Review: The Mistletoe Trap (Heart in the Game #2) by Cindi Madsen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the moment Julie sees her best friend, Gavin, in the airport, it’s like no time at all has gone by instead of months and months. No matter how long they’ve been apart, their relationship has always been steady, comfortable, and decidedly just friends. Even though their meddling parents have hung what seems like unlimited amounts of mistletoe everywhere she goes this holiday season, Julie knows some things will never change.

Gavin is well-aware his family’s wanted him and Julie to get together since forever, even though he’s been friend-zoned since they could talk—and he’s been happy to play that role. After all, as the new starting quarterback for the San Antonio Mustangs, he’s got enough on his plate without adding romance to the mix.

But between playing elves in the holiday bazaar to nights spent one-on-one watching rom-coms or soaking in their town’s hot springs, suddenly the “reverse parent trap” they’ve fallen into is actually starting to work. But this could be one scheme where letting themselves get trapped might be way too dangerous.

Each book in the Heart in the Game series is STANDALONE:
* The Wedding Deal
* The Mistletoe Trap

I received a copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

What I Liked:

*I love a good Friends to More Romance and Madsen does them well. I really enjoyed Julie and Gavin’s friendship and shipped them to get together.

*Though I thought their parents bordered on rude and over the top sometimes when it came to wanting Julie and Gavin to be together, I did really like how close their families were. It’s nice to see happy marriages and even nicer to see big, happy families. It made me wish my family was as close to another as Julie and Gavin’s are.

*I liked the small town and all the cute holiday traditions.

*While I had some problems with the evolution of their relationship (I’ll get to that), I liked the big, cheesy, romantic gesture at the end. It was cute and made me smile.

What Didn’t Work for Me:

*I’m not a fan of the whole “looking for a casual fling” thing. After Julie breaks up with her boyfriend and he calls her boring, she decides she needs a fling to prove she’s not boring and also improve her bedroom skills. This is kind of a common Romance plotline and I never appreciate it. It made me like Julie a little less.

*I also am not a fan of the Friends-with-Benefits plotline. Though we know that the couple are obviously in love with each other, I didn’t like that they – especially Gavin – chalked it up to just being a new physical attraction and wanted to work it out of their systems and then move on with their friendship. I also didn’t like how either one of them handled the fall out when they realized it wasn’t that simple.

*I thought the book was a little longer than it needed to be. For how little actually happens in the book, it could have been about half the length.

Overall

Overall, I did enjoy The Mistletoe Trap. Though it’s definitely not my favorite Madsen book, it had it’s cute moments and helped put me in the holiday mood. If you’re looking for a Christmas Romance, you should give this one a try.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of I Owe You One, an utterly delightful novel about a woman who ditches her dating app for a writer’s retreat in Italy–only to find that real love comes with its own filters

“As close to perfect as romantic comedies get.”–Jenny Colgan, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop on the Corner

Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers’ retreat in coastal Italy. She’s determined to finish writing the novel she’s been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind.

At the retreat, she’s not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by “Aria,” meets “Dutch,” a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch.

But then their real identities–Ava and Matt–must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette . . . are they compatible in anything? And then there’s the prickly situation with Matt’s ex-girlfriend, who isn’t too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Love Your Life publishes on October 27, 2020. 

Love Your Life was pretty classic Kinsella. The story was cute with charming, if sometimes very frustrating, characters.

There was a lot that I enjoyed about this book. The cast of characters and quirky situations they found themselves in made me laugh out loud often. While they all were a little unbelievable, Ava and Matt’s group of friends were definitely my favorite part of the book. I loved the scenes when they were all together and the banter was great. I even though Matt’s awful parents provided opportunity for a lot of humor.

While the friendships were great, the romantic relationship is what I struggled with. Ava and Matt have a whirlwind romance during a one week writing retreat where they’re not allowed to use their real names or talk about their personal lives. They both form a picture of who the other person really is and declare their love by the end of the retreat. They’re thrilled to find out they both live in the same city, but they quickly find out that their real life selves are not anything like what they expected. They forge ahead into a relationship anyways, even though it’s obvious from the start that they are totally incompatible. What really drove me crazy, though, was how Ava tried to pretend like everything was fine.

Have you ever noticed that the people who yell about tolerance the loudest are often the most intolerant people? That was Ava. She came off like she was free spirited and accepting of everything and everyone, but in reality she was very judgmental about anything that differed from what she thought. She also blamed all of the relationship problems on Matt instead of admitting anything wrong on her part. Matt also didn’t help things by refusing to communicate most of the time. I honestly thought this story would end up with them not being together. I even found myself rooting for Ava to wind up with one of Matt’s roommates. However, as this is a Romance, the moral of the story is obviously going to be more about how love can help people change for the better instead of how it sometimes doesn’t work out.

Overall, I had a pretty good time reading Love Your Life, but my frustration with Ava kept me from enjoying the story as much as I wanted to. I loved the group of friends and could have gone on reading much more about them. While the romance did work out for me in the end, the journey there left me more annoyed than anything else. This wasn’t my favorite Kinsella book, but I’ll definitely still be reading more from her in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Midnight Sun (Twilight #5) by Stephenie Meyer

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?

I feel like a lot of us in the book community have a connection to the Twilight series. For me, they’re the books that got me back into reading for fun. I loved the feeling of getting swept up in a story, shipping a couple (#TeamEdward), and having to immediately go out and buy the next book because I had to know what would happen next. I’ve been chasing that experience ever since. Just as I loved the books, I would read – and re-read – the leaked partial draft of Midnight Sun that Meyer posted on her website. I spent years hoping she would finish and publish it. As time went on, though, my hope for it waned, as did my love for the series. I went on to read a lot of other books, many with a greater quality of writing and plot, but the series will always have a special place in my heart. And I was unbelievably excited when Midnight Sun was announced. So, did it live up to years of hopes and expectations? Not really. But I did go into it expecting that it wouldn’t, so it ended up being a mostly enjoyable reading experience. I’m just going to share a few thoughts here.

-It’s a long book. Well over 600 pages. And the chapters are also pretty long. It took me several days more to read it than I had expected and it dragged at times.

-It also took awhile to reach a part of the story that I hadn’t read before. It kind of felt like nothing was added to – or improved upon – that first draft that was leaked all those years ago. I will say it’s been a long time since I read it, though, so there might have been more changes than I remembered. Once I got past where the leaked draft ended, I started to enjoy it more.

-What I appreciated the most was getting more details of Edward’s history, as well as the other Cullens. Things that are just mentioned briefly in the original books are given a little more details and context. I was glad there were still things to learn and it wasn’t just a straight rehash.

-I enjoyed Edward’s POV. Though it was a little repetitive at times, I liked getting to be in his head and seeing the thoughts behind his actions. I also really liked being able to hear all the thoughts of the characters around him. It allowed for more depth than you usually get in a first person narrative.

-Reading it made me want to watch the movies again, so I ended up binging the whole series. I had forgotten how truly awful those movies are. And how truly beautiful Robert Pattinson is…

-The odd cover is given context. I don’t really know my Greek mythology, but it has to do with Persephone tying herself to the underworld (which is how Edward thinks of Bella’s attachment to him).

Overall, I did enjoy reading Midnight Sun. It was a little too long and didn’t quite live up to my expectations from years ago, but I’m glad that it was finally published and I’m glad I read it. It made me nostalgic for that time when I first started the series and fell in love with reading again. If Meyer decides to write the rest of the series through Edward’s POV, I would read those, too.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The discovery of a girl abandoned by the side of the road threatens to unearth the long-buried secrets of a Texas town’s legendary cold case in this superb, atmospheric novel from the internationally bestselling author of Black-Eyed Susans.

It’s been a decade since Trumanell Branson disappeared, leaving only a bloody handprint behind. Her pretty face still hangs like a watchful queen on the posters on the walls of the town’s Baptist church, the police station, and in the high school. They all promise the same thing: We will find you. Meanwhile, her brother, Wyatt, lives as a pariah in the desolation of the old family house, cleared of wrongdoing by the police but tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion and in a new documentary about the crime.

When Wyatt finds a lost girl dumped in a field of dandelions, making silent wishes, he believes she is a sign. The town’s youngest cop, Odette Tucker, believes she is a catalyst that will ignite a seething town still waiting for its own missing girl to come home. But Odette can’t look away. She shares a wound that won’t close with the mute, one-eyed mystery girl. And she is haunted by her own history with the missing Tru.

Desperate to solve both cases, Odette fights to save the lost girl in the present and to dig up the shocking truth about a fateful night in the past–the night her friend disappeared, the night that inspired her to become a cop, the night that wrote them all a role in the town’s dark, violent mythology.

In this twisty psychological thriller, Julia Heaberlin paints unforgettable portraits of a woman and a girl who redefine perceptions of physical beauty and strength.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

We Are All the Same in the Dark publishes on August 11, 2020. 

We Are All the Same in the Dark started off so strong for me. The writing was addictive, the atmosphere was tense, and the mystery was intriguing. Unfortunately, it lost steam for me about halfway through. It wasn’t a bad book, but it ended up disappointing me after giving me such high hopes in the beginning.

The story was told in five parts and through three different POVs. I really enjoyed the first two parts and POVs. As I mentioned, I was really interested by the mystery and I thought Heaberlin did a great job of keeping the tension high. I found both Wyatt and Odette really compelling characters and was intrigued by their shared past and lasting connection. And then Part Three happened. It’s hard to talk about without revealing spoilers, but I found the transition to be really jarring. I didn’t really like that the third narrator got about the last half of the book. I thought the pace slowed down and the story started to drag. I also thought the identity of the murderer became pretty obvious long before the reveal.

I wanted a tense mystery/thriller and I while the story did start out that way, I felt like it shifted almost more into Women’s Fiction for a great deal of the book. The heart of the story are three strong, but damaged women. They are all special snowflakes type of ladies, that are are beautiful and clever and brave, but have been damaged physically, psychologically, or both. A lot of time is spent on what happened to them in their youth and how they cope. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I didn’t care about that, but I thought it would have been better placed in a different genre. I felt like the message got in the way of the development of the mystery sometimes and made the pace drag.

Overall, We Are All the Same in the Dark ended up being just ok for me. It started off really strong, but seemed to lose focus of the mystery and started to drag about halfway through. I think if you don’t mind a heavy handed lesson being handed out with your thrillers, you will enjoy this one a little more than I did.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From Michele Campbell, the bestselling author of It’s Always the Husband comes a new blockbuster thriller in The Wife Who Knew Too Much.

Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Wife Who Knew Too Much publishes July 28, 2020.

I really enjoyed Michele Campbell’s last book, A Stranger on the Beach, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on The Wife Who Knew Too Much. While the story didn’t go quite the way I had expected, it still had that addictive writing that kept me completely hooked.

In the beginning, we get both Nina and Tabitha’s POV. I liked the flashbacks to how both of their relationships started with Connor and then to the events leading up to Nina’s death. I kind of wished Nina didn’t die so soon because I wanted to spend more time with her. I liked that both women seemed sympathetic, but also a little untrustworthy. It kept me on my toes and I liked that.

The story didn’t quite unfold in the way I thought it would. The synopsis mentions Tabitha finding Nina’s diary warning of her untimely death, but that doesn’t actually happen to about the 80% mark. The book was a lot less gothic, claustrophobic drama than I expected. There was perhaps a little too much time spent of Tabitha just doing whatever Connor told her and not being nearly as suspicious as she should be. I also came up with my theory pretty early on in the story, which ended up being correct. Thankfully, the writing was still really addictive and compelling and I couldn’t stop reading it.

Overall, I enjoyed The Wife Who Knew Too Much. I really enjoyed the writing and the multiple POVs and timelines. The ending went in a slightly different direction than I was expecting, which disappointed me, but I don’t think most readers will be upset by it. If you’ve enjoyed Campbell’s other books, I definitely recommend this one. I look forward to whatever she writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

The Night Swim publishes August 4, 2020.

I found The Night Swim to be a very average read. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. The writing was fine, but the pace was so slow. The plot was timely, but only mildly intriguing. The good and bad parts kind of canceled each other out and leaves you with a moderately entertaining, if ultimately forgettable read.

The story follows famous podcast host Rachel, as she reports on a rape trial. We’re supposed to believe she’s an incredible journalist and investigator, so I was surprised by how thoroughly distracted she let herself get by messages from the mysterious Hannah, who wants Rachel to investigate a murder that happened decades prior. Rachel blows off parts of the trial on multiple occasions to investigate Hannah’s claims. The cases have similarities and and ultimately some of the same players. The clues are given out methodically, but slowly and I found myself pretty bored for most of the book.

I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. We get very little personal information about Rachel and her role seems more as a narrator than anything else. This could have been by design, as she’s supposed to be an impartial host, laying out the facts for her audience. However, it kept me from ever really caring that much about her. She also was far from being impartial. I also found Hannah a frustrating character. She tells her story in fits and starts and I didn’t really understand why it had to be drawn out so long.

The story spends a lot of time on commentary about how rape accusations are handled and trials are conducted. I think a lot of good points are made, but it doesn’t say anything new. Especially with the number of books that center around #MeToo topics these days, this has nothing that makes it stand out among the others.

Overall, The Night Swim was just ok for me. The writing was fine, but I thought it was too slow paced and was much longer than it needed it to be. The mysteries were interesting enough, but the lack of character development really kept me from getting invested. It was a thoroughly average book that I think many people will spend a few days enjoying, before completely forgetting about it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A suspense novel about a young woman plagued by night terrors after a childhood trauma who wakes one evening to find a corpse at her feet.

Everyone knows the story of “the girl from Widow Hills.”

Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and held vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. She’s managed to stay off the radar for the last few years. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. Where is she now? Soon Olivia feels like she’s being watched and begins sleepwalking again, like she did long ago, even waking outside her home. Until late one night she jolts awake in her yard. At her feet is the corpse of a man she knows—from her previous life, as Arden Maynor.

And now, the girl from Widow Hills is about to become the center of the story, once again.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Girl from Widow Hills publishes June 23, 2020. 

I always look forward to a new Megan Miranda book and I found The Girl from Widow Hills an addicting read with an intriguing premise.

When Olivia was a child, she went missing for several days and the search to find her caught national attention. Twenty years later, she’s moved away, changed her name, and wants to forget everything that happened. Her carefully cultivated new life is threatened, though, when she discovers the dead body of someone from her past on her property. Throw in some intense sleepwalking incidents and gaps in her memory and we’re not really sure if Olivia is guilty of more than she knows. The mystery was a bit of a slow burn, but the addictive writing made that ok. I liked the characters, especially Olivia’s neighbor, Rick, and her friend/co-worker/possible love interest, Bennett. I would have liked a little more resolution when it came to those characters, though.

Overall, I enjoyed The Girl from Widow Hills. Even though the mystery was a bit of a slow burn, I felt invested in Olivia and everything that was happening. I didn’t 100% guess the ending, which is always a win for me these days. I did find the ending a little underwhelming, though. I would have liked an epilogue. While this wasn’t my favorite Miranda book, it was still enjoyable and I’m looking forward to her next book.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

One summer. One stranger. One killer…
Two bad things happened that summer:
A stranger arrived. And the first girl disappeared.

In the wake of the crime that rocked her community, Felicity fled, knowing more than she let on.

But sixteen years later, her new life is shattered by the news that a second girl has gone missing in her hometown.

Now Felicity must go back, to face the truth about what happened all those years ago.

Only she holds the answers – and they’re more shocking than anyone could imagine.

The heatwave is back. And so is the killer.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

The Heatwave publishes June 25, 2020. 

I’m a huge fan of Katerina Diamond’s DS Imogen Grey series and I was excited for her first standalone book. Though it meant I have to wait longer for more Imogen and Adrian, The Heatwave was an enjoyable book.

The story is told in past and present timelines. In the present, Felicity feels compelled to return to her hometown and investigate when she finds out another teenage girl has gone missing. In the past, Jasmine tries to discover what the strange new lodger her parents have invited to live in their guest house is hiding. I have to say that I found the past chapters much more interesting than the present. The characters were more fleshed out and I felt invested in what happened to them. I thought Tim’s character was intriguing and wanted to learn more about him. In the present, I just didn’t really care much about Felicity. She honestly didn’t really do much besides drinking and wandering aimlessly around town, talking to whoever she happened upon. I found it frustrating that she was so vague and all character development was really saved for the end.

There was a reason for the vagueness, though. Things needed to be that way so the twists and turns revealed towards the end have an impact. However, if you’re paying attention, you will guess one of the biggest surprises very early on in the story. I did, and found myself just waiting for it to finally be revealed and I think that hindered some of my enjoyment of the story. While I did figure out almost every other twist, it did take me a little longer.

Overall, The Heatwave was enjoyable. I especially liked the past chapters. I think if you’re able to just sit back and take everything as it comes, rather than trying to figure things out, you will enjoy this one.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Updated Publishing Date for Chasing Lucky: November 10, 2020. 

When I pick up a Jenn Bennett book, I expect a cute and quirky story with fun banter and lots of drama. Chasing Lucky was all those things.

What I Liked

-I’ve read some so-so reviews of this book, so I went in with lowered expectations and I think that worked out for me. I enjoyed Chasing Lucky. While it felt a little too long at times, I did fly through this 400+ page book in about 24 hours.

-While Josie did frustrate me (more on that later), she was mostly pretty likable.

-I adored Lucky! He was so precious. He put on a front for awhile, but once he and Josie started spending more time together, he kind of wore his heart on his sleeve and was just so sweet. He pretty much made this book for me.

-I definitely shipped Josie and Lucky together. I loved watching their friendship grow into more. I thought they went really well together. And I loved their banter!

What Didn’t Work for Me

-I felt like there were too many storylines that were just enough to add some drama, but lacked any real substance. Josie has a cousin in a horribly toxic relationship and it’s not really given the attention such a serious topic deserves. There’s a lot of stuff Josie says about her mother’s actions and possible depression that aren’t really explored. Lucky’s behavior is attributed to an event that is explained in about a paragraph and barely addressed again, even though it’s pretty obvious the boy would benefit from some mental health counseling. I just wish some of these would have been either cut out or addressed more fully. I didn’t feel closure with any of them. It just added a lot of unnecessary drama and made this book much longer than it needed to be.

-Bennett went to a lot of trouble of describing the cute and quirky town and while it sounded like it should be charming, I felt like we weren’t supposed to like it. While the town is cute, basically every person in it sucks. Except for Luck’s family.

-One of my biggest pet peeves is when all the drama is caused by lack of communication and that was basically the whole plot of this book. Josie’s family is famous for their inability to communicate and it drove me nuts. They did eventually get better by the end of the book, but it didn’t lessen my frustration with them.

-Josie does something she shouldn’t and Lucky ends up taking all the blame for it and it really made me mad that Josie just let him. Even when it became obvious that he could get in serious trouble for it, she just kept her mouth shut. I had a hard time respecting her at all for awhile.

Overall

Overall, I enjoyed Chasing Lucky. I loved Lucky and shipped Josie with him. I liked their banter and the romance. There was a little too much drama and lack of communication for me, though. I think some of it could have easily been cut out to make the book a little shorter and more focused. I think fans of Bennett will still enjoy this one, though.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: The First Date by Zara Stoneley

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Wedding Date!

Right place.
Right time.
Wrong guy …

After breaking up with her childhood sweetheart, clueless dater Rosie has found herself in a boyfriend-drought. So when she finally swipes right on a guy who seems interested, she can’t wait to meet up IRL.

Until she’s left standing alone. In a bar. Ghosted.

Enter Noah. Confident, funny … and a serial first dater. Offering to give Rosie a crash course in seduction, this could be just what she needs. Until her matchmaker turns out to be the best date she’s ever had – and Rosie wonders if she wants the fake dates to be the real ones after all …

A hilarious, heartwarming romantic comedy about what happens when the wrong guy turns up at the right time, perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Debbie Johnson.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The First Date publishes April 24, 2020. 

What I Liked

-So. Much. Banter! I loved it! Rosie and Noah had such a great give and take and I smiled so much when reading their conversations. I also really enjoyed their growing friendship. I thought they complemented each other well and I definitely shipped them.

-I liked Rosie’s relationship with her mother. As I expect in a Stoneley book, the mother was a little zany, but she wasn’t quite as crazy as she could have been. I liked that her character showed a lot of growth in the story, as well.

-I was in the mood for something light and cute and The First Date was exactly that. Was it predictable? Sure. But, that didn’t hinder any of my enjoyment of the story.

What Didn’t Work for Me

-Rosie has daddy issues for days. Which is fine, but I just felt like it was brought up way too much. Her comparing Noah to her father or recounting how awful her father can make her feel about herself was brought up repeatedly in every chapter. Sometimes it felt like it came out of nowhere and didn’t really fit in context. It was a little disappointing because I found some of her issues with her father very relatable, but I was pretty over it by the end of the story. I also don’t feel like she really got any satisfying resolution to it.

Overall

Overall, I enjoyed The First Date. I loved Rosie and Noah together so much, especially their banter. I wish the daddy issues weren’t quite so prevalent, but I did like how those issues highlighted Rosie’s mother’s growth. I’m looking forward to reading more from Stoneley in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars