New Release Review and Giveaway! DATING THE WRONG MR. RIGHT by Amanda Ashby (The Sisters of Wishing Bridge Farm #3)


Dating the Wrong Mr. Right
by Amanda Ashby
Publication Date: June 19, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Bliss, Contemporary, Romance

SYNOPSIS:
Pepper Watson has lost everything–her job, her fiancé, and the future she’d so carefully planned. Now she’s back at Wishing Bridge trying to figure out her next step. Her new plan does not include the ever-so-sexy Ben Cooper. Nope. She’s getting her life back on track, and getting out of this little town as fast as possible.

Ben Cooper is doing his best to build his business and help his parents. The last thing he needs is the distraction that is Pepper Watson. She might be prickly every time he’s in her presence, but he sees another side of her. The side that has set aside her dreams to help her sisters. And then there’s the fact that kissing her is pretty much the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

He’s putting down roots. She’s running away. It’s going to take more than a wish for these two to find their happily ever after.

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Excerpt:

Next to her Coop shifted and lifted a finger up to her cheek. His touch was like a heat-ray and it wasn’t until he dropped his finger and mouthed the word ‘dust’ she remembered the candelabra.

She clamped down on her tongue to steady the uttering sensation in her stomach as she turned her attention back to the real problem. Paul.

Her ex-fiancé might be stubborn and controlling to a fault, but he never liked to contradict himself.

All I have to do is piss him off and he’ll walk away.

Exhilaration at finally getting her life back pumped through her veins and before she could stop herself, she did the one thing she swore she’d never allow herself to do.

She stood on her toes and searched for Coop’s mouth, her cheek still burning from his touch. The plan was to give him a small peck on the lips. Just enough to prove to Paul just how serious she was.

The reality was the moment her mouth brushed his, her stomach swirled and her entire body tingled. Big mistake.

She tried to pull away but forgot Coop’s arm was still around her shoulder and, as his lips formed a smile, he used his other arm to drag her closer, trapping her against his chest.

Somewhere in the distance Paul’s footsteps echoed against the wooden porch. But, it wasn’t until the sound of his engine roared into life she stepped away. Coop was grinning, as if kissing her was the biggest joke in the world.

“Well,” he said in a husky voice as he leaned against the staircase. “That was interesting. And now how about telling me what the hell’s going on?”

Which part? Where I finally got Paul to take me seriously, or that you kiss better than any man has a right to?

Either way, as far as Pepper could tell, she’d solved one problem by creating another one and now she was in trouble. Big, big trouble.

Review:
At long last–Pepper’s story 🙂

If you’ve read the other series books, you knew that Pepper was keeping secrets, and we’ve been almost as anxious as her sisters to figure out what they were. (If you haven’t read the others yet, no worries–this one should work fine as a standalone too…though her sisters play a pretty big part and you’ll probably end up wanting to know their stories as well. Just sayin’) Add in the fact that Pepper’s story is an enemies-to-lovers one, and boy, was I anxious to get to this book.

In many ways, it did not disappoint. We find out Pepper’s secrets–they are pretty heavy ones, and you absolutely want to see her back on her feet. There’s lots of cute moments between Pepper and her two sisters, and we get to see some major life moments for all the residents of Wishing Bridge Farm throughout the course of the book. There are more than a few funny, quirky moments with the townspeople throughout to keep the mood light–from what pie will be chosen for whom and why in the diner to who is going to ask Pepper for legal advice next and what their just left of left field question will be. Pepper and Coop have a history, which always has a lot to add to a story.

There were things, though, that frustrated me here. I love enemies-to-lovers stories, but Pepper’s animosity toward Coop felt like way too much. For all of her stomach swirling desire for him, she kept up the mean prickliness far too long–I’m not sure what kept him going in that direction, honestly. And I’m still scratching my head over their relationship black moment, because I felt even more blindsided by it than the characters did. Then they suffered–though we don’t really see much of it, because it’s off the pages–until they suddenly weren’t anymore. The resolution was cute, but awfully quick, and left me feeling not quite satisfied with how it came about.

Still, the story had an overall feel-good vibe, and I loved seeing Pepper finally open up to her sisters and watch them all progress through their HEAs. The ending really was pretty adorable, and the story even brought us a surprise wedding just to keep things interesting. A nice finish to a sweet series!

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


ABOUT AMANDA ASHBY:

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia but now lives in New Zealand where she writes romance, young adult and middle grade books. She also works in a library, owns far too many vintage tablecloths and likes to delight her family by constantly rearranging the furniture.

She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Her debut book was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award, and her first young adult book was listed by the New York Public Library?s Stuff for the Teen Age. Because she’s mysterious she also writes middle grade books under the name, Catherine Holt and hopes that all this writing won’t interfere with her Netflix schedule.

She also runs writing workshops and loves to speak to people about Buffy (er, she means writing). See her Website for more information.

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New Release Review! TOO CLOSE TO CALL by Tessa Bailey (A Romancing the Clarksons / 1001 Dark Nights novella)

From New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey comes TOO CLOSE TO CALL, a novella in her Romancing the Clarksons Series published by 1001 Dark Nights! Grab your copy today!

About TOO CLOSE TO CALL:

All-American wide receiver Kyler Tate’s life is about to change. A fairytale college career skyrocketed him to the NFL draft. Adoration and opportunity are thrown in his direction wherever he goes, thanks to being chosen in the first round by the Los Angeles Rage.
None of the accolades mean anything, though, without his high school sweetheart, Bree Justice, by his side. Four years ago, she walked away from Kyler, choosing a quiet life over the flash and notoriety his career would someday bring.

Now he’s back in their Indiana hometown, refusing to leave for Los Angeles without her. Demanding she give their life together a shot. Her heart never stopped bleeding for the love of her life, but Bree’s decision was final. Too bad their wild attraction has only been amplified by their separation, and Kyler won’t quit until Bree is wearing his ring.

 

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Excerpt:

“Bree.” Her blood snapped with electricity at the sound of her name, said in that low drawl. Kyler stepped to the forefront of the crowd. The green eyes that still graced her dreams zeroed in, raking over her like they couldn’t help it.

Heaven above, four years looked incredible on him. Extra inches had been added everywhere. His height. The athletic breadth of his shoulders. The corded biceps that tested the stitching of his T-shirt sleeves. Even his thighs, which were wrapped up in faded denim, were exploding with muscle; thighs she’d spent a good portion of her youth perched on since Kyler never allowed her to sit anywhere but his lap, no matter where they were or whether it was appropriate. “Hello.”

“Hello,” she whispered. “You’re in town.”

His slow nod was so familiar a ripple moved through her. “Here for the week. Can I get you that coffee?”

“No.” She flushed over her own abruptness. “I meant to say, I can’t stay. I’m going to be late for an appointment.”

“Fine. I’ll walk you out.”

His expression dared her to say no. Challenged her. And for the first time since Kyler left, sexual awareness danced in her middle, sending a swift tremble down the length of her legs. Because her body hadn’t forgotten what often lay on the other side of those challenges. “Fine,” she breathed. “Suit yourself.”

For all his sexual energy, Kyler was a gentleman, straight down to the soles of his feet. So Bree wasn’t one bit surprised when his long gait ate up the distance between them. He reached over her head to push open the glass door, sending his scent crashing into her senses, the combination so familiar, Bree’s nipples tightened until she winced. Grassy fields and Nautica Blue aftershave.

Their gazes clashed, but Bree couldn’t decide if he’d worn the scent on purpose. His steady eyes gave nothing away. Before hers could betray her curiosity, Bree turned and passed through the door Kyler held open. And hell if it wasn’t the longest walk in history, his presence behind her looming larger than a mountain. Every eyeball in the diner was sure to be on them and the attention made Bree twitchy, her fingers yanking on the strings of her hoodie.

She needed to get this reunion over with as soon as possible. Being around Kyler would only make her wonder what might have been. That kind of thinking was pointless. Destructive.

Back in high school, the writing had been on the wall when it came to Kyler. Everyone knew he’d been destined for greatness. That he would shake off Bloomfield and put his name in the history books. She’d been selfish to stay with him for so long, absorbing his love and attention, all the while knowing she’d wave good-bye to him someday. The decision was a painful one, but it had been made and now she would stick to it.

Review:

Too Close to Call is a sweet second chance romance. It’s #3.5 in the Romancing the Clarksons series, but since there isn’t a single Clarkson to be seen here (unless I missed them? I was really trying to keep an eye out, though…) I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it absolutely works as a standalone.

Too Close has a very short time frame–making it perfect for a novella–which gives Kyler’s “I’m here to talk her into marrying me before I have to leave again” agenda special urgency.

Which makes his hesitancy to talk to her about a relationship that goes beyond friendship? Kind of confusing.

Still, this book has plenty of hot, steamy moments and Kyler and Bree clearly have an abundance of chemistry, which makes this a quick, fun summer read. Their lack of communication gets frustrating at times (Just talk to her, already! was a common refrain for both this reader and Kyler’s mom…) but seriously, everything is made better by an absolutely adorkable epilogue, which made every aggravating moment before that fade to black.

Belmont’s. Book. Is. Next. Woot!

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

 

About Tessa Bailey:

Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.

Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Goodreads

 

 

Tessa Bailey’s TOO CLOSE TO CALL – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:

June 14th

All Romance Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Booked All Night – Review & Excerpt

For the Love of Bookends – Review

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That’s What I’m Talking About – Review & Excerpt

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Books,Dreams,Life – Excerpt

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A Taste of Sin – Excerpt

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Becky on Books – Review & Excerpt

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New Release Review and Giveaway! CASK STRENGTH by Layla Reyne (Irish & Whiskey #2)

Title: CASK STRENGTH
Author: Layla Reyne
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Publisher: Carina Press
Series: Agents Irish & Whiskey
Genres: M/M Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 61,000
Format: Digital
ISBN: 9781488024399

 

Synopsis:

The heart’s a resilient beast…

Professionally, the FBI team of Aidan “Irish” Talley and Jameson “Whiskey” Walker is as good as it gets, closing cases faster than any team at the Bureau. Personally, it’s a different story. Aidan’s feelings for Jamie scare the hell out of him: he won’t risk losing another love no matter how heart-tripping the intimacy between them. And loss is a grim reality with the terrorist Renaud still on their trail, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake.

Going undercover on a new case gets them out of town and off the killer’s radar. They’re assigned to investigate an identity theft ring involving a college basketball team in Jamie’s home state, where Jamie’s past makes him perfect for the role of coach. But returning to the court brings more than old memories.

As secrets and shocking betrayals abound, none may be more dangerous than the one Jamie’s been keeping: a secret about the death of Aidan’s husband that could blow his partner’s world apart and destroy forever the fragile bonds of trust and love building between them.

Find out more at: Carina Press | Amazon | Google Play | Kobo | iTunes | B&N | Goodreads

Excerpt:

“I know our schedule’s fucked, but that face of yours is awfully grim.”

Startling at the full-blast Irish accent, Jamie’s head shot up and the phone slipped from his fingers, clattering to the ground. Pick it up, some instinct ordered, but he was too busy losing the rest of his fucking mind. The veneer of calm shattered and any hope of patience took a flying leap out the window.

Because standing in front of him was his stylishly dressed partner, a messenger bag over one shoulder, a coat tossed over the other, and silver-rimmed aviators nestled in waves of auburn hair. More times than he could count, Jamie had imagined Aidan with his natural hair color, and damn if the reality didn’t surpass each and every one of his fantasies.

Mouth dry, heart racing, cheeks burning, Jamie’s fingers twitched with the urge to weave through the long red strands. Reaching down instead, he grabbed his phone, held it between his palms, and wedged his clasped hands between his knees, forestalling his impulse. He tried to force out a “hello,” but his brain refused to cooperate, all the blood in his body having raced south where his jeans became painfully tight.

Fuck.

He was gone. So far gone. Past casual, past a crush, past simple attraction.

This was Aidan, sans disguises, and Jamie wanted him more than he’d ever wanted anything.

“Is it that bad a dye job?” Aidan asked, interrupting his mental breakdown.

“Ai—” he started, only to be corrected with a brogue-laced, “Ian.”

Jamie blinked, reminded that this was a disguise. It sure as hell didn’t feel like one. “I wasn’t expecting this.” His eyes raked over Aidan again, taking it all in. Dressed in jeans and a navy V-neck sweater, the dark blues set off his pale skin, the freckles, his autumn eyes, that hair…

“Fuck,” he muttered out loud.

Aidan shifted on his feet in front of him. “I said I was making a few more changes.”

“Yeah, but this—” he spread his arms wide, the motion totally inadequate “—is more than a fucking few.”

Their gazes locked, heat sparking. “Problem, Jamie?” Aidan’s eyes flickered down to the very obvious problem.

“You gotta stop that.”

He dropped his messenger bag and shrugged the coat off his shoulder. “Stop what?”

“Saying my name in that accent.”

“Mr. Walker, then,” he said with a smirk.

Way too smooth.

Jamie propped his elbows on this knees and covered his face with his hands. “God no,” he groaned. “Not that either.”

Aidan laughed as the buzzer went off on the conveyor behind them.

Leather smacked the backs of Jamie’s hands, and he snagged Aidan’s coat before it hit the ground.

Leather?

“Cover that up,” Aidan said, eyeing his crotch. “And get yourself together. Debrief in the car.” Turning, he headed for the spinning luggage carousel, giving Jamie a prime view of his sinfully fitted jeans.

Get himself together…

Yeah, right.

Copyright © 2017 Layla Reyne

Review:

I enjoyed the suspense of Cask Strength–definitely had me on the edge of my seat, especially for the last 20% or so–couldn’t put it down! Though Irish and Whiskey are mainly dealing with their new undercover case here, a major plot thread from book one ( Single Malt ) is also still a pretty big deal (and continues to be into the next book) so if you haven’t read the first book, you’re definitely going to be behind. I liked both Jamie (Whiskey) and Aidan (Irish) a lot and loved them together, though Aidan’s behavior for much of the book was pretty frustrating. It was more understandable when we saw things from his POV, but still…hopefully they’ll manage to stay in the place they are at the end of this book and not make a backward slide relationship-wise like they did between 1 and 2.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Other books in the Agents Irish & Whiskey series:

 

SINGLE MALT

Available Now: Carina Press | Amazon | Google Play | Kobo | iTunes | B&N| Goodreads

“Sexy, smart and suspenseful – this book has it all.”—HelenKay Dimon, author of MR. & MR. SMITH

 

“SINGLE MALT is full of explosive chemistry, captivating characters, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. A must read for any romantic suspense fan!”—Megan Erickson, USA Today Bestselling Author

 

BARREL PROOF

On Sale August 7, 2017: Carina Press | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes | Google Play | Goodreads

 

About Layla Reyne:

2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist, Layla Reyne, was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

Connect with Layla: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

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New Release Review and Giveaway! HIS FAMILY OF CONVENIENCE by Amy Ayers (The Medina Legacy)

 

About the Book:

Senna Callas’s one-night stand with her alpha asshole boss, Marco Medina, was supposed to mark the end of her internship and their ridiculous attraction. After being unreachable and ignoring Senna for a year, Marco sweeps back into the country and summons her to his office, revealing he knows her secret…the secret created during their explosive night together.

Marco is determined to be there for the son he’s just discovered he has, but when it comes to being with Senna, his choices aren’t his own. His meddling family expects him, the firstborn son, to follow through with the arranged marriage set up when he was a child. And Senna has no plans on being his mistress and still resents how her attempts to contact Marco were ignored. The only thing going right between them is the attraction that burns no matter the complicated situation they’re in.

Marco would do anything to protect his family, anything except decide between the legacy he was born into and the young family he’s just found…

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Excerpt:

He walked over to where she was standing with an involuntary need to be closer to her. She faced him, and the vulnerability etched into her features made him long to take her in his arms and kiss her until she was breathless.

“Please,” she implored, her hands finding their way to a resting spot on his chest. He didn’t know if he could resist her much longer. “The past is, well, the past. We have a son, and we need to look ahead. We don’t have to be best friends or even friendly acquaintances if you don’t want to. But you have to promise me, whatever happens, you’ll always be there for Max. And I don’t mean by sending a check once in a while. Promise me you’ll be a father, a dad. That you’ll take him to a baseball game. Or you’ll take him to the beach and look for starfish together. Promise me you’ll just be a presence in his life. He deserves that.”

He swallowed hard. “Always, princesa. I promise.”

They stood that way for what seemed like a long while, neither speaking, just being close with each other and processing the intimacy between them. He wanted to kiss her. He needed to kiss her. It was all flooding back, all the memories that had been locked away so he could focus on his father and ensure that Medina Enterprises would endure. That his family would endure.

He’d forgotten how her essence had a way of seeping into the marrow of his bones. How hard it was to keep his hands off her while working together. She was honest, pure. No guile. She demanded nothing of him directly, but his body begged to obey hers.

Without thinking, Marco reached up to cup her face, lifting her chin closer to his. He brought her lips to his, and she did nothing to resist. They came together slowly at first; he brushed his lips with hers, tasting, teasing. But he couldn’t hold back, and their kiss intensified. Her arms snaked around his neck and held his head firmly in place. His hands moved lower until they rested low on her hips right above the curve of her behind. He brought her hips closer, eliminating the space between them.

His tongue found its way into her mouth, gently exploring every crevice. She moaned softly under his ministrations, and he was hard and throbbing almost instantly.

How could he have forgotten the sweetness of her lips, the softness of her skin, the silky feel of her tresses as his hands wandered up and down her back? He wanted to sneak out onto the grounds, forgetting about everyone else, and spirit her away to the gentle rolling hills by the nearby lake and spend all night making up for lost time.

Review:
This must be my week for first-time authors 🙂

His Family of Convenience is a quick little read, with a touch of a Cinderella story, some secret baby, and a second-chance romance thrown in for good measure. There isn’t a whole lot of depth to the story–as soon as you think Marco and Senna have run into an insurmountable problem, it’s solved fairly quickly soon after–but still it was an entertaining read. The two of them are very cute together, and Max, of course, is absolutely adorable. The push-and-pull aspect of the story (his original plan for Max and Senna, which he abandons almost immediately after seeing his son and she never finds out about…they can’t be together and push each other away and seconds later are in each other’s arms…he can’t give up his place in the company and loyalty to his family, or can he?) was a bit much at times, but still there’s definite promise in Ms. Ayers’ writing.

We don’t really get to know the other Medinas terribly well here–the focus is really on Senna and Marco and Max–but still, I’ll be keeping an eye open for more of The Medina Legacy in the future.

Rating 3 1/2 stars / B-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Meet the Author:

Amy Ayers remembers writing her first fiction as an introspective tween in rainy Portland, Oregon. She took a break from writing to move with her family to the desert of Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Women’s Studies which lends itself to writing strong, opinionated heroines. She has worked as an Editor, a Job-Skills Trainer, and as an Executive Assistant. She even spent a college semester writing articles for the Tombstone Epitaph in the town ‘too tough to die’. She currently divides her time between her writing, her family (including one husband, four boys and two dogs), and her daily commute to work. A life-long lover of literature, she began writing her own contemporary romance in earnest in 2014 and is thrilled to be published with Entangled. She hopes to win the lottery someday so that she can devote all of her time to writing; until then, she writes when she can.

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Release Day Review and Giveaway! MEANT FOR YOU by Michelle Major

Will a ploy to impress old high school classmates turn into a second chance at love for Jenny and Owen? Find out in MEANT FOR YOU by Michelle Major.

Synopsis:

Single mom Jenny Castelli has a temper to match her red hair. When the former mean girls of her high school insult her son, Jenny fires off a big lie—that she’s engaged to a rich, handsome guy and is bringing him to their ten-year reunion. Now she needs to find the perfect fake fiancé for one night. And only one man fits the bill.

Geek turned tech entrepreneur Owen Dalton already had his heart broken by Jenny Castelli. Still, he finds himself agreeing to her proposition—even as he struggles to remember that the chemistry sparking between them isn’t real. But when Jenny’s ex makes a play for custody and Owen is forced to deal with the family who always treated him as “second best,” their arrangement suddenly becomes very personal. And that lie they’ve been telling everyone? It isn’t nearly as big as the one they’ve been telling themselves.

Review:

A second chance romance and fake relationship story? With a nerdy hero? Sign me up!

Both Jenny and Owen come into this book with baggage galore. Besides their brief past romance that ended badly, they each have more than their share of family and past relationship drama. Jenny never knew her dad and was dumped in high school by her son’s father, and now her mother is suffering from dementia. Owen, who’s never felt like he fit in to his own family, lost a fiancee to his younger brother–a fiancee who’s about to marry that younger brother in a few short weeks. Add in the fact that Jenny’s the one who torpedoed their first attempt at an HEA, and yeah, this one’s gonna be drama-filled with a capital D, with angst to spare.

Jenny drove me a little nuts with her insistence that she and Owen couldn’t possibly have a future together. I mean, I get her hangups about being left–first her dad, then Cooper’s–but her original freak out that ended relationship number 1 with Owen? I had a hard time feeling the panic behind her actions. Maybe that’s because we only heard about it afterwards–it happened before the events of this story–but we get it from both her and Owen’s POVs, and either way it left me feeling kind of…meh. This means I spent 90% of the book feeling vaguely annoyed with her, which was a bit of a bummer, but Owen and Cooper did their slightly geeky, manly best to keep me distracted from that fact.

Though I really did like Owen, Jenny’s son Cooper stole the show in this one. He’s polite and respectful towards adults, but with a mercenary streak a mile wide when it comes to looking out for his mom. Plus, you’ve got to love the kid who’s so invested in his mother’s fake relationship that he’s the one who comes up with their “how we got engaged” story (it involved enchiladas…and fried ice cream…and a fireworks display–though Owen nixed the latter element as too much, party pooper that he is) 😉

Though it’s not listed as part of a series, Meant for You has characters from at least three other Michelle Major books: Kissing Mr. Right , Recipe for Kisses , and Tell Me Again –the heroines of each are part of Jenny’s group of friends, and Ty (aka “Mr. Right”) is both Jenny’s original BFF and friends with Owen. I’ve only read Ty and Kendall’s book prior to this one, though; so reading Meant for You as a standalone should work out just fine.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Buy:
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Add to your Goodreads TBR pile!

 

 

About Michelle Major:

Michelle Major grew up in Ohio but dreamed of living in the mountains. More than twenty years ago, she pointed her car west and settled in Colorado. Today her home includes her husband, their two children, several furry pets, and a couple of well-behaved reptiles. She’s grateful to have found her passion for writing stories with happy endings

Connect with Michelle: Newsletter | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! THE WEDDING MARCH by Tara Randel (The Business of Weddings #4)

The Wedding March
(The Business of Weddings #4)
Tara Randel
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
March 1st 2017 by Harlequin Heartwarming

The help only he can offer…

Cypress Pointe, Florida, is a long way from LA, where pop singer Cassie Branford needs a hit to prove she’s not a twoalbum wonder. But her case of writer’s block could be over when the struggling songwriter meets Luke Hastings at a family wedding.

The legendary musician walked away from success at the height of his career. Yet Luke is already inspiring Cassie with his dedication to building a permanent community outreach center for troubled teens. Volunteering to help bring music into these kids’ lives is also bringing her and Luke closer. Maybe they’re not as different as he thinks…

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Review:

A gentle and sweet romance–like book 3 ( The Bridal Bouquet) there’s a bit of a mystery involved, and a whole lot of (mostly family and ex-related) drama. This time, though, throw in the complications that the music industry and fame bring with them, plus a healthy dose of writer’s block and…yikes. Yeah, Cassie and Luke have obstacles galore on their way to an HEA.

Spoiler alert: they’ll get there. Eventually 🙂

Couples from other series books make appearances (the main couple do not get to their own “wedding march” during the course of the book, but both of them are present at plenty of weddings throughout the story), and though you’ll probably be curious about their stories, if you haven’t read them you should do just fine here.

My only real complaint? What English teacher doesn’t ever have to spend time grading, planning, or reading over student work…? 😉

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Other Books in the Series:

  

About the Author:

USA Today Bestselling Author Tara Randel has enjoyed a lifelong love of books, especially romance and mystery genres, so it didn’t come as a surprise when she began writing with the dream of becoming published. Family values, mystery and, of course, love and romance are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Tara lives on the West Coast of Florida, where gorgeous sunsets inspire the creation of heartwarming stories, filled with love, laughter and the occasional mystery.

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Tour Giveaway!

– US PRIZE PACK: Signed copies of the first three books in The Business of Weddings series by Tara Randel, a $25 gift card for Dunkin’ Donuts, a coffee mug with an inspirational message: “Something beautiful is on the horizon,” and a Harlequin Heartwarming tote bag. (US only)
– $25 Amazon eCard (open internationally)
 Ends March 28th

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Tour Schedule:

March 12th: Launch
March 13th: Falling Leaves
March 14th: Reading Is My SuperPower & Book Lover in Florida
March 15th: Hearts & Scribbles
March 16th: Christy’s Cozy Corners & Rainy Day Reviews
March 17th: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium & Bookworm Lisa
March 19th: Heidi Reads…
March 20th: Katie’s Clean Book CollectionMel’s Shelves & Rockin’ Book Reviews
March 21st: Wishful Endings & Getting Your Read On
March 22nd: underneath the covers & Hardcover Feedback
March 23rd: Harlie’s Books & Becky on Books
March 24th: Grand Finale

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New Release Review! FAKE ENGAGEMENT REAL TEMPTATION by Joya Ryan

Title: Fake Engagement, Real Temptation
Author: Joya Ryan
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 30, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Brazen

Synopsis:

Oh. My. God. Carrie Morgan can’t escape her cheating ex fiancé. She goes on her Hawaiian honeymoon fantasy vacation to prove she’s over him—but he’s there with his mistress in tow. Good thing Carrie’s annoyingly over-protective friend Blake came with her. How’s she going to prove to her ex she’s over him? Easy. One… Two… Three… She grabs Blake and kisses him.

Blake Harris isn’t about to let anyone take advantage of his heartbroken friend Carrie. And that includes himself, even if she’s sexy as sin in that bikini. Then she kisses him—and he’s on fire. Damage done, but he can back off. Except he sees that broken look in Carrie’s eyes. No. Hell no. New plan. He intends to show her ex just what he’s thrown away.

The kisses? For show. The heat? Part of the performance. The private practice sessions? Uh-oh. Those are starting to feel a bit too real…

Purchase your copy today!

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Excerpt:

Blake Harris had no idea what he was doing staring down the door of his best friend’s baby sister. Okay, he did have an idea, he just wasn’t loving it.

Carrie Morgan was on the other side of that door, and yes, Blake cared about her. He’d known her brother since they were kids. But this was her wedding. Or it was supposed to be. And now she was on the other side of the door, in tears, because her scumbag fiancé had abandoned her for another woman.

Shit. He’d never been close to her. He’d been sixteen and she’d been nine when his mom had died and he’d spent so many afternoons with her older brother Lane. But hell. Lane was his best friend. He couldn’t just let his sister suffer like this.

Blake would go back to his outdoor guiding business in the mountains soon, bury himself in work, but not before he made sure Carrie was okay.

He hadn’t even had a chance to see her yet since she’d not left the bridal suite in forty-eight hours. Even since she’d gotten word that the groom wasn’t going to show. Could have been worse. She could have been literally stood up at the altar. At least the piece of shit fiancé had told her two days before the wedding.

Now, he was staring down her hotel room door and asking god to open the door.

He knocked twice.

“Carrie?” he called. He heard low music and rustling. “It’s Blake. Come on, little girl, open up.”

Lane was the closest thing to a brother he had, and neither distance or time had changed that. Then there was Carrie. The sweet girl Jake and Lane had spent their teenage years playing Uno with and looking after. Until Blake had graduated college and moved to the city.

Shit. He was an ass for not being around more. Poor girl was likely behind the door crying, and that made him want to punch the douche bag that had hurt her. Maybe later he’d help Lane hunt the prick down.

Blake took the keycard that Lane had given him out of his pocket. “I’m coming in,” he announced. “Just want to check on you…”

Blake peeked in. “Carrie?”

He stepped into the room. It was a massive suite with a sitting area and kitchen. The plush furniture was lined with roses, and unlit candles were scattered around everywhere. Ah shit, so this was her honeymoon suite.

He stepped further in and heard the low sound of music got louder. It was coming from the open bedroom door. He looked in and found—

“What the hell?” he asked, taking in the scene, or rather the woman before him.

The strawberry blond five feet in front of him was moving and shaking in the middle of the room. What was more distracting was the fact that she was doing that in nothing but a pair of panties and matching white tank top. Her eyes were locked on the wide screen hanging on the wall. He glanced at the television. She was doing…jazzercise?

“Carrie?” His voice decided to break a little around the one word he’d said several times but now held a lot more heat. Sure, his blood felt hot, but his skin was cold.

So this is what shock feels like.

She froze and faced him. “Blake?”

He smiled, and her body remained still while her chest heaved with deep breaths. While those inhales made the thin cotton stretch over her breasts in a way that made his mouth instantly water, it was better than her dancing. Because any more bouncing on her part and he might forget she was his best friend’s little sister and lose his damn mind wondering how many more deep breaths it would take to make that tank top non-existent.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, not bothering to cover up. Something he wasn’t completely upset about since the woman was smoking hot. She wasn’t a little girl, he knew that. But he’d barely seen her since she was a teenager. And seeing her now, all woman—worse, his type of woman—that fact hit harder than the last.

He glanced down, attempting to take a break from marveling at her, but all he accomplished was getting flashes of those tone thigh and adorable pink-tipped toes.

Nope. She definitely wasn’t the kid he grew up with anymore. She was twenty-three with a tight body, perfect ass, and breasts he’d just learned had no problem doing a Baywatch slow-motion run in place.

She’d invited him to the wedding, but he realized that she’d likely meant: What the hell are you doing in my hotel room?

“I’m here to see you,” he said.

She nodded as if his answer was good enough and walked to the bedside table. She seemed…carefree? Not at all the crying woman he’d expected to find. Then she grabbed a half empty bottle of Jack Daniels off the table and took a few swigs.

Well that explains things.

“Glad to see you’re staying hydrated,” Blake said. She wasn’t carefree, she was drunk. And exercising. An odd combination, but he could see the logic. Drink away the sorrows and get the endorphins going. He’d try it out himself next time he felt so lonely he forgot why a relationship was off the table for him.

She winced on her final swig and wiped the back of her hand over her mouth.

“Yep. Hydrating is important,” she said. “I’ve got to stick with my video exercise. Been doing this for six months to get ‘bikini ready’ and if I stop now then…”

She trailed off and folded her lips together as if to fight off tears.

Ah, hell. Put him between a woman and a man who meant her harm, he knew what to do. Swing until the other guy went down. But a crying woman? One who’d already been abandoned by the guy? Yet another sign Blake had failed by not saying something. Or at least getting here early. Maybe then he could have caught the scumbag before he disappeared to who knew where.

But nope. Blake’s life and job were a hundred percent on his time and agenda. Freedom was a heady thing, and he would always be free. Never tied to a woman, never love, because the loss that came with love was too much.

But this woman was different. The protective instinct he had came roaring to the surface at the first sign of water lining her eyes. She was hurting. Her shoulders slinking. And there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. But he so badly wanted to.

She shook her head. “I guess I don’t have to do the videos anymore now that I’m not going to Hawaii.” She took another swig. “Guess it didn’t matter how hard I worked out, Kevin left anyway. The whole time he was cheating! Can you believe that? With his trainer. Which, by the way, I want a refund on all those ‘classes’ he signed up for to get his own ass ‘bikini ready,’ because I doubt nailing your trainer burns more calories than a treadmill.”

Review:

Cute and sweet, with some truly funny moments sprinkled throughout–if you like best friend’s little sister or fake relationship troupes, this could be for you. The timeframe, though, feels much too short–sure, they’ve known each other for years, but have never been close (Blake’s own words on page one) and in recent years hadn’t seen each other at all. Overall it made for an enjoyable few hours–Blake and Carrie are likable characters and work well together, and hey, Hawaii–but it definitely could have benefited from more story and character development throughout to make it more.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

About The Author:

National and international bestselling author Joya Ryan is the author of more than a dozen adult and new-adult romance novels. Passionate about both cooking and dancing (despite not being too skilled at the latter), she loves traveling and seeking out new adventures. Visit her online at www.joyaryan.com.

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New Release Review and Giveaway! FALLING FOR THE BEST MAN by Amanda Ashby (Sisters of Wishing Bridge Farm #1)

 He’s the best man and her secret fling—who said being a wedding planner was easy?
FALLING FOR THE BEST MAN
Sisters of Wishing Bridge Farm #1
Amanda Ashby
Releasing Jan 9th, 2017
Entangled Bliss
 
What’s worse than running into your ex-hookup at the airport? When said ‘hookup” is the best man for the most important wedding of your career, and he’s on the hunt for a fake girlfriend. Between a hysterical bride and a wedding party gone wild, wedding planner Emmy Watson can’t afford any more disasters if she wants to save her beloved Wishing Bridge Farm. Which is why she puts the best man on lockdown. Unfortunately, he also happens to be the one guy who can make her forget everything except the way his kisses make her feel.
 
All Christopher Henderson needs is a fake girlfriend to convince his bosses that his bad boy reputation is a thing of the past so he can land his dream job. What better place to find said companion than at a wholesome vintage wedding. The only thing he didn’t count on was seeing Emmy, the woman who dumped him. The one he hasn’t been able to get off his mind.
There’s no denying the spark between them, but he’s a globetrotter and she’s a homebody, and falling in love is something neither of them has in their plans.
 

“Emmy,” he countered, trying not to be distracted by the delectable sight of her chest rising and falling. “One dance. That’s all I’m asking. For old time’s sake.”

Emmy’s lips twitched, and Christopher could almost see the two sides of her battling before the carefree smile he recognized from their time together in New York appeared. It changed the shape of her face and brought everything about their first meeting slamming into his mind. She stood up, so close that his skin prickled with desire.

“Fine. One dance.”

“Great.” He led her to the small wooden dance floor to the left of where the jazz band was playing. Lewis and Miranda were in the middle, and fanned out all around them were the rest of the bridal party, but all Christopher could see was Emmy.

The music pulsated around them, and even the pale yellow moon above swayed to the beat. He sucked in a breath and pulled her toward him. It was a mistake, and his lungs were filled with the smell of her freshly washed hair and the evening clematis climbing up the crumbling brickwork of the courtyard walls. His arms tightened around her waist, and her bunched, tense muscles seemed to relax as she melted into him. The rest of the world disappeared, and all he was conscious of was her pounding heart as it pressed against his.

This was the woman he’d met two years ago.

And it seems I’m just as helpless around her as I ever was. Which is either a good thing, or a very, very bad one. The verdict’s still out.

As if reading his mind, she turned her face up to him, a soft, suggestive smile tugging at her full mouth. Desire flared through him, and if they were anywhere else he would’ve kissed her without a second’s hesitation. He forced himself to return her smile and simply enjoy the way her body molded his.

It wasn’t until the lead singer announced the name of the next song Christopher even realized the music had stopped. Emmy was the first to recover, and she stepped away, her face flushed and her eyes not quite meeting his.

“Um.” She licked her lips. “I’m not sure that was such a good idea.”

“I hate to disagree with you, but I think it was an excellent idea. And one that should definitely be repeated. You can’t deny that there’s still something between us.” Christopher tried to pull her closer as the next song started, but she folded her arms firmly in front of her. Ironically, it highlighted the soft curves of her body.

At this rate I’m going to need a fire engine to cool me down.

“I’m serious,” she insisted before letting out a soft sigh. “You’re right. There is still something between us, but there’s nowhere it can go. I want to save the farm, and you want to go visit every strange nook and cranny in the universe. Don’t you see? Nothing’s changed.”

“My hair’s longer,” Christopher said, but it was obvious by the way Emmy had pushed her lips into two compact lines, she wasn’t in the joking mood. “I know you like to be organized, and I get that, but aren’t you over thinking this? I mean, shouldn’t we be having the fun first and then move on to the serious conversations about why it would never work?”

“I’m sorry.” The muscles around her jaw tightened. “I think we should just be friends.”

“Friends that do friendly things together? Like dancing?” he asked in a hopeful voice.

“How about friends that help other friends ensure the groom’s brother doesn’t do anything he might regret?” she countered.

Christopher winced. Ouch. He’d been friend-zoned. Logically, she had a point. She hadn’t changed her mind, and he wouldn’t change his, which meant it was for the best.

If only someone could inform my body of the situation.

Cute story! I especially enjoyed Emmy’s inner snark; Ms. Ashby’s “voice” is a lot of fun. I liked Emmy and Christopher together and was rooting for them from the first chapter, and though I was a bit annoyed with Emmy’s sisters’ ‘tudes initially, I’m looking forward to seeing where the author will go with their stories, Bec’s especially.

But…the one aspect of the book I wasn’t crazy about was the romantic conflict. Both his and her “issues” felt a bit like overreaction, and therefore didn’t take a whole lot more than some personal reflection for them to get over. On the one hand, yay, they get together for a cute ending. On the other, frustrating–couldn’t they have taken a chill pill six chapters earlier and saved everyone the angst? Still, this was a cute read from an author I’ll definitely be looking for more of in the future.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-

 I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


Amanda Ashby was born in Australia but now lives in New Zealand where she writes romance, young adult and middle grade books. She also works in a library, owns far too many vintage tablecloths and likes to delight her family by constantly rearranging the furniture.

She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Her debut book was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award, and her first young adult book was listed in the New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age.

Because she’s mysterious, she also writes middle grade books under the name Catherine Holt and hopes that all this writing won’t interfere with her Netflix schedule.

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES by Stacey Trombley (Off Limits #1)

Pushing the Boundaries (Off Limits #1)
by Stacey Trombley
Publication Date: January 16, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen Crush

 

Myra goes to Haiti with one goal: take the photograph that will win a scholarship and prove to her uber-traditional family that she has what it takes to be a photographer instead of a doctor. Her camera has always been her shield against getting too close to anyone, but she didn’t expect the hot teen translator who has an ability to see past her walls.

Elias needs his job as a translator to provide for his siblings. He can’t afford to break the rule forbidding him from socializing with a client. Except this girl Myra insists on going outside the city to capture the perfect picture, and he steps in as her guide in order to keep her safe.

The deeper they travel into the country, the harder they fall for each other. Now they’re both taking risks that could cost each other their dreams.

If they get too close—it could ruin both their lives.

 

Excerpt:

Chapter Two

Elias

The roar of the planes overhead is just another reminder of how insignificant we are in this tiny forgotten country. Stuck. My little brother watches through the chain-link fence, eyes wide, mouth open as they soar over us, so close the air sends ripples through our clothing.

“Kouman rich ou panse yo ye?” he asks without taking his eyes from the huge white plane. How rich do you think they are? I mentally translate to English. I need all the practice I can get. My palms sweat just thinking about it, and my first test is just minutes away.

“Who?” I ask.

He turns to me and blinks his big eyes, his eyebrows high in question. Oh, right.

“Ki moun?” I repeat in Creole so he’ll understand me.

My stomach sinks. I can’t even get this right with my little brother. The whole double language thing is harder than I expected. I need it to be easy if I’m going to be any good at my job.

“Moun nan avyon yo.” The people in the planes!

I shake my head, but he doesn’t see. I explain that there are hundreds of people in those planes. Some are probably rich, and some are probably poor.

“Yo ap toujou pi rich pase nou, dwa?” he asks.

I sigh. If they can afford a plane ticket… “Chans.” Yes, they are likely wealthier than us.

Our world is tiny, a country that is only half an island. To people who can afford a plane, the world is limitless.

My pocket buzzes, making me jump. I fumble with the little plastic device and flip it open. “Hello!” I say, pressing the phone against my face.

“Elias! Pull the van around. They just landed.”

“Yes, Mr. Rowland.”

“Remember that line we talked about? Don’t step over it.”

My head swims. There’s so much for me to remember, but the most important? Don’t get too close to the Americans. Mr. Rowland made it very clear that I’m not one of them and I shouldn’t expect anything from them. If I make any of them uncomfortable I’ll be out of a job faster than one of their huge planes can take off.

“Yes, sir.”

There’s a click and then silence. I put the foreign technology back in my pocket and hope he doesn’t call again.

Luke grabs at my pocket, seeking out the phone, his eyes alight with envy. “Ki jan ou fè jwenn yon telefòn?”

I swat his hand away. The phone is not mine. It’s Mr. Rowland’s. “E si ou kraze li?” What if you break it?

Luke rolls his eyes but then shuffles his feet.

He may only be eight, but he knows what this job means for us. I’m only eighteen, with a chance for the kind of job that will keep his belly full, permanently. Not to mention our mother and sister.

I point across the parking lot and tell him to get to the van. It’s time to work.

Luke’s eyes get big again, and I smile. He runs to the parking lot, fast as a bullet, jumping up and down once he reaches the van. I unlock the door, and he climbs in, looking tiny in the massive vehicle.

We pull up to the front of the airport to wait for the Americans, and I try not to let myself get too worked up. The more nervous I am, the harder this will be.

“Ou jwenn yon telefon, yon ti bis, e al rankontre tou Ameriken yo. Pi bon travay pou lavi!” You get a phone, a van, and get to meet all the Americans. Best job ever.

I roll my eyes and tell him to keep working on his English and maybe he can have a job like this someday, too.

I take in a deep breath. To him, this is an adventure.

To me, it’s dangerous.

 

Review:

Pushing the Boundaries has a fairly unique premise–a Pakistani American girl goes (against her will) with her doctor mother on a service trip to Haiti to work in a medical clinic and becomes involved with their teenaged Haitian interpreter/driver, and problems ensue. Myra and Elias are from different worlds–literally–and it seems as if their relationship can’t realistically be more than a bittersweet memory of a first love experience…or can it?

I enjoyed a look into a different world–like Myra, I wanted to see what Haiti looked like beyond the clinic and rented home she was shuttled between, thought the way she chooses to get out nearly causes more problems than positive experiences. Her self-centeredness and tendency to think of herself first and of others (maybe) second made her difficult to like at times, though she does grow up more toward the end, garnering more sympathy for her character. Elias is much easier to like overall, though his chapters tended to be too short to really get to know him and his life as much as I’d like to.

There’s a touch of insta-love here (though it is their “first love” experience, so that’s not exactly out of character) and I’m still processing how I feel about the way things are left at the end–a too quick and easy solution? The rich Americans coming in and making everything all better?–the jury’s still out on that part. This is being billed as the first in a series, and if the other book(s) are going to continue Myra and Elias’s story, I am interested in seeing where it is going to go.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Purchase Links:

Amazon.com
B&N
iBooks
Kobo
Amazon.com.au
Amazon.com.uk
Amazon.ca

Follow the tour here!

 

About the Author:

Stacey Trombley lives in Ohio with her husband and the sweetest Rottweiler you’ll ever meet. She thinks people are fascinating and any chance she has, she’s off doing or learning something new. She went on her first mission trip to Haiti at age twelve and is still dying to go back. Her “places to travel” list is almost as long as her “books to read” list.

Her debut novel Naked released from Entangled Teen in 2015. Find her online at www.StaceyTrombley.com and on twitter @trombolii.

 

Website – http://www.staceytrombley.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Trombolii
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/StaceyTrombleyAuthor
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/trombolii/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/tromboli/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8475704.Stacey_Trombley

Giveaway Information: 

Pushing the Boundaries Prize Pack including:

* Signed copy of Naked by Stacey Trombley

* Signed copy of Pushing the Boundaries by Stacey Trombley

* Haitian Art as shown in the photo

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New Release Review! LEARNING TO RIDE by Erin Knightley (Sunnybell #1)

Learning to Ride
by Erin Knightley

Synopsis:

She never wanted to love a cowboy. . . .

Rodeo king Tanner Callen doesn’t want to be tied down. When he sees Madeline Harper at a local honky-tonk and everything about her screams New York, he brings out every trick in his playbook to take her home. But soon he learns that he doesn’t just want her for a night and, instead, hopes for forever. . . .

Review:

Learning to Ride is short and sweet, though the ending is a bit too rushed to be entirely believable. 129 pages doesn’t quite give enough room (12 pages of the book are essentially advertisements for other BookShots books–both Flames and the regular line) to really flesh out a romance between two people as different as Madeline and Tanner are, though Ms. Knightley does an admirable job of trying. Her characters are likable and the romance is sweet, and Sunnybell, Texas has that charming, small-town feel so popular in fiction today (though Madeline did see a bit of the not-so-charming aspect of it too, when so many of her coworkers knew her business without her even realizing that the entire town had essentially been talking about her. Ah, life in a small-town!) I was looking for a quick read, though, and was curious about the BookShots books that James Patterson wasn’t even pretending to have written himself (yeah, don’t get me started on that topic) so this one fit the bill.

This book serves as a good intro to both the author and the series, even if it isn’t ultimately the most satisfying of romance reads on its own. Book two in the series (The Return) is a second chance romance, a troupe which does tend to do better as a novella, since the characters generally have known each other more than a few weeks before making life-altering decisions based on their relationship, so I’ll definitely give that one a try when it makes its way into our library.

 

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-


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