Review: In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of Once Upon a Wine, a new novel set in the charming seashore town of Black Dog Bay, Delaware.

When everything has gone to the dogs . . .

When Jocelyn Hillier is named legal guardian for the late Mr. Allardyce’s pack of pedigreed Labrador retrievers, her world is flipped upside down. She’s spent her entire life toiling in the tourism industry in Black Dog Bay and never expected to be living the pampered life of a seasonal resident in an ocean side mansion, complete with a generous stipend. But her new role isn’t without its challenges: The dogs (although lovable) are more high-maintenance than any Hollywood diva, the man she wants to marry breaks her heart, and she’s confronted at every turn by her late benefactor’s estranged son, Liam, who thinks he’s entitled to the inheritance left to the dogs.

Jocelyn has worked too hard to back down without a fight, and she’s determined to keep her new fur family together. As she strives to uphold the “Best in Show” standards her pack requires, Jocelyn finds love, family, and forgiveness in the most unexpected places.

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

In Dog We Trust will be available January 8, 2019.

After a couple of really heavy reads, I needed something light and uplifting and In Dog We Trust was just that. I really enjoyed visiting Black Dog Bay again. It’s such a cute, quirky little town that I wish was real so I could go there. I liked that there were some brief cameos of characters from previous books, but you definitely don’t have to have read any of them to be able to read this one.

I thought the idea of this book was really fun. I’ve heard of eccentric, rich people leaving all their money to their pets, but never really understood how that worked. Jocelyn is named the guardian of three champion show dogs and that means she gets to move into their big, fancy beach house and controls all the money. Despite becoming rich overnight, Jocelyn never goes crazy with the money. She still works her previous job and only makes a couple small purchases that aren’t dog-related. I liked that she stayed so level-headed with all of that money. I also really enjoyed her relationship with the dogs. She is definitely a die-hard animal lover and while I may not entirely relate to it, I know there are lots of dog lovers out there that will really get it.

I liked the romance, though it was not nearly as central to the plot as I expected it to be. Jocelyn and Liam’s relationship grew pretty organically without any big, sweeping romantic moments, but employed smaller sweet and subtle ones. There was a lot more focus between Jocelyn’s relationship with her best friend, Bree, and with her mother, Rachel. I loved seeing these three strong women interact and get stuff done.

There were a few things I didn’t like, though. There are some legal things that happen towards the end of the book that I didn’t love how they turned out, but I also would’ve like a little more clarity on the whole thing. I also expected dog shows to be much more prevalent. We only see one show and none of the diva-like high maintenance upkeep that is described in the synopsis.

Overall, I really enjoyed In Dog We Trust. It was light and fun and I never wanted to put it down. I’ve been looking forward to reading more from Beth Kendrick and she didn’t disappoint. I think Chick Lit fans and dog-lovers would really enjoy this one, as well.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

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Review: Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Everyone says the first year of marriage is the hardest . . . but what would you do if you found out that you were never really married in the first place?

In this irresistible romantic comedy from award-winning author Beth Kendrick, three wildly different women form an unlikely friendship as they try to decide whether they’d do it all again.

They’ve had the white dresses and the fancy receptions. But now that the honeymoon’s over, Stella, Casey, and Erin have each had to face some hard truths about the men they’ve married and the lives they’ve chosen. So when the news breaks that the pastor who presided over their weddings failed to file a few critical pieces of paper, none of these newlyweds are rushing down to the courthouse to legalize their vows. Instead, the brides share their hopes, disappointments, and secrets while grappling with that pivotal question: Should they stay or should they go?

I loved this book! It was made into a Hallmark movie several years ago that I liked and I’ve wanted to read the book ever since I realized it was written by Beth Kendrick, who has written several other books I’ve really enjoyed. While I don’t remember enough about the movie to say how similar it actually was to the book, I think it’s safe to say that the book was even better than the movie.

