Genre: Contemporary Romance

Sophia Rose Review: The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant

Posted November 16, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 35 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn BrantThe Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant
Series: standalone
Published by Twelfth Night Publishing on November 27th 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 219
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS is a light contemporary romance by New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Marilyn Brant, who also penned the award-winning and Jane Austen-inspired novels ACCORDING TO JANE and PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH.
When successful building contractor Austin Knightley returns to his hometown of Crystal Corners, Minnesota after a decade away, he vows to avoid pampered and popular types like his old high-school crush Emma Westwood—the town's biggest queen bee and self-appointed matchmaker—only to get swept into a community Christmas project she's now organizing.
With nods to Jane Austen's classic novel EMMA, this modern heroine may be a little "clueless" in the Midwest, but she's got gifts to share and plenty to learn from the boy next door, who's all grown up and handsomer than ever. Even when a snowstorm threatens to derail her plans, she's determined to figure out how to set things right and save THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
This sweet and heartwarming holiday romance is a story that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

The Knight Before Christmas is a standalone that gives a flirty nod toward the classic tale of Emma the matchmaker and her gentleman Knightley with the clash of opposites in an adorable family and friends small town romance decked out for the holidays. Oh how I love a good small town, heartwarming holiday romance and it was no hardship picking up the latest from an author I trust to bring me the feels and the sweet goodies.

He thinks she’s a meddling busybody and she thinks he’s a crank when Austin comes home for Christmas and Emma finds he’s the only one who can help save her community kids’ project. Austin’s dad just had a serious heart surgery and his latest girlfriend is behind him. He wanted to make it big in the city with his building contract business. Now that he has, he’s ready to settle near home and spend time with his family. It would have been nice to find love and start a family, but the right woman just hasn’t come along and she is certainly nothing like his childhood frustration, chatty social butterfly rich girl Emma Westwood. Or can opposites really attract?

Emma has never understood why introverted Austin Knightley has always seemed to detest her and especially now that he’s gone away and returned taciturn as ever when it comes to her. He’s kind and generous to everyone else, but she always manages to get his scowls or silence. All her life, she’s had loving generous parents who gave her the best of everything including the heart to give back and do for others which includes taking charge of some community projects and steering others toward their special someone, but Austin sees her as a bossy meddler. Glimpses of the boisterous Knightley clan of adult kids and their parents leave her feeling hollow and envious. But, then her big Christmas project for the kids is in jeopardy and she has to approach Austin Knightley to help save the day. She sees a side of him that she never imagined and opens herself up like she never has to he can see the real Emma. She hopes he won’t reject this person because she most certainly has lost her breezy confidence and friendly distance when it comes to this knight with power tools and the ability to get her to step outside the box.

This was a warm, feel-good sweet romance that was perfect for getting one in the mood for the holidays. It starts as something of an opposites situation that ends up being more the childhood crush- boy next door sort of story which I found engaging and fun especially when surrounded by family, friends, and a small town setting. It’s an easy low-angst even paced story. The Austin and Emma at the beginning were a bad first impressions sort of thing, but then their real personalities and motives came out and I liked them a lot. I had a lot of sugary swoony moments and now I’m eager to press forward and get the other two Knightley brothers stories. I caught a quick glimpse of the next brother’s story in that epilogue and I think it’s going to be good times in Crystal Corners.

Sweet small town holiday romance lovers don’t hesitate to grab this one up.

 

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Sophia Rose Review: Darcy in Hollywood by Victoria Kincaid + Giveaway

Posted August 27, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 24 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Darcy in Hollywood by Victoria Kincaid + GiveawayDarcy in Hollywood: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Variation by Victoria Kincaid
Series: standalone
Published by Meadowbrook Press on June 26th 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 235
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

Rich and arrogant movie star, William Darcy, was a Hollywood heartthrob until a scandalous incident derailed his career. Now he can only hope that Tom Bennet’s prestigious but low budget indie film will restore his reputation. However, on the first day of filming, he nearly hits Bennet’s daughter, Elizabeth, with his Ferrari, and life will never be the same. Okay, she’s a little sarcastic, but he’s certain she’s concealing a massive crush on him—and it’s growing harder to fight his own attraction….

Elizabeth Bennet has a lot on her plate. She’s applying to medical school and running the studio’s charity project—while hoping her family won’t embarrass her too much. Being Darcy’s on-set personal assistant is infuriating; he’s rude, proud, and difficult. If there’s one thing she dislikes, it’s people who only think about themselves. But then Elizabeth discovers Darcy has been doing a lot of thinking about her.

She might be willing to concede a mutual attraction, but events are conspiring against them and Darcy subject to constant public scrutiny. Can Darcy and Elizabeth have any hope for a happy ending to their Hollywood romance?

Pride and Prejudice meets Hollywood in this slightly edgy, modern adaption of Austen’s original story. The story was part romance, part comedy and was infused with elements that reached deeply making this not just a pale shadow, but a solid tribute to the classic tale.

Darcy in Hollywood begins on a cringeworthy scene when an A-List actor, Will Darcy, arriving on set in his Ferrari nearly runs over a beautiful young woman, Lizzy Bennet. Naturally, he doesn’t apologize and blames her a little even though he knows that he was in the wrong by fiddling with his radio and nearly hitting her. This starts the beginning of an acrimonious enemies to lovers romance where he slowly sees himself- as in he is egotistically oblivious at first- through Lizzy’s eyes and doesn’t like what he sees. She has no idea that he has been challenged by her to be a better man and can’t stand him- well other than pretending not to notice his amazing good looks or being puzzled when he doesn’t act like an arrogant jerk.

Meanwhile, Lizzy’s Hollywood family are all involved in the new indie film her dad is producing from her gorgeous sister Jane who has the lead role opposite Darcy to her silly, starstruck youngest sister, Lydia. The movie is the story of a trans teen kicked out for being trans and, from homelessness, finds a way to his dream and the film is helping to generate support for a local shelter that take in LGBTQA teens when they found themselves on the street and destitute.

I was engaged with the characters from the beginning even when Darcy was a real piece of work. He grew so much throughout the story and I enjoyed being on that journey of discovery with him. Lizzy was right about him, but, not completely. Her family, other than Jane, have been awful to her since she wants to be a doctor and not involved in the movie world so she has a jaundiced view of actors already which has her getting the wrong end of the stick about Darcy, especially when she believes charming Wickham’s lies and sees the plastic people Darcy is surrounded by.

The surrounding cast of characters offered some good layers to the story with some of the secondary plot threads particularly the Jane-Charlie-Ricky story and young Garrett’s story wth Darcy mentoring him.

There are some of the author’s fun over the top screwball moments when she plays around with the characters of Darcy’s insufferably proud aunt and her groveling assistant along with Mrs. Bennet, former starlet and eager promoter of her favorite child, Lydia. They are funny even while being awful and annoying.

I found the couple of surprise twists about the screenwriter and about the scandal that sidetracked Darcy’s career were great and I didn’t see them coming. I thought both offered defining moments in Darcy’s life to show Lizzy who he really was when the Hollywood veneer is peeled back and Wickham’s lies revealed.

The romance had a goodly level of conflict and had some angst, but nothing over the top. I liked seeing them get past the surface issues and enjoyed the moderate level of attraction buzzing between them even when they were on the outs or thought they were, at times.

All in all, it was an engaging slightly spicy contemporary romance giving a strong nod to Austen’s classic. It’s a recommendable romance for those who enjoys a movie set background and an enemies to lovers trope.

In addition to my review, author, Victoria Kincaid has sent along a few extras…

Hi Night Owl Book Café Readers,

Thank you for having me as a guest!

Darcy in Hollywood starts with a bang: movie star Darcy almost hits Elizabeth, an aspiring medical student and production assistant, on a studio lot. Here is an excerpt from the beginning—right after Darcy nearly hits Elizabeth with his car.

Enjoy!

Victoria

Darcy stomped on the momentary flare of irritation. “Is the sarcasm really necessary?”

She regarded him through narrowed eyes. “Yeah, I think it is. What’s the alternative? That I should be honored to be knocked over by your car? Because I don’t think your identity would have been much comfort to my parents. ‘We don’t have a daughter anymore, but at least she was killed by a celebrity. Maybe he can autograph her coffin.’”

Why did she have to be so difficult? He was already putting up with so much doing an indie film. “That’s not what I meant. You don’t have to put it that way—”

I almost got hit by a car. I can put it however the fuck I want to!”

Darcy was so over this woman. She wasn’t nearly as pretty as he had initially thought. If only he could leave. But he needed to make sure she wouldn’t talk to the media; another car-related incident would be a disaster for his career. From now on, I only travel by train or boat. Pity about her personality; she had fine eyes.

Darcy helped the woman limp to a nearby bench and gently lowered her to the seat. “Maybe I should call for an ambulance,” he suggested. He would have preferred to discuss having her sign a nondisclosure agreement, but it seemed a little insensitive.

Let me sit for a minute.” Leaning forward, she cradled her head in her hands, providing a good view of the blood matting the hair on the back of her head. Huh, maybe she wasn’t wrong about the possible concussion.

Darcy settled on the bench beside her despite a desperate desire to cross the street and slip into Building 4, where they were holding the table read. They won’t start without me, he reminded himself. But being late wouldn’t impress them with his professionalism.

He took the opportunity to check her for other injuries. She had a scrape on her right arm and favored her left ankle. Of course, her clothes were disheveled—and a fashion disaster. The sleeve of her t-shirt was ripped where she had fallen.

I can get you a new t-shirt.”

Huh?”

He gestured to the rip.

Her mouth hung open. “I don’t give a shit about the t-shirt!”

I don’t think that kind of language is called for.”

That kind of language?” she echoed and then squinted at him. “Are you drunk?”

It’s 7 a.m.”

Yes, it is. Are you drunk? Or high?”

Damn, you have one scandal…

No,” he said sharply.

The car was moving rather erratically.”

I was…trying to work the stereo. It’s complicated.”

You almost killed me because you couldn’t work the radio?”

To be fair, it’s satellite radio. And I didn’t almost kill you!”

To-may-to, to-mah-to.”

His jaw clenched so tightly he could grind glass. “This isn’t a matter of opinion! You would have been fine if you hadn’t fallen.”

I also would have been fine if your Ferrari hadn’t come hurtling toward me.”

Darcy didn’t respond; arguing was futile. After a moment she gave him a sidelong glance. “You don’t need to babysit me; I can call myself an ambulance if I need one.”

I shouldn’t leave you alone.”

Oh! You don’t want me talking to the press. Don’t worry.”

That’s not what I’m worried about,” he lied. “My primary concern is your well-being.”

I bet you say that to all the girls you almost run over.”

Darcy stifled a smile. Under other circumstances, he’d think she was funny. “I assure you that you’re the first.”

The woman examined the scrape on her arm. “I accept your apology, by the way.”

I didn’t apologize.”

Now she turned her blue-green gaze on him. “I noticed that. Why didn’t you? Do you think this is my fault? That your car had the right of way on the sidewalk?”

Darcy would have apologized—if he had thought of it—but now he couldn’t without losing face. “I didn’t hit you. You agreed I didn’t hit you!” I sound like an idiot insisting on that point.

You. Are. Unbelievable.”

Darcy had heard that before but usually in a more complimentary tone.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY

Victoria has graciously offered up an e-book of Darcy in Hollywood for one (1) lucky winner. International entries welcome. To enter, leave a comment with your email and the winner will be randomly drawn one week from the post date. Winner will be notified by email and the author will be given confirmed winner’s name and email so she can distribute of the prize. Good Luck!

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review Round Up #8

Posted June 20, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review Round Up #8Welcome to Last Chance by Hope Ramsay
Series: Last Chance #1
Published by Forever on April 30, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 423
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

WELCOME TO LAST CHANCE, SOUTH CAROLINA
Dear Reader,
Yes, our town is way off the beaten path, but strange, wonderful miracles happen a lot around here.
I've owned the Cut 'n' Curl beauty shop for years, and I've seen folks come for a visit, then stay for a lifetime. Take Jane-that pretty firecracker of a girl who just arrived in town. I would swear she's running from something. She came with only five dollars in her pocket but she's worked real hard to make a fresh start. She's turned my son Clay's life upside down without even realizing it.
And thank goodness for that! Ever since Clay left his country western band, he's played everything too safe. He needs to take a chance on Jane. Besides, the more he tries to keep his distance, the more he'll realize that he and Jane are singing the same tune.
But I should quit ramblin' and go check on Millie's permanent wave. Next time you're in Last Chance, be sure to swing by. We've got hot rollers, free coffee, and the best gossip in town.
See you real soon,Ruby Rhodes

