Tag: romance

Book Review: Part of Your World, by Abby Jimenez

Image belongs to Forever.

Title:    Part of Your World
Author:    Abby Jimenez
Genre:    Romance
Rating:  5 out of 5

After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?

I have to tell you:  this book made me laugh out loud many times. The dry wit, the easy banter, the sheer chutzpah of some of these characters was an absolute joy to read. I think I started laughing out loud about three minutes in, and it really never totally stopped. I binge-read the entire thing in one late-night sitting. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up immediately. Your abs will thank you.

Abby Jimenez is a bestselling author. Part of Your World is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  Funny You Should Ask, by Elissa Sussman

Image belongs to Random House/Ballantine.

Title:    Funny You Should Ask
AuthorElissa Sussman  
Genre:    Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Then. Twentysomething writer Chani Horowitz is stuck. While her former MFA classmates are nabbing book deals, she’s in the trenches writing puff pieces. Then she’s hired to write a profile of movie star Gabe Parker. The Gabe Parker–her forever celebrity crush, the object of her fantasies, the background photo on her phone–who’s also just been cast as the new James Bond. It’s terrifying and thrilling all at once . . . yet if she can keep her cool and nail the piece, it could be a huge win. Gabe will get good press, and her career will skyrocket. But what comes next proves to be life-changing in ways Chani never saw coming, as the interview turns into a whirlwind weekend that has the tabloids buzzing.

Now. Ten years later, after a brutal divorce and a heavy dose of therapy, Chani is back in Los Angeles, laser-focused on one thing: her work. But she’s still spent the better part of the last decade getting asked about her deeply personal Gabe Parker profile at every turn. No matter what new essay collection or viral editorial she’s promoting, it always comes back to Gabe. So when his PR team requests that they reunite for a second interview, she wants to say no. She wants to pretend that she’s forgotten about the time they spent together, years ago. But the truth is that those seventy-two hours are still crystal clear, etched in her memory. And so . . . she says yes.

Chani knows that facing Gabe again also means facing feelings she’s tried so hard to push away. Alternating between their first meeting and their reunion a decade later, this deliciously irresistible novel will have you hanging on until the last word.

This was an entertaining read, despite the…sheer unbelievability of the premise. Chani was an open-mouth-insert-both-feet person, so I was alternately horrified and amused at her shenanigans. This was a light and fluffy read, so nothing requiring too much thinking, but it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours.

Elissa Sussman lives in Los Angeles. Funny You Should Ask is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Ballantine in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  This May End Badly, by Samantha Markum

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books.

Title:   This May End Badly
Author:   Samantha Markum
Genre:   YA
Rating:  5 out of 5

Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos.

To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three.

As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behavior messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy.

This book was just good, plain fun!  Sure, Doe did some pretty crappy things—and I never really understood her animosity towards Three—but I enjoyed this book from the very first page. Doe’s group of friends was great, and I liked that the guys were actually good guys, too, even if the girls couldn’t see that at first. Doe grows a lot in this story, and while sometimes that change was painful, I enjoyed the story very much. Especially the interactions between Doe and Wells. Her “stranger danger” made me laugh a lot.

Samantha Markum lives in St. Louis. This May End Badly is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:   The Memory of Her, by Bianca M. Schwarz

Image belongs to Central Avenue Publishing.

Title:    The Memory of Her
Author:    Bianca M. Schwarz
Genre:    Historical fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Eliza Broad has overcome trauma and loss to become the confident woman and spy she is today, much in thanks to the care and attention of Sir Henry March, spy to the Crown. Fellow spy and good friend to Sir Henry, Allen Strathem has loved Eliza from the moment he first set eyes on her. But out of respect, he never told her and left England for a mission on the Crimea with his secret buried deeply. But the memory of Eliza kept him sane during the relentless horrors of his captivity.

 When he returns, Eliza is tasked with helping Allen recover, and she dedicates herself to restoring the sparkle in his eyes and banishing the specters of his Russian captivity.

 As Allen recuperates, and they realize danger has followed him back to England, Eliza is elated that Allen not only accepts her help, but respects her skill. Together they set a trap and defeat the man who tortured Allen, only to discover something far more dangerous afoot. With danger and intrigue around every corner, Eliza and Allen rely on and trust each other, and soon their once-buried love for each other becomes a driving force. The dangerous adventure they both share and thrive on binds them together, but will that be enough to protect them from those who wish to see them dead?

I enjoyed this read, like I’ve enjoyed the other two books in the series, but the when of it threw me off a bit, as it takes place between books one and two (unless I’m completely misremembering). I did enjoy seeing Eliza come into her own, though, and I liked Allen in the first book, so this was a fun read with characters I was already rooting for.

Bianca M. Schwarz was born in Germany but lives in Los Angeles. The Memory of Her is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Central Avenue Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:   A Promise of Forgiveness, by Jo Ann Brown

Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title:    A Promise of Forgiveness
Author  Jo Ann Brown
Genre:    Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Every little secret is a chain to the past…

 For Amish widow Naomi Ropp, moving back to her parents’ Bliss Valley home—with her boisterous twin toddler boys—is a chance to start over and bury the painful secrets of her marriage forever. But her life is turned upside down once again when she learns she’s not the only one hiding things. The parents she believed were always open and honest have been keeping a secret her whole life. And now her only confidant is her father’s new employee—a handsome Amish man who was once her childhood tormentor.

 Samuel King knows more than anyone should about mistakes—and the way he treated Naomi is at the top of his list. But the shock of seeing her pretty face again is quickly overshadowed when they find a slumbering boppli abandoned on his porch. Caring for the sweet newborn together is finally bringing some peace to their troubled pasts. But when a spark leads to growing feelings as they start to look toward the future, Samuel must find a way to convince Naomi to trust the man he’s become…and the promise of new love.

I enjoyed this romance, but Naomi really had a problem with holding a grudge. Like, to the extreme. And over something that seemed so childish and immaterial, too. She didn’t feel the slightest bit bad about wanting Samuel kicked out of her dad’s house. That really made it hard for me to like her, honestly. Despite that, I did enjoy this read.

Jo Ann Brown is a bestselling author who lives in Florida. A Promise of Forgiveness is her newest novel.

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

 Book Review:  Sense and Second-Degree Murder, by Tirzah Price

Image belongs to HarperCollins.)

Title Sense and Second-Degree Murder
Author Tirzah Price
Genre:   YA, historical, mystery
Rating:  4 out of 5

When eighteen-year-old aspiring scientist Elinor Dashwood discovers her beloved father slumped over the desk of his office study, she knows his death means dire straits for the Dashwood women. To make matters worse, an outdated will entails his estate—including Norland & Company, the private investigation firm where her younger sister Marianne worked as her father’s partner and protégé—to their half-brother and his haughty wife, who waste no time in forcing the Dashwoods out of their home and into a cramped apartment on London’s Barton Street. 

But before they go, the Dashwood sisters make a startling discovery that points to foul play, and the killer might be family.

 Obviously, the girls must investigate. It could be dangerous; it could ruin their reputations; and most importantly, it won’t bring back their father. But if the Dashwood sisters can combine their talents and bring their father’s murderer to justice, it may bring them all some comfort—and it might even lead to love.

This was a fun read. I forgot how much Marianne annoyed me—in this and the original—but she really got on my nerves for the first 3/4ths of the book. The supporting characters were very well-done, and I loved the combination of the original storyline and the ladies having their own interests and ambitions. This is definitely a good weekend read.

Tirzah Price Grew up in Michigan. Sense and Second-Degree Murder is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour:  A Forgery of Roses, by Jessica S. Olson

Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

Title:   A Forgery of Roses
Author:   Jessica S. Olson
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

She’s an artist whose portraits alter people’s real-life bodies, a talent she must hide from those who would kidnap, blackmail, and worse in order to control it. Guarding that secret is the only way to keep her younger sister safe now that their parents are gone.

 But one frigid night, the governor’s wife discovers the truth and threatens to expose Myra if she does not complete a special portrait that would resurrect the governor’s dead son. Desperate, Myra ventures to his legendary stone mansion.

 Once she arrives, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. Someone dangerous lurks within these glittering halls. Someone harboring a disturbing obsession with portrait magic.

 Myra cannot do the painting until she knows what really happened, so she turns to the governor’s older son, a captivating redheaded poet. Together, they delve into the family’s most shadowed affairs, racing to uncover the truth before the secret Myra spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.

I enjoyed this! Myra was a great character, and her relationship with her sister was just wonderful, and made the book really shine. This book is fairly dark from the first page, but there are spots of brightness. August is another of them. The author portrayed his debilitating anxiety so well, and I was never sure if he would conquer it, or it would conquer him. His family, meanwhile, was absolutely horrible. A lovely read!

Jessica S. Olson lives in Texas. A Forgery of Roses is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  The Valet’s Secret, by Josi S. Kilpack

Image belongs to Shadow Mountain Publishing.

Title The Valet’s Secret
Author:   Josi S. Kilpack
Genre:   Romance
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

York, England, 1819

 As a once happily married woman, Rebecca Parker had a good life, but now widowed, working for a living, and her only child grown, she feels invisible, tired, and lonely. That is until the day a valet speeding by on a horse nearly runs her off the road. Mr. Malcolm Henry is apologetic, gentle, and handsome. She’s instantly drawn to him, which is why, rather than stopping him from kissing her, she kisses him back, reigniting a nearly forgotten passion. But love at first sight only happens in fairy tales—never to an ordinary woman like her.

 She sees Mr. Henry again and feels the possibilities growing until, while working in the kitchens during a dinner party, she sees the valet she kissed sitting at the right hand of the baroness. Mr. Henry is not the earl’s valet; he is the heir to the earldom—Kenneth Winterton.

 Heartbroken, angry, and betrayed, Rebecca does not trust Lord Winterton and refuses to accept his apology. But when Lord Winterton proves he is as kind and gentle as “Mr. Henry” was, she finds herself willing to give him a second chance. But will he take a chance on her? He needs a wife to help him in his place in society, and nothing about Rebeccas life does that . . . except how he feels when she is with him.

 This was a solid read. There are a lot of class dynamics at play here, and somehow I find it difficult to believe that an earl and a maid ending up together would be even an option in this society…but I wasn’t there. Rebecca becomes much surer of herself when dealing with her father—thankfully—in part because of her friendship with Kenneth. He is also conflicted about his new role in society, and he’s not sure he likes it, but Rebecca’s support helps him take a stand for what he wants and believes, instead of just going along with the wishes of everyone around him.

Josi S. Kilpack is an award-winning author. The Valet’s Secret is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Shadow Mountain Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Suite Spot, by Trish Doller

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   The Suite Spot
Author:   Trish Doller
Genre:   Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Rachel Beck has hit a brick wall. She’s a single mom, still living at home and trying to keep a dying relationship alive. Aside from her daughter, the one bright light in Rachel’s life is her job as the night reservations manager at a luxury hotel in Miami Beach—until the night she is fired for something she didn’t do.

 On impulse, Rachel inquires about a management position at a brewery hotel on an island in Lake Erie called Kelleys Island. When she’s offered the job, Rachel packs up her daughter and makes the cross country move.

 What she finds on Kelleys Island is Mason, a handsome, moody man who knows everything about brewing beer and nothing about running a hotel. Especially one that’s barely more than foundation and studs. It’s not the job Rachel was looking for, but Mason offers her a chance to help build a hotel—and rebuild her own life—from the ground up.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read! It was fun to get to see a bit more about Rachel’s sister from Float Plan (loved that, too!), but Rachel’s story was engrossing. I can’t even imagine having her original job catering to the rich and famous and their every whim, but life on Kelleys Island sounds so much more interesting.

I enjoyed how Rachel recognized her faults and made a concerted effort to change throughout the story, growing in her confidence in herself and making good choices. I loved Mason and his honesty about what he was dealing with, and watching these two get together was just pure fun.

Trish Doller was born in Germany but lives in Florida. The Suite Spot is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour:  Last Duke Standing, by Julia London

Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title Last Duke Standing
Author:   Julia London
Genre:   Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

When Crown Princess Justine of Wesloria is sent to England to learn the ropes of royalty, she falls under the tutelage of none other than Queen Victoria herself. She’s also in the market for a proper husband—one fit to marry the future Queen of Wesloria.

 Because he knows simply everyone, William, Lord Douglas (the notoriously rakish heir to the Duke of Hamilton seat in Scotland, and decidedly not husband material), is on hand as an escort of sorts. William has been recruited to keep an eye on the royal matchmaker for the Weslorian Prime Minister, tasked to ensure the princess is matched with a man of quality…and one who will be sympathetic to the prime minister’s views. As William and Justine are forced to scrutinize an endless parade of England’s best bachelors, they become friends. But when the crowd of potential grooms is steadily culled, what if William is the last bachelor standing?

 I’ve enjoyed the Wesloria books I’ve read, and I highly enjoyed this one, too. I thought Justine’s mom—and her cronies—were horrible, but I really liked the matchmaker. William was a fun character, and the banter between him and Justine was a lot of fun. I liked seeing some of the characters from previous Wesloria books in the background, too.

Julia London is a bestselling author. Last Duke Standing is her newest novel.

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