Genre: Romance

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Jul 01

A Bad Breed – Tour + Review!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0 ★★★★



A Bad Breed – Tour + Review!A Bad Breed (Gaslamp Gothic, #3) by Kat Ross
Published by Acorn on May 31, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 292
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

Pricolici.

A creature out of folklore. And nightmare.

January 1889. When a Romanian village suffers a series of brutal attacks, occult investigator Anne Lawrence is dispatched to the forests of the Old Country to hunt the killer – only to vanish without a trace.

The trail leads her mentor Vivienne Cumberland deep into the Carpathians to a remote monastery. As a blizzard rages outside, trapping them all with the pricolici, Vivienne risks sharing the fate of the woman she came to find. But is the culprit truly a werewolf … or something even more dangerous?

A man bent on revenge. And a love that was never meant to be.

Imprisoned in a decaying castle, Anne finds herself ensnared in a web of dark enchantment, at the mercy of a mysterious captor with a beast inside – and a memory as old as the ancient legends.

As the weeks pass, Anne learns his real identity, and slowly uncovers a complex and deeply passionate man. But is she willing to pay the price for falling under his spell?

Author’s Note: This darkly magical reimagining of Beauty and the Beast is the third book in the Gaslamp Gothic series, but can be read as a standalone with no need to start with Book #1, The Daemoniac.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

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A Bad Breed is a hugely atmospheric read, dropping you into a gothic Victorian world from the first page. I really wished it was longer, to delve more into the background of Anne and Vivienne – but I guess that’s what the other books are for! This is the first book I’ve read by Kat Ross, so I took the description at its word, that A Bad Breed could be read as a standalone despite being the third novel in the series. It worked out just fine, and I’ve already downloaded The Daemoniac to read soon as well. 😉

Favorite Things

  • Vivienne and her fake marriage. It was fun and lighthearted, if sad that it was necessary for both the parties involved. Accurate to the time though, I think.
  • The way the paranormal was brought into the story. I wanted more details, but I think (hope) that all that is delved into more in the other books of the series.
  • Anne using her small stature and feminine wiles to get what she wants – hurrah for our girl not being afraid to use what nature gave her!
  • The dark, sinister atmosphere. This was done so, so well and just sucked me in completely!

Less Favorite Things

  • To be honest, the romance between Anne and the “beast.” It felt kind of contrived, and due to the whole captivity thing, I found it hard not to be a little uncomfortable. He never outright abuses her (is quite the gentleman, outside of the whole OH HEY YOU CAN’T LEAVE thing), and she is clearly a woman experienced and in full control of her own desires…just, Stockholm syndrome? I did THOROUGHLY approve of the way it ended, and I’m glad to see that the fourth book will continue Anne’s story!

4/5 stars overall, and I’ll definitely be reading more by Kat Ross!

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Author Bio:

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

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four-stars

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Feb 11

Comics Will Break Your Heart

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Comics Will Break Your HeartComics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks
Published by Roaring Brook Press on February 12, 2019
Genres: Modern, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

Miriam's family should be rich. After all, her grandfather was the co-creator of smash-hit comics series The TomorrowMen. But he sold his rights to the series to his co-creator in the 1960s for practically nothing, and now that's what Miriam has: practically nothing. And practically nothing to look forward to either-how can she afford college when her family can barely keep a roof above their heads? As if she didn't have enough to worry about, Miriam's life gets much more complicated when a cute boy shows up in town . . . and turns out to be the grandson of the man who defrauded Miriam's grandfather, and heir to the TomorrowMen fortune.

In her endearing debut novel, cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks pens a sensitive and funny Romeo and Juliet tale about modern romance, geek royalty, and what it takes to heal the long-festering scars of the past (Spoiler Alert: love).

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Comics Will Break Your Heart was an adorable story with hattips to geeks of all kinds – from the greats of British literature to, obviously, comic book fans! The plot is loosely based on Romeo and Juliet, only the two families in question are descendents of patriarchs who together birthed one of the greatest comic book franchises of all time, only to have a bitter falling out.

Mir and Weldon are both likable characters, young people approaching the end of high school with the usual amount of trepidation and flailing about as they try to figure out their place in the world and what they want to do with their lives. They meet by sheer accident, when Weldon’s misbehavior prompts his high-powered, fame and fortune focused father to send him away for the summer, to his aunt and uncle’s house in the small town he has rarely seen. Despite his undercurrent of resentment and propensity for lying, Weldon is charismatic and charms just about everyone he meets. Mir has a work ethic to rival most adults, desperate to rise above her family’s extreme economy of existence. I liked that she didn’t seem embarrassed by her admittedly rather eccentric parents, but she knew that their choices were not going to be hers. I could understand her resentment of being forced to the extremes of frugal living – such as buying a second hand Monopoly and painting rocks to replace the missing pieces.

The cast of side characters was endearing too, even if I felt that their stories were left unfinished. I loved Mir’s friends Evan and Raleigh, and I hope maybe the author plans to write more about them at some point. Evan especially! He was just so sweet and kind and clearly cared so much about Mir. I really liked that even though he wanted to care about her in a more-than-friends way, when she said made it clear she wasn’t interested he completely dropped it, but remained a great friend. A lot of guys could take a lesson! 😛

The Romeo/Juliet plot was a little weak, mostly because of its predictability. The adults of the two families have had some hard feelings in the past, but their reasons for estrangement sound weak, especially the way Weldon’s aunt presents her case.

4/5 stars. I loved the descriptions of fandoms and comics, and Comic Con. It definitely appeals to the inner (and not so inner) nerd!

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four-stars

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Jan 14

How to Marry a Werewolf

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

How to Marry a WerewolfHow To Marry A Werewolf (Claw & Courtship, #1) by Gail Carriger
on May 13, 2018
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 196
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars

Guilty of an indiscretion? Time to marry a werewolf.

WEREWOLVES

The monsters left Faith ruined in the eyes of society, so now they’re her only option. Rejected by her family, Faith crosses the Atlantic, looking for a marriage of convenience and revenge.

But things are done differently in London. Werewolves are civilized. At least they pretend to be.

AMERICANS

Backward heathens with no culture, Major Channing has never had time for any of them. But there’s something special about Faith. Channing finds himself fighting to prove himself and defend his species. But this werewolf has good reason not to trust human women.

Even if they learn to love, can either of them forgive?

How to Marry a Werewolf is an adorable novella set in the Parasol Protectorate universe (the Parasolverse). I was in desperate need of a good paranormal book fix after the catastrophe that was my last foray into paranormal books, and as usual Gail Carriger did not disappoint! I giggled and swooned my way through this little story and my only complaint is that it IS little.

Note: You can read this even if you haven’t read any of the other Parasolverse books, but it is much, MUCH more enjoyable if you’re already familiar with the world and some of the characters. Recommend starting with Soulless.

Now, I have absolutely LOATHED Channing ever since he first appeared in I think it was the second Parasol Protectorate book. I hated how he treated Alexia and his general airs of superiority towards the entire world. I was more than willing to see him get his icy little heart crushed and broken in this book. Faith is an entirely new character and I loved her! I love that she totally disdains societal expectations of her interests and hobbies (she’s an amateur geologist).

“Are the British opposed to the immigration of foreign rocks in principle or just in theory?…I assure you, sir, these rocks are mostly harmless. Your virtue is safe from nefarious rock infiltration.”

Also, the narrative voice is hysterical, as is usual for Gail’s books (yes, I might be fangirling just a little bit here). There are some amazing quotes, especially near the end, but I’ll leave most of them out so you can discover them for yourself. Please just go read this story. It’s so worth it and really doesn’t take long!

Short, sweet, a little bit sexy – but much less actual sex than Poison or Protect, another of the novellas. 5/5 stars, highly enjoyable and highly recommend, and can we please have more Channing and Faith?!?

“I’ve looked all my life for family…now I know it is you…this is what you and I will do now. We will hold these broken parts of ourselves dear because they brought us to this point, and we will love each other wholly and completely.”

five-stars

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Jan 10

Review of Wolf Tamer

Book Reviews 0 ½

Review of Wolf TamerWolf Tamer (Claiming My Pack, #1) by Yumoyori Wilson
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads half-star
four-flames

An Orphan Girl. A Group of Wolves. A Destined Fate for War.

Don't you ever wish to find where you belong? A place where you can rest your head without worrying about being jumped or your possessions being taken from you? Not like I had much, to say the least.

A pendant, an ancient blade, and a picture of my murdered family were all I had left when I was five years old. Foster homes to homeless shelters, I never found a place of refuge. I simply didn't belong, and everyone made it their duty to remind me of my predicament. Until I finally came across a place that felt like home.

Sacred Moon Shelter for Endangered Wolves. I'd stumbled upon the sanctuary when I was near death, but I was miraculously saved.

Since then, I've become a Wolf Tamer; the only one who can get close to touching the six rare breeds. When I'm with them, I feel safe and sometimes wish I could be like one of them and escape this cruel world.

But such inhumanity strikes home, a group of hunters shows up, ready to take my wolves to an unknown place or murder them in cold blood. I won't allow them to kill the only true family I'd ever known.

My name is Harper Blake, and I vow to claim and protect my own.

Wolf Tamer is a new Wolf Shifter Reverse Harem Romance. Recommended for 18+ Audiences.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Warning: rant ahead. If you read this and liked it, click away now.

What. The fuck. Did I read. Seriously, I don’t think I even read the same book as the majority of reviewers on GoodReads, because this SOMEHOW has a 4.12 star average review. If you loved it, great. As I said before, click away.

Half a star for the cover art. It has beautiful cover art. IT LIES. This book sounds like it has a decent storyline, or at least the potential for it. Four flames for the sheer amount of gratuitous and graphic sex (that was not hot in the slightest, gag).


This book was absolutely horrible. HORRIBLE. I usually love shifter stories, and stories with strong female leads. But the writing, the characters, the plot (lack thereof?) was just…omg. Such a train wreck. I only finished because I did receive a copy for a review.

Characters 

Harper and Ian are the most perfectly perfect people you’ve ever met. Physically they’re both a 15/10. Perfect bodies, perfect virgin sex (*gag*), and some of the most cringeworthy sex scenes I’ve ever read.

I guess the other reason Ian was protective was how “attractive” I’d become, according to others. Puberty hit me in the face at 14, and I went from 4’11 to 5’6 with the perfect set of breasts, hips, abs, and a “snatched” waist…I kept my brown hair nice and long, and it seemed to have the perfect shine that always caught the attention of the girls in town as to what shampoo, conditioner, and hair food I used on it daily…Now that I was sweet sixteen, I’d gained another four inches in height, and stood at 6’0. I doubted I’d get any taller at this point but I definitely didn’t look sixteen to most people anymore.

Stab me now.

Ian spoiled me with clothing that was similar to his. We’d essentially caused a new “trend in town; young couples left and right tried to wear matching outfits and look lovey-dovey.

^I just threw up a little.

Oh, the sex. Harper is a virgin at the beginning, and she is “claimed” as Ian’s mate at the ripe old age of fourteen. She’s eighteen by the time they get around to having sex, and while I definitely wasn’t expecting any blushing-bride type scene, I do have SOME expectations and the writing for any of the sex scenes contained in this book just DID NOT DO IT FOR ME.

When he turned around though, my eyes immediately locked onto his length, and I kid you not, I could have fainted out of utter happiness. Ian was officially the whole package, right down to his damn length that I knew was longer than 6 inches.

Harper is also annoying AF, which is unfortunate since the book is mostly told from her first-person POV. For most of the book she’s 21-ish, and she is so incredibly full of herself it’s not even funny. I love confident female characters. But this went way beyond confidence into sheer arrogance and I really just wanted to slap her. Ian is just there for muscles and sex. He has the personality of a two by four.

Plot 

What plot? Yes, there is this whole “wolf pack” thing going on at the rescue facility, and Harper has a strange bond with the wolves that stay there, as well as her own “internal wolf” that she won’t tell anyone (except Ian, natch) about, but really it just goes in circles with breaks for sex until about the last 10% of the book. Then there is a MASSIVE explosion of an info-dump with ALL OF THIS STUFF that was supposed to have been going on in the background. I felt cheated. There was no lead up, there were no hints along the way (so that at least you could look back and have the “aha” moment), nothing. Just, “Oh, this is how we’re going to explain all of this shit! And have some unicorns and glitter while you’re at it!”

I still have no clue about how the paranormal is supposed to fit into the world of this book. Is it accepted by the world at large? What kind of governing body is there? Who makes the rules? WHY are there shifters? Why is this particular pack so important? Where did they come from? The only one that is even PARTLY explained is the last question, which sort of starts to be answered at the end but you know, cliffhanger. That I don’t give one flying fuck about.

Last Complaint 

In the first few chapters, Harper is five years old and Ian is seven. They have full on adult style conversations that devolve into baby talk for a few minutes and then go right back to discussing how they’re going to educate themselves for the greater good. It’s ridiculous. Has the author ever even MET children?

1/5 stars because you can’t give zero. Never, ever ever ever going back to this series or author.

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half-star

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Dec 28

One Day in December

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Last of the Christmas book reviews! This was ALMOST my favorite, second only to The Christmas Sisters.

One Day in DecemberOne Day in December by Josie Silver
Published by Broadway Books on October 16, 2018
Genres: Modern, Romance
Pages: 416
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars
two-flames

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.

Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

One Day in December was my local bookstore’s book club pick for December (the meeting of which I did not get to attend, to much sadness). I was a bit dismayed, to be honest, as I don’t typically read a lot of romance and often find myself too jaded and cynical to enjoy books with a heavy romantic focus. I am very happy to report that this book warmed even my crusty old heart!

Friends and Feels

While this book is, yes, a story of love, it is also a story of friendship. Laurie and Sarah have been best friends for years, and their friendship is really the glue that holds this book together. I loved them both, even if I definitely identified more with Laurie’s feelings and experiences. I’ve never been glamorous or someone who shines in the spotlight, so I was right there with her! The story spans 10 years from the time Laurie first spots her Mr. Right at a bus stop, and while Laurie and Sarah have their disagreements and even fights at times, they stick together through it all. Even when thousands of miles separate them! Again, having many long distance friendships, this really struck a chord with me. They aren’t all sunshine and roses, and Laurie really struggles sometimes with Sarah being in a relationship with Jack, but in the end she does the absolute best that a best friend could do and tries to be rational. After all, it’s pure silliness to think that you could be destined for someone you took a fancy to through the window of a bus…right?

Whoever the hell is in charge of TV scheduling needs a bullet between their eyes. Surely they could work out that anyone who needs to resort to watching TV on Valentine’s night is single and potentially bitter, so why they thought The Notebook would make suitable viewing is beyond me.

Despite the somewhat serious tone of the book – three young people seeking their own path in life as well as seeking for someone to share it with – there are moments of humor sprinkled throughout. More than once I giggled to myself while reading.

The storyline does move relatively fast, skipping over large chunks of each year and only coming back to “big” events or conversations. I was leery of that concept too, but it really seemed to work well for this type of growth in relationships and characters. All of the main characters grow, and growth includes some “mistakes” that are rather painful and costly at times. Some of the choices they made had me gasping in horror and feeling pains in my own heart, as again I just found them SO relatable (and in a couple of cases I’ve even walked the exact same path and could see the impending danger).

Jack starts off as a classic nice guy, goes through some shit and turns into a complete asshole. Not because that’s who he really is, but because he sinks into depression after a major accident and it completely changes his personality. He can see this, himself, but seems powerless to stop it. I found this to be a very accurate portrayal of how depression can wreck havoc on a person AND their relationships with other people – again, having been on both sides of that coin to some extent. Thankfully this was only temporary but it did leave his mark on him and the people around him.

Yes, But…

I did have a couple little…bothers with this story. First of all, Jack lies to Laurie right from jump. It’s a little white lie, but it affects her more than he could possibly know and it just felt…bleh. And then, there is a certain THING that happens, that results in lies of omission that (naturally) create problems further down the road. It bothered me, and yet I can’t say what I would have done in the same circumstance would really have been any different. People make mistakes, and sometimes it is better for other people – people who might be hurt by the truth – to not find out. Sometimes. It’s such a gray area, which I guess was the point here.

5/5 stars. Overall I loved One Day in December because yes (as I have already said MANY times, I know), it was relatable for me, and because I felt it was so true to life. Life is messy. Sometimes life sucks. Relationships and love are EXTREMELY messy and often uncomfortable. But people and relationships ARE worth it! I loved that even after all the heartache and struggle, Laurie and Sarah and Jack all have hope and love in life, no matter how long they had to wait or look to find it. Sometimes the road to get to where we need to go is long, but life isn’t just about the destination.

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five-stars

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Dec 27

The Christmas Sisters

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Just a couple more holiday books, I promise! This one was my top favorite out of the slew of Christmas/holiday books I read this year.

The Christmas SistersThe Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan
Published by HQN on September 25, 2018
Genres: Modern, Romance
Pages: 410
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars
two-flames

In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…

Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…

As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?

All the Feels!

The Christmas Sisters hit me right in the feels. Hit so hard it hurt. About halfway through I put it down briefly, and considered not finishing it – not because it was bad, but because the sweetness of the sisters’ relationships with each other and their family in general had me feeling very left out in the cold. My own immediate family is not close and it pains my heart, but after years of trying I had to take steps last year to protect my sanity and emotions from the manipulation. I would so LOVE to have family relationships like the ones in this book! They’re not perfect either, and the story makes that clear, but they all truly love each other and accept each other as they are- even if they do bicker and carry on like most siblings, from time to time.

Despite my relationship-envy, the sisters haven’t had entirely easy lives. Their real parents died in a tragic mountaineering accident when they were very young, and while they were adopted into this warm, nurturing family they understandably had some scars.

She found it impossible to read fairy stories where everyone lived happily ever after. She couldn’t bring herself to perpetrate that lie. There was no Santa. There was no tooth fairy. Love couldn’t be guaranteed…Hannah thought it was healthier if one’s expectations of life were grounded in reality. If you didn’t expect much, you didn’t have as far to fall when you finally realized that no amount of planning could stop bad things happening.

I really identified with Hannah (the oldest sister) here. Right down to how she felt her birth parents had felt about her interests.

Even now there were days when she felt guilty for picking up a book, unable to shake the feeling that there was something more valuable she should be doing with her time.

So much this, even TO THIS DAY my mother takes jabs at my books and the time I spend reading.

Relationships

Beth, the middle sister, and Posy, the youngest, have made something of their own lives in their own way. This particular Christmas though, all three sisters are at something of a crossroads in their lives. Coming home to Scotland is a chance to breathe and re-evaluate, for Beth and Hannah. For Posy, who has never left, their coming (along with that of a certain sexy newcomer to town) stirs a restlessness in her that she thought was long since controlled. What do they want out of life? What is most important? What is worth taking a risk for or on?

“Rocks you can see and touch and learn about. They’re tangible things, but feelings -” he shook his head “-they’re like the weather. They’re the part you can’t control. If you don’t care about anything, then you’re invulnerable, but once you care – well, you can be hurt. And people can disappoint and let you down.”

There is SOME romance in this book, but it didn’t really read like just a romance novel. The multi-faceted layers of all the relationships far exceeded my expectations and the romance was just a side story. The focus was really on the sisters and the family!

5/5 stars. Highly recommend The Christmas Sisters for a warm, cozy holiday read! I don’t understand why Sarah Morgan’s books aren’t more popular if they are all like this, I’m definitely going to be seeking out some of her others.

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five-stars

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Dec 27

Review of A Coastal Christmas

Book Reviews 0 ★★★

Yes, it’s after the Christmas holiday, but I have just a couple more Christmas-y book reviews to finish out the season!

Review of A Coastal ChristmasA Coastal Christmas by Kaya Quinsey
Published by Books to Go Now on October 17, 2018
Genres: Modern, Romance
Pages: 58
Goodreads three-stars

Author Kaya Quinsey returns with her trademark blend of romance and adventure, in this page turning story about a love to remember and a Christmas never to forget.

Successful broadcaster Jessica Beaton has it all: the perfect New York City apartment, high-flying career, and handsome boyfriend. And with Christmas around the corner, she has her sights set on one thing. A ring.

But Jessica is humiliated when her co-host and boyfriend, Brett Fanshaw, almost proposes to her on-air before backing out, leaving her dumped and embarrassed on national television. In the midst of her heartbreak, Jessica leaves to go home to Pebble Shores for the holidays for the first time in years.

While retreating at her family's seaside cottage to evaluate her life, Jessica finds herself butting heads with Dean Adams, the mayor of Pebble Shores, who isn't thrilled to have the media spotlight shed on their small town. Jessica couldn't imagine anyone being more of a Grinch.Over the Christmas season, Jessica finds herself more enamored with life in Pebble Shores, the community spirit, and to her own surprise, Dean Adams. Can a small-town mayor and big-city broadcaster have the romance that Jessica always dreamed of?

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Well, that escalated quickly.

I was expecting a much longer build-up and story, but A Coastal Christmas turned out to be a super short little novella that I read in less than forty-five minutes – perfect if you want something sweet and quick! Just not so perfect if you want something very believable, in my opinion. There is much Christmas cheer for everyone, and a sweet little homey-feeling town. The characters aren’t very well fleshed out, but that is more due to the length of the story than the author’s writing, I think. Jessica and Dean connect on purely a physical level…even though the author has tried to tie in something more to the story, it really just felt like grasping at straws and I think to try to give them a HEA was just a little much. Nothing wrong with a holiday fling! And Jessica definitely needed a good rebound after her boyfriend’s antics on LIVE TELEVISION no less. Sometimes it takes another person to jolt us back into ourselves and what we really want out of life. In Jessica’s case, she suddenly realizes that maybe she’s not as in love with the big city life as she once was.

3/5 stars. Writing was good, the story was just really too short for the author to do the characters and theme justice. I’ll be keeping an eye out for future books by Kaya Quinsey!

Many thanks to the author and Xpresso Book Tours for the free copy in exchange for an honest review!

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three-stars

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Dec 22

Review of Winter Street

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review of Winter StreetWinter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
Published by Back Bay Books on October 13, 2015
Genres: Modern, Romance
Pages: 272
Goodreads four-stars
one-half-flames

"Open this diverting tale of family dysfunction and you'll find a holiday package filled with humor, romance and realism." --USA Today

Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket's Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four grown children: Patrick, a hedge fund manager; Kevin, a bartender; Ava, a school teacher; and Bart, who has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines. As Christmas approaches, Kelley looks forward to spending the holidays with his family at the inn. But when he walks in on his wife Mitzi kissing another man, utter chaos descends, and things only get more interesting when Kelley's ex-wife, news anchor Margaret Quinn, arrives on the scene.

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.

What’s this? A re-read? What is the world coming to?!?

My husband bought this book for me a couple of years ago. I read it then, and gave it 3 stars. I was just really “eh” about the whole concept and all the people and relationships. I’ve recently heard people raving about Elin Hilderbrand though, and I thought well…maybe I missed something? I wasn’t in a great head-space at the time I read it, so maybe it was me and not the book. I also have some vague recollection of thinking it was a standalone and when I got to the end it clearly wasn’t and I was put out. Now, there are three more books in this series and after reading this again I’m very eager to get to them! Not sure if I’ll make it this season or if they will have to wait until next year. I do love having a FINISHED series to binge.

Winter Street is the story of a multi-layered family that is falling apart at the seams. Despite all that, there are enough threads of happiness woven throughout to keep one reading AND to make one hope that maybe after all, everything will work out for the Quinns.

This being the first in a series of four, there is a lot of ground level introductory work going on. The cast is large and varied, and I was quite impressed that Hilderbrand managed to make everyone different enough to keep them straight. The story too, seems to be quite complex, as there’s not only the many different romantic relationships going on (and ending), but the whole plotline with the inn as well! Some reviewers have complained about the sheer amount of drama in this book – and yes, there is that. A lot of it. But coming from a family that loves to infuse the holidays with as much drama as humanly possible, it really struck a nerve and I thoroughly enjoyed the telling.

If you are looking for a happily ever after, this probably isn’t it. At least not in this particular book – I’m personally holding out hope that maybe there will be a HEA for everyone in the end of the series! But this story appeals, I think, to a large audience – both people from the Quinn kids’ generation (late 20s-30s) and those of their parents’. Life and love doesn’t end when the kids grow up! Yay! Maybe I’m getting old myself, but I love stories like that. Life is also never simple, never cut and dry and easy…at least not in my experience, and this story illustrates that SO well. Life is messy. But it can still be beautiful.

4/5 stars.

1.5/5 flames, because while there isn’t MUCH going on in the way of sex and making out, etc., what there was was cute and sweet and I wanted there to be more, particularly between certain characters!

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four-stars

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Dec 19

Review of Newness and Wonder

Book Reviews 0 ★★★

Review of Newness and WonderNewness and Wonder: A Small Town Holiday Romance by Alexis Lynne
Genres: Romance
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads three-stars
one-flame

After her only dream is snatched from her grasp, can she open her heart to something new and wonderful this Christmas?

For years, all Tara Crowley longed for was to return to the simple but happy life she lived on her grandparents’ farm. After years of saving, she finally put an offer on the old place only to have it beaten by an out of towner whose plans for her childhood home are sketchy, at least in Tara’s mind. When she meets the man, however, nothing about him says villain, but will her disappointment and bitter past allow for a future with the one who stole all her dreams?

Justin Hunter gave up his life in Manhattan to give his young sister a childhood free of stress and complications. Fixing up the old farmhouse would give them a chance to bond and build the happy home neither of them ever had. When Justin meets a beautiful artist and loses his heart instantly, “complicated” becomes an understatement. Can he convince her to believe in a new dream, one that includes him and a young girl who needs her?

Spend the holidays in Sylvan Hills, North Carolina, where the scenery is beautiful, the people are quirky, and love finds you when you least expect it.

I was so excited for this novella! I felt like the plotline was going to be super relatable and cute, as I have for years been in love with my own grandparents’ farm that was sold out of the family a few years ago. Unfortunately, I couldn’t love this execution of the idea.

First of all, the dialogue is horribly stilted and not at all how people talk – especially not people from rural Appalachia! Not that I’m asking for an attempt at vernacular, but maybe just normal American style speaking? Especially in the first couple of chapters it’s as if the characters have never heard of contractions and the result is so awkward. I tried reading some of the dialogue out loud, wondering if maybe it was just my inward eye being judgy, but nope. It sounds just as bad out loud.

One of the redeeming features – and pretty much the ONLY reason I gave the story 3 stars instead of 2 – is Justin’s relationship with his much younger sister Marley, now under his guardianship. He clearly loves her and is trying SO HARD – too hard – to make up for all the deficiencies in her life both past and present. She is in many ways a typical pre-teen, and I loved her quirky interests and of course her love of books, and the way she tried to take care of Justin, too. Her and Tara’s relationship growth was really sweet, and her tendency to spout off zingers made me snicker a few times. Marley is awesome and I just wanted to scoop her up and give her all the books she could possibly want.

The romance was insta-lovey, but that’s to be expected in a novella. I thought Justin made for an attractive love interest for Tara but again the execution was just…not for me. He seems obsessed with kissing Tara’s hands, even within an hour of them meeting! Maybe I’m just overly sensitive to human contact, but I really don’t like people touching me and have a hard time relating to characters who do it or are ok with it within such a short time of meeting or knowing people. Then there were just some cringe-worthy lines that took all the heat out of the story in places.

Her skirt was short, her sweater tight, and the lighted reindeer antler headband nearly sent him over the edge.

Really. The lighted reindeer antler headband. Dude, what even. I couldn’t take any of their attraction seriously after that, and even the culminating scene fell flat. I was too distracted by picturing her wearing flashing antlers on her head, even though she wasn’t by that point.

Of course, these things won’t bother everyone, and the groundwork is laid for a couple more novellas in the series (Tara has two sisters who both obviously also deserve a HEA), so if the rural community and family farm storyline intrigue you, be sure to check it out.

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three-stars

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Dec 18

Review of Christmas Cake: a Holiday Collection

Book Reviews 0 ★★★

Review of Christmas Cake: a Holiday CollectionChristmas Cake: A Holiday Collection by Celia Aaron
on November 28, 2018
Genres: Modern, Romance
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads three-stars
four-flames

Ezra Grayson sits in his palatial estate and lords over the hamlet of Brooktown. He owns everything. Except her. Adeline Bishop runs Bishop Bakery, one of the last non-Grayson businesses in town. She’s sent the mysterious Mr. Grayson one of her signature Christmas cakes--while also refusing all his offers to buy her bakery--for the past 5 years. This year’s cake delivery brings their feud to a head. Ezra decides to confront Adeline, but he doesn’t expect the curvy baker to be quite so sweet. When naughty meets nice, who will get their just desserts?

Celia Aaron is a new-to-me author, and I was intrigued by the synopsis of the title story. Then I read the rest, because I’m something of a completionist. *tries to hide the very large stack of unfinished book series behind her*

Christmas Cake

4/5 stars. This was adorable. Short, cute, sexy, and different enough to keep me reading. I love that Adeline was a successful businesswoman – with a bakery! – that didn’t take shit from anyone, but she still had a soft, sweet side for people. Of course there was insta-love but this is a novella, so there kind of had to be! The sexy factor is ON POINT in this one too…phew. I liked Ezra, and the fact that while yes he was insanely hot he still had some imperfections (more in personality than appearance, but still).

A Cowboy for Christmas

3/5 stars. This one was just a little too corny for my taste. I guess I’m just not a cowgirl? Or maybe the characters just weren’t fleshed out enough for me. Even though they had known each other for a long time, they didn’t really know each other (and I don’t mean sexually, hehe), and there were a lot of misunderstandings and assumptions they had to clear away. Good, but not as good as the first story. It does have a bit of a mystery that is the catalyst for bringing the main characters together.

Christmas Candy

2.5/5 stars. I eye-rolled pretty hard through this one. The premise is basically that the couple (Olive and Hank) had a crush on each other in high school but neither ever had the courage to speak up. Now as adults, Olive has lost her chubbiness and become a super-hot yoga instructor (Hank swears he was infatuated with her as much then as now but was that really necessary??), and Hank owns a candy store but has the body of an Olympic swimmer.

A Stepbrother for Christmas

2.5/5 stars. Trigger warning accompanied this one: contains possible triggers for those sensitive to dub-con play. Fair enough. I’d never read anything featuring this sort of relationship, and I guess maybe it’s just not for me? But aside from that, I really felt the amount of hate/loathing Anna had for Niles in the beginning disappeared WAY too quickly to be believable, even if they had known each other for years. Maybe I’m just salty and jaded though, too.

Overall 3/5 star rating. Would DEFINITELY recommend the first story for a cute holiday tale, the rest if you’re bored and like quick steamy stories. 😉

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