Friday, September 30, 2022

Rise of the Phoenix King (Crown and Crest #4) by Shari L. Tapscott and Jake Andrews


The epic conclusion to the Crown and Crest series!

After serving Camellia for the last five months, Henