Tag: romance

Book Review: The Southern Side of Paradise, by Kristy Woodson Harvey

southern side of paradise
Image belongs to Gallery Books.

Title:  The Southern Side of Paradise
Author:  Kristy Woodson Harvey
Genre:  Southern fiction
Rating:  2 out of 5

Ansley Murphy has everything she’s ever wanted…finally. The man she’s always loved is back in her life. Her three daughters are in town and happy. Her business is taking off. Ansley can’t help but feel like the other shoe is about to drop.

Her youngest daughter, Emerson, and actress and recently engaged, just landed a dream role and got engaged, but her health is worrying her, and she feels like she’s missing something when she should be focused on planning her wedding. When secrets that were never meant to be told come out, the sisters’ bond with their mother turns fragile, as all stand on the brink of life-changing decisions.

I’m just going to be up-front:  I could not stand these characters, and that made me dislike this book intensely. This is clearly my own issue. The writing is great, and the small southern town setting is very well done. But…seriously? Ansley spends half her time justifying the fact that she cheated on her husband for years…so they could have children. She knew it was wrong, but she makes excuses to herself anyway. Emerson is whiny and childish, prone to throwing a fit if she doesn’t get her way, and she’s so self-absorbed she can’t even see the person standing right next to her. She’s also pretty heartless, and her morals are highly questionable (Wonder where she learned that from?) Sister Caroline is a controlling witch, who also makes excuses for her bad behavior (Yes, her husband cheated on her very publicly, which was terrible, but that doesn’t mean you get to treat everyone around you badly). Sloane wasn’t enough of a presence for me to actually care about her, but she was the only one who was likable. I’d read this author again, but not these characters.

Kristy Woodson Harvey is a bestselling author. The Southern Side of Paradise is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Gallery Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Advertisements

Book Review: This is Not a Love Scene, by S.C. Megale

 

this-is-not-a-love-scene-cover

Title:  This is Not a Love Scene
Author:  S.C. Megale
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Maeve and all her friends are obsessed with their senior film project and their portfolios to get into film school. Maeve would be, too, but having MS means her options are different than her friends. Maeve loves filmmaking. And guys. Especially the guy starring in their senior project:  Cole. But leading men don’t go for girls in wheelchairs, right?

But the chemistry between Maeve and the always-in-motion Cole is intense, and suddenly Maeve is dealing with typical dating mishaps and juggling the film project and her disease. Maeve is so used to being rejected, that she’s just not sure she can trust Cole, who seems far too good to be true. But Maeve will have to deal with her own fears if she’s ever to find out the truth about Cole’s feelings for her.

Maeve is an incredibly strong character, but she does have some issues that made her a little hard for me to read. I loved seeing how she viewed the world and her experiences in a life with MS, but she can be quite awkward and a little needy. She also comes across as very selfish, to the point where she completely ignores the sometimes-major problems her friends are having in favor of obsessing about her own issues. I didn’t find her all that likable, but she is a very strong character.

S.C. Megale is a writer, a filmmaker, and a philanthropist. This is Not a Love Scene is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Getting Hot with the Scot, by Melonie Johnson

Getting Hot with the Scot
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Getting Hot with the Scot
Author:  Melonie Johnson
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Cassie Crow is a pop culture reporter for a talk show, but she wants to be a “serious” reporter. Even though she’s on the vacation of a lifetime with her friends, her upcoming big interview is all she can think about. Until a mix-up in a Scottish castle leads to a chance encounter with a handsome man in a kilt.

Logan’s career is doing pranks before a camera and making it big is all he can think about. Until he meets Cassie and needs her to agree before he can use the footage that may capture the hearts of his target audience.

What was supposed to be a one-night-stand might become more, but only if Cassie and Logan conquer the fears from their pasts.

Getting Hot with the Scot was a quick, fun read. Running into a sexy Highlander in a kilt—in a castle, no less—is probably the dream of a lot of women, so I found the way the novel took that idea and ran with it to be quite entertaining. The best part of this book, besides Logan’s accent, was the friendship between Cassie and her group of friends.

Melonie Johnson is a writer, a wife, a mother, and many other things, depending on her current interests. Getting Hot with the Scot is the first book in the Sometimes in Love series.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Cliff House, by RaeAnne Thayne

 

the cliff house
Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title:  The Cliff House
Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

After the death of their mother, Daisy and Beatriz were raised by their aunt Stella, barely 10 years older than Daisy. Stella gave up all her dreams to raise the girls, but now she’s hoping for a chance to realize her deepest dream—and maybe get a chance to correct a mistake she made long ago.

Bea made a happy life for herself after her marriage ended. Her beautiful daughter keeps her on her toes, and her art keeps her fulfilled. She’s even wondering if there’s something more between her and her best friend when her ex-husband shows back up, eager for reconciliation. It would make their daughter happy, but what about Bea?

Daisy works hard, gets thing done, and never, ever takes risks. That’s the way to get hurt, and Daisy has had quite enough of that, thank you. Until she meets a handsome stranger who makes her question everything she thought was true.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Cliff House. The characters are so distinct yet make such a perfect family. I could relate to all of them and their struggles—poor Stella—and I wanted them to find happiness. An enjoyable read!

RaeAnne Thayne was a journalist before she started writing fiction. The Cliff House is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Unmarriageable, by Soniah Kamal

unmarriageable
Image belongs to Random House Publishing Group.

Title:  Unmarriageable
Author:  Soniah Kamal
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a girl can go from pauper to princess or princess to pauper in the mere seconds it takes for her to accept a proposal.”

This is the belief that Alys Binat, second of five daughters and a literature teacher, faces in her students, girls who will likely marry instead of finishing school. That’s just how things are in Pakistan in the early 2000s, but Alys hopes to influence some of her students, nonetheless. Then her family is invited to the society wedding of the year, and her mother sees it as the perfect opportunity to showcase her five daughters.

The eldest, sweet Jena, catches the eye of “Bungles” Bingla, a wealthy entrepreneur, and Mrs. Binat is convinced a proposal is imminent. Alys and her best friend, Sherry, who is determined to marry so she can escape her home life, watch in amusement—and horror—as Aly’s mom and other three sisters—uber-religious Mari, flighty Lady, and artistic Qitty—make a less than stellar impression on Bungles’ sisters and very rich Valentine Darsee, his best friend. Alys hears Darsee’s scathing remarks about her and writes him off as a jerk.

But fate—and Jena and Bungles’ romance—keep throwing Alys and Darsee back into proximity, and Alys discovers the haughty man might not be quite as horrible as she thought. When Lady’s antics destroy the Binat family’s chances of ever holding their heads up in public, no one can save them. Except, maybe, Mr. Darsee.

Fact:  I love Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen had a phenomenal insight into people and portrayed them very well. Fact:  I know basically nothing about Pakistani culture.

Unmarriageable is a close re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, but it’s still its own story. The characters’ names made me laugh—Bungles—but there’s enough of the original in them to make them feel like old friends. I found Mr. Binat much more ineffectual than Mr. Bennet, but everyone else I enjoyed. Even Lady, annoyingly oblivious as she was. Alys was much more of a feminist than Elizabeth Bennet, but I love how her mind worked, and how quick she was to grasp her own mistakes. I highly recommend this!

Soniah Kamal was born in Pakistan, but grew up in England and Saudi Arabia and now lives in the U.S. She is an award-winning author and a creative-writing teacher. Unmarriageable is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Random House Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Accidental Beauty Queen, by Teri Wilson

AccidentalBeautyQueen-2-610x947
Image belongs to Gallery Books.

Title:   The Accidental Beauty Queen
Author:  Terri Wilson
Genre:   Romance
Rating:   4.2 out of 5

Charlotte loves her job as a school librarian and intends to spend her vacation morally supporting her beauty-pageant-contestant twin sister, reading, and reveling in a Harry Potter theme park. Until her sister, Ginny, has an allergic reaction the night before the pageant and manages to convince Charlotte to take her place for a few days.

Charlotte is not prepared for layers of makeup, towering heels, or false eyelashes. She feels much more comfortable trading bookish references with the handsome and charming stranger she meets in the hotel stairwell—and who turns out to be one of the judges. And her fellow contestants aren’t the vapid and silly women she imagined, instead their support and camaraderie soon have her wanting to truly do her best in the pageant. But Ginny still intends to win that crown herself, leaving Charlotte on the sideline again.

I could relate to Charlotte so much:  book nerd with a store of literary quotes and a love of Harry Potter…and a dislike of glitz and glamour. The relationship between her and Ginny is difficult, with layers of history, and the two of them struggle to find their way out of the mess of the pageant. This was a charming and fun read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Teri Wilson is an author and creator of Hallmark movies. The Accidental Beauty Queen is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Second Chance at Two Love Lane, by Kieran Kramer

second chance
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Second Chance at Two Love Lane
Author:  Kieran Kramer
Genre:   Romance
Rating:   3 out of 5

Ten years ago, Ella and Hank were both struggling actors with big dreams. Instead of taking a big role, Ella refused as a show of support for Hank. Instead of a proposal, she got dumped when Hank got a big break, something Hank has always regretted. He still loves Ella, but she has a new life.

