Genre: Contemporary Romance

Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey | Book Review

Posted January 21, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey | Book ReviewHotshot Doc by R.S. Grey
Published by Self on December 6, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 372
Format: eBook
Source: Gift
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5 Stars

Dr. Russell has a bad reputation around our hospital. The scrub techs say he’s cold-blooded, the nurses say he’s too cocky for his own good, and the residents say he’s the best surgeon in the world—really, just a swell guy!—on the off chance he’s within earshot.

I try to avoid him and his temper at all costs. It’s just as easy to admire his sexy, grip-it-while-he’s-ravishing-you hair and chiseled jaw from a healthy distance, preferably from the other end of the hallway…half-hidden behind a plant.

Unfortunately, my plan crumbles when my trusty ol’ boss decides to swap his white coat for a Hawaiian shirt. His retirement leaves me with two terrible options: switch specialties and spend months retraining, or take an open position as Dr. Russell’s surgical assistant.

That means I have to stand near him in the OR for hours on end and anticipate his every need without letting his biting words and bad attitude intimidate me. Oh, and as if that’s not difficult enough, my silly crush on him—the one I’ve tried to stomp on until it disappears—might just be reciprocated.

It’s fine.
I’m fine.

I take my job seriously. There will be no smoldering bedroom eyes across the operating table, no angry almost-kisses in the supply closet. (Well, no more of those.)

What’s the phrase? An apple a day keeps the doctor away?
Maybe I should go for a whole damn bushel.

I know we’re only three weeks into 2021, but I think it’s safe for me to say that Hotshot Doc is going to be one of my favorite reads of the year! I didn’t know how much I loved medical romances until I was about a quarter of the way through this book. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Yes, so medical romances. Who knew? I mean, I should have known. I love so many of the medical shows on TV, so why wouldn’t I love to read a love story that takes place in the middle of a hospital with high medical stakes? This was just so, so good. 

2. Dr. Matt Russell is the broodiest, grumpiest, coldest hero I’ve read about in a long time. I really didn’t think I’d ever fall for him because he’s just such a jerk, but it’s all a front! It’s a facade! This guy… as I was reading I pictured him as Neal Caffrey but bigger. Dr. Russell is like 6’2″, broad, ripped (because you have to be strong enough to stand and operate for hours, you know), dark hair, blue eyes, wears a suit… So my dream, basically. And even though he’s so insufferable, I kept catching these little glimmers of a caring and completely selfless man. And he loves children! He loves his job, which is essentially providing better quality of life for his young patients. I really can’t find anything wrong with him, although his interpersonal skills leave much to be desired.

3. Bailey is Dr. Russell’s perfect match. She can hold her own and talk back and takes no crap. She’s also so sweet and happy and caring, so she’s the perfect one to wiggle under his skin and make him think. She is determined to break his shell and be his friend, and he’s just not having it. It takes a lot of confidence to put up with that kind of treatment and not give up, and I loved that about her. She’s also very selfless and became the guardian of her little sister after their parents died. And she’s hilarious.

4. On the surface, Bailey and Matt are like night and day, but they work so well together and I loved the “I can’t stand you, but you’re who I want to be with” tension between the two of them. They have really great chemistry, and I flew through the pages as quickly as I could.

5. Speaking of Bailey’s sister, her name is Josie and she’s a young teen. I don’t think I have ever loved a kid in a book more. She is so, so funny. She sees and hears everything, and she really loves her sister. Her relationship with Matt is so cute. One night, he stays over at their place because the weather is bad and he can’t drive home. He sleeps on the couch, and Josie is so concerned that he’s going to have to go to bed without a book to read that she forces The Hunger Games on him. Because how on earth can one go to sleep without reading first?! I like this girl.

6. The romance is very swoony. It’s a bit forbidden because they’re co-workers, and then there’s some “hands off, Josie is in the other room”, so all these obstacles really build up the tension between them. They’re so good together!

7. The ending felt a little rushed. I needed more information on a number of different topics, so it was not the most satisfying. But there were no loose ends, so that’s good.

8. I want all of R.S. Grey’s book now. 

9. I also want more medical romances, so help a girl out. 

All in all, this was so much fun! It was funny and serious and heartwarming and there was even some Christmas in it, so I’m a happy girl. I wish I’d gotten a longer epilogue with more details, though. Regardless, though, I wholeheartedly recommend this book!

5 Stars

One of Those Flings by Lauren Blakely | Mini Book Review

Posted January 17, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

One of Those Flings by Lauren Blakely | Mini Book ReviewOne of Those Flings by Lauren Blakely
Published by Audible Original on August 31, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
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3 Stars

Get ready for the virtual vacation of your life with this scripted multi-cast rom-com by number-one New York Times best-selling author Lauren Blakely!

Skyler’s breakup survival plan is simple: Swear off men for a year and celebrate her man cleanse with a solo tropical vacation to Hawaii. Snorkeling, sightseeing, zip lining, and leisurely dinners by the sea are just what the doctor ordered to mend her broken heart.

That is, until she meets a hunky adventure tour guide who makes her want to break all her own rules. Handsome, funny, and exciting, Caleb is by far the hottest local attraction. Will a romantic island fling lead to more heartbreak - or a new beginning?

I have been loving Lauren Blakey’s audiobooks during the last year, so when I saw this one in the Audible Plus catalog I jumped on it. It was fun and entertaining, but not the kind of story I’ve come to expect from Lauren. The sound effects and background noises were cool, and the voice acting was well done. I loved all the narrators. It kind of felt like I was playing an episode of a TV show I’d seen before in the background while doing chores. The story just didn’t flow well, and there was a significant lack of depth (most likely because it was so short). Really, it was practically too short to be able to even form an opinion. For a free offering, it was worth it.

3 Stars

Enjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler | Book Review

Posted January 14, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 4 Comments

Enjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler | Book ReviewEnjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler
Series: Moose Springs Alaska #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 19, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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5 Stars

A grouchy mountaineer, a Hollywood starlet
And miles of untamed wilderness...
What could possibly go wrong?

Former Hollywood darling River Lane's acting career is tanking fast. Determined to start fresh behind the camera, she agrees to film a documentary about the picturesque small town of Moose Springs, Alaska. The assignment should have been easy, but the quirky locals want nothing to do with River. Well, too bad: River's going to make this film and prove herself, no matter what it takes.

Or what (literal) mountain she has to climb.

Easton Lockett may be a gentle giant, but he knows a thing or two about survival. If he can keep everyone in line, he should be able to get River and her crew up and down Mount Veil in one piece. Turns out that's a big if. The wildlife's wilder than usual, the camera crew's determined to wander off a cliff, and the gorgeous actress is fearless. Falling for River only makes Easton's job tougher, but there's only so long he can hold out against her brilliant smile. When bad weather strikes, putting everyone at risk, it'll take all of Easton's skill to get them back home safely...and convince River she should stay in his arms for good.

So… it should surprise nobody that I read this and that I loved it and that I gave it 5 stars and that I marked it as a favorite and actually pre-ordered a beautiful copy for my shelves AND the audiobook 8 months before I even read it because I KNEW I WOULD FEEL THIS WAY ABOUT IT. So really, what more can be said about this book, you ask? LOTS. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Easton. Hi, Easton, my love. I’ve been waiting for this moment and it was worth the wait. I fell in love with Easton in The Tourist Trap, so when I saw that my favorite mountain man was getting his own love story I knew it was going to be awesome. Like, it had to be. I think probably maybe Sarah Morgenthaler loves Easton as much as I do, but… I dunno. I loved getting to know him better in this book, and seeing his soft side and his connection to nature and marmots… *ahem* what? Yes, I said connection to marmots. Let’s just say… everyone loves Easton. And they should, because he’s so kind and sweet. A big teddy bear.

2. River definitely concerned me at first and I was a little scared that Easton would end up with the wrong person, but she quickly grew on me! I do not like celebrity romances. If I read that there’s going to be a rockstar or a starlet or even a reality TV star in a book, I tend to set it down and move on but this is Moose Springs, people. I owed it to Easton to not set this book aside, and River made me realize that maybe Hollywood darlings are ok after all. I really, really liked her. She’s tenacious and assertive and has this deep desire to prove herself and fight against the stereotype that comes with being famous. She wanted her work to mean something more than she wanted to make money off of it, and I appreciated that. She’s also got a big, caring heart.

3. Enjoy the View is definitely the most intense of the Moose Springs books. The characters are climbing the dangerous Mount Veil for the bulk of the book, and this brings in danger and high stakes. I loved it! I’ve always been a fan of survival type stories, and while this one wasn’t necessarily a “will they survive or will the perish?” level of intensity, there was that excitement of wondering how things would end for everyone. I loved reading about their progress as they climbed, the camps they set up, and especially the little tidbits of how to survive in the conditions they were enduring. 

4. The secondary characters were really great. River brings a two-person film crew with her to film the documentary as they climbed, and Easton brought a climbing buddy with him to help ensure everyone made it up and down the mountain safely. They all seem like really nice people, and I was glad they were there.

5. This is still a romantic comedy, even though there were some heavier issues and situations. The balance between the light and heavy was perfect.

6. I love Moose Springs so much, and even though this book spends more time outside the town than in it, it still felt like returning home for me. The people are all so great. 

7. I love Sarah’s writing. 

All in all, I loved Enjoy the View. It’s perfect. The trilogy is perfect. I will continue forcing everyone I know to read these book. I’ve already made at least 15 people (that I can count) read them, and I won’t stop there! Sourcebooks Casablanca: You MUST pick up more books in the Moose Springs series. This can’t end now. There’s too many stories that still need to be told. Ash needs her love story. That woman who manages the town resort needs one. There’s people in Moose Springs we haven’t met yet that I know deserve love as well. Please let me come back to Moose Springs again soon!

5 Stars

One Christmas Eve by Shannon Stacey | Book Review

Posted December 24, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Bookish Little Christmas / 2 Comments

One Christmas Eve by Shannon Stacey | Book ReviewOne Christmas Eve by Shannon Stacey
Series: Cedar Street #2
Published by Carina Press on November 11, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

They couldn’t be more different. Or more perfect for each other.

New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey returns with a warm and cozy opposites-attract Christmas story.

Zoe Randall is busy living her life as she damn well pleases. She’s back in her favorite town, her divorce in her rearview mirror, and living out her childhood dream of running a bookstore with her cousin. She has no interest in the uptight nerd who opened his boring-ass business next to her shop…until he complains about one of her sexy window displays.

Then it’s game on.

Preston Wheeler knows he takes life a little too seriously. But when the saucy bookseller next door starts pushing his buttons, he can feel that changing. Beautiful, vivacious Zoe challenges him in all the best ways, and soon he’s pushing her buttons right back: teasing and flirting all the way through the holiday season.

As Preston loosens up and Zoe is treated to the man behind the suit (particularly his forearms), she realizes she’s more interested than she cares to admit. And Preston comes to see the beauty—the absolute delight—in adding Zoe’s bright splashes of color to his once very black-and-white existence.

What better day of the year than Christmas Eve to review this darling Shannon Stacey novel, One Christmas Eve? This one was described an opposites attract love story, and I love this trope so much in romance novels. We’ve also got a fun, outgoing, bookish heroine named Zoe that I really loved. She has the best job ever. She runs a bookstore with her cousin, and spends her days recommending books and designing elaborate window displays. Sounds perfect to me! Nerdy, uptight Preston Wheeler moves in to the office next door. He’s an estate planner, and gets offended by one of her displays because he thinks it’s tasteless. He doesn’t want his clients having to walk past the, so he pops into the store to complain. What follows is a bit of a cat and mouse game, where Zoe does everything she can to push his buttons. She knows he’s secretly following the store’s Instagram page, so she posts about how they’ve got books on estate planning and even though they’re boring people might want to come check them out. She also gets even more obnoxious with his window displays. The banter back and forth is so much fun, and the tension is top notch! I loved the small town and the cute little streets. The people are all great, and I loved this festive love story so much! Highly recommended.

