Publisher: HQN Books

The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book Review

Posted December 5, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book ReviewThe Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander
Series: The Lady Travelers Society #2.5
Published by HQN Books on October 1, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 113
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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3 Stars
A fake fiancé and a Christmas engagement are a recipe for trouble in this delightful holiday romp featuring New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander’s Lady Travelers Society

Miss Anabel Snelling needs a fiancé, and fast. If her father, Sir Archibald, has his way, she’ll be married in time for Christmas—to a man she doesn’t love. That’s why she and her aunt have concocted a brilliant plan to hire an American actor to play the role of her suitor. But the charming Wesley Grant is playing the part a little too well, and Anabel is in danger of falling for him. What Anabel doesn’t know is Wesley is not the actor her aunt hired. Still, what kind of a gentleman would he be if he didn’t come to her rescue? He has a new plan of his own—win Anabel’s heart…for real.

I really love fake romance tropes because these kinds of relationships are always laced with tension and wondering and so many feelings. I also love historical romances set at Christmastime because they feel so cozy and traditional, with the candles and the traditional Christmas decorations. I’d been intrigued by The Lady Travelers Society series as well, so I was happy to jump into this novella for multiple reasons. While it was cute, it did fall victim to the same plight that so many novellas to: the shortness prevented character and plot development.

I did really enjoy what I saw of these characters, which is always the most important thing to me in any story I read. Anabel is resourceful and liberal during a time when women did what they were told. I loved that she and her aunt dreamed up a plan to fake an engagement in order to avoid an arranged marriage set up by Anabel’s father. I loved Wes, and the fact that we’re dealing with mistaken identity with him made things even more fun. I liked watching him try and figure out how to play the part of an actor. The romance was a bit fast and unbelievable for me, but I guess that’s where the magic of Christmas comes in! The three elderly ladies who meddle and snoop and conspire under the surface cracked me up. I’m not usually a fan of silly characters like this, but I liked them.

All in all, The Dance Before Christmas was a fun little holiday romance that got me into the spirit of he season. I wish the characters had been a little more developed because they had such great potential to be. I wish the story had a little more depth as well, but that’s what I get for reading a novella. I’m definitely interested in the rest of The Lady Travelers Society series!


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

Posted December 8, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Giveaway / 13 Comments

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 Romance, Holiday - Christmas
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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


First Time In Forever by Sarah Morgan | Mini Book Review

Posted March 30, 2015 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review / 1 Comment

First Time In Forever by Sarah Morgan | Mini Book ReviewFirst Time In Forever by Sarah Morgan
Series: Puffin Island #1
Published by HQN Books on February 24, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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4 Stars
Windswept, isolated and ruggedly beautiful, Puffin Island is a haven for day-trippers and daydreamers alike. But this charming community has a way of bringing people together in the most unexpected ways…

It's been a summer of firsts for Emily Donovan. From becoming a stand-in mom to her niece Lizzie to arriving on Puffin Island, her life has become virtually unrecognizable. Between desperately safeguarding Lizzie and her overwhelming fear of the ocean—which surrounds her everywhere she goes!—Emily has lost count of the number of "just breathe" pep talks she's given herself. And that's before charismatic local yacht club owner Ryan Cooper kisses her…

Ryan knows all about secrets. And it's clear that newcomer Emily—with her haunted eyes and the little girl she won't let out of her sight—is hiding from something besides the crazy chemistry between them. So Ryan decides he's going to make it his personal mission to help her unwind and enjoy the sparks! But can Puffin Island work its magic on Emily and get her to take the biggest leap of trust of all—putting her heart in someone else's hands?

I have loved every Sarah Morgan book I’ve read (her O’Neil Brothers trilogy is wonderful), so I was excited when I found out about this new series, Puffin Island, set in a new place, with new people, and new issues. I came away having book enjoyed this book a lot as well!

Sarah Morgan is so great at writing settings you love! I loved the Snow Crystal resort from her O’Neil Brothers books, and Puffin Island is no disappointment. It sounds like the perfect place to escape to if you’re in search of beautiful views and a sweet community of people. Speaking of the people, this book has a lot of fun characters who all know each other and look out for one another. I love small town communities where everyone feels like family, and that’s exactly what Puffin Island is like. It’ll be interesting to see the roles these characters play in the future books of the series.

I really felt for Emily. She’s been thrust into the role of mother after the death of her movie star half-sister, and feels very ill-equipped. She flees to Puffin Island to hide from the press, who are after her story. Ryan understands what hardship is like, as he has been through the ringer himself. They both are content on their own, not wanting to settle down or open themselves up to love. But… these things happen. Their romance is really a story of learning to trust again and healing from their pasts. Things were a little lusty (can Ryan think of anything but sex?) for a while, but I enjoyed their story in the end. Ryan is such a nice guy, and is so great with Emily. He pushes her when she needs to be pushed, but knows when to back off and give her space. One thing’s for sure: he’s not giving up on her no matter how closed off she is. I really liked Ryan.

All in all, this was a great, but a bit of a slow start to Sarah’s new series. I love her writing and the way she brings the reader right in to her stories. I’m excited to read the other books in the series, even though I did not love it as much as her O’Neil Brothers trilogy. Puffin Island is such a wonderful setting, though, and the third book is a Christmas book! So sign me up!

 


Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins (Book Review)

Posted June 12, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins (Book Review)Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins
Published by HQN Books on April 24, 2012
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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2.5 Stars
After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon's Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father's wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she's not thrilled...even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.

Having to fend for herself financially for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist's assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn't the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn't the only thing that needs a little TLC.

So… Thanks, Mr. Bieber, for getting this song stuck in my head. Actually, I think the song came before the book… so… yeah. Anywho… Yeah. Sadly, I know this song. Sadder, it’s an easy one to get stuck your head. Saddest, it was ALWAYS in my head. Every time I read, I was thinking of Justin and his silly little boy dance moves (yeah… I’ve seen the music video, too. *facepalm*) So basically, that’s what happened. I read the book, it had a cute story, too much mention of “lady land”, and the Biebs singing in the background. Interesting mixture, no? As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. What a fun story idea! Any of you HGTV-watchers will agree with me that it’s really fun to watch (or in this case, read) a really ugly, crummy, decrepit house be completely flipped and turned into a really cute/gorgeous living space! That’s what’s going on in the background of the story, and I really loved picturing the changes this house went through.

2. Gideon’s Cove, Maine (the setting for this story) is darling. This place sounds like one of those quaint, hidden oceanside towns where everyone knows who you are whether you want them to or not. I really liked all the people she met while she was there, and each character added something special to the story.

3. I liked Parker, because she was not the stereotypical spoiled heiress. No offense to you if you are a spoiled heiress, but I generally don’t like them because they feel entitled and better than everyone else. Of course, there are exceptions, and Parker is one of them. I found it refreshing. Yes, she had to be taught how to change a vacuum cleaner bag, but what counts is that she was willing to learn and then do it herself. I liked that she is the author of a quirky children’s book series, but I really did not like that the characters in her books talked to her. That was weird.

4. James, a.k.a. “Thing One”, is a total babe. He’s Parker’s Dad’s lawyer, and has been hanging out in the background of Parker’s life for years. Now, he’s off to Gideon’s Cove to help Parker spruce up her house, and to crush on her a LOT. He’s had a thing for her, but it’s complicated. You know how it is. He’s got this troubled past that makes him guarded and tough, but his dreams make him completely perfect and sweet. Plus, he’s a hard worker. Phew! I really liked his character.

5. Parker’s son, Nicky, his father Ethan (who is one of her very best friends), and Ethan’s wife Lucy are pretty much Parker’s only family, since her dad screwed his life up and pushed her away. I really liked all the supporting characters, but these three were my favorites (although Malone is pretty great).

6. I liked reading about Parker’s relationship with her dad: how it used to be, how it is now (and why), and how they try to mend fences. It added a deeper feeling to the story that gave me something to root for.

7. I got really tired of hearing about how Parker’s Lady Land perked up when James smiled, or how it stirred when he ripped siding off the house. There was just so much lust! And when they finally did act on things, it was meant to be a fling and only a fling. I guess I’m more of a traditionalist, but I don’t like it when love stories begin with two characters only interested in physical encounters and nothing more than that.

8. Sometimes this book was pretty funny! Here’s my favorite part. Parker had just gotten to Gideon’s Cove, expecting a mansion, and found the little run-down shack she inherited. Of course, she ventured in to assess the situation:

“Hi,” he said, as if she wasn’t murdering her jeans against the hood. “How’s it going?”
“There was a mouse in my pants.”
He raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Lucky Mouse.”
Her breath caught. Wrong thing to say. Wrong. “It’s pretty traumatic to have a rodent in your pants, Thing One,” she snapped. “Unless you like that sort of thing.”
“Oh, hey, sorry princess,” he said, approaching the car. “Didn’t mean to make light of your tragedy.”
“There was a mouse in my pants,” she blurted.

I actually laughed. I enjoy it when that happens!

9. Sometimes I got a little bored with all the dialogue between the main characters and supporting characters that didn’t do much to add to the story. I found myself skimming through a few passages because things were just moving too slowly.

10. The ending made the entire book worth it, and I got pretty teary-eyed. I’m a sap. Haha. It was just really sweet!

While this book had its moments, and the story was appealing, it was not one of my favorite reads and I actually had a bit of a hard time finding the motivation to read it. I’m glad I stuck with it, though, because it was fun to see how everything wrapped up. I got attached to Gideon’s Cove and some of the characters, so I had to see where everyone ended up. I was pleased with how things were left. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy a fluffy summer romance, laced with a deeper lesson on family and healing. This was my first Kristan Higgins book, and I do think she’s an author I’ll consider in the future!

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