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

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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: Sweet on You (Bradford Sisters Romance #3) by Becky Wade

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Britt and Zander have been best friends since they met thirteen years ago, but unbeknownst to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long. When Zander’s uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Washington to investigate. As they work together to uncover his uncles tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also come to light?
I received a copy of this title via a giveaway on Goodreads. It does not impact my review.

-This is the third book in the Bradford Sisters Romance series, but it’s the first one I’ve read. While I’m sure I would’ve felt a little more connected to the secondary characters if I had read the previous books, it worked well as a standalone. I never felt lost or confused.

-I love a good Friends-to-More romance. I liked Zander and Britt’s friendship, though I must admit I enjoyed Zander much more than I did Britt.

-This is a Christian fiction book, so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. While there were some good, relatable points, I felt like the Christian themes were a little uneven. They seemed to pop up here and there, instead of being a natural part of the characters’ lives. And then towards the end the message got pretty heavy-handed. It was still a good message, so I didn’t mind it, but I wish it would’ve been done a little more smoothly.

-The mystery of the story revolves not around Zander’s uncle’s death, but his secret past life. Frank is not even his uncle’s real name. Zander and Britt, with the help of a few others, research Frank’s previous life and discover that he might have been involved in a famous art heist. This plotline was interesting, but the focus of the book is really on the romance, so it wasn’t quite as in depth as I wanted it to be, but that’s ok. What did bother me, though, was that we don’t really explore how finding out Frank’s lies effects his wife, Carolyn, their daughters, or Zander and his brother, who were taken in by Frank and Carolyn as kids. I can tell you from experience that finding out a loved one had spent your whole life lying to you brings up some stuff, but it was kind of just skipped right over here.

-Britt was very hard for me to like. She was so impulsive and short-tempered and she just really frustrated me. While she did work very hard at her business, she was also pretty privileged and spoiled. She came across a little shallow and fake to me, too. She did learn some lessons by the end of the story, but the book failed to convince me why Zander couldn’t get over her in thirteen years. He deserved better.

Overall, I enjoyed Sweet on You, despite a few issues. I always enjoy the Friends-to-More trope and the mystery was interesting. I liked Zander, but Britt really brought the story down for me. I’m decreasing my final rating a bit because of her. However, I would still suggest this one to fans of Christian Contemporary. This was my first book by Wade and I plan to look into some of her other books.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Just One of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Addison Murphy is the funny friend, the girl you grab a beer with—the girl voted most likely to start her own sweatshirt line. And now that one of her best guy friends is getting married, she’ll add “groomsman” to that list, too. She’ll get through this wedding if it’s the last thing she does. Just don’t ask her to dive for any bouquet.

When Tucker Crawford returns to his small hometown, he expects to see the same old people, feel comfort in the same old things. He certainly doesn’t expect to see the nice pair of bare legs sticking out from under the hood of a broken-down car. Certainly doesn’t expect to feel his heart beat faster when he realizes they belong to one of his best friends.

If he convinces Addie to give him a chance, they could be electric…or their break-up could split their tight-knit group in two.

Hiding the way he feels from the guys through bachelor parties, cake tastings, and rehearsals is one thing. But just as Tucker realizes that Addie truly could be the perfect woman for him—he was just too stupid to realize it—now she’s leaving to follow her own dreams. He’s going to need to do a lot of compromising if he’s going to convince her to take a shot at forever with him—on her terms this time.

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

Just One of the Groomsmen will be available May 28, 2019. 

I loved this book so much! It was such a fun, sweet Friends-to-More story and I couldn’t get enough of it.

I don’t really like to use words like “swoony” or “feels”, but Addie and Tucker made my cold, black heart feel all the feelings. I loved their friendship and I loved how it turned into more. The friendship lines aren’t really crossed until about halfway through the book and the slow burn was everything. I actually maybe enjoyed the first half of the book a teensy bit more because of it.

I also really loved their group of friends. It made me nostalgic for my high school days where I had a great group of guy friends and I was often the only girl hanging out and they definitely sometimes forgot I was, in fact, a girl. I really enjoyed when they were all together  and how they joked around with each other. I could have used a lot more of that, actually. I don’t feel like we got to know all of the guys as much as I liked to. I would love for this to be a series so that could be rectified.

The only thing I didn’t really like was that there were a few too many sex scenes once Addie and Tucker got together. I could’ve done with a few less of the graphic scenes, with more focus on the relationship instead.

Overall, I loved Just One of the Groomsmen. It was fun and romantic and everything I hope for when I pick up a Contemporary Romance. I definitely recommend this one to fans of the genre.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen Hoang

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

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

I really wanted to like this book a little more than I did. There was a lot to like about it, but overall it ended up just being ok for me.

What I Liked

  • Learning a little bit about Vietnamese culture. I would’ve liked to have seen a lot more, honestly, but I thought it added a different dimension to the story than a lot of other “arranged marriage” type books I’ve read and I liked that.
  • I LOVED the relationship between Khai and his brother Quan. It made the whole book for me. Quan was so understanding and protective and patient with Khai, but he also didn’t treat him with kid gloves, either. I just loved pretty much every scene that had the two of them together and I could’ve used a lot more Quan.
  • Khai is on the autism spectrum and I thought it came across as a pretty accurate portrayal. I liked watching his journey as he learned things about himself throughout the book. I enjoyed the chapters from his POV the most.

What didn’t work for Me

  • This is my fault more than the book’s, but I thought this was a Women’s Fiction book, but it’s straight up Romance. I was expecting something with a little more substance and a little less description of body parts and sex. It left me a little disappointed in the overall plot.
  • I had to continually remind myself that Esme was only 23. I know that she was coming to a new country and all and was naive in some things, but she wasn’t a wide-eyed innocent type of character, either. She just seemed so immature so much of the time and I found myself frustrated a lot by her interactions with Khai.
  • Speaking of her interactions with Khai, I wish that someone would have more fully explained Khai’s autism to Esme earlier in their relationship. So often she’s left frustrated and hurt after their interactions and had she understood him a little more, I felt she would have been able to respond in a more positive way and they could work out their issues together. There are a few times throughout the book that he’s able to explain something about himself and she adjusts how she approaches him and had she understood his autism earlier, they would have had way less issues. I’m not saying that there wouldn’t have been times she wasn’t frustrated or hurt, but I think it would have forced her to communicate her feelings and thoughts to him.
  • I felt like the pace was pretty slow and nothing really happened for long stretches of time. It took me quite awhile to really get into the story and to start caring about the romance between Esme and Khai. There were a few cute moments, but I never really fell in love with them.

Overall

Overall, The Bride Test was just ok for me. I liked the inclusion of Autism and Vietnamese culture, and loved the brotherly relationship between Khai and Quan, but Esme’s immaturity and the heavy Romance content left me a little underwhelmed. It’s not a book I would plan on reading again, but I think there will be a lot of people out there who will really enjoy it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Bridesmaids by Zara Stoneley

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bridesmaids will be available April 26, 2019. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars