Tuesday, December 26, 2023

REVIEW: Too Good to be True by Kristen Ashley



I love it when the writers I adore do something a little unexpected and while I know this isn't KA's first go around with the supernatural, this is the first of her supernatural works I've read. And truth be told, it isn't all that supernatural as it is alarming that such strange things are happening in this remote estate house in England.

Daphne and her stepmother have been invited to Duncroft to meet Daphne's sister's new beau. We quickly learn that Daphne and her sister, Portia, have a sometimes antagonistic relationship because of the way their father has set up their trust funds. We also learn that Lou, the stepmom, is also not a favorite of Daphne's sister and so before they've even arrived to Duncroft, we're primed for some tense and/or awkward moments. And sure enough, from the second they arrive, it's realllll uncomfortable. Portia's boyfriend's parents are distant and cold, the boyfriend is flighty, and there seems to be something off about the house (other than the rumors of it being haunted).

As the story progresses, we meet Daphne's soon to be love interest, Ian, get to know more about the ancestors who have come to some terrible endings (and some who have some epic love stories). We get to know Ian, Mr. Hottie, and we get to see the one dimensional characters who are his parents turn into more nuanced people than originally portrayed.

There are suspicious activities that abound and the closer we get to answers, the more intense things become between the characters. Things around the house are mysterious and cause tension, just as Ian and Daphne are becoming more intimate...learning who they are, what they like, and how they handle things when things go awry. 

Fun read that will have you flipping pages to get to the bottom of what, exactly, is going on.


Heiress Daphne Ryan is uncertain about spending a week at the sprawling country estate of the family of her sister’s boyfriend. For starters, she doesn’t get along with her sister. Then there’s the fact his family is old, wealthy aristocracy, and Daphne’s from brash, new American money.

Mostly, it’s that everyone knows Duncroft House is haunted by the ghost of a 1920s film star who died there. Deemed an accident, for nearly a century, people are sure it was murder.

Daphne doesn’t like scary things, say…haunted houses. She likes it less when strange things start happening to her when she arrives.

But she finds she has a surprising ally.

Ian Alcott, the heir to the earldom, is rich, gorgeous and just as concerned about the frightening things that keep befalling Daphne at his ancestral family home. As he moves to protect her, Daphne finds he’s also funny, kind and sexy as hell.

Indeed, he just might be too good to be true.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

REVIEW: Wreck the Halls by Tessa Bailey


Wreck the Halls by Tessa Bailey is absolutely a fun read for the holiday season. I can't think of one thing I didn't enjoy about it. This novel features two children of former rockstars (who now despise each other), Melody and Beat. From the very first time these two meet (as teens), you can sense the connection between these two. Then, fast forward years later and when confronted with an opportunity to reunite their mothers and make money that would each help them out of a situation, they reconnect and the sparks fly immediately. There's absolutely zero chance these two are going to be just friends, and I loved every second of their romance.

Bailey created two characters who just worked for me. Melody is hilarious and honest and unique. Beat is protective and kind and down to earth. The two of them together are an odd but perfect pairing. 

Despite some rough patches relating to trust, these two find their happily ever after and I truly was happy for that and yet sad for it to be over. This novel was funny and fun and sexy and a wonderful way to spend a weekend close to the winter holidays.

BUY IT: https://amzn.to/3u1Z2uH


Melody Gallard may be the daughter of music royalty, but her world is far from glamorous. She spends her days restoring old books and avoiding the limelight (one awkward tabloid photo was enough, thanks). But when a producer offers her a lot of money to reunite her mother’s band on live tv, Mel begins to wonder if it’s time to rattle the cage, shake up her quiet life… and see him again. The only other person who could wrangle the rock and roll divas.

Beat Dawkins, the lead singer’s son, is Melody’s opposite—the camera loves him, he could charm the pants off anyone, and his mom is not a potential cult leader. Still, they might have been best friends if not for the legendary feud that broke up the band. When they met as teenagers, Mel felt an instant spark, but it’s nothing compared to the wild, intense attraction that builds as they embark on a madcap mission to convince their mothers to perform one last show. 

While dealing with rock star shenanigans, a 24-hour film crew, brawling Santas, and mobs of adoring fans, Mel starts to step out of her comfort zone. With Beat by her side, cheering her on, she’s never felt so understood. But Christmas Eve is fast approaching, and a decades-old scandal is poised to wreck everything—the Steel Birds reunion, their relationships with their mothers, and their newfound love.  

Monday, December 18, 2023

REVIEW: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt


Honestly, when I first heard about this book I didn't think it was something I'd like. An octopus as one of the main characters?! Nope--it's just a road too far. But as more and more people I know read it and raved about it, I decided that I should give it a shot. So, I checked it out of the library and jumped in. Surprising to no one, my friends were correct: this is an excellent read.

The story follows Tova, an elderly woman who has experienced a lot of grief and loss and has internalized it all, making her seem a little closed off and cold. It also has sections where Marcellus, the octopus, opines on the things he observes from his tank at the aquarium Tova cleans every night, as well as sections with Cameron, a thirty year old lost soul, and Ethan, the grocery store own who has a huge crush on Tova. These four narrate the story of love and loss and family. Each of their stories are tinged with a little melancholy and a little hope. And it's this combination that really works to feel for them, even when you want to shake them and wake them up to who and what's going on around them. 

If you're like me and thinking this isn't the book for you, I'll tell you that I'm so glad I read it. It leaves you happy and smiling at the end. Definitely try it--don't let the idea of an octopus being a main character scare you off. 

SYNOPSIS: For fans of A Man Called Ove, a charming, witty and compulsively readable exploration of friendship, reckoning, and hope that traces a widow's unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors—until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late. 

Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.


Monday, December 11, 2023

REVIEW: Things We Left Behind by Lucy Score


I came to this series at the very end, with this novel, and while it can be read as a stand alone, I'm definitely kicking myself for not picking up the first novel and starting there because I'm certain that those two couples in those books had a fun time hating each other before loving each other, if Things We Left Behind is any indication. 

In this novel, Sloane and Lucian are currently mortal enemies but only after they were close friends in their younger years. As the novel progresses, their backstory is woven in and you come to understand why they're both so resistant to tolerating the other, despite the fact that their mutual friends adore them both, and Sloane's family sees him as nothing short of wonderful. Their current day selves are busy detesting the other and being successful as a head librarian (Sloane) and a businessman (Lucian). And as the bad guys --ones most likely first introduced at the beginning of the series-- insist on doing bad things, Sloane and Lucian find themselves thrown together a lot. Their banter and sexual tension are hilarious and cause the pages to turn quickly. As they spend more time together, they begrudgingly put aside some of their differences to scratch an itch they've had for quite a while; and though they'd love to keep it secret, that, of course, is impossible. 

Things escalate with the bad guys and with Sloane and Lucian and before you know it, they've find themselves bring down the baddies while falling in love. 

Yet another fun read by Lucy Score....one that just makes me look forward to what she's writing next. 

SYNOPSIS: There was only one woman who could set me free. But I would rather set myself on fire than ask Sloane Walton for anything.

Lucian Rollins is a lean, mean vengeance-seeking mogul. On a quest to erase his father’s mark on the family name, he spends every waking minute pulling strings and building an indestructible empire. The more money and power he amasses, the safer he is from threats.

Except when it comes to the feisty small-town librarian that keeps him up at night…

Sloane Walton is a spitfire determined to carry on her father’s quest for justice. She’ll do that just as soon as she figures out exactly what the man she hates did to—or for—her family. Bonded by an old, dark secret from the past and the dislike they now share for each other, Sloane trusts Lucian about as far as she can throw his designer-suited body.

When bickering accidentally turns to foreplay, these two find themselves not quite regretting their steamy one-night stand. Once those flames are fanned, it seems impossible to put them out again. But with Sloane ready to start a family and Lucian refusing to even consider the idea of marriage and kids, these enemies-to-lovers are stuck at an impasse.

Broken men break women. It’s what Lucian believes, what he’s witnessed, and he’s not going to take that chance with Sloane. He’d rather live a life of solitude than put her in danger. But he learns the hard way that leaving her means leaving her unprotected from other threats.

It’s the second time he’s ruthlessly cut her out of his life. There’s no way she’s going to give him a third chance. He’s just going to have to make one for himself.


Tuesday, December 5, 2023

REVIEW: Among the Heather by Samantha Young



I'm really enjoying this Adair Family spin off series; it has the same feel with new characters who are connected to the Ardnoch Estate and the Adairs. And like the previous series, there's always a threat or conflict or attack from an outsider that adds additional tension to the inevitable romantic conflict(s) the two main characters have. 

In the case of Among the Heather, we are falling for Aria, the estate manager, and North, an actor in hiding, while they're falling for each other. Both Aria and North put up a good fight and try really hard to resist their chemistry and the innate draw they seem to have each other but despite the walls they throw up and the insults they exchange, they absolutely capitulate to all the things--the emotions, the chemistry, the everything. It doesn't mean that it was always easy--Aria has some serious trust issues--but they make it, thank goodness. 

While the question of who is behind the threats or whether or not they'll love each other is not a puzzling mystery, I didn't need it to be. The characters and their backstories, the way they connect, and the evolution of their relationship kept me invested and just in it until the very end. 

Looking forward to the next one, Through the Glen.

Among the Heather by Samantha Young is now live! 

He’s a disgraced actor. She’s the daughter of Hollywood royalty. Both are hiding in the Scottish Highlands, but despite their antagonistic attraction, they can’t seem to hide from each other…

North Hunter has worked hard to step out of the shadows of his orphaned upbringing into the limelight of Hollywood. He never imagined a dark moment from his childhood returning to destroy everything he’d built. Devastated, he finds comfort in the isolation of an exclusive members-only club in the Scottish Highlands, even if the club comes with a prickly estate manager who sets his blood on fire.

As the eldest daughter of a Hollywood legend, Aria Howard has learned the hard way that people will use her to get to her father. When her last relationship ended badly, Aria fled to Scotland. Running Ardnoch Estate provides distance from a life that has never fit comfortably. But when defamed Scottish actor North Hunter disrupts her sanctuary, Aria is on the defense. The cocky actor is the last thing she needs, and despite their searing attraction, Aria is determined to dislike him.

But one night of drunken forced proximity with North leads Aria to share insecurities seeded by her horrible ex. When North offers to prove her ex wrong by taking Aria to his bed for a no-strings distraction, they begin an affair neither expected. However, their fiery liaison leads to a deep emotional connection that unsettles them both, and North will have to break down more than Aria’s trust issues if they’re ever to have a future together. He’ll need to protect her from a past that just doesn’t want to stay buried… or lose something far more essential to his existence than his career.

  Download today or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited

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Meet Samantha

Samantha Young is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She's been nominated for several Goodreads Choice Awards. Samantha writes adult contemporary and paranormal romance, YA urban fantasy and YA contemporary fiction and is currently published in 31 countries.

She resides in Scotland.


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Monday, December 4, 2023

REVIEW: My Darling Bride by Ilsa Madden-Mills


This series had been so much fun. In My Darling Bride Graham needs a bride and he finds the perfect prospect in the girl who stole his car, Emmy. She had a good reason, I promise! Anyway, these two end up together because he needs a bride to receive his family trust (so that he can help his brother...) and she feels a little guilty (because of that theft incident) and a little hopeful about what she gets in the bargain. 

They start off trying to make it a business arrangement, friends only...but we all know how that goes and the fact that they're attracted to each other and actually like each other as humans means that there is no way that they're going to keep it business only. Of course the problem is that one of them decides to let go and fall in love and one of them tries desperately to not be open to the vulnerabilities of love. Sandwiched in between all of this is some family conflict, history of abuse, a stalker-ish ex, the fear of CTE, and some serious debt. Fortunately all of this is resolved in a funny, love-filled ending that will have me continuing to return to this series until there isn't another book to read. (I seriously can't wait for Jasper to meet his match...I have some guesses as to whom that might be).

 BUY IT: https://amzn.to/3RiYvOy


In a sizzling romance that sparkles with wit and depth, two wounded souls meet by chance in the desert and agree to get married, and their lives will never be the same.

On a normal day, Emmaline Darling isn’t a car thief. She’s just a simple girl who runs a bookstore and adores cats. But when she’s stranded in the desert and needs to get away from her dangerous ex-boyfriend, she picks her only option: swiping the keys to a famous football player’s Lamborghini and speeding away.

Football star Graham Harlan is in chaos. First he took a hit on the field that left him with a near-death experience, and now he’s promised his brother he’ll get married to secure the family inheritance. Trouble is he isn’t even seeing anyone.

Then a mystery woman steals his car. With his usual stubbornness, he tracks her all the way to Manhattan and gives her an ultimatum: marry me or I’ll press charges.

Her choice is obvious, only neither of them expect the sparks that ignite between them.

As the end of their arrangement looms, will Graham take a chance on love or let his darling walk away forever?

Friday, December 1, 2023

REVIEW: The Fake Mate by Lana Ferguson


Having read Lana Ferguson's first novel, The Nanny, I knew that I had to try The Fake Mate, even if it wasn't something I'd usually try. If you're also a fan of her but uncertain if this would be something you like, I can bet that you most likely will. While there are some shifter events and episodes that aren't in your typical non-fantasy romance, for the most part The Fake Mate does have all of the elements of a 'typical' romance, plus the fun that Ferguson brings to the novel. There are moments of hilarity, deeply felt emotional turmoil, and just overall fun. You'll find The Fake Mate to be a fun and sexy quick read.

 BUY IT: https://amzn.to/46SHFeD


Mackenzie Carter has had some very bad dates lately. Model train experts, mansplainers, guys weirdly obsessed with her tail—she hasn’t had a successful date in months. Only a year out of residency, her grandmother’s obsession with Mackenzie finding the perfect mate to settle down with threatens to drive Mackenzie barking mad. Out of options, it feels like a small thing to tell her grandmother that she’s met someone. That is, until she blurts out the name of the first man she sees and the last man she would ever date: Noah Taylor, the big bad wolf of Denver General.
Noah Taylor, interventional cardiologist and all around grump, has spent his entire life hiding what he is. With outdated stigmas surrounding unmated alphas that have people wondering if they still howl at the moon, Noah has been careful to keep his designation under wraps. It’s worked for years, until an anonymous tip has everything coming to light. Noah is left with two options: come clean to the board and risk his career—or find himself a mate. The chatty, overly friendly ER doctor asking him to be her fake boyfriend on the 
same day he’s called to meet the board has to be kismet, right?
Mackenzie will keep her grandmother off her back, and Noah will get a chance to prove he can continue to work without a real mate—a mutually beneficial business transaction, they both rationalize. But when the fake-mate act turns into a very real friends-with-benefits arrangement, lines start to blur, and they quickly realize love is a whole different kind of animal.

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