Publisher: Carina Press

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham | Mini Book Review

Posted December 13, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham | Mini Book ReviewMine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham
Published by Carina Press on December 5, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 77
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3 Stars

Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can't help but wonder if Santa has delivered early...

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can't wait to leave dreary London—and all its difficult holiday memories—for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

Doesn’t this book sound a little like The Holiday? That is one glorious movie and my favorite movie ever, so I was super excited when I found out that this book is about a transatlantic house swap! Even better, a man and a woman are swapping. And even BETTER, the airport gets shut down and she makes it to his London home… but he does not make it to her California home. SO… they have to both stay at his house. I mean, come on. How could you not want to read about this? It sounds super romantic, not to mention an accident waiting to happen! House swapping sounds like one of the coolest adventures ever, but I think I’d be a nervous wreck having a stranger living in my house. Anyways…

Ashley and Oliver are both looking for something. Growing up in poverty, Ashley has never had a real Christmas. And Oliver is looking for a way to survive the pain Christmas brings him. Neither of them were entirely happy to discover they would be sharing a home until Oliver could fly out to California, but they decide to make the best of it after an awkward encounter when Oliver enters his dark room and falls into bed… right on top of Ashley. Oops! She smacks him in his happy place, and he falls to the ground, naked and in pain. And that’s how their love story begins.

Oliver feels for Ashley and her strong desire for a beautiful Christmas, so he takes her shopping for a tree, takes care of her when she slips and falls on the ice, watches her decorate her tree, and enjoys her peppermint hot chocolate. I love the tension and the romance that grows from the bud of friendship. They confide in one another and share their stories, bonding over their sad memories and hope for a better future. I don’t like sad books at all, so I was happy to discover that the book did not feel sad for me. I just felt hope for them and excitement over the possibilities of their love story.

I really enjoyed this sweet, quick Christmas read and would recommend it to people who love The Holiday! While I think that movie is better, this book will make you smile and remind you that the most important part of Christmas is having someone special to share it with.

 

3 Stars

Taken with You by Shannon Stacey | Book Review + Giveaway

Posted April 3, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway / 4 Comments

Taken with You by Shannon Stacey | Book Review + Giveaway

Taken with You by Shannon Stacey | Book Review + GiveawayTaken With You by Shannon Stacey
Series: Kowalski Family #8
Published by Carina Press on March 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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Hailey Genest has seen most of her friends marry and have babies, and she's happy for them, but it was a lot easier before she hit forty. She's spent her entire life in Whitford, Maine, and if she hasn't found her Prince Charming by now, she has to accept she's probably not going to. When a new friend suggests they go on an adventure and embrace being single, Hailey agrees.

Surviving in the woods is game warden Matt Barnett's idea of a relaxing vacation. But when he meets two women in need of help, he leads them back to safety - a task that proves more fun than expected, thanks to a certain hot blonde. He can't resist pushing her buttons, even though she's made it clear that the rugged, outdoorsy type just isn't for her.

Hailey is glad to see the back of her tempting-tour-guide-slash-pain-in-the-ass. When he shows up in her life again, she's determined to avoid him, no matter how good he looks in his uniform. But that's easier said than done in Whitford, especially when he's renting the house right next door...

Welcome to my stop along the Taken with You blog tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours! I’m so excited to promote such a fun and romantic book today. :) This is my very first Kowalski Family book, and I am absolutely in love. I can’t wait to grab the other books in the series!

In this book, Hailey the librarian comes across Matt the game warden while being stranded in the woods. She is not at all outdoorsy, and is certainly not at her best when he finds them and shows them to their car. Matt is not at his best either, as he is covered in camping grime and hasn’t shaved. He’s not too fond of Hailey, but thinks she’s a little on the cute side. Imagine how surprised he is when he moves in to town and ends up hosting a meeting at her library. THEN he moves into the house next door to her! I loved all the coincidences, and how exasperated these two were because of each other.

Throughout the entire story, these two keep telling themselves that they are SO wrong for each other. But for some reason, Hailey keeps showing up at his house and Matt keeps looking in her living room window to watch her clean. And Matt’s dog LOVES Hailey. I love books with sweet pet sidekicks, and Matt’s dog is one of my favorites. The romance is a slow burn on again, off again kind of relationship, which I loved. I love that Hailey is a librarian, and in a small town! That’s my dream job! I loved reading about her work and the fun activities she hosted. I love Matt’s ruggedness. Like Hailey, I’m very girlie girl, but I could SO go outdoorsy if I had Matt with me. Phew! I love how these two become friends who really care for one another. Friendships turn romance are always so much fun to read.

All in all, I loved Taken with You! I can’t wait to read more about these Kowalski family members who kept popping up in the story. Had I been a long time reader of the series, I’m sure I would have loved seeing them again! BUT the book can stand alone as well. I did not feel like I was missing anything important, so don’t worry about picking the series up in the middle like I did. There’s not really any bad language, and very few sex scenes, which I appreciated. This book was more about feelings, which I love so much. Definitely give this series a try if you enjoy contemporary romance!

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RiverTime by Rae Renzi (Mini Book Review)

Posted May 27, 2013 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

RiverTime by Rae Renzi (Mini Book Review)RiverTime by Rae Renzi
Published by Carina Press on February 14, 2011
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Source: Purchased
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2 Stars

Casey Lord needs a break. Her great-on-paper boyfriend, Reed, is pressuring her to marry him--but she's not sure if he sees her merely as an asset to help his political career. A river-rafting trip in the remote wilderness provides the perfect opportunity to clear her head. Until a flash flood sweeps Casey away from her group--and straight into the arms of Jack, a mysterious man also stranded by the flooding river.

Jack won't tell Casey his last name, and her innocent questions about his life are met with evasive answers. Yet they have to trust each other to survive, and as the pair await rescue, their uneasy truce slowly blossoms into friendship--and love. They agree to keep secret whatever differences may separate them in the real world.

When rescue finally arrives, will it spell an end to their budding relationship?

I have a major thing for books with survival elements, and I absolutely ADORE the Grand Canyon (which I was not even sure was the setting for this book until I started reading it), so this book sounded perfect for me. I even ended up buying it without reading many reviews (which I forget), because I thought is sounded amazingly romantic and exciting. Sadly, I wasn’t really impressed.

The book starts out while the flash flood is in progress. It’s exciting and grabbed me immediately. The synopsis leads you to believe that Jack saves Casey, but she actually saves him. They both have baggage and frustrating lives, so they agree to forget about it all and live in “Rivertime”, which they treat like a parallel universe of sorts. Anything that happens in the canyon stays there, and will not impact their real lives. I didn’t like this element of the story. By turning this time into something that only mattered in the present, they both made decisions I did not agree with. I lost respect for them because of this.

I liked Jack, and his snarky sense of humor. Casey was your typical heroine, and did not really make an impression on me. With a setting as dynamic as the Grand Canyon, very little was done with it. For all I knew, they were stuck in a forest somewhere. I would have liked more scenery. And considering that this is a survival story, not much surviving happened. There were no animals, no chance of dehydration, no nothing really, except for some rain. I feel like a lot more could have been done with this as well. Casey also has this thing with comparing people to very detailed pieces of chocolate (with nuts and caramel, etc.). That got really old.

I don’t like relationships that that start out as pure lust. They both wanted to have steamy times, and they were each others’ only option, so it happened. This was a very insta-love kind of story, to the point of creepiness. I honestly don’t feel like they were stranded long enough to form a realistic relationship. They fell for each other before they even knew each other, which made it really hard for me to believe that their “love” could withstand their tumultuous real lives. Love needs a strong foundation, and you can’t just form that in a week or two.

I think my disappointment all boils down to the fact that this book spun out of control extremely quickly. Jack and Casey’s time in the canyon was a VERY small part of the story. The rest of it was spent on politics, cheating, misery, and weak characters having a hard time making decisions. Jack and Casey’s realities brought so many details and needless drama that I didn’t care about at all. I feel like the story would have been so much better if they had just been left in the canyon. I continued reading because I hoped things would get good again, but after the first quarter of the book, things went downhill and stayed there. And the ending… well, it was pretty terrible. Everything was wrapped up into a WAY too convenient and implausible bow. I love happily ever afters, but they need to be realistic for me or I end up scoffing. With a promising beginning, Renzi should have quit while she was ahead and written a novella instead of a novel.

2 Stars

Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby (Book Review)

Posted March 9, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 6 Comments

Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby (Book Review)Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby
Published by Carina Press on March 12, 2012
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 250
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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4 Stars

Self-professed nerd Maddie Maloney is an expert on jewels. Jewel thieves are another matter entirely! So when a mysterious Englishman warns her that a thief known as The Chameleon is after the rare pink diamond on display in her aunt's shop, she tells herself it's just a joke. Even if she can't get Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome out of her mind...

But Fabian Montgomery doesn't give up easily. He's everywhere she goes, convinced the thief will strike. And when the diamond does go missing - and Maddie is suspected of stealing it - he whisks her away from the police and together they pursue The Chameleon.

Fabian plunges her into a glamorous world far from her humble workshop and transforms geeky Maddie into a sophisticated siren capable of espionage. Her mission: to seduce The Chameleon and steal back the diamond.

But Fabian isn't telling her everything - like who he works for, and why he's so interested in The Chameleon...

I love mysteries with a touch of suspense, and I could tell immediately from the description that I would enjoy this book. What surprised me the most, though, was the comedic element the author threw in. This book was so funny, in addition to being suspenseful and romantic. I had a lot of fun reading this, and am excited to share with you my favorite elements of the book! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I love this title! I’m a total nerd, so I was immediately drawn in by the hilarious title, attractive gentleman, and the bright yellow.

2. The book surprised me by taking place in Australia! I’ve never read a book that took place there, so I really enjoyed all the descriptions of the scenery. Part of the book takes place in a resort town by the beach during the weekend of a sailboat gala. I loved reading about all the boats and the people. It sounded so quaint and romantic. I just loved it.

3. Maddie, a self-proclaimed nerd with a PhD in gemology (I believe? Or is it mineralogy?), is such a fun character. She really is the stereotypical nerd, with the eclectic non-sense of fashion and the gem smarts. Her nerdliness is interrupted by Fabian, an extremely attractive and mysterious Englishman who whisks her away to retrieve the stolen diamond, save her from jail, and protect her aunt’s reputation. Right at the beginning as they are running from the police, all she can think about is her sweet cat, and what will happen to it while she’s away. A girl after my own heart. Fabian turns her into a sexy glamazon, and she’s totally against it. She fights him every step of the way. He sends her to a day spa, and her account of the happenings there had me laughing out loud. She got burned in the sauna, almost drowned in the mineral pool, etc. The daunting task of seducing The Chameleon lies ahead of her, and she goes on and on about how impossible that will be. She even has to practice her seduction skills! Her spunk and quick wit created a really fun contrast to the serious businessman, Fabian.

4. I love it when the geeky girl nabs the attractive James Bond type. Fabian is totally the sexy, mysterious foreigner with a carefully concealed past and a lot of baggage. I love how he feels this need to put on a hardened facade, when in reality he’s laughing at Maddie and falling for her on the inside.You can tell he cares, but wishes he didn’t. She tugs at his heartstrings, and I think it’s so sweet to watch the inner turmoil he goes through as she pushes him outside his comfort zone.

5. The romance is a slow burn, and a minimal part of the story. It really was hate at first sight with these two. Fabian is a major inconvenience to Maddie, following her around, bothering her, making her do things she doesn’t want to do. Maddie is Fabian’s pain in the butt, but he needs an experienced and knowledgeable gemologist on his side in order to find and identify the diamond. As time pushes on, they begin to tolerate one another more and more, but it takes a while. No insta-love here! The romance was believable and sweet.

6. The suspense really grabs you. Fabian and Maddie are really good at getting into trouble. Running from the police… seeking out The Chameleon… intense sailboat rides… guns blazing… deserted islands… concealed identities. Luck is not on their side. This book is a major page-turner.

7. It’s the perfect blend of comedy, romance, and suspense. Plus it’s heartwarming. You’d think with all the stuff going on, you might not get a true sense of what makes the characters who they are. But you do! There are some tender moments with Maddie’s family and with Fabian’s family was well. And Maddie’s cat adds a lot, too. Maybe I’m just a softy for cats. I dunno. But I loved that amidst all the suspense and deception, we were given a sense of the moral fabric these characters possess. The emotion is there, and I liked that. It made the characters more relatable.

All in all, this book is fun and exciting, and I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good romcom with some mystery mixed in. I’m definitely going to go and check out some more of Joan Kilby’s books. She’s got a ton of them!

4 Stars