Tag: romance

Book Review:   One Duke Down, by Anna Bennett

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: One Duke Down       
Author:   Anna Bennett  
Genre:  Romance   
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

A FISHERMAN’S DAUGHTER
Miss Poppy Summers is determined to keep her family’s fishing business afloat. Her poor widowed father has fallen ill, and her foolhardy brother has moved to London, leaving her precious little time to read or pursue her own dreams. But she’ll do anything for her family, so she cheerfully spends mornings in her rowboat, casting her nets. The very last thing Poppy expects or wants to find tangled in them is a dangerously attractive man. Especially one with a head wound—who’s convinced he’s a duke.

AND A DUKE OUT OF WATER
Andrew Keane is the Duke of Hawking, but he’s having the devil of a time convincing his fiery-haired rescuer of that fact. The truth is he came to the seaside resort of Bellehaven Bay to escape his life in London. Unfortunately, someone in Bellehaven wants to kill him—and he intends to find out who. He implores Poppy to tend to his injuries and hide him on her beach, reasoning it will be easier to find his attacker if that man assumes Keane is already dead. She wants no part of the scheme but can’t refuse the generous sum he offers in exchange for food and shelter while he recovers. It’s a mutually beneficial business arrangement…nothing more.

ARE ABOUT TO MAKE WAVES
Under Poppy’s care, Keane regains his strength—and a sense of purpose. As they work together to solve the puzzle of his would-be murderer, he’s dazzled by her rapier wit and adventurous spirit; she’s intrigued by his mysterious air and protective streak. Though Poppy’s past gives her every reason to mistrust someone like Keane, the seawalls around her heart crumble in the storm of their passion. But when clues hint at the prime suspect in Keane’s attempted murder, Poppy must decide where her loyalties lie. Torn between the world she’s always known and the one she’s always dreamed of, she’ll need true love for a shot at her fairytale ending.

I really enjoyed this read!  I like that it’s a linked standalone in the Rogues to Lovers series, because I really liked the first read in the series, too. I thought Poppy was a great character, and I loved how she took no nonsense from anyone—including her family! Keane was also a great character, and I loved the interplay between he and Poppy. This is a perfect binge read!

Anna Bennett lives in Maryland. One Duke Down is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: A Guide to Being Just Friends, by Sophie Sullivan

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: A Guide to Being Just Friends       
Author:  Sophie Sullivan   
Genre: Romance    
Rating:  4 out of 5

Hailey Sharp has a one-track mind. Get By the Cup salad shop off the ground. Do literally everything possible to make it a success. Repeat. With a head full of entrepreneurial ideas and a bad ex in her rearview, her one and only focus is living life the way she wants to. No distractions.

Wes Jansen never did understand the fuss about relationships. With a string of lackluster first dates and the pain from his parents’ angry divorce following him around, he’d much rather find someone who he likes, but won’t love. Companionship, not passion, is the name of the game.

When Hailey and Wes find each other in a disastrous meet cute that wasn’t even intended for them, they embarrassingly go their separate ways. But when Wes finds Hailey to apologize for his behavior, they strike a friendship. Because that’s all this can be. Hailey doesn’t want any distractions. Wes doesn’t want to fall in love.

What could possibly go wrong?

First, a confession:  when the previous book in this series came out, I tried it, and could absolutely not stand the main characters. They were both jerks. I didn’t actually realize this until halfway through reading this one.

Hailey’s salad shop totally intrigued me, and I enjoyed her personality and growth a lot. Wes was…a lot. I’m pretty sure I’d have smacked him a time or two. How can any one person be so oblivious to the feelings of other people? (Hang on. Maybe go ask my ex that question.) This ended up being a quick, enjoyable read…but I still wouldn’t recommend that previous book.

Sophie Sullivan is from Canada. A Guide to Being Just Friends is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Pretty Little Pieces, by Carmen Schober    

Image belongs to Bethany House.

Title:  Pretty Little Pieces      
Author:   Carmen Schober  
Genre:  Romance   
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Ambitious influencer Georgina Havoc and her designer beau Lance Broussard have been dubbed the the next Chip and Joanna Gaines, but their happily-ever-after falls apart when Lance blindsides her with a “pause.” The show must go on, so Georgina takes on the task of renovating a forgotten cottage in the tiny, tight-knit town of Tarragon, Tennessee on her own.

Georgina has a plan to save her relationship–and her show–but a surprise drop-in from her troubled twin sister makes things extra messy. That, and the presence of rugged ex-sniper Cassidy Stokes, who throws a wrench in all her plans.

As she puts the pieces of her rippled life back together, will Georgina retreat to the familiar or embrace a new design?

This was a great read! I enjoyed the romance, as Georgina and Cassidy got to know each other. They were obviously perfect for each other! Cassidy’s ex was such a jerk, too. I loved the friendship between Georgina and her best friend—that relationship was absolutely believable and so funny! I even loved the small town of Tarragon—nosy busybodies and all.

Carmen Schober lives in Kansas. Pretty Little Pieces is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  The Wedding Ranch, by Nancy Naigle

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: The Wedding Ranch      
Author:  Nancy Naigle  
Genre: Romance   
Rating:  4 out 5

When Lorri Walker’s husband gifted her with a mastiff puppy on Valentine’s Day, she believed he was recommitting himself to their marriage after going astray. Six months later, he left both her and their dog for someone else. Since her recent move to Dalton Mill to unbraid herself from the past, Lorri’s graphic design business is now flourishing, her growing mastiff, Mister, has plenty of space to romp, and her ex in Raleigh can fade to a distant memory.

Ryder Bolt is haunted by the tragic loss of his wife and young son seven years ago. Thankfully, ranching keeps Ryder busy, and spending time with his niece and nephew—whose venue, The Wedding Ranch, has become a popular tourist destination—keeps him from getting lonely.

When Lorri and Ryder met, love was the last thing they were looking for. When they’re together, smiles come easier and burdens feel lighter, and both are embracing the possibility of something deeper.

But when a long-buried revelation surfaces, the fate that brought them together threatens to tear them apart.

I enjoyed this sweet read, although Lorrie felt a bit distant and cool. I enjoyed the small-town feel and how sweet and thoughtful Ryder was—and The Wedding Ranch was a cool venue idea. I didn’t find anything surprising in this novel, but I loved how faith was woven throughout the story, and how much emphasis was put on forgiveness.

Nancy Naigle is a bestselling author. The Wedding Ranch is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:   To Get to the Other Side, by Kelly Ohlert

Image belongs to Alcove Press.

Title To Get to the Other Side     
Author:  Kelly Ohlert
Genre:  Fiction  
Rating:  3 out of 5

Trixie isn’t exactly sure what she was thinking when she stopped her car in the middle of downtown Chicago, scooped up a chicken struggling to cross the road, and drove off… but she does know that she has to find a new home for herself and her new feathered friend. The landlord at her apartment doesn’t allow pets and has caught Trixie in one too many pet-smuggling attempts in the past.

Bear likes his quiet life with his close-knit family, who own a flower business, but he’s in for a rude awakening when his meddlesome sisters post an ad to rent the spare room in his simple home, without asking his permission. Still, when Trixie responds to the ad, he agrees to let her move in, despite immediate worries about keeping things platonic.

Determined to keep her new room, befriend Bear, and give her rescue chicken the care she deserves, Trixie fights to keep her walls up and resist her romantic feelings for Bear. However, it’s not long before the pair’s proximity and chicken parenting ignite flames that have Trixie and Bear testing the boundaries of their platonic ground rules. They have to figure out how to save a family business, pay for mounting vet bills, and navigate their own emotional baggage if they want to find the love that they all deserve.

The premise of this sounded really cute, I mean, a rescue chicken? Definitely some humor in there. But, these characters felt like caricatures:  with some overexaggerated features (Trixie’s unexplained “quirkiness”, Bear’s fear of his bad-guy father) but only surface level personalities. They felt like paper cutouts that the author had thrown darts at a dart board to pick out their character traits, without bothering to do the work to make them real. This made the entire story fall flat, and made me almost stop reading.

Kelly Ohlert lives in Michigan. To Get to the Other Side is her debut novel.

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

Book Review:   Never Rescue a Rogue, by Virginia Heath

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: Never Rescue a Rogue
Author: Virginia Heath  
Genre:  Romance  
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Diana Merriwell and Giles Sinclair only tolerate one another for the sake of their nearest and dearest. Everyone believes that the two of them are meant to be together, but Diana and Giles know that their constant pithy barbs come from a shared disdain—not a hidden attraction. Diana loves the freedom of working at the newspaper too much to give it up for marriage, and Giles is happily married to his bachelor lifestyle. But they do have one thing in common—the secrets they can’t risk escaping.

When Giles’ father, the curmudgeonly Duke of Harpenden unexpectedly turns up his toes, it’s only a matter of time before someone comes crawling out of the woodwork who knows the true circumstances of his only son’s birth. As the threat of blackmail becomes real, Giles must uncover the truth of his parentage first, or else he and all those who depend upon him will be ruined—and dogged bloodhound Diana is his best hope at sniffing out the truth. As Giles and Diana dive into his family’s past, the attraction that the two of them insisted wasn’t there proves impossible to ignore. Soon, the future of the Sinclair estate isn’t the only thing on the line…

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and this one was a lot of fun, too. Diana is exactly the kind of character I like to read:  unashamedly herself, she goes after what she wants to do—no matter what anyone says or thinks about it. She and Giles were a joy to read about, and their witty barbs made me alight several times. This is a fun read!

Virginia Heath lives in London. Never Rescue a Rogue is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: To Capture His Heart, by Nancy Campbell Allen

Image belongs to Shadow Mountain Publishing.

Title: To Capture His Heart    
Author: Nancy Campbell Allen
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Seaside, England, 1886

Eva Caldwell is an accomplished and well-known photographer who often works with the local constabulary to assist in documenting crime scenes, which means she also often works alongside the handsome and charming detective, Nathan Winston. She appreciates his intellect and how he treats her like an equal, but Eva’s heart is still healing from a past relationship, so, for now, she decides to keep her feelings for Nathan a secret.

One evening, Nathan arrives on her doorstep asking for a personal favor. Would Eva be available to photograph his mother’s legendary, week-long dinner party and matchmaking event? The catch is that Eva would also have to pretend they are courting in order for Nathan to avoid the many single women seeking his attention.

Though wary of the charade, Eva agrees. Spending a week with the two things she loves most—her detective and her camera—sounds simple enough. And if she wants to imagine that Nathan’s pretend courtship of her is real, well, what’s the harm in that?

But when a criminal from Nathan’s past threatens revenge on the detective, Nathan must be extra vigilant to keep his mother and the rest of the partygoers safe. He confides in Eva, and as the two work together to solve the mystery and apprehend the criminal, they find that they might capture more than they expected—each other’s heart.

I liked that this wasn’t just a romance novel:  there was the mystery of what was happening with the criminal from Nathan’s past. I absolutely adored Nathan’s four sisters and the family’s relationships, so that added another level of fun. Eva is unconventional, but not blatantly so, and Nathan is open-minded enough to appreciate her fully. This was a fun read.

Nancy Campbell Allen is an award-winning author. To Capture His Heart is her newest novel.

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

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.)