Review: Meet Me on Love Lane (Hopeless Romantics #2) by Nina Bocci

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of On the Corner of Love and Hate comes a romantic comedy about a woman who grudgingly returns home to small-town Pennsylvania, only to find herself falling in love—not only with the town, but with two of its citizens.

Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.

She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.

With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?

A perfect blend of humor and heart, Meet Me on Love Lane is the second in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci that is sure to charm fans of Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.

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

Meet Me on Love Lane will be available December 10, 2019. 

What I Liked

-I’m obsessed with that cover! I think it just screams Fall, which is my favorite season. I’m just going to ignore the fact that this book mostly takes place in the Summer and not the Fall, though…

-I love the small town setting. I wish Hope Lake was real because I would totally move there. I loved how close the residents are and how they support each other.

-I liked seeing the characters from the the first book again. We get to know Henry and Nick a little better in this installment and I am looking forward to Nick’s story next.

-I liked Charlotte’s relationship with her father and grandmother. Her grandmother was kind of crazy and unrealistic, but she brought a lot of comic relief that I enjoyed.

What Didn’t Work For Me

-While I liked Henry and Charlotte, I never really felt their chemistry. We were supposed to rely on their childhood friendship to support their strong feelings in the present, but we only get one scene with them as children, which Charlotte doesn’t even remember, and they haven’t seen each other in twenty years. It just wasn’t enough for me to buy it. I could’ve used more development.

-After Charlotte was made to move away, she completely blocked out everything from her childhood. Honestly, this was a little hard to believe. I felt like the really traumatic part of her life was living alone with her mother in New York and blocking out those memories would have made more sense.

-There was a lot of repetition in the writing. Take a shot every time Charlotte says “You’re not wrong” and you will quickly become too drunk to keep reading.

-The whole subplot with almost dating Dr. Max didn’t really accomplish anything. It was barely a love triangle, which isn’t my favorite romantic trope anyways, and it just didn’t work for me.

Overall

Overall, Love Me on Love Lane was just ok for me. I did like the characters and loved the small town setting. However, the pacing felt very slow, I was never really sold on the romance, and most of the big plot points didn’t work for me. That said, I still plan on reading the next book in the series because I like Nick.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Blitzed (Playbook #3) by Alexa Martin

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Maxwell has finally met an opponent that he can’t best in this new football romance from the author of Fumbled.

According to Brynn Larson, Maxwell Lewis is more trouble than he’s worth. She doesn’t care if he’s a football god with a rock-hard body that brings most women to their knees. After an encounter that ends poorly, she’s not interested in giving him a second chance. The last thing Brynn expects is for him to turn up at her bar months later, hat in hand. It doesn’t matter if he brings more customers to her business–she’s still not going on a date with him.

Maxwell knows he made a mistake. He’d been waiting to make his move on Brynn since the day he laid eyes on her and he was finally ready to go for it until he screwed up. He wishes he could tell her the truth about what happened that night, but he just can’t. He can’t tell anyone, so he’ll make amends and hope she’ll forgive him.

Brynn’s not like other women, though. Playing for the Mustangs doesn’t impress her and gifts make her scoff. Max will have to bring his A game if he hopes to win her over.

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

Blitzed will be available December 3, 2019. 

I’ve really enjoyed the other books in the Playbook series and while I did like Blitzed, I didn’t think it was quite as good as the others were.

I have been looking forward to Brynn’s story for awhile now. I was glad we finally got to learn a little more about her, but she wasn’t as likable as I expected her to be. She was really hardworking and dedicated to her job and cared a lot about her friends and father, which are all good characteristics. But I also found her kind of shallow, materialistic, and a little pervy. She also had kind of extreme reactions to things that I found frustrating, especially when it came to the big final conflict. I found Maxwell more likable, but didn’t feel like we ever got to know him very well. I also liked seeing the characters from the previous books again, especially TK and Poppy.

There’s a bit of a mystery involving Maxwell’s relationship with his brother, Theo. Theo keeps popping up trying to find Maxwell and Maxwell just keeps telling Brynn not to talk to him. With how many times this is brought up, I thought the conclusion to that plotline deserved a little more attention than it got. It basically provided a couple chapter’s worth of unnecessary drama with Brynn and a small bit of commentary on a current social issue, and that’s it.

Overall, Blitzed was just ok for me. I did ship the romance between Brynn and Maxwell, but I wasn’t as into them as I were the other couples from previous books. This is still definitely worth the read for fans of the series, though, and I am looking forward to more from Martin.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

In this charming, feel-good debut novel, a cynical assistant at a screenwriting agency must reenact the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedy movies in order to help her #1 client get his scriptwriting mojo back–but can a real-life meet-cute be in store for someone who doesn’t believe in happily ever after?

After seven years as an assistant, 29-year-old Evie Summers is ready to finally get the promotion she deserves. But now the TV and film agency she’s been running behind the scenes is in trouble, and Evie will lose her job unless she can convince the agency’s biggest and most arrogant client, Ezra Chester, to finish writing the script for a Hollywood romantic comedy.

The catch? Ezra is suffering from writer’s block–and he’ll only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. With the future of the agency in jeopardy, Evie embarks on a mission to meet a man the way Sally met Harry or Hugh Grant met Julia Roberts.

But in the course of testing out the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedies IRL, not only will Evie encounter one humiliating situation after another, but she’ll have to confront the romantic past that soured her on love. In a novel as hilarious as it is heartwarming, debut author Rachel Winters proves that sometimes real life is better than the movies–and that the best kind of meet-cutes happen when you least expect them.

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

Would Like to Meet will be available December 3, 2019. 

I loved this book so much!! It has been awhile since I’ve found myself smiling so much at a story, even laughing out loud at parts. Would Like to Meet is funny, sweet, ridiculously cute, and just so much fun.

I knew right from the first chapter – a classic meet cute gone horribly awry – that I was going to enjoy reading this story. Though there is much more to the book then the humorous meet cute failures, they were definitely my favorite parts. But I also found Evie a likable and relatable main character. I liked her group of close friends and loved Ben and Annette, the father and daughter she befriends on her meet cute journey. Evie’s boss, Monty, and Ezra/NOB, the temperamental screenwriter, also provided a good amount of humor and tension to the story.

Any good Rom-Com fan will probably guess how the story is going to turn out long before the final chapters, but it didn’t lessen the enjoyment for me. There were a few parts here and there that I felt dragged just a bit, but these are really the only complaints I can think of.

Overall, I loved Would Like to Meet. I loved the characters and the meet cutes and the humor. I also love the cover – though if you’re like me, you’ll need to take a second look to notice that Evie is tipping over her drink, which is perfect for the story. I found this to be an impressive debut from Winters and I am very eager to see whatever she comes up with next. This is definitely a must read for lovers of rom-com.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Lake Season (Bluebell Inn Romance #1) by Denise Hunter

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the bestselling author of  The Convenient Groom  and  A December Bride  (now beloved Hallmark Original movies) comes the first novel in a brand-new series!­

When their parents die in a tragic accident, Molly Bennett and her siblings pull together to fulfill their parents’ dream: turning their historic home back into an inn.

Adam Bradford (a.k.a. bestselling author Nathanial Grey) is a reclusive author with a bad case of writer’s block. Desperate for inspiration as his deadline approaches, he travels to a North Carolina lake town, the setting of his next novel. There he immediately meets his muse, a young innkeeper who fancies herself in love with his alter ego.

When Molly finds an old letter in the walls of her inn she embarks on a mission with Adam to find the star-crossed lovers and bring them the closure they deserve. But the guest she invites along has secrets of his own. Past and present collide as truths are revealed, and Molly and Adam will have to decide if love is worth trusting.

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

Lake Season will be available November 12, 2019. 

I feel like I need to preface this review by saying that when I read this book I was kind of in a book-slump mood where I wasn’t really enjoying anything I picked up. I started several different books that I set aside after a few chapters, but I decided to keep reading Lake Season even though I felt the same way about it as all the others. Maybe if I had read it in a different mood, I would have enjoyed it a little more.

-The story begins right after Molly’s parents die. She’s discussing next steps with her older brother, Levi, and younger sister, Grace, and when Levi proposes Grace moves in with him – to another state – she throws a tantrum which ends up with her siblings giving up both of their current life paths to move back home and open the inn their parents were planning to do. I know that they obviously had just gone through a lot, but Grace came off as such a brat that I couldn’t stand her. It really set me off on the wrong foot with the story.

-I never really got on board the whole letter thing. Molly becomes obsessed with it and while I kind of understand the reasoning, I just found it pretty boring. I also thought it was kind of odd that she needed Adam’s help because she’s just “bad with computers.” It was like she barely knew how to Google something. Yet, she’s a millennial who was in college, so it’s basically impossible for her to not know how to use a computer.

-There are a few flashbacks to the letter writer in the ’60s and I just didn’t really think they were well done. They were very few and far between and not really enough to get me invested in the story. I could kind of tell the author wasn’t that invested in them either.

-Knowing that Adam keeps his author identity a secret and that Molly’s last relationship ended because of lies, you know what the big romantic conflict is going to be. This type of scenario is never my favorite and it was made even worse by Molly’s hypocrisy. She lied to Adam about things, too, but that didn’t really seem to matter. She also was kind of dating his best friend just because she thought he was actually the author. Not to mention that she also kind of cheated on him with Adam. I just found her a little hard to like.

-One prevailing thought I had while reading this was that it was pretty light on the Christian for being a Christian Fiction. However, the lessons came in really heavy handed towards the end. I don’t necessarily mind the strong push at the end, but I would’ve preferred it to be more evenly involved throughout the whole story.

Overall, Lake Season just wasn’t for me. I know I listed a lot of negative things, but I did enjoy some things about it, too. Even though I had some issues with it, there were some good romantic moments. I also fully admit that if I read this at a different time, maybe I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more and given it a solid three stars. However, I found it pretty hard to get through and so I need to give it a slightly lower rating.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

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

The Family Upstairs will be available November 5, 2019. 

This book was excellent! Lisa Jewell’s writing is so ridiculously addictive. It did take a few chapters to hook me, but once I was in I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The gothic atmosphere of the house really added to the overall sense of dread that infused the story. Jewell does such a fantastic job of writing families full of dysfunction and secrets that are both intriguing and kind of horrifying.

I am really fascinated by cults and while this is not exactly a cult story, it has some of the same elements. A charismatic personality moves into the house and he slowly takes all control. He indoctrinates several members of the household, gets them to give him all their possessions, and imposes strict and crazy rules. I felt so sorry for the kids that had no say in what was happening and should have been protected by their parents, but weren’t.

The story is told through three points of view. Libby has just found who her birth parents are and wants to know the full story of what happened to the family she’s never known. Lucy is basically homeless with two kids and is desperately trying to find a way back to England. Henry’s is the only POV told through first person and he recounts everything that happened from when his family was wealthy and relatively normal, all the way through present day. He’s not always the most reliable of narrators, but his chapters were definitely the most compelling to read.

Overall, I loved reading The Family Upstairs. It was at turns tragic, horrifying, fascinating, and hopeful. I am so impressed with Jewell’s writing and how compulsively readable it is. My only complaints were that I found it just a little slow to start and the ending was not as dynamic as the rest of the story. However, everything else more than made up for it. I definitely recommend this one to fans of character driven mysteries.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Woman in the Water (DS Imogen Grey #6) by Katerina Diamond

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Sunday Times bestselling author of The Teacher and Truth or Die is back with a new twisty crime thriller

I’m alive. But I can’t be saved . . .

When a woman’s body is found submerged in icy water, police are shocked to find she is alive. But she won’t disclose her name, or what happened to her – even when a second body is discovered. And then she disappears from her hospital bed.

Detectives Adrian Miles and Imogen Grey follow their only lead to the home of Reece Corrigan, and when his wife Angela walks in, they immediately recognise her. She’s the woman from the river, with her injuries carefully masked.

The more they dig into the couple, the less they understand about them.

Why have people in their past been hurt, or vanished?

And why doesn’t Angela want to be saved?

Smart, shocking and twisty – perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and Karin Slaughter.

Praise for Katerina Diamond:

‘All hail the new Queen of Crime’ Heat

‘Deliciously dark . . . Keeps her readers guessing throughout, as she leads us on a very secretive, VERY twisted journey’ Lisa Hall, author of The Party

‘Packed with twists until the last page’ Closer

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

Woman in the Water will be available November 11, 2019. 

I very eagerly anticipated the release of Truth or Die earlier this year and thought it would be another year before the next book in the series came out. I was super happy to discover that Woman in the Water was also publishing this year. While I did enjoy it, I have some mixed feelings about it, as well.

I don’t know if it’s because the book was maybe rushed to release this year or if it’s because of a new editor (in the Acknowledgments the author mentions a former editor, so I’m assuming the editor of this book was different than the others), but the quality didn’t seem quite as good as the other books in the series. The dialogue felt a little awkward sometimes, there was a lot of repetition, and the mystery left a little to be desired.

That said, I love Adrian and Imogen and I was just happy to spend time with them. I knew since they finally got together in the previous book that there would have to be something to throw a wrench into their relationship this time around. And there is. First, Adrian loses his head a bit during the investigation, as it brings up a lot of bad memories from his childhood. Then, he ends up having something very traumatic happen to him. It’s hard to talk about without having spoilers, but it was very hard to read and most the rest of the book focuses on him trying to come to terms with it. In true Adrian fashion, he deals with it in the least emotionally healthy way possible, which includes lying to Imogen and pushing her away. While that was frustrating, I do think Adrian’s reactions were authentic and it is definitely an important topic.

I thought the mystery was intriguing and had a lot of potential, but it kind of failed to reach it. We’re told over and over how evil Reece is and I kept expecting something big to be revealed, but he was kind of your run of the mill bad guy. We never really get the motivation behind his particular brand of villainy and the big reveal at the end seemed tacked on for shock value instead of being a satisfying or shocking twist.

Overall, I loved spending more time with Adrian and Imogen, but Woman in the Water was not my favorite book of the series. The subject matter of what happened with Adrian is important and I thought it was pretty well done, but I wish a little more development went into the central mystery. The story ends with some big changes going forward and I’m eager to see how those develop. Though I didn’t enjoy this book as much I hoped to, I’m still a big Katerina Diamond fan and can’t wait to read more from her.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

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