2020 Book #53 – Incognito Ex by Geri Krotow

Title: Incognito Ex
Author: Geri Krotow
Date finished: 7/24/20
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Harlequin Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: August 1, 2020
Pages in book: 288
Stand alone or series: Silver Valley P.D. series #8
Where I got the book from: NetGalley/Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley 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:

When she is targeted by a vicious mobster

A past love is her only hope

When a Russian gangster targets Coral Staufer, she is desperate for help. Coral stumbles across an undercover agent none other than the man she loved and lost, Trevor Stone. Trevor will risk anything to stop her from becoming a mob casualty…even risk his career to protect Coral. But when their past love reignites, their entire mission—and very lives—are at stake.

My rating:  1.5 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. Also be sure to check out my blog tour post on the book!

I thought this book sounded interesting from the plot synopsis so I thought I would try it. And it was a fine book but it really just didn’t end up being for me. I struggle a lot with second chance romances, especially ones where the couple has already been married and divorced. I just find it so sad that they’ve missed out on so much time because they’re so pig-headed and stubborn that they can’t just communicate with each other. Some of the other things I struggled with this book on were also related to that – their chemistry and the build up to their first intimate moment just felt forced to me but I think it was because I was already so against their story line. This book had a wide cast of characters too and I always struggle with jumping into a series, especially in this case with the 8th book. This book really just wasn’t for me personally but it wasn’t a bad book. I really love Harlequin overall and that the different Series categories always deliver exactly what you’re looking for in an easy to read package.

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

2019 Book #78 – Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

51Dy0VzNVYLTitle: Twice in a Blue Moon
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 10/15/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery books
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Pages in book: 366
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:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners and the “delectable, moving” (Entertainment WeeklyMy Favorite Half-Night Stand comes a modern love story about what happens when your first love reenters your life when you least expect it…

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

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. Also I’m reading this book as part of my October Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge, checking of the “a book that kept you up all night” box because I was up until 3am reading this book – I didn’t want to put it down until I found out what happened.

I just love Christina Lauren and their novels. There are a number of them that I was absolutely crazy for, including Love and Other Words and Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. They write so seamlessly together that it’s hard to tell that it is two authors composing a novel together. While this novel was still a great read, it was not my favorite of their novels. I just didn’t get as emotionally attached to these characters as I usually do. I think part of my problem was that the whole book was in Tate’s point of view. And while that was relevant to many pieces of the book, it didn’t really allow us to see enough of Sam’s inner thoughts and how wrecked (I’m hoping) he was when he saw her again as an adult. I can understand why he ended up making the decision he did in London but it still was just awful. Only hearing her point of view made it a little harder to forgive Sam later on. And I also had a little trouble with their later life romance since it wasn’t as well developed as their first relationship. I didn’t feel like I knew Sam enough as an adult. When they did come together the chemistry exploded off the page and just set everything on fire but there wasn’t as much of an emotionally connection. I still really enjoyed it and I didn’t want to put it down, it just wasn’t one of my favorites of theirs. I’d still definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2019 Book #61 – As Good as the First Time by K.M. Jackson

51Te9w5usZLTitle: As Good as the First Time
Author: K.M. Jackson
Date finished: 8/15/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Dafina
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Sugar Lake 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:

True to its name, the small southern town of Sugar Lake is a sweet place to visit—and you might even want to live there . . .

With her big-city career and relationship in sudden free fall, Olivia Gale isn’t sure where she belongs. So when her help is needed at Goode ‘N Sweet, the family bakery in Sugar Lake, she jumps at the chance to indulge her pie-making hobby while getting her life back on track. Olivia’s not looking for any distractions. Even if the boy who once left her without a word is now a grown man with intriguing secrets—and the same tempting hold on her heart . . .

A firefighter and single dad, Clayton Morris is trying hard to fix his past mistakes. He thought he was doing the right thing by leaving Olivia—and now he’s sure he has nothing to offer the accomplished woman she’s become. But ignoring the sparks between them is impossible. And as unexpected surprises and hard choices endanger their fragile reunion, they’ll have to decide which direction to take if they want to find the road back to love . . .

My rating:  2.0 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 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 “Finish 1 2018 release” box since I should’ve read this one last year! And since this is from my prior years backlog, I also read this as part of my Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge: 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR checking off line #11 – a novel that includes a recipe.

I had read a couple chapters of this book in last year’s Buzz Books Romance collection and was intrigued by them. So I figured I’d check out the full book! And as much as I was interested in the book based on the couple chapters I read, the book overall fell kind of flat for me. I didn’t find that there was enough meaningful interaction between Clayton and Olivia for me personally. They spent a lot of the book not only resisting each other but also not communicating well and not having the type of important conversations that I would look for with character and relationship development. And not just with the two main characters, I also thought that Olivia and her sister Drea’s relationship could have been developed more. I think that a lot of the issues I had with the book though were just based on personal preference and what I enjoy with my reading. Overall the book was entertaining and the characters were interesting, this one just wasn’t quite the book for me. I’d still recommend it if you like a sweet, small town romance (almost all closed door romance) with zany characters and a second chance romance, I’d recommend this one.

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #86 – Thirty-Three Cecils by Everett De Morier

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Title: Thirty-Three Cecils
Author: Everett De Morier
Date finished: 8/15/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Blydyn Square Books
Publication Date: 2015
Pages in book: 270
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

In 1992 – when Amy Fisher dominated every news channel – there lived two men. The first was a once prominent cartoonist who had a very public fall from grace. The other was an alcoholic who worked in a landfill. Both lived in in different parts of the country and led completely separate lives – until their paths crossed. You know their names. And for over twenty years, you thought you knew their story – until their journals were found and authenticated in 2014. And what we thought we knew – what the old news clips and the old stories wanted us to think – were all wrong.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it is #8 on list from my sign up post. I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about a never solved mystery of who killed business partners Walker Roe and Riley Dutcher (also known as Dutch through most of the book). Walker Roe is very well known in Erie, Pennsylvania because he recently spent time in jail for bank fraud and for counterfeiting money. Walker is trying to put his life back together now that he isn’t in jail anymore and take care of his daughters. Dutch is a recovering alcoholic who has decided to travel through the United States since he’s never left his small town of Binghamton, New York. These two men were murdered and the case was never solved, mostly because the two men were the only witnesses to some strange events in the months leading up to their murders, events no one else could really describe because they weren’t there.
Fast forward to some amount of years later (I think it was twenty-ish but can’t remember exactly) and some college kids discover the long lost journals of Walker and Dutch. And from these journals we as the reader are finally able to answer some long-burning questions we would have in this fictional world including who is the murderer and how did Walker and Dutch end up becoming business partners in the first place? The journals tell the whole story of what happened to Walker and Dutch.
Overall I ended up really liking this book. This wasn’t something I normally would have picked up on my own but I’m really glad that I read it. The story line was really interesting and I was hooked in the story pretty much from the beginning. The only plot line point that bothered me a little bit about this book is why didn’t the police ever find the journals? I’m sure that the police would have searched Walker’s office at the liquor store to see if they could find anything leading them to a suspect, and they just never noticed the box with the journals in it? This didn’t bug me a ton but just a little annoying voice. There were some slow parts of the story for me but I was interested throughout the story so I was able to get through the slow points. I was pretty sad that Abby and Liz ended up losing their father because their relationship was pretty outstanding considering everything they had been through as a family. This was a good book though and I’m glad I got a chance to read it!

The bottom line: I ended up really enjoying this book. There were a few slow parts but the story line was great. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #82 – Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

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Title: Who Do You Love
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Date finished: 8/7/15
Genre: Fiction, Romance-ish, Women’s fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
Pages in book: 400
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 unforgettable story about true love, real life, and second chances…
Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are just eight years old when they meet one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to a doctor and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.
Rachel grows up in an affluent Florida suburb, the popular and protected daughter of two doting parents. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent for running.
Yet, over the next three decades, Andy and Rachel will meet again and again—linked by chance, history, and the memory of the first time they met, a night that changed the course of both of their lives.
A sweeping, warmhearted, and intimate tale, Who Do You Love is an extraordinary novel about the passage of time, the way people change and change each other, and how the measure of a life is who you love.

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it is #4 on list from my sign up post. I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about Rachel Blum, who meets a boy named Andy Landis when they’re coincidentally in the same hospital on the same night when they were young children. Rachel waited with Andy in the ER waiting room since his mom wasn’t with him and told him stories. Their lives seem to be intertwined since they end up encountering each other years later when they are both in high school.
What follows is an on and off relationship that spans across decades. A story of true love and second (or third or fourth) chances. Whenever Andy and Rachel meet up again it seems as if no time has passed and neither has ever stopped loving the other. Andy seems to make many mistakes along the way and I think that both he and Rachel have to grow quite a bit before their lives can permanently fit together. In the meantime, they both continue on their life path separately and have many important life experiences.
Overall I enjoyed this book. I thought the story line was sweet and touching. I thought the characters were wonderfully flawed and I really felt like I was given an opportunity to connect with them through the book. There were some plot developments that were interesting and obviously necessary to the story line but that I didn’t necessarily expect. I think the only thing I would be able to complain about is that I thought the ending was a little quick. I thought we were going to get to the reunion part where they fall back in love and what not and then bang it happened and two sentences later the story was over. I usually like a little wrap up (epilogue) even if its just like “oh it’s been a week and they’re still happy.” Other than that though I thought this was a good book.

The bottom line: I thought this was a touching, sweet story. I can’t say that it was a story that really grabbed me but it dig tug at my heart-strings. I would recommend it to readers who like women’s fiction.

Favorite Quotes:
“I realized, as he touched my cheek, then my hair, that I had never stopped hoping for this, not in all the years we’d been apart.”

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page