Monday, July 31, 2023

REVIEW: Change of Plans by Dylan Newton


This is the first Dylan newton novel I’ve read and now I’m just wondering how I’ve missed out on reading her first two novels. Change of Plans was an absolute delight. There was little wait for everything to get started between Bryce and Ryker—no extended backstory or build up, instead we got to meet them as they met each other and just as they learned each other’s history, we mostly did too. We learn how Bryce has become the guardian to her three adorable and hilarious nieces and how much her life has shifted, as anyone who has kids know—3 can be a handful, especially if you’re thrown into parenting deep end of the pool without any floaties. And we also learn about Ryker and how he came to having a prosthetic and his history with PTSD, his family, and his general grumpiness (grumpiness that’s just a cover for fear of being hurt).

I adore these characters and how they complement each other and, really just everything about them. These are two stellar human beings who found their perfect match at just the right moment and their romance is one of kindness and hilarity and just such heartfelt emotion; I’m sad to see them go but so glad I have two other novels with associated characters I can backtrack and read.


In this charming romantic comedy, a hometown hero comes to the rescue of a chef unexpectedly left to care for three little girls—who may end up saving him too.

When disaster strikes and chef Bryce Weatherford is given guardianship of her three young nieces, her life goes from cooking with fire…to controlling a dumpster fire. Five‑year‑old Addison refuses to remove her fairy wings, eight‑year‑old Cecily won't bathe, and tween June is majoring in belligerence. With all this chaos, Bryce jettisons hope for a life outside of managing her family and her new job.
It's been years since Ryker Matthews had his below‑the‑knee amputation, yet the phantom pain for his lost limb and Marine career haunts him. To cope, he focuses on his vehicle restoration business. He knows he's lucky to be alive. Yet, “lucky” feels more like “cursed” to his lonely heart.  
When Ryker literally sweeps Bryce off her feet in the grocery store's baby aisle, they both feel sparks. But falling in love would be one more curveball neither is ready to deal with… or is it exactly the change of plans they need?

Monday, July 24, 2023

REVIEW: Finally Mine by Lucy Score


I'll be honest, I saw some reviews before I read Finally Mine and I was prepared for some really graphic on the page violence and domestic abuse based on the adamantly opposed to this book reviewers, so I steeled myself and hesitantly started reading. While there was definitely violence and allusion to domestic assaults, this was not the horror show I steeled myself for. The main character, Gloria, is a survivor and she's building herself back to full strength after a decade of horror that she lived through. Her story is not one I'd wish on anyone but Lucy Score gives Gloria a new life filled with love and laughter and hope and family. She also gives her one hell of a counterpart in Aldo-a man dealing with his own demons but also a man completely smitten with Gloria, who is kind and gentle and funny and wonderful. If you read Pretend You're Mine you already know a lot of their story, but this time around you get it through their eyes and with more of the ins and outs of how it all actually happens. 

In my opinion, Finally Mine isn't meant to be a full exploration of the recovery of your life after domestic abuse or losing a limb in war, and if you were reading it for that then I can see why some of the reviewers weren't happy with some of the depictions or the way certain things went down. I see this novel as one that shows what might be possible for someone who has lived through either of those things; it gives lighthearted fun and sweet romance to two people/characters who wanted desperately to know a life that wasn't defined by those things anymore. And in that, I see success and happiness and hope for an HEA for us all. 


f he doesn't end up naked and spread eagle on my bed I. Will. Die.

Gloria is due a happily ever after. She's lost ten years to a toxic, dangerous relationship. Now that she's finally free—and medicating with makeovers and margaritas in her mother's kitchen—she has a long road ahead of her remembering who she really is. She's scarred. But scarred doesn't mean broken.

While Gloria's deciding to take the next decade off from men, along comes larger-than-life, hometown hero Aldo Moretta. He's saying all the right things and flirting in all the right ways. He's deploying for six months and wants a date...with Gloria...when he comes back. Swoon. Panic.

One kiss, one dazzling, remember-for-a-lifetime kiss and he's gone. But life and happily ever afters don't always take the straight path. When Aldo's deployment is cut short by an injury, it's up to Gloria to be the hero for them both.

Author's Note: You will laugh, cry, and fall head over face for Gloria and Aldo. And the evil rescue kitten. Also the four-letter-word-loving, commando-going Mrs. Moretta who's just in it for the cookies.


Monday, July 17, 2023

REVIEW: The Summer Girl by Elle Kennedy



In this third Avalon Bay we get to know Tate and Cassie. The only thing I really remembered about Tate from the first two novels was that he was known as a player and seemed to be super friendly. In The Summer Girl, we get to see that while he does seem to be a player, he's not a jerk; he is really friendly and always up front about his not wanting a relationship so that no one gets hurt and it seems to have worked. So you can imagine Cassie's disappointment when she propositions him to be her summer fling--no strings--and he declines because he wants to be 'just friends', especially because he seems to be the perfect fling: he's hot, friendly, fun to be around, and doesn't do relationships. With no other choice but to accept his friends only offer, Cassie and Tate embark on a summer of friendly fun. 

These two are truly perfect together--they're both really good humans and seem to meld together well, which makes sense when you know that both of them are seriously attracted to the other, despite the friends only thing happening. The more time they spend together, the more you enjoy them both: Tate has such a wonderful relationship with his friends and family and everyone seems to adore him and Cassie has a crummy family life but a group of girls and a grandmother who all swoop in and fill in some of the empty spaces her parents have left. Poor Cassie has such a crummy situation and the more Tate learns, the more he wants to be there for her and help her find her voice and her happiness. I adore them both.

As alluded to in the synopsis something terrible and unexpected happens and it really shifts everything for everyone and it's heartbreaking and maddening and so frustrating...and there's really nothing Cassie or Tate can do but live with it and through it (I had a major case of the sads at this point). But Elle Kennedy doesn't do us dirty and gives Cassie and Tate the HEA that I really wanted for them and now I'm super excited for the next book in this series (there are some characters I'm super curious about!).



Elle Kennedy's next spicy and emotional romance in the blockbuster Avalon Bay series.

College student Cassie Soul hasn’t spent an entire summer in Avalon Bay in years, not since her parents divorced and her mother spitefully whisked her away to Boston. Now that her grandmother is selling the boardwalk hotel that’s been in their family for five decades, Cassie returns to the quaint beach town to spend time with family, ring in her twenty-first birthday…and maybe find herself a summer fling.

On her first night in town, she finds the perfect candidate: Tate Bartlett, Avalon Bay’s fun-loving golden boy.

Tate, sailing instructor and lovable player, is no stranger to flings. In fact, he’s always down for a good time. But the moment he meets Cassie, he knows she’s not the girl you play games with. Cassie is gorgeous, hilarious, and, frankly, the coolest person he’s ever met. The last thing he wants to do is risk breaking her heart, and so he reluctantly puts her in the friend-zone…only to realize he made a 
huge mistake. Soon, his attraction to Cassie becomes impossible to ignore. He wants that fling now. Big-time.

And maybe even something more.

As Cassie and Tate walk the line between friends and lovers, they’re about to discover that their situation is the least complicated part of this equation. Because Avalon Bay is full of secrets—and their relationship might not survive when those secrets come to light.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

REVIEW: Forget Me Not by Julie Soto


I loved this debut from Julie Soto. Loved it. I loved the pairing--sunshiney Ama, our wedding planner, and grumpy florist, Elliot--and how Ama just pushes her way right into Elliot's space and his heart, I like the way their story is told from a series of chapters that feature now and then, from alternating perspectives, and I love that the good guys win in the end. 

Forget Me Not has all of the things I didn't know I was looking for and I found and if I had any complaint it would be about how quickly things resolve themselves when these two have been avoiding each other as much as they could. That being noted, it's not a total surprise that things do get resolved because a) this is a romance and b) the subtle looks, interventions, and seemingly irrational responses to each other spell out one thing: that they still love each other. This one took me by surprise, y'all. The cover didn't hint at the spiciness of their relationship and I had no idea I would adore every aspect of their story so much. 

I know there are a ton of romances being turned into movies and Netflix series, so I don't say this lightly: Forget Me Not would make a good movie; I could totally visualize it and think there's an audience for it. Grab this one and enjoy!



Ama Torres is an optimistic wedding planner who doesn’t believe in marriage. But weddings? They’re amazing. Elliot Bloom is a brooding florist who hates owning a flower shop…until a certain bright-eyed, donut-loving workaholic shows up at his door.

Once upon a time, they collaborated on events by day, and by night, Ama traced the intricate flower tattoos etched along his body. Then Ama shattered his heart and never spoke to Elliot again.    

Now they’re working on an event that could make or break both of their careers—except neither of them has gotten over what happened two years ago. Things are not helped by the two brides, who see the obvious chemistry between Ama and Elliot and are determined to set them up, not knowing their complicated history. But as the wedding takes on a life of its own, Ama and Elliot are about to discover that some things can survive a complete catastrophe . . . 

Smart and hilarious, 
Forget Me Not is about two people giving themselves—and love!—a second chance.

Monday, July 10, 2023

REVIEW: Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez



Sometime over the last six months I became a Abby Jimenez fan and began putting all of her books on hold on my Libby app, just waiting for the day I'd be approved for the next one to be released to me. When Yours Truly came to me quicker than I expected, I immediately put down what I was reading and dove in. 

Like all of her other novels, Yours Truly has a connection to at least one character in a previous novel, in this case it was to Alexis from Part of Your World. It features the story of Briana and Jacob-two ER docs who don't have the best first time run in. Fortunately for them both (and us), the negative tension that starts their path to love and romance is easily rectified when Jacob explains himself via a sweet letter. That letter begins a series of letters exchanged between the two of them and is a sweet way from them to get to know each other--a way not often explored in contemporary romance. 

As the novel progresses, we learn that Briana's brother is in need of a kidney and hasn't found one yet. Cue Jacob to get tested and find out that he's a perfect match. He tries to donate his kidney to her brother anonymously but his cover gets blown and so in exchange, Briana eagerly agrees to help him keep his family off his back about having a girlfriend, since his most recent ex is now his brother's fiancĂ©. In order for them to pull things off, they have to get to know each other and that's where the fun really begins. Through their phone dates, their outings, their meet ups with family, they individually begin to wonder if they could make it a real thing, but each decides the other would never want that (of course, asking would be too easy so they just assume) and so there's lots of yearning and longing for something that neither of them thinks is possible. 

As we follow their journey to finding their HEA, we also get to know a character who has extreme social anxiety and all of the things one may have to do to cope with the outside world. Additionally, we have a character whose abandonment issues are so deeply embedded that they think a true love, long term relationship is off the table forever. Together they help each other live with and through the obstacles and struggles that come with these things, which only adds to the richness of this novel, in my opinion.

Yours Truly is the perfect fake dating, fun romance that I needed as I recovered from a major surgery...though laughing at some parts DID NOT help with the soreness I am currently in, it was totally worth it. 

A novel of terrible first impressions, hilarious second chances, and the joy in finding your perfect match from "a true talent" (Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

Dr. Briana Ortiz’s life is seriously flatlining. Her divorce is just about finalized, her brother’s running out of time to find a kidney donor, and that promotion she wants? Oh, that’s probably going to the new man-doctor who’s already registering eighty-friggin’-seven on Briana’s “pain in my ass” scale. But just when all systems are set to hate, Dr. Jacob Maddox completely flips the game . . . by sending Briana a letter.

And it’s a really good letter. Like the kind that proves that Jacob isn’t actually Satan. Worse, he might be this fantastically funny and subversively likeable guy who’s terrible at first impressions. Because suddenly he and Bri are exchanging letters, sharing lunch dates in her “sob closet,” and discussing the merits of freakishly tiny horses. But when Jacob decides to give Briana the best gift imaginable—a kidney for her brother—she wonders just how she can resist this quietly sexy new doctor . . . especially when he calls in a favor she 
can’t refuse.

“Abby Jimenez’s words…sprinkle humor and warmth all over my life.” –Ali Hazelwood, New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis

Monday, July 3, 2023

REVIEW: Love and Chaos Series by Emery Rose



Have you ever found yourself scrolling through your e-reader listlessly, just looking for that one book to grab your attention? That's what happened when I happened upon my copy of Wilder Love, the first book in the Love and Chaos Series. I'd never read anything by Emery Rose but the synopsis intrigued me and I thought I remembered several of my favorite bloggers raving about her books so I thought, what the heck?!, and dove in.

You can ask Court, within chapters I was feeling the angst in way I haven't felt the angst in a long time. I was texting her updates just to give myself a break from the anxiety that was ratcheting up as I progressed through the love story of Remy and Shane. To give a little back story-Remy had just moved to Shane's beach town, after a lifetime of moves, with her twin brother and her neglectful mother. He was an up and coming star in the surfing world-many years her senior- and she was a junior in high school. When he discovered that she wasn't as hold as he thought she was, after a night of hanging out, they agreed that being friends was probably for the best. And they were friends, for a while and right before her 18th birthday, they gave in to the underlying sexual tension that had been simmering from the very first day they met. And yes, the build up to that scene was mildly angsty but it was that wasn't what had me all twisted up in knots. No, what had me all sorts of insane was Remy's bully. He was absolutely vile and the horrible way he manipulated her and played on her guilt and emotions that then caused her to end things with Shane was gahhhhhhh. And THEN! when Shane figured out what was really going on, the resulting tragedy was so incredibly devastating.  

Part two of this novel fast forwards us years into Remy and Shane's life and they're still not over each other, but nothing about this part of their lives is easy. There's more tragedy and sadness and love  and despite having a whole half of the novel to cover, I found it so much easier to read than the first half. The angst level was significantly lower and the build up to their happily ever after, while a little bumpy, was a balm to the angst in the first half.


How could a love that feels so right ever be wrong?

Shane Wilder.
Pro surfer. Dream chaser. Thief of my heart. And completely off-limits.

It was infatuation at first sight. On our first date, he took me to watch the fireworks.

It was a magical night of stolen kisses and whispered confessions under the stars. But it all came to a screeching halt when he asked the one question I’d been dreading.

How old are you, Remy?

Right guy, wrong time.

There was too much at stake, and he didn’t want to cross the line. So, I told him I would wait for him.

I never meant to lie.
I never meant to ruin his life.
I. Destroyed. Him.

Now I’m back, begging for a chance to right my wrongs and fix what I’ve broken.
Only this time, I hope that loving Shane Wilder will be enough to save him.

Now I was hooked and immediately purchased the second book in the series, Sweet Chaos. After Wilder

 and the angst-fest the first half of that novel was, I didn't really know what to expect. Much to my relief, this novel didn't ramp up the angst until when I normally would expect it. Prior to that moment, the story of Remy's twin, Dylan, and Scarlett (his ex-girlfriend's much younger sister, GASP!) was focused on their relationship and that Scarlett had immense guilt for falling for her sister's ex-boyfriend, even though it had been a while since they'd been together. Dylan had zero of that guilt and had no problem having a relationship out in the open but Scarlett just couldn't...not until she told her sister. This love story was also made more difficult because Dylan and Scarlett's family had a contentious history and now in his adulthood, he had no problem standing up to her dad (and on occasion, mom), which certainly didn't ease the path of Scarlett and Dylan's relationship. Of course, she was basically ex-communicated from the family because of her insistence to being her own person, even so, she didn't want to ruin the one fairly decent relationship she had with her only sibling. 

So the novel follows these two falling for each other and trying to figure out how to navigate it all without disrupting lives. Throw in his own personal emotional roller coaster and you have a recipe for a very fun read. I found Sweet Chaos to be a nice breather after the angsty-ness of Wilder Love. Next up, Until August.  


Dylan St. Clair is chaos. And chaos always leaves a trail of destruction in its wake. I just never expected it to be my heart he destroyed.
I’ve had a crush on Dylan St. Clair ever since he climbed into my bedroom window ten years ago.

Wrong window, Romeo.

I was eleven, he was seventeen.

A bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks with a chip on his shoulder and fresh bruises from his latest fight, he went on to play the starring role in all my teenage fantasies.

But I always knew he was off-limits. So, over the years I gave up wishing and hoping we could ever be together.

Until he kissed me on a cold beach one starry winter’s night.

Until he said those five words that changed everything.

I picked the wrong sister.

© Must Read Books or Die. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.