2021 Book #68 – Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Title: Love and Ruin
Author: Paula McLain
Date finished: 8/13/21
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Pages in book: 432
Stand alone or series: Sequel to The Paris Wife (since both are different periods of Ernest Hemingway’s life) but can be read as a stand alone easily
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 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict. It’s her chance to prove herself a worthy journalist in a field dominated by men. There she also finds herself unexpectedly—and unwillingly—falling in love with Ernest Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.

On the eve of World War II, and set against the turbulent backdrops of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must forge a path as her own woman and writer.

Heralded by Ann Patchett as “the new star of historical fiction,” Paula McLain brings Gellhorn’s story richly to life and captures her as a heroine for the ages: a woman who will risk absolutely everything to find her own voice.

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 have read other books by this author in the past and have enjoyed some and not really enjoyed others. I wasn’t expecting to love this book but I honestly couldn’t put it down. I thought it was astounding how the author took real historical figures and certain plot points of their actual lives and created flesh and blood characters that leapt off the pages. The reader can see the smoke from the bombings and hear the sounds of the shelling – it feels as if we’re right alongside the characters in the novel living on the front lines of war. The book was a little wordier than I usually enjoy but in this case it only added to the reader’s ability to experience exactly what Marty (and in certain cases Ernest) are feeling and seeing. Marty was an immensely interesting character – her bravery and determination to be right on the front lines reporting the war efforts was amazingly admirable and I loved reading about her. And while it was interesting to read about the development and ultimate deterioration of Marty and Ernest’s relationship, it was really Marty’s journey to find and fight for herself that I couldn’t tear myself away from. I’d definitely recommend this one, especially to historical fiction fans! It was a great read.

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

2021 Book #55 – Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

Title: Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay
Author: Jill Mansell
Date finished: 7/21/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Pages in book: 370
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:

When Clemency meets the brilliant Sam Adams, she could just about fall in love with him—if he weren’t married. Three years later, Clemency has settled into her cozy home village of Cornwall to focus on her career. Everything is smooth sailing until Sam upends her entire life…by showing up as her stepsister’s boyfriend.

Caught in the midst of a love triangle, Clemency has to pretend she’s never met Sam…and choose between the love of her life and the bond of sisterhood.

My rating:  2.25 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 had signed up to review this book awhile ago and had some time available while I was in the hospital recently to catch up on a little reading. I can’t say that I liked this book – there were a few things I enjoyed while reading it but overall there was a lot that I didn’t love. The writing felt a tad two-dimensional to me. The characters all felt like exaggerated versions of themselves and their conversations and internal monologues felt very cliched. I didn’t love Clemency’s character either, her sunny attitude got to e a bit much and she just felt very under developed. And the start of the book where she’s being super chatty with Sam on the plane was just jarring to me – as an introvert that’s pretty much my worst nightmare is a stranger trying to talk to me. So just from the start of the book I felt like maybe this one wasn’t for me. There were a number of subplots going on in this book, which in some ways helped to move the story along faster, but also felt like a bit much for one novel. So overall this wasn’t my favorite book but it was a good enough novel and if you like light contemporary romances with no sex scenes then I would give this one a try.

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

2021 Book #51 – A Duke in Time by Janna MacGregor

Title: A Duke in Time
Author: Janna MacGregor
Date finished: 7/1/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Pages in book: 380
Stand alone or series: The Widow Rules series Book #1
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 Duke in Time is the first book in a three-story arc that will have you rooting for leading heroines, searching for lost dowries, and falling for swoon-worthy heroes.

Katherine Vareck is in for the shock of her life when she learns upon her husband Meri’s accidental death that he had married two other women. Her entire business, along with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a royal supplier, is everything she’s been working for and now could be destroyed if word leaks about the three wives.

Meri’s far more upstanding brother, Christian, Duke of Randford has no earthly clue how to be of assistance. He spent the better part of his adult years avoiding Meri and the rest of his good-for-nothing family, so to be dragged back into the fold is…problematic. Even more so is the intrepid and beautiful Katherine, whom he cannot be falling for because she’s Meri’s widow. Or can he?

With a textile business to run and a strong friendship forming with Meri’s two other wives, Katherine doesn’t have time for much else. But there’s something about the warm, but compellingly taciturn Christian that draws her to him. When an opportunity to partner in a business venture brings them even closer, they’ll have to face their pasts if they want to share each other’s hearts and futures.

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 have read other books by this author in the past and have enjoyed them so I wanted to try this first in a new series. I’m not sure if it’s just timing in terms of where I was in life when reading this book (distracted, stressed, cranky) but I found some pieces of the book / plot to be somewhat annoying. Kat was pretty dramatic about everything and (while I did think it was admirable that she wanted to handle things on her own) I didn’t like that she just left town without telling Christian what was going on. Christian also was a somewhat “flowery” character for me – he was really in touch with his emotions and waxed poetic a good amount about his love for Kat. It was obviously romantic but it also got to be a bit corny for me. I did really enjoy the little sisterhood created between Kat and the other wives – I thought that was cute. I’m somewhat interested to read the stories of the two other wives (I’m assuming those’ll be the next books in the series) but I am not sure if I’ll end up reading those or not. Overall this was a good book but definitely not one of my favorites.

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

2020 Book #43 – Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Title: Neon Gods
Author: Katee Robert
Date finished: 6/1/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Pages in book: 318
Stand alone or series: Dark Olympus series book #1
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:

He was supposed to be a myth.
But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell…he was, quite simply, mine.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Hades and Persephone that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.

With no options left, Persephone flees to the forbidden undercity and makes a devil’s bargain with a man she once believed a myth…a man who awakens her to a world she never knew existed.

Hades has spent his life in the shadows, and he has no intention of stepping into the light. But when he finds that Persephone can offer a little slice of the revenge he’s spent years craving, it’s all the excuse he needs to help her—for a price. Yet every breathless night spent tangled together has given Hades a taste for Persephone, and he’ll go to war with Olympus itself to keep her close…

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 heard a lot about this author from a couple of the podcasts that I listen to so I was excited to get the chance to read this new release. And not only that but it features stories around modern day Greek gods – which certainly peaks my interest. I thought the plot line was really interesting, especially with it being based on the various gods and their power struggles. The author did a good job of world building without making it overly complicated. I found it interesting that Amazon categorized this one as erotic fantasy – it was certainly steam but there was so much else going on in the book beyond the sex journey of the characters that I wouldn’t necessarily agree on it being in the erotica category. While I found the plot interesting, there were a few pieces of it that didn’t sit quite right with me. Specifically some pieces of the sexual evolution of the characters, it felt weird to have that as almost a sub plot while there was already so much else going on. And I thought it was weird that there was so much of the lore of Greek gods in there but no one expected that Hades and Persephone might end up together. That one I know I’m just reading too much into it but I couldn’t get it to make sense to me. I liked the book a lot and would recommend it, but I think there was some potential for it to be better and it just fell a tad short in certain areas for me personally.

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

2021 Book #42 – Heartbreak for Hire by Sonia Hartl

Title: Heartbreak for Hire
Author: Sonia Hartl
Date finished: 5/30/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Pages in book: 320
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 smart, sexy, and witty romantic comedy—perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne—about a twentysomething who lives out every woman’s fantasy: getting paid to give men who do us wrong a taste of their own medicine. But when a previous target unexpectedly shows up at her office, she’s forced to rethink her life as a professional heartbreaker.

Brinkley Saunders has a secret.

To everyone in the academic world she left behind, she lost it all when she dropped out of grad school. Once a rising star following in her mother’s footsteps, she’s now an administrative assistant at an insurance agency—or so they think.

In reality, Brinkley works at Heartbreak for Hire, a secret service that specializes in revenge for jilted lovers, frenemies, and long-suffering coworkers with a little cash to spare and a man who needs to be taken down a notch. It might not be as prestigious as academia, but it helps Brinkley save for her dream of opening an art gallery and lets her exorcise a few demons, all while helping to empower women.

But when her boss announces she’s hiring male heartbreakers for the first time, Brinkley’s no longer so sure she’s doing the right thing—especially when her new coworker turns out to be a target she was paid to take down. Though Mark spends his days struggling up the academic ladder, he seems to be the opposite of a backstabbing adjunct: a nerd at heart in criminally sexy sweater vests who’s attentive both in and out of the bedroom. But as Brinkley finds it increasingly more difficult to focus on anything but Mark, she soon realizes that like herself, people aren’t always who they appear to be.

