2021 Book #14 – Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Title: Love at First
Author: Kate Clayborn
Date finished: 2/20/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Pages in book: 298
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:

A sparkling and tender novel from the acclaimed author of Love Lettering, full of bickering neighbors, surprise reunions, and the mysterious power of love that fans of Christina Lauren, Sarah Hogle, and Emily Henry will adore.
 
Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .
 
No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .

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’ve come to really enjoy this author’s books lately. They are always so full of the emotional and over the top romance that really is one of the reasons I’m drawn to romance novels in the first place. Readers will be swept up by the emotions in this story too – as both Will and Nora have their own emotional baggage to deal with outside of the struggle that is falling in love. Some parts of the overall premise in this book didn’t work for me on a personal level just because of where I am in life. Nora is having trouble letting go of the way things were and making any changes at all to her apartment complex or getting rid of anything from her grandmother’s apartment that was left to her. And I’m at a point where I’m trying so hard to shed things and downsize what we need to hold onto that the idea of Nora’s struggle didn’t make logical sense to me. This was a personal thing though and honestly shouldn’t take away from anyone else’s enjoyment of the book. It was very well written and was so very romantic. Lots of tension leading up to Will and Nora finally admitting they have feelings for each other. And lots of quirky / funny side characters that really made the book so charming and enjoyable! I did really like this book and I’d definitely recommend it!

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

2020 Book #12 – Hit Me With Your Best Scot by Suzanne Enoch

Title: Hit Me With Your Best Scot
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Date finished: 2/11/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Wild Wicked Highlanders series #3
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:

Coll MacTaggert, Viscount Glendarril, is a big, brawny Highlander who doesn’t like being told what to do—not even by his exasperated English mother who is determined to see her eldest son wedded and bedded. However, when he comes to the rescue of an irresistibly beautiful woman, Coll discovers that he may have found his perfect match…

The challenge isn’t that Persephone Jones is famous, wealthy, independent, and smarter than anyone he knows. The problem is that she isn’t interested in marrying any man—especially not a hot-headed Scot—even if he is the only man who seems to understand who she really is even when she’s not sure herself. When Coll learns that Persephone is actually a lady-in-hiding and someone is willing to kill her for what she stands to inherit…Well, Coll has never been one to turn down a fight. When hearts are involved, nothing comes between a Highlander and his lady.

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’ve read the other books in this series so far and I was really interested to see how the series would conclude. Coll’s character through the beginning of the series was the most stubborn and I couldn’t imagine what kind of lady he would find that would really suit him. An actress was the perfect fit though and I loved the Persephone matched him so well. That being said (**spoiler alert**) I did wish that she was only an actress and not also a lady in disguise. I know that may have been less than historically accurate but I think it would’ve been a better fit for Coll’s character and his obstinance. And honestly after seeing the struggle that Anthony and his actress went through on the Bridgerton show, it would’ve been nice to see an actress win one. But still the story was still nice and I enjoyed the romance of it. The family aspect of it was still a little bit of a struggle for me (as it was in the previous books) since I don’t love what the mother did, leaving her sons and taking the daughter with her and then also forcing them all to play her games later in life. I know we learn in this book that she had written letters but still you don’t wait 17 years for your kid to respond to a letter – you go and see your kids. I struggled with that piece a bit. Overall the book was still really good though – I enjoyed Coll very much as a character and his devotion to Persephone. I didn’t love that he immediately started calling her Temperance as soon as he found out her secret. I felt like it would’ve been nicer to have him keep calling her Persie. It was still a really good story and a cute romance.

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

2021 Book #7 – Highland Treasure by Lynsay Sands

Title: Highland Treasure
Author: Lynsay Sands
Date finished: 1/15/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 26, 2021
Pages in book: 366
Stand alone or series: #9 in the Highland Brides series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and 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 Buchanan brother finds a love to treasure in this scintillating historical romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…

After escaping from the English soldiers who attacked her home and imprisoned her in a dungeon, Lady Elysande de Valance is grateful for the rugged Scots who are escorting her to safety in the Highlands. Even with danger dogging their every step, she hadn’t expected to welcome the strong comforting embrace of their leader, Rory Buchanan. They say he’s a healer, but she finds the heat of his touch does so much more…

Let his brothers get married—Rory is too busy tending to the sick to be bothered with wooing a bride. But when he is tasked with accompanying a family friend’s “treasure” to the Highlands, he is surprised to learn the treasure is a beautiful woman on the run—and even more surprised to discover bruises hidden by her veil. Rory makes it his mission to tend to her injuries and protect her, but the thought of losing her makes him realize that perhaps it is his heart that is most in need of healing…

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.

This book really kicked off with an intense start. Intensely tragic obviously but it also really captivates the reader right from the beginning and really makes the reader want to see how Elysande is able to survive this. There was a lot of set up involved in her story though and it almost took some away from the romance because we don’t even get to the romantic side of things until like half way the book. Which is interesting because the development of the story started out really strong for me in the first half but then it got a little slow for me and somewhat repetitive. I think it was just that there was so much detail included that it started to feel slow at some points just with the amount of details. Overall though it was a good book. I didn’t want to put it down as I was really intrigued by the plot – just not the romance plot.

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

2021 Book #6 – The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

Title: The Perfect Wife
Author: JP Delaney
Date finished: 1/12/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 413
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:

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins to question her husband’s motives—and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . . .

THE PERFECT WIFE

My rating:  3.5 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’ve enjoyed other books that I’ve read by Delaney and was intrigued to read this one too. It turned out to be not quite what I expected but was very interesting. The main narrator is an artificial intelligence robot and it was really compelling how human like her character and her voice was even though she was a robot. There was a weird ending though that I didn’t expect and that I didn’t quite follow how it came about. There were some good twists and turns along the way and the book took an interesting psychological look at Tim’s obsession with women. Overall this was a really engaging read and I enjoyed it – I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to find out what happened. It was a good book but some of the ending didn’t click for me so I wouldn’t say I thought it was great. I still think it’s worth a read though!

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

2021 Book #4 – In the Garden of Spite by Camille Bruce

Title: In the Garden of Spite
Author: Camille Bruce
Date finished: 1/4/21
Genre: Historical fiction, thriller
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Pages in book: 473
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:

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.

The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

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.

This book is a little outside of my normal wheel house but it sounded too interesting to pass up! Belle was a fascinating character and I loved this author’s interpretation of her as a person. Her back story was heart-breaking and captivating – what happened to her when she was young defined her in ways that she didn’t even understand. Even as terrible as she was, I weirdly found myself empathizing with her after the ordeal she went through. This book was a little darker than ones I usually read though, and she killed a ton of people. Once we got towards the end of the book I was pretty ready for things to wrap up but overall the book was one I really enjoyed. It was great to read about a famous female serial killer from the Midwest and learn more about that piece of history, even if some pieces of the book were fictionalized. It was an interesting read and I’d recommend it!

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

2020 Book #84 – A Season of You by Emma Douglas

Title: A Season of You
Author: Emma Douglas
Date finished: 11/15/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Cloud Bay 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:

In A Season of You by Emma Douglas, it’s Christmastime in the quaint island town of Cloud Bay, where love is always in season…

Will Fraser has believed in love at first sight since the day he first laid eyes on Mina Harper five years ago. There was only one problem: She was happily married. Then, when Mina’s husband was killed by a drunk driver, Will figured she’d want nothing to do with a guy who owns a whiskey distillery. So he’s kept his feelings locked away, knowing that not even a Christmas miracle would be enough to melt Mina’s heart. . .

Mina believes her days of true love are behind her. Since losing her husband she’s kept to herself, content to do her own painting and stay out of the limelight that comes with her famous family. But when, after a freak accident, Will comes to her rescue, Mina can’t quite get him out of her mind. As curiosity turns into a fling during Cloud Bay’s first Christmas Festival, she finds it harder to convince herself that her feelings for Will are just mistletoe-inspired. Could Mina be ready to lay the past to rest and finally admit that what she really wants for Christmas—and forever—is Will?

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 really loved the cover on this book – I should’ve realized it was centered around Christmas but I didn’t til I was already into the book. It was a great book to start getting me into the festive spirit with the holidays coming up! The Christmas contests that they participated in were super fun sounding. The characters in this book were good, Mina was a little self-destructive for me and Will definitely set himself up for failure with putting a time limit on the relationship, but they had a sweet enough romance. I think one of my favorite parts of the book was when Angie got her just desserts and got in trouble with her Dad because she was being a big big butt head. The book overall was sweet if a little cheesy for me. There was a good build up of tension but I had trouble getting into the story. I did love the Christmas festivities piece of it though! Good seasonal read.

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

2020 Book #82 – One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase

Title: One Night at the Lake
Author: Bethany Chase
Date finished: 11/9/20
Genre: Women’s fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Pages in book: 289
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:

A tragedy on a hot summer night at a lake house forever alters the lives of two best friends—and the man they both love. But the truth isn’t as simple as it appears in this intricate novel of love, friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness.

Leah has been waiting for this moment a long time: Her boyfriend, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s home on Seneca Lake for a week of lazy summer bliss, boating, and barbeque. The couple have been together four years, and Leah is convinced that Ollie is finally going to pop the question. Leah can’t wait to share the joyous news with her best friend, June, who is joining them on their getaway, and whose presence will make everything feel more real.

Seven years later, the moment June has been dreading has finally arrived: Her fiancé, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s lake house. But this is not an ordinary visit to an ordinary place; it is a house haunted by June’s long-buried memories of her lost friend Leah—and the connection that appears to remain between Leah and the man for whom June’s love is as deep as her grief.

Alternating between the two women’s vibrant voices, One Night at the Lake is an emotional novel that explores a complex tangle of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal, all driving toward one question: Can love overcome what happened on that hot summer night?

My rating:  4.75 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 another book by this author before and really liked it – and though I am very behind in reading this one, I have been looking forward to getting to it. I really enjoy this author’s books so much, they are so raw with emotions and have such genuinely written relationships in them. I loved the dual points of view in this book – switching back and forth with the past and the present and between Leah and June. I also thought this book dealt so well with grief and how it affects people, especially those who go through traumatic events like those in the book. I was hooked on this book from the start – I didn’t want to put it down and even when I had to I felt like my thoughts were still trapped inside the book. I loved the portrayals of relationships in this book, not only of romantic relationships and the interplay between the participants of those but also within strong friendships, siblings and also child-parent relationships. The characters in this book were very well written, I thought the plot and especially how the plot was approached was super, and I would definitely recommend this one – it was a great read!

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

2020 Book #72 – In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Title: In a Holidaze
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 10/11/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
Pages in book: 334
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:

One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

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 absolutely love these authors – I’ve just loved so many of the books they’ve written in the last few years. And this one was no exception, it was so enjoyable! A mix of the movie Groundhog Day and the Christmas holiday, this book has so much to enjoy. An extremely zany cast of characters really brings this book to life and gives the reader lots of feelings about family traditions and spending holidays with loved ones. There was a lot of emotion evident in the text, which is characteristic of a CL novel, but the characters felt a little immature to me for the ages they actually were (26 and 30). There were so many things I liked about the book but there were some pieces of the plot that just didn’t work for me. The whole “fight” at the end of the book felt a little melodramatic to me. And the “grand romantic gestures” didn’t necessarily seem that grand. But it was still a great read and one that I really enjoyed. The authors really brought to life the heady feeling of new love / new relationships. This was a great read and I would recommend it! Perfect holiday read – and I really hope they make it into a Christmas movie!

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

2020 Book #67 – Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

Title: Tools of Engagement
Author: Tessa Bailey
Date finished: 9/25/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: September 22, 2020
Pages in book: 367
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Hot and Hammered series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and 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:

In Tessa Bailey’s latest rom-com, two enemies team up to flip a house… and the sparks between them might burn the place down or ignite a passion that neither can ignore! 

Hair, makeup, clothing, decor… everything in Bethany Castle’s world is organized, planned, and styled to perfection. Which is why the homes she designs for her family’s real estate business are the most coveted in town. The only thing not perfect? Her track record with men. She’s on a dating hiatus and after helping her friends achieve their dreams, Bethany finally has time to focus on her own: flip a house, from framework to furnishings, all by herself. Except her older brother runs the company and refuses to take her seriously.

When a television producer gets wind of the Castle sibling rivalry, they’re invited on Flip Off, a competition to see who can do the best renovation. Bethany wants bragging rights, but she needs a crew and the only member of her brother’s construction team willing to jump ship is Wes Daniels, the new guy in town. His Texas drawl and handsome face got under Bethany’s skin on day one, but the last thing she needs is some cocky young cowboy in her way.

As the race to renovate heats up, Wes and Bethany are forced into close quarters, trading barbs and biting banter as they remodel the ugliest house on the block. It’s a labor of love, hate, and everything in between, and soon sparks are flying. But Bethany’s perfectly structured life is one kiss away from going up in smoke and she knows falling for a guy like Wes would be a flipping disaster.

My rating:  5.0 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 the second book in this series and really enjoyed it so I was interested in reading this newest release. A 5star review is rare for me but I loved absolutely everything about this book. Bethany & Wes’s chemistry BURNED up the pages of this book. And they’re banter and quick zings at each other were off the charts entertaining. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing the entire time I was reading this book. And Wes struck a personal note for me because, like Bethany, I also deal with a lot of anxiety, and Wes’s calm demeanor and unwavering acceptance were so very appealing to me. I haven’t always related to the “book boyfriend” concept but my gosh Wes was everything that I need! I immediately wanted to start reading this book again the second I finished it, that’s how wonderful it was. I liked the previous book I’d read in the series (Love Her or Lose Her) but I LOVED this book. I am going to be reading more by this author, that is for sure. I would highly recommend everyone go out and read this book, you’ll thank me later!

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

2020 Book #60 – Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

Title: Here to Stay
Author: Adriana Herrera
Date finished: 8/28/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages in book: 393
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:

Starting over is more about who you’re with than where you live…

Julia del Mar Ortiz is not having the best year.

She moved to Dallas with her boyfriend, who ended up ditching her and running back to New York after only a few weeks. Left with a massive—by NYC standards, anyway—apartment and a car lease in the scorching Texas heat, Julia is struggling…except that’s not completely true. Running the charitable foundation of one of the most iconic high fashion department stores in the world is serious #lifegoals.

It’s more than enough to make her want to stick it out down South.

The only monkey wrench in Julia’s plans is the blue-eyed, smart-mouthed consultant the store hired to take them public. Fellow New Yorker Rocco Quinn’s first order of business? Putting Julia’s job on the chopping block.

When Julia is tasked with making sure Rocco sees how valuable the programs she runs are, she’s caught between a rock and a very hard set of abs. Because Rocco Quinn is almost impossible to hate—and even harder to resist.

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 haven’t read anything by this author before, but I’ve heard a lot about her books on a couple of the podcasts I listen to and I’ve been wanting lately to read one. I liked the description on this book a lot and was excited to read it. I liked it a good amount. The hero and heroine were so passionate and lively and it really made for an interesting read. I can see why her books are so popular because even beyond the normal romance plot line there were some important issues that this book dealt with: immigration and emotional abuse being the major ones. I loved hearing about the after-school programs Julia had organized and all the information about her background and her education. She was fiercely successful and it was so great to see such a strong female character in a romance novel. Julia and Rocco also had just the most adorable nicknames and it made me melt. Some of the plot was a tad off-putting for me because the main conflict was somewhat the result of communication issues – which isn’t my favorite. Other than that though it was a really enjoyable read and I’d recommend it!

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