bree’s barricades to her true self, which terrifies her. Mikki has this divorce thing all figured out—somehow, she’s stayed friends with her ex and her in-laws…until a new man changes how everyone looks at her, and how she sees herself. Meanwhile, Ashley discovers that the love of her life never intends to marry. Can she live without being a wife if it means she can have everything else she’s ever wanted?

At sunset every Friday on the beach in front of the Boardwalk Bookshop, the three friends share a champagne toast. As their bond grows closer, they challenge one another to become the best versions of themselves in this heartachingly beautiful story of friendship, sisterhood and the transformative power of love.

This just wasn’t a good fit for me. I liked Mikki and Ashley, but I could not stand Bree and her absolute self-absorption, so I didn’t make it very far into this.

Susan Mallery is a bestselling author. The Boardwalk Bookshop is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:   The Sweetest Thing, by Sasha Summers

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Title:    The Sweetest Thing
Author:    Sasha Summers
Genre:    Romance
Rating:  DNF

A stolen family recipe has all the ingredients to turn a rivalry into romance…

For Tansy Hill, nothing is sweeter than honey from her farm—except maybe revenge on the man who broke her heart and humiliated her all those years ago. Dane “The Viking” Knudson has been Tansy’s rival since childhood, and though he’s grown into a frustratingly handsome charmer, he’s also standing between her and the best honey award at the Honey Bee Festival, which Honey Hill Farms desperately needs to stay afloat.

Fanning the sparks that have forever flown between them, the competition is on. Sure, Tansy and Dane have plenty in common—more than they’ll admit—but Dane’s plans to expand Viking Honey are also on the line. When buried family secrets come to light, they’ll have to decide whether taking a chance on each other is worth risking the happiness they’ve been longing for.

I read 15% of this before putting it down. Enemies-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes, but when the characters involved are petty, hateful, and just rude and unpleasant, it’s a hard no for me. I don’t actually care if they fall in love because I can’t stand reading about them.

Sasha Summers lives in Texas. The Sweetest Thing is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.)