Thursday, July 30, 2020

Review: The Runaway Montana Bride (The Starr Brothers of Montana #4) by Joan Kilby

She promised she’d go anywhere...

When lifestyle “it” girl Lilou Langdon dumps her wealthy, snobby fiancĂ© days before their highly-promoted society wedding, she can’t get out of Manhattan fast enough. Desperate to escape, she begs her magazine editor for the first assignment out of town. With her designer luggage and pup in a purse, Lilou—who specializes in covering luxury resorts and glamorous travel destinations—arrives in Montana for a six day trek into the wilderness.

Adventure tour owner Garrett Starr was expecting an experienced, off-grid journalist to cover his wilderness trek. Instead he gets Lilou, a city-slicker ‘princess’ who doesn’t know a crampon from a crouton. Worst of all, she brings along her lion-haired Pomeranian, Simba. Garrett dreamed that the article would boost his business to the next level, yet Lilou appears to be his worst nightmare.

But Lilou didn’t make a name for herself by giving up, and soon both she and Garrett realize they’re in for more than they bargained for. 

My Review: 

Wildly Entertaining

Lilou and Garrett are complete opposites of each other.  Lilou is a city girl; a social media Influencer and travel blogger.   Garrett is country boy through and through.  He owns a store and just started a hiking adventure tour.  They are thrown together when Lilou suddenly calls off her wedding and just needs to get out of New York City.  Her boss had a job in Montana where she could write a feature on Garrett and his new tour.  Lilou had no idea what she was getting into.  Hiking, mountain climbing and whitewater rafting are just the start of it.  And, Lilou just happened to bring her little dog along for the trip.  What could go wrong?  

I enjoyed this book a lot.  The story was fun and played out well.  I wasn’t sure how Lilou and Garrett would end up together with them being so different from each other, but the author did a great job finding a middle ground for them.  The story flowed easily with many situations that could have gone bad, but ending up working out.  I enjoyed seeing the transformation of Lilou when she started to enjoy her wilderness adventure.  All around, this was a fun and cute story. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Review: Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras

Sought-after social media influencer Sara Vance, in recovery from an eating disorder, is coming into her own, with a potential career expansion on the horizon. Despite the good news, her successful siblings (and their perfect spouses) have a way of making her feel like the odd one out. So, when her unreliable boyfriend is a no-show for a Florida family vacation, Sara recruits Luis Navarro—a firefighter paramedic and dive captain willing to play the part of her smitten fiancĂ© . . .

Luis’s big Cuban familia has been in Key West for generations, and his quiet strength feeds off the island’s laidback style. Though guarded after a deep betrayal, he’ll always help someone in need—especially a spunky beauty with a surprising knowledge of Spanish curse words. Soon, he and Sara have memorized their “how we met” story and are immersed in family dinners, bike tours, private snorkeling trips . . . sharing secrets, and slow, melting kisses. But when it’s time for Sara to return home, will their fake relationship fade like the stunning sunset . . . or blossom into something beautiful? 

My Review: 

Fun, sweet, sexy and romantic.  This book gave me everything I want from a romance story.

Luis Navarro, a firefighter in Key West, gets himself in quite a predicament.  He is known by his family and friends as San Navarro.  He can never do wrong.  But his nickname is challenged when he meets Sara Vance, a social media influenster, who is vacationing with her family and was supposed to be introducing her boyfriend to everyone.  Sara has always felt like a failure compared to her siblings, so she wanted to impress everyone with her new boyfriend.  When Luis overheard the conversation between Sara and Ric and then Sara breaking up with Ric, he decided to play the part of the boyfriend.  What could go wrong?  Apparently, it’s hard to keep a secret from a big Cuban family and the islanders who know everyone and their everything.

This book was such a great read.  I was totally got into Luis’s family.  They were close and I enjoyed the banter between him and his siblings.  Sara’s family had a lot of drama and things that needed to be worked through and as the story went along, it became emotional in some scenes as secrets were revealed.  I wanted Sara and Luis to be together from the very start.  Even thought they were so different, they seemed to bring out the best in each other.  They were a fun couple.  And Luis was totally swoon-worthy.  After reading Sara’s description of him reminding her of Vin Diesel, I actually read his parts in Vin’s voice.  This is the start of a new series and I can’t wait to read the next book.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves rom-coms.     

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Review: How Lulu Lost Her Mind by Rachel Gibson

Lou Ann Hunter’s mother, Patricia, has always had a passionate nature, which explains why she’s been married and divorced five times and spooned enough male patients to be ousted from three elderly care facilities. She also has Alzheimer’s, which is why she wants to spend the rest of her life surrounded by childhood memories at Sutton Hall, her family’s decrepit plantation home in Louisiana.

Lou Ann, a.k.a. Lulu the Love Guru, has built an empire preaching sex, love, and relationship advice to the women of America—mostly by defying the example her mother has set for her. But with Patricia suddenly in need of a fulltime caretaker, Lou Ann reluctantly agrees to step out of the spotlight and indulge her mother’s wishes, even if it means trading in her Louboutins and Chanel N°5 for boots and mosquito repellant.

Upon her arrival at Sutton Hall, Lou Ann discovers that very little functions as it should—least of all Patricia’s mind. And as she adjusts to this new and inevitably temporary dynamic with the help of a local handyman and a live-in nurse, she is forced to confront the reality that neither her nor her mother’s future is going according to plan. 

My Review: 

An endearing mother/daughter story.

Lou Ann Hunter, also known as Lulu the Love Guru, put her career on hold to care for her mother who has Alzheimer's.  She never expected to find herself back in Louisiana and living in her ancestral home, Sutton Hall.  But it was where her mother wanted to spend her final days.  

As the story unfolds, Lou Ann finds herself discovering more about her mother and family which leads to some interesting tales embedded in the book.  Lou Ann also discovers friendships, and even a love interest, that she never expected.  Maybe moving to Louisiana wasn't such a bad idea after all.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  I had a hard time putting it down.  I need more of these characters.  I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to them yet.   What could have been a sad and complicated story about an Alzheimer’s patient became much more.  It was emotional in some parts.  There were witty parts, fun and joyful parts and so much more making this a memorable story.    

Thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Review: A Crime of Fashion (The Wedding Bell Mysteries #2) by Nancy Robards Thompson

When a murder mystery-themed fashion show is struck by a real murder, there are enough suspects to line the runway

Bridal boutique owner and cozy mystery writer Maddie Bell and her daughter, Jenna, are hard at work planning Hemlock, North Carolina’s, annual 4th of July charity fashion show. When the show’s hometown star, bestselling mystery author Kellen Corsi, turns up dead, the mother-daughter pair find themselves playing detective...again.

Kellen’s death, which has been staged to mimic a murder from the book that launched her career, leaves the whole town reeling. The violence feels shockingly personal—Kellen was a founding member of the local writing group, Hemlock Homicide Heroines, before success swept her away to the big city.

Soon, it becomes clear not everyone was thrilled with Kellen’s success. As suspects multiply faster than designer knockoffs, Maddie and Jenna are determined to figure out who was resentful enough to kill over it.

My Review:  

An intriguing cozy mystery

What was supposed to be a fun get together between Maddie Bell and her mystery writer friends, turns into a hunt for a killer, when one of the friends is found dead in her hotel room on her first day in town. 

I was hooked on this story from the very start.  The author did a great job with the plot and the character backgrounds.  Several of the characters showed motive to commit the crime, but I still couldn’t figure out who it was until the killer was revealed.  This book ends with another surprise that I never saw coming.  I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in this series.  Even though this book is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Review: Feels Like Home (With Love, From Kurrajong Crossing #1) by Dakota Harrison

He’s the last person she ever wants to see again…

Zac Hartford swore he'd never return to sleepy Kurrajong Crossing, but after finally making it big in the music business there's only one thing left on his mind—to ask for forgiveness from the only woman he's ever loved. If that means stepping foot in the town that turned its back on him, so be it. He's not there to cause trouble. He'll simply find Cat, say his piece, and leave.

The last person Catherine Van Alden expects to see in her tiny cupcake shop is Zac—a man she hasn't seen or spoken to since he destroyed her family and vanished all those years ago. Her desire to think the best of him hasn't changed a bit, but he's obviously keeping secrets and she can't let him into her life again. Not without opening up a world of hurt and feelings best left behind.

When the truth is finally revealed, is Cat strong enough to go after the man she never stopped loving? 

My Review: 

An Emotional Reunion

Twelve years ago, Zac’s life took a turn he never expected.  It left his best friend’s sister dead and another boy disabled.  But there was more to the story that had remained a secret all that time.  Zac left town without even saying goodbye to those who knew him.  He went on to make it big in the music industry, but he couldn’t forget Cat and refused to return home.  He couldn’t face the people he let down.

Zac is finally back home, for his friend James’s wedding, and he has a few things to clear up with Cat, the only girl he had ever loved.  Cat is reluctant at first but she soon learns lots of people she loved have been keeping secrets from her and needs to talk to Zac.  The door has finally opened for Cat and Zac, but will they be able to find happiness when Cat is tied to Kurrajong Crossing where her family and bake shop are at and Zac is busy traveling the world entertaining millions of fans?

This book really swept me away.  Zac and Cat instantly become a favorite book couple to me.  I enjoyed learning about their past friendship and seeing how they reunited and took it a step further.  The secret was huge and when it finally came out, it was like a relief, almost like they were real people in my life.  All I wanted was for Cat and Zac to find happiness.  The author did a great job creating characters with depth and emotion and kept the story entertaining from the very start to the very end.  This is the first book in a series and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one.   

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Review: The Baby Contract (Four Irish Brothers Winery #4) by Nan Reinhardt

She wants a baby…he wants a family

Firefighter and paramedic Tierney Ashton has always been a bold adventurer, but at thirty-four she longs to embark on a new adventure—motherhood. But who will be the father? Although financially challenging, a sperm bank appears to be her best option. That is, until she shares her dream with her long-time pal, Brendan Flaherty.

Government analyst and world traveler Brendan Flaherty returns home to River’s Edge to help out at his family’s thriving winery and his brother’s new community theater. He also plans to finally achieve his lifelong goal of writing a novel. But when Tierney shares her wish, Bren offers to be her baby daddy—with one condition. Marriage.

It seems like a perfect contract, but will love get in the way?

My Review:

She wants a baby.  He wants a wife.

Tierney Ashton and Brendan Flaherty have been friends since they were kids, but never thought about each other romantically, even when they were older.  When Tierney decides she wants a baby and plans to use artificial insemination, Brendan decides he will be the donor.  But Brendan wants to marry Tierney and raise the child together.  So, a contract is made and a quickie wedding by the justice of the peace is done.  Next up, baby making.  Will the plan fizzle out and ruin their friendship or take it in an entirely different direction? 

I enjoyed this book quite a bit.  It might be a trope that has been done many times, but the author made this book so much more interesting with the backgrounds of the characters.  There were even some tense moments near the end of the story that had me on the edge of my seat.  This book is a great addition to the Four Irish Brothers Winery series.  I also enjoyed catching up with the other family members and seeing how their relationships had grown.   

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Review: What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.
But she wasn’t always that way.
Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.
But he wasn’t always that way.

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before―at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him―but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school―and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love―which is the riskiest move of all.  

My Review: 

When your fears control your life, take control of your fears and live each day to it’s fullest.  This book taught me so many lessons.  The main one is to find joy in the little things in life.  And the way this year has been going, we all need something to be joyful about.

Samantha moved to Galveston, Texas, where she was working as a school librarian.  She loved everything about the school, especially the people who ran it.  They were like family to her.  But when Max suddenly passes away and a new principle is hired, Samantha never expected it to be the man she had a crush on, Duncan, from her old job.  But this version of Duncan was not the man Samantha remembered.  He was not the fun-loving guy anymore.  The new Duncan was a stickler for rules and security.  He wanted to change everything everyone loved about the school.  But the reasons he wanted to do so were something he didn’t talk about.  When Samantha finds out Duncan’s secret, she sets out to bring him out of his shell and enjoy life once again.  And along the way, Samantha learns to live and enjoy life again too.    

With unforgettable characters and a story line that pulled me in from the very start, I had a hard time finding a place to pause my reading.  And then there was the setting of the book, Galveston, one of my favorite places to visit. This story took me through a wide variety of emotions while reading it.  The saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is fitting for this book.  I would definitely recommend reading this one.  

Thank you to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.  

Friday, July 10, 2020

Review: A Sunset in Sydney (The Holiday Romance, Book 3) by Sandy Barker

How far would you go in the name of love?

Sarah Parsons has a choice ahead of her. After the trip of a lifetime she’s somehow returned home with TWO handsome men wanting to whisk her away into the sunset.

Pulled in two directions across the globe, it’s making life trickier than it sounds. Her gorgeous American Josh, wants to meet Sarah in Hawaii for a holiday to remember. Meanwhile silver fox James plans to wine and dine her in London.

It’s a lot to handle for this Aussie girl, who had totally sworn off men!

My Review:

Which man will she choose?

Sarah traveled to Greece after a bad breakup with her boyfriend.  She had no intentions of meeting a man, she just wanted to have fun and restart her life.  But Sarah fell for two men during the trip.  Josh, an American, who was younger and enjoyed having fun.   James was a rich older man who lived in London and traveled the world for his job.  Each man had so much to offer Sarah and she was having trouble deciding which one she wanted in her life.

This book was a real treat.  It swept me away to exotic locations, London, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand while telling Sarah’s story.  As I was reading, I honestly couldn’t decide which man was right for Sarah.  They each brought so much to her life.  But as the story started to wind down and one man was chosen, I couldn’t have been any happier with Sarah’s choice. 

When I started reading this book, I didn’t realize it was part of a series.  The Greece trip is featured in a previous book.  This book can be read as a stand-alone, but I would like to go back and read about everything that happened during the Greek vacation.  

Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.