Review: Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Review: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.

As soon as I saw this book referred to as “Jane Eyre in space” I knew that I had to read it. While it wasn’t quite all I hoped for, I think overall it was a fun re-telling and it made me want to go re-read Jane Eyre.

It took me awhile to get into Brightly Burning. I thought it was a little slow to start, but once Stella got to the Rochester and the Jane Eyre comparisons became apparent I really began to enjoy it. While there were obviously some adjustments made to some of the twists, I thought they were incorporated really well for both YA and space. I thought it dragged a bit when it focused on the non-Jane Eyre plotlines, though. So while the beginning and the end were not great for me, I really enjoyed the middle.  I also thought it was a little weird that they were in the future and had all this technology, but high society followed Regency era clothing and social statuses.

I liked the characters. Though I think Stella’s character was a little inconsistent at times, she was likeable and I enjoyed getting the story through her 1st person POV. I also liked Hugo and shipped him with Stella. I also really liked Stella’s weird-admirer-turned-closest-friend Jon. There were a wide array of secondary characters that I thought were pretty well developed, as well.

Overall, I enjoyed Brightly Burning. I thought it worked really well as a Jane Eyre re-telling and I really enjoyed all those parts of the book and the new spin of it happening in space. It did drag a little at the beginning and end for me, though, so I can’t quite give it 4 stars. I do definitely recommend this to anyone who’s read and enjoyed Jane Eyre, though.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Hot Asset (21 Wall Street #1) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

A sexy agent hounds Wall Street’s hottest new wolf in an exhilarating novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

Ian Bradley is the definition of a Wall Street hotshot: seven-figure salary, designer suits, and a corner office. His drive off the floor is just as potent. Every woman who knows him has felt the rush. But now he’s met his match in Lara McKenzie—a woman with the power to bring Ian to his knees.

An ambitious, whip-smart daughter of FBI agents, Lara is a rising star in fighting white-collar crime. Her latest case—the investigation of Ian Bradley for insider trading—could make her career. She knows a scoundrel when she sees one. Ian fits the bill: a cocky, ridiculously handsome bad boy with a slick swagger.

She’ll do anything to prove he’s guilty. He’ll do anything to prove he’s not. But it’s only a matter of time before their fierce battle of wits gets oh so hot and personal. Now, taking down Ian has become more than business for Lara. It’s become a pleasure—and there’s more at risk than she ever dreamed.

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

Hot Asset will be available May 22, 2018. 

Lauren Layne has become one of my favorite Romance authors and I enjoyed Hot Asset just as much as I expected to.

I thought the insider trading plotline was interesting. I don’t think I’ve read a Romance with that particular angle before so it was something a little fresh, even though the rest of the plot played out very standard Romance. I would’ve liked just a little more information on how Wall Street works and the ins and outs of the SEC, but I did appreciate that there wasn’t information overload with it either.

I liked Lara and Ian as characters and also as a couple. They have a mutual respect for each other and their work ethics. I do wish that it would’ve taken just a little longer for them to fall for each other, though. While Lara didn’t let her feelings get in the way of her investigation, she did willingly put herself in some compromising positions multiple times and it felt a little more silly-schoolgirl than professional investigator. I also really enjoyed Ian’s group of friends. I’m looking forward to their books, especially Kennedy and Kate’s.

Overall, I enjoyed Hot Asset. I liked the setting and the characters and the romance. I thought about giving this 3 or 3.5 stars, just because, while enjoyable, it was a pretty standard, straight-forward romance. However, other than the couple of sex scenes, I don’t really have any other complaints about the book, so I’m bumping it up to 4 stars. I would recommend this to Romance fans, especially fans of Lauren Layne.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Honeysuckle Dreams (Blue Ridge Romance #2) by Denise Hunter

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

After Brady Collins’ ex-wife dies, he receives devastating news—his nine-month-old son Sam isn’t his son at all. And Sam’s wealthy maternal grandparents want custody of the child. Brady knows he’s in for the fight of his life. But regardless of what any blood test says, Sam is his son, and Brady will go to any lengths to keep him.

Brady’s attorney tips him off that one major life change would virtually assure him of winning guardianship of baby Sam at the final hearing: an impending marriage. And his friend Hope is willing to step in as the loving and devoted fiancé.

Local radio celebrity Hope Daniels has been driven by a solitary goal her entire life, and after a happy accident she’s finally offered her dream job. But if the truth comes out about her arrangement with Brady, she may miss the chance of a lifetime and stand in the way of a dear friend’s dreams.

As Brady and Hope make sacrifices to help each other in their times of need, they risk uncovering a truth neither of them expects to find.

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

Honeysuckle Dreams will be available 5/1/18. 

What I Enjoyed

-For most of the book I really liked both Brady and Hope. I thought they made a good team and I enjoyed their blossoming romance. I liked how they interacted with Sam and their friends.

-This is more of a Marriage-of-Convenience story than the Fake Relationship I thought it was, but I still liked that aspect of it. It’s one of my favorite tropes and I thought it was well done. I liked that they went into the marriage with the intent of having a real relationship, but that they didn’t rush it.

-I thought the storyline regarding Sam’s custody case was well done, if perhaps a little easy. I thought it had great potential for drama, but it was kept in check and I liked that.

What Didn’t Work for Me

-As I mentioned above, there wasn’t a lot of drama for most of the book, but I felt like it saved it all for the end. Once the custody case was wrapped up I felt like all of a sudden Hope went kind of crazy. While there were a few things said about Hope’s past and fears throughout the book, it felt like it escalated out of nowhere and it really brought down my enjoyment. It felt tacked on and I just didn’t think it was necessary. My biggest complaint with books by this author is that I often find the female lead unlikable and I thought that wasn’t happening in this book, but by the end Hope was really frustrating me.

Overall

Overall, I enjoyed Honeysuckle Dreams, though the added drama at the end did bring it down a bit for me. I liked the characters for the most part and the Marriage-of-Convenience theme. I look forward to continuing the series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

 

Review: My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

This scandalous chooseable-path romance novel demands you determine your own romantic adventure-and satisfy all your earthly desires along the way!

Endless scenarios of high romance, deep desire, and quivering…comedy await your tender caress in this chooseable path romance novel. You are the plucky but penniless heroine in the center of 19th-century society, the courtship season has begun, and your future is at hand…

*  Will you flip forward fetchingly to find love with the bantering baronet, Sir Benedict Granville?
*  Or turn the page to true love with the hardworking, handsome, horse-loving highlander, Captain Angus McTaggart?
*  Or perhaps you will chase through the chapters a good man gone mad, bad, and scandalous to know, in the arousing form of Lord Garraway Craven?
*  Or read recklessly on to take to the continent as the “traveling companion” of the spirited and adventuresome Lady Evangeline?
*  …or yet another intriguing fate?

Whether it’s forlorn orphans and fearsome werewolves, mistaken identities and swashbuckling swordfights, or long-lost lovers and pilfered Egyptian artifacts, every delightful twist and turn of the romance genre unfolds at your behest! Prepare to open your heart, open your mind, and open-this book.

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

My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel will be available 4/3/18. 

I love the concept of this book so much. I have very fond memories of the Choose Your Own Adventure books from childhood and I love the idea of it for adults.

If you are unfamiliar with the choose your own adventure concept, it is set up so that at the end of every scene you are given a choice of how you would like to proceed (which potential suitor you’d like to meet, whether to continue a conversation or walk away, whether to stay in a situation or leave it for a new adventure, etc.) and the corresponding page number to turn to.  I read through the book several times choosing different scenarios to follow and I feel like I only scratched the surface on the different possibilities.

While the concept was really fun, the plots were all pretty “trashy romance novel”-ish, which isn’t really my cup of tea. The tone was pretty tongue-in-cheek, though, which I enjoyed. I didn’t particularly like the main character, which is kind of ironic because it’s supposed to be me. Even though I got to always choose “my” path, I didn’t always like how she handled the choices.

Overall, I did enjoy My Lady’s Choosing. While the plot lines left a little to be desired, I loved the concept. I feel like I only read a few of the many possible scenarios and plan on picking it up again to try some of the other untraveled paths.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

 

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.

The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.

Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect.

What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.

What I Liked

*This book gave me ALL THE FEELS. It has been quite awhile since a book made my little black heart feel like this. I just loved all the sweet scenes between Ruby and Aaron. For a good portion of the book I didn’t always understand why they fell for each other like they did, but once they got to interact in person I definitely believed it and was 100% Team Ruron.

*I’ve always been a fan of non-traditional formatting and the use of e-mails/texts/IMs. The first 40% or so is told that way and I was beginning to think that it was maybe a little too much when it changed instead to Ruby’s POV. It was actually a little jarring and first and I started to miss the texts and IMs when it changed again. While it did go back to primarily normal narrative style in the latter half, it still had some of the texts and I felt it was balanced well.

*The Slooooow burn. I’ve read one other book by this author – who is known for her slow burn romance – and thought people kind of confused slow paced for slow burn. This one, though, while not at all fast paced, did not feel like a slow story. With the way the story was told in the first half there was no room for the extraneous text that can bog a story down. It was all character development and relationship building and banter.

What I Didn’t Like

*Where the first half or so of the book had a steady pace, once it switched away from the e-mails/texts/IMs I felt it was a little repetitive. I felt like Ruby would kind of spiral and she would just repeat the same things over and over again and it really started to get on my nerves. I think that Zapata could edit things down just a bit and it would still have all the emotional impact with a few (hundred) less pages.

*If this book had a soundtrack, then “Gorgeous” by Taylor Swift would play on repeat. Ruby spent SO. MUCH. TIME. thinking about how beautiful Aaron was and how she had trouble looking at him, etc., etc. It got old really fast.

*While I liked Ruby, I found her kind of annoying. She was very sensitive and cried pretty much all the time. She also came across really immature a good amount of the time.

*I didn’t like how Aaron was so insistent that Ruby shouldn’t get a full time job just because it wasn’t something she would love. I appreciate the fact that he wanted to encourage her to follow her dreams and do what would make her happy, but it just feels so impractical to not have steady income. She could’ve gotten a job and still done her business on the side until she figured things out.

Overall

Overall, I did really enjoy Dear Aaron. Though there were obviously some things I took issue with, there were many funny moments and some great character development, and I totally shipped the romance. Aaron was just so, so sweet with Ruby and I couldn’t get enough of it. I’m looking forward to reading some more by this author.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Marianna Zapata

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

The hype was strong with this one. So strong that I finally broke down and spent some money (well, gift card credit, let’s not get crazy) to buy it. While I did end up enjoying it, it didn’t quite live up to the hype for me.

I’m a fan of a good slow burn romance and that’s what The Wall of Winnipeg and Me seems to be known for. However, I was not quite prepared for how sloooooow paced the whole story was. The chapters were pretty long, as well. I thought that it was really over-written for the most part. I think a little more editing could have cut the length of the book and the repetitiveness, as well as improved the pace. Despite those issues, though, the writing did drag me into the story pretty quickly and I felt like I really got to know the characters.

I went back and forth on how I felt about Vanessa. Sometimes I just didn’t understand how she reacted to things and she frustrated me. She was a little overdramatic at times, but she was pretty likable overall. Aiden also frustrated me for a big portion of the book. I am not a talkative or well-spoken person by any means, but he barely had any dialogue for about the first 20% of the story and I had no idea how I would end up getting to know him at all, let alone like him. Thankfully, he opens up as the story goes on and I did end up really liking him.

Overall, I enjoyed The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, though the long chapters and very slow pace were a struggle for me at times. I liked the fake relationship/marriage of convenience angle, even if it was missing a lot of the elements I expect to see with those. I ended up loving it once it got to about the last third or so of the book (minus the graphic scene it saved for the end) and that is why I’m bumping my rating up from what I was originally going to give it. While I wasn’t completely blown away by this like so many others were, I think it’s one that I will probably read again in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars