Genre: Romance

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle | Book Review

Posted March 25, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 4 Comments

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle | Book ReviewTwice Shy by Sarah Hogle
Published by GP Putnam's Sons on April 6, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Can you find real love when you've always got your head in the clouds?

Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.

Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn't the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who's as grouchy as he is gorgeous—and it turns out he has very different vision for the property's future.

Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley's scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one's comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.

Ok. Everyone knows that I REALLY loved You Deserve Each Other. And everyone also knows the worry that comes with loving an author’s debut so much: will they be able to keep up that momentum? Will they end up being a one hit wonder? How can they possibly do it twice? Well. Sarah did it. Sarah wrote another hilarious, heartwarming, happy, swoony, super romantic, feel-good book that tackles deeper situations. Another amazing couple has jumped from her mind to my heart. I can’t pick which of her books I love more. I’m a fangirl. Take my money, Sarah. Just take it all. Give me all the books. I have put off writing this review as long as I possibly could because I have too many feelings! My head is in the clouds! What even is a book review? What are words? How do I do this again? As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Maybell is precious and anxious and visits a special cafe that exists only in her mind because it’s where she feels safe in stressful times. She’s so pure and sweet, and she has the biggest dreams. I loved her quirky personality so much. Her desire to take on the world made me smile so much.

2. Wesley is the grumpiest teddy bear and I want to cuddle up with him on the couch and watch a movie together. And it’s not even necessarily for romantic reasons (although. I’d love a romance with Wes, thank you), it’s because I see so much in him that reminds me of myself. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t elaborate on this but Wesley’s character will make so many people feel seen and understood in this world. Oh my goodness, he’s just. I can’t even explain him. He’s a sweet little cinnamon roll with so many layers and a story and is so sweet I can’t even handle it. He is definitely one of my favorite characters ever. 

3. I loved the setting: a charming, fixer-upper mansion that Wesley and Maybell both inherited. There’s bickering on who gets their way on what becomes of this house, which is so fun. I love bickering. But the house and the surrounding grounds are perfect and so whimsical sounding. And magical.

4. There is mental health representation in this story and it is done SO WELL. 

5. SO. Many. Feelings. I have so many and I don’t know what to do.

6. Sarah’s sense of humor is my sense of humor’s soulmate. And her writing is a balm for the soul. 

7. Maybell and Wesley are so good for each other. The romance just made my heart soar. The way they see each other and speak to one another and help accommodate each other’s needs was perfect. I love them so much together that I don’t want to steal Wesley for myself. And that’s saying something. We can just be friends, Wesley. Best friends.

8. Loch Ness. Nessie. One of my favorite subjects ever. Sarah clearly wrote me my own book. Thank you, Sarah. I guess we can let others read it as well.

So… this review proves that I can clearly come up with words when I don’t have any. But… what do all these words mean? I know I’m being vague about so much, but it’s because you need to read it to fully appreciate anything else I could possibly say! Bottom line, read this. This is just the book we need right now while the world is on fire. Allow yourself to escape to the Smoky Mountains and float around in the pure sweetness of this story and the lives of these two characters. I’ll just be over here basking in the sunlight of it all and eagerly waiting for Sarah’s next book.

5 Stars

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer | Book Review

Posted February 25, 2021 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer | Book ReviewA Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Cursebreakers #1
Published by Bloomsbury YA on January 29, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 484
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she's pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

You thought I’d quit YA, huh? Me too. lol. I’ve struggled to identify with YA characters as I’ve gotten older and have kind of made the shift to adult romance, but then a group of friends pushed this on me and we read the series together and OH MY GOSH. I had always loved YA fantasy, but hadn’t found one in a very long time that held my attention long enough to even finish it, much less binge a series back to back to back. I’m about a third of the way through the second book, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, right now and it’s amazing. I’m #89 in line for A Vow so Bold and Deadly at my library so hopefully things hurry along. Anyway, I loved the world and the characters and the writing, and I’m so excited to continue my journey reading through these books! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Harper had me worried at first. Well, the whole book did because it started off very sassy teen and I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for it, but then I grew to really love her! And I loved the disability rep. Harper has Cerebral Palsy and walks with a limp. The people in the magical alternate dimension don’t understand this kind of disability and find her to be weak or injured, but she has no problems sticking up for herself and proving that she can do anything. She’s sweet, caring, empathetic, and really turns the castle upside down. This girl definitely isn’t like all the other girls who have been kidnapped by the prince’s guard commander to try and break the curse.

2. Grey is my favorite character in this book. He’s the guard commander, and I LOVE him. He’s honorable and protective and such a great guy. He’s the romantic of the two male main characters, and he coaches the prince on how to not be a cold, unfeeling jerk. If we’re likening the characters to Beauty and the Beast, which this book is a retelling of, then Harper is Belle, Rhen is the Beast, and Grey is Lumiere. Also, was he named after the grey stuff? As in “try the grey stuff, it’s delicious!” I’m convinced of this. I need to write to the author. Ok, I just did. Anyway, he’s also pretty swoony sounding.

3. Prince Rhen? He’s fine. I actually really liked him, but he was a bit broody and intense and… pouty? for my liking. He’s the typical royal personality you find in fantasy, and I guess he’s a really good Beast because he’s got that “I hate everyone, now love me so I can be human again” attitude down. I hope I get to see more of his personality in the second book, because right now he’s pretty flat.

4. The supporting characters are great. Harper, Grey, and Rhen end up at a little inn and I love the characters they meet. And as they find people to join their army against a rival queen, they encounter some really interesting people with stories that I loved.

5. The romance is pretty minimal, but I didn’t even care. 

6. Oh my gosh, this is a very overwhelming book to try and review. 

7. I love the world! And I loved the spin Brigid put on Beauty and the Beast. Curse has the bones of Beauty and the Beast, but Brigid has added so many interesting and amazing details that make it so different. The enchantress is a recurring character in the story, there’s another kingdom threatening invasion, there’s… traveling between dimensions, the beast (or monster, as they refer to it in the book) surfaces every season and Rhen can’t control it (think of a werewolf and a full moon). It’s all so good and fresh and unique.

8. The writing! I love Brigid’s use of words and descriptions of scenery and feelings.

9. I finished and immediately needed more. This doesn’t happen to me often. Usually I need a break, but I am plowing on through and can’t read fast enough.

I’ve read a LOT of Beauty and the Beast retellings, and I thought for sure nothing would ever satisfy me to the point that Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses did. I still love ACOTAR more than anything, but I also really, really loved Curse. Like, I can’t pick just one and that makes me really happy. Maybe there is room in my life for more B&B retellings and maybe I do still love YA fantasy (it was heartbreaking to decide I didn’t anymore). Anyway, I’m not sure I’m making sense. Bottom line, A Curse so Dark and Lonely has made me realize that perhaps I gave up on a genre I once loved too soon because I thought there was nothing left for me there. So, now I’ll venture back and see what else there is for me. I highly recommend this book, and cannot wait to see what happens next!

5 Stars

Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec & Andi Arndt | Mini Book Review

Posted February 11, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 4 Comments

Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec & Andi Arndt | Mini Book ReviewHeidi's Guide to Four Letter Words by Andi Arndt, Tara Sivec
Published by Self on December 3, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 197
Source: Gift
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Cowritten by USA Today best-selling author Tara Sivec and award-winning narrator Andi Arndt, a hysterically funny, heartfelt romance about starting over and taking chances.

Nothing good ever comes from drinking a box of wine alone. So when I decided to entertain my drunken self by setting up some hand-me-down podcasting equipment and reading the steamy parts from romance novels, I never thought anyone would actually listen. The fact that I admitted my huge crush on my sexy next door neighbor made the whole thing even more mortifying. But sometimes life surprises you, and that’s how my podcast, Heidi’s Discount Erotica, was born.

Now I, Heidi Larsen, a sweet former kindergarten teacher in Waconia, Minnesota, lead a scandalous double life reading erotic novels to the listening world. And with each episode, I find myself embracing my new alter ego more and more. Now I’m starting to feel more comfortable in my own skin and do things I never would have dreamed of - like kissing my neighbor.

Look out, Waconia, because Heidi’s on the loose! She’s in your ears, in your hearts, and down your pants...wait, that didn’t sound as good as it did in my head. Well, you get the picture, don’tcha know!

This was hilarious. Andi Arndt is my favorite audiobook narrator, so when I found out that she’d written a book with Tara Sivec I was immediately interested. I wish I’d listened to it, because I’m sure it would have been even better with Andi’s fun voices and tones she brings to her characters but oh well. Anyway, I loved Heidi. She’s a former kindergarten teacher, so all her outfits are what I can only imagine resemble what Ms. Frizzle wore in The Magic School Bus. She decided teaching isn’t for her, and quit her job. Now she’s working at a company that records and produces audiobooks of erotic novels. She meets a celebrity narrator and his cute wife, and they all become fast friends. I loved this friendship, even though I am really struggling to remember their names at this moment. They are very aware of her crush on her hot neighbor named Brent, and help her gain confidence and provide advice for how to navigate this situation and nab the man of her dreams.

Heidi is a little awkward. She’d rather hide in the bushes than confront Brent, and I understand and empathize with this so much. Love is a battlefield. Her work sends her home with a bunch of erotic novels because yay perks of the job, so she starts reading them in the hopes of learning a thing or two about the game of love. And THEN she gets really brave and takes home some recording equipment and then accidentally gets super drunk and starts a podcast. A podcast wherein she gushes about Brent and also reads steamy scenes from those novels. Because why not?? But she can’t read half the words because she’s so embarrassed, so she substitutes other words in and I was laughing so hard. I loved watching her gain confidence and listeners. I loved Brent and his appreciation for Heidi’s quirkiness. I even loved Heidi’s hilarious mom who loves to feed people and says about 14,000 words before she gets to her point. It was all just so much fun and so funny. I’m definitely interested in reading more from Tara Sivec and Andi Arndt! I hope they partner together more in the future.

5 Stars

Flirtasaurus by Erin Mallon | Book Review

Posted February 4, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Flirtasaurus by Erin Mallon | Book ReviewFlirtasaurus by Erin Mallon
Series: Natural History #1
Narrator: Erin Mallon
Published by Self on July 15, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 213
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
2 Stars

My name is Calliope and "I bone for a living." Kidding. I am studying to be a paleontologist though. It's the only thing I've ever wanted to be, and I have finally landed the perfect museum internship to make all of my dino-loving dreams come true.

Trouble is, everyone wants me to be a gentle, loving sort of creature, but I'm more of the T-Rex type by nature - the kind who is determined to stomp and tear her way through any obstacle in order to get what she wants.

But when a sexy, rumbly-voiced astronomer plummets into my orbit and threatens to break open my hard little heart, my career and my whole way of looking at the world is suddenly on the line.

The dinosaurs didn't see their asteroid coming.

And I sure as hell wasn't prepared for mine.

Erin Mallon has become one of my favorite audiobook narrators, so when I saw that she had written and narrated her own romantic comedy that included dinosaurs (one of my favorite things) I knew I had to give it a listen! While is was a little over the top and cringey, I was entertained. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. The meet cute at the very beginning of the book was really fun. Calliope is stuck in an elevator at the museum on the first day of her new internship, and she “meets” a guy by yelling at him for help through the elevator door. He decides to wait with her and chat until someone arrives to help her, but then they separated when the fire alarm goes off. She can’t hear his name or where she’s supposed to meet him after she gets out of the building, and that’s that. They miss meeting. Luckily, they both work there so it’s very likely they will stumble across each other soon. What a cute way to begin a story!

2. Calliope… is a very annoyingly neurotic character. She had her moments where I really liked her (like when she communicated her love of dinosaurs and science), but for the most part I pretty much couldn’t stand her. She clearly feels that she is better than everyone in the world. She’s so easily offended and goes off on these long, ranty dialogues without even realizing what she’s saying and who might be hearing her. She’s quick to tell people off when she assumes she knows what they mean. Sometimes she was right but took her rant too far, and sometimes she was wrong and had to backpedal and apologize for her behavior. She’s quick to open her mouth and insert her foot at the worst times, and gets herself into trouble frequently. She just doesn’t come off as a strong, educated, professional woman and that bothered me because female scientists already don’t get enough respect. I wish she had fit the role of a respectable one instead of just further perpetuating antiquated ideas about women in science.

3. Ralph is great! He’s really sweet and caring and I love his quiet, strong personality. I hated the voice style choice for him in the narration, though. He sounded incredibly whiny, and my face actually scrunched up listening to him sometimes.

4. There’s a couple side characters that I liked. Otto is an elderly man who hangs out at the museum sketching the creatures on exhibit. He’s a sweet, funny guy that gave me quirky grandpa vibes. Mabel is an entomologist on staff there, and she’s… so odd that you can’t help but find her to be endearing. I can’t even begin to be able to describe her, though. You kind of have to read her to believe her. She’s one of a kind, but sweet at her core.

5. The humor tries way too hard. I was literally cringing. There’s a scene involving psychedelic drugs and clumsy fooling around near a dinosaur skeleton and Calliope is convinced that that dinosaur is winking at her and cheering her on as she fumbles around before grasping Ralph’s *ahem* anatomy with both hands and pretending to swing from it like Tarzan. George of the Jungle scream and all. I’m sorry, but that was just too much for me. People are not really like this.

6. I’m sure that this book was written with an audiobook in mind because there is so. much. dialogue. I was fine listening (well, except for the fact that Ralph sounded very unappealing), but I think reading it would have been exhausting. I can see that it might be hard to tell who is speaking at times because it sounded like I was listening to a movie instead of a book. 

7. I think I like Erin Mallon as a narrator more than an author, and I feel really bad about that because she seems super nice.

All in all, this was fluffy, mindless entertainment. I’m not sure if I would have stuck with it if I were reading it, but it was fun to listen to while I was doing other things. It’s cringey, but I’m already interested in listening to the next book, Lovebug, because it’s about Mabel, so… I don’t know what that says about me and my opinions right now. LOL. I just have to know how that works out for her because she’s so… unique!

2 Stars

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
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
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
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
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)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
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)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
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
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
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

How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, & Joanna Shupe | Book Review

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

How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, & Joanna Shupe | Book ReviewHow the Dukes Stole Christmas by Joanna Shupe, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Tessa Dare
Published by Avon on October 15, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 392
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon

Christmas magic is in the air... From the ballrooms of London, to abandoned Scottish castles, to the snowy streets of Gilded Age New York, four bestselling authors whip up some unforgettable romance...with a little help from some enchanted shortbread.

"Meet Me in Mayfair" by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball tonight, the horrid, heartless Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their beloved Mayfair home. But when her friend begs to switch dance cards, Louisa finds herself waltzing with the enemy: the horrid, heartless--and unexpectedly handsome--Thorndale himself. Now the duke's holding her future in his hands...and he's not letting go.

"The Duke of Christmas Present" by Sarah MacLean
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd, has no time for holidays. Holidays are for whimsy and charm--the only two things his money cannot buy. Lady Jacqueline Mosby is full of both, even now, twelve years after she left to see the world. When Jacqueline returns for a single Christmas, Eben can't resist the woman he never stopped loving...or the future that had once been in reach. It will take a miracle to convince her to stay...but if ever there were a time for miracles, it's Christmas...

"Heiress Alone" by Sophie Jordan
When Annis Bannister's family leaves her behind in the rush to escape an impending snowstorm, she finds herself stranded in the Highlands, left to fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside, robbing homes locked up for winter. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a look, then a kiss ... until she fears the danger to her heart outweighs the danger of brigands and snowstorms.

"Christmas in Central Park" by Joanna Shupe
Women all over America devour Mrs. Walker's weekly column for recipes and advice. No one knows Rose, the column's author, can't even boil water. When the paper's owner, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must scramble to find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Duke is not a man easily fooled and she fears her perfect plan is failing--especially when Duke's attentions make her feel anything but professional. To save her career will she give up her chance at love?

I actually picked this up because I love Tessa Dare so much and make sure I read everything she writes. I’ve also been interested in Sarah MacLean, though, and have enjoyed Sophie Jordan’s YA books so I had a feeling this was going to be good! I really love historical romance, and when Christmas is thrown into the mix it’s even better. This was a wonderful set of novellas that I really loved for the most part!

My thoughts on “Meet Me In Mayfair” by Tessa Dare:
This was a very fun story about a girl trying to save her beloved home from the duke who is planning to take it away from her. I liked the chemistry between Louisa and the Duke of Thorndale. There was also a TON of Christmas in this. They spend an entire night exploring the town of Mayfair in the snow getting to know one another and falling in love. It’s very sweet and the snow made it so magical. The writing was great, and I loved the banter between the characters that I’ve come to expect from Tessa Dare.

My thoughts on “The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean:
This was my first story written by Sarah McLean! Jacqueline and Eben have quite the history, and she’s back home for Christmas after twelve years of being gone. I really loved the flashback scenes interspersed throughout the present day scenes, and I thought the author did a wonderful job of really developing the story despite its short length. I felt like I got a fully fleshed out novel with the backstory, the baggage that each of the characters carry, and all the feelings and emotions as they figure out their past and their future. Eben is very tender, and Jacqueline is very weary. The story was filled with Christmas spirit, and quite a bit of steam as well! It was very fun to read.

My thoughts on “Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan:
This one was a bit rocky for me because I didn’t love the Scottish-style dialogue of some of the characters. I love books that are set in the Highlands, but I honestly could not figure out what was being said at times without actually reading parts out loud. It took some getting used to. And what family accidentally leaves a member behind!? And then there’s this plot line that deals with magical/bewitched shortbread… it was kinda weird. I didn’t really like the love story or the main characters. I liked the service staff, but the main couple was meh. I did love the castle setting and the added mystery with the scary brigands!

My thoughts on “Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe:
This was my least favorite of the novellas in the book, and I found it hard to get through. I liked the less commonly seen setting (New York City) and the idea of the story, but something was missing for me and I’m not sure what it was. I did have a problem with the dialogue. A character will slip from perfectly proper word choices and not using any contractions to sounding like a character from modern time partway through a paragraph. Characters would go from sounding like an overly proper robot to a silly teen outside the movie theater in the blink of an eye. It just didn’t work for me, and kept undermining my efforts to try and convince myself this was a historical romance. I also didn’t feel that this story particularly complimented the other stories, which felt more traditional and historical than this one. Oh well. You can’t win them all! I did like the Christmas party!

All in all, I really loved Tessa Dare’s novella, am excited to read more from Sarah MacLean, think it’s worth looking into more of Sophie Jordan’s adult books, and might possibly try another Joanna Shupe because she deserves a second chance. I love the Christmassy feels from all of them, some were just better than others.

This review was originally posted on December 24, 2018 and was re-posted for some extra love.