Review: Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

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

Head Over Heels publishes June 23, 2020. 

I always enjoy watching the Olympics and was pretty disappointed to hear that they are going to be postponed until next year. Head Over Heels looked like a good way to get a small Olympics fix in the mean time. However, it wasn’t really much more than that.

I was pretty bored throughout most of this book. I did enjoy the gymnastics included and reading about Hallie’s training routine as she prepared for the Olympic trials. I just wish there was a little more of an inside look. I feel like everything shared are things you can pick up by watching any of the countless features that play during the Olympics every year. There’s a lot more said about how hard gymnasts work than actually showing them working that hard.

I also never really cared about the romance. Avery and Ryan had crushes on each other as kids and their crushes have bled over into adulthood and they get together fairly quickly. I didn’t feel invested in their relationship at all, so when things went poorly and then got better, I just didn’t care. They could have ended the books as just friends and I wouldn’t have minded.

I expected a lot more to be said about the sexual abuse scandal, as well. It follows a lot of what happened in real life, just with fictional names. The doctor that is accused is one that made Hallie feel uncomfortable once, but thankfully nothing more than that happened with her. There’s a lot of talk about backlash online and a hearing scheduled for the doctor, but no type of resolution. I felt like from the synopsis this would be a major part of the plot, but it mostly stayed in the background. Avery and her old training partner come together to create a foundation to help the mental and emotional health of gymnasts and even that is barely addressed.

Overall, Head over Heels was not really for me. I would have liked for things to be more developed. It felt like just the bare minimum was done in terms of character development, relationship development, gymnastic research, and #MeToo details. What should have been interesting and emotional came off as boring and superficial. This is the second book I’ve tried by this author and I think it will probably be my last.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Release Day Review: Cheesy on the Eyes (Slice #5) by Teagan Hunter

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Dating is hard. Dating in a small town? Impossible.

Leave it to my little brother to come back home announcing he knocked up his fiancée and the wedding has been moved…to next month.

When he tries to set me up with one of his football buddies, I tell him I’ll be bringing my own plus-one.

Only problem? I’m hopelessly single.

Enter Sullivan Scott, AKA my hero.

We strike a deal: he’ll pretend to be my boyfriend, and I’ll use my mechanic skills to help him fix his boat. That’s it. No funny business, and definitely no feelings involved.

Sully’s quiet and reserved, and I’ve been told I’m too much to handle on a good day. We’re opposites, and neither of us is looking for anything serious.

I’m certain we can keep this strictly platonic…

I received an advanced copy of this title. It does not impact my review.

This book was so fun! Teagan Hunter excels at laugh-out-loud banter and cute romance and Cheesy on the Eyes was no exception.

Current fans of the Slice series will be happy to see Sully finally get a chance to be leading man. He’s always been a likable character in the series and I really enjoyed getting his POV. Thea is a relatively new character to the series and I mostly enjoyed her, as well. She is a bit of a quirky character, so she had to grow on me, but I ultimately ended up liking her and appreciated her growth.

The banter in this book was so much fun. Hunter always manages to make me laugh out loud when I’m reading her books. It occasionally got a little more crude than I like, but that didn’t really hinder my enjoyment. I absolutely loved the scenes that brought the characters from all the previous books together. It was non-stop banter and I just had a big smile on my face while reading it. I would love to be a part of their group.

Sully and Thea start off as a fake relationship, which is my favorite romantic trope. There were some funny and slightly uncomfortable scenes that I always looks for, but for the most part, they didn’t spend too much time trying to fool other people. Their friendship begins very quickly and real feelings soon follow. There’s still a little angst and a big cheesy romantic gesture at the end, though. I definitely shipped them.

Overall, Cheesy on the Eyes was a quick, fun read that I enjoyed. The banter was great and the romance was cute. I definitely recommend this one to Romance fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Meet Teagan Hunter

I’m a Missouri-raised gal, but currently live in North Carolina with my US Marine husband and 9-year-old dog. I spend my days begging him for a cat, and I survive off coffee, pizza, and sarcasm. When I’m not writing, you can find me binge-watching various TV shows, especially Supernatural and One Tree Hill. I like cold weather, buy more paperbacks than I’ll ever read, and I never say no to brownies.

 

Writing is my passion, and this is just the beginning of my journey.

 

Connect with Teagan Hunter
➜ Website: www.teaganhunterwrites.com 
➜ Facebook: www.facebook.com/teaganhunterwrites 
➜ Instagram: www.instagram.com/teaganhunterwrites 
➜ Newsletter: www.teaganhunterwrites.com/newsletter
➜ Reader Group: http://bit.ly/TeagansTidbits

Grab Your Copy Here:

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AUAmazon UK

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Review: The Heir Affair (Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Making it up the aisle was the easy part: After marrying the heir to the throne, Rebecca “Bex” Porter must survive her own scandals as she adjusts to life in the glamorous British royal family, in this “highly anticipated” follow-up to The Royal We, the “fun and dishy” bestseller and NYT Summer Reading List pick inspired by Will and Kate’s romance (People).

After a scandalous secret turns their fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare, Rebecca “Bex” Porter and her husband Prince Nicholas are in self-imposed exile. The public is angry. The Queen is even angrier. And the press is salivating. Cutting themselves off from friends and family, and escaping the world’s judgmental eyes, feels like the best way to protect their fragile, all-consuming romance.

But when a crisis forces the new Duke and Duchess back to London, the Band-Aid they’d placed over their problems starts to peel at the edges. Now, as old family secrets and new ones threaten to derail her new royal life, Bex has to face the emotional wreckage she and Nick left behind: with the Queen, with the world, and with Nick’s brother Freddie, whose sins may not be so easily forgotten — nor forgiven.

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

The Heir Affair publishes June 16, 2020. 

I remember being very pleasantly surprised by how much I loved The Royal We and I was so excited to see it was finally getting a sequel. Much like the first book, it wasn’t really what I was expecting it to be, but it was everything. This is easily my favorite book of the year so far.

I decided to re-read the first book before jumping into The Heir Affair and I’m glad I did. I loved it just as much the second time around, maybe even more. I found myself still getting very anxious or sad at parts, even though I knew how everything turned out, which I think is a real testament to the writing. I am so invested in these characters and I already miss them.

The Heir Affair picks up soon after The Royal We ended. The first book was written to be a standalone and it ended on a very positive note of implied Happily Ever After. However, that’s not quite how things turned out. And really, can we expect anything to be that easy for Bex and Nick? Right as the royal wedding was ending, Clive published his story about Bex and Freddie and the public immediately turned on them. Bex and Nick end up running away from their problems for awhile and get to start married life in their own private bubble, which they’ve always thrived in. Once they have to return to reality, though, they have to face everything they’ve ignored – especially the Freddie of it all.

I would love to tell you that things were easily worked out and it was all cute and funny and happily ever after. And while there was definitely a lot of cute and funny, there is so much more substance to it than that. That means that along with the fun banter and the highs, there were also some real lows. It gave my cold, black heart some FEELINGS and I loved every minute of it, even when I kind of hated what was happening sometimes. There are a lot of layers to this story, but at the forefront are the big three relationships: Bex and Nick, Nick and Freddie, and Bex and Freddie. There is just so much emotion there to unpack and I felt all of it. They each had to work at mending their relationships and coming to terms with their feelings and I think it wrapped up in realistic and satisfying ways, if not quite the neat little bow I like things tied up in.

As I mentioned previously, I absolutely love the characters in this series. I loved seeing Bex’s friends, Cilla, Gaz, and Bea again. We didn’t see quite as much as Cilla as we did in the first book, but both Gaz and Bea had some good subplots. I had absolutely hated Bex’s twin sister, Lacey, in the first book and was kind of hoping she’d be killed off or something here, but she was actually quite palatable in this one. She was the character I wished she was in the first book. I loved watching Bex begin an actual relationship with members of Nick’s family, especially the queen. And of course, my dear Freddie. He grew up so much in this book and while my heart broke for him time and time again, I like to think that he’s found his own happily ever after. I still wouldn’t mind a Freddie spin-off, though. And can I just say that one of my favorite things about this series is that Freddie’s nickname for Nick is Knickers. I love the relationship between these brothers and they really put me through the wringer in this one.

Overall, I absolutely loved The Heir Affair. This review does not even come close to expressing how much. The cute cover and overall storyline may fool you into thinking this is just a light and easy Romance, but it is emotional and intense – in the very best of ways. It’s very character driven and has many threads to connect, but I think the authors did a great job of tying everything together. There were a couple things left a little more open than I like, though, which I have my fingers crossed means that another book will be coming in the future. This is a must read for anyone who’s read The Royal We and if you haven’t started this series yet, you really should.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

Always a Bridesmaid publishes May 26, 2020. 

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Beach Read by Emily Henry

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

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

Beach Read publishes May 19, 2020. 

It’s pretty rare that I say this about a popular book, but Beach Read totally deserves all the hype it’s been getting. I loved it!

I did find that I had to adjust my expectations when I started the book. I expected a tropical location and nothing but cuteness. However, the beach being referenced in the title is on Lake Michigan and there was a whole lot of seriousness and emotional punches mixed in with the cuteness. That ended up working for me, though. I really loved both January and Gus and thought they were relatable and likable characters. I thought they brought out the best in each other and were a great example of how a couple should grow together in a relationship and not just be “fixed” by love.

I loved January and Gus’ banter. They made me smile throughout so much of this book and there were so many cute and romantic moments between them. They also managed to make me emotional, as well. I thought Gus’ general pessimism was relatable, while also wanting to see him find happiness and heal from his awful childhood. January is not only dealing with the grief of her father’s passing, but she has also found out that he had cheated on her mother and is left wondering how much of her childhood was a lie because of it. I, personally, also found this very relatable. There were several things she tried to work through which I found pretty cathartic and I liked that while she came to terms with things, she didn’t necessarily get the closure she wanted on it, either. It felt real.

I also loved that both main characters are authors. Books about authors or journalists are my weakness. I liked reading about what they thought about different genres and their daily writing routines and dealing with writer’s block. I also wanted to read the books they were writing, especially Gus’ cult book.

Overall, I really loved Beach Read and this little review probably doesn’t do justice to how much. I loved the characters and the town (once I got over it not being a tropical beach location, I found the small town charming, even if it is in Michigan (I’m a Buckeye)) and the emotions and the romance. It was a perfect blend of serious and cute and I couldn’t get enough of it. I definitely recommend this one!

Overall Review (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The F List by Alessandra Torre

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

There was a lot I did to get to this point, to get 42 million followers. Some of it I was proud of, most of it I wasn’t.

There was a group of us, all internet celebrities, and everyone wanted in, which is how six of us ended up living in this mansion, a camera always on, the public always watching. Two months and nine carefully scripted TV episodes that would get us more of the three F’s we were desperately chasing.

Fame. Fortune. Followers.

I knew my role. I was Emma, the unlikeable one. The dark villain with the devious smile. The package of dynamite that would blow up any chance of peaceful living and harmony.

Cash knew his role. He was the good guy. The lovable one. The one that everyone, even the darkest cast member of them all, would fall in love with.

They were supposed to just be roles.
None of it was supposed to be real.

My heart didn’t get that memo.

I loved this! I started reading it on a day that I had already picked up and put down three different books and nothing was keeping my attention. But, as soon as I started The F List, I was hooked.

I thought the story would start with the reality show, but we get to watch Emma’s journey to becoming internet famous before we get there. While I find myself generally not caring about celebrities these days, I find the behind the scenes work really fascinating. It’s crazy how many people are behind a simple social media post and how publicity is manufactured. Reading about Emma’s rise in followers was kind of akin to watching a reality you don’t know why you’re watching, but can’t look away from.

Interspersed with chapters from Emma’s POV are various quotes from interviews and chapters from Cash’s POV. I thought Torre did a great job of making Emma and Cash’s voice distinguishable. I also loved the interview quotes. I thought they were used really effectively and added a lot to the story. I also liked the growth we see in both Emma and Cash. Neither were very likable in the beginning, but I loved both of them by the end of the story. And I was definitely rooting for them to be together.

Speaking of the romance, that’s one of the only pieces I have a little bit of a problem with. It was a little too insta-lovey for me. They meet briefly at a party several years previously where Cash defended Emma when someone was making fun of her, then all these years later she’s still someone he thinks about. I understand Emma’s crush since he “rescued” her and she already had a crush on him before that because he was already a little famous, but I found it a little unbelievable that Cash would still hold a torch for her based on their very brief interaction. That didn’t ruin the love story for me, though. Their next encounter shifts them into an enemies-to-lovers scenario and I enjoyed it. I did really ship them and there were several sweet moments. I also want to mention that while Torre is known for books with more of an erotic edge to them, there are no sex scenes in this book. It made me enjoy it even that much more, to be honest. The only other thing that I didn’t entirely love about the book is that I found the end just a little over the top. I still liked it, though.

Overall, I loved The F List. It was super addicting and I never wanted to put it down. I liked the character’s growth, shipped the romance, and found the whole internet famous plotline fascinating. I loved Torre’s writing style with the use of multiple POVs and quote excerpts, as well. I definitely recommend this one!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit.

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

Real Men Knit publishes May 19, 2020. 

I have to admit that I wanted to like this book much more than I actually liked it. The synopsis sounded cute and I liked that there was a diverse cast. I was looking forward to some fun family dynamics between the brothers, too. Unfortunately, I found everything that happened really lackluster.

I wasn’t very impressed with the writing, though it did get better as it went on. The first couple chapters were extremely heavy on the internal monologues that set up the story was a massive info dump of characters and circumstances. I would have liked to have seen things start out a little more naturally and get to know the characters in a more authentic way. After two chapters I almost decided to DNF it since I knew I couldn’t take a whole book written in this way. However, I kept reading and it got a little better. There were still some parts where I skimmed when things got a little dense, but it became much easier to read.

While I liked Jesse and Kelly well enough, all the other characters were pretty one-dimensional. I was really looking forward to seeing the relationship between the brothers, but it was pretty underwhelming. I had a hard time even telling some of them apart. I expected to see them bond and come together as they grieved the passing of their mother, but that didn’t really happen. I felt like there was so much potential there and it just didn’t live up to it.

Overall, Real Men Knit left me underwhelmed. I really wanted to like it, but poor character development and a writing style I didn’t connect with kept me from really enjoying it. There were a few funny or cute moments, but they were too few and far between to make up for the rest of the story. While the book wasn’t for me, I’m sure there will be some others than can overlook the issues I had with it and enjoy the romance.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…

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

Updated Publishing Date for Chasing Lucky: November 10, 2020. 

When I pick up a Jenn Bennett book, I expect a cute and quirky story with fun banter and lots of drama. Chasing Lucky was all those things.

What I Liked

-I’ve read some so-so reviews of this book, so I went in with lowered expectations and I think that worked out for me. I enjoyed Chasing Lucky. While it felt a little too long at times, I did fly through this 400+ page book in about 24 hours.

-While Josie did frustrate me (more on that later), she was mostly pretty likable.

-I adored Lucky! He was so precious. He put on a front for awhile, but once he and Josie started spending more time together, he kind of wore his heart on his sleeve and was just so sweet. He pretty much made this book for me.

-I definitely shipped Josie and Lucky together. I loved watching their friendship grow into more. I thought they went really well together. And I loved their banter!

What Didn’t Work for Me

-I felt like there were too many storylines that were just enough to add some drama, but lacked any real substance. Josie has a cousin in a horribly toxic relationship and it’s not really given the attention such a serious topic deserves. There’s a lot of stuff Josie says about her mother’s actions and possible depression that aren’t really explored. Lucky’s behavior is attributed to an event that is explained in about a paragraph and barely addressed again, even though it’s pretty obvious the boy would benefit from some mental health counseling. I just wish some of these would have been either cut out or addressed more fully. I didn’t feel closure with any of them. It just added a lot of unnecessary drama and made this book much longer than it needed to be.

-Bennett went to a lot of trouble of describing the cute and quirky town and while it sounded like it should be charming, I felt like we weren’t supposed to like it. While the town is cute, basically every person in it sucks. Except for Luck’s family.

-One of my biggest pet peeves is when all the drama is caused by lack of communication and that was basically the whole plot of this book. Josie’s family is famous for their inability to communicate and it drove me nuts. They did eventually get better by the end of the book, but it didn’t lessen my frustration with them.

-Josie does something she shouldn’t and Lucky ends up taking all the blame for it and it really made me mad that Josie just let him. Even when it became obvious that he could get in serious trouble for it, she just kept her mouth shut. I had a hard time respecting her at all for awhile.

Overall

Overall, I enjoyed Chasing Lucky. I loved Lucky and shipped Josie with him. I liked their banter and the romance. There was a little too much drama and lack of communication for me, though. I think some of it could have easily been cut out to make the book a little shorter and more focused. I think fans of Bennett will still enjoy this one, though.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: The First Date by Zara Stoneley

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Wedding Date!

Right place.
Right time.
Wrong guy …

After breaking up with her childhood sweetheart, clueless dater Rosie has found herself in a boyfriend-drought. So when she finally swipes right on a guy who seems interested, she can’t wait to meet up IRL.

Until she’s left standing alone. In a bar. Ghosted.

Enter Noah. Confident, funny … and a serial first dater. Offering to give Rosie a crash course in seduction, this could be just what she needs. Until her matchmaker turns out to be the best date she’s ever had – and Rosie wonders if she wants the fake dates to be the real ones after all …

A hilarious, heartwarming romantic comedy about what happens when the wrong guy turns up at the right time, perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Debbie Johnson.

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

The First Date publishes April 24, 2020. 

What I Liked

-So. Much. Banter! I loved it! Rosie and Noah had such a great give and take and I smiled so much when reading their conversations. I also really enjoyed their growing friendship. I thought they complemented each other well and I definitely shipped them.

-I liked Rosie’s relationship with her mother. As I expect in a Stoneley book, the mother was a little zany, but she wasn’t quite as crazy as she could have been. I liked that her character showed a lot of growth in the story, as well.

-I was in the mood for something light and cute and The First Date was exactly that. Was it predictable? Sure. But, that didn’t hinder any of my enjoyment of the story.

What Didn’t Work for Me

-Rosie has daddy issues for days. Which is fine, but I just felt like it was brought up way too much. Her comparing Noah to her father or recounting how awful her father can make her feel about herself was brought up repeatedly in every chapter. Sometimes it felt like it came out of nowhere and didn’t really fit in context. It was a little disappointing because I found some of her issues with her father very relatable, but I was pretty over it by the end of the story. I also don’t feel like she really got any satisfying resolution to it.

Overall

Overall, I enjoyed The First Date. I loved Rosie and Noah together so much, especially their banter. I wish the daddy issues weren’t quite so prevalent, but I did like how those issues highlighted Rosie’s mother’s growth. I’m looking forward to reading more from Stoneley in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

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

Where the Lost Wander will be published on April 28, 2020. 

While I used to read a lot of it, Historical Fiction hasn’t been my genre of choice for awhile. That made me a little hesitant going into Where the Lost Wander, but Amy Harmon’s beautiful writing definitely made me a fan again.

I may be dating myself here, but who remembers playing Oregon Trail as a kid? Where you cheered if your wagon made it across a river without capsizing or losing an oxen and you hoped the character named after you wouldn’t die from dysentery. It was a fun, supposedly educational game, but it wasn’t more than that. This book made those aspects of the game we laughed at feel real and horrifying. How easily sickness could spread through a group and kill multiple people. How if a wagon capsized while crossing water, everything a family owned could be lost. Harmon does an excellent job of painting a vivid picture of what life on the trail looked like.

That said, the story felt extremely slow paced, as it focused mostly on the day-to-day tasks on the trail or with a Native American tribe. Don’t get me wrong, I was deeply invested in the characters and their journey. Harmon’s writing is just as beautiful as it always is and that kept me reading. It just took me a little longer to read this book than I would expect for a book this size. The pace was slow and not a lot really happened for much of it, but I think it’s a testament to Harmon that those things didn’t really lessen my enjoyment of the story.

The story is told through dual POVs of Naomi and John and I thought it was used very effectively. I absolutely loved John. I found Naomi a little frustrating at times, but I did like her overall, as well as her family. I liked Chief Washakie and his friendship with John. And, of course, I really shipped the romance between John and Naomi. It wouldn’t be any Amy Harmon book without an epic romance and she definitely delivered.

Overall, I enjoyed Where the Lost Wander. Though it was a little slower paced than I like, I really loved the characters and the writing. I am impressed by how much research Harmon did for this book and how she really made the Oregon trail come alive. I definitely recommend this one to fans of Historical Fiction.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars