Genre: Contemporary


The Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis | Book Review

December 10, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ★★★★

The Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis | Book ReviewThe Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis
Published by Bookbinder Press on November 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 206
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4 Stars
Lawyer Abbie Harper rents a cabin for her own perfect Christmas. On Christmas Eve, she leaves the stress of her New York job and drives to the mountains, settling in for seven glorious days of peace on earth and good will toward men—so long as they steer clear of her.

Forest Ranger Jack Whelan is no good at relationships. He manages just fine by holding fast to one rule: Don’t let anyone get close. Then Abbie Harper rents his cabin. As a light snow falls, the furnace breaks down, and Jack is called in for repairs. When the storm picks up, they’re stranded together, turning their ordered lives upside down like a snow globe.

Two snowbound strangers who think they know what they want will find out what they need—at The Christmas Cabin.

I don’t know why, but I LOVE stories that include two people being snowbound together in some remote location. I love it even more if it takes place during Christmas. Abbie’s job is taking over her life, so she decides to rent a cabin in the mountains to get away from it all. She brings enough food, Christmas movies, and an ereader full of good books (my kind of girl) with the plan of relaxing and enjoying the snow and scenic views. When she arrives she finds that the heat is not working and has to contact the owner of the cabin (multiple times) to come fix it. What starts out as a strictly business-type relationship quickly gets friendly as the snow falls and Jack is unable to leave the cabin. He takes the couch, she the bed, and the magic begins.

I liked both characters a lot, but Jack was definitely my favorite. He’s sweet, gentlemanly, giving (he saves people for a living), and romantic. Abbie is quirky enough to grab a tree branch from outside, stick it in a jar of water, and use it as her Christmas tree. She’s got this terribly irrational fear of dogs (the coyote howls in the distance render her practically immovable), but Jack is understanding and accommodating. He brings her earplugs, the cutie, and then freaks out when he knocks on the door and she doesn’t answer. Surely she must be dead. They form this really sweet, caring relationship that I just loved. And YAY all sexytimes happen behind doors, which I really appreciate in a Christmas romance.

I loved the writing. The author wrote some amazingly festive and beautiful Christmas scenes, and really got me into the Christmas spirit. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, happy holiday romance!

This review was originally posted on December 21, 2016

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan | Book Review & Giveaway

December 8, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review, Giveaway 10 ★★★★

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan | Book Review & GiveawayMiracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan
Series: From Manhattan with Love #3
Published by HQN Books on November 29, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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4 Stars
It will take a Christmas miracle for two very different souls to find each other in this perfectly festive fairy tale of New York!

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she's given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn't expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife's death looming, he's isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn't appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

Sarah Morgan is one of my very favorite authors, and I can definitely always count on her to get me into the Christmas spirit. I’ve read and loved many of her Christmas romances, so I was very eager to read Miracle on 5th Avenue as well. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Miracle on 5th Avenue is the first book in the From Manhattan with Love series that I’ve read, but I did not feel like I was missing out on any information. It reads perfectly fine as a standalone, but will make you want to grab the other books in the series as well. 

2. I love that one of the main character, Lucas, is an author. He’s on deadline and he’s writing a book that millions of people are eagerly anticipating. Any book that includes other books is always a double win for me. I enjoyed reading about his writing process and the writer’s block and how he comes up with his stories. He writes crime novels, and he’s inspired to model a character after Eva, our heroine.

3. Speaking of Lucas, I loved him even though he’s not super lovable. Readers only see his bad side for a little while. He’s grumpy and stressed and pretty irritating. But then he becomes inspired by Eva, his creative juices start flowing, and when she becomes more to him than a character in his book he becomes caring and sweet. I loved seeing him open up about his past. As he did, so did Eva.

4. Eva is a Christmas fanatic just like me, so we got along very well. While grumpy Lucas worked upstairs in his fortress of solitude, she decorated a tree in his living room and cooked up a storm of so many yummy sounding foods all while singing her heart out. She’s so much like me. And she drove him nuts in an endearing kind of way. Her cheery disposition melted the ice man, and things got cute, if not a little bumpy along the way.

5. This book is so festive, which I’m finding is rare among this year’s “Christmas” book releases. I’ve read quite a few recent releases from this year and last year, and I finally found one that was Christmasy enough for me. Thanks for doing it again, Sarah! FINALLY.

6. I love Sarah’s writing and her ability to create characters that make their way into your heart, her ability to write emotions that you can feel, and her ability to always put a smile on your face. 

All in all, Miracle On 5th Avenue was another win for me! I really loved it and am excited to continue the series. I love New York City, so it’s kind of like Sarah wrote me my own series! Definitely pick this up if you’re looking for a little Christmas cheer and some really fun characters.

In honor of A Bookish Little Christmas, Sarah has offered up a signed copy of Miracle On 5th Avenue to one of my readers! I am so unbelievably jealous of whoever wins! I’d love a signed Sarah Morgan book! Enter to win below!

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The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr | Book Review

December 4, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ★★★

The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr | Book ReviewThe Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr
Published by Henery Press on November 7, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: From the author
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3 Stars
Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? New Yorkers Robyn Lane and Sidney Bellows aren’t so sure.

Robyn has always dated struggling creative types. For once, her parents would love her to bring someone with health insurance and a 401(k) to their Chrismukkah celebration. Her actor boyfriend doesn’t qualify. While across town, Sidney’s professional life already belongs to her parents. She’s an attorney at her father’s law firm and she works tirelessly to keep her love life private. If she brings her lawyer boyfriend to their annual Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have the wedding planned by New Year’s Eve.

A mutual friend playfully suggests they trade boyfriends for the holidays. The women share a laugh, but after copious amounts of wine, decide The Boyfriend Swap could be the perfect solution. This way, Robyn can show off her stable attorney boyfriend and Sidney’s high-society family will take no interest in her flakey actor beau.

It’s a brilliant plan—in theory. In practice—not so much. When Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years, and Sidney’s family fawns all over Perry like he’s an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe, one thing is certain: The Boyfriend Swap might just change their lives forever.

The Proposal and The Holiday are two of my favorite movies ever, so I was really excited to read Christmas romance that was pitched to me as a combination of both. I think this comparison made me expect too much, though. And that’s nothing against the book, I just think I was wanting a Cameron Diaz and Jude Law kind of romance with the Kate Winslet and Jack Black kind of swoon. All things aside, The Boyfriend Swap had many cute moments, and it was fluffy which is always nice. I do wish there had been more Christmas in it, but I am the queen of Hallmark Christmas movies, so…

Robyn’s boyfriend Perry is described as a “D-list wannabe” actor. He’s a guy that Robyn cannot possibly bring home to her family, so she brings home Sidney’s lawyer boy toy of a boyfriend, Will, to get her family off her back. But… this guy ends up being Robyn’s lifelong crush. I really love the friends to lovers trope as well as the fauxmance trope, so I was definitely curious to see a combination of the two and how that would play out. I really liked both of them, particularly Will, and I think they’re very cute together. I enjoyed reading about their growing up years and the awkward memories they shared. They were definitely the highlight of the book for me.

Perry and Sidney, on the other hand, were a train wreck. In the book’s defense, though, I think they were supposed to be. This couple was so poorly mismatched. Perry is an egotistical jerk and Sidney is unlikeable. However, they were both using each other so I didn’t even feel bad for them. Perry was using Sidney for her father’s show business connections as much as she was using him for his irritating personality.

The Boyfriend Swap is funny. I enjoyed the banter between the characters, and I enjoyed the deeper issues I got to watch them all work through. Everyone learned something, and I’d like to think that everyone came away a better person for it.

So why the low rating? Honestly, I think everything was tainted by the storyline. Both Robyn and Sidney were dating men they were embarrassed by. Even worse, Will and Perry were ok with it and went along with the plan to swap boyfriends during the time of year when you should want to be with those you care about. Even worse than that, one of the guys decided to fall in love with a girl who chose to lie to her entire family about who her boyfriend really was because she was ashamed of him. I would not want to be with someone who thought that kind of deception was ok, even if I was the tool they used to lie to their family with and not the actual person they were ashamed of. Does that make sense? But then again, that guy was dating someone just for the physical relationship and not the connection, so perhaps they’re made for each other. It just felt like a very immature storyline to me, and not very romantic.

This is definitely a case of the “it’s not the book, it’s me” syndrome. The writing is great. The humor is great. The characters were all dynamic and well developed. The story was unique and well thought out, it just wasn’t built upon a foundation that I agreed with. I really wish we had just gotten the basic second chance romance between old friends with Will and Robyn, and that Perry and Sidney and the swapping were left out. But I guess that takes away the uniqueness. I would have still eaten it up, though.

All in all, The Boyfriend Swap had enough cute elements and swoons that I am curious about some of Meredith’s other books, and look forward to picking up Blogger Girl sometime soon.


Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano | Mini Book Review

November 30, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 0 ½

Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano | Mini Book ReviewLost Girls by Merrie Destefano
Published by Entangled Teen on February 14, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 301
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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0.5 Stars
Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…

The only rule is: There are no rules.

So… This book sounded good. It really did. But I HATED it. I was excited to find out where these “lost girls” went, but as soon as I did (which happens quickly) I was like, “well crap.”. Seriously. This is not good. I have so little to say about this book. It was uninteresting, dark, unbelievable, farfetched, and so slow. I have so little to say that normally I wouldn’t even write a review. But I felt like I needed to warn those who are at risk of being swindled by the book’s synopsis like I was. Major spoiler ahead, so proceed at your own risk.

The lost girls? They’re kidnapped and forced into a teen underground fighting ring. If they’re good, they move to platinum level where they are sold and rape is implied. They’re drugged and abused and it’s awful. The book has so much depressing content, with absolutely no redeeming qualities.

You’ve been warned. Run away. Run far away.

 


Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | Mini Book Review

November 13, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 0 ★★½

Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | Mini Book ReviewDangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard
Published by Razorbill on September 4, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Retelling
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift from Secret Sister
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2.5 Stars
A modern-day retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a chilling twist

Harper has never been worried about falling in love, something she is skeptical even exists. But everything changes when Logan moves to town, and to Harper's shock, the two tumble into an intense romance. It's everything she never thought she wanted.

Then she meets Logan's twin brother, Caleb, who was expelled from his last school. True, he's a bad boy, but Harper can't shake the feeling that there's something deeply sinister about him--something dangerous. When Logan starts pulling away, Harper is convinced that Caleb's shadowy past is the wedge being driven between them. But by the time she uncovers the truth, it may be too late.

The author of Prada & Prejudice, You Wish, and Ripple delivers a modern-day retelling of a famously gothic tale, full of suspense, lies, and romance.

This review is incredibly tiny because I don’t have much to say. I was very disappointed in what could have been an amazing book. Mandy’s writing was great, and her storytelling was wonderful. But the publisher did readers a huge disservice by telling us that this is a Jekyll and Hyde retelling. That’s a major spoiler, and it made me far less intrigued and curious. I knew what was going to happen before I even opened the book, and I was right on the money. This could have been very exciting and suspenseful, but all I could do was roll my eyes at the dumb decisions Harper made.


The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | Book Review

November 9, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 4 ★★★★★

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | Book ReviewThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow on August 9, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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5 Stars
Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.


Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

You. Guys. I didn’t think I’d like The Hating Game, and I actually had it on my “possibly” shelf on Goodreads for a long time because I didn’t believe anyone when they said it was amazing. I finally bit the bullet and read it and then wanted to go yell at everyone for not working harder to talk me into reading it because IT’S PERFECTION. I don’t even know how to talk about it because I loved everything. There is not one thing I don’t love about the book except for the fact that it ended. And that it’s not a movie. And that I’ve already read it because I wish I could read it for the first time again. Should I stop my review right here? Probably. But I won’t. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. The banter. I love the flirty back and forth between Lucy and Joshua so much that I want to go get a job in an office with a desk next to a swoony guy so I can recreate it myself. It’s so inappropriate for an office setting, but that made it so much better.

2. Hate to love is my favorite. The hate these two share for one another is practically a character in this book. So. Much. Hate. But, like they say, there’s a fine line between love and hate. And oh my GOSH do these two dance around that line. They cross it, run far away from it, and press their noses up against it.

3. The chemistry. You guys, THE CHEMISTRY. Everything was bubbling and fizzing and threatening to boil over at a moment’s notice and I was on. board.

4. I can’t even with Josh. He’s mysterious and quirky and swoony and perfect. He’s intense and broody and I’m melting all over again just trying to describe him. You can’t even describe him. It’s like Sally Thorne pulled him from the dream space in my head where guys that don’t actually exist live.

5. One word: Elevator. If you’ve read this, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t read this, do it. You want to know what I’m talking about.

6. Lucy gets sick and Josh is THERE. Seriously, this was my favorite part of the book. So much talking and learning and bonding and I swooned so many times that I thought maybe I had caught Lucy’s bug.

7. I need a few drops of Lucy added to my personality. She takes no crap. And she has so much self-confidence.

8. Were there other characters in this book? I think so… but I seriously don’t even care about them.

9. Sally is a genius.

10. I’ve never finished a book before and then immediately wanted to flip to page 1 and start over again. AHHHHHH. I refrained, but I’ll probably read this at least once a year for the rest of forever.

So… Have I convinced you to read this yet? If not, you’re kind of a lost cause, I think. I LOVE this book, and I hope Sally writes a million more like it.


Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Mini Book Review

November 7, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 2 ★★★★

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Mini Book ReviewAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 388
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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4 Stars
The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

I really love the movie You’ve Got Mail, so when I heard that Alex, Approximately is a You’ve Got Mail kind of story I was sold. And with the little references to one of my favorite movies throughout the story, I wasn’t disappointed by the comparison. This book was sweet and light and fluffy and so perfectly teen. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting too old for stories like these, but then one really grabs me and brings nostalgic feelings of young love and teen crushes and I decide not to write them off just yet. That’s kind of what this story did for me. It’s quirky and cute and adorably awkward.

Bailey avoids uncomfortable situations at all costs. She’s a film geek who develops a thing for a boy she meets in an online forum named “Alex”, who lives on the other side of the country. But then she moves to California. To his town. And it’s like, “NOOO AWKWARD!” Instead of telling Alex she’s moved, she just sneaks around trying to find him without him knowing there’s even a possibility she might. She sees a cat on the boardwalk ad is convinced it’s the same cat Alex wrote to her about. She keeps thinking she finds him, only to realize that she’s wrong. There’s so much excitement and insecurity and curiosity and shenanigans throughout her search, and it’s cute because it’s the kind of thing I would do. lol. All the while, she gets a job working at this really weird museum with a guy named Porter that she cannot STAND. As the book’s official summary so rudely spoils for us, Porter is actually Alex. And it’s kind of hilarious watching these two crazy kids work through all of that. At times I kept thinking, “Duh, you two silly little ones! Why can’t you see the signs!?”

All in all, this was such a cute little book.My biggest complaint is that we knew immediately that Porter was Alex. The publisher really should not have made the You’ve Got Mail comparison and not told us who Porter really was because it would have been more fun to work things out and discover things with Bailey. It really took me out of the story. But oh well. The damage has been done. Regardless, it’s fun to watch them figure it out even though it got annoying at times watching from the sidelines already having all the answers. Jenn’s writing is delightful, and I enjoyed the banter between Porter and Bailey. Definitely give it a shot if you enjoyed Kasie West’s P.S. I Like You. That’s another cute contemporary with similar feelings.


Beneath a Sapphire Sea by Jessica Bryan | Mini Book Review

September 29, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ★★★★★

Beneath a Sapphire Sea by Jessica Bryan | Mini Book ReviewBeneath a Sapphire Sea by Jessica Bryan
Series: Merfolk Trilogy #3
Published by Fanfare on August 1, 1993
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 437
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought on Amazon Marketplace
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5 Stars
Beneath the shimmering, sunlit surface of the ocean there lives a race of rare and wondrous men and women. They have walked upon the land, but their true heritage is as beings of the sea. Now their people face a grave peril. And one woman holds the key to their survival...

She was a sultry siren with an undiscovered heritage.

A scholar of sea lore, Meredith had come to the Greek island to follow her academic pursuits. But in one magical meeting she gazed into the mesmerizing blue eyes of a proud, determined warrior of the sea...and was eternally linked with a world far more elusive and mysteriously seductive than her own. For she alone possessed a scroll that held the secrets of his people. She alone was their only hope. And she alone would surrender to the powers of a love destined by the tides.

He was an azure-eyed warrior of a long-forgotten race.

With eyes that told the stories of eternity, Galen lured this exquisite woman to join him in a battle for power beneath the sea. For now Galen's clan faces two enemies: Anastas, who wars against his own people, and a deadly unseen foe. He will cross into Meredith's world to choose her as a bold warrior for his people—and as his only love. He will share with her the secrets of a realm beyond time and imagining, and together they will emerge victorious as the keepers of its fate...or see its fragile beauty destroyed forever.

(Even though this is book 3 in a trilogy, each novel is a stand-alone)

I read a raving review for this book on a romance column and was so interested by the unique storyline that I had to buy it! I went on Amazon to order it and found that it was out of print. I kind of panicked because most good books that are out of print are extremely expensive. I found one for a penny, though! So exciting!

Meredith, a landwoman and historian, goes to the Greek islands to study ancient legends about the sea. While there, she comes across Galen, a mysterious and very sexy man with rippling muscles and long dark hair. He claims to also be a scholar and offers to show her around. Meredith soon learns that Galen is different. He can read an ancient language even the most learned scholars can’t identify, he has no problems at all with being wet, and he has heightened senses. She soon learns he is a merman.

Galen’s people and friends are dying of a mysterious illness that apparently only Meredith can remedy. Galen knows this, but Meredith has no idea who she is or the knowledge she possesses. As Galen sets out to gain this knowledge, he falls in love with her and she with him. A lasting bond is formed between the two of them as they begin their journey together to save Galen’s people and learn the truth about Meredith.

I must say that it was SO worth the effort I put in to getting a copy of this book in my possession. I loved it! The descriptions Jessica Bryan writes are beautifully written. I felt like I was the one swimming through the water, gazing at all the scenery, and feeling all the feelings the characters felt. I got so wrapped up in the story and the characters that I became unaware of my own surroundings. LOVED this amazingly beautiful and magical romance.

This review was originally posted on April 24, 2012 and was re-posted for some extra love.


The Witness by Nora Roberts | Book Review

August 7, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 3

The Witness by Nora Roberts | Book ReviewThe Witness by Nora Roberts
Published by Penguin on April 17, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 492
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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1 Stars
Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security  systems—and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something—and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today’s most reliably entertaining thriller
author—and will leave people hungering for more.

All I can really say about this book is, “Well… crap.” I love romantic suspense, and I’ve been really hunting for good titles all summer. I found a list of the best romantic suspense books, and this one was rated pretty highly and voted on by like 78 people. It’s got a 4.18 star rating average on Goodreads, with over 49,000 ratings, so I thought I was golden! But guys. This is not romantic suspense! It was hardly romantic, and it was not at all suspenseful. It was a huge disappointment. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Things start out very interesting, and I was definitely intrigued. The book begins with Elizabeth rebelling against her mother and making huge changes to her life. She cuts her hair, gets a new wardrobe, decides to change her educational and career path, and uses her own homemade fake ID to get into a very exclusive nightclub owned by some very dangerous men. These men set their sights on Liz and her friend, lure them back to an isolated home on the water, and all Hell breaks loose. Liz barely survives, gets put into witness protection, and all Hell breaks loose again. This girl has some pretty terrible luck.

2. Then… we shoot to 12 years later. And I realize rather quickly that I do not like Liz, now Abigail, at ALL. She’s very smart and independent, which is great. But she has no personality. She has isolated herself ever since the events of her youth, and she does not know how to socialize. She has no sense of humor, no emotions, no feelings. She’s very analytical and scientific about things that are neither. And of course I can understand this, given everything she has been through, but she just was not an interesting character to read about at all. I could not connect with her in any sort of way.

3. Brooks is a horrible main character/love interest. Of all the people to un-isolate yourself for and try to connect with, Abigail chose HIM!? Is she just trying to make her life suck more? He pursued and bugged her so much, pushing himself into her life when she so clearly had no interest in having him there. It bothered me so much that he refused to take no for an answer. And then when she wouldn’t let him in, he went and started researching her to try and figure out what she was hiding. Because there just HAD to be a reason for her to not want him around other than he fact that he sucks, right? Because what woman wouldn’t want him?

Brooks is also incredibly condescending and chauvinistic. For example, there is one moment when he pulls Abigail to her feet and demands respect. Then, he tells her she’s insulting him for being concerned that he might not love her if he knew the truth about her past. This woman does not know how to love, she has never been loved or loved anyone in her life and he was SO rude in the face of her legitimate concerns. When she said she was sorry, he said, “Good. You should be.” Then he “yanked” her in for a kiss. In what universe is this romantic? He also has a super dirty mouth and treats Abigail with such clear disrespect. She is his possession. I mean, for goodness SAKES. How many times did I read him refer to Abigail out loud as “my lady”, “my woman”, “my girl”. Grrr!

4. Insta-love. On steroids. You’ve got this awful, pushy man pursuing an extreme recluse who has like a million guns within her reach at all times and a dog that sounds about as big and fierce as a direwolf, yet… she has almost no issue with inviting him in to her place for food and wine and sex. Like… what is happening?? All Abigail’s credibility of being smart and protective of herself went right out the window when she became putty in his hands after a couple days of being talked into not pushing him away. I really felt like Brooks saw Abigail as a challenge to be conquered. A Game to be won. And instead of trying to win the game herself, she just threw in the towel because he’s a big strong man who says nice things to her. UGH.

5. It was SO BORING. By 50%, nothing had happened. There were just so many needless details, many of which were repeated over and over again. Something happens to Brooks at work, we read all about it, and then we read all about it again when he goes home and tells Abigail. We read every. Grueling. Detail again. This book is way too long. For this reason. Just tell the story and get it over with.

6. The writing was annoyingly choppy. It was filled with sentences much like: “Abigail went to the computer, checked her email.” Or “Brooks got in his car, turned it on.” Like, where are the nice, flowing sentences? I almost quit after the first few pages when I saw how often this was happening, but then it got better. And then it got worse. So the author isn’t even being consistent here!

7. The entire story was just so thin. Abigail had been keeping tabs on the bad guys during the last 12 years and anonymously feeding info about them to the FBI to try and take down their crime ring. Finally, she decides she needs to not be anonymous anymore and then everything seamlessly works out. There’s no crazy climax, no suspenseful moment at the end. Just court appearances. Can you hear my eyes rolling? I’m so annoyed I hung in there in the hopes of getting a great moment and it was just easy. I mean, I dealt with pages and pages of hearing the same mindless info about what it’s like to be a police captain. I got to read about everything that happened to Brooks when it happened and then again when he told Abigail about it. But I couldn’t get a satisfying ending as a reward for hanging in there?

So, I guess I’ve got a pretty unpopular opinion here, but I just don’t see any redeeming qualities about this book. The plot was thin, the story was implausible, the characters were awful, and the writing was crappy. Why didn’t I DNF? I’m wondering the same thing. And honestly, I have no idea. It probably had something to do with the fact that it’s NORA ROBERTS and I was giving her too much credit.


Beautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy | DNF Book Thoughts

May 23, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 DNF

Beautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy | DNF Book ThoughtsBeautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy
Series: Lightning Strikes #1
Published by Hyde Street Press on October 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Suspense
Pages: 321
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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DNF Stars
When her father's plane mysteriously disappeared in the middle of an electrical storm, Alicia Monroe became obsessed with lightning. Now a news photographer in Miami, Alicia covers local stories by day and chases storms at night. In a flash of lightning, she sees what appears to be a murder, but when she gets to the scene, there is no body, only a military tag belonging to Liliana Valdez, a woman who has been missing for over a year. While the police use the tag to jumpstart their stalled investigation, Alicia sets off on her own to find the missing woman. Her search takes her into the heart of Miami's Cuban-American community where she meets the attractive but brooding Michael Cordero, who has his own demons to vanquish. Soon Alicia and Michael are not just trying to save Liliana's life but also their own, as someone will do anything to protect a dark secret…

So… There are TONS of Barbara Freethy books out there and I’ve always been intrigued. Many of the story lines sound good, and I’ve collected her titles as I’ve seen them show up for free on Amazon. I had a hankering for a little romantic suspense and was eager to finally see if Freethy is an author for me. And… nope. She’s not.

The mysticism of the lightning was just a bit too over the top for me. The lightning calls Alicia to it because it wants to show her something? No… And I did not like the relationship between the two main characters. Plus, how dumb is Alicia? Michael is a person of interest in this case. He’s a suspect with a troubled past and a reputation. She has known him for a few hours and all of a sudden wants to shove herself into his life and his family to try and find his missing friend. She FLIES with him to Texas and stays in an ADJOINING ROOM after knowing him for like 12 hours. WHAT. She also has no problems at all voicing her opinions to his family and his friend’s family about things she has no right knowing about, much less has the ability to know about. She’s been a part of this case for a few HOURS and does not know anyone involved. They have been grieving and searching for MONTHS and have known the missing person and the people involved for lifetimes. So all because Alicia found a military ID in a park, she knows everything about the case? There was also some major instalove/lust going on that I was not on board with.

The dialogue was cringeworthy. Almost everything anyone said to anyone included their name. It kind of went like this:

“Alicia, aren’t you happy we know each other?”
“Yes, Michael, I am.”
“Mother, are you happy that Michael and I know each other?”
“Yes, Alicia, I am.”
“Oh, Alicia, I am so glad that your mother is happy we know each other.”
“I am too, Michael.”

Like… I went through and started counting the number of names used in the dialogue on each page and it was just awful! That’s not how people talk to one another, and I felt like the author legitimately thought that we were too dumb to follow the dialogue on our own so she used all the names to try and make sure we knew who was talking to whom.

The mystery itself was very boring and slow and I started skimming because I was mildly curious about what happened. But by about 60% my curiosity has been killed and I threw in the towel.

So basically, this was a complete and total flop. It was horrible. Maybe now I know why Freethy books are in abundance and I can almost always find one for free or very cheap… At least now I know.