Saturday, November 16, 2019

Review: Don't You Forget About Me

Don't You Forget About Me Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

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

He chewed his pen and gave me a guarded smile. Something and everything had changed. I didn’t know yet that small moments can be incredibly large.

Don't You Forget About Me is a moving standalone that I would consider women's fiction with about 15% that could be considered romance. Told completely from Georgina's point of view, we're introduced to her on a night she gets fired from her waitress job and catches her boyfriend cheating on her.

So Lucas is now a grown-up who owns and runs places. I’m thirty and begging to work in them. The indignity.

Through Georgina's reminiscing, reader's learn that she was a typical student just wanting to be liked and that she had a secret romance with a bit of an outcast named Lucas the last year of school. On a night that was supposed to end up special for her and Lucas, something happened and they ended up never speaking again, until Georgina's brother-in-law gets her a job at a pub Lucas and his brother are newly opening. Lucas behaves toward her like he doesn't know who she is and even though that breaks her heart, Georgina pretends they never met too.

I shake my head and fight to get control of my vocal cords. “I’m writing about my worst day at school for a writing competition at the pub,” I gasp. “And I know they want something funny and light and easy. But my worst day at school. It was terrible. I think it might’ve ruined my life.”

I somewhat struggled with the first half of the book. Georgina's inner musings dominate and the tone from her reads a bit hyper, distraught, and rambling. Georgina's life is laid out, with her feeling like a failure, still dealing with dad's death, friends, and family issues; it's more structure of our lead character's world. This made it at times plodding for me to get through but when towards the middle when Georgina is settled working at the pub, starting to deal and interact with family, friends, and starting to write by competing in a stand-up performance at the pub, this opens the story up and Georgina interacts with the outside world more, bring in more emotion.

The price of keeping the secret, it was too high to keep paying.

While I would give the first half 2-3 stars, the second half is 5 stars all the way, rarely have I read a story that packs such emotional punches. In the beginning, Georgina hints at what happened her last night of school, I'm sure most will guess, but the second half she lays it out there and the author did a beautiful job of writing Georgina's emotions as she confronts, deals, and shares such an impactful night of her life. Secondary characters, like her friends and family, are brought even more in and the emotional ties between them added so much to the story. This also helps to bring Lucas even more into play and the later half is where there is a stronger romance genre feel. These two don't have a lot of moments together but you'll feel and remember each and every one.

Sometimes the truth is messy and difficult but it isn’t always best left. Sometimes it saves you.

This story is about all the laughter that hides the pain and relationships that can weaken and strengthen you. Georgina started off a little bit left of center character with a circle of family that brought messy emotional ties, friends that supported her and pushed her, and a first love that acted like he didn't know who she was. As this was more women's fiction, Lucas' character was lacking a bit in feeling completely filled out but the way he shows up in the end came pretty close to making up for it for me. I would have liked more of Keith the dog and the beginning to be cleaned up in terms of flowing better but the second half was pretty close to perfection. If you're wanting a story to make you feel, Don't You Forget About Me packs a heck of an emotional punch that will have you smiling through your tears.

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Review: The Virgin and the Rogue

The Virgin and the Rogue The Virgin and the Rogue by Sophie Jordan
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

How do I feel about the title, can't really answer that. But broke a nail clicking on the cover to enlarge.

To be polite about it, I'm a cover looky-lou and this is on my to-read list for that alone.

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Reading Update: Page 1



Snuggled in with sloppy joes and a good book on this cold and blustery day.



Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes recipe
These are a fav I love making, the blue cheese sauce adds great taste.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Review: Angel in a Devil's Arms

Angel in a Devil's Arms Angel in a Devil's Arms by Julie Anne Long
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

What mattered was she was standing, and that was very much in spite of the men who had populated her life.

Readers first met Angelique in Lady Derring Takes a Lover, first in The Palace of the Rogues series. A mysterious man had just arrived when we left the series and Angel in a Devil's Arms picks right up from that. It wouldn't be hard to start the series here, you'd miss emotional foundations between Angelique and Delilah (Angelique was Delilah's husband's mistress) but the author does a good job of revisiting Angelique's background and the romance between our leads starts here.

“I’ve had all manner of experiences and known all manner of people . . . I believe I can say with some authority that people become who they are more because of the pain they experience than the pleasure. And you, my friend, I do believe you carry about your pain the way you might carry eggs in your apron.”

Angelique popped off the pages for me in the first book and I was highly anticipating her story. Almost all of the story takes place in the inn she runs with Delilah and except for a slight revenge plot, this story is focused on character driven and the relationship between Angelique and Lucien. If you're a reader of Long, you'll know how beautifully she can turn a phrase and describe emotion, for example: He paused. She would not be surprised if it was because he heard her heart beating. He’d toyed with the rhythm of its since they met. He ought to know it the way a violinist knows his own instrument. Gorgeous writing. The story has many sentences like this, but I still ending up feeling a lack of connection between our couple.

Imagine a woman who could shorten his breath and blank his mind with just one curve of her lips.

Our hero Lucien was born a bastard but his Duke father started off very loving until he married and then he shunned Lucien and his mother. Lucien started to act out for attention which caused his step-mother to be embarrassed about him and possibly is behind assailants pushing him into the Thames. He gets rescued by a passing ship and ends up sailing the seas for ten years. We're told this and I think I needed some flashbacks of his time surviving, fighting, and building himself up to feel closer to his character. A developing relationship between Lucien and his half brother helped to add layers to Lucien's character and I can't help but already wish for the half brother's book. However, there wasn't anything that really stood out for me with his character and Lucien ended up feeling pretty benign.

But what surprised her most was the gratitude for everything, including all the heartbreaks, upheavals, betrayals she’d so far known. The wrong men had simply prepared her to recognize the right one. The seemingly wrong turns had led her precisely to where she wished to be.

When Angelique and Lucien are together, they do have some good byplay but the sparks just weren't there enough for me. The bedroom scenes were there but felt strangely short and rushed for what Long usually writes. A revenge plot ends up sputtering out and I just don't think the characters and their relationship was strong enough to carry the character driven focus. Angelique and Delilah have screen time together, more towards the end and I missed feeling their connection like I did in the first. The inn's guest are all here again and provide some comedic relief but secondary characters couldn't make up for the lack of punch I was missing between our leads.

Living one’s truth, it seemed, was more liberating than the false safety of no emotion or no risk. It was just so much easier to do when you knew you were loved.

Long has talent and skill for writing and describing human emotions and complexities beautifully and truthfully, but the breadth of the romantic relationship between Angelique and Lucien was missing for me. The epilogue sweetly sets up the next couple in the series and I'll definitely be reading it and hoping the setting can leave the inn more and our main couple will have more scope to their relationship.

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

50%

Angel in a Devil's Arms: The Palace of Rogues - Julie Anne Long
She knew full well that some wounds could not be vanquished. Some old wounds never did heal and you just learned to adjust them, the way you would adjust a burden on a long journey.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1


I love the look of the heroine but the hero and his awkward torso are, awkward.
Loved Angelique in the first book and excited to finally read her story!


As you can imagine super rich but so so good. I used 1% so a bit more soupy but second night leftovers absorbed more. Perfect rich dessert to read romance with.


Review: Nothing to Fear

Nothing to Fear Nothing to Fear by Juno Rushdan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

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

Someone in his unit, someone they trusted with their lives, had murdered a suspect in custody— here in the ultrasecure facility right under their noses.

The Gray Box is a so deep undercover organization in the US government that even people in the know don't know about it, and they have a mole. The first in the series, Every Last Breath, introduced us to the Gray Box and the men and women working to keep America safe. The idea of a possibility of a mole is talked about there and by the end confirmed, Nothing to Fear is the story of Gideon, known as Reaper, going rogue to protect one of their programmers and hackers, Willow, from being set-up by the mole. You could start the series here but you'd miss out on the foundation of character relationships and the author does such a great job of constructing the plot that I think it is worth it to read the series in order.

When he looked at her, he didn’t see a target or a mission. Only an exquisite woman, tender and sweet, ready to open herself. She was giving him the precious gift of her trust— a miracle and a mistake inextricably tangled.

Nothing to Fear was just about a non-stop action ride that I highly enjoyed. As this is romantic suspense, I do think the romance could have been a bit stronger but if you enjoy action and a strong plot, this is a must read. For me, not completely feeling Gideon's character contributed to the romance not feeling as strong. He's infused with more emotional bearing than the typical alpha males in this sub-genre but the slower reveal of his background kept me from knowing him. At the end there was also a bit too much, “I'm not good enough for her/I'm too damaged” that starts to feel angst for angst sake after reading the majority of the story where the couple has already fallen in love. Our heroine Willow felt more like a complete character and her always feeling like an outcast because of being on the spectrum will tug at some hearts.

The power she had, to have him unraveling with a look.

This is the second book I've read by this author and while I've enjoyed the lead romances, I think where this author really shines is her ability to construct these twisty turn-y, high action plots carried out by main characters you want to fall in love and secondary characters you become wildly impatient to read their books. The concept of a super secret government group isn't new to the romantic suspense world but I do feel this author is top notch at pulling it off. The ending conclusion and wrap-up on some of the mole plot was a little rushed (the main baddie had a background that I would have actually liked explored more) but for the vast majority I was locked into the action and flew through this book.

If you like romantic suspense, I highly recommend this series. The romance does take a backseat at times but you'll find yourself invested in all the characters and the engaging plots. I can't wait for the next in the series.

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Saturday, October 26, 2019

50%

Nothing to Fear (Final Hour Book 2) - Juno Rushdan
When he looked at her, he didn’t see a target or a mission. Only an exquisite woman, tender and sweet, ready to open herself. She was giving him the precious gift of her trust— a miracle and a mistake inextricably tangled.

The first half of this has been superb romantic suspense, been on the edge of my seat a couple times.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1



Monday nights call for key lime cookies and romantic action :)



I added lime juice to the sugar to roll the cookies in for more of a tart taste. Delicious!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Review: The Bewildered Bride

The Bewildered Bride The Bewildered Bride by Vanessa Riley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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

Adam and I had been kicked out, were running for our lives, and the morning sun hadn’t even risen.

Ruth and Adam had a whirlwind romance that had them going to Gretna Green to get married. Adam hasn't been completely honest about who is and plots involving his uncle stealing money that have him in danger, so before they can fully enjoy their happily ever after, evil snatches it away.

Fourth in the Advertisements in Love series, The Bewildered Bride gets the story rolling right away, almost too quickly for me. I haven't read the others in the series and for the first twenty or so percent I felt like I was missing some background or key information. There is some lying by omission going on from Adam and he isn't completely honest about how much danger his uncle is, leaving Ruth in the dark in a way that completely hamstrings her. I felt even more lost than Ruth with the plot about Adam's evil uncle, I'm wondering if there was some information about this in the previous book or if Adam and Ruth's relationship starts there, as they're getting married when we first start the book. The middle was a still a bit muddled for me but towards the end, the author untangled everything to make things clearer.

“I have to believe the good in him. He did not take me to Gretna Green just to have at me. We married. I was a bride. I was loved.”

The star of the show was definitely our heroine Ruth. Since no one in her family ever met Adam, they don't believe she was married, making her family having to rescue her from a brothel and then delivering a baby nine months later, a dark mark on her reputation. Ruth's mother and sister don't believe her story about marrying Adam either, letting their friends say hurtful things to Ruth. I felt for her and her pain was palpable on the pages, it was just the construction of the story plot that I couldn't completely get on board with.

On their way back from Gretna Green, they are attacked by men possibly sent by Adam's uncle and it ends up where Adam thinks Ruth is dead and Ruth thinks Adam is dead. Ruth doesn't have any proof that she was married to Adam and Adam has a tough road to travel before he can get back to being in control of his own life again. This is a great set-up for some drama but when our hero and heroine meet back up again, Ruth doesn't recognize Adam (the first time because she doesn't have her glasses on). Adam proclaims some weak excuse for not telling her and for the vast majority of the story, we have Adam lying to Ruth again and some unreliability that she can't recognize him. I just didn't feel the romance between the two.

Ruth was a strong and heartbreaking character with all she had to deal with, while I felt like I couldn't connect with Adam and his lying. The evil uncle plot was a bit hard to follow but the author did a great job of portraying the emotional and historical feel of the times; classism and racism. I could have missed some information starting with book four, if you're a reader of the series you'll definitely want to read this for Ruth and if you're starting here, be prepared to maybe be as bewildered as Ruth.

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