Review: Bridesmaids by Zara Stoneley

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Meet Rachel, the beautiful bride with BIG plans for the perfect day! The venue is a castle and the dress is designer. It’s just a shame her husband is a rat.

Maddie and Sally have only one thing in common – they both love the same man!

Beth is a newly single mum with a mystery baby daddy. Surely the father isn’t someone the girls all know?

And then there’s Jane, the glue holding them all together, but being dumped doesn’t make her the happiest bridesmaid…especially with gorgeous flatmate Freddie complicating things.

Will the bride say, ‘I Do!’? Or will her bridesmaids save the day…and find love along the way?

The most hilarious, feel-good rom com of the year!

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

Bridesmaids will be available April 26, 2019. 

Bridesmaids was a fun, quick read that I really enjoyed. I’m going to go the list route on this one.

-Based on the synopsis I thought this was going to be more of an ensemble story with multiple POVs. However, it’s told from the first person POV of Jane, the bride-to-be’s best friend. I had to adjust my expectations a bit, but it worked for me. Jane was a little hard to like at first. She came across pretty self-absorbed and kind of snotty, but as the story went on I liked her a lot more.

-Rachel, the bride, is always described as being so nice and caring and selfless, but I didn’t always get that. I mean, she was nice, but she did lots of selfish things. Jane had recently gone through a pretty terrible break-up right before she was supposed to be married and did not handle it well and is pretty skittish about the whole wedding idea. But, Rachel 100% expects her to be there as a bridesmaid and to even plan her hen party (or bachelorette party to us, Americans), which is where she was dumped by her fiance. Rachel also asks two other women to be bridesmaids even though one of them is now married to the other one’s ex-boyfriend, who is definitely not over the break-up. It was kind of a train wreck sometimes, but I couldn’t look away.

-I think my favorite thing about the book was Freddie, Rachel’s flatmate. He was so funny and sweet and wonderful. I loved every scene he was in. I loved his friendship with Rachel and I loved how their relationship turned to more than friends. I shipped them so hard.

-There are are several secrets and scandals between the wedding party. I’ll admit one of my pet peeves in books is when one honest conversation could solve all the problems. But, it didn’t really bother me here. As I said earlier, sometimes when they all got together it was kind of like a train wreck, but it was an entertaining one I had to keep reading. I thought the identity of Beth’s baby’s father was kind of obvious, but it added to the soap-opera like drama and I was here for it.

Overall, I really enjoyed Bridesmaids. While I did have some issues with some of the characters’ behavior, the story was full of Lifetime level drama and was exactly the type of read I was in the mood for. I also absolutely loved Freddie and his relationship with Jane. This was my first book by Stoneley, but I plan on checking out more of her books when I’m in the mood for some good Chick Lit.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Review: Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom (now a beloved Hallmark Original movie) comes a heartfelt story of family secrets, forgiveness, and unexpected romance.

Following a painful betrayal, Maddy Monroe’s love life is a wreck, and her restaurant career is in shambles. When her grandmother goes missing, she and her estranged sisters converge at the family beach house in Sea Haven, North Carolina. Being with uptight Nora and free-spirited Emma at the place where their family broke apart is a struggle, and undercurrents of jealousy and resentment threaten to pull the sisters under. In the midst of the storm, sparks begin to fly between Maddy and Gram’s maddening neighbor, Connor Murphy.

As the sisters pack up the family belongings, memories of idyllic, slow-paced summers are resurrected. But long-buried secrets also come to light as Maddy discovers that all was not as it appeared that last summer in Sea Haven–nor today in the seemingly perfect lives of her sisters.

As family tensions rise and Connor causes tumult in Maddy’s heart, the sisters must find a way to accept each other for the women they’ve become before the bitterness of the past destroys their hope for a future.

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

Summer by the Tides will be available May 21, 2019.  

Summer by the Tides is one of my new favorite Denise Hunter novels. A perfect blend of family, faith, and romance, it was everything I hope for when picking up one of Hunter’s books.

Maddy loses her job and her boyfriend all at the same time so there is nothing holding her back from going to look in on her grandmother when she gets a call from her concerned neighbor. The concerned neighbor also called Maddy’s two estranged sisters, Nora and Emma. Nora and Emma had a falling out twenty years prior and are both still holding grudges. It makes things really uncomfortable when they all show up at their grandmother’s and then decide to stay there to help fix the place up. All the characters were pretty likable, though sometimes frustrating. The secrets that are discovered during their stay were not anything surprising – except there was an extra twist on one that I wasn’t expecting.

I really liked the concerned neighbor, Connor. He was such a sweet and stand-up guy. I loved his relationship with his sisters. I really shipped his growing relationship with Maddy, too. He was exactly the kind of guy that Maddy needed and he was extremely patient with her skittishness. Things did get just a little too cheesy at times when it came to the romance, but I’ll take sappy over graphic any day.

Overall, I really enjoyed Summer by the Tides. It was a cute, quick read that I flew right through. I liked the message of faith and trusting in God and felt it was incorporated really well into the characters’ lives and didn’t come off as preachy. I liked seeing Maddy and her sisters work through their issues and discover family secrets. I liked that reconciliation was shown as a process and small steps and not just a magical fix where everything is all of a sudden fine. I definitely recommend this one to Denise Hunter fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

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

Serious Moonlight will be available April 16, 2019. 

Serious Moonlight may not have ended up being exactly what I thought it was going to be, but it was still the type of enjoyable, quick read I’ve come to expect from Jenn Bennett.

I thought that the mystery and the historic hotel that Birdie and Daniel work at would play larger roles in the story. I expected a little bit of a creepy vibe, as well. However, the book stays firmly Contemporary in tone. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, I was just expecting something a little bit different. The mystery left a lot to be desired for me. I never really understood why they cared that much about it and it wasn’t until the final “twist” that it made sense why one of them was interested. However, it was a good excuse for Birdie and Daniel to spend time together and get to know each other and have fun, bantery conversations that I quite enjoyed. I definitely shipped them together.

The story wasn’t all cute and lightness, though. Deceased parents, unplanned pregnancies, deadbeat dads, Narcolepsy, depression, suicide, isolation, and abandonment issues are all explored. It was kind of a lot to juggle, but Bennett did a pretty good job of it. I especially thought the inclusion of Narcolepsy was really interesting. I’ve never read a book where a character suffered from that and it involves a lot more than just randomly falling asleep, like I thought.

One thing I didn’t like about the book, however, is the irresponsible view on sex. I think that it had the opportunity to really explore the emotional repercussions of casual sex, but it never really went there. The “advice” Birdie gets from the adult in her life is basically not to take things so seriously. In a book meant for adults I could probably ignore it, but for one marketed to teens, I wish there was a better message on the subject.

Overall, I enjoyed Serious Moonlight. While there were a lot of heavier topics to deal with, at it’s heart it was a cute contemporary romance that I shipped. I really liked Birdie and Daniel together. There were many cute moments between them, including one of the coolest first date experiences I’ve ever heard of. I think fans of more serious YA contemporaries will enjoy it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

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

Review: Fumbled (Playbook #2) by Alexa Martin

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A second chance doesn’t guarantee a touchdown in this new contemporary romance from the author of Intercepted.

Single-mother Poppy Patterson moved across the country when she was sixteen and pregnant to find a new normal. After years of hard work, she’s built a life she loves. It may include a job at a nightclub, weekend soccer games, and more stretch marks than she anticipated, but it’s all hers, and nobody can take that away. Well, except for one person.

TK Moore, the starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, dreamt his entire life about being in the NFL. His world is football, parties, and women. Maybe at one point he thought his future would play out with his high school sweetheart by his side, but Poppy is long gone and he’s moved on.

When Poppy and TK cross paths in the most unlikely of places, emotions they’ve suppressed for years come rushing back. But with all the secrets they never told each other lying between them, they’ll need more than a dating playbook to help them navigate their relationship.

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

Fumbled will be available April 23, 2019.

I really enjoyed Alexa Martin’s debut, Intercepted, and her follow up book solidifies her status as one of my favorite Romance authors.

I am not usually a fan of the “Surprise, you’re a father!” trope, but that did not negatively impact my enjoyment of Fumbled. I thought that part of the plot actually worked out well, though I did feel it resolved itself just a little too easily. There were things that happened when Poppy first found out she was pregnant that I didn’t feel were really discussed enough and Ace, now nine, is old enough to have questions he never asks. He just 100% embraces TK as his father and there’s no awkwardness or anything. However, maybe the the lack of the mega drama I expected was why it worked for me.

I really liked Poppy and TK together. I would’ve loved to have had some flashbacks to when they were first together, but even without it the whole Second-Chance Romance worked for me. I definitely shipped them. I loved how sweet TK could be, both with Poppy and with Ace. I liked him in the previous book and I was glad to see more of him in this one. Poppy was a good main character, though her short temper did frustrate me sometimes. I also really enjoyed Poppy’s group of friends and seeing some of the characters from the first book again.

In a book with such a focus on professional sports, I thought it was really nice to see the subject of head injuries play such a large part of the story. I thought it was woven into the story really thoughtfully and you can tell it is something important to the author – a wife of a former football player herself – to shine a light on.

Overall, I really enjoyed Fumbled. Though it tackled (see what I did there?) some more serious subjects than the previous book did, it was still a really fun read that I didn’t want to put down. I loved the characters and shipped the romance. I am definitely anxious to read whatever Alexa Martin writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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: Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.

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

Cold Day in the Sun will be available March 12, 2019. 

I really enjoyed this book. I’ve really been in the mood for cute contemporary stories lately and Cold Day in the Sun gave me that, plus a little more substance.

Holland is the only girl on the boys varsity hockey team. She’s a great player, but there’s obviously a lot of pressure that comes with her position on the team. A lot of people don’t think she should be allowed to play with the boys and she spends every game trying to prove them wrong. What I thought was an interesting twist on the situation is that there is a girl’s hockey team she could play on. Holland really makes a point of saying her decision isn’t about the girls team not being good enough for her, but that she has always played with her brothers and their friends growing up and she wanted to keep playing with them. While at first I didn’t think it was a good narrative decision for there to be both a boys and girls team, giving Holland a choice really is important to the plot. Other than to satisfy my preconceived ideas, why should she have to justify her decision? Why can’t her explanation be “because I want to”? I liked that this situation challenged my thinking a bit.

Feminism is obviously a strong theme of the story. While it did hit on a lot of important topics, there were a few things that didn’t work for me. Any time someone uses a common, but male-centered expression (like “that takes balls” or “man down”) Holland goes off on them about it. Yes, I understand the reasoning for wanting to correct this kind of rhetoric, but honestly it just comes across a little petty to me. And I don’t think yelling at people when they say it is really the way to get people to change the way they speak.

While there were sexist remarks made about Holland by some people in their community, I loved that her teammates didn’t act like that. None of them seemed to be angry about having a girl on the team, even when she was better than some of them. While a few players were a little over-protective at times, they mostly just treated her like any other player and I liked that. I also really liked her relationship with her brothers and that none of them were threatened by her, either.

And then there is Wes. I absolutely adored him. He is so sweet and I loved how much he supported Holland. Besides hockey, they also share a love for glam metal. I am not really familiar with the music and bands that are mentioned (a lot) so I feel like some of the impact that might have had was a little lost on me, but I did like how they texted each other about it. I absolutely shipped the two of them together and I was glad to see Holland finally wise up when it came to him.

Overall, I really enjoyed Cold Day in the Sun. I liked the characters, the hockey, and the romance – especially Wes. While I didn’t always appreciate the way in which some points were made, I did like that it challenged the way I think about some things and thought it had a good overall message. This was definitely the cute read that I wanted it to be, plus more, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Biren.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars