Genre: Contemporary Romance

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan | Book Review (+The Christmas Sisters Giveaway)

Posted December 12, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Giveaway / 9 Comments

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan | Book Review (+The Christmas Sisters Giveaway)Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
Series: O'Neil Brothers #1
Also in this series: Suddenly Last Summer, Maybe This Christmas
Published by Harlequin on October 29, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
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4 Stars
Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green's favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.

Jackson O'Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family's resort—it's in his blood, and he can't let it fail. Now that he's got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she's out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it's terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn't believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?

I love Christmas romances, especially if they are set in a picturesque place and have wonderful characters. As soon as I read that Sleigh Bells in the Snow takes place in Vermont, I was very excited! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The Snow Crystal is a cozy ski resort nestled in the mountains of Vermont. The O’Neil family has run it for years, and it is a bit of a hidden gem with lots to offer. It has cabins with hot tubs on the porch, amazing views, and a homey lodge with a sitting room and kitchen that just screams holidays. I would LOVE to pack up and move there right now. If any guest wants a Christmas tree for their cabin, one of the O’Neil brothers goes out and chops one and delivers it at their front step. How fun is that?! I really want to visit. The setting was definitely my favorite part of the book.

2. I liked Kayla, but I felt she was a bit too cynical and cold at times. I just wanted to shake her! She has a sad past of abandonment, and does not like Christmas at all. Honestly, though, I’m pretty sure she does not like any kind of family holiday. She arrives at the resort in her designer pumps and pencil skirt, bent on being a complete stick in the mud as she hides in her cabin in the hopes of letting Christmas painlessly pass her by. The longer she stay there, though, the more comfortable she gets. I liked the transformation she went through as she got to know the O’Neil family. She bought some snow boots, let her hair down, and allowed herself to get close to them even though it scared her. I liked this side of her much more than the hardened, emotionless side we see at the beginning of the book.

3. I adore the O’Neil family, and how close they are. Jackson has come back to Snow Crystal after making it big in Europe. He wants to help get the resort on the map and show the world what it has to offer, before it goes under and the family loses it. That’s why he hires Kayla to come out. As he updates and elevates the resort, he is met with a lot of resistance from his family. They are not keen on change, and are scared that a snooty New Yorker will ruin their image. As they soften Kayla, though, she softens them. I loved the conversations between family members, as they all open up and grow closer together. This family ends up being extremely loving despite their high maintenance demands.

4. I really liked the non-family staff members at the Snow Crystal. I particularly liked the spitfire of a French chef and the ski instructor. Each character in this story is unique and loveable.

5. Jackson is so wonderful. He is tender and persistent, and boy can he chop wood. I love his devotion to his family, even though they are fighting him the whole way. I love that he gave up his big life to come home and save his family lodge. I love how sweet he is to Kayla.

6. The romance is slow burning. It begins as a simple professional relationship, with that initial attraction on both sides. It then slides into this love-hate friendship kind of thing before turning into something really special. I really liked that it was not just lust, which seems to happen a lot in the Christmas romances I’ve read before. There are real feelings at play.

Sleigh Bells in the Snow is a fun, cheery Christmas romance with a wonderful family dynamic, a cozy setting, and a swoonworthy male lead. I definitely recommend you read it it you’re in the mood for some Christmas cheer! I can’t wait to read about the other O’Neil brothers, which will happen as the series continues.

(This review was originally posted on 12/6/13 and was re-posted for some extra love.)

Sarah is sponsoring a giveaway for my readers this Christmas, with a signed copy of her newest Christmas release, The Christmas Sisters!

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan
Published by HQN Books on September 25, 2018
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Holiday, Women’s Fiction
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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?

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The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

Posted December 9, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewThe Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #2
Also in this series: One Snowy Night, Chasing Christmas Eve
Published by Avon on September 27, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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2 Stars
If she has her way ...

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her ...

He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him ...

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice ...

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work ...

Congratulate me on my first full-length Jill Shalvis! I read a Christmas novella or two of Jill’s every December, and have enjoyed them but never really connected on a deep level with any of her characters. This year I decided to carve out some time to read one of her full-length novels to see how I felt. While I enjoyed The Trouble with Mistletoe, it didn’t grab me like I had hoped it would. I’ve read some reviews since I finished, and multiple people say this isn’t their favorite of hers and that she has many stronger novels in her repertoire, so perhaps I picked the wrong book to read first! In any case, it was a fun, festive read! I did have some issues with it, though. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I really appreciated Willa and her love of animals and Christmas. We’re kindred spirits in this regard. She loves to decorate anything and everything, and she loves to dress like it’s Christmas everyday. She hasn’t met an animal that she doesn’t love, and that doesn’t love her. She owns a dog grooming business and hosts doggy weddings for some extra money. She loves her friends, and her past has caused her to it upon herself to scoop up lost or troubled souls and take them under her wing. One of her employees ran into some trouble as a young teen and Willa came to her rescue, gave her a job, and looks after her. She takes care of the homeless man in the alley outside her shop and brings him food. She even decorated the alley with Christmas lights so he could have some holiday cheer. She’s pretty likable, and a good friend to have in your corner.

2. Keane was very meh for me. He was a jerk to Willa in high school and has no idea who she is now. That’s surprising. I’d remember a person I went to high school with even if I didn’t know them well, so this kind of indicates what a crappy teen he was. I have a hard time with people like that. 16-17 years old is not young enough to get away with being an awful person, in my book. I never was able to convince myself hat he isn’t a crappy person anymore.

3. I don’t like animals as characters, and Petunia the cat (nicknamed PITA by Keane because he hates her and considers her to be a pain in the a**) bothered me. I LOVE cats. I’m a crazy cat lady. But when an author starts choosing what a cat is thinking and feeling and using it as a plot point, I start to drift off. It’s just too hokey.

4. I did not feel any chemistry between Keane and Willa. Willa was in love with him in high school, so she’s got this little girl infatuation with him now. I don’t understand harboring a crush for THAT long. Especially when it’s on a really jerky guy who broke your heart and doesn’t even remember. Keane only begins to like her because she looks good in her jeans and her wet clothes after a day of dog washing. There was just no depth to them at all.

5. I loved the Christmas scenes. The entire city is decked out in lights, garlands, wreaths, and trees. I loved the descriptions of those scenes, and they were the only thing keeping me going with this book.

6. There was a lot of needless drama and repetitive conversations and inner monologues about why they shouldn’t be together (all the while they have no problems continuing to sleep together). Things moved so slowly, and I just wanted the story to get to the point. This book should have been a novella! Not much happened at all.

7. The supporting characters were cookie cutters and I don’t remember the names of any of them. 

8. The writing… it just wasn’t good. There were come continuity issues and some of the author’s phrasing bothered me. For example, a character frequently “went eyebrows up” or “went hands on hips”. That’s a really annoying way to write it!

All in all, I’m disappointed. I liked Willa and all the Christmas, which made the book fun to read at times, but for the most part The Trouble with Mistletoe really didn’t do anything for me. I’m not giving up on Jill Shalvis yet, though, so don’t worry!


The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett | Book Review

Posted October 11, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 8 Comments

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett | Book ReviewThe Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Published by Feiwel and Friends on November 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

I’ve become quite the Jenn Bennett fangirl this year (starting with Starry Eyes), so I’d been eager to read her oldest YA title, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, to see where it all began. One thing I really love about Jenn is that she comes up with unique story lines that don’t include the typical cookie cutter characters and the typical tropes and themes. She really thinks outside the box, and I appreciate that so much because I’ve been feeling lately that I’m losing interest in YA contemporary romance. It’s all so similar, and the stories have all been told over and over again. This one is different, though, and in a very wonderful way. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Beatrix (Bex) is a medical artist. Basically, her dream is to draw extremely accurate drawings of bodies for medical publications. Interesting, right? Many teens sneak away at night to go to parties or movies, but Bex sneaks away to the hospital to draw cadavers. She’s doing this in the hopes of winning an art scholarship. I love slightly nerdy, unique heroines because they are so accepting and easy to relate to. Bex was so much fun to read about. She’s determined to get what she wants, and pushes back in the face of opposition.

2. Jack is the absolute cutest. He’s immediately interested in Bex, even though she’s not even interested in giving him the time of day. Puking in the bushes after drawing her first cadaver didn’t even chase him away. This is the kind of guy a girl needs. He’s one of San Francisco’s most wanted criminals, and he’s also the mayor’s son. Interesting, right!? He’s a very talented graffiti artist, and when you find out his motivation behind his art you’ll pretty much melt. He admires Bex’s creativity, and they bond over art, family troubles, and the excitement of being rebellious together. They are just way too cute.

3. There’s a lot of heavy themes in this story, that are nicely balanced by the silliness of two teens falling in love. Bex’s dad walked out on his family for another one. Now she and her mom and older brother live in a small place together. Bex’s room is in the dining room and her brother lives in the cement covered basement. They love each other, but have heir problems. Jack’s family has covered up mental illness to protect his dad’s image, and I love the sensitivity and realness of how mental illness is portrayed. Bex and Jack both struggle with life, and have both had to grow up quicker than many other teens. This made their relationship feel deeper to me. They have some of the best banter!

4. The romance is so sweet. In the very beginning neither of them knew much of anything about the other. Jack didn’t even know Bex’s name at first, and got to know her through her online portfolio. Then he stalked her on social media (in a cute, non-creepy way of course), and started strategically bumping into her. Things simmered for a while and built up to something really great. Their feelings felt so real and genuine to me. I love how relentlessly he pursued her.

All in all, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is a swoony little package of happy. I love this bookish couple, the family dynamics, the unique subject matter, and the feelings. I highly recommend this sweet story to anyone who is looking for a little something different from their contemporary YA.


Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren | Book Review

Posted August 2, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, New Adult / 3 Comments

Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren | Book ReviewJosh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on September 4, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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4 Stars
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

After reading and enjoying Roomies earlier this year, I was excited to jump into another Christina Lauren book! I loved the characters that this author duo created in that story, and I hoped that they would deliver another wonderful group for me to fall in love with. I wasn’t disappointed in the least! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I’m just going to jump right in here and say that I LOVE Hazel. She’s hilarious and bubbly and eccentric and full of life. She’s exactly the kind of wild, uninhibited, self-confident person I wish I was. She dances through life and if you can’t handle her, she doesn’t even care. She doesn’t even notice. She reminded me so much of Jessica Day from New Girl that I was actually picturing Jess the entire time. She loves animals, she’s a school teacher, she has so much energy, and she makes everyone who knows her happy. I SO need a friend like her in my life.

2. I loved Josh as well. He is the sweetest, most caring best friend a girl could ask for. He tolerates Hazel until she worms her way into his very soul, and then he’s 100% the devoted and loving best friend. Can I have a Josh in my life as well? He’s seriously the cutest. He’s all order and organized. I loved how warm and open and accepting he was of Hazel’s eccentricities. He makes her feel perfect, and every girl should feel that way.

3. These two are so perfect together. She decides she wants to be his best friend, so she makes it happen whether he wants it or not. They end up with this very flirty, witty, tender friendship that is just so unique and special. Their whole “not dating” thing works for a while as they set each other up on blind dates for their double date nights, but then they end up having more fun with each other than they do with their actual dates. Josh lets Hazel live with him when her apartment floods and internally gripes over her messiness, but secretly loves it at the same time. Her dog ADORES him. They have inside jokes and cute pet names (Josh is Korean and his real name is Jimin, so she calls him Jiminy and other silly things. He calls her Haze, which is adorable.). It’s just such a perfect combination of two completely different people.

4. I really love the best-friends-turned-lovers trope, and this romance was particularly swoony and sweet, with some interesting twists and turns. Neither wants to ruin their friendship with possible unrequited feelings, so that underlying tension creates so much depth and interest.

All in all, I loved this story! I loved the characters and the sweet romance. There’s so many other gems in this story as well, including a few crazy awkward college moments between Josh and Hazel before their reunion years later at a party, and some yummy-sounding Korean food. I highly recommend this Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating to anyone looking for a cute rom-com with a lot of depth and feeling below the surface.


Roomies by Christina Lauren | Book Review

Posted April 12, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, New Adult / 3 Comments

Roomies by Christina Lauren | Book ReviewRoomies by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on December 5, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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3.5 Stars
Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

I love marriages of convenience and fake/sham romances, so I was excited to find another one from an author (or author partnership) I’ve been hearing really good things about. I also love books set in New York and/or surrounding the theme of music. And… it kind of goes without saying that I love Irish men, so the synopsis checked all my boxes. I eagerly jumped in, and had a lot of fun with this one! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I really loved Holland Baker. She’s so relatable, and I think we can all see at least a small part of ourselves in her. She’s a 25-year-old plain Jane living in New York City (with the help of her two uncles who pay most of her rent), working a dead-end job (that her uncle go her) that is way below her qualifications as she tries to achieve her dream of becoming a published author. Who has been in this position before? *raises hand* Her morning subway runs to work become bearable when she stumbles across a musical genius busking in the station one morning. She gives him a name and makes up his life story in her mind, going out of her way to hear him play as often as she can. This mysterious musician has her completely entranced even though she’s never seen his face or heard his voice. If you haven’t ever had a crush on someone you don’t know, then you’re either crazy or lucky.

2. Calvin is a swoony Irishman who is also working below his qualifications while trying to achieve his dream of becoming a Broadway musician. While busking in the subway station one evening, he saves Holland from an attack and then pretty much disappears. We learn a lot about Holland’s mystery musician, and the two of them end up in a marriage of convenience–both for very different reasons. Calvin is pretty cute (his accent comes through the pages), but not my favorite male love interest. I had a really hard time trusting his intentions with Holland, and questioned his feelings pretty consistently throughout the story. He’s not incredibly thoughtful or romantic, either. I did change my mind about him, and by the end I was in love with him. I was sad I didn’t get more pages with him like he was in the end.

3. I did really like the banter between Holland and Calvin. They’re pretty funny and flirtatious, and I ate it all up.

4. I could not help but picture scenes from the movie, The Proposal, while I read about Holland and Calvin at their interview to prove the validity of their marriage. And their cramming sessions where they tried to learn as much about each other as possible were great.

5. I LOVED Holland’s two uncles, Robert and Jeff. They took care of her like they were her parents, and I loved how tender and concerned they were for her. They call her “Hollsy”, which is so cute! Robert is the mastermind behind a hit Broadway show, but he’s still super down-to-earth and even a little silly.

6. I loved the walks through New York in the freezing cold because it took me back to when I was there at Christmastime freezing my butt off.

7. I love the author’s descriptions of music and what it does to a person. There were some beautiful, sweeping passages that perfectly described the impact music has on people.

8. A fair amount of the book takes place at the theater, and I enjoyed all the tidbits of life behind Broadway. 

9. I think things went slightly sour for me when Holland and Calvin left the getting-to-know-you phase and jumped into the lustier side of their relationship. I loved the sincerity that they brought to the scene as they got to know one another and were intoxicated by Calvin’s new job and Holland’s secret infatuation with him had her checking herself to see if she was dreaming. That was all very sweet and exciting. When they started lying to each other and sleeping together for no meaningful reason, it cheapened everything for me.

10. There was a lot of needless drama, in my opinion. I’ve never read a book where the main couple argued with one another so much, or had so many disagreements. 

11. I loved watching Holland find herself. 

12. The ending was very sweet, if not a little convenient and quick. It all seemed to wrap up too fast for me.

13. I could have done with fewer f-words. 

So, there you have it! My slightly all over the place review. There were parts I loved, and parts I didn’t love. Overall, however, I am so glad I read this book. It was fun and fresh and different from all the other contemporary romances I’ve read.


Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett | Book Review

Posted March 28, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 8 Comments

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett | Book ReviewStarry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 3, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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5 Stars
Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Jenn Bennett is a wonderful storyteller, and is quickly becoming a YA author that I trust to provide some really sweet, swoony contemporary romances. After really enjoying Alex, Approximately, I was excited to spot this next book of hers on Edelweiss. I’m happy to report that I loved this one even more. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I was immediately drawn to the unique plot elements that were mentioned in the synopsis. Former best friends go camping and end up stranded in the wilderness, having to fend for themselves. I love survival stories, and stories that take place outdoors so I really loved this idea. It was done SO WELL.

2. I loved the little tidbits about how to survive outdoors, as well as the beautiful descriptions of scenery. There’s a pretty intense thunderstorm that happens in this book, and I was captivated by the way the author portrayed it.

3. The characters are sweet and quirky. I know I will never forget Lennon, son of a sex shop owning lesbian couple and a punk rocker has-been. He loves reptiles and graphic novels, wears all black, and has spiky hair and a dry sense of humor. He’s also very loving, loyal, kind of broken, and very mysterious. I loved him! Zorie is a wannabe astronomer, who gazes at life through the eyepiece of her telescope. Her birth mother died when she was young, and she’s fallen in love with her dad’s Korean wife, Joy, and adopted her as her real mom. This family, like all families, has some issues. As Zorie and Lennon work to survive the wilderness and the elements, they talk and work through how to survive their lives as well. They both grow so much individually as well as together, and I loved watching them process real emotions together.

4. Things got really good for me once the glamping trip ended and Lennon and Zorie were left to fend for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the parts leading up to that, but I got super invested at this point in the story and had a really hard time putting my book down to go to bed.

5. There was a strong focus on friendship and relationships that I loved.

6. I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s some major girl power moments towards the end of the book that had me cheering. I love strong women in books because they inspire me to be more assertive and not take crap from anyone.

All in all, I loved Starry Eyes. It’s swoony and deep and angsty and full of so much reality, set against the love-hate relationship between two best-friends-turned-enemies as they traverse the elements and depend on one another to survive the literal wilderness, as well as their own wild, untamed lives.


Public Relations by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini | Book Review

Posted January 5, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, New Adult / 13 Comments

Public Relations by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini  | Book ReviewPublic Relations by Arianna Rebolini, Katie Heaney
Published by Grand Central Publishing on May 9, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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1.5 Stars
Young PR star Rose Reed is thrown into the big leagues when her boss leaves town the day of the firm's meeting with Archie Fox, a young, hot, internationally famous British singer-songwriter. The meeting is going badly until Rose suggests a staged romance with up-and-coming, young indie star Raya. He'll do it, but only if Rose becomes his publicist.

As the faux-mance begins to rehabilitate Archie's faltering career, Rose finds his herself having unexpected, inconvenient and definitely unprofessional feelings for the crooner. But do late night texts and impromptu burrito binges mean he feels the same? In the end, Rose will have to decide whether to let her fantasy crush go, or to risk her reputation to be with the charming, handsome, scoundrel-y but sweet pop star she's grown to love.

Ever since I read and loved The Hating Game, I’ve been seeking out for workplace romances similar to it. While it was fun, I think my expectations were a little too high. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I immediately liked Rose for her ability to stand up for herself (and not keep quiet as she was instructed) and voice her opinions during the client meeting that would inevitably change her life. Her inner monologue was very entertaining.

2. I liked Archie as well, but felt like he was very shallowly developed. He seemed like the typical celebrity cardboard cut-out character, with no real personality or unique traits. I’ve seen multiple reviewers compare him to Harry Styles of One Direction, so… it would appear that not much thought was put into his character specifically. It was all very surface level. We just never got to know him.

3. While the all the PR talk was interesting for a while, it got very old very fast. I seriously just didn’t care.

4. By the 50% mark on my kindle, I seriously felt like nothing had happened yet. Things moved very slowly. It was seriously as boring as the book’s title.

5. I wanted more romance. More swoons. Things burned so slowly that it was hardly noticeable. This book really is more chick lit than romance.

6. I really dislike stories with main characters who are celebrities. I hoped this one would be different, but I just don’t like the spoiled, lime-light seeking, entitled characters that we come across so often in stories like those.

7. I tend to really love the fauxmance trope, but I guess it comes as no surprise that a fauxmance between celebrities was not at all appealing to me. Seeing all the inner workings of how those kinds of relationships are orchestrated by publicists sitting in an office somewhere and then manipulating social media to convince the world of something was both boring and maddening. It bothered me that Rose spent her free time stalking Archie and his fans on social media, and it bothered me that her job was to lie and make hundreds of thousands of people believe it. I just don’t like the dishonesty.

8. I didn’t even realize until I was finished with the book that it was written by two authors. I commend them both for writing so seamlessly and consistently.

9. What the crap is with the cover?

All in all, this was very “meh” for me. I can totally see the appeal, but Public Relations was just not for me. I would, however, recommend it to people who enjoy reading celebrity gossip and tabloids.


Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle | Book Review

Posted January 3, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle | Book ReviewHold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle
Series: Search and Rescue #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on April 5, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Suspense
Pages: 365
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4 Stars
In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...

As the captain of Field County's ice rescue dive team, Callum Cook is driven to perfection. But when he meets new diver Louise "Lou" Sparks, all that hard-won order is obliterated in an instant. Lou is a hurricane. A walking disaster. And with her, he's never felt more alive...even if keeping her safe may just kill him.

Lou's new to the Rockies, intent on escaping her controlling ex, and she's determined to make it on her own terms...no matter how tempting Callum may be. But when a routine training exercise unearths a body, Lou and Callum find themselves thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who will stop at nothing to silence Lou-and prove that not even her new Search and Rescue family can keep her safe forever.

I am a huge fan of romantic suspense, and I’ve been on the hunt for amazing ones all year. When I asked for recommendations on Twitter, Quinn suggested I give Katie Ruggle a try. I flew to Amazon and read the synopsis for Hold Your Breath and immediately became very excited. Each book in the Search and Rescue series focuses on a different branch of the search and rescue team in Field County, Colorado. Hold Your Breath features the dive team, and I think setting a story about a dive team during the cold Rocky Mountain winter was the best choice ever. I also just love wintry settings for romantic suspense because they seem so much more exciting to me. Less daylight, colder temps, quieter nighttimes. And search and rescue? YES. I went in with high hopes and wasn’t disappointed one bit. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Lou and Callum were very fun to read about. She’s spunky and hilarious, with a bright personality and he’s quiet and surly. He’s also very loyal and intuitive and caring. Such a sweet guy, and I fell in love with him a little as I read this book. The mixture of the two of them was pretty funny. I picture her bouncing off the walls and him sitting there glaring for being disturbed. But the chemistry and heat between these two is amazing. Such a fun couple!

2. The banter between Lou and Callum is wonderful and will make you giggle. He’s just so grumpy and she’s so sunshiney!

3. Hold Your Breath is quite a page-turner. So much action and excitement! Lou becomes the target of someone, and Callum moves in to her remote cabin to protect her. We get to jump inside the head of her stalker, and oh my creepy. I’m already scared of having my curtains open after dark, but even more so now.

4. The book is written in dual perspectives, which I enjoy if done right. And it was done right! I liked hearing from both Lou and Callum and getting their takes on the situation.

5. So swoony! So romantic! 

6. Not only does each book in the series center on different rescue units in the county, but there’s a mystery that appears to flow from book to book. Lou discovers a body in this one, but the mystery continues in the next book and so-on. I think it’s a fun way to set up a series, but I’m slightly worried I will forget important elements as I read other books in between.

For fear of giving too much away, I’m going to quit here. I’m super excited to read book two, Fan the Flames, about Ian the firefighter. I got to meet him in this book, and I like him a lot. I like everyone, actually, and am excited to read all their stories. Definitely pick this one up if you like romantic suspense. It was refreshing to find a suspenseful, romantic storyline that isn’t erotica and doesn’t include paranormal aspects like so many do. Highly recommended!


Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

Posted December 23, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewChasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #4
Also in this series: One Snowy Night, The Trouble with Mistletoe
Published by Avon on September 26, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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4 Stars
Meet cute...

Run for the hills—temporarily. That's Colbie Albright's plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie's so over it that she's under it. She's also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she's pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won't be a stranger for long.

Make merry...

Spence's commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn't have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot chemistry—he's got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself... just because she's gorgeous and a great listener just because she gets Spence immediately doesn't mean he won't be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

and hope for a miracle.

Now the clock's ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.

I think it’s worth recognizing and celebrating my very first full-length novel by Jill Shalvis! I’ve read a handful of her Christmas novellas, and I decided that it was finally time to settle in for a longer novel and really discover what all the fuss is about. I own all but one of the books in the Lucky Harbor series and all the Heartbreaker Bay books that have been released thus far, so I really haven’t had any excuses to not read them yet. The synopsis of Chasing Christmas Eve really grabbed me, and it ended up being a really good choice! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I wasn’t too excited about reading a Christmas book that takes place in California. I lived in California for 6 years and it’s a beautiful place, so this isn’t personal, Californians! I just love snow in my Christmas novels, and that obviously was not going to happen here. Colbie is nuts for fleeing New York at Christmas, but I digress.

2. The lack of snow didn’t take away from the festiveness of the book, though! There were Christmas lights and enough warm fuzzies to make me forget that there wasn’t snow swirling around outside.

3. Colbie is a verrrrry successful YA author, and that’s the main reason I was drawn to this book! I love YA, and I love many YA authors, so Colbie immediately felt like my friend. I thought of her the way I think of any of my favorite YA authors. She’s so sweet and down to earth, not to mention incredibly nice. She’s dealing with writer’s block and she’s under a ton of stress from that, plus the fact that her entire family depends on her for every little thing. I love that she took the plunge and ran away to take care of herself. She’s also really funny and has this bright personality that made me smile. I would totally be friends with her.

4. I loved nerdy Spence. He’s a hot, rich, reclusive genius. But he’s not rich in a snobby way. He takes care of a homeless man that lives outside the building! He keeps to himself and lives his own life, and when he needs a breather he walks dogs! I mean, come on. He’s a bit of a workaholic, which has sealed off the part of himself that can have a love life. But all it takes is the right girl, right?

5. I love how Colbie and Spence meet for the first time. The description mentions a meet cute, and that’s exactly what we were given with this book. I’m not even going to say how it happens because I don’t want to spoil it. Just know that a dog is involved.

6. The romance is very sweet, regardless of the secrets they are both keeping from each other. What was supposed to be a quick little fling turns into something more than that, and forces Colbie and Spence to smooth out some of the wrinkles in their relationship.

7. I liked the supporting characters a lot, but can tell it would have really been great if I’d read the other three books in the series first so I’d know them a little better. The book works fine as a standalone, but I could have used a few more details on Spence and Elle especially.

All in all, this was a very fun Christmas romance! I loved watching Colbie and Spence fall in love and work through what being in love means to them. I’m definitely a fan of Jill Shalvis, so yay! It would have really sucked if I’d come out of this hating her and already owning a million of her books. I’m excited to read more of the books in the Heartbreaker Bay series and then start working on Lucky Harbor!

Which Jill Shalvis book is your absolute favorite?


Operation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards | Book Review

Posted December 21, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Operation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards | Book ReviewOperation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards
Series: Escape to the Country #4.5
Also in this series: Operation White Christmas
Published by Momentum on October 25, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Pages: 91
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4.5 Stars
Christmas is looking grim for Melissa Allen. She has no one to celebrate with, as her boyfriend of five years left her for her best friend and, after losing her home in a fire, she has nowhere to live. Left without a choice, she accepts the offer to the stay with family friends Rob and Linda Nicholls.

Chris Nicholls is excited about bringing his five-year-old daughter, Jasmine, home to Lakefield, Ontario for her first white Christmas. The trip is a surprise for his parents, though no one is more surprised than Chris when he finds his childhood best friend in his parent's spare room. Surprise soon turns to delight as Chris has always had feelings for Melissa, feelings that are only getting stronger the longer they are together.

But Melissa has had her fill of heartbreak, and isn't willing to fall for a man who is only going to leave. And Jasmine? She doesn't want to share her daddy with anyone. If Chris has any hope of convincing Melissa and Jasmine that they have a future together as a family, he'll need all the mistletoe magic he can get.

Nicki Edwards knows how to write sweet Christmas stories. I fell in love with Operation White Christmas two years ago and was very excited when I found out she had written another Christmas novella set in a quaint Canadian winter wonderland. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Even though Operation Mistletoe Magic is considerably shorter than Operation White Christmas, this little novella is packed with so much! It had enough substance that it didn’t feel fluffy and empty to me, but not so much that I felt like we needed a longer novel to fit it all in.

2. I really liked the characters, and the fact that they were so well fleshed out and filled with personality. Melissa has been dumped for her best friend, has lost her job, and her house has burned down, leaving her with nothing. Emotionally and physically, she has nothing. But she didn’t let it get her down. When she was invited to live with her childhood best friend’s family, she was touched and overwhelmed with gratitude. Not many people could make lemonade out of SO MANY lemons, but she found the sunshine through the storm. Chris is a single dad, and a really sweet dad at that. He’s heading home for Christmas with his little girl to give her a chance to see what a white Christmas is like, and also to figure out what he wants for his future.

3. I loved seeing Melissa and Chris become reacquainted and sift through their shared memories as they explored how their feelings for another had evolved over the years. Friends to lovers and second chance romances are some of my favorite kinds of stories, and this book combines both!

4. The romance was so sweet and completely clean (just like Operation White Christmas). It’s like a Hallmark Christmas movie in book form.

5. The story is so Christmassy! It’s wintry and festive and filled with all the glow and shine I crave from Christmas romances.

All in all, I loved Operation Mistletoe Magic. It’s a sweet, quick, feel-good story that can be read in an evening, but will give you a big enough dose of Christmas cheer to carry you through the entire holiday season.

 

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