The book is told through the POVs of Stella, Casey, and Erin. These young women have all recently been married over the same weekend, but maybe they shouldn’t have been. Stella wants nothing more than to be a mom, but finds out on her wedding night to her much older husband that that isn’t going to be possible. Casey had to all but drag her groom to the wedding. And Erin’s mother-in-law just might be trying to kill her (with peanuts). When they find out that they’re not legally married, instead of rectifying the mistake immediately, they begin to wonder if they really want to be married.

The girls were all hard to like sometimes, but I was still rooting for them. At various times I wanted them each to get re-married and to remain single. There were really cute and really frustrating moments that each had with their significant others. Some of the funniest (and most frustrating) were with Erin, David, and David’s mother. David’s mother, Renee, is one of the most overbearing Mother-in-laws I’ve ever read about and it was just ridiculous to see how easily she manipulated her son. In the end, not all the women get the happily-ever-after you expect, but I really liked how each of their stories went. I would have even liked an epilogue to see how everything was going a year down the road.

Overall, I really enjoyed Nearlyweds. It was cute and addictive and I enjoyed every moment of it. This book reminded me how much I enjoy Beth Kendrick books and I’m going to look into reading more from her.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

My Blog’s Name in Books

I saw this tag over on Fictionophile not too long ago and thought it looked fun. The basic rules are to use your current TBR list (no cheating!) to spell out your blog’s name. This might take awhile, folks.

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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

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Exposed (Rosato & DiNunzio #5) by Lisa Scottoline

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Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

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Hangman (Detective Williams Fawkes #2) by Daniel Cole

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

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Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick

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It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

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The Echo Killing (Harper McClain #1) by Christi Daugherty

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Silent Scream (D. I. Kim Stone # 1) by Angela Marsons

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Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

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One Small Thing by Erin Watt

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Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

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King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

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Rolling in the Deep (Rolling in the Deep #0.5) by Mira Grant

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Each Little Lie by Tom Bale

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Visions (Cainsville #2) by Kelley Armstrong

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It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

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The Ever After by Sarah Pekkanen

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Watching You by Lisa Jewell

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Still Me (Me Before You #3) by Jojo Moyes

Do we have similar books on our TBRs? Did you find anything you wanted to add to yours?

Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to play.

Top 5 Wednesday: Second Book is Best

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday (check out the Good Reads group) is: Second Book is BestWe’ve talked about series that went downhill, and series that are worth it, but which series were best in the middle?

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1. Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown. The first book was great, but this second book in the Red Rising series just blew me away. One of my all time favorite books.

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2. Scarlet & Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #2 & #3) by Marissa Meyer. (Since there are 4 books in this series I’m counting the middle two books as one.) I remember not being all that impressed with Cinder, but the books just kept getting better after that.

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3. Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black. With all the 5 star reviews I saw of the first book I ended up being a little disappointed. But then I read Red Glove and it was everything I expected the first book to be. I loved it.

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4. For Better or Worse (The Wedding Belles #2) by Lauren Layne. Even though I ended up reading this series in reverse order, it was still the second book I read and my favorite of the whole series.

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5. New Uses for Old Boyfriends (Black Dog Bay #2) by Beth Kendrick. This was actually the first book in the series I read, but I thought it (and the following books in the series) was a big improvement over the first book.

What are some of your picks for Second Book is Best?

Review: Once Upon a Wine (Black Dog Bay #4) by Beth Kendrick

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

From the “sharp, sassy, [and] surprisingly emotional”* author of Put a Ring on It, New Uses for Old Boyfriends, and The Week Before the Wedding, a new novel set in the charming seaside town of Black Dog Bay, Delaware…
 
Cammie Breyer needs a big glass of cabernet—her restaurant failed and her chef boyfriend left for a hotter kitchen. Just when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom, her Aunt Ginger calls with a surprise. She’s bought a vineyard—in Delaware. At Ginger’s command, Cammie returns to Black Dog Bay, the seaside town where she spent her childhood summers with her aunt and her cousin, Kat.

The three women reunite, determined to succeed. There’s only one little problem: None of them knows the first thing about wine making. And it turns out, owning a vineyard isn’t all wine and roses. It’s dirt, sweat, and desperation. Every day brings financial pitfalls, unruly tourists, romantic dilemmas, and second thoughts.  But even as they struggle, they cultivate hidden talents and new passions. While the grapes ripen under the summer sun, Cammie discovers that love, like wine, is layered, complex, delicious, and worth waiting for…

I just discovered this series and this author this year and she’s become one of my favorite chick lit authors. I’ve been looking forward to reading Once Upon a Wine for quite awhile and it surpassed my expectations. I really, really enjoyed this book.

I loved the family dynamic in this book. I loved how close Cammie was to her cousin, Kat, and her aunt, Ginger. I loved Ginger and Kat’s mother-daughter relationship, as well. They were such a realistic portrayal of family, even when the circumstances were occasionally quite unrealistic. They were there for each other and supported and encouraged each other, but also disagreed with and fought with each other. They all had a bit of a lesson to learn throughout the story and I enjoyed watching their character development.

I also really enjoyed the romance(s), though it didn’t play as big a part as I was expecting. I am quite in love with Ian, Cammie’s former and current love interest. I think part of it is because he reminded me a lot of Cooper from the Anna Curtis series. Though I did have some small issues with him when they were 22, he definitely grew up during their time apart. As an adult he knew what he wanted when it came to Cammie and he didn’t make a secret of it, but he didn’t pressure her at all. He was just there for her and cared for her and was so, so sweet and I am just so fricking in love with him I can’t even handle it. On the other end of the romantic spectrum, we have Kat who is married, but is having a bit of an early mid-life crisis and isn’t sure if she wants to be married anymore. I enjoyed seeing how her and Josh’s relationship changed throughout the book and that again it seemed like a pretty realistic portrayal of how love and marriages need to evolve over time.

There were some cameos from some of the characters from the previous books in the series, but there weren’t as many as I was hoping for. There was also way less emphasis put on Black Dog Bay being a break up town, though it did still play a part. This installment almost seemed more of a standalone than part of the series, though. Which isn’t a bad thing because it was still such a great book, but as a fan of the series I wish it was a little more inclusive.

Overall, I just really loved Once Upon a Wine. I loved the characters and the relationships and the romance. Beth Kendrick has really become one of my favorite authors of this genre and I definitely recommend this book (and series) to Chick Lit/Contemporary fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2016

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016. To make this a little more difficult I am not including authors who had debut books in 2016 – because they’re new to everyone, not just to me.

Pierce Brown

1. Pierce Brown Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star. You all know my love for him and the Red Rising series by now. I can’t wait to read what he writes next!

Julie Buxbaum

2. Julie Buxbaum – Read: Tell Me Three Things. So far this is the only book I’ve read by her, but I definitely want to read more.

Beth Kendrick

3. Beth Kendirck – Read: Cure for the Common Breakup, New Uses for Old Boyfriends, Put a Ring on It. I found a new fun chick lit series this year. I will be reading a lot more from her.

Holly Black

4. Holly Black – Read: The Curse Workers trilogy, The Darkest Part of the Forest. I ended up really enjoying The Curse Workers series and while The Darkest Part of the Forest wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I still absolutely love her writing.

Blake Crouch

5. Black Crouch – Read: Dark Matter. Though I didn’t think Dark Matter really lived up to the hype, I was very impressed with his writing. I watched most of the first season of Wayward Pines and really liked it until it got really weird, but it did make me really want to try the book series.

Vince Flynn

6. Vince Flynn – Read: American Assassin, Kill Shot. My brother, who is not a big reader, became obsessed with the Mitch Rapp series and gave me the first couple of books to read and I enjoyed them. I definitely plan on continuing to read the rest of the series. Sadly, Vince Flynn has passed away. A new author has taken over the series, though, so there should still me more Mitch Rapp stories to come.

Tamara Ireland Stone

7. Tamara Ireland Stone – Read: Every Last Word. I’m not really sure if I’m interested in her other books, but Every Last Word will always be a very important book to me. I have never related to a character as much as I did with the MC in that book.

Lisa Jewell

8. Lisa Jewell – Read: The Girls in the Garden. I really liked The Girls in the Garden and already have I Found You from NetGalley.

Denise Hunter

9. Denise Hunter – Read: Many, many of her books! So I’ve probably read more books by Denise Hunter this year than any other author and I don’t feel like listing them all. There have been several that I really, really enjoyed and a couple that I really hated or even DNF-ed. Despite the bad ones, I still have more books from her on my TBR.

Ruth Ware

10. Ruth Ware – Read: The Woman in Cabin 10. The Woman in Cabin 10 definitely had some creepy, hard-to-put-down moments and I want to check out more from her.

What new-to-you authors did you discover this year?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 2016

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben. Read May 30-June 1. 3 stars.

Well, I did not see that end coming! If the whole book was as surprising and emotional as the last couple chapters this book would have been amazing. However, I felt really disconnected from Maya for most of the book and there weren’t as much suspense or big surprises along the way that I was expecting. Overall, a good book, though.

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The Convenient Groom (Nantucket #2) by Denise Hunter. Read June 1-2. 3 stars.

A cute concept, but could have been executed a little better. As with most of Hunter’s books, I found myself really disliking the female lead for most of the book and loving the male lead. I wish we would’ve seen more of their relationship before the marriage because I never really understood why Lucas loved Kate already. I didn’t like how she treated him for pretty much the whole book. But, I did like the Happily Ever After.

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The Trouble with Cowboys (A Big Sky Romance #3) by Denise Hunter. Read June 3-4. 3 stars.

This book was pretty cute. I liked the slow burn romance a lot, though Annie did frustrate me at times. I did like her, though. Who I really couldn’t stand was her sister, Sierra. Sierra almost ruined the book for me. She’s so selfish and childish and I just wanted to smack her for most of the book. Besides that, though, I liked watching Annie and Dylan’s relationship and it was a pretty enjoyable book.

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Falling Like Snowflakes (Summer Harbor #1) by Denise Hunter. Read June 7-10. 3 stars.

I really like the Callahan brothers. I wish there was more time spent with all three of them together, though. I was a fan of the romance and overall story, but I think this was supposed to slightly dip into the Romantic Suspense territory and the suspense fell a little flat for me. Not my favorite Hunter book, but I’ll definitely continue with the series.

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Imposter (Variants #1) by Susanne Winnacker. Read June 12. 3.5 stars

I bought this on a whim from the Dollar Tree and I’m pretty pleased with my purchase. I was a little wary in the beginning because I thought Tessa was kind of whiny and there was a lot of boy drama, but once we really got into the story I became a lot more invested. I thought Winnacker did a good job of keeping me guessing about who the serial killer was and I liked everything that had to do with the variant skills – it’s not an original idea, but I always enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to the next book, even though I’m pretty sure there’s a love triangle coming.

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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. Read June 11-12. 3 stars

Bumping my rating up to 3 stars, just because I like Holly Black’s writing. The story wasn’t really my cup of tea. It was a little confusing at times and overall strange. I did like the relationships, though – between siblings, friends, and romantic interests – they were all pretty well done and I think if it would have focused more on those aspects, I would have enjoyed the story more.

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Defector (Variants #2) by Susanne Winnacker. Read June 13. 3 stars

A quick, easy read. There was a little more relationship drama than I wanted, but the love triangle wasn’t as bad as I thought. I did like that we got to see more Devon, though. I thought the intrigue surrounding the truth about FEA and Abel’s Army was good, but I am not at all satisfied with the conclusion. I did like the ending, but it’s definitely a middle of a trilogy ending and not a series ending and apparently the author has decided not to finish the series. According to a post on her Facebook, she’s over YA and writing Adult Romance under a different name…Very disappointing.

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The Regulars by Georgia Clark. Read June 15-16. 2.5 stars

Overall a quick read with some addictive writing, but the unlikable characters made it hard to read at times. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder. Read June 18-20. 2.5 stars

The characters were likable enough and I liked the romance, but the fantasy elements left a little to be desired for me. I also thought that a lot of the plot twists were predictable. I’ll probably try the next book to see if it starts to live up to the great reviews I’ve seen of this series.

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Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig. Read June 20-23. 2.5 Stars

This was just an ok read for me. The pacing was pretty slow and the mystery and suspense aspects were not as well done as I would have liked. We figure out Flynn’s big “secret” in chapter 2 and it really doesn’t have anything to do with January’s disappearance. I was afraid this was going to end up being a Coming Out book – which is a fine book to be, but not the book I was planning on reading – but it didn’t end up overwhelming the overall plot and that aspect was pretty well done. I just wish the mystery was as thoughtfully written. Full review to come closer to release date.

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A December Bride (A Year of Weddings #1) by Denise Hunter. Read June 23-24. 3.5 stars

A quick, cute story with likable characters.

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Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman. Read June 24-25. 3.5 stars.

A pretty cute fake relationship story. I really liked both Sally and Becks and their relationship. There was one big thing that kept me from giving it a higher rating, though, and that was Sally’s supposed best friend, Hooker, who felt it was her mission in life to set Sally up with a boy and how completely focused both Hooker and Sally’s mother were on how Sally NEEDED a boyfriend. I thought it was a little degrading, actually.

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Dreamology by Lucy Keating. Read June 25-26. 3 stars.

This was a cute idea, but I don’t feel like it ever lived up to it’s potential. It reminded me a little of Kami and Jared’s connection in the Lynburn Legacy, but was not done nearly as well. I did, however, really like the characters and thought the romance was cute, but the plot was really lacking.

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Put a Ring On It (Black Dog Bay #3) by Beth Kendrick. Read June 26-27. 4 stars.

Chick Lit at it’s finest! I really enjoyed this book. I liked the characters a lot and the development of the romance. It was definitely a different take on the fake relationship/marriage of convenience trope. It doesn’t exactly fit either of those, but it’s similar and I loved it.

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Make-Believe Wedding (The Great Wedding Giveaway #9) by Sarah Mayberry. Read June 28-29. 3.5 stars.

A very cute Fake Relationship/Friends to Lovers story. This was free from B&N and most of the free ebooks I get I never end up reading, but I’m glad I gave this one a try. The only thing I have to complain about is that it had a few graphic scenes I could’ve done without.  

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BACK ON THE TBR

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Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel. Honestly the only reason I wanted to read this is because Pierce Brown said really good things about. I got it from the library and read a chapter or two and just wasn’t into it. I think I do want to try it again sometime, though. I didn’t realize at first that it’s a series, so maybe I’ll wait until the next one is published before I try it again.

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DNF

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The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks. I usually try to get to 25% before I decide to DNF something, but I got distracted by other books and just never had the desire to pick this one up again. I only got to about 13%, so I can’t really say much about it, just that it was a little funny, a lot awkward, and didn’t keep my interest.

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The Seaside Letters (Nantucket #3) by Denise Hunter. I have read several Denise Hunter books over the last few months and I really liked some while I found others a little ho-hum. I liked the idea of this book, but not how it was executed. We find out almost right away that both characters know who they are writing to, but Sabrina doesn’t know that Tucker knows. I just can not take a whole book of it – It’s too much obvious lying. Sabrina (like most of Hunter’s leading female characters) is super unlikable. I also read a review that spoiled what her “big secret” is and it really turned me off from wanting to finish the book. It should honestly be a deal breaker in my opinion. I’ll still read other Hunter books, but this one was just not for me.