Review: Always a Bridesmaid (Getting Hitched in Dixie #2) by Cindi Madsen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Violet Abrams has always been in love with everything love and weddings. Good thing, too, since she’s been a bridesmaid no less than seven times. Sure her turn was next, she’d been planning her own nuptials meticulously in a treasured three-ring binder…until her longtime boyfriend left her for someone else.

Fast-forward to the day of his wedding, an ill-advised match being lit to said binder, and the fire department getting called to her sister’s bakery. Violet’s always been a little impulsive and a lot awkward, but having to explain to the super-cute firefighter, Ford Maguire, why she was setting fire to a bunch of wedding dress photos? Worst day ever.

Except now her bridesmaid expertise has her helping Ford cover his “man of honor” duties in his best friend’s upcoming wedding. Ford may be a “bridesdude,” but forever is the last thing on his mind. And if there’s one thing a perpetual bridesmaid knows, it’s the importance of a happily ever after.

Each book in the Getting Hitched in Dixie series is STANDALONE:
* Just One of the Groomsmen
* Always a Bridesmaid

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

Always a Bridesmaid publishes May 26, 2020. 

I really loved Just One of the Groomsmen and have been eagerly awaiting another book in the series. I am happy to report that I enjoyed Always a Bridesmaid just as much as Just One of the Groomsmen – maybe even more.

One of the things I loved about the first book so much was the group of friends. I loved being able to revisit them and enjoyed their always fun banter. I also liked how they always look out for each other. I’m glad that we got to see Addie work on planning her wedding to Tucker. I really enjoyed getting to know Ford better this time around. He was a great leading man and I definitely shipped him with Violet. I thought their romance was so cute and I really enjoyed watching it unfold.

I thought Violet was a likable main character, as well. She had a lot of baggage in the form of a cheating ex and tenuous relationship with her father and step-mother, but I liked how she was determined to move forward. She also has pretty severe ADHD and I thought that was interesting to read about. I did think she maybe acted a little more bi-polar sometimes than someone with just ADHD, but it did make me look at ADHD in a new light and have more understanding for people who live with that.

Overall, I really loved Always a Bridesmaid. I loved Ford and Violet together and really shipped their romance. I also loved seeing Ford’s group of friends again and all of his adorable dogs. I definitely recommend this series to Romance fans and can’t wait for Easton’s book next!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Top 5 Tuesday: Cute Romances I’ve Read in 2020

Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Bionic Book Worm. This week’s topic is about opening lines, but I decided to do the prompt from a couple weeks ago that I missed: Top 5 Cute Romances. I’m narrowing the topic further with only books I’ve read in 2020.

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The First Date by Zara Stoneley.

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10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston.

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The Marriage Effect (Washington Wolves #3) by Karla Sorensen.

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The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren.

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Always a Bridesmaid by Cindi Madsen

What cute romances have you read this year?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2020

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. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Boys of Brayshaw High (Brayshaw High #1) by Meagan Brandy. Read March 30-31. 2 Stars

So this is kind of the definition of Trashy Romance and Toxic Relationship. It was quite ridiculous and over the top. It’s getting two stars instead of one just because it kept my attention enough that I actually finished it. I might even try the next book to see where this crazy story goes. 

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The Marriage Effect (Washington Wolves #3) by Karla Sorensen. Read April 1-3. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this. Super cute with likable characters. I liked that we got both POVs. I loved Logan and Paige’s relationship with his sisters. I’m definitely going to read more from this author.

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Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey. Read April 8-9. 3.5 Stars. 

I was really frustrated by how childish Daisy acted for most of this book, but I did really like how it ended. And there were some funny and cute moments. Not my favorite Grey book, but definitely enjoyable.

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Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 9-10. 3 Stars. 

I really enjoyed parts of this. I liked the romance between Ava and Knox. I loved the relationship between Knox and his twin brother, Dane. I liked how Knox’s family finally got their act together. There were some things that didn’t work for me, though. The whole secret admirer love letter portion of the book was very short. There’s one letter, then some texts and you know who it is pretty much right away, even if it takes several chapters for Ava to confirm it (she also figured it out long before then, though). I was expecting that to be a much bigger part of the plot, so I was a little disappointed. I also didn’t think the sexual assault storyline was handled very well. It was used more for a “whodunit” type of plotline and didn’t deal too much with the physical, emotional, or psychological aspects that such a serious subject deserves.

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Doctor Dearest by R.S. Grey. Read April 12-13. 3 Stars. 

This was just ok for me. Both the characters had trouble with communicating and that frustrated me. This book also utilized one of my least favorite tropes. Had a couple of cute moments, but overall a pretty average Romance.

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Boyfriend Bargain (Hawthorne University #1) by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 11-15. 2.5 Stars

This one wasn’t really my cup of tea. The angst was the only thing I really liked about it, which tells you how much I didn’t like the rest of it. But, I finished it and there were some funny or cute moments, too. 

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Fake Fiance by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 15-21. 3 Stars. 

I got this for free awhile ago and finally decided to give it a try. It was just ok for me. It followed the basic formula every other book I’ve read by this author follows: Damaged protagonist falls for damaged athlete who has a complicated relationship with his father, a dead mother, and one close friend who provides comic relief.

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The Gambler (The Wedding Pact #3) by Denise Grover Swank. Read April 21-22. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this. I totally shipped Noah and Libby and I had a fun time reading about all their crazy adventures. One particular scene involving a big wedding dress and a public restroom made me laugh out loud. I did struggle with Libby a bit, though. Since it’s been so long since I read the previous books, I can’t remember if she was always so frustrating, but she really got on my nerves here. She did a ridiculous and crazy thing, after a history of doing ridiculous and crazy things, and then she got mad when her friends called her out on it. I also wish Swank wouldn’t have waited until almost the end of the book to reveal the root of Libby’s issues. I think I would have been less frustrated with her if we found out about it earlier. However, the rest of the book was so cute that these things didn’t really lessen my enjoyment at all.

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Focused by Karla Sorensen. Read April 21-23. 3.5 Stars

It took me a while to get into this, but about a third of the way in I really started to enjoy it. I was a little annoyed with Molly towards the end, but everything worked out in a cute way. I did like seeing Paige and Logan again. I’m definitely going to check out more books by this author.

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Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram. Read April 26. 4 Stars.

This was both really sad and really sweet. Ella is in a car accident that kills her mother and leaves her with scars on 70% of her body and mobility issues. She moves across the country to stay with her father who she hasn’t seen in ten years when he basically abandoned her. She has to deal with a lot of cruel people who make fun of her because of her scars, as well as new dysfunctional family dynamics. I really didn’t like her dad. I thought what he did and the reasons he did it were spineless and I think he should have been a little sorrier than he was. I also didn’t really like his new wife and I wish they would have handled the wicked stepsisters a little better than they did. Though, by the end of the book they have a lot of therapy and things do start to get better between them all and I liked that.

It took me a long time to get on board the romance. I found Brian (aka “Cinder”) really unlikable for awhile. Pretty much any time he wasn’t interacting with Ella, he was a dick. He did grow on me, though, and I shipped him and Ella. I’m a little nervous to read the next book because I feel like Ella’s already had to go through so much and I don’t want to see more bad things happen to her, which you know there has to be if a Romance/Family Drama gets a sequel. I still plan on reading it, though. I did really enjoy this, even if I had some issues with it.

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Fallen Crest Campout by Tijan. Read April 28. 3.5 Stars.

This was a quick, fun foray back into the Fallen Crest universe. There was still some immature drama, but for the most part it was a more grown up look at the Kades and I liked that. There was also the inclusion of characters from the Crew series, which spun off from Fallen Crest, and even though I haven’t read those yet, I didn’t feel too lost on the new characters. If you’re a fan of Fallen Crest, you should definitely check this one out.

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Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier. Read April 27-29. 2 Stars. 

I am so disappointed! I loved Jar of Hearts and have been waiting for Hillier’s next book ever since. I found this really underwhelming, though. It was super predictable with really unlikable characters. It read a lot more like a Women’s Fiction book than a mystery/thriller. The majority of the book revolved around a cheating plotline, which annoyed me. I kept waiting for all these great, twisty reveals and found absolutely none of them surprising. Just another hyped book that let me down.

*****Re-Read*****

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The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I absolutely loved this just as much the second time around. I had forgotten how it really puts you through the emotional wringer. It was still a bit too long. I still wanted to punch Nick right in the face a few times. But I loved it so much. I loved Bex and Nick and watching their relationship unfold. I will say, though, that if Lacey meets an untimely demise in the sequel, I will not be sad.

