My Favorite Half-Night Stand tells the story of moving beyond the friend zone.
Reid, Chris, Alex, Ed and Millie are best friends and colleagues. They are all scientists and teachers at University of California Santa Barbara. When their college schedules a black tie dinner with President Obama, they worry about finding dates. They decide to use IRL, an online dating site to find some.
Millie’s real IRL profile attracts just douches and dick pics. Millie decides to create another profile for “Cat”. When she is matched with Reid, she becomes unexpectedly honest behind the anonymous profile and they hit it off. In the meantime, Reid and Millie have a somewhat drunken night of hot sex. They try to return to just being friends afterwards. But why is Millie jealous of Reid’s IRL girl Daisy? And why is Reid asking Millie about the mysterious Guy who she met on IRL? He doesn’t even realize Guy is actually him.
It is easy to see parallels between this story and Pride and Prejudice. In the latter book, British rules of politeness prevent the speaking of one’s mind. In My Favorite Half-Night Stand, it is nerdy shyness and introversion that prevents Reid and Millie from talking about their feelings. Overall, this a great book for a cold winter evening when you just want to settle in your book nook with some undemanding chick lit. 4 stars!
Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Romance Tagged with: Chick lit, Dec 4 2018
The Girl with Sweetest Secret is an American brought over to London by her family to use their money to capture a title.
American Frances “Frankie” Bumgarten is surprised by a stranger in her family’s kitchen late at night. After almost braining the stranger with an old bread paddle, Frankie is embarrassed by her lack of a robe or any covering other than a thin nightgown. Frankie recognizes Reynard Boulton, aka the Fox, who is an heir to a Viscount and collects gossip as his trade. He is helping her Uncle Red return home from a long evening of gambling and drinking. The Fox has agreed to watch over Frankie and her sister in her brother-in-law’s absence so he was unable to use the gossip he acquired against Frankie and her family.
Later when the Fox and Frankie meet at a dance, they both feel a connection. Unfortunately, Frankie’s mother wants her to marry high in the aristocracy and a Prussian Duke is interested in her. When later, the Fox is almost ensnared in a family’s marriage trap, Frankie saves him from immediate shame. However, the Fox must have a duel with the family’s father. While Frankie, dressed as a boy, is watching, the duel is held. The action just escalates from there.
The Girl with Sweetest Secret is an action-packed and enjoyable Victorian historical romance. It is highly recommended for readers of that genre. 4 stars!
Thanks to Zebra Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Historical Fiction, New Books, Romance Tagged with: Nov 27 2018, Victorian
Lowdown, a romantic thriller set in the world of New York City’s mafia families, has the best first paragraph I’ve read in a long time:
“The first seven years you’re in the can, all you can think about is revenge. The next seven years you crave freedom and things you remember from before. You want to get laid more than you want to get even. After that you’re not so sure. You know you want to be on the other side, but you don’t trust your memories. People have died, gone to prison, disappeared. Places you remember have closed down. Freedom is just a dream, something you imagine often but incompletely. Part of you is scared of it. Prison has become your life. You may hate it, but it’s home. You’re not even sure if you hate it anymore. That’s what twenty-five years in the calendar shop does to you.”
Jimmy, a made man, is finally getting out of prison. He states:
”You are outside the prison gates. You’re fifty-eight years old and a newborn.”
But this is not just Jimmy’s story about reinventing himself after being a stand-up guy for twenty-five years, it also the story of young Milena. Milena is only thirteen when her story begins. She is an Italian teenage girl in the 1970s. Against the background of notorious NYC serial killers and the Vietnam war, her role is to get married and have children. Milena rebels against this stereotype by making poor choices in men and getting involved in crime. Eventually, she marries a made man and they have children. Her husband pulls her into his world with varying results.
Forgive me for quoting so much of the book but the language used is part of the charm of Lowdown. While it has mob killings and rats, it is more a love story of two people in a difficult setting finding each other. I love mafia movies and was expecting something along the lines of The Godfather. This is similar to the life story of Kay Adams-Corleone (Michael’s wife played by Diane Keaton) written after divorcing Michael. It is definitely more of a romance than a mafia book. It is recommended for readers who want an original perspective on mob life. 4.5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Permanent Press, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Pre-releases, Romance Tagged with: mobster, Nov 30 2018
It’s that time of year when you look around at your assembled family during your holiday party and decide they look Relatively Normal. At least they will, after you read this laugh-out-loud book.
Cat runs an event planning company in New York City. She meets and becomes engaged to Ethan, an actuary. Ethan is a planner. After Ethan and Cat are engaged and living together for two years, he insists on their two families celebrating Thanksgiving together at Cat’s family farm in rural Illinois.
Cat doesn’t know to explain her family to Ethan. Her mom collects obscure household goods like shortbread pans and various cozies. Cat’s dad is staunchly Scottish. He plays the bagpipes badly and dresses up stuffed mice as Scottish heroes. Her grandmother, Nan, says whatever she thinks. Unfortunately, she is usually thinking with a sailor’s vocabulary due to numerous small strokes. Cat’s brother, Travis, is a 29-year-old clown college dropout living in his parent’s basement.
When Cat, Ethan and his parents get to the farm all hell breaks loose. Cat’s dad has invited Cat’s high school boyfriend and former love of her life, Sam, and his parents. Unfortunately, Dad forgot to mention Cat’s engagement.
The absurdity of the Scottish Thanksgiving dinner is hilarious. Cat’s family never lie so they don’t hesitate to tell her Ethan isn’t her perfect match. When a medical emergency occurs, Cat contemplates her relationship with Ethan and her still fiery feelings for Sam, a feeling that Sam shares.
Relatively Normal starts as a superb farce. When the romance begins to heat up between Cat and Sam, Cat must decide what is important for her. The characters are so believable. You’re rooting for them to make the best decisions and live happily ever after. I recommend this book both to fans of zany humor and non-explicit romance. If you like the Stephanie Plum series, you will also like Relatively Normal. 4 stars!
Thanks to 33 Partners Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Humor, Kindle Unlimited, New Books, Romance Tagged with: Family, Nov 20 2018
Enter this book giveaway to grab a paperback copy of A Devil of a Duke by Madeline Hunter. A Devil of a Duke is a sexy historical romance.
Giveaway begins November 22, 2018 at 12:01 A.M. PDT and ends November 30, 2018, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
How To Enter
Complete the entry form below.
Enter once per person.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.
Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.
Winners will be selected at random on or about December 1, 2018.
Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
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Posted in Giveaways, Historical Fiction, Romance Tagged with: Nov 30 2018
Solace Island is where Maggie and Luke go to get over their broken hearts in this cute romance.
Maggie is unceremoniously dumped by her fiance of five years the night of her bachelorette party. She gives him two weeks to buy her out of their business and leaves town. Maggie goes to Solace Island, off the Washington Coast, with her older sister, Eve. There she meets the enigmatic Luke, who also has his a broken romance in his past.
Solace Island is a good romance with a bit of a mystery. I recommend it to romance fans. However, the mystery seemed like an afterthought so I can’t recommend it to mystery fans. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Berkley, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Romance Tagged with: Nov 6 2018
Séances are for Suckers is a humorous take on old school romantic mysteries like The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart.
Ellie is the youngest of a set of triplets. On her eighteenth birthday, her mother is killed and her sister descends into a vegetative state. Her brother is an elementary school gym teacher. To earn the money for her sister’s long-term care, Ellie works as a fake medium. Ridding families of their ghosts frequently means more psychological than psychic assistance.
When Nicholas approaches Ellie with a project, she can’t resist even though Nicholas knows she is a fake. He wants Ellie to prove to his elderly mother that her ghost, Xavier, is someone’s childish game.
Once at the family’s ancient estate, Ellie suspects everyone including Nicholas of causing the ghostly events. It doesn’t help that Nicholas is devilishly handsome and apparently rich too. Plus there is the man-of-all-work, Thomas, who is equally handsome but so much less complicated than Nicholas. When Ellie literally stumbles over a corpse who is gone before she returns with help, Ellie begins to believe that this particular ghost may be real.
I actually liked the romance more than the mystery. Like Ellie, I started to feel like part of the family and really wanted it not to be an intentional fake haunting for profit. Séances are for Suckers is a very enjoyable romantic read perfect for a cozy night in with only your cat (or dog, if you are one of those people) for company. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Paranormal, Romance Tagged with: family drama, Oct 30 2018, series
Writing nostalgia in Martinis and Memories
I love me some nostalgia. Even though I wasn’t particularly happy in myself in my teen years, I can conjure those moments within seconds. I can be back at a house party when I’m sixteen, and hear the music and remember sitting on the back step with the cool summer air of the evening, the friends I still call best by my side. I can remember the songs we sang along to, and the boys who seemed beautiful.
Nostalgia puts a sheen on everything, like a photo taken on a disposable camera – not sharp or even true sometimes, but distinct as the smell of burnt cookies or the clink of beer bottles.
The same is true for Bel – her past is a different world. One before she became Arabella Hailstone. Before The Martini Club, before burlesque. Back then she was just a kid who was good at ballet because her mother expected her to be. She was the girl who got up to train, expected to win every trophy, before studying, and working in the evenings. The girl who wasn’t too good to work in the chippy on the seafront if it took her one step closer to getting out of Eastbourne.
The people we love exist in the past and sometimes it’s impossible to bring them into the present – too much has changed, too much has been lost, or there’s things you can’t forgive. For Bel, and some of the other characters too, nostalgia is bittersweet – it feels good to escape into for a time, but if she wants to be who she is, who she’s become, she needs to let go.
I think many of us feel that – how do we keep the joy of the child we used to be, the innocence and excitement, whilst growing up and being safe? How do we merge two people to have the best of both? And what happens if the people you love can’t accept the new version of who you are?
In the novel, Bel is faced with three ghosts of her past – the boy she loved, the boy she married, and her mother. Each of them remembers her differently, and each struggles to find a way to know her as who she is now – but how much will she let them know about her new life?
I’m obsessed with nostalgia, with change and growth and being the best version of the person you can be. I’m all about leaving behind that which does not serve you, but every now and then I have a soft spot for the person you loved when the timing wasn’t quite right. And I think Bel does too.
Posted in Romance Tagged with: Aug 13 2018, author post
Martinis and Memories is the strong and empowering finale of the Martini Club trilogy.
“Smart girls don’t fall for the same bull**** twice.”
However, when Bel’s husband, Euan, walks into her burlesque, the Martini Club, she worries what his motivation is. Does he feel he should get a cut of her business? She walked out on him ten years ago because he was a deadweight on her dream of success. She certainly can’t afford to support him now. Business is down in the Club due to the downturn in the economy. Bel even had to tell her mother, Anna a former ballerina, that she needs to reduce the money that she sends her every month. However, when Anna shows up at her door saying living together would save money and be fun, Bel responds with dread that her mother’s perfectionist dragon mom persona will return.
Bel has remade herself three times. First, by running away with Euan. Second, by running away from Euan to open the Martini Club. Will either her mom, her husband or her money troubles force her to recreate herself again? If so, will she steal away with no warning as she had done in the past?
Bel is a genuine and sympathetic character. The setting within a London burlesque club is original. However, Anna and Euan seemed flat and one-note to me. I couldn’t get a clear read on their underlying motivations. Both just seemed selfish and shallow.
Martinis and Memories is a great beach read that will lift you out of your summer doldrums. Bel’s story is full of abrupt changes for the better and will surely motivate readers who may need to make some changes in their own life. There is a delicious recipe for a vodka espresso martini at the back of the book. The book does contain some strong language so it may not be appropriate for younger teens. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Canelo, for an advanced copy.
Posted in Romance Tagged with: Aug 13 2018, Burlesque, martini club
I adore epistolary novels. I feel like I am the “fly on the wall” in the writers’ life. Meet Me at the Museum is one of the best of that style of novel that I have read.
Tina has recently lost her best friend. She is past 60 and thinking that her opportunity for fulfilling her life goals is fast escaping her. She decides to see the prehistoric Tollund man (a real object located in the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark) so she writes to her old pen pal who works at the museum. Unfortunately, he has died but the current museum’s curator, Anders, responds. Thus begins the short and romantic tale Meet Me at the Museum.
In the first letter Tina writes,
“it must have occurred to you that what you thought would happen when you were young, never did.”
Who of us over a certain age hasn’t had that feeling of regret at roads not taken? The love story and tale of second chances regardless of your circumstances is beautifully written with just the right tone. This book has many asides that discuss archeology, knitting, farming, and opera among many more subjects. But ultimately it is a fictional memoir of two strangers’ lives made closer by their impersonal method of communicating by letter. Using such a slow and detached medium allowed both Tina and Anders to talk about their true feeling without embarrassment much like Americans talk to a therapist.
I enjoyed both of their stories though they veered from sorrowful to joyful to resigned and back. It is definitely a compelling read. I stayed up past midnight and read it in one sitting. Meet Me at the Museum is perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook. 4 stars!
Thanks to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Literary Fiction, Romance Tagged with: Aug 7 2018
A pregnant Brazilian lands in an airport in Switzerland. She calls the police because an assassin is hunting her. When the police fail to stop the killer, a young girl appears saying she just wants the lady’s fetus. So begins Undead Messiah 1, an exciting thriller wrapped within a horror manga.
Who hasn’t been entranced by a video game, movie or book and after it’s over you still feel like it has leached into your real life? Tim loves ZAC, a zombie video game, and the Walking Dead television show. He begins to see zombie threats everywhere. However, just because he’s paranoid, doesn’t mean there aren’t zombies running amok.
I loved the innovative plot. Unfortunately, I can’t describe my favorite part since it will spoil the surprise. As a huge fan of the Walking Dead comics, I thought this book would be perfect for me. And it was. Nerdy gamer thinks he can kill real zombies until he meets one. If only there was a wireless controller for real life (heavy sigh…). The art, especially the chapter titles, perfectly set the mood and clearly illustrated the plot.
Undead Messiah 1 has elements of horror, mystery, fantasy, post-apocalyptic thriller and even romance. I can’t wait for the second volume, which comes out November 6, 2018. It is highly recommended for all manga fans looking for something different. 4 stars!
Thanks to ToykoPop and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Romance Tagged with: Jul 19 2018, Manga
Ethan is Craving His Best Friend’s Ex in this perfect light summer read.
Ethan and Mason are best friends. When they see Crissanne at a college party, Mason, always the impulsive one, approaches her. Mason and Crissanne have a romantic relationship but Ethan is envious and regretful that he didn’t approach Crissanne first. Twelve years later, Crissanne knocks on Ethan’s door in Cole’s Hill Texas. She and Mason, who live together in Los Angeles, have broken up. Crissanne’s feelings of friendship for Ethan begin to deepen. Ethan reluctantly reciprocates but worries that Crissanne is only using him to make Mason jealous. When tragedy strikes, will it drive Crissanne and Ethan together or force them apart?
The tug of war between guilt and desire is well defined in Craving His Best Friend’s Ex. Both Ethan and Crissanne’s conflicting feeling make sense. The story is compelling and the sexual tension is hot. Craving His Best Friend’s Ex is a great beach read. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Harlequin Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Romance Tagged with: Aug 7 2018, Texas
Enter this book giveaway to grab a free copy of Craving His Best Friend’s Ex by Katherine Garbera.
Written by USA Today bestselling author, Katherine Garbera, Craving His Best Friend’s Ex will be published by Harlequin Desire on August 7, 2018.
A blurb from the book:
Heartbreak gives her only one place to turn…the arms of a forbidden man.
Giveaway begins July 26, 2018, at 12:01 A.M. PDT and ends August 9, 2018 at 11:59 P.M. PDT.
How To Enter
Complete the entry form below.
Enter once daily (optional).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.
Open to residents of Canada and the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about August 11, 2018.
Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
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Posted in Giveaways, Romance Tagged with: Aug 10 2018
Ghosted, the word, is when a hookup quietly ignores your texts, calls, emails and other online communications. Ghosted, the book, is a wonderful twisty love story.
Sarah and Eddie, both in their late 30s, spend a romantic week together after meeting unexpectedly. As Eddie is leaving for a holiday in Spain, both vow to meet up again after his return. However, Sarah hears nothing. Her increasingly frantic texts, calls, Facebook messages and emails go unanswered. Her best friends tell her to move on. But Sarah is convinced something tragic has happened to Eddie and just can’t let go.
Ghosted is a delightful summer beach read for mystery lovers. The story of the romance evolving, told in flashbacks, is just as entrancing as the mystery of Eddie’s disappearance. Also, Smelly has to be the best, and probably the most accurate, name for a dog either in fiction or in real life. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Pamela Dorman Books, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Romance Tagged with: Jul 24 2018
Amy and Richard stumble upon another body in the second novel in the Blue Ridge Library series, Shelved Under Murder.
Amy is the head librarian and Sunny is her assistant at the perpetually underfunded Blue Ridge library. Sunny convinces a local artist to donate three paintings to the library. While retrieving them, Amy and Richard find the artist, Rachel LeBlanc, stabbed to death in her artist’s studio. In the same studio are several art forgeries hidden in a secret closet.
The romantic relationships shine more than the mysteries in Shelved Under Murder. My biggest complaint is that there are no gray areas in the characters. They are either devils or saints. In addition, no one has much of a reason to be a villain other than for the love of money. With such shallow motives, this book receives 3 stars.
Be aware that Shelved Under Murder describes the conclusion of the first book, including the murderer’s name, multiple times so plan to read them in order.
Thanks to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Romance Tagged with: cozy mystery, Jul 10 2018
Meh…Providence is not a place I enjoyed visiting.
While a junior in high school in Providence Rhode Island, Jon is kidnapped. His best friend and possible love of his life, Chloe, is heartbroken. However, she and his parents eventually assume he is dead and move on with their lives.
Four years later, Jon wakes up. His only clue to what happened is a note from his former substitute teacher and captor, Mr. Blair, in a beaten-up paperback copy of The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft. The note states.
“You were in a medically induced coma. You are free. […] You have power. […] We did good work down here, Jon, and it will be interesting to see the way things play out. You’re welcome, Jon.”
Six years later, Eggs is a Providence police detective looking for the cause of a rash of heart attack deaths in young adults. His department believes they were natural deaths but Eggs is obsessed. Eggs and his wife, Lo, have an institutionalized son, Chuckie.
Providence is a fantasy in the vain of the 2012 film Chronicle and perhaps Stephen King’s Carrie. While it contains the love story of Jon and Chloe, it is not strictly a romance like the author’s most popular book, You. I didn’t read You so I had no previously conceived ideas for this novel. Judging by other reviews, if you loved You, you will not like Providence much.
My biggest issue with Providence is with the characters. None are sympathetic. Poor Jon had all his problems thrust upon him but as a reader I truly didn’t care what happened to him. Chloe is so indecisive that I felt like slapping her. Her high school friends after Jon’s disappearance feel like 80s movie stereotypes (the popular girl, the jock, the art girl). Eggs’ feeling toward his son do not seem genuine but are obviously a plot device.
Another issue is the plot slows to a crawl in the middle of the book. If I wasn’t reading a review copy, I would have put it down or at best skipped to the ending.
Some readers seemed to enjoy this book. To me, it seemed derivative, slow, and populated solely with unsympathetic characters. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it except to hardcore Lovecraft fans. 2 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Random House-Lenny Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Romance Tagged with: Jun 19 2018