2020 Book #58 – Wednesday, Walks & Wags by Melissa Storm

Title: Wednesdays, Walks, & Wags
Author: Melissa Storm
Date finished: 8/19/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages in book: 272
Stand alone or series: The Sunday Potluck Club series book #2
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:

Bestselling author Melissa Storm reunites the members of the Sunday Potluck Club—and their canine companions—in a heartwarming story of friendship and second chances.
 
In the rapidly blooming courtyard beneath Bridget Moore’s new Anchorage apartment, the signs are unmissable: spring has come. As she unpacks boxes, Bridget hopes that she too is moving forward. With her tight schedule—college, working as a vet tech, volunteering at the animal shelter, caring for her beloved dogs—Bridget strives to keep too busy to register the pain of losing her mother just months ago.

Bridget’s new neighbor, Wesley, also seems to be running from something—quite literally. He and his two energetic dogs jog by twice a day. It isn’t long before she joins him. Bridget’s fellow members of the Sunday Potluck Club encourage her to enjoy Wesley’s company, though they understand all too well how tricky it can be to navigate life after loss.

But just as nature rebounds after the toughest winter, Bridget’s friendships, both human and canine, are a reminder that love and joy go on. With each outing, Bridget is rediscovering the simple pleasures that mean so much. A warm smile, a sun-drenched evening, a waggy tail—little by little, they may help Bridget find the path to happiness again . . .

My rating:  3.0 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 read the first book in this series earlier this year and enjoyed it – it was sweet and touching. And I enjoyed this one too, it was fine but maybe a little dull. Wesley’s inability to communicate was very frustrating and Bridget’s inability to stand up for herself was confusing. She seemed like a strong overall character but she was pretty young and had some things she needed to work through. This was a quick read and an ok story but it didn’t blow me away or anything. It was sweet and romantic though, and I loved how the four friends really come together to support each other. I would recommend it.

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

2020 Book #57 – The Love Scam by MaryJanice Davidson

Title: The Love Scam
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Date finished: 8/15/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Pages in book: 308
Stand alone or series: Danger, Sweetheart series Book #2
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:

Rake Tarbell is in trouble. When the fabulously wealthy and carefree bachelor wakes up horribly hungover in Venice, it’s not something that would normally be a problem…except he has no idea how he got there from California. Or who stole his wallet. Or who emptied his bank account of millions. Or who in the world is Lillith, the charming little girl claiming to be his long lost daughter. For the first time in his life, Rake is on his own and throwing Benjamins around aren’t going to solve his problem. Now if only the gorgeous, fun, and free-spirited woman who brought Lillith into his life was willing to help the situation…

Claire Delaney finds Rake’s problems hilarious and is not in the least bit sorry of adding to them by bringing Lillith into the mix. A pretty Midwestern girl with a streak for mischief, Claire isn’t the type to hang around with a guy like Rake. Even if he is drop-dead handsome and charming as all get-out. Even if he needs help and she has all the answers. But if this helps Lillith, she will go out of her way. And with a guy like Rake, she’s willing to bend her rules a bit for some fun.

But when adventure-filled days turn to romantic nights as they search for answers, and someone starts following them through the streets of Venice, Claire realizes she’s playing more than just a game. And maybe, just maybe, she isn’t willing to let go of Rake or Lillith just yet.

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 have read more than a handful of books by this author in the past – for a while I was very into the Undead series. And I was excited to read one of her newer releases! This author has a really characteristic dry and sarcastic humor that I’ve always really found hilarious. And this book was no exception – it was full of dry wit and extreme sarcasm. Which I normally love but I just felt kind of overwhelmed by it in this book. And I think due to not reading the first book in the series I just found the plot line a tad hard to follow. And the random side rambles (while humorous) got a bit distracting at certain points. I loved Lillith’s character – she was adorable and so very entertaining. There were definitely some interesting parts and I found it to be overall entertaining but it didn’t end up being my favorite. I’d still recommend giving it a read, especially if you like other novels by MaryJanice Davidson since it’s pretty in line with her normal humor!

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

2020 Book #45 – Daring and the Duke by Sarah MacLean

Title: Daring and the Duke
Author: Sarah MacLean
Date finished: 6/28/20
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Bareknuckle Bastards 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:

New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean returns with the much-anticipated final book in her Bareknuckle Bastards series, featuring a scoundrel duke and the powerful woman who brings him to his knees.

Grace Condry has spent a lifetime running from her past. Betrayed as a child by her only love and raised on the streets, she now hides in plain sight as queen of London’s darkest corners. Grace has a sharp mind and a powerful right hook and has never met an enemy she could not best…until the man she once loved returns.

Single-minded and ruthless, Ewan, Duke of Marwick, has spent a decade searching for the woman he never stopped loving. A long-ago gamble may have lost her forever, but Ewan will go to any lengths to win Grace back…and make her his duchess.

Reconciliation is the last thing Grace desires. Unable to forgive the past, she vows to take her revenge. But revenge requires keeping Ewan close, and soon her enemy seems to be something else altogether—something she can’t resist, even as he threatens the world she’s built, the life she’s claimed…and the heart she swore he’d never steal again.

My rating:  3.75 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 loved the start of this book – there was so much tension and the characters had such strong personalities right from the start. The heroine especially was a badass, I loved how violent she was, which I didn’t expect. And I loved the turnaround from the normal plot ending where Grace was the one that had to chase after Ewan and Ewan was the one in danger. The gender roles in this book were reversed in a number of different areas and it made for a really interesting story. The story went on a tad long for me, I thought there were a couple areas that felt superfluous. I think what really made this book as much of a hit for me was Grace. She was so bright – with her wardrobe and her hair and just her personality, she felt so vibrant and alive. I really enjoyed the book and I would 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 #15 – Wild, Wild Rake by Janna MacGregor

Title: Wild, Wild Rake
Author: Janna MacGregor
Date finished: 4/19/20
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Pages in book: 361
Stand alone or series: #6 in the Cavensham Heiresses 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:

Her first marriage was an epic fail.

Lady Avalon Warwyk never did love her husband. Arrogant, selfish, and cruel, it’s a blessing when she’s widowed and left to raise her son all by herself. Finally, Avalon can live freely and do the work she loves: helping fallen women become businesswomen. She’s lived these past ten years with no desire to remarry—that is, until Mr. Devan Farris comes to town.

Can he convince her to take another chance at happily ever after?

Devan Farris—charming vicar, reputed rake, and the brother of Avalon’s son’s guardian—is reluctantly sent to town to keep tabs on Avalon and her son. Devan wishes he didn’t have to meddle in her affairs; he’s not one to trod on a woman’s independent nature and keen sense of convictions. But she’ll have nothing to do with a vicar with a wild reputation—even though he’s never given his heart and body to another. If only he could find a way to show Avalon who he really is on the inside—a good, true soul looking for its other half. But how can prove that he wants to love and care for her. . .until death do they part?

My rating:  3.25 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’d also done a post during the Blog tour for this novel last month, you can see that here.

I’ve read all of the books in the Cavensham Heiresses series up to now and after Avalon and Devan were introduced to us in the last novel in the series I was very interested in reading their story. I’m very glad that I got to read Avalon and Devan’s story, though it was a bit cheesy for me. There was a LOT of flowery love mush, to the point where it felt like overkill. Which was weird because at the same time there were a number of parts in the book where I thought Avalon needed to be a little more romantic – it seemed like she was having a lot of trouble trusting (understandably) but I felt bad that Devan seemed to have to do most of the work. And Thane’s character was a little too articulate for a ten year old in my opinion, it felt unrealistic. Other than that I really liked the story and the romance was great. The points that I didn’t like didn’t stop me from enjoying the story at all, this one just didn’t end up being my favorite because of them. I would still recommend the series overall though, it is a good one!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #6 – To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

41eW9xtmdNLTitle: To Have and to Hold
Author: Lauren Layne
Date finished: 1/19/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Pages in book: 385
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Wedding Belles 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:

USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne is the “queen of witty dialogue and sexy scenes” (Rachel Van Dyken)! Now, Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride’s dream come true…but their own.

Discovering her fiancé is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya’s fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiancé is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning…is theirs?

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 had read another book in this series awhile ago – To Love and Cherish – and really liked it! And this book has been on my list to be reviewed since back in 2016, but luckily one of my goals this year is to read a book a month from my backlog list! Sinace I’m reading another upcoming Lauren Layne release this month too it seemed like a great time to read one of her backlist books. The characters in this novel were really well drawn out, the relationships came alive for the reader. I didn’t necessarily agree with all the pieces of the plot. There’s a point where Brooke compares Seth to her ex- Clay, and I thought was a little over-dramatic. Seth and Clay were not really comparable, even with their actions at that moment. Other than that though the plot line was interesting and kept me wanting to read throughout. I especially liked the side-plot going on with Maya and Grant. And having already read Logan and Alexis’ book, it was interesting to see them mentioned right at the beginning of the series. I enjoyed this book, though not as much as I enjoyed the later book in the series I’ve read previously. I’d still recommend it as well as the rest of the series.

Link to author website

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

Immortals After Dark series

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So this year I caught on to the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole. I heard about this series because I started listening to the Fated Mates podcast (see my other post on how I fell onto the podcast – up later this week). I had no idea it was a read-a-long with a romance series but I decided to give the first book a try and see how things went.

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So the first book in the series is A Hunger Like No Other, featuring Emmaline and Lachlain. Amazon says it’s actually the second in the series but on Fated Mates this is the first one we read. The one Amazon considers first is really a novella that we read later in the podcasts. Anyways, this book was BANANAS. I was hooked on the series right from the start and I DEVOURED it once I started it. At first I tried to use it as a reward, like read 2 of my scheduled books and I get to read an IAD book. But then I gave up on that and just read IAD books because I couldn’t WAIT to get to the next person’s story. I read the whole series as it stands now (18 books) in less than 3 months.

Obviously there were some books within the series that I liked more than others. I mean the whole series is amazing, I think the lowest rating I gave any of the books in the series was like a 3.5, which means I still liked it. Most of the books in the series I rated a 4 or above. Some of my favorites are the ones below:

I didn’t post individual reviews of the books since the series was one that I was just reading for fun and not for my reading schedule. I did post individual reviews on my Goodreads page though. I wanted to do an overall post on the series though since I’ve loved it so much. It was especially enjoyable to read the books along with the Fated Mates podcast. The next book in the series, Munro, is coming out in the summer I think and I can’t wait. I would definitely recommend the whole series – it is so interesting and complicated and amazing. Go read it now!

2019 Book #90 & #93 – Don’t Close Your Eyes and Don’t Breathe a Word by Christie Craig

Title: Don’t Close Your Eyes & Don’t Breathe a Word
Author: Christie Craig
Date finished: 11/19/19 & 12/1/19
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: August 28, 2018 & November 5, 2019
Pages in book: 480 & 424
Stand alone or series: #1 and #2 in the Texas Justice series
Where I got the book from: Publisher/Author
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher/author 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:

Don’t Close Your Eyes: 
Annie Lakes has had the same recurring nightmare for years. Her heart pounding in her chest. A panicked voice, begging her to run faster. Her own bloodcurdling scream. But now Annie is starting to realize it’s more than just a bad dream. She’s starting to remember things about the night her cousin Jenny disappeared all those years ago. Things that make her believe her family was involvedand what they’re hiding is much worse than she ever imagined. But she can’t unravel this alone. She needs someone she can trust, someone like sexy Detective Mark Sutton ….
Mark has seen enoughtoo muchto assume that Annie’s story is a dead end. It turns out that her family is hiding some killer secrets. A long time ago, Annie was just an innocent little girl who saw something she shouldn’t. Now she’s a target, and Mark’s running out of time to protect the woman he’s starting to fall for. But how does Mark face off against a murderer who just may be someone Annie loves?
Don’t Breathe A Word: 
Police detective Juan Acosta doesn’t only carry scars on the outside. He’s filled with guilt and anger ever since his undercover job led to the murder of those he loved the most. Now he’s living for one thing: revenge. That is, until Juan meets his beautiful new neighbor.
Vicki Holloway prides herself on being capable and independent, but her life is turned upside down when her sister Sara is killed by an abusive ex. Fearing for the safety of her niece, Vicki and the little girl go into hiding…resurfacing in Texas with new identities.
Juan finds his once-frozen heart thawing around Vicki, but he knows she’s hiding something. Juan needs answers, but Vicki isn’t talking. She has to keep her secrets if she wants to keep Bell safe, which means resisting her growing feelings for the sexy, scarred man next door. But when Juan’s quest for justice brings danger to her door, divulging the truth might be the only thing that keeps her alive.

 

My rating:  1.75 & 3.0  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 had requested these because the plots sounded really interesting and I liked the availability of getting them both together. I definitely liked the second novel better. So going in order, the first book I didn’t love. For a book written in 2018 it seemed like it was written in 1990 – it felt a little outdated. The heroine has sex with the hero on the first date and then follows up with that by calling herself a slut multiple times, which I was just not ok with. She also makes some pretty  And the hero was a pretty intense alcoholic and just could not get his stuff together. Plus the mystery I found to be kind of flat, they were making a big deal out of it but then it turned out to not be that much of a thing. Although I was interested in reading until the end to find out what happened, I found the book to be dry and there were some really problematic pieces to it. Overall I did not really enjoy this one too much.

The second book I liked a lot better. The romance development between the characters felt a little rushed / underdeveloped but I liked the mystery plot line a lot better. I still felt like it was a little outdated for how recently it was published but there wasn’t as much sex-shaming as there was in the first book. The villain in this book was intensely villainous – he was a bad freaking dude and was definitely scary. The hero and heroine both had areas that I thought they could have been developed further. The climactic scene also went by really quickly – I thought it could have been drawn out a bit more. Overall though I liked this one better than the first in the series and I wanted to keep reading it.

Link to author website

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

2019 Book #57 – To the Stars and Back by Camilla Isley

51hTVVGAldLTitle: To the Stars and Back
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 8/9/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: June 14, 2019
Pages in book: 231
Stand alone or series: #4 in the First Comes Love series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/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:

When Hollywood’s sexiest bachelor meets the girl next door their relationship doesn’t follow the script…

On-screen, Christian Slade is America’s favorite heartthrob. Off-screen, letting romance into his life isn’t as easy. The women he dates all seem to want a piece of his glamorous life rather than his heart, and trust doesn’t come easy for him.

Then along comes Lana. A beautiful rocket scientist who’s also sweet, smart, sexy, and has absolutely no idea who he is. But what will happen when she finds out?

Will their worlds prove too far apart or could love really be like in the movies?

My rating: 3.75 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 finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Author I’ve Read before” since I’ve read a number of books by this author before.

So far I’ve read the other 3 books in this series and I have to say overall this is just a great series. The books are laugh out loud funny and short enough to hold your interest but long enough to still have a well developed story line. If you’re looking for a fairly quick but still engaging and fun read, these are the books for you! This was a cute story, and I liked so many of the details that were included within the story. I loved all the science facts included and how smart Lana was. Even better was how passionate she was about teaching and about helping others – it was positively endearing. And I also loved her cats, they sounded so cute! Christian was an ok hero for me but I couldn’t really connect with him, he felt a little two-dimensional to me even towards the end. I still really enjoyed the book though and I’d recommend both it and the other books in the series!

Link to author website

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

2019 Book #21 – This Scot of Mine by Sophie Jordan

51UzbqNHyiL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_Title: This Scot of Mine
Author: Sophie Jordan
Date finished: 3/27/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: March 12 2019
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #4 in The Rogue Files 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:

A daring deception…

Desperate to escape her vile fiancé, Lady Clara devises a bold lie—that she’s pregnant with another man’s child. With her reputation in tatters, Clara flees to Scotland to live out her days in disgrace, resigned to her fate as a spinster…until she claps eyes on the powerful and wickedly handsome Laird Hunt MacLarin.

She’s the answer to his curse…

Laird of an ancient clan, Hunt needs an heir, but he comes from a long line of men cursed to die before the birth of their firstborn. When the Duke of Autenberry approaches him with a proposition—marry my ruined sister—it seems the perfect solution. Even better, the defiant lass stirs him to his very soul.

No escaping the truth…

Except marriage cannot set them free. No matter how much Hunt desires her. No matter how much Clara burns for him. Soon she is falling for her husband, but is love enough to end the curse? Or is the tragic history of the MacLarin Clan doomed to repeat itself?

My rating:  3.75 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 liked this book pretty well. The plot was kind of interesting, though it didn’t click quite right with me for some reason. I felt the potential there but I couldn’t get into it all the way, I’m not sure if it is just because I am super busy at work right now and therefore don’t have much time to focus on reading. I did get into the story at one point and stayed up way too late reading. And gosh there were some steamy scenes in this book, great chemistry between the main characters! Clara was a little naive for me I thought though. Even with how strong she was and how fierce she could be at times, she was too timid for me at other points. And I think maybe a lot of my issues stem from how underhanded everyone was with lying to Hunt and also how everyone completely disregarded something he believed in. Whether they believed in the curse or not, he believed in it and to me that’s what should matter. Anyways, overall I did enjoy the book and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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