 

5 Stars

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar| Book Review

Posted December 14, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Bookish Little Christmas / 5 Comments

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar| Book ReviewChristmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar
Published by Hera on September 4, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 273
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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5 Stars

Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…

Sylvie’s best friend, Nari, plans a trip to see the Northern Lights and get Sylvie’s mojo back. But as their Lapland getaway approaches, Sylvie realises that Frozen Falls is the hometown of Stellan Virtanen, her dreamy Finnish ex-boyfriend, the one that got away.

When they meet, Stellan’s still gorgeous – and her heart is warmed when he shows her the romantic delights of Lapland (as well as some adorable Husky puppies). But when she returns to England, can she really leave Stellan behind? Or will she find that her heart belongs in the frozen North?

This is a very hard book to review because I loved it SO MUCH. Everything about Christmas at Frozen Falls was so unbelievably perfectly wonderful that I don’t even know where to begin! Rather than writing a few paragraphs explaining my love, I’m going to make a long list of reasons why you need to read it. Plain and simple.

1. Christmas. This book is sooooo Christmassy, yet not in the way that makes it wrong to read it in July. The festive feelings are there, but the Christmas decorations and typical Christmas story elements/tropes are very understated. You can read this anytime and get all the feelings.
2. Lapland. I’ve never read a book set here, but it’s magical. It’s isolated and empty, but so unbelievably alive. There’s frozen waterfalls and wide open snowy tundra and forests. It sounds beautiful.
3. Snow. There’s so much snow and ice, but it’s so warm and cozy!
4. The Frozen Falls Resort. It’s so dreamy. Can I visit? Sylvie and her friend Nari each have their own cabin! The bedroom has a glass ceiling so you can stay up all night and watch for the Northern Lights. There’s a big fireplace and a fully stocked kitchen. Each cabin also comes with a Christmas tree and a basket of decorations. Sylvie and Nari are right next door to each other, and then down the path is a place to eat and a spa and all that cool stuff. It sounds like a place worthy of being put on my Bucket List. If this place is inspired by a real place, I must know!
5. Reindeer live ON THE PROPERTY. Actual reindeer. And they take you on sleigh rides.
6. But also… the resort has HUSKY PUPPIES. This is not a drill. Sylvie falls in love with one of the puppies and goes to visit him when she needs to think. Puppies.
7. There are also adult Huskies that give sled dog rides. You guys! And Sylvie’s beloved puppy friend gets trained one day, and he’s so excited and I could just cry about how cute this scene in the book is.
8. Nari is a travel blogger, and every once in a while we get a chapter that’s comprised of her latest blog entry. I thought that was fun!
9. We get a double dose of romance, with Sylvie and Stellan getting reacquainted and Nari meets a special someone too.
10. I really loved Nari. What a great best friend!
11. And I loved Nillo, who is such a unique guy and a wonderful friend to Stellan. Nillo is very traditional and devoted to his ancestry, which I loved. He lives a simple, slow kind of life that was so refreshing to read about.
12. There’s a lot of self-discovery that happens in this book. All the characters grow and discover who they are and what they want.
13. The writing is gorgeous. The descriptions of the scenery and the feelings of the characters made the entire book come alive. Can this please be a movie? Although, that’s a scary idea because it’d never be as good as the book.
14. So many swoons. 
15. The ending is sweeping, and so much better than I could have hoped it would be. 

I LOVE this book. I love it so much that I immediately went and ordered myself a paperback for my bookshelves. I think re-reading this at Christmastime might become a tradition of mine. It’s everything I want from a Christmas romance, but with so much more depth and beauty than I’ve found lately. Do yourself a favor and buy this for yourself and everyone you know. A little hot chocolate and a fuzzy blanket would make the perfect accompaniment.

5 Stars

The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward | Mini Book Review

Posted December 9, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward | Mini Book ReviewThe Christmas Pact by Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland
Narrator: Andi Arndt, Sebastian York
Published by Audible Original on December 5, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Length: 2 hours 54 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
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4 Stars

Heat up the holidays with this sizzling new novella from New York Times best-selling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward!

Riley Kennedy’s emails keep getting crossed with her colleague, Kennedy Riley.

The infuriating man forwards them along with his annoying commentary and unsolicited advice. At least she never has to see him in person since they work in different locations…until they come face to face at the office holiday party. As luck would have it, Kennedy turns out to be gorgeous…though still a jerk. Yet somehow he’s able to charm her out on the dance floor—and convince her to participate in his crazy scheme: He’ll go home with Riley for a Christmas party and pretend to be her boyfriend if Riley agrees to be his date to a wedding.

It sounds easy enough. But little by little, the act they’re putting on starts to feel like so much more than a Christmas pact—and Riley’s about to learn there’s more to Kennedy than she ever imagined.

This was such a fun listen! I love a good fauxmance (as you know), and this one was delightful. The two main characters share a name, but in reverse. He’s Kennedy Riley, and she’s Riley Kennedy. They also work for the same company, and keep getting each other’s emails. She politely forwards his along, but he gets nosey and reads them all… and then forwards them along with his comments/thoughts/musings. He annoys the crap out of her, but it’s not until they meet at the company Christmas party for the first time ever that they realize there’s this attraction there. And he’s a lot less annoying than Riley thought. He talks her into coming to a wedding with him and, in turn, he says he’ll go home with her for Christmas and pose as her boyfriend. Sneaky, huh? Everything unfolds in a pretty predictable manner, and I loved it a lot. The narrators were fun to listen to! And yay for my blushing self, there were no sex scenes! I cannot listen to sex scenes being read to me. It’s just too embarrassing. Things are mentioned… and sex happens, but it’s not described. The story is told from two different points of view. Kennedy’s thoughts had a little more swearing than I would have liked, but that faded away as the story moved on. All in all, a very fun listen!

4 Stars

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow | Book Review

Posted December 3, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Bookish Little Christmas / 1 Comment

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow | Book ReviewAn Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow
Series: Wild River #1
Published by Harlequin on September 24, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3 Stars

In Alaska, it’s always a white Christmas—but the sparks flying between two reunited friends could turn it red-hot…

If there’s one gift Erika Sheraton does not want for Christmas, it’s a vacation. Ordered to take time off, the workaholic surgeon reluctantly trades in her scrubs for a ski suit and heads to Wild River, Alaska. Her friend Cassie owns a tour company that offers adventures to fit every visitor. But nothing compares to the adrenaline rush Erika feels on being reunited with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds.

Gone is the buttoned-up girl Reed remembers. His sister’s best friend has blossomed into a strong, skilled, confident woman. She’s exactly what his search-and-rescue team needs—and everything he didn’t know he craved. The gulf between his life in Wild River and her big-city career is wide. But it’s no match for a desire powerful enough to melt two stubborn hearts…

I really, really love Alaska, so I was excited when I found this Christmas romance set in Wild River! This was very fun book, but I would have been happier if it had been more festive and Christmassy.

The synopsis has done a really good job explaining what the book is about. You’ve got workaholic Erika, who has to take a forced vacation by the order of her boss (aka her dad). She heads to Alaska to stay with her old best friend, Cassie, who owns a tour company. And then you’ve got Cassie’s brother, Reed, who Erika has always had the hots for. He works for a search and rescue crew. Cassie and Erika haven’t been close in years, so things are a bit awkward at first as they figure each other out again. Obviously, they have both changed. And Reed definitely notices the changes in Erika.

I always enjoy friends to lovers and dating the best friend’s sibling tropes, and this book gives us a bit of both. Cassie goes off on a tour with a group for a few days, leaving Erika at home to go stir crazy. She gets out and starts hanging with Reed… goes on a few rescues… gets to know the locals. It’s fun. I like the town of Wild River and the people that live there. This book was a strong set-up for the series, and I know I would have liked it more if I hadn’t gone into it expecting an explosion of Christmas decorations and festive merriment. You could really read this at any time during the year, which isn’t a bad thing by any means, but was a bit of a disappointment for me. An Alaskan Christmas was actually a lot deeper and more heavy than I was expecting when I looked and the beautiful cover. I was picturing steamy Hallmark, but this was more of a drama than a romance for me. Everyone is working through a lot of stuff, and Erika is reanalyzing her life. I honestly can’t remember much Christmas or even many swoons. I really liked Erika and Reed together, but I didn’t have any strong feelings for them as individuals. They were not very memorable, personality-wise. I enjoyed the search and rescue tidbits, which were exciting and interesting.

All in all, this was fun! I was expecting something different, but it doesn’t mean that what I got was bad. I’m interested in continuing on with the series to see who gets their own romance next. Maybe Cassie? Or one of the search and rescue team? Both would be fun. :)

3 Stars

Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday | Book Review

Posted October 15, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday | Book ReviewParadise Cove by Jenny Holiday
Series: Matchmaker Bay #2
Published by Forever on July 28, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3 Stars

Dr. Nora Walsh has just been dumped in spectacular fashion, making it the perfect time for a major life change. She figures taking over the medical practice in tiny Matchmaker Bay for a couple of years will help her get over her broken heart, and then she can head back to the big city. But when the first man she sees looks like a superhero god, she wonders if maybe there's something to small-town living after all.

Jake Ramsey also has a broken heart -- one he never expects to heal. He doesn't need people anyway and is content hiding out in his secluded cottage on the beach. But after helping Nora with a medical emergency, he finds himself opening up to the witty, warmhearted doctor. Soon the local matchmakers are working overtime to pair them off, and Jake begins to wonder if his campaign to get Nora to stay is for the town or because he can't bear the thought of her leaving.

I’ve struggled with books by this author in the past, so I was a bit worried about trying again. But my friend, Estelle at Forever, pitched this to me so hard while we were talking on the phone one day that I decided to give Jenny Holiday another try! I’m glad I did, because I really enjoyed this for the most part! I do have a few tiny complaints, but I’m definitely interested in reading the other books in this series. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. We’ve got Nora, the city girl who moves to a small town to take over the medical practice there. I love stories like this, because I really enjoy anything medicine (even though it plays a tiny part in the story). She’s also running from a bad relationship and wants a new start. She’s a very energetic, bright personality and I enjoyed the contrast between her and Jake, the hero of this story.

2. Jake is a very quiet Mr. Fix-it that everyone loves even though nobody knows him very well. Well, they know his story but they don’t know him. He’s a man of very few words, but when he does speak it’s important. He lives off in a secluded part of town and goes around quietly fixing things that need fixing. He randomly shows up at Nora’s house to re-build her deck, and she stumbles upon him while he’s out there working. That’s just what he does! He’s the fix-it fairy, and I loved him for that. He’s got major heartbreak in his past, and watching him go through the grieving process and learning to open up again was very sweet. Oh, and Nora refers to him as Aquaman, if that does anything for you. I’m not a fan of the long-haired, man-buned man but I know many are!

3. Nora’s and Jake’s relationship is very organic. They start out as friends with benefits, which I actually hate. lol. But then things get deeper as he opens up to her. She expects absolutely nothing from him, and lets him open up slowly and quietly and on his own terms. When he tells her his story, she responds in a very comforting way without exhausted cliches. She reacts to him in a way nobody else has. She asks him tough, but meaningful, questions about his son instead of glazing over him as if he never existed. It’s hard on Jake, but also helps him realize that he can look to the good times and remember than fondly, rather than feeling guilty for the bad times.

4. The sex scenes were a bit too much and too frequent for me. I enjoy steam in my books, and I like it when it adds to the story. But when these scenes just keep happening and happening I start to skim over them because I need more than that in my books. I begin to disconnect from the characters because I’m not seeing them grown and learn and love. I’m just seeing how much stamina they have in the bedroom and that gets old. lol.

5. That being said, I really had fun getting to know these two characters and seeing their love story unfold. I loved Jake’s dog and his house, which was in a cute little cove. I loved that Jake bought Nora some rain boots that stayed at his house so he could put them out for her when he knew she was coming over. That way, when the tide rolled in she could traverse the wet rocks and wade through the water to get around the bend and make it to his house without getting wet. How sweet is that?

6. I loved the supporting characters and all the friendships that were developed in this story between the townspeople and Nora. I’d like to go back and read the first book in this series so I can get more info about some of these characters.

All in all, I enjoyed the story and am excited to read more books in the Matchmaker Bay series! Jenny’s writing is great and her characters are loveable. I could do with a little less heat and steam and more actual story, but it’s not enough of a drawback for me to keep me from reading more of her books!

3 Stars

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai | Book Review

Posted June 26, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai | Book ReviewThe Marriage Game by Sara Desai
Published by Berkley on June 9, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3 Stars

A high stakes wager pits an aspiring entrepreneur against a ruthless CEO in this sexy romantic comedy.

After her life falls apart, recruitment consultant Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco. But in the eyes of her father, who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, she can do no wrong. He would do anything to see her smile again. With the best intentions in mind, he offers her the office upstairs to start her new business and creates a profile on an online dating site to find her a man. She doesn’t know he’s arranged a series of blind dates until the first one comes knocking on her door…

As CEO of a corporate downsizing company Sam Mehta is more used to conflict than calm. In search of a quiet new office, he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he's forced to share his space with the owner's beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.

Today I’m posting my book review of The Marriage Game by Sara Desai as part of the official blog tour hosted by Berkley! The synopsis sold me early on, and I was even more eager to jump in and read this diverse, sexy, romantic comedy as soon as I laid my eyes on that beautiful cover! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. First off, I loved the pieces of Indian culture throughout the story. There was so much talk of food, especially, which is always a plus for me. I also found the practice of arranged marriages fascinating. It’s not like I’d never heard of this concept before, but Sara Desai explained it and outlined it in a way that made sense to me in a way it hadn’t before.

2. The humor was spot on, and the banter between Layla and Sam as they duke it out for ownership of their shared office was my favorite part of the book. 

3. Layla was a very fun character to read about! She’s confident and really loves herself. She’s also got big dreams and isn’t afraid to try hard things, even when she’s just been knocked down a peg or two.

4. I loved Layla’s family, but especially her dad. He’s adorable. In an effort to heal her heart, he sets up a secret online dating profile for her and then spends who knows how long surfing through hundreds of profiles and curating a list of 10 men for her that he approves of. He even set up all the meetings with them. What a sweet, caring dad! I mean… I suppose it was a total overstep, but I could see how much he cared and that warmed my heart.

5. Sam’s great, too. He’s got quite a back story that involves some darker issues and a lot of guilt on his part. I loved reading as he worked through these past experiences and it gave me a better understanding of why he was the way he was. His master plan was to get Layla married off so he would win the office by default, so he accompanies her on all these dates to try and make things happen. But he hates all of the guys and his conscience can’t handle talking her into dating any of them. lol.

6. And seriously. Some of these dates and the men on them were hilarious. 

7. The romance was sweet and slow-burning, just like I like them to be. I’ve always been a fan of enemies to lovers romances as well, and this one is a fiery one for sure!

All in all, this was lovely! I really enjoyed reading about a culture I’m not at all familia with, and such memorable and fun characters. I’ll be keeping my eye on Sara Desai!

3 Stars

Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely | Book Review

Posted June 11, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely | Book ReviewBirthday Suit by Lauren Blakely
Series: Sexy Suits #2
Published by Lauren Blakely Books on January 17, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 306
Source: Audible
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5 Stars

There is no rule in the Man Code as unbreakable as this: no matter how beautiful, smart, clever, and witty she is, do not—under any circumstances—fall in love with your best friend’s woman.

Yeah. So there’s that.
Look, it’s not like I didn’t know I screwed up by falling for her.
Also, for the record, unrequited love sucks big time.
And, I might have cut myself some slack by now, given everything that went down in the last few years, but Lulu just walked back into my life in a big way.

***

There are three things I've never been able to resist—my friends, my family, and chocolate.

Leo Hennessy? He was nowhere on that list. He's been a true friend—a friend who walked through hell and back with me.
Now, I'm stepping into my new future. I didn't expect it to include a riddle-filled, race-against-the-clock scavenger hunt across New York City.
With Leo.
Suddenly, I'm looking at this man with new eyes...
But my life spun out because of a man once before, and I can’t risk my fresh start, no matter what the temptation. And Leo is most definitely a temptation of the sexiest, sweetest, and most dangerous variety.
More irresistibly delicious than chocolate...