She acts in community theater, but she’s also a matchmaker at Two Love Lane, doing her best to solve the problems of her clients’ love lives and see them happy. When Hank comes to town to shoot a leading role, he gets Ella a bit part, and wants to make things work between them. But Ella knows he’ll just leave her behind again when fame’s demands take him out of Charleston.

I didn’t realize this is the third book in the series, but they’re written as standalones, so that doesn’t affect anything. For me, the characters weren’t very fleshed out, and some of them came across more as caricatures than anything. Very one dimensional. The entire plot felt very bare-bones and too easy, and one of the subplots seemed rather pointless and did not add anything to the story.

Kieran Kramer is a USA Today best-selling author and has an MFA from The College of Charleston. Second Chance at Two Love Lane is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Love in Catalina Cove, by Brenda Jackson

love in catalina cove
Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title:   Love in Catalina Cove
Author:   Brenda Jackson
Genre:   Romance, fiction
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Vashti left Catalina Cove Louisiana over ten years ago after a teen pregnancy left her heartbroken and childless. She never had any desire to return. But with the death of her aunt and an inheritance of her beloved B & B, Vashti returns. And immediately gets a speeding ticket from Sheriff Sawyer Grisham.

Some things never change in Catalina Cove, but Vashti discovers that some things have changed. Despite that, she’s determined to leave the cove behind her for good. Until fate—and an unexpected benefactor—intervene, and she finds herself restoring the old B & B to its former glory, so she can run it.

When the biggest secret of her life comes to light, Vashi discovers that thing she thought to be true aren’t—and unimaginable change lies in their wake. And Sawyer and his daughter are right there beside her. Will she be able to face her new future, or will the past continue to haunt her?

I probably picked this up because it’s set near New Orleans, a city I love. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read any of Brenda Jackson’s books before, but I enjoyed this book a lot, and I’m interested to read the rest of the Catalina Cove series. Vashti was an interesting character, but I liked how honest she was with herself. I did see the “big” surprises coming, but they were handled very well, regardless, and I read this straight through in one sitting.

Brenda Jackson is a bestselling and award-winning author. Love in Catalina Cove is her newest novel, the first in the Catalina Cove series.

(Galley provided by Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Fromage à Trois by Victoria Brownlee

Image belongs to Amberjack Publishing.

Title: Fromage à Trois
Author: Victoria Brownlee
Genre: Fiction, romance
Rating: 4 out of 5

Ella and Peter have been together 8 years and she’s expecting a proposal. What she gets is Peter telling her he’s off to find himself—and he never intended to marry her. With her heart broken, Ella decides to move to Paris for a year. Her French is questionable, and she doesn’t know a soul there, but she knows a change will do her good.

In Paris, Ella wanders into a fromagerie—a cheese shop—and ends up in a bet with Serge, the owner, that she can’t eat 365 kinds of cheese in a year. In between washing dishes at a coffee shop, she explores the city, works on her French, and meets a dashing French man.

Ella is torn between the two sides of life and Paris, and she’ll have to decide if her dreams will ever live up to reality.

This was a fun read. I might have wanted to slap Ella couple of times, but her adventures made me laugh. I can’t imagine just moving to another country for a year, so I admire that, and the cheese made me drool!

Victoria Brownlee is a writer and editor from Australia who now lives in France. Fromage à Trois is her first published novel.

(Galley provided by Amberjack Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Royal Runaway, by Lindsay Emory

RoyalRunaway_4-4
Image belongs  to Gallery Books.

Title:   The Royal Runaway
Author:   Lindsay Emory
Genre:   Romance
Rating:   4 out of 5

Thea just wants a night out on the town without the pressures of her job breathing down her neck. But, as Princess Theodora Isabella Victoria of Drieden of the Royal House Laurent, a no-stress night out of the castle isn’t really an option. Except Thea’s been sneaking out of the castle for years.

It’s been a rough four months since Thea was left at the altar. She was exiled until the rumors died down, but now she’s back on princess duty:  attending a myriad of events, all with her perfect princess smile firmly in place.

But on her secret night out, she meets Nick, a sexy Scottish stranger, and decides it might be time to stick her toe in the waters of romance again. Until Nick turns out to be a British spy in search of his brother—Thea’s ex-fiancé—and intent on uncovering the conspiracy behind his disappearance. Even if it goes all the way to the crown.

I thoroughly enjoyed this snarky, page-turning read. Thea’s rebelliousness was fun to read, and she’s down-to-earth for a princess (not that I know any). Nick was a perfect foil for her attitude and adventuresome spirit, and their banter made this even more fun to read.

Lindsay Emory is a Texan and an author. The Royal Runaway is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.)