Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Coming Home to Bellingham by Katie Stewart Stone + Win This Book!

What begins as a pleasant holiday with a new friend in Brighton quickly turns to devastation for Anabelle Milton when she receives the tragic news: her parents are dead. Turned out of the only home she’s ever known, Anabelle is sent to live with an aunt and uncle who are strangers to her. Heartbroken, she arrives at Bellingham Cottage, a cozy home on the sprawling grounds of the Bellingham estate, to find an unexpectedly warm welcome—not only from her own family but also from the family of their aristocratic neighbors, Lord and Lady Bellingham.

Anabelle soon attracts the attention of the heirs of Bellingham—brothers who, though connected by
blood, could not be more different. As she slowly begins to distance herself from the polite and obedient young woman her mother trained her to be, Anabelle is free for the first time to choose her own path. She knows she must be true to herself, even if it means risking unrequited love—but can she trust that the gentleman who has stolen her heart will not break it?

This is a very sweet debut novel from author Katie Stewart Stone and I really love the cover.

Anabelle has a really rough patch and I couldn't help but feel for her situation of abandonment and displacement but I love as she comes into a place of love and acceptance, she also discovers herself.  Her wings are finally allowed to stretch and she feels a sense of freedom.  That was very satisfying as a reader.

The whole book has a very young feel to it and it read more like a YA regency.  I had a hard time connecting with Anabelle but loved her relationship with her young cousin.  He was a bright spot in the book.  I think this author excelled at the younger and less mature characters and the more playful moments but struggled to bridge the gap of maturity to make the other relationships more believable. 

I thought the setting was beautiful.  I could easily visualize the places Anabelle explored and visited and I thought it was the perfect place for her to regain her footing and spread those wings. 

Content:  death, some male aggressive behavior toward female, kissing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

In Front of Me (A Simple Love Story #4) by Dana LeCheminant

When all your plans fail, can you find the courage to follow a new path?

Lissa Montgomery is on track to be Boston’s top financial analyst—or she would have been, if her misogynistic boss had ever given her a chance. Suddenly jobless, Lissa has little hope for her life going according to plan. But then she meets handsome and charming Brennon, a workaholic who is just as driven as she is. In order to spend more time with him when he’s not at the office, she agrees to look after his blind roommate, Steve, after he’s hit by a car.

Where Brennon is sweet and thoughtful and practically perfect, Steve is grumpy and abrasive and refuses to find a reason to be happy in his newly sightless life. Getting to know Brennon, though, means being stuck with his best friend too, even if he is a little rough around the edges.

But as Steve starts to open up and finally live again, Lissa realizes there’s a lot more to life than climbing the corporate ladder. And she has to wonder who is really blind, since Steve seems to be the only one who can see what is right in front of him.

In Front of Me is a sweet contemporary romance that functions as a standalone, with recurring characters from the rest of the Simple Love Story series.

Hello Dana LeCheminant, new author to me! I know this is book #4 but it's my first book by this author and I thought it was very good! I love finding new authors in the sweet romance genre! As stated above, this book can easily stand alone which I can attest to, but I also knew that the secondary characters had stories that I didn't know about. Especially Lissa's brother, Seth. I need to go back and read that one for sure. Well, I'm actually curious about all the characters so I hope I can find time to go back and read them all!

I thought this story flowed very well. I got to know the characters in way that seemed natural and easy. Lissa's journey to discovery and change was a satisfying one, especially since she was just a bit self absorbed in the beginning. When Lissa locks in and starts paying attention to the people and things around her, she is amazing.

There is a character in this book that I'm crossing my fingers will get the next story! My heart NEEDS him to have his own happily every after.

This book (and this series) is on Kindle Unlimited if you have that.

Content: kissing, drinking alcohol

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Enemy Between Us by Melinda Sue Sanchez

ITALY, 1943

As war tears her country apart, Franca Chessari's sole focus is on supporting her family amid Nazi occupation. But when her parents, both high-ranking partisans, go missing, Franca is compelled to take action---even if it means crossing enemy lines to save those she loves.