I love small town books and Welcome to Last Chance gave me all the small town cozy feels that I’ve been looking for. Jane is a new girl in town that arrived on a bus with nothing but five dollars in her pocket, she definitely has secrets, but she is scared that someone might uncover them. Until she runs to the town local Clay and they spend the night together. Clay thinks Jane is wrong for him and a bit too young. He wants a wife, and while he does everything he can to keep Jane out of his heart, he can’t help but play with her hero and allow her in.

This was cute. I didn’t mind the small age gap in this it worked. Last Chance is riddled with local town characters that bring a lot of heart to the book and pack those small-town vibes.

It was a good read. The only thing that bothered me the ending got super dramatic and a bit over the top and maybe a little far fetched. But overall, I’d like to read more of this series.

Review Round Up #8The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston
Series: Found Things #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 16, 2018
Genres: Time-Travel, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 307
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A new series about a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical adventure, reminiscent of Outlander
New York Times bestselling author of The Witch's Daughter Paula Brackston returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to launch a new series guaranteed to enchant her audience even more.
Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. So when she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.
It’s while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century. And shortly after, she's confronted by a ghost who reveals that this is where the antique has its origins. The ghost tasks Xanthe with putting right the injustice in its story to save an innocent girl’s life, or else it’ll cost her Flora’s.
While Xanthe fights to save her amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave.
With its rich historical detail, strong mother-daughter relationship, and picturesque English village, The Little Shop of Found Things is poised to be a strong start to this new series.

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind when they buy a little shop in the town of Marlborough, ready for a fresh start. Xanthe and her mother collect antiques, and Xanthe has a special gift. Special finds ‘sing’ to her, and she finds herself, especially drawn to them in uncovering their story and secrets. When a singing silver chatelaine drops into her hands, the ghost that resides in her house urges Xanthe to unearth the secrets of the chatelaine and help her daughter that was wrongfully prosecuted in the past. Now Xanthe must travel back in time to help the daughter of the ghost, or her, own mother’s life might be in danger.

This was an interesting concept, I enjoyed the experience. It was a bit slow moving at times and the mystery a bit confusing. I don’t think I ever grasped fully why her daughter took the chatelaine from her mistress. Also, there was a bit of the past that Flora and Xanthe left behind that I thought could have used more background.

I liked the romance, it was cute, a bit heartbreaking.

I am curious what the second book has in store for us.

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Sophia Rose Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Posted June 4, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma JalaluddinAyesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on June 4, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.
Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn't want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

This modern Pride and Prejudice retelling did Jane Austen proud. It heartwarmingly portrayed family, love, and life in a Toronto Muslim community. The writing was engaging and the characters well drawn. Grab your cup of chai and settle in to be entertained.

The story starts out slowly and gently as it introduces the backdrop of the main players, their community of family, work, friends, and religious life. The author added in explanations so that I was never lost as a reader. She also hit on some serious issues that Muslim people face in their changing communities and even in the workplace. Arranged marriage was discussed from both Ayesha and Khalid’s perspectives, but also the older generations. Family and religious values were given due consideration. Khalid’s issue at work shocked me because of how over the top his boss acted. I don’t doubt it can and does happen, but I’m shocked it went as far as it did without anyone catching her out. But then again, it read like a Shakespearean comedy which were mentioned several times in the book by Ayesha’s grandfather and several of the characters in this one were extreme in their behavior. I didn’t mind the extra drama and found it amusing most of the time because it didn’t carry on too long.

The early conflict for Ayesha and Khalid was based on misunderstanding, but then, when it starts to iron out as they get to know one another, their friendship and budding romance gets seriously sabotaged by others who have their own agendas. The second half of the book gets into the deeper drama and the pace picked up and had me intent to know how it would all untangle. I confess that I had hoped to see a bit stronger retribution for one of the players who was thoroughly narcissistic (our Lydia figure) though the others definitely got a good dose of revenge served up and I was happy to see those comeuppances after all the mess they stirred up.

A great deal of this book had Ayesha and Khalid on the wrong foot with each other and the romance was slow burn and had its stops and starts as a result. Khalid stuck that foot in his mouth once or twice, but so did Ayesha in her own way. She calls him judgmental when he dismissed her after seeing her sitting in a bar with a cocktail in front of her pulling out a pack of cigarettes (cocktail was virgin and cigs weren’t hers). It gets her back up, but she had just gotten finished judging him for his conservative dress and appearance and later takes the word of a stranger she doesn’t even like with lies about Khalid and his family.

They sit in opposite opinions about arranged marriage and she constantly calls him a mama’s boy for respecting and obeying his mother’s wishes not knowing that he does it due to a family tragedy that still wounds him. Khalid apologizes profusely when he learns his error and he struggles to change where he feels he was in the wrong after listening to Ayesha, Clara, and others. He was such a sweetie and, for all his awkward blundering, he was a very romantic figure. I loved that pivotal scene in Ayesha’s home with her grandmother teaching them both how to make a traditional dish, paratha, and dispensing sage advice over chai and the food. And, his relationship with his older sister and how he tried to take care of her as best he could left me swooning.

But, for all the enjoyment I took from this story, I had one niggle. I never saw Ayesha more than mildly remorseful when her mistakes came out and Khalil seemed to do all the changing. I don’t mean to say that she’s bad or I didn’t like her- in fact I did and I could relate on some levels as she searched to figure out what she wanted and understand more about love. But I felt that she owed Khalid words of apology in a candid conversation since she had no trouble delivering words of condemnation on more than one occasion and half the time she was wrong particularly in the painful way her lie about who she was hurt Khalid deeply.

There were some good twists and big scenes in the last half that had been building for a while. I had to chuckle over some of it and yes, I was cheering hard to see Khalid shine as the hero in the end. The ending had me smiling and sorry not to be able to stick around to see what came next to get the gossiping and matchmaking aunties chattering over the chai tea and desserts.

All in all, is was an engaging story and a fabulous tribute to Austen, Shakespeare, and the Muslim community. Whether you’re an Austen fan or not, if you enjoy stories about family, friends, and a colorful romance pair, give this one a go.

My thanks to Berkley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: The Summer House by Jenny Hale

Posted May 15, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: The Summer House by Jenny HaleThe Summer House by Jenny Hale
Series: standalone
Published by Forever, Bookouture on May 7, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback, Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From this USA Today bestselling author comes a delightful summer read about friendship, family, and the healing power of love.
Callie Weaver and her best friend, Olivia Dixon, have finally done it: put their life savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina's Outer Banks. They're going to buff the salt from its windows, paint its sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed-and-breakfast. Callie's too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He's heir to his father's real estate empire, and the papers say he's just another playboy. But as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there's more to this man than money and good looks. Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets . . . secrets that stretch across the island and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor. Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm the diary unleashes, or can true love save them?

Callie Weaver with her best friend, Olivia Dixon, have finally done what they always wanted. They bought the beach house they have admired through their childhood summers, and they are going to turn the lovely house on the sands of North Carolina’s Outer Banks into a bed and breakfast. With everything to focus on the last thing Callie has in mind is falling in love, until she catches the attention of the very local heartthrob Luke Sullivan. With his easy smiles and charming personality, it’s hard to say no. The paper’s all splash him as an entitled playboy, but as Callie spends more time with Luke, she realizes that he is nothing that the media is trying to paint him to be. Underneath all the expectations, his struggles and generosity are just as real. But when Callie discovers an old journal in the house, she finds secrets that can shake an entire family.

I enjoyed this so much. This was just a lovely, quiet summer read. I adored the wonderful group of characters and how much this made me wish for warmer weather during this very cold and dreary spring.

Jenny Hale really has a way to bring her characters to live with flaws and all and make them easy to relate to and very human. Both Callie and Olivia give you the girl next door vibes that, have you rooting for them and their success with the beach house. The romance was super sweet and cute and I really enjoyed watching Luke and Callie grow close. I liked that Luke was just a bit out of touch because of money, but not to the point where it made him completely superficial. It made him that much more endearing in a way.

There is a bit of a secret in the story that leads to some revelations and complications, but I found that it worked and I enjoyed it.

