Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners and the “delectable, moving” (Entertainment WeeklyMy Favorite Half-Night Stand comes a modern love story about what happens when your first love reenters your life when you least expect it…

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

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

Twice in a Blue Moon will be available October 22, 2019. 

Twice in a Blue Moon was cute and compulsively readable, which is what I expect when I pick up a Christina Lauren book.

The story starts out fourteen years in the past with 18-year-old Tate on a trip to London with her grandmother. They run into a couple of other American tourists and Tate falls into insta-lust with Sam. She ends up telling him things about herself she’s never told anyone, including her relationship with her super famous father. Their relationship ends abruptly when he ghosts her after selling her story to the press. Fast forward to the present and Tate is now a famous actor herself and is set to star in a much buzzed about movie with her father. She’s thrown for a loop when she arrives on set and discovers the screenwriter is Sam.

To be perfectly honest, it took me a long time to get on board this ship. Tate and Sam’s relationship was really insta-lovey. They were only together for a couple of weeks and I never really bought into it as something real. I understand how fourteen years later the trauma of the betrayal may still affect them, but the puppy love surviving was a bit of a stretch for me. The whole second chance aspect of it wasn’t done as effectively as I thought it could have been, either. While I’m all for forgiveness, I felt like Sam was let off the hook a little too easily. He basically sold her out because his family needed money and going to the tabloids was the most expedient way to get it. He also says he would do it all over again if had to because what the money did for his family was worth it. But he felt really bad about it, so it’s all ok. I had a hard time rooting for him.

That said, as the story went on, they did grow on me. There were some cute moments I enjoyed. I also enjoyed several of the supporting characters, including Tate’s Manager, Marco, and her co-star, Nick. I could’ve used a little more of them, actually.

Overall, Twice in a Blue Moon was enjoyable, but not my favorite book by this duo. Christina Lauren’s writing was as addictive as always, though, and I look forward to reading more from them.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

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Review: Love on Lexington Avenue (Central Park Pact #2) by Lauren Layne

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Review from Goodreads:

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes the second delightfully charming installment in the Central Park Pact series, following a young widow whose newfound cynicism about love is challenged by a sexy, rough-around-the-edges contractor. 

There’s never a bad time to fall in love in the city, right? Wrong. According to the recently-widowed Claire Hayes, it’s very, verywrong. In fact, after finding out her late husband was a liar and a cheat, Claire’s convinced there’s never a good time for romantic notions. Determined to rid her home of anything that reminds her of her philandering husband, Claire sets out to redesign her entire Upper East Side brownstone and make it her own. But when she meets gruff and often-cantankerous contractor Scott Turner and realizes not all men are scumbags, Claire must decide if she’s ready to risk her heart again.

Scott needs a change of pace from the corporate offices and swanky hotels he’s been building lately, and bluntly makes it clear to Claire that he only took on her house for that reason, adding that he has no patience for a pampered, damaged princess on his job site. But when long work days soon turn into even longer nights, their mutual wariness morphs into something more complicated—a grudging respect, and maybe even attraction…? Scott knows he’s not one to settle down, but then why can’t he bring himself to put the finishing touches on Claire’s house and move on to the next job?

Filled with laugh-out-loud scenes that blend perfectly with the touching friendships Layne brings to life on the page, this “hugely entertaining” (USA TODAY) novel is perfect for fans of Lauren Weisberger.

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

Love on Lexington Avenue will be available September 17, 2019.

I love Lauren Layne books. When I am in the mood for a fun Romance, she has become one of my go-to’s and Love on Lexington Avenue didn’t disappoint.

I’ll admit that the first book in this series, while still good, was not one of my favorites and I was a little hesitant going into this one. However, I enjoyed this one so much more. I really liked the main couple, Claire and Scott. I shipped them right from the beginning. I loved how their bickering turned into friendship and then more. I thought that while they had a lot in common, they also balanced each other out well.

I enjoyed seeing the other characters from the first book, as well. Claire’s friends, Audrey and Naomi, whom she first met when she found out her recently deceased husband was having an affair with both of them. Naomi still isn’t my favorite character (and was mostly the reason why the first book didn’t work for me as much), but I enjoyed her much more in small doses. I’m really looking forward to reading Audrey (and Clarke’s) story next. I also really liked seeing Oliver again. He shows up a lot in this book since he’s friends with both Claire and Scott.

One thing that I do really love about this series is that there is a lot less graphic stuff than in most of Layne’s other books. I know some people see that as a negative, but I am here for it. Even though the plot of this book had a lot of discussion about the idea of casual one-night stands, which I didn’t love, it never really went into graphic description and that just makes me like this book that much more.

Overall, I really enjoyed Love on Lexington Avenue. I loved the characters and the romance and the humor. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

For fans of The Hating Game, a debut lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy about two unhappily engaged people each trying to force the other to end the relationship–and falling back in love in the process.

Naomi Westfield has an Instagram-perfect life, including the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family every bride dreams of being a part of. They never fight, complain, or disagree. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And they are miserably and utterly sick of each other.

Tired of contorting herself to fit the ridiculous standards demanded by Nicholas’s family, Naomi wants out of the relationship. But there’s a catch: Whoever calls off the engagement will have to foot the enormous bill for the wedding. When Naomi finds out that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of wills to see who can annoy the other into surrendering through pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves. They’re having so much fun getting on each other’s nerves that it starts to feel like something else entirely. As Naomi discovers hidden feelings for Nicholas buried under three years of simmering resentment, she wonders if he feels the same way. Suddenly, the countdown to the wedding that may or may not come to pass feels more like a race to mutual destruction–and Naomi doesn’t want to be left alone at the finish line.

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

You Deserve Each Other will be available April 7, 2020.

The cute cover and the reference to The Hating Game definitely drew me to You Deserve Each Other. Unfortunately, it was just not for me.

Naomi has to be one of the most unlikable characters I have ever read. For about the first 60% of the book I really thought she’d be better suited as the narcissistic villain in a psychological thriller rather than the heroine in a Romance. She is just so, so awful and self-centered. She spent the early days of her relationship with Nicholas lying to him and then got mad when he thought that’s who she was. She refused to communicate and every time Nicholas tried to be honest, she would not take any responsibility for the things she’s done wrong, but would turn it back around on him. She was so mean and vindictive. I really couldn’t stand her. Nicholas also didn’t hep matters by often retaliating her bad behavior. However, he wasn’t trying to get her to break up with him like the sick game Naomi thought they were playing, but wanted to get an actual reaction out of her and get their relationship back on solid ground.

Even though I was not enjoying the book at all, for some reason I kept reading it and a little over halfway through it began to get better. Naomi and Nicholas finally have real conversations and start to make positive changes. There were even several cute and humorous moments. It made me sad that the first half of the book was so frustrating because it had the potential to be such a sweet, fun story, but the second half was not enough to make up for the first.

Overall, You Deserve Each Other ended up disappointing me. It did have some funny and cute moments, but Naomi was just so unlikable for the first half of the book (and still not great in the second half). She really came across as a sociopath to me and I felt bad for Nicholas. While I wouldn’t personally recommend it, I’m sure that there will be many people that find it funny and enjoy it much more than I did.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

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

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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

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

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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: Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is-spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications . . . who wouldn’t be? In a few short months, everything’s going to change, big time.

But when Ally files her applications, they send up a red flag . . . because she’s not Allison Smith. And Ally’s-make that Amanda’s-ordinary life is suddenly blown apart. Was everything before a lie? Who will she be after? And what will she do as now comes crashing down around her?

An exciting new direction for acclaimed author Elizabeth Eulberg, Past Perfect Life is a tense and tender read about secrets and lies, reality and identity, and the ways we put ourselves back together when everything is broken.

Perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, this is the story of one teen’s search for herself amid the confusion of a shattered past and a future far from all she planned.

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

Past Perfect Life will be available July 9, 2019. 

I discovered Elizabeth Eulberg a couple years ago and she quickly became one of my favorite YA Contemporary authors. I really can’t believe that more people aren’t talking about her books. Past Perfect Life was another of her books that I finished in one day.

Ally lives in a small town with her father and her biggest problem is coming up with a decent topic for her college application/scholarship application essay questions. She has a tight-knit group of friends and a great relationship with her father. That is, until her college applications are kicked back for having an invalid social security number. I feel like you can probably already guess what happens based off of the clues in the synopsis, but I kind of find it impossible to review this book without disclosing what happens, so if you really don’t want to know, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***. Turns out, Ally Smith is not her real name and her mother didn’t really die when she was three. When her father was afraid of losing partial custody of her, he fled with her and they have been living under false identities ever since.

This isn’t the first YA book I’ve read with this topic, but I thought it was well done. A lot of time is dedicated to Ally’s mental and emotional state around the discovery and then as she tries to adjust to her new life. We also see how it effects the friends she’s forced to leave behind and the new family she never knew existed who have been mourning her loss for the past fifteen years. I really loved Ally’s friends, the extended Gleason family, especially adorable Neil. I also really liked Ally’s step-father. I thought he handled the situation better than anyone else and was overall pretty amazing. I have to say I really didn’t care for Ally’s mother. I know that she’s been through a lot, but I thought she handled everything really poorly, right up until the end, which I thought was just a tad too easy and abrupt. I really could have used an epilogue.

I definitely need to mention Eulberg’s writing. She has such an addictive writing style that compels me to keep reading, even when I had decided I was going to set the book down to do something else. I certainly didn’t mean to finish this book in one day, but that’s exactly what happened because I just had to keep reading.

Overall, I really enjoyed Past Perfect Life. Though it was a heavier read than Eulberg’s other books I’ve read, I thought it was well done. The topic was interesting and Ally’s character development was really well done. I liked the cute romance with Neil and the really addictive writing. I definitely recommend that Contemporary fans check this out, as well as some of Eulberg’s other books.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Call it What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

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

Call it What You Want will be available June 25, 2019. 

When it comes to Brigid Kemmerer books there are two things I’ve come to expect: Male characters I will love and lots of Angst. Call it What You Want delivered on both fronts and I was here for it.

This book had angst for days! I’m not always into that, but it worked for me here. Maegan, who has always been the good girl, is dealing with the fallout from getting caught cheating on the SATs. On top of that, her sister comes home one weekend from college and doesn’t go back – she’s pregnant and refuses to name the father or discuss what she plans to do about it. Rob’s father got caught stealing from his clients and is left as basically a vegetable after a failed suicide attempt. Rob and his mother are left with pretty much nothing but the house and take care of him there.

Both Rob and Maegan are left as social outcasts and end up getting teamed up on a class project. As you might guess, they get to know and then start to fall for each other. I really loved watching their relationship develop. Maegan was really judgey at first, but as she gets to know Rob she realizes how wrong she has been about him. Rob was wonderful. I mean, he was depressed and struggling with a lot, but Kemmerer knows how to write sensitive, sweet, lovable, tortured guys that I will love. I just wanted to reach into the pages and hug him. His emotion was just so real and relatable and while I did like Maegan, Rob is what made this book so special.

I also really enjoyed Rob’s new friend, Owen. He was exactly the friend Rob needed. I liked watching their friendship develop and seeing them both grow as people as they learned things from each other. I also loved the school librarian and how he became such an important person in Rob’s life. One character I didn’t like in the book, though, was Samantha, Maegan’s sister. She was so selfish and acted so immature and she just drove me crazy. She did redeem herself a bit by the end, but it was a bit too little, too late for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed Call it What You Want. I loved, loved, loved Rob. I also enjoyed the romance and the lessons the characters learned along the way. I definitely recommend this one to fans of YA Contemporary.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars