Tag: romance

Book Review: Something in the Heir, by Suzanne Enoch    

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleSomething in the Heir     
Author: Suzanne Enoch   
Genre:  fiction  
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Emmeline and William Pershing have enjoyed a perfectly convenient marriage for eight years. Their relationship is a seamless blend of their talents and goals. They’ve settled into separate, well-ordered lives beneath the same roof, and are content to stay that way—or so Emmeline thinks. And if William has secretly longed for a bit more from the woman he adores, he’s managed to be content with her supreme skills as a hostess and planner, which has helped him advance his career.

Then when Emmeline’s grandfather, the reclusive Duke of Welshire, summons them both for his birthday celebration and demands they bring their two little angelic children, William is stunned to discover that his very proper wife invented not one, but two heirs to fulfill the agreement for living at Winnover. But surely if Emmeline and William team up and borrow two cherubs to call their own, what could go wrong? Enter George, age 8, and Rose, 5—the two most unruly orphans in Britain.

As the insanity unfolds, their careful, professional arrangement takes some surprisingly intimate turns as well. Perhaps it takes a bit of madness to create the perfect happily ever after.

This just barely managed to keep my attention invested enough to keep reading. Solid writing and likable—if sometimes oblivious main characters—made it a decent read, it just felt very predictable to me. The kids were funny, but I enjoyed their slang the most. A decent read, but not an outstanding one. Probably just not a good fit for me right now.

Suzanne Enoch is from California. Something in the Heir is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Surrendering to Hunt, by Jennifer Ryan   

Image belongs to Avon and Harper Voyager.

TitleSurrendering to Hunt     
Author:  Jennifer Ryan  
Genre:  Romance  
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

The last thing lawman Hunt Wilde ever dreamed he’d do was fall hard for a purple-haired troublemaker like Cyn Wilson. While Hunt believes in law and order, Cyn lives life fast and loose–with fast cars and wild nights. But when Cyn’s sister disappears, she surprisingly turns to him for help. Never let it be said that a Wilde man turned down a woman in distress–and on a mission.

It takes a lot for Cyn to swallow her pride and ask Hunt for anything. The man never gives her a break and is always staring at her with those perceptive eyes. But beneath Cyn’s tough exterior beats a heart as wide and beautiful as Wyoming itself–and soon she finds herself surrendering to the overpowering attraction simmering between them and partnering with him in the search for her missing sister.

She won’t rest until she learns the truth, even if that means putting herself in harm’s way. And when Hunt discovers how much danger Cyn is in because of him, he’s even more determined to take down the man who would take her out of Hunt’s life–forever.

This was a decent read—and actually made small-town, western life sound appealing—and I enjoyed it. I’d actually like to read more about the secondary characters, and since this is part of a series of linked standalones, that will probably happen. Things between Hunt and Cyn developed really quickly, and that doesn’t usually work for me, but this was pretty believable. All-in-all a good way to spend a few weekend hours.

Jennifer Ryan is a bestselling author. Surrendering to Hunt is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Avon and Harper Voyager in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:  Would You Rather, by Allison Ashley

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

TitleWould You Rather     
Author: Allison Ashley
Genre: Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Noah and Mia have always been best friends, and their friendship is the most important thing to them. Life is going great for Noah and he’s up for a promotion in a job he loves. But Mia’s life is on hold as she awaits a kidney transplant. She’s stuck in a dead-end job and, never wanting to be a burden, has sworn off all romance. So when the chance of a lifetime comes to go back to school and pursue her dream, it’s especially painful to pass up. She can’t quit her job or she’ll lose the medical insurance she so desperately needs.

To support her, Noah suggests they get married—in name only—so she can study full-time and still keep the insurance. It’s a risk to both of them, with jobs, health and hearts on the line, and they’ll need to convince suspicious coworkers and nosy roommates that they’re the real deal. But if they can let go of all the baggage holding them back, they might realize that they would rather be together forever.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read! The dynamic between Mia and Noah was wonderful, and their banter makes their friendship even more fun to read. I loved how their relationship slowly changes—after they get married—and they both admit to themselves they’ve had feelings for each other for years. It was so much fun to read about their lives and everything they’ve been through together. I highly recommend this!

Allison Ashley works in oncology. Would You Rather is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  Bend Toward the Sun, by Jen Devon

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleBend Toward the Sun    
Author:  Jen Devon  
Genre:   Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Rowan McKinnon doesn’t believe in love. With a botany PhD, two best friends who embrace her social quirkiness, and some occasional no-strings sex, she has everything she needs. But she hides deep wounds from the past—from a negligent mother, and a fiancé who treated her like a pawn in a game. When an academic setback leads Rowan to take on the restoration of an abandoned vineyard, she relishes the opportunity to restore the grapes to their former glory.

She does not expect to meet a man like Harrison Brady.

An obstetrician profoundly struggling after losing a patient, Harry no longer believes he is capable of keeping people safe. Reeling, Harry leaves Los Angeles to emotionally recover at his parents’ new vineyard in Pennsylvania.

He does not expect to meet a woman like Rowan McKinnon.

As their combative banter gives way to a simmering tension, sunlight begins to crack through the darkness smothering Harry’s soul. He’s compelled to explore the undeniable pull between them. And after a lifetime of protecting herself from feeling anything, for anyone, Rowan tries to keep things casual.

But even she can’t ignore their explosive connection.

Rowan was a little challenging for me to like at times, just because she was so self-focused and really couldn’t be bothered to try to understand what Harry is going through. I loved the family dynamics in this—I’d definitely read anything written about them—as well as the friendship between Rowan and her two best friends. The vivid supporting characters made this a wonderful read, and Harry was pretty great, too. Sign me up to live at a vineyard and work with plants!

Jen Devon lives in Ohio. Bend Toward the Sun is her debut novel.

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

Book Review:  Love and the Dream Come True, by Tammy L. Gray

Image belongs to Bethany House.

TitleLove and the Dream Come True
Author: Tammy L. Gray
Genre:   Christian, romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

When Cameron Lee’s music career takes a nose dive, he reluctantly returns home, where he falls fast for single mom Lexie Walters. But fantasies only last so long, and soon they have to face the real world, one fraught with heartbreak and disappointment and questions that can only be answered on your knees.

This was such a sweet read! I can’t relate too much to Lexie and her always-positive attitude—as well as her being so forgetful and always running late—but I really enjoyed her story arc with Cameron:  ending up with your childhood crush/rockstar is a pretty sweet fantasy come to life. Cameron’s struggle with forgiveness was hard to read, but I loved how that worked out. This was just a solid romance read, with faith woven seamlessly into the characters’ lives.

Tammy L. Gray lives in Texas. Love and the Dream Come True is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Bethany 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.)

The Best Books I Read in July (2022)

In July, I read 18 books, bringing my total for the year to 136 books. I also DNFed 12 books, which is a lot. I’m eight books behind schedule for the year. Hopefully I catch up! Of those 18, several of them were excellent. The best of those were:

The Bodyguard, by Katherine Center. I love this author’s books, but this one was the best of hers I’ve read. This made me laugh out loud several times (especially the “attacking” cow) and really relate to the main character. If you need a fun weekend read, grab this.

Long Story Short, by Serena Kaylor. This has everything: an awkward main character, a hot, brooding love interest, the enemies-to-lovers trope, great secondary characters. and lots of Shakespeare!

The Shadow Wand, by Laurie Forest. I’m still loving every page of this sometimes dark magical series.

Book Review and Blog Tour:  The Codebreaker’s Secret, by Sara Ackerman

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

TitleThe Codebreaker’s Secret    
Author:  Sara Ackerman
Genre: Historical fiction  
Rating:  4.8 out of 5

1943. As war in the Pacific rages on, Isabel Cooper and her codebreaker colleagues huddle in “the dungeon” at Station HYPO in Pearl Harbor, deciphering secrets plucked from the airwaves in a race to bring down the enemy. Isabel has only one wish: to avenge her brother’s death. But she soon finds life has other plans when she meets his best friend, a hotshot pilot with secrets of his own.

1965. Fledgling journalist Lu Freitas comes home to Hawai’i to cover the grand opening of the glamorous Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Rockefeller’s newest and grandest project. When a high-profile guest goes missing, Lu forms an unlikely alliance with an intimidating veteran photographer to unravel the mystery. The two make a shocking discovery that stirs up memories and uncovers an explosive secret from the war days. A secret that only a codebreaker can crack.

I’ve really enjoyed all of Ackerman’s books that I’ve read, and this was no exception. A fascinating look at the codebreakers from World War II—and something I had basically no knowledge about prior to this. I loved both storylines equally—which is unusual for me—and I was fully invested in all the characters. The writing is excellent and I did not want to put this down!

Sara Ackerman is from Hawaii. The Codebreaker’s Secret is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  Accomplished, by Amanda Quain

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Accomplished   
Author:   Amanda Quain
Genre:   YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

 It is a truth universally acknowledged that Georgiana Darcy should have been expelled after The Incident with Wickham Foster last year – at least if you ask any of her Pemberley Academy classmates. She may have escaped expulsion because of her family name, but she didn’t escape the disappointment of her big brother Fitz, the scorn of the entire school, or, it turns out, Wickham’s influence.

But she’s back for her junior year, and she needs to prove to everyone—Fitz, Wickham, her former friends, and maybe even herself—that she’s more than just an embarrassment to the family name. How hard can it be to become the Perfect Darcy? All she has to do is:

– Rebuild her reputation with the marching band (even if it kills her)

– Forget about Wickham and his lies (no matter how tempting they still are), and

– Distract Fitz Darcy—helicopter-sibling extraordinaire—by getting him to fall in love with his classmate, Lizzie Bennet (this one might be difficult…)

Sure, it’s a complicated plan, but so is being a Darcy. With the help of her fellow bandmate, Avery, matchmaking ideas lifted straight from her favorite fanfics, and a whole lot of pancakes, Georgie is going to see every one of her plans through. But when the weight of being the Perfect Darcy comes crashing down, Georgie will have to find her own way before she loses everything permanently—including the one guy who sees her for who she really is.

I completely enjoyed this story! Sure, Georgie’s lingering obsession with Wickham was more than a little annoying, but I loved seeing how she grew and changed as she learned to stand on her own two feet. In the end this was a fun read—and I think Austen would have enjoyed it, too.

Amanda Quain lives in Pennsylvania. Accomplished is her debut novel.

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

Book Review:  Long Story Short, by Serena Kaylor

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleLong Story Short    
Author: Serena Kaylor
Genre: YA  
Rating: 5 out of 5

Growing up homeschooled in Berkeley, California, Beatrice Quinn is a statistical genius who has dreamed her whole life of discovering new mathematical challenges at a school like Oxford University. She always thought the hardest part would be getting in, not convincing her parents to let her go. But while math has always made sense to Beatrice, making friends is a problem she hasn’t been able to solve, so her parents are worried about sending her halfway across the world. The compromise: the Connecticut Shakespearean Summer Academy and a detailed list of teenage milestones to check off. She has six weeks to show her parents she can pull off the role of “normal” teenager and won’t spend the rest of her life hiding in a library.

Unfortunately, hearts and hormones don’t follow any rules, and there is no equation for teenage interactions. When she’s adopted by a group of eclectic theater kids, and immediately makes an enemy of the popular—and, annoyingly gorgeous—British son of the camp founders, she realizes that relationships are trickier than calculus. With her future on the line, this girl genius stumbles through illicit parties, double dog dares, and more than your fair share of Shakespeare. But before the final curtain falls, will Beatrice realize that there’s more to life than she can find in the pages of a book?

This was such a fun, sweet book! It was a bit like reading from a female Sheldon Cooper’s POV. Bea is clueless about so many things, but fortunately she manages to make a couple of good friends who help show her the way. The secondary characters are wonderful, and I loved them a lot. Nik came off as jerk at first, but it was soon easy to see the truth of him (Well, I could see it. Bea definitely couldn’t.). This was such a relatable read, and made me laugh out loud several times.

Long Story Short is Serena Kaylor’s debut novel.

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