Review: The Wedding Deal (Heart in the Game #1) by Cindi Madsen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Former quarterback Lance Quaid just inherited the most losing team in the NFL. He’s got only a few weeks until draft day to turn things around, and after firing more than half his staff, he can’t do it alone. Thankfully, his HR manager is more than capable, if only she’d stop focusing on “due diligence” and stop looking so sexy while she’s yelling at him.

Charlotte James has made a life out of following the rules. But nothing could have prepared her for Lance Quaid––he’s a human resources nightmare. The man is brash, has no filter, and, as her new boss, is constantly relying on her to cover his ass. Which is admittedly quite nice.

When Lance begs her to join him on a trip down the coast for his brother’s wedding so they can finalize details––on a strictly business basis––she agrees…after they fill out the necessary forms, of course. Away from the office, though, sparks start flying as the team starts coming together. But both of them know anything more than the weekend would be a colossally bad idea––after all, the extra paperwork would be a nightmare.

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

The Wedding Deal will be available March 25, 2019. 

I’ve enjoyed several Cindi Madsen books and thought The Wedding Deal looked like the perfect book to feed my Contemporary craving. While I did like it, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would.

I felt the book was much longer than it needed to be. I thought there was too much repetition and the story dragged a little bit. There’s only so many times I need to hear how distracted a character is by their attractive co-worker’s [insert body part here]. I also really dislike long chapters and the majority of the chapters were much longer than I prefer.

That said, I did really enjoy the romance. I thought Lance and Charlotte complemented each other so well, professionally and personally. While there was a little too much of the whole “he/she is so attractive” rhetoric, there was also a lot of discussion about how smart, caring, funny, and hard-working each other were. They helped make each other better, too. I really appreciated that the romance was based on so much more than the physical and I definitely shipped them.

Overall, I enjoyed The Wedding Deal. While it was a little too long for my taste, I did really like the romance and the sweet relationship Charlotte and Lance developed. I also thought the story was set apart a little bit from the normal Sports Romance by focusing on the owner of a team instead of a player. I would recommend it to someone looking for a light romance and doesn’t mind long chapters.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

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Review: Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact #1) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps. 

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

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

Passion on Park Avenue will be available May 28, 2019.

I’m a big fan of Lauren Layne and always look forward to her books. While Passion on Park Avenue was enjoyable, I have to admit I found it a little underwhelming.

I’m going to start with the things I liked:

-I loved Oliver. He was smart and sweet and loyal and I just adored him. I liked his dedication to his family, even though they had their issues. I liked the romance between him and Naomi, even if it was frustrating sometimes.

-I liked Naomi’s new friends, Audrey and Claire. We actually don’t see as much of them as I expected, but I’m interested in both of their upcoming stories.

-While Lauren Layne is one of my favorite Romance authors, my usual complaint with her books is that there are always a few scenes more graphic than I care for. I’m so happy to report that that was not the case with this book! There’s innuendo and suggestive talk, but there are no sex scenes and I really appreciated it. I thought it put the romantic focus much more on emotions and actual relationship details instead of just physical stuff and I found it much more meaningful.

Ok, so now onto the things that didn’t quite work for me:

-For a good long while in this book, I did not like Naomi at all. She just came across so shallow to me. Everything was just about status and money and expensive stuff and I just couldn’t care about it. Also, her big revenge plan was to move back into her old apartment building and then let her mom’s former employer and his son know who she was and how she had as much money as them now. I wasn’t really sure what that would accomplish? It’s not like she was buying the building and kicking them out. Or buying their business out from under them. It just didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

-I also thought Naomi was an odd choice for the first book in the series. She was that brash character that always speaks her mind, even if it could be hurtful. The kind of character that is usually the main character’s best friend that you don’t really like until she gets her own book and then you get to know her better. I did eventually like her, but it took me awhile. I’m much more interested in Claire and Audrey’s stories (particularly Audrey and Clarke).

-One of the subplots include the development of a tv show based on Naomi’s rags to riches story. I found that interesting, but thought it could have been explored much more than it was.

Overall, I did enjoy Passion on Park Avenue. I liked the friendship and Oliver and how the romance focused more on the relationship than on the physical stuff. I felt like not a whole lot really happened in the story, though, and it took me a really long time to start caring about Naomi, so I’m giving this a little lower rating than I do most Layne books. However, I am definitely looking forward to the next books in this series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Romancing His Rival (Accidentally Yours #3) by Jennifer Shirk

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Hopeless romantic Elena Mason doesn’t often hate people, but she hates her ex-fiancé’s insufferable best man, Lucas Albright III. She just knows Lucas is the one who talked her ex out of getting married—so Lucas is clearly the cause of all her problems.

And now she’s expected to work with him? Oh, heck no.

Lucas Albright wants nothing more than to make partner at his advertising firm, and he knows he works best alone. But then Elena ends up as his partner on an account that could win him a promotion. He had a great reason to end her engagement, not that she’d ever believe him. Still, he’s willing to try working as a team.

Unfortunately, his new “partner” wants him dead.

Elena knows she’s going to have to give in and work with her nemesis, though nobody said it had to be easy for him. But what happens when fighting starts feeling a whole lot like falling in love?

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

Romancing His Rival will be available February 11, 2019. 

Jennifer Shirk always writes such sweet romances and Romancing His Rival was a great addition to the Accidentally Yours series.

The story was a little Hate-to-Love, which I always enjoy, though the hating was really only on Elena’s side. I liked seeing Lucas eventually win her over as she realized her preconceived ideas about him were wrong. I thought they had good chemistry together and I shipped them.

I was often frustrated by Elena, though. It’s so obvious that Scott is an awful choice for her, but she’s so desperate to be in a relationship that she refuses to see it. I have seen many women settle for a bad relationship that eventually ended and brought more pain just because they were so desperate not to be alone and I will never understand it. However, I did really love the lesson Elena learned about having to find happiness yourself and not depending on other people for it. So many Romances have the love interests “saving/fixing/healing” each other and it’s really refreshing to see a story that shows how romantic love can enhance your life, without being the reason for your whole life.

One thing I didn’t like, which isn’t really a comment on the story itself, is how I don’t feel the title represents the book well. The title, along with the synopsis, makes it sound like they’re both in the same field and have been competing against each other when they’re paired up on a project and have to work together. In reality, Lucas kind of has to beg Elena to help him on his project, as a freelancer. I think something like “enemy” would have been a better choice than “rival”. Also, Lucas never hated Elena, so while he might be her enemy/rival, she was never his. I know this is super picky to point out and while it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book at all, it still bugged me.

Overall, I enjoyed Romancing His Rival. The romance was cute and I was glad to see Elena get a happy ending. I also really appreciated the message of not depending on other people to be happy. I recommend this one to fans of sweet Romances.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Lovestruck by Kate Watson

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Sixteen-year-old cupid-in-training Kali is in an Olympus-sized mountain of trouble. Rule number one in arrow-toting matchmaking: don’t stick yourself. But accidents happen, and Kali instantly falls hard for her indie rock, bass-playing target, Benicio.

The God of Love is going to kill her. Even if he is her dad.

Being the daughter of Eros isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For one thing, a girl can get jaded when her parents have the most beautiful and fatalistic love story in history. For another, immortality royally sucks when the Oracle condemns you to eternity in the wrong profession. Do the Gods care that Kali wants to ditch the love stuff and be a muse?

Nope.

To reclaim her heart and her destiny, Kali is left with no choice but to defy the Gods, tempt the Fates, date the mortal love-of-her-life, and hope she doesn’t lose her best friend, Hector, in the process.

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

Lovestruck will be available April 2, 2019

I have enjoyed Kate Watson’s previous books and was very excited for Lovestruck. While I enjoyed some of it, for the most part I think it’s a case of just not being the right book for me.

I thought the first half or so of the book was kind of messy. The world-building left a lot to be desired for me. It mostly consisted of throwing out random bits of information on different characters from Greek mythology – most of whom had absolutely nothing to do with the plot. I think it also relied on the assumption that the reader was already familiar with the subject, which I’m not super into. I know there are a lot of fans of Greek mythology out there, so I can see a different audience really appreciating it.

The characters were ok and sometimes humorous, which I enjoyed, but I never really fully connected to them. Another reason why this may not be the right book for me is that there was a lot of teenage, love-triangle angst. It was one of those situations where I just felt a little too old for what was going on. However, I did like how the love-triangle resolved. Just from reading the synopsis I felt like I knew exactly how it was going to play out, but once I got into the book I realized it might go down the less obvious path and I shipped it.

Overall, I thought Lovestruck was an ok read, but just not for me. I think a younger audience and fans of Greek mythology will appreciate it a lot more than I did.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

 

Review: Watching You by Lisa Jewell

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A copy of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Watching You will be available December 26, 2018. 

Normally with my reviews I share the synopsis of the book, but I’m not going to do that for this one. I do have a warning, though. Apparently the edition I marked as “Want to Read” on Goodreads was the one edition that had a very inaccurate synopsis. It very clearly stated which character is murdered, however that character is not the victim. I was kind of livid about this synopsis and couldn’t understand why no other review I found was complaining about it. And then after checking 3 different book seller sites and the other editions of the book on Goodreads, I realized this was the only place I could find this wrong synopsis. So my warning to you, don’t read the synopsis on Goodreads in case you get the wrong edition (though I’m hoping this will be corrected before the book is published).

Ok, now that my little PSA is done, let’s get on to the book. Watching You follows the intertwined lives of residents in a small English town. Joey is kind of a hot mess who moves in with her brother and sister-in-law when she returns home with a new husband in tow. When she first notices her neighbor, charming and charismatic Tom, she develops an instant crush. Freddie is Tom’s son and he likes to spend his time watching and keeping tabs on the townspeople from his bedroom window. He doesn’t believe his father is the great man everyone in town seems to think he is. Jenna is a student at Tom’s school. Her best friend has a crush on Tom and Jenna finds his interactions with her friend a little inappropriate. Additionally, her mother has paranoid delusions that Tom has initiated gang stalking of her and wants everyone in town to know what a fraud he is.

I’ve read some reviews that said there were way too many people to keep track of in this book, but I have to disagree. I did not have trouble keeping the characters straight at all. Jewell is excellent when it comes to writing character development and that skill is on full display here. However, I do have to say that I did have kind of a hard time connecting to any of the characters. I didn’t feel a real attachment to any of them. I wanted to find out what happened, plot-wise, but didn’t care that much about what kind of fall out the characters faced. There were a couple of side character I did enjoy, though. Joey’s brother, Jack, and her husband, Alfie, were both really sweet. I wouldn’t have minded getting to see more of them.

Overall, Watching You kept me turning the pages, but the mystery was not as satisfying as I hoped it would be. I did like how the story showed how easily our personal perceptions could be wrong and Jewel’s writing is always enjoyable. I just felt like the conclusion was a little lackluster and the book didn’t have much of the creepy “You’re being watched” vibe that I was expecting. I also think that my overall feelings for the book were negatively impacted by that incorrect synopsis I read. I still recommend this one to Lisa Jewell fans, though, and fans of character-driven mysteries.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The next novel of psychological suspense and obsession from the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

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

An Anonymous Girl will be available January 8, 2019. 

After loving The Wife Between Us by this author duo, I have had sky high expectations for their follow up novel, An Anonymous Girl. Unfortunately, those expectations were not met.

It took me quite a long time to get into this book. I found the first third or so of it incredibly boring. I didn’t really care about either of the main characters. For awhile everything Jess did got on my nerves. I just didn’t think her behavior made sense. I did eventually start to enjoy it a little more, but it kind of came in waves. I was hooked for sections here and there, but mostly the pacing was just far too slow for me. In the previous book by these authors I also had a problem with the pacing, but the multiple big twists made up for it. Unfortunately here, there are no big, shocking twists to save it. There are several things that I guess are supposed to be surprises or small twists, but nothing happened that I didn’t already guess.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because of spoilers. I will say that I thought the whole thing was a little far fetched. Whenever Jess “figured something out” I always felt like it kind of came out of nowhere and was a little too convenient. One positive thing I will say, is that I thought the writing was pretty seamless between the two authors. Their writing styles complement each other very well and despite my  disappointment with this book, I’ll still read more from them in the future.

Overall, An Anonymous Girl failed to live up to my high expectations. I never connected with the characters and didn’t really care what happened to them and found the overall mystery itself a little lackluster. I am upping my rating from a 2 to a 3 due to the seamless writing of the two authors and because there were a few moments here and there that I enjoyed myself. From the other reviews I’ve seen of this book so far I am clearly in the minority, so this still may be worth your time to give it a try.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

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Review from Goodreads:

The thrilling second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.

It was the day she came back.

With the same virtuosic command of character and pacing she displayed in The Chalk Man, CJ Tudor has once again crafted an extraordinary novel that brilliantly blends harrowing psychological suspense, a devilishly puzzling mystery, and enough shocks and thrills to satisfy even the most seasoned reader.

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

The Hiding Place will be available February 5, 2019. 

What Worked For Me

-I’m a big fan of Tudor’s writing style. I love the banter, the dark humor, the well-executed multiple timelines. Even though I felt like the pacing was a little too slow for much of the book, I still wanted to keep reading. There’s just something compelling about it.

-Joe. Joe was not exactly a likable character, but I actually liked him a lot. He comes across as an underdog and how can you not root for the underdog? I loved his sense of humor, even it was kind of dark. He’s had a lot of bad things happen in his life and I liked that even though he kept making a lot of bad decisions and was pretty cynical, he still had a sense of hopefulness.

What Didn’t Work For Me

-So, you all know how much I hate it when a surprise supernatural element pops up in a story. I go from reading a believable mystery/thriller to something I can’t take seriously. I honestly think this would work much better marketed as Horror instead of Mystery. I mentally just put it in the Horror category and so it didn’t bother me as much as something like this normally would.

-While there were some surprises at the end of the book, I didn’t really see the point in some of them. It’s hard to explain it without getting spoilery, but I really felt like what happened in Arnhill when Joe was young and why he’s back were the heart of the story, and tacking on an extra reveal at the end that you didn’t even realize you were supposed to be trying to figure out seemed unnecessary.

Overall

Overall, I did enjoy The Hiding Place. I liked the writing and the characters – namely Joe. However, the supernatural angle and the unnecessary final twist did sour me a bit. Still, I think fans of Tudor’s previous work will enjoy this one, as well.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars