2020 Book #29 – The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

Title: The Accidental Beauty Queen
Author: Teri Wilson
Date finished: 5/17/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Pages in book: 305
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In this charming romantic comedy perfect for fans of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella, critically acclaimed author Teri Wilson shows us that sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone leads you to the ultimate prize.

Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time.

She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades.

Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read this book as part of Bout of Books 28.

I hadn’t had a chance to read this when it came out back in 2018 but I had originally requested it because it sounded very interesting and the cover is so cute. I’ve never read anything by this author before but this book was great! This book was a perfect blend of Miss Congeniality, The Parent Trap, and Pride and Prejudice. There were so many great bookish references – lots of Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice references. This is a great read for a book lover! Overall it was a really sweet story and the plot line was well constructed and implemented. I thought that the ending all wrapped up a little quickly though. There was a lot of emotional growing that Charlotte went through during the book and I would’ve liked to witness more of the confrontation / result with Charlotte and her parents and also Ginny. This book was just so fun and entertaining, I really enjoyed it and I would recommend reading it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #24 – The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

Title: The Honey-Don’t List
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 5/8/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Pages in book: 318
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Carey Duncan has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I love Christina Lauren’s books. Each of them is great in their own way but overall they are all wonderful and heart warming. This book was a lot less emotionally driven than some books in the past by this author, but it was in no way less entertaining. The characters and the plot were interesting and kept me reading and not wanting to put the book down. Carey was such a sweetheart and there was nothing about her character that I didn’t love. The chemistry between her and James seemed so genuine and so perfectly developed. There wasn’t anything that I could pinpoint about this book that I did not like, it was light and fun and a great read. It didn’t tug on my heart strings all that much but I think this one was meant to be a lighter read than some of the other novels by these authors. It was still full of Christina Lauren’s trademark personality and fun of their novels. This was exactly what I needed to read right now, I greatly enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #23 – The Sunday Potluck Club by Melissa Storm

Title: The Sunday Potluck Club
Author: Melissa Storm
Date finished: 5/6/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
Pages in book: 247
Stand alone or series: #1 in Sunday Potluck Club series
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A recipe for living . . .
 
New friends can be found in unexpected places. For Bridget and Amy, that place was the cancer ward of an Anchorage hospital. Now, as each struggles to overcome loss, they lean on each other for support—sharing suppers, laughter and tears.

Bridget and Amy aren’t about to let hardship knock them down—Bridget plans to return to her veterinarian school studies, Amy to her position as a second-grade teacher—but neither feels quite ready. And so the Sunday Potluck Club is born, a way for Bridget, Amy, and other women who have lost a loved one to find solace and understanding. Savoring favorite dishes while sharing memories and the comfort of connection, the members of the Sunday Potluck Club nourish body and soul.

As weeks go by and the group grows in unforeseen ways, both Bridget and Amy are inspired to find greater purpose.  Amy reaches out to a student whose father bravely faces his own struggle. Bridget volunteers at the local animal shelter, rehabilitating dogs whose unconditional love will bring others a chance to heal. And with the help of two special men, Bridget and Amy are realizing that there’s always room at the table for love and rekindled joy . . .

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read the first couple chapters of this book in last year’s BuzzBooks Romance sampler and was really intrigued. The first couple chapters really captured my interest and even though it was 9 months until the book would be published I was still very interested in being able to read and review it. And while I really enjoyed the book, it didn’t turn out to be quite what I thought it would be from the glimpse I got in the first couple chapters. Amy’s character was a bit too much of a doormat for me. And beyond that the way she kept going back and forth about Trent it got to be a bit too much for me. Overall there were pieces of the plot and the story line I thought could’ve been developed more, and I definitely would’ve liked to see some of the characters fleshed out a little more, especially Trent. That being said, I still did enjoy the book. It was a sweet read and was quick and easy to read. The end of the book got me pretty emotional and I wished there had been more of that emotional work throughout the book. I’d recommend giving this one a try, I think there was a lot to like about this book!

Link to author’s website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #18 – Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

Title: Marriage on Madison Avenue
Author: Lauren Layne
Date finished: 4/26/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Pages in book: 285
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Central Park Pact series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve read other books by this author in the past and really enjoyed them. I hadn’t read any of the books in this series so far but luckily there was some crossover and I got to see Alexis again from To Love and to Cherish. I am tempted to read the other two in this Central Park series also as the characters are so fun and entertaining to read about. I love the three main ladies: Claire, Naomi, and Audrey and the way their friendship came about is so different and unusual. Audrey and Clarke were very endearing characters, they were both so sweet and had such a great friendship from the start that it is difficult for the reader to not be rooting for them. I really enjoyed reading their story, it made me feel many things but the main one was happiness. There were some pieces of it that were a little predictable but nothing too annoying. And it was just such a touching story with entertaining characters and a romantic plot line, it was hard to find anything not to like! Clarke was necessarily my favorite hero but he was sweet and he proved in the end that he really cared for Audrey. This was an entertaining and quick read – I’d definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #17 – Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Title: Love Her or Lose Her
Author: Tessa Bailey
Date finished: 4/24/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Pages in book: 347
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Hot and Hammered series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: 
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippie. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have heard a lot of good things about this author’s previous novel Fix Her Up. It was a very popular novel last year so I wanted to try reading the upcoming release (which is now a few months in the past). Bailey’s voice as an author was playful and endearing and if the previous book was anything like this one I can see why it was so popular. I procrastinated on reading this for awhile since I wasn’t sure how I felt about a romance novel featuring an already married couple whose marriage is on the rocks. And when I did start reading the novel, some of it hit a little too close to home for me: husband in the marines, comes home and can’t communicated how his tour in Afghanistan and subsequent return to civilian life is affecting him, and overall just a couple that has trouble communicating. Some of the emotions it brought out in me weren’t necessarily good ones but holy monkeys this book brought out so many emotions. The author did an amazing job of drawing the reader into the story and trapping them in the minds of the characters and their lives. I didn’t want to put it down, I felt so invested in the characters. Some pieces of the story didn’t feel realistic to be and/or they felt a little cliched but overall I really enjoyed the book so much – I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #16 – Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher

Title: Not That Kind of Guy
Author: Andie J. Christopher
Date finished: 4/22/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Pages in book: 334
Stand alone or series: #2 in the series (#1 was Not the Girl You Marry)
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: 
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

An office attraction becomes something more when they’re off the clock in this delightful romantic comedy by the USA Today bestselling author of Not the Girl You Marry.

State attorney Bridget Nolan is successful in all aspects of her life—except romance. After breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, she’s been slow to reenter the dating scene. To be honest, she has more important things to do like putting bad guys behind bars. But with her brother’s wedding right around the corner, she suddenly needs a date and fast. Lucky for Bridget, the legal intern is almost done with his program.

Matt Kido is dumbstruck by Bridget—total love at first sight—but there’s one problem. She’s totally off-limits while she’s his boss. But the moment he no longer reports to her, Matt decides to take a chance. An impulsive decision takes them to Las Vegas where, as the saying goes, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Unless you put a ring on it.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read the previous book, Not the Girl You Marry, and while I liked it I didn’t love it – mostly because I don’t love the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days which is what the book was loosely based on. But I really wanted to read this one and I’m so glad I did – it was so good! The chemistry between the two main characters was outstanding – jumping off the page emotional thrill ride. The character does an amazing job of drawing the reader into the emotions of the story, I felt my palms sweating with that feeling of intense can’t contain it infatuation and also my heart broke right along with both Bridget and Matt when they struggled to work things out. The plot line was interesting and the characters were all so entertaining. There were some parts of the story that didn’t quite click for me but it didn’t deter my enjoyment of the story at all. I still really enjoyed the book and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #12 – Her Homecoming Wish by Jo McNally

518ELDuLjeLTitle: Her Homecoming Wish
Author: Jo McNally
Date finished: 2/13/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Harlequin Special edition
Publication Date: February 1, 2020
Pages in book: 288
Stand alone or series: Gallant Lake Stories #3
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

“You’re all about following the rules now? Pity.”

Mackenzie Wallace hopes there’s still some bad boy lurking beneath single father Danny Adams’s upright exterior. Being the proverbial good girl left her brokenhearted and alone in the past. Now she’s back in town and wants excitement with her high school crush—not love. Dan knows their connection runs deep, despite Mackenzie’s protests. But will their new personas work together—especially when Dan’s secret is exposed?

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’m reading this book in connection with Harlequin’s February blog tour series to highlight releases of their category romances. I used to read these category series romances a lot and I was glad to be able to read some more recent releases. Category romances are a great place to find a quick read and are true to the category they’re published in. This category is a little too cliched for me – the Special Edition category is very touchy feely and reminds me a lot of those Hallmark movies that they have on leading up to Christmas. Mackenzie and Danny’s love story was very nice. But overall the story line wasn’t too thrilling or anything. The characters and the plot line were sweet, Mack was a likeable character and Danny was charming too. It just got to be a little overly cheesy for me but it was still a good read.

Link to author’s website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page