Overall, I really loved how Jenny Hale writes her romances and her characters that just have a way of endearing themselves to you. Charming, with a lot of heart, and wonderful writing, The Summer House by Jenny Hale is just the book you need for the summer nights.

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Review Round Up #2

Posted March 16, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review Round Up #2Cooper's Charm by Lori Foster
Series: Summer Resort, #1, #1
Published by HQN Books on July 24, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

One summer, two sisters and a chance to start over…
Before the burglary that shattered her confidence, Phoenix Rose had a fiancé, a successful store and a busy, happy existence. After months spent adrift, she takes a job at the lakeside resort of Cooper’s Charm. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, friendly colleagues and a charismatic, widowed boss, Phoenix is slowly inching her way back into the world.
Visiting Cooper’s Charm to check up on her little sister, Ridley Rose impulsively agrees to fill in as housekeeper. Still reeling from an ego-bruising divorce, she finds satisfaction in a job well done—and in the attention of the resort’s handsome scuba instructor.
For Phoenix and Ridley, Cooper’s Charm is supposed to be merely temporary. But this detour may lead to the place they most need to be, where the future is as satisfying as it is surprising…

Pheonix rose hopes to take a job at a lakeside resort in order to get a fresh start and move on from her past. Before the burglary happened, Pheonix had everything, a great job, a fiance, and overall a happy existence. There she meets Cooper, the owner of the resort and who is just as broken after his wife dies in a tragic accident.

I thought the story was cute for the most part. I really loved Pheonix and Cooper, though I struggled with the attraction at first due to the reasons that Cooper felt the attraction and why he hired her. It felt like he was compensating for his past. I love Sugar the dog, she bought some heart into the story. Many of the secondary characters really made Cooper’s Charm and I couldn’t help but feel invested in most of them, especially Maris. I am really looking forward to her book and her attraction to one of the staff members.

The part that really broke this book for me was the unnecessary Ridley storyline. I ended up downright hating her character. She was so unrefined, shallow and undeveloped. I get that she had a “rough” break with her ex-husband, but in the end, somehow ended up super rich. She then buys a trailer to seduce Baxter one of the staff members, just for that reason alone to taunt him. The part that sealed the deal for me with her was the author’s use of the world snarled towards the end of the book when Ridley continued to interact with Baxter, specifically when she drops some unexpected news and misunderstands his silence for the worse. I really did not care for her character, she was unnecessary to the story and I could have done without her.

Also was the brief suspense that was added to the last 5% of the book. I thought that was unrealistic and again, unnecessary.

Review Round Up #2From This Moment by Melanie Harlow
Series: After We Fall,
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on October 5, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

It was like seeing a ghost.
When my late husband’s twin brother moves back to our small town, I want to avoid him. Everything about Wes reminds me of the man I lost and the life we’d planned together, and after eighteen long months struggling just to get out of bed, I’m finally doing okay. I have a new job, an amazing support group, and a beautiful five-year-old daughter to parent. I don’t want to go backward.
But I’m drawn to him, too. He understands my grief and anger and guilt like no one else — and I understand his. Before long, that understanding becomes desire, and that desire becomes uncontrollable.
He says he doesn't care what people think, and love can never be wrong. But life has taught me its cruelest lesson — love doesn't always win.
If only my heart would believe it.

A story about loss, love, and two people trying to heal when the odds are stacked against them. Hannah lost her husband. His twin brother moves back into town and she feels like she sees a ghost. Wes has been in love with Hannah since before his twin brother made a move on her and because he believed that Hannah and Drew were better off with each other, he never told his brother how he felt about her.

This was such a sweet story with a subject that’s a bit taboo, really well done. I like how Hannah and Wes had a connection before Drew stormed in like a hurricane and swept her away. I loved Wes, sweet, caring, shy Wes with a heart of gold who gave up a girl he was in love with because of his love for his brother and his inadequacy with women.

I think Melanie Harlow is a wonderful writer, who makes believable characters and handles touchy subjects with respect to weave a story that uncovers layers of complication and showed their struggles and the wall they had to climb to overcome. I really liked both characters, it was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I love their connection and how deep it ran. I like the struggle and how real it seemed. I thought Melanie Harlow did a fantastic job showing the very realistic bumps of unconventional love.

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Review: The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne

Posted July 10, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne ThayneThe Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point #8
Published by HQN Books on June 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Years after betraying her, he's back in Haven Point…and ready to learn the truth.
Megan Hamilton never really liked Elliot Bailey. He turned his back on her family when they needed him the most and it almost tore them all apart. So she's shocked when Elliot arrives at her family's inn, needing a place to stay and asking questions that dredge up the past. Megan will rent him a cottage, but that's where it ends-no matter how gorgeous Elliot has become.
Coming back home to Haven Point was the last thing bestselling writer Elliot Bailey thought he'd ever do. But the book he's writing now is his most personal one yet and it's drawn him back to the woman he can't get out of his mind. Seeing Megan again is harder than he expected and it brings up feelings he'd thought were long buried. Could this be his chance to win over his first love?

Elliot Bailey has always had some sort of feelings for Megan Hamilton, but wasn’t unable to do anything about it due to the fact that he came home one day to her dating her brother. Now, Megan Hamilton is not his biggest fan when Elliot turned his back on her family when her brother’s wife went missing because Elliot thought he was responsible for the disappearance. Now, year’s later, Megan’s brother is still living with the stigma as a walking criminal and Elliot Bailey is back in town, working on a new book, digging up old dirt, and causing all kinds of mixed feelings.
This was a cute read, I enjoyed Thayne’s easy writing a lot. She has a way that really makes me feel invested in the story and all the characters. A lot of the characters from the previous books make an appearance here because it’s just part of one big happy family.
The characters were easy to like and the romance was sweet. The story engaging and it really makes me want to know what is going to happen in the next book after the secret’s that Elliot has uncovered and how they will effect Megan’s brother.

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Review: Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Posted July 5, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: Rainy Day Friends by Jill ShalvisRainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone #2
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on June 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Following the USA Today bestselling author of Lost and Found Sisters comes Jill Shalvis' moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship
Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. 
Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?
Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.
Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Brown changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

Oh my heart guys, I almost forgot how much I like Jill Shalvis romance.

I’ve struggled with some of the books in her Heartbreaker Bay series due to my disliking some of the characters in there that keep popping up, but Rainy Day Friends hit all the marks for me.

We follow Lanie Jacob’s whose husband’s death brought on a deep sense of pain and loss, until she discovers that she isn’t the only one grieving his death and that her husband apparently had an addiction to marrying a lot of women, four in fact.

Lanie takes a job to reinvent all the packaging for a very successful winery, where she meets the owner’s son, Mark an Air Force veteran turned sheriff who gave up his military career for his two twin daughters.

My heart. I adored this book. It was funny, it was charming, the romance was just right and awesome. I was a bit worried because I have completely struggled with romances lately and this just hit all the marks and pulled me out of the slump long enough to really enjoy it.

Now I know there is a mention that a lot of the jokes in here came from meme’s, I don’t follow meme’s enough to distinguish that fact, so I guess it did not bother me, but I can see how it can bother other people.

Overall, I think despite that little tidbit, I absolutely ended up adoring this. I adored the romance and how Mark’s daughters chipped down her walls. I loved the setting of the winery and the family. I struggled with the character of River and felt for Lanie with what she went through, it was unfortunate so it was awesome to see her find happiness.

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Review: At the Stroke of Midnight by Tara Sivec

Posted February 24, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 6 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: At the Stroke of Midnight by Tara SivecAt the Stroke of Midnight by Tara Sivec
Series: The Naughty Princess Club, #1
Published by Swerve on February 27th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 261
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Meet the Naughty Princess Club: a brand new series from USA Today bestselling author Tara Sivec that introduces readers to Fairytale Lane and the hilarity—and romance—that ensue when three women start a new business to make it rain.
Once upon a time Cynthia was the perfect housewife. Between being the President of the PTA and keeping her home spotless without a hair (or her pearls) out of place, her life was a dream come true. Her husband was once her knight in shining armor, but now he’s run off with all their money…and the babysitter.
Dressed as a princess at the annual Halloween block party on Fairytale Lane, she meets two other “princesses” also facing money troubles: antique store owner Ariel and librarian Isabelle. When the women are invited to wear their costumes to a party where they’re mistaken for strippers, Cindy, Ariel, and Belle realize that a career change could be the best way to make their money problems go bippity-boppity-boo.
But can structured Cindy approach a stripper pole without sanitizing wipes? And could the blue-eyed anti-prince that has been crossing her path become Cindy’s happily ever after? At the Stroke of Midnight is a hilarious, empowering story where princesses can save themselves while slaying in stilettos.