I will admit, I grabbed this immediately after loving and finishing the first book in this series, Lucky Suit (a novella). And yes, I loved that book a lot, but I think loved it more than I if I had actually read it with my eyes because of the narrators. So when I saw the huge cast of narrators for Birthday Suit (which includes Shane East/Steve West, my love) and read the synopsis (YES), I decided to shove all current plans aside and listen to this immediately. Boy, am I a good decision maker.

Things I Liked:

  • The narrators. Each character in Birthday Suit has their own narrator and, instead of alternating chapters like some audiobooks do with narrator duets or trios, this one was read like it was a TV show! Lulu (Andi Arndt) and Leo (Sebastian York) narrate alternate chapters as a whole, but then whenever any of the characters have anything to say, the narrator assigned to that character reads their lines. It’s SO much fun. This is an AMAZING cast of narrators, and each one brought so much life and personality to their characters. It felt like an episode of Friends. I will actively seek out full casts from now on, and already have a bunch on my wishlist.
  • I have to hand it to Lauren Blakely, because she obviously wrote the book to facilitate the kind of narration we got. It was amazing. The snark and personalities that she created gave the narrators amazing content to work with. All those full cast audiobooks I mentioned above that are now on my wishlist? Yeah, they’re all by Lauren Blakely. I think I’m a total fangirl. I ran to her website to sign up for email notifications so I’ll know exactly what to wish for next.
  • Lulu is a chocolatier with big dreams. She’s divorced after a rather toxic marriage to a guy who had a better relationship with alcohol than he did with her. I really, really like Lulu. She can do hard things and make hard decisions. She puts her best interests ahead of everything else, yet she’s still so caring and compassionate. I really loved reading her story.
  • Speaking of her being a chocolatier… this book will make you crave chocolate. Trust me on this and have some handy while you read because you’re going to be hearing about chocolate recipes and truffles and chocolate fountains… sea salt and caramel… SO MUCH CHOCOLATE.
  • Leo is awesome. He works for a company called Heavenly that is all about chocolate. He immediately recommends Lulu for their Rising Star event, and they bring her on to the team to develop a new line of chocolate treats. Leo has been in love with Lulu since before she married his best friend, and the two of them have the cutest friendship. But, of course, he wants so much more with her. His pining and infatuation with her was very sweet. I loved how he looked out for her and protected her and loved her while also trying to respect his friendship with her ex-husband. He really had to suffer, and I felt for him. He’s got some baggage and some emotional turmoil going on in his head, and he’s so torn on some decisions he has to make.
  • Lulu and Leo have a very cute romance, too. I loved their flirtiness and their backstory as a duo. And their riddles. They love to do riddles together, many of which they make up on their own, and I thought that was so cute!
  • There’s a lot of depth and intense underlying issues going on, which added some interesting layers. I liked the light-hearted romance and chocolate and scavenger hunt, but I also liked the growing and healing and moving on that some of these characters are having to do.
  • The supporting characters are great. Lulu and Leo both have wonderful and supportive friends.
  • All the loose ends are tied up, and things are so swoony and sweet!

What I Didn’t Like:

  • This is hard, because I’m not sure there was anything I didn’t like! I think my only disappointment is that I didn’t get more info on Ginny’s romance. Ginny is one of the supporting characters that I loved. I hope she gets her own book.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Definitely get your hands on the audio if you can! I know it made the story so much better for me. And at the end there’s a 1-hour bonus interview between Andi and Sebastian that was really fun. Listeners learn what recording was like, and rituals of audiobook narrators. They talked about lots of fun things.
  • I could EASILY re-listen to this. I’m not much of a re-reader, but this was so much fun that I know I’ll go back to it again someday.

All in all, this was a total win for me and I’m a Lauren Blakely fangirl! I can’t wait to listen to/read another one of her books! Highly recommended, and a brand new favorite!

5 Stars