Peter Weimer is a German soldier forced into a war he abhors. When he can take no more of the Nazi atrocities he’s been forced to witness, he deserts the German army—a decision that brands him as an enemy.

Franca and Peter were nothing more than two strangers from enemy countries, but when their paths collide amid the horrors of war, they are swept into an epic journey of chilling danger, unparalleled courage, and a sweeping passion that could cost them everything they have fought for.

This book demonstrates perfectly why I love historical fiction.  I've read a lot of WWII books set in many various places, typically England and Germany, but not so many set in Italy.  I loved the dual first person perspectives from Franca and Peter which really helped me see and feel their inner struggles and desires.

I thought there was an excellent balance of charged moments of danger and still, more mundane moments where the characters could just be.  It allowed the story to flow at a good pace and still gave me time to digest and relate to the characters.  The happy, gentle moments stood out strongly against the many hardships of living in the midst of the war.  These characters faced more difficulties than they did happy moments but the author did a great job of weaving hope into the characters and the story so that I never felt too overwhelmed.

Peter and Franca are both fantastic characters.  Strong, even though they both feel weak in their own ways.  Courageous, even when they are both afraid.  Determined.  Good.  They both have heart and it really shined through.  I could have kept reading more about these two and been perfectly content.  I haven't read a historical fiction book in a couple months so this was a fun dive back into a genre I love.  

Content:  peril, war time violence, kissing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

A Few Fun Books I've Read Lately

Hi book loving friends!
I'm at a pretty fortunate place in my reviewing that I can read and review most all the books I want to read.  That means that rarely do I read books that I don't like.  Sometimes my review schedule is so packed that there isn't much time to read all the books that I just can't make room for so I get really excited when I can squeeze in what I call a "for fun" book that I don't have to officially review.  When that happens, reviews are only a few lines and they don't make it to my blog.  They only appear on Goodreads.  If you don't follow me or aren't friends with me on Goodreads, you might miss some of my favorite books!  I thought since I have read a few really fun books this week, I would mention them for you here, just in case.  

First up, Oh, Keep Your Shirt On (Shaped by Love #2)  by Michelle Pennington
Nothing about me is fake...except my boyfriend.
I needed a favor, but I knew what Damien would ask for in return—a date to his cousin's wedding.

But there was no way I'd agree. Facing his match-making mom and scheming ex-girlfriend didn't exactly sound fun. Besides, the less time I spent around him the better.

Already my neighbor and landlord, he was steadily charming his way into my life. Being his friend was tempting enough. What would happen if we pretended to be a couple for a night? No. I had to keep him at arm’s length. At least.

But Tessa had changed my life for the better when she gave me a job, and now she needed help.

Aaaaaand…that was how I ended up fake dating my boss’s fake boyfriend. Who for some reason can’t keep his shirt on.

4.5 stars
I am really craving books right now that have humor and entertain me in a light, happy way. This book provided exactly that. The characters were fun with distinctive personalities. I thought it was fun to see bits of Tessa's story (book one in this series) from a different perspective. I didn't love this book quite as much as the first one but it's close! It was very fun!
This book is the second book in the series and I highly recommend reading the first book if you haven't already.  This series is on KU.

Next book: The Love Notes: A High School Reunion Romance (Forever Home Romance #1) by Jennifer Griffith
A stack of anonymous love notes from a decade ago.
A chance at love.

Software designer and Tansy Taylor has spent the last decade proving she’s not the robotics nerd she used to be in high school. A successful business, a pile of confidence, and a whole new look—she’s shattered any expectations her classmates once held. Why is she so nervous to attend the reunion she’s been organizing?

Oh, yeah. Bridger Carrigan will be there.

And he’s single.

And she’s been carrying both a torch and the secret notes he wrote her ever since high school—notes he didn’t know at the time he was exchanging with the class geek with braces, frizzy hair, and a perpetual chocolate milk mustache.

Seeing him again could go well, considering. Or it could be round two of her crash and burn crush on the star-athlete with the secret wound her encouraging notes were meant to salve. Especially since his ex-girlfriend is newly single and anxious to get her claws back into him.

 * Goodreads * Amazon *

Aw, this story is so sweet, so cute. I loved the notes from high school and how they gave me insight into Tansy and Bridger. They are good humans- the kind you want to be friends with. This is a quick story but a good one.  This book is also on Kindle Unlimited.

And Finally:  Flyboy (Top Flight #3) by Sophia Summers

Colton Bushman is the fastest pilot to have ever flown with the Air Force. He flies with precision, but views rules more as guidelines than hardfast must-do's.

Ivy Hatfield has spent years obeying every rule that ever was, even making up extra for good measure, so that she can overcome her brother's reckless reputation and the mark on her record from a past mishap with her co-pilot.

When Ivy writes a letter of complaint to the Top Flight board, Colton chooses who he assumes must be a fiery, rigid, rule following matron to be on his team. But he soon learns that she is as daring as he ever was. And she learns that his swift action and advanced flying is more calculated than reckless. Will the two who start out as opposites find a way to true and actual love?

 * Goodreads * Amazon *

This was a fun distraction! Fighter pilot training, coastal Brazil, waterfalls, dancing, sailing- sounds pretty dreamy, right? The characters were easy to like and their motives were easy to understand. Things stayed pretty light in this book and that suited my mood well today. I know this book is part of a series but it can easily stand on its own.
Content: kissing
This book is on KU too!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Billionaire's Second Chance: Benton Billionaire Romance (Benton Brothers Romance Book 4) by Kimberly Krey

Billionaire Duke Benton, the last bachelor standing among the Benton Brothers, has a second chance at romance with a woman from his past. The one woman he regrets letting go of. But can he keep her in his grip this time?

It's a new book by Kimberly Krey!!  And guess what?  It's a good one!  Second chance stories are so fun.

These Benton brothers are something else.  After the last book where Duke's twin brother poses as him and ends up getting the girl, I knew Duke's story would be a good one.  Vivi is the one that got away and Duke has always regretted it.  As he should because Viv is smart, compassionate and beautiful.  She also has more to protect now than she did ten years ago so Duke has his work cut out for him.

I genuinely liked these characters so it was easy to fall into their story.  As per usual, Kimberly Krey delivers some yummy kissing and some zingy attraction.  Plus, Costa Rica!  I really want to go there.

Even though this is book four in this series, each book can easily stand alone.  You will probably be happier if you read these books in order as this family of characters show up in each book.  This series is on KU if you have that.

Content:  kissing

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Royal's Best Friend: A Magnolia Bay Sweet Romance (Gentlemen of Magnolia Bay Book 1) by Brenna Jacobs

When best friends fake a relationship, will it lead to real love?

When disaster strikes for Will Maxwell’s best friend, Peyton, he leaves his glamorous life in London to help her save her family’s home in a sleepy South Carolina beach town.

Peyton Shellhouse can’t believe it when Will Maxwell appears on her doorstep, determined to rescue her after a hurricane wrecks her little island. But when his toxic ex-girlfriend crashes the scene, suddenly Will needs Peyton to save him once again from the clutches of the scheming Bianca. Reluctantly, Peyton agrees to his desperate plan: fake a relationship with each other to convince his ex he’s taken for good.

When Will’s fake romance with Peyton leads to real feelings, he must choose between his privileged life as the son of an earl or a chance at a new life with her. Peyton thinks it’s his itch for adventure doing the talking, and she refuses to risk their friendship over a few shockingly hot kisses. Can Will convince her that his old life is worth the sacrifice for this new love?

I'm excited about this new series by author Brenna Jacobs!  This book is set right on the coast of South Carolina which is definitely where I wish I could be right now, minus the hurricane. 

Will and Peyton are the best of friends.  They have a lot of history behind them and a firm foundation underneath them.  I could feel the level of comfort that existed between them.  I really enjoyed their gradual awareness of each other in new ways- Peyton can glam up and hobnob with the elite and Will can swing a hammer and use a saw.  Those new discoveries, along with some zingy kissing lead to that shift in thinking that brings Will and Peyton to deeper feelings of attraction and love.  It's a fun ride.  My favorite moments were Peyton standing up to Will's ex girlfriend and Will's grand surprise. 

This series is going to continue with Will's friends!  I'm excited about this because we get a glimpse of them in this book and I can tell it's going to be fun.  Hopefully we'll see Will and Peyton around in the next books too.

This book is on kindle unlimited.

Content:  kissing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Start With Me by Kara Isaac

Lacey O’Connor is finally a sure thing for the promotion she’s spent ten years working for. But when a scandal rocks her firm she finds herself on a collision course with the one person she has spent five years trying to forget. Only to discover he doesn’t even remember her…

Victor Carlisle has spent the last three years trying to convince his family he’s no longer the playboy alcoholic who tore their life apart. When a company merger is announced with a US sister firm, he’s presented with the perfect opportunity to prove he’s changed. Only to find himself falling for his competition and the one woman his family will never accept.

As the competition intensifies the choice looms between the professional and the personal. Can they find a way beyond their past decisions and present aspirations to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

I am so pleased to see a new book from author Kara Isaac.  At one time I thought there might not be any more from her and I was so disappointed but understood that life throws us curve balls and sometimes you just have to keep your head above water.  Thankfully, Kara Isaac is back to writing and I'm grateful. 

Because of the gap in time, it took me a bit to remember the last book this author wrote and how those characters lapped over into this book.  I think this book can stand alone but you will be more satisfied if you read Can't Help Falling first.  It really sets the stage for this book and it's main characters.

This is a story of forgiveness, redemption and love in many forms.  Lacey and Victor both have complicated family relations.  There is strain, tension and guilt for them both as they struggle with decisions they have made and how to repair mistakes and accept what cannot be changed.  It's like they are dancing a similar dance, facing outward until they bump into each other, turn, and really see the other person for the first time.  Then they realize they are both dancing similar dances.  They can see themselves in the other.

I enjoyed the slow burn romance and the attraction on the fringes.  I love how Victor was willing to put so much on the line to prove himself to everyone.  He felt so stripped down and vulnerable for so much of the book that I couldn't help but cheer for him.  He was the underdog in need of a good cheering section for sure.  On top of the familial tension, there is the professional tension for both Lacey and Victor.  They are battling against those things for most of the book.  It definitely felt like a sigh of relief to get to some resolution by the end of the book.

The players for the next book have been set up nicely and I'm excited to read their story!  This book is on KU if you have that.

Content:  talk of substance abuse, intimate relations outside of marriage (no details at all), kissing.  Talk of God, praying.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Fair as a Star (Victorian Romantics #1) by Mimi Matthews

A Secret Burden…

After a mysterious sojourn in Paris, Beryl Burnham has returned home to the village of Shepton Worthy ready to resume the life she left behind. Betrothed to the wealthy Sir Henry Rivenhall, she has no reason to be unhappy—or so people keep reminding her. But Beryl’s life isn’t as perfect as everyone believes.

A Longstanding Love…

As village curate, Mark Rivenhall is known for his compassionate understanding. When his older brother’s intended needs a shoulder to lean on, Mark’s more than willing to provide one. There’s no danger of losing his heart. He already lost that to Beryl a long time ago.

During an idyllic Victorian summer, friends and family gather in anticipation of Beryl and Sir Henry’s wedding. But in her darkest moment, it’s Mark who comes to Beryl’s aid. Can he help her without revealing his feelings—or betraying his brother?

Mimi Matthews is an author whose books I love.  There is something about the way she writes that resonates with me.  Her stories fall so gently around my heart and mind but honestly it's probably because of her characters.  I always feel so connected with them.  This was true for this book as well.  Beryl and Mark firmly planted themselves in my heart from the very beginning.  I absolutely adored them both but if I were picking, it would have to be Mark as the true gentleman and hero in this book.  The care he took with Beryl was endearing and yes, even romantic.

Beryl struggles with melancholy.  It's more than just a passing difficulty and I could really feel the heaviness Beryl carried because nobody understood what she was feeling and the treatments of the day were frightening, not to mention ineffective.  Mark though.  If everyone had a Mark the world would be a better place for sure.  He approached Beryl with compassion, thoughtfulness and love.  He really tried to understand and provide Beryl with things that he felt might help her.  I told you he was the hero of this book and I wasn't exaggerating.

Yes, this book is a bit heavier than other books by this author but I personally didn't feel overwhelmed by the weight of the subject matter.  There was a sweet balance because of Mark.  He brought light to Beryl and he brought light to the story.  The romance was sweet and believable.  It was so good.

If you haven't read anything by this author, you really need to.  She's one of my favorites and I always feel so lucky to read her books.  Release day for this book is July 14th but you can pre-order now!

Content:  kissing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Facial Recognition by Jennifer Peel

For her, it was love at first sight. For him, love wasn't an option.

Twenty years ago, Gracie Cartwright became the first prom queen in the history of Pecan Orchard High School to be stood up. Now, she's on a mission to plan the ultimate high school reunion and get the prom night she always envisioned. All she has to do is find the perfect date. But after going on thirty-five blind dates, she's losing hope that she'll find Mr. Right--or at least Mr. Right Now. Then Brooks Hamilton, the man she knew she was meant to marry, walks into her spa for a facial massage. Too bad she's never forgiven him for standing her up at prom all those years ago. If that isn't enough, she finds out he's dating her nemesis and he's a divorce lawyer who doesn't believe in marriage. And what's worse is, he doesn't recognize her.

However, when Brooks's estranged father falls ill, the pair are thrown together and sparks fly when the old friends butt heads about almost everything. But despite the tension, it doesn't take long for Brooks to recognize that maybe he made a huge mistake letting Gracie go all those years ago. But is it enough for him to let his guard down and admit he was wrong about relationships and give Gracie the prom night she always dreamed of? Or will they miss out on the love that's been right in front of their faces the entire time?

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

Oh holy crow.  This book!  I'm going to say this right up front:  This is one of my favorite books this year so far.  Honestly.  The minute I finished it, I wanted to go back and read it again.  That's the highest praise I can give.

I absolutely loved to be amused and entertained when I read.  This book had me cracking up the whole way through.  Gracie's internal dialogue was hilarious to me.  Here's one of the many, many quotes from the book that I love:

"I'm sorry for not being a better friend to you."  If he said the F word one more time, I might start using some of my own F words.  You know, like fudge, fondue, flan and frosting straight out of the can.

Hahahahaha!!!!  See?  Funny.  Maybe I'm just craving the things that will bring fun and smiles into my life.  The world is a crazy place right now and being able to smile and laugh is important.  This book gave me that and I'm ever so grateful.

Yeah, the story wasn't all fun and games.  There was definitely some difficult things going on for the characters in this book but the humor balanced it out so well.  My heart expanded and fluttered with all kinds of emotion.  My tummy fluttered with the zingy attraction.  Brooks is a little (and by a little, I mean a LOT) slow on the uptake but when he comes around, be ready.  😍

Gracie is definitely one of my favorite characters from Jennifer Peel's books.  Her goodness is evident in everything she does.  I also kinda loved that Gracie is a bit more, shall we say, mature in age?  Her relationship with Brooks goes back a long way.  Second chance at first love is fun!

Gracie and her friends have just opened a spa and I cannot wait to see how the stories unfold for them all.  We get a little glimpse of them in this book and it has definitely peaked my interest.  

I loved every second of this book.  It will be one I re-read whenever I need a good pick-me-up romance.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book but have since bought my own copy.  This book is also on Kindle Unlimited.