Cynthia was the perfect housewife, the perfect mother, the perfect member of the Fairytale Lane community – until the day her husband ran off with the babysitter, took all their money, served her divorce papers and left her with a house to pay for.

Cynthia tries desperately to keep her image up, until she goes to a community block party dressed as a princess and meets two other “Princess” with financial problems.

When the trio gets invited to a party with a request of wearing those customs, they show up thinking they are entertaining children, when in fact it is a birth of a grown man and they are mistaken for strippers. A grown man PJ Charming, that both infuriates Cindy as well as making her feel something more.

Oh, this was great. It’s been a while since I have read anything by this author, so I was going into this book blindly. Yup, I totally just wanted to read this because of the author. I knew I was going to get crude humor, great characters, and some steaminess.

I loved the trio, I loved the way Ariel bought out Cindy out of her shell so she could be an independent woman again instead of living under her husband’s life. With Ariel’s and PJ’s help, Cindy gets her independents back, takes control of her life, listens to things she wants and rebuilds the relationship with her daughter.

I loved Ariel the best, she had the mouth of a sailor, but she was also such a great supportive friend and the reason Cindy was able to break out of her shell.

The housewife to an exotic dance was an interesting trope that I myself have never explored before, but watching them navigate how this new experience and building their business around it was amusing and laugh out loud funny.

It’s a story of self-discovery, independence, growth and strong female relationships. It was just the kind of light book I needed in my life right now.

The only issue I feel like I had in this is the way PJ treated Cindy at the beginning was a bit annoying. I did not feel like she deserved it. Also, when her ex-husband shows up in the end, that whole scene I felt, could have been resolved much quicker.

I wouldn’t say that this is for everything. This book has a lot of cursing humor in it, with some steamy scenes in the end. If you are uncomfortable with it, it’s a warning in advance. Otherwise, if you are looking for something that will leave you in stitches, this is definitely a fast paced, fun ride and I cannot wait for the other two stories.

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Review: Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

Posted February 6, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review:  Dear Aaron by Mariana ZapataDear Aaron by Mariana Zapata
Series: Santos #1
Published by Mariana Zapata on June 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 485
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.

The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.

Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect.

What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.

Dear Aaron follows a young woman named Ruby Santos, who knew exactly what she was doing when she signed up to write to a soldier overseas. The guidelines were pretty simple, one email or a letter a week for the length of his or her deployment and care packages were options. What Ruby didn’t expect when she finally got to writing to Aaron was falling in love with him.

This was cute, my first Mariana Zapata book and needless to say it will definitely won’t be my last.

Dear Aaron was a sweet, slow burn romance that follows a very inexperienced Ruby (who is around 23/24 years of age) and a 29-30 year old soldier Aaron. Both seem to be at an odd point in their life. Ruby is a seamstress and loves doing her work, but she works for two of her aunts that seem to mistreat her and Ruby doesn’t have a backbone to stand up to them until she starts corresponding with Aaron.

Aaron is a soldier that is almost done with his deployment, but serving is the only thing he knows. To his family, he feels like a failure because he didn’t follow the steps of the family business and chose the military life instead. Aaron and his father are on a bit of a rocky terms, but despite his father’s anger they still seem to get along.

When we first meet Ruby her age is a bit confusing at first because she does tend to sound like a child due to her inexperience and being sort of a pushover, but I found her character to be someone I could and could see myself in her shoes.

I love that despite knowing what was coming that the author took the time to develop the relationship and friendship between the two characters, I adore my slow burn romances.

I was also pleasantly surprised that this was a romance more primary focus was the growth between characters emotionally and as people.

I didn’t know how to feel about Aaron’s sudden flip in the book about being open in his feelings, I was actually expecting the moment to maybe go a bit differently, it just felt like an awkward transition – but it was still fine.

The writing was great. I did have the hardest time putting the book down and read it in a day.

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