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From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata. I still liked this a lot the second time around, but not quite as much as I was expecting. I forgot how unlikable Jasmine was about 90% of the time. For some reason I had less patience for her behavior this time around. I still loved Ivan, though, and the romance.

*****DNF*****

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Teardrop Shot by Tijan. DNF @ 10%. I just couldn’t get into this. I found the main character really off-putting and couldn’t take any more of her.

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The Best Mistake by Cookie O’Gorman. DNF @ 26%. I wanted to like this, but it’s just not for me. The dialogue made me cringe and everything the main character did just made me roll my eyes. I’ve seen some really good reviews on it, though, so it could just be me.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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The Heir Affair (Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – 4 Stars

The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda – 3.5 Stars

The Vacation by T.M. Logan – 4 Stars

The Bright Lands by John Fram – 2.5 Stars

Always A Bridesmaid by Cindi Madsen – 4 Stars

Beach Read by Emily Henry – 4 Stars

WWW Wednesday: April 22, 2020

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Always a Bridesmaid by Cindi Madsen and Fake Fiance by Ilsa Madden-Mills. I loved Always a Bridesmaid! Fake Fiance was just ok for me.

What are you currently reading?

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Focused by Karla Sorensen. This is fine, but I’m not super interested in it yet.

The Gambler (The Wedding Pact #3) by Denise Grover Swank. I read the first two books in this series a long time ago, but this one wasn’t at the library. It is in Kindle Unlimited, though, so I’m excited to finally get to finish the series.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I think I’m going to try Beach Read by Emily Henry.

What are you reading?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Turned my Cold, Black Heart to Mush

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is a “Love freebie”. I decided to go to with Books that Turned my Black Heart to Mush. I don’t generally consider myself a “romantic” person, but there are some books that have such shippable, cute romance that it makes my cold, black heart melt a little.

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1. Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

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2. From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

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3. Making Faces by Amy Harmon

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4. The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

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5.  Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

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6. On the Fence by Kasie West

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7. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

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8. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

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9. Just One of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen

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10.  When It’s Real by Erin Watt

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag: 2019

I’ve seen this floating around lately and thought it was about time I did it, too.

Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2019

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In the Dark (DI Adam Fawley #2) by Cara Hunter

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019

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On Thin Ice (Juniper Falls #3) by Julie Cross

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

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Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum. I actually just had this from the library, but didn’t get to it before it expired.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year.

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

Biggest Disappointment

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99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne. After The Hating Game, I just expected so much more from Thorne’s next book.

Biggest Surprise

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The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth. This was not at all what I thought it was going to be, but I still really enjoyed reading it.

Favorite New Author

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Beth O’Leary. I loved The Flatshare and can’t wait to read more form this author.

Newest Fictional Crush

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Tucker from Just one of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen.

Newest Favorite Character

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Rob from Call it What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

Book That Made You Cry

I don’t think any book has so far.

Book That Made You Happy

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Huge Deal (21 Wall Street #3) by Lauren Layne. I wanted this story since reading the first book in the series.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation

If I’ve seen any, I haven’t remembered them.

Favorite Post You Have Done This Year

My 2018 Recap post

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

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I think In the Dark is the only book I’ve bought myself this year, thus it’s the most beautiful.

What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year

Basically everything on this post

Review: Just One of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Addison Murphy is the funny friend, the girl you grab a beer with—the girl voted most likely to start her own sweatshirt line. And now that one of her best guy friends is getting married, she’ll add “groomsman” to that list, too. She’ll get through this wedding if it’s the last thing she does. Just don’t ask her to dive for any bouquet.

When Tucker Crawford returns to his small hometown, he expects to see the same old people, feel comfort in the same old things. He certainly doesn’t expect to see the nice pair of bare legs sticking out from under the hood of a broken-down car. Certainly doesn’t expect to feel his heart beat faster when he realizes they belong to one of his best friends.

If he convinces Addie to give him a chance, they could be electric…or their break-up could split their tight-knit group in two.

Hiding the way he feels from the guys through bachelor parties, cake tastings, and rehearsals is one thing. But just as Tucker realizes that Addie truly could be the perfect woman for him—he was just too stupid to realize it—now she’s leaving to follow her own dreams. He’s going to need to do a lot of compromising if he’s going to convince her to take a shot at forever with him—on her terms this time.

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

Just One of the Groomsmen will be available May 28, 2019. 

I loved this book so much! It was such a fun, sweet Friends-to-More story and I couldn’t get enough of it.

I don’t really like to use words like “swoony” or “feels”, but Addie and Tucker made my cold, black heart feel all the feelings. I loved their friendship and I loved how it turned into more. The friendship lines aren’t really crossed until about halfway through the book and the slow burn was everything. I actually maybe enjoyed the first half of the book a teensy bit more because of it.

I also really loved their group of friends. It made me nostalgic for my high school days where I had a great group of guy friends and I was often the only girl hanging out and they definitely sometimes forgot I was, in fact, a girl. I really enjoyed when they were all together  and how they joked around with each other. I could have used a lot more of that, actually. I don’t feel like we got to know all of the guys as much as I liked to. I would love for this to be a series so that could be rectified.

The only thing I didn’t really like was that there were a few too many sex scenes once Addie and Tucker got together. I could’ve done with a few less of the graphic scenes, with more focus on the relationship instead.

Overall, I loved Just One of the Groomsmen. It was fun and romantic and everything I hope for when I pick up a Contemporary Romance. I definitely recommend this one to fans of the genre.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2019

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. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Defy Me (Shatter Me #5) by Tahereh Mafi. Read April 7-8. 3 Stars. 

This was SO MUCH BETTER than the previous book in this series. It still didn’t really do much to advance the plot, but there was a lot of background information revealed that I found interesting. I am a little annoyed that it makes pretty much everything that happened in the original trilogy obsolete, but I’m rolling with it.

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Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson. Read April 9-11. 3.5 Stars. 

Addictive writing and an intriguing premise kept me turning the pages on this. I found Matthew kind of fascinating. There was one big twist that I suspected awhile before it was revealed, but then Swanson still managed to surprise me by something after that, which I liked. However, I found the ending pretty underwhelming.

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The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton. Read April 23-25. 3 Stars. 

This wasn’t a bad read, but it never quite lived up to it’s potential. I wanted it to get really crazy and fun, and while there was some definite crazy behavior, it never really felt fun. I actually wished some of Juliette’s plans actually panned out the way she thought they would because that would have made it a little more entertaining. But mostly I just ended up feeling sorry for her and wishing she would get some help. I thought it was a little too open-ended, too. This isn’t one I would discourage you from reading, but I’m not going to recommend it either.

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Royally Screwed (Royally #2) by Emma Chase. Read April 20-25. 3 Stars. 

It took me quite awhile to get into this, but I eventually started to enjoy it. There were some funny parts. It was just a lot cruder at times than I prefer so that took a lot of the enjoyment out of the book for me, overall.

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The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth. Read April 25-26. 4 Stars. 

This wasn’t really anything like I thought it would be, but I enjoyed it. The writing was super addictive and I had a hard time putting it down. The character development was well done and while I wasn’t shocked by who the murderer turned out to be, it wasn’t my first guess, either.

*****Back on the TBR*****

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Keep Her Safe by K.A. Tucker and The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. I read several chapters of Keep Her Safe and one chapter of The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, but couldn’t really get into either of them. I’ll give them both another try again, though.

*****DNF*****

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How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper. DNF-ed at 29%. I thought the concept for this was really intriguing, but I ended up just not being able to connect with the story. There were times where I found it relatable and funny and other times where I thought the humor fell pretty flat. I read 29% before it started to lose my attention. I decided to set it down to read something else and planned to come back to it, but after reading several other books I couldn’t make myself pick this one back up. While I’m sure that there people who will enjoy this book, it’s just not for me. 

*I received a copy of this title via NetGalley.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Just One of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen – 4 Stars

Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker – 3.5 Stars

Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg – 4 Stars

The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen  Hoang – 3 Stars

WWW Wednesday: April 17, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?

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How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper. I’m not really into this and I’m trying to decide if I want to finish it. It’s an ARC from NetGalley I requested, so I hate to DNF it, but if I don’t want to pick it up again after a couple of other books then I’ll probably call it.

Just One of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen. This author is sometimes hit or miss for me, but I am absolutely loving this so far. So cute and romantic.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Bridesmaids by Zara Stoneley. Though I had some issues, I did really enjoy this one. Look for my review on it next week.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not sure yet, but I’ve really been in a Contemporary/Romance mood lately, so it will probably be something in that genre.

What are you reading?

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