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 was really interested by the premise behind this novel and was excited to get the chance to read it. It’s coming out in a couple months but I am not sure on my availability for posting this July so I figured I’d just read and post it a little early. The plot line on this was was different than the other romances I’ve read of late and it was a refreshing change of pace. Brinkley’s profession is really what made this book so interesting to me. I felt terrible that she got screwed over so much but I loved how she stood up for herself in the end. Her “meet-cute” with Mark was really unusual too and it was just intriguing to me to see such a different plot line. I’d be interested to hear stories about the other H4H ladies falling in love too and their journeys. I’m not sure if Hartl is planning to do a series of sorts but I hope so! Overall this was an interesting and different book and was also a great romantic story. I would recommend it to other readers!

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

2021 Book #37 – The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Title: The Soulmate Equation
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 5/9/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 18, 2021
Pages in book: 365
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:

Single mom Jessica Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: one of GeneticAlly’s founders, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond Match” that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated

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 these authors a ton and they always publish books that I enjoy so much. And this was another great book of theirs! I thought this book was a great strangers/dislike to falling in love and it was really well done. The way that the relationship developed between River and Jess was immensely heart warming and I really loved both their interactions with Juno. It was enchanting to see their love story unfolding. Even more, it was so interesting to see Jess’s journey to accepting help from her loved ones and also to accepting herself. River was so painfully shy and earnest, I loved his character. Honestly all the characters were quirky and hilarious – Fizzy especially and I loved that she was a romance author. I also loved that the story featured Jess cutting off a toxic relationship with a relative. I think too often books manage to turn things around and things magically work out somehow. But sometimes a toxic relationship is just that and needs to end. I thought it was a really brave thing to do. Overall I thought it was a great love story and I really enjoyed it!

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

2021 Book #32 – How To Train Your Earl by Amelia Grey

Title: How To Train Your Earl
Author: Amelia Grey
Date finished: 4/28/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: First Comes Love series #3
Where I got the book from: Publisher / NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher / 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 roguish earl must fight using his honor and not his sword to win his lady’s hand in How To Train Your Earl, the third book in the First Comes Love trilogy from bestseller Amelia Grey.

Brina Feld has settled into a life devoted to helping others since the sinking of the Salty Dove left her widowed. She has no need for a man in her contented life. But when the notorious and handsome Lord Blacknight returns and awakens her desires, her peace and serenity vanish. If she agrees to an alliance with him, she knows she will have to battle her heart to keep from being snared under his spell.

Zane, the Earl of Blacknight, was never supposed to inherit the earldom, so he didn’t much care to lead a respectable life before then. Fistfights, card games, and drinking are the order of the day. Now he’s determined to change his rakish ways and he knows the proper lady who can help him. There’s just one problem: He’s already bet he’ll win her hand before the Season is over. With her resolve to out-scheme him, how can he show her that his love is true?

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 had read the first book in this series and when I saw this one I thought it sounded interesting. And I liked it but I can’t say that I loved it. It was a solid romance novel but there were parts that I didn’t care for personally. I thought Zane’s family was a little overly involved and not always very nice to him, of course he had not proven to be a very reliable fellow through his youth. Also I didn’t love that Brina was so closed-minded even though she had strong feelings for Zane. And I especially didn’t like that she wouldn’t listen to Zane at the climax of the story – I know it was necessary for the plot but it was so frustrating. Zane spends all this time proving to her how devoted he was and how much he cared about her, and she wouldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt and at least listen to what he had to say. It all worked out fine in the end but some parts I found frustrating. So overall I liked the book but I can’t say that I loved it.

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

A look into the different Romance Genres

I started reading romance when I was 12 or 13 years old. I was an avid reader prior to (and after) that and a regular library patron, and when I found the romance paperback section it was a whole new world that opened for me. The young adult books that I had read before – I was always drawn to any books that included a romance sub-plot or a love story. Finding out there were books based entirely around the romance piece was eye opening. I’ve read a lot of different types of fiction over the years, both before and after I discovered romance. But I am drawn back to romance novels time and time again because I love that the novels always have a happy ending, and that they’re always bringing a message of hope for those that are searching for true love. The stories, even though they’re not always realistic, give readers examples of true love and happiness. I think they also have some great lessons hidden in their plots – your partner should always treat you with kindness and respect being the foremost, but there are so many others that delve into other types relationships as part of their sub-plots, including familial relationships and friendships.

Romance is one of the highest-selling genres in the book industry, with sales consistently exceeding $1billion per year. It’s evident from the sales that romance novels are a wide-spread phenomenon that appeals to many groups of people. Even with that though, there is a stigma attached to the genre that has it labeled as “trashy”, “smut”, or “garbage.” There’s an assumption by many other readers that anyone who enjoys the romance genre is a “lesser-class” of reader. But I have found through my experience over the last few years that romance readers are some of the best community of people. They’re so supportive of new authors, of other readers, and of the overall fan base. And they are all such avid readers! These romance novels get devoured by readers, and they’re still always looking for the next great read. And the demand has started to make it’s way onto the big screen, with productions like The Bridgertons being such a huge success, as well as the increase in productions on upcoming releases, like The Hating Game and The Kiss Quotient.

Over the years I’ve read many romance novels across all different types of genres, and while there are some I like more than others, I like that the romance genre has something for everyone in the different types of novels that are produced. Even as a person changes through their different life stages and goes through different phases over time, there are so many choices that the romance genre can grow and change with the reader. So I thought for this month I’d do a feature post about the different genres and tropes and everything romance! I’ve been looking for a good poster that really illustrates the different branches of the romance tree. I haven’t found a good example yet, though there are some good resources online to learn more about the different genres.

To start with – romance is really a wide-spread genre that covers many different age groups and interests. Just like any other genre there are many different topics that can be covered and different fan groups to be a part of. Below is a picture of different genres under the general fiction umbrella, including the romance genre and examples of some of the subgenres:

Harlequin has some great guides of the subgenres with lots of examples of reads that you can pick up should there be a particular interest that catches your eye. RWA also has a great listing which would be a handy reference for those looking for additional information on both subgenres and some stats on the romance genre as a whole.

Romance as a genre appeals to multiple age groups, people are drawn to love stories no matter what their age is. The main age groups that books can fall into with romance included would be young adult, new age, and adult. New Age is a newer subgenre that has gained in popularity in the last few years I think that really focuses on adults in more of a college age group. Young adult usually is around 15 to 18 or 19, I’d say New Age is around 19 to 24ish, and then everything over that really is the adult group.

Beyond age groups, there are many subgenres of topics. Some tend to fall into a timeline in terms of years. I’ll get into some of the subgenres and even some specific tropes. There’s another romance blog that did a post on this topic also – All the Kissing did a post on the 7 Different Types of Romance Subgenres. They did a great summary so I’d recommend reading their post also if you’re interested in the topic. Beyond the types of subgenres too there’s stand alone novels and then there’s category romances. Harlequin is always the first thing I think of when it comes to category romance as they have different title series including Desire, Inspiration, Intrigue, etc that give the reader exactly what they’re looking for.

The subgenres that I consider to be the main ones are Contemporary, Historical, Erotic, Religious/Inspirational, Romantic Suspense, and Paranormal. These are fairly general labels for subgenres and really are somewhat subjective. As an example, I’ve heard many times on the Fated Mates podcast a discussion around whether or not Priest by Sierra Simone is really an inspirational novel because of the role that God plays in the book. There’s not necessary one right answer – some love the book and could agree with the assessment that it’s an inspirational novel, some really don’t like the novel and call it blasphemy. But the point is – there’s something for everyone! There are more beyond this too – either with less popular subgenres or kind of hybrids: chick-lit and gothic being two that I can think of.

I’ve included a list below with the 4 main subgenres that I tend to read and what I think are some great recommendation / examples for each:

Under these subgenres there even more layers, some having more defined sublayers than others. Historical romance for example, has multiple subgenres for different time periods – Regency during 1811-1820(ish), Gilded Age, Vikings/early Middle Ages, etc. Paranormal romance can delve into different subtopics: aliens, vampire, time travel, ghosts, etc. Inspirational separates into some of the different religious sects. I’ve found that with contemporary romance there aren’t necessarily too many sublayers, but within this subgenre there are many different tropes that can be featured.

Beyond the subgenres and their multiple subtopics beyond that, there’s also different tropes. Tropes can present themselves in any of the genres, although some are more popular in certain niches than others. Some examples include: forced proximity, arranged marriages, enemies to lovers, secret baby, kidnapping, first love, forbidden love, military, damsel in distress, brooding hero, and so so many more. This article has a list of over 100 romance tropes and I’m sure they haven’t even covered everything that’s out there.

And that’s some information for my readers out there on the romance genre! I’d love to be able to find an aesthetically pleasing poster that focuses on the Romance fiction genre as a whole, mapping out all the subgenres and the branches under the romance umbrella. I haven’t found one yet but if anyone knows of a good one, please let me know!

Happy reading everyone!!

Twin Games in Music City BLOG TOUR!!

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Harlequin is featuring their category romance in an April 2021 series blog tour! Twin Games in Music City was released April 1, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! I recently read this novel and I enjoyed it! You can see my review of the book here. See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt: 

SUMMARY

It’s a twin swap, Nashville-style, in the launch of the Dynasties: Beaumont Bay series from USA TODAY bestselling author Jules Bennett!

Country singer Hannah Banks wants what she shouldn’t have.

The owner of her new label—the man in charge of her career—is way too hot. So hot he’s all she can think about… So to put distance between them, she poses as her quieter twin sister. That should keep temptation away…

Except Will Sutherland doesn’t play games. He wants the real Hannah—in his studio and in his bed—as long as what’s between them stays their secret. But when an old rival uncovers the truth, Will must choose between playing the press or playing for keeps…

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Jules Bennett has penned more than 50 novels during her short career. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, has two active girls, and is a former salon owner. Jules can be found on Twitter, Facebook (Fan Page), and her website julesbennett.com. She holds contests via these three outlets with each release and loves to hear from readers!

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BUY IT HERE!

EXCERPT

9781335232854Will Sutherland settled into the corner leather booth and watched as Hallie Banks wound her way through the tables at Rise and Grind.

This little meeting shouldn’t already have him irritated, but it did. Will didn’t want to meet with Hallie—he wanted to meet with her twin sister, Han- nah.

But obviously, Hannah Banks, country superstar and America’s sweetheart, couldn’t be bothered with such mundane things as setting up her recording schedule for the next album or going over the tour dates and venues.

He’d only met her a handful of times in passing at various events within the industry. Will had al- ways found her attractive; he’d have to be dead not to. Hannah Banks could make any man do a double take and he was no different.

As far as knowing her personally, he couldn’t re- ally say much, but this first official meeting wasn’t going as planned.

Her selfish way of thinking might have worked for her old record label, but now that she’d signed with Elite, she was going to have to accept the very real fact that she wasn’t in charge. He was.

Hallie offered a soft smile and reached to shake his hand. “Good morning. Have you been waiting long?”

Will came to his feet and gripped her hand, sur- prised by how soft and delicate she seemed. He didn’t recall noticing Hallie’s hands before…and he shouldn’t be noticing them now.

He’d already found himself fantasizing about Hallie’s sister, Hannah. The last thing he needed was an attraction to twins. That wouldn’t be good for business, and being attracted to either of them didn’t fit his professional style.

Hallie was more conservative in her wardrobe than her usual blinged-out sister. Perhaps that’s because Hallie was the manager and worked behind the scenes in a quieter, calmer setting. Whereas Hannah was in-your-face, sparkly, over-the-top…and not at all the type of woman he should have been drawn to. Yet, he found himself noticing his new star more and more.

He needed to get his thoughts under control.

“I just got here myself.” He gestured to the seat across from him. “Please, sit.”

She put her bag in the vacant seat and settled into the chair with curved arms. A barista came right over to take their orders before leaving them alone again.

“So where did you say Hannah was and why couldn’t she make it today?” he asked, hoping to get a direct answer this time.

Hallie blinked up at him. “Oh, I didn’t say. She just asked me to meet you. After we talk, I will go over the schedule with her. She did request that she record in her home studio, so that was the main thing I’m supposed to tell you.”

Of course. Will shouldn’t have been surprised, though. Since that horrific storm had swept through Beaumont Bay only a few weeks ago, the town was still trying to recover. It was all hands on deck in this Nashville bedroom community to rebuild the multimillion-dollar homes that had taken a hit and the few businesses that had been affected.

The Bay wouldn’t stay down long. This lakeside community was where Nashville came to play, where all the deals were done, where the country music elite hid their juiciest secrets. And it was a town that legendary music producer Mags Dumond pretty much owned…or thought she did.

He’d give Mags her due. She’d built up Beaumont Bay with her late husband and former mayor. It had been her foresight—and her insistence on hosting all her parties here over the decades—that had made a home, or second home, in the Bay a necessity for anyone who was anyone in Nashville.

Will’s family had been born here, and not to a country music bloodline. Travis and Dana Sutherland were in the real estate industry and owned nearly everything…unless Mags had claim on it.

But the Sutherland brothers had made a name for themselves in the music industry by pulling themselves up by the bootstraps…and staying out of Mags’s way for the most part. The woman had been a thorn in his family’s side for decades, but he refused to think about that now. The next step in building his family’s music empire was his new star, Hannah Banks, and finishing the renovations to the studio that had been damaged.

The reconstruction was taking much too long, although even a one-day delay was too long in this industry. He had music to make and singers relying on him, not to mention the trickle-down effect of the tours that were already being promoted to celebrate albums that were releasing soon.

The whole damn situation was a nightmare and Hannah Banks—the superstar he’d stolen from Mags, whom he needed to make this whole plan a reality—couldn’t find the time for a courtesy, in- person meeting. Sending her sister/manager/twin wasn’t the same.

“I would have to check out Hannah’s recording studio before I could commit to that agreement,” Will informed Hallie. “We are going to have to start the production process next week to keep up with the deadlines. Tell Hannah I’ll be at her house first thing in the morning to check out this recording room of hers.”

Hallie pursed her pale pink lips and shook her head. “Tomorrow morning won’t work.” She pulled out her phone and scrolled, then tapped her finger on the screen. “How about Tuesday at ten?”

Considering this was Friday, there was no way in hell he was waiting until Tuesday. Will pulled in a deep breath and sighed. Was Hallie going to be just as difficult as the country diva? The pout of her lips said yes, and something hard and dark moved inside him.

And that’s when he knew something was off here.

“I’m not sure how things went when she worked for Mags at Cheating Hearts, but now that she’s with Elite, I run the schedule and say when things are going to get done.”

Hallie’s eyes narrowed. “Is that right? Well, maybe I should’ve just stayed with Cheating Hearts.” Will inched forward, resting his hands on the table. “Hannah? Are you kidding me?”

She cursed beneath her breath and Will gritted his teeth. He’d known something felt off, but he’d never thought for a second his newest artist would play such a childish game as to pretend to be her twin. No way in hell would he fall for this swapped-twin trap. Hannah Banks was about to learn who was in charge real quick.

***

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2021 Book #27 – Twin Games in Music City by Jules Bennett

Title: Twin Games in Music City
Author: Jules Bennett
Date finished: 4/10/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
Publication Date: April 1, 2021
Pages in book: 224
Stand alone or series: Dynasties: Beaumont Bay series #1
Where I got the book from: Publisher / NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher / 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:

It’s a twin swap, Nashville-style, in the launch of the Dynasties: Beaumont Bay series from USA TODAY bestselling author Jules Bennett!

Country singer Hannah Banks wants what she shouldn’t have.

The owner of her new label—the man in charge of her career—is way too hot. So hot he’s all she can think about… So to put distance between them, she poses as her quieter twin sister. That should keep temptation away…

Except Will Sutherland doesn’t play games. He wants the real Hannah—in his studio and in his bed—as long as what’s between them stays their secret. But when an old rival uncovers the truth, Will must choose between playing the press or playing for keeps…

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 was interested in the description of this book and it’s been awhile since I’ve read a Harlequin category romance so this seemed like a good one to fit in! The book started out fairly strong for me – I thought Hannah and Will’s chemistry and the build up of the tension between them was done really well. Once they got together it felt like it fizzled a little – their relationship just felt under-developed to me. But Hannah was such a sweet character, and Will was the ideal brooding, serious hero, that I really liked reading their story. . The ending just felt a bit rushed for me compared to the build up. I’m not sure if it’s just because there is going to be more details in the next books in the series but I found myself disappointed in the results of the Mag situation. There wasn’t any confrontation and I thought there should have been more of a blow dealt to her. There were some definite pros and cons to this book but overall I enjoyed it!

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