Review: On the Corner of Love and Hate (Hopeless Romantics #1) by Nina Bocci

42587433

Synopsis from Goodreads:

For fans of Christina Lauren and Lauren Layne comes a delightfully sassy and sexy romance about a campaign manager who reluctantly works with the local Lothario to help revamp his image for the upcoming mayoral elections, only to discover that he’s hiding something that can turn both their lives upside down.

What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like.

When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.

Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

A perfect blend of humor and heart, On the Corner of Love and Hate is the first in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci.

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

On the Corner of Love and Hate will be available August 20, 2019. 

On the Corner of Love and Hate was a cute read. I shipped Emma and Cooper together and enjoyed the small-town setting. I felt like it tried to be too many things, though. It couldn’t quite decide whether it wanted to be a Friends-to-More or Enemies-to-Lovers story. The plot also revolved around politics and an election, without actually making any type of political statement. I don’t actually mind that too much, though, because I read books to avoid politics and in the current climate it would alienate a lot of readers to come out hard on one subject or another.

Emma was supposed to be very strong and driven and while she did display those qualities, she was also very wishy-washy and literally ran away from things that she didn’t want to deal with. I feel like I have read several books with this type of character lately and so my frustration with her might have been a little stronger than it should have been because of that. I did like that she loved her small town, her family and her friends. I really liked Nick and Henry and wish we would have gotten a little more of them. It sounds like the next book will focus on a romance for Henry and I’m looking forward to that.

Overall, I enjoyed On the Corner of Love and Hate. I read this at a time when no book was keeping my attention until I tried this one and it got me out of my slump. I liked Emma and Cooper together when Emma wasn’t being frustrating about it. I wish we would’ve gotten Cooper’s POV, too, though. Though I had a few issues, I’m still looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Advertisements

Review: Trust Me When I Lie by Benjamin Stevenson

43352290

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Eliza Dacey was murdered in cold blood.

Four years later, the world watched it unfold again on screen.

Producer Jack Quick knows how to frame a story. So says Curtis Wade, the subject of Jack’s new true crime docuseries, convicted of a young woman’s murder four years prior. In the eyes of Jack’s viewers, flimsy evidence and police bias influenced the final verdict…even though, off screen, Jack himself has his doubts.

But when the series finale is wildly successful, a retrial sees Curtis walk free. And then another victim turns up dead.

To set things right, Jack goes back to the sleepy vineyard town where it all began, bent on discovering what really happened. Because behind the many stories he tells, the truth is Jack’s last chance. He may have sprung a killer from jail, but he’s also the one that can send him back.

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

Trust Me When I Lie will be available August 13, 2019. 

Trust Me When I Lie had a really interesting premise, but it never quite lived up to it’s potential for me.

Jack was a popular true crime podcast host that got his big break investigating the trial of Curtis Wade. Curtis was convicted of killing a young woman with very little actual evidence. Jack creates a tv show chronicling the many errors of the case. He doesn’t really seem to understand there are real world implications to what his show produces and is only after telling a good story. When he comes across a piece of evidence that doesn’t fit into his narrative, he doesn’t share it. When Curtis eventually gets released from prison, Jack begins to worry that maybe he really is guilty and sets out to prove it.

I was disappointed that the tv show didn’t really play that big of part in the story. I expected more excerpts and interviews and “making of” moments. However, the story mostly takes place after the show has aired and there is very little shared about it, other than that Jack ruined people’s careers – and made others – and edited statements to his own purposes. The story mostly followed Jack bumbling around trying to figure things out and wasn’t as suspenseful or mysterious as I was hoping for. From very early on in the story I had a theory that ended up being right. There were a couple of red herrings throughout where I thought maybe my original theory was wrong, but it wasn’t. It made the “twist” really anti-climactic for me.

Overall, Trust Me When I Lie had enjoyable moments, but did not live up to my expectations. It didn’t involve the show as much as I wanted it to and the mystery held very few surprises. However, I enjoyed the dark humor and thought the characterization was really well done. I would be interested to see what Stevenson does in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

42755366

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck with That comes a new novel about a blue-blood grandmother and her black-sheep granddaughter who discover they are truly two sides of the same coin.

Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?

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

Life and Other Inconveniences will be available August 6, 2019. 

Kristan Higgins has been one of my favorite authors for a long time. I’ve read all of her Romance books multiple times and they never fail to lift my mood. Higgins’ writing has evolved over the last few years, though, as she’s moved into the Women’s Fiction market. She is still an excellent writer, perhaps even more popular now than ever, but I have to admit I don’t love the books of her newer genre as much as her backlist.

Life and Other Inconveniences is a multi-generational story focusing on the lives of Emma, her estranged grandmother Genevieve, and her daughter Riley. In addition to their POVs, there are a couple chapters from Genevieve’s son and Emma’s father, Clarke, and Miller, a widower/single father and Emma’s new love interest. I felt like there was kind of a lot to keep track of, even though there wasn’t a lot actually happening. The story is heavily character-driven and the first half was almost nothing but character history. One of the things that makes Higgins’ writing so distinctive is her use of flashback chapters and I usually love them, but they just didn’t work as well for me here. At one point there were three flashback chapters in a row from different POVs and it felt like too much. They are usually so effectively placed and I was a little disappointed how they were used here. I think the story could have benefited from sticking with fewer POVs.

I often say that such a character-driven story either has to have characters I love or love to hate, but I felt a little ambivalent to the characters here. I did like Emma (for the most part), Riley, Miller, and a few of the side-characters, but I never really loved them. Emma would be completely wonderful and level-headed one moment and then petty and insulting when someone made her mad. It made me a little sad that it was every time she was standing up for herself – or someone else – that she devolved to name-calling and this was supposed to be applauded. I also thought Genevieve was a pretty awful person. I never felt sorry for her, despite the things she went through. I just didn’t really care about her and it made it hard to get through her chapters.

One part of the story that I loved, though, was the romance between Emma and Miller. It played just a small part of the book, but it was cute and sweet and I liked how they helped each other. I honestly would’ve loved it if their relationship was the focus of the book instead. I don’t tend to read a ton of straight up Romance books (unless I’m in the midst of a Kindle Unlimited binge), but I will never stop hoping Higgins will return to her roots and give us another one.

Overall, Life and Other Inconveniences was enjoyable, but also a little disappointing to me. I feel like I need to say that it very well might be that I just wasn’t in the mood for this type of book when I read it and I’m sure there will be many people that absolutely love it. When I think of a Kristan Higgins book, though, I think of those sweet and funny Romances that I love and this book just didn’t fall into that category.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker

43434184

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The bestselling author of The Simple Wild and Keep Her Safe and “master of steamy romance” (Kirkus Reviews) delivers a sizzling novel about an ambitious and high-powered executive who reconnects with her first love: the boy who broke her heart. 

Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.

On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counselors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is still alive and strong, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences.

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

Say You Still Love Me will be available August 6, 2019. 

I recently read and really enjoyed The Simple Wild, so I have been anxious to check out more from K.A. Tucker. While I liked The Simple Wild just a little bit more, I still enjoyed Say You Still Love Me.

The story alternates between the present and thirteen years in the past. I’m a fan of multiple timelines, but I thought it could have been used a little more effectively than it was here. I didn’t feel like a lot really happened in the past chapters. While I shipped Piper and Kyle, their relationship was basically instalove. There are some cute moments, but the past chapters are basically them getting in trouble at camp with their friends and rounding the bases of their physical relationship. I didn’t really feel like we needed every other chapter to be from the past. I was much more interested in their second chance romance as they run into each other as adults.

I liked that Piper was more than just a rich socialite. She worked hard at her job and she was good at it. While she did seem to take her lifestyle for granted, she also didn’t look down on people who had less money than her. I liked her relationship with her old camp friends and current roommates and would’ve liked even more interaction between the three of them in the present. I also really liked Piper’s assistant, Mark. I felt like there was so much story with him and would’ve liked to have seen more of him. I actually would really enjoy a book from his POV. On the subject of supporting characters, I also loved Kyle’s brother, Jeremy. We only see him in a couple scenes, but I loved everything he said and did.

While I did think teenage Piper and Kyle started out as instalove, I enjoyed their romance. I’m a fan of the Second Chance Romance trope and thought it was done well here. I liked how they were able to talk to each other and still knew and cared about each other after so much time apart. Kyle did do some stupid things that was frustrating, but he eventually made up for them.

Overall, I enjoyed Say You Still Love Me. I liked Tucker’s character-driven writing and the second chance romance between Piper and Kyle. I wish the supporting characters got a little more page time and that the multiples timelines were used a little more effectively, though. However, I would still recommend this one to Contemporary fans and am looking forward to reading more from this author.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

42202019

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the bestselling author of The Secrets She Keeps, the writer Stephen King calls “an absolute master…with heart and soul,” a fiendishly clever suspense novel about a dangerous young woman with a special ability to know when someone is lying—and the criminal psychologist who must outwit her to survive.

A girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity. Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who dies on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth? Fiendishly clever, swiftly paced, and emotionally explosive, Good Girl, Bad Girl is the perfect thrilling summer read from internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham.

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

Good Girl, Bad Girl will be available July 23, 2019.

It took me quite a long time to get into Good Girl, Bad Girl. I debated giving up on it several times, but eventually the story really started to grab my attention and while I did have some issues with it, I overall enjoyed it.

First of all, don’t pay too much attention to the synopsis. I found it a little misleading, especially the part where it says Cyrus has to outwit Evie to survive. Um, no. While Evie makes him a little uncomfortable at times, he is never in danger of her. I also didn’t really see the point in involving Evie’s character in this story at all. She crosses into what I considered the main mystery of Jodie’s murder a couple of times, but not really in any impactful way (which is another misleading statement from the synopsis). I have tried to find out if this book is the beginning of a series and I can’t find it confirmed anywhere. If it truly is a standalone, then I am even more annoyed over the inclusion of Evie because all these questions are brought up and not answered! I like my loose ends all tied up in a neat little bow, thank you very much.

What I did like was the main murder mystery. I thought Robotham did an excellent job crafting a well-plotted, intriguing mystery with multiple believable suspects. Not everything that was revealed surprised me, but I didn’t guess everything from a mile away either. I liked Cyrus and Lenny, his longtime friend and the lead detective on Jodie’s investigation, and definitely wouldn’t mind reading more of them if this does end up being a series.

Overall, I enjoyed Good Girl, Bad Girl, but not quite as much as I was hoping to. I liked Cyrus and the murder mystery plotline. However, everything involving Evie just ended up annoying me because nothing was really resolved with her, nor did her plotline seem to contribute to the main one. I was also frustrated with the synopsis, but since that is not the book’s fault, I tried not to let it influence my rating. Though it took me awhile to get into the story, the writing ended up really drawing me in and I want to check out more from this author.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: One Little Secret by Cate Holahan

43770666

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Everyone has a secret. For some, it’s worth dying to protect. For others, it’s worth killing.

The glass beach house was supposed to be the getaway that Susan needed. Eager to help her transplanted family set down roots in their new town – and desperate for some kid-free conversation – she invites her new neighbors to join in on a week-long sublet with her and her workaholic husband.

Over the course of the first evening, liquor loosens inhibitions and lips. The three couples begin picking up on the others’ marital tensions and work frustrations, as well as revealing their own. But someone says too much. And the next morning one of the women is discovered dead on the private beach.

Town detective Gabby Watkins must figure out who permanently silenced the deceased. As she investigates, she learns that everyone in the glass house was hiding something that could tie them to the murder, and that the biggest secrets of all are often in plain sight for anyone willing to look.

A taut, locked room mystery with an unforgettable cast of characters, One Little Secret promises to keep readers eyes glued to the pages and debating the blinders that we all put on in the service of politeness.

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

One Little Secret will be available July 9, 2019. 

I’m so sad to say that I found One Little Secret a little disappointing. I loved the previous book I read by Cate Holahan (the cleverly written Lies She Told) and had high expectations for this one. Unfortunately, while not a bad book, the mystery and the writing ended up falling a little short for me.

One Little Secret is told in alternating chapters from the POVs of three women. Jenny is a successful sports medicine commentator in an abusive marriage. Susan is a stay-at-home mom with a drinking problem and a workaholic husband. Together, with their husbands, they are renting a beach house with their other neighbors, Rachel and Ben. The third POV is from Gabby, the detective that investigates when one of the vacationing women is found dead. Out of the three of them, the only really likable character was Gabby, but I don’t feel like we ever really got to know her that well. I found both Jenny and Susan very frustrating. All three couples on vacation seemed pretty dysfunctional. I was actually expecting a lot more scandal from them, though, and was a little disappointed in how straightforward and cliched everything seemed to be.

I also felt like this almost read more like Women’s Fiction than Mystery/Thriller. While Holahan did do a good job of making me second guess myself at times, the mystery didn’t really involve anything surprising. Everything that happened seemed so coincidental and a little unbelievable. Also, I felt like every break in the case kind of just fell into Gabby’s lap instead of involving any real detective work from her. There was also a side plot involving the date rape of a young woman at a party that just barely tied into the main mystery. It felt tacked on as an effort to make some sort of relevant comment on today’s culture and was not given the attention such a topic deserves. The story seemed to focus much more on the women’s marriage, family, identity, and self-worth. The murder seemed almost an afterthought.

Overall, One Little Secret, was an ok read, but did not live up to my expectations. While the multiple narrators helped move the story along, I never really connected to any of the characters, which made it hard to care about what happened to them. While this isn’t one I would pick up again, I’d still be interested in reading more from this author.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Sweet on You (Bradford Sisters Romance #3) by Becky Wade

42189944

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Britt and Zander have been best friends since they met thirteen years ago, but unbeknownst to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long. When Zander’s uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Washington to investigate. As they work together to uncover his uncles tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also come to light?
I received a copy of this title via a giveaway on Goodreads. It does not impact my review.

-This is the third book in the Bradford Sisters Romance series, but it’s the first one I’ve read. While I’m sure I would’ve felt a little more connected to the secondary characters if I had read the previous books, it worked well as a standalone. I never felt lost or confused.

-I love a good Friends-to-More romance. I liked Zander and Britt’s friendship, though I must admit I enjoyed Zander much more than I did Britt.

-This is a Christian fiction book, so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. While there were some good, relatable points, I felt like the Christian themes were a little uneven. They seemed to pop up here and there, instead of being a natural part of the characters’ lives. And then towards the end the message got pretty heavy-handed. It was still a good message, so I didn’t mind it, but I wish it would’ve been done a little more smoothly.

-The mystery of the story revolves not around Zander’s uncle’s death, but his secret past life. Frank is not even his uncle’s real name. Zander and Britt, with the help of a few others, research Frank’s previous life and discover that he might have been involved in a famous art heist. This plotline was interesting, but the focus of the book is really on the romance, so it wasn’t quite as in depth as I wanted it to be, but that’s ok. What did bother me, though, was that we don’t really explore how finding out Frank’s lies effects his wife, Carolyn, their daughters, or Zander and his brother, who were taken in by Frank and Carolyn as kids. I can tell you from experience that finding out a loved one had spent your whole life lying to you brings up some stuff, but it was kind of just skipped right over here.

-Britt was very hard for me to like. She was so impulsive and short-tempered and she just really frustrated me. While she did work very hard at her business, she was also pretty privileged and spoiled. She came across a little shallow and fake to me, too. She did learn some lessons by the end of the story, but the book failed to convince me why Zander couldn’t get over her in thirteen years. He deserved better.

Overall, I enjoyed Sweet on You, despite a few issues. I always enjoy the Friends-to-More trope and the mystery was interesting. I liked Zander, but Britt really brought the story down for me. I’m decreasing my final rating a bit because of her. However, I would still suggest this one to fans of Christian Contemporary. This was my first book by Wade and I plan to look into some of her other books.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars