Review: The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

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Release date: November 5, 2019

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

The first rule of this book club:
You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife. 

Review:

It’s not often that an author comes up with a truly unique premise (especially in a contemporary romance) but this one felt so new and fresh. The idea of a bunch of super manly dudes reading Regency romance novels cracks me up, but there was so much more to this one than just humor. It seems like most of the time authors follow the same tropes, and that’s fine, I love enemies to lovers, second chance romance, etc as well, but reading about a couple on the verge of a divorce was also another aspect that I really liked. I found myself relating to Thea and Gavin way more than usual simply because I’m also married with kids and know how hard the balance between being a mom AND a wife can be, it’s hard sometimes to step out of the mommy role and into the wife one and I loved that this was explored here. It felt really authentic in the way that it showed the not so pretty side to marriage and I appreciated that.

While you do hear from Thea often the bulk of this is good from Gavin’s perspective and I’m so here for that. Throw in the male members of the book club as well and there’s plenty of alpha male hotness and hilarity at play. This was also heartfelt and raw and at times sexy and spicy. Basically this had a little bit of everything and I loved it, so excited it’s the first in a series, bring on book two!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

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Release date: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Dial

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Tis the season for change and Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) is embracing it, returning from the States to live in the charming village of Letherby and working with her best friend, Suze, in the gift shop of Suze’s stately home. Life is good, especially now that Becky takes time every day for mindfulness . . . which actually means listening to a meditation tape while hunting down online bargains. 

But Becky still adores the traditions of Christmas: Her parents host, carols play on repeat, her mother pretends she made the Christmas pudding, and the neighbors come ’round for sherry in their terrible holiday sweaters. Things are looking cheerier than ever, until Becky’s parents announce they’re moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch—unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocados—and ask Becky if she’ll host this year. What could possibly go wrong? 

Her sister demands a vegan turkey, her husband  insists that he just wants aftershave—again, and little Minnie demands a very specific picnic hamper: Surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old-boyfriend-turned-rock-star and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear. But as the countdown to Christmas begins and her big-hearted plans take an unexpected turn toward disaster, Becky starts to wonder if chaos will ensue, or if she’ll manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas after all.

Review:

A new Becky Bloomwood novel is always cause for celebration for me, set it during the holidays and I’m even more excited and this one did not disappoint! I love that it’s easy to jump in and out of this series if you want, or if you’re like me you follow each book, but even if it’s been years since you’ve read a Becky book it’s like checking in with an old friend you haven’t seen for awhile but you pick up exactly where you left off, the ultimate in a comfort read for me.

It’s not a BB book if there isn’t chaos and mayhem and seeing as this is set amid the holiday rush you can imagine the mishaps that are possible. Becky never fails to make me laugh out loud and this was no exception, she’s so over the top and silly that you can’t stop yourself from liking her, or at the very least laughing at her. These books don’t take themselves seriously at all, they’re pure fun and entertainment and I always finish with a smile on my face. Recommended when you want something light, silly and hilarious.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Poison Garden by A. J. Banner

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Release date: October 22, 2019

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Elise Watters seems to have it all—a blissful marriage, a gorgeous Victorian home surrounded by lush gardens, and a dream job running her late mother’s herbal boutique.

But on the eve of her first wedding anniversary, Elise makes a shocking discovery that turns her life upside down and casts doubt on everything she thought she knew—about her marriage, her friends, and even herself. As she treads into dangerous territory, Elise is forced to wonder: Is her whole future at stake? Or is paranoia getting the best of her?

If she is to believe what she sees, Elise has every reason to fear for her life… 

Review:

Talk about a one sitting, binge worthy read! Not only is this on the shorter side making it super easy to breeze through, it’s also incredibly pacey and engaging making it super hard to put down. Throw in a healthy dose of paranoia and a whole heap of secrets and this is one fun read, perfect for this time of year.

While this was definitely full of intrigue and suspense it was on the lighter side of the suspense world, nothing too dark or disturbing but still really juicy and entertaining. The drama was high here and at times a bit over the top, but I love that style and found it added to the story for me. I’ve been a fan of Banner’s books for awhile now and this one was similar in terms of style to The Twilight Wife for me so definitely grab this if you liked that one!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

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Release date: October 22, 2019

Publisher: Gallery

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

As an adventurous send-off to her childhood, eighteen-year-old Tate Jones travels with her grandmother from their small town in Northern California to London. But the vacation of a lifetime is wonderfully derailed by the appearance of two charming Vermont farmers: grandfather Luther and his handsome grandson Sam.

Sam and Tate fall hard and fast. For two glorious weeks, the couple share their hopes, dreams, and secrets. Sam admits he suspects his grandfather is dying and that this could be the last trip they take together, and Tate reveals that she is the hidden daughter of one of the biggest film stars in the world—a secret she’s never told anyone before.

But when Tate is exposed by a crush of cameras and reporters, she knows she’s been betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust. She is forced to decide whether she will return to her quiet life or embrace being in the public eye. So when Sam reappears in her world more than a decade later, can Tate forgive the past and rekindle the passion they shared on their magical trip abroad? And does she even want to? 

Review:
Before I get into my personal opinion on this one I want to start by saying that this didn’t feel like a typical CL rom com. I’ve seen quite a few not so great reviews of this and I can’t help but think that it’s partly because peoples expectations for this one weren’t met based on the authors previous books. I haven’t read every single one of CL’s books but I’ve read most of them and usually they crack me up, make me swoon and I always find my next book boyfriend. This one is different, but it was different in a good way for me. It’s not really funny, it’s deeper and it felt more mature to me than their previous books, think more angst and emotion and less hijinks and laughs. I always appreciate when an author changes things up a bit, but just a heads up that this isn’t as light as their typical rom com.
I was talking with my friend Jamie @beauty_andthebook_ and I think she nailed what made this one a standout for me. This begins when Tate is just eighteen and Sam is a couple of years older and instead of a brief prologue that barely scratches the surface you get multiple chapters from this time period so you really get to know and understand what happened in their past before you flash forward fourteen years later. It provides a significant backstory and really allows the reader to experience all of the first love feelings right alongside Tate and really strengthened my connection with her. To me, great depth of character is just as important to me as an engaging storyline and CL nailed the characterization here.
A second chance romance, a Hollywood movie set and a supporting cast of characters that added flavor and spice to a sometimes dramatic story made up the most perfect combination for me! Again, this one felt more soulful and mature than the usual CL book, but if you want a heartfelt romance with a strong plot grab this one.
Overall rating: 5/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Faker by Sarah Smith

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Release date: October 8, 2019

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Emmie Echavarre is a professional faker. She has to be to survive as one of the few female employees at Nuts & Bolts, a power tool company staffed predominantly by gruff, burly men. From nine to five, Monday through Friday, she’s tough as nails–the complete opposite of her easy-going real self. 

One thing she doesn’t have to fake? Her disdain for coworker Tate Rasmussen. Tate has been hostile to her since the day they met. Emmie’s friendly greetings and repeated attempts to get to know him failed to garner anything more than scowls and terse one-word answers. Too bad she can’t stop staring at his Thor-like biceps…

When Emmie and Tate are forced to work together on a charity construction project, things get…heated. Emmie’s beginning to see that beneath Tate’s chiseled exterior lies a soft heart, but it will take more than a few kind words to erase the past and convince her that what they have is real. 

Review:

Can we all agree the cover for Faker is the cutest thing ever? Of course that’s what initially caught my eye, but despite the adorable cover the inside is equally cute, but it’s also much more than just a pretty cover. It’s also sweet and charming but it has plenty of depth, and while I wouldn’t necessarily call it serious, it does have its moments of introspection and it added something powerful to the story.

I love a good old enemies to lovers trope and this delivered! Emmie and Tate are coworkers who have never gotten along and even before they start dating their chemistry is off the charts and comes through in their bickering. Their sexual tension just builds throughout the book and the payoff was so worth it! This definitely had some steam and to balance out the sexiness were plenty of moments between these two as they shared parts of their background and histories with each other. Tate is a total introvert, he’s incredibly private and while Emmie seems more outgoing than him, she’s guarded as well. I just loved these two together and how they brought out the best in each other, it didn’t hurt that Tate pulled something seriously romantic moves in order to win Emmie over and he won me over in the end too!

Super impressive debut and one that I can definitely recommend, an easy and fast romance read that I loved spending a few hours with.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: White Christmas Wedding by Celeste Winters

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Release date: October 1, 2019

Publisher: Howard Books/Atria

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Returning home to her family’s farm in the Midwest for her Christmas wedding was never Beth Dean’s plan. But it’s the only way her beloved grandmother will be able to attend. And even her New York City friends will find the family’s old barn elegant. But when her fiancé’s family want her to sign a pre-nup, her hopes for her future marriage may be crumbling even as the guests arrive. 

Beth’s childhood friend, Jen Fitzgerald, has always dreamed of starting a wedding planning business. And when Beth decides to have her wedding back home, it’s the perfect chance for Jen to show everyone what she can do. But when the caterer cancels and a blizzard comes in through the barn door, Jen wonders if she’s bit off more than she can chew—and how she’s going to get through the wedding while seeing her old flame, Jared, for the first time in years. 

Meanwhile, Beth’s friend Destiny is trying to put on a brave face while she wonders why she never left home to follow her dreams like Beth. The groom’s parents are brought face to face with the tensions in their own marriage as they argue over their son’s. And Sylvia, a native New Yorker, is wondering how long she can survive in a town that doesn’t even have a Starbucks, while unexpected sparks fly with Winston, a gruff local tree surgeon with a heart of gold. But when a surprise snowstorm blankets the area, keeping the guests together on the farm, everyone learns to put aside their differences and enjoy their unexpected Christmas blessings.

Review:

If a holiday book publishes today that means it’s not too early to be reading them, right?! What’s great about this one is that while it’s set right before Christmas Day it’s not actually super holiday heavy so you can easily read this a bit early and still enjoy it like I did. While the weather and the small town setting gave me cozy holiday vibes, the story itself focuses more on the wedding itself and the relationships between the various characters making it a great read for any time of the year.

There’s quite a bit going on here as there is a pretty large ensemble cast of characters and I adore books like that. Weddings seem to always bring out the drama and craziness and there was some of that at play here. Jen is trying to plan her first wedding and nothing seems to be going right, Beth is the bride and she’s having some future in law issues, Destiny is totally bogged down by motherhood and Sophie is visiting from New York and isn’t really sure what to think of a midwestern farm. Like I said, lots going on to keep things interesting and when you throw in some more secondary characters that add romance to make it a pretty entertaining read.

This was a fast and effortless read for me, the pages just flew by as I got totally sucked into the drama and lives of the characters. The only problem with reading this one before the holiday season starts is that I wish I had saved it to curl up with next to a fire and a pretty Christmas tree, it was sweet and cozy and totally lighthearted, totally what I want when I pick up this type of book.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Springtime at Hope Cottage by Annie Rains

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Release date: March 5, 2019

Publisher: Forever Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

When opposites attract…

As an editor at a major New York City magazine, Josie Kellum is always on the go…until an injury sidelines her in the small town of Sweetwater Springs. Luckily, her new physical therapist is easy going and easy on the eyes. When their sessions start to heat up, in more ways than one, Josie is intrigued. But she has a city and career she loves waiting for her. So why does the thought of leaving him suddenly feel a lot like leaving home? 

Tucker Locklear is just starting to move on after his wife’s death. While he can’t deny his attraction to the gorgeous, vivacious Josie, he won’t risk the pain of losing someone again. The sooner he gets Josie back on her feet and back to her real life, the safer he’ll be. But in Sweetwater Springs, love has a way of mending even the most damaged heart.

Review:

Well, my first trip to Sweetwater Springs was a huge success, what an adorable book! This is book two and read great for me on it’s own, but you can count on me following this series from here on out because it was beyond sweet. This had it all, an idyllic small town, quirky residents, a sexy hero AND heroine and a few adorable kids were magic ingredients for me here, I adored this book!

Nothing tugs at my heartstrings more than a hunky widower and Tuck was seriously swoon worthy. He’s a small town guy and Josie is a big city girl visiting her friend for what’s supposed to be a quick vacation. I really loved how authentically their relationship played out, it felt so realistic. These were two grown adults who approached a potential relationship with maturity and caution and while their attraction to each other was apparent early on they didn’t rush things which was nice. Their story was tender and a little sad as they both had past issues they had to work through, but overall this one was full of hope and joy. Steam level was super low, this was much more romantic than sexy and I’m fine with that! The next book in the series is set during Christmas and I’ll be savoring it come December.

Springtime at Hope Cottage in three words: Tender, Delightful and Cute

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

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Release date: September 24, 2019

Publisher: HQN

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

If there’s one gift Erika Sheraton does notwant for Christmas, it’s a vacation. Ordered to take time off, the workaholic surgeon reluctantly trades in her scrubs for a ski suit and heads to Wild River, Alaska. Her friend Cassie owns a tour company that offers adventures to fit every visitor. But nothing compares to the adrenaline rush Erika feels on being reunited with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds.

Gone is the buttoned-up girl Reed remembers. His sister’s best friend has blossomed into a strong, skilled, confident woman. She’s exactly what his search-and-rescue team needs—and everything he didn’t know he craved. The gulf between his life in Wild River and her big-city career is wide. But it’s no match for a desire powerful enough to melt two stubborn hearts… 

Review:

If you’re looking for a romance with some serious heat and fire this holiday season look no further because this one was 🔥🔥🔥 I was a little bit fooled by the cutesy cover and didn’t expect it to be quiet so steamy but it was, just wanted to start by giving a heads up on that one right away!

Besides a sizzling romance this one had some serious depth as well, there was a lot going on between Erika and her best friend Cassie, they had a lot to work through in order to repair the friendship that was once so important to them both. There was such a fantastic storyline involving family and friendship and a romance that was both sweet and endearing but also so sexy. Erika and Reed were both extremely likable characters and their chemistry was off the charts. I absolutely loved everything about this one, the setting, the plot the relationships between the characters, it was all amazing. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book either, so pumped it’s the beginning of a new series. I’m also super excited to see that the author has extensive backlist that I can dive into as well because this was SO good.

An Alaskan Christmas in three words: Spicy, Saucy and Sweet

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

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Release date: September 24, 2019

Publisher: HQN

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction

Blurb:
This funny, charming and heartwarming new Christmas novel is USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan at her festive best!

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding. First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret of their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister, Katie, is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself! If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiancé but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived—how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget.

Review:

Yes, it’s only September and I’m already reading Christmas books and I’m totally ok with that! I do want to point out that while this is set right before and during Christmas, it’s not overly holiday heavy if that makes sense. You can easily read it right now like I did or wait until closer to the holiday season, honestly it would be perfect at any time of year!

Sarah Morgan is one of my go to authors, but I have to say that she has a magic touch when it comes to writing seasonal books. This had such a gorgeous setting, it made me want to book a trip to Colorado for Christmas myself, it was beautifully described and also gave me so many warm and cozy feelings. You hear from all three women in the family, mom Maggie, and daughters Katie and Rosie and I just adored all three of them for various reasons. I connected to Maggie as a wife and mom and both daughters were relatable for me as well, although Katie was prickly and it took me some time to warm up to her. This doesn’t fit solely under a romance umbrella or a straight up WF novel either because it has both romance between all the main characters and it also explores the dynamics between mother and daughter and sisters.

I absolutely loved this one, it was charming and warm, a little emotional and overall just a totally satisfying read for me. I highly recommend adding this one to your holiday reading list, it was wonderful l and if it doesn’t  make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside I don’t’ know what will!

A Wedding in December in three words: Charming, Cozy and Delightful

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

 

Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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Release date: November 5, 2019

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Be careful who you let in. 

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am. 

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them. 

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone. 

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

Review:

Sometimes the more points of view a mystery has, the better for me, especially if it’s executed well, and friends, it’s done SO well here. There are three distinct viewpoints and each was equally gripping for me, short chapters and multiple POV are my jam. Then throw in an old unsolved mystery, a stifling and creepy atmosphere and the hint of cult like vibes? My cold, black heart is swooning! 🖤🖤🖤

My biggest complaint with thrillers in general lately has been how boring and predictable they’ve all seemed and I was so impressed that this was completely unpredictable for me. There were quite a few intricate details that I didn’t see coming and the whole thing was just mapped out really well. This had serious gothic vibes, I kept being reminded of old school V. C. Andrews books but without the crazy, over the top plot lines, just the awesome settings and edgy vibes. While this was most definitely dark it would be great for readers that don’t want something super disturbing, it’s still addictive and intriguing but not nightmare inducing. I have to note that Jewell is an incredibly gifted writer, the whole book is seamless and was such an effortless read. Highly recommended for thriller fans, if you’re already a LJ fan you’ll be happy!

The Family Upstairs in three words: Atmospheric, Gripping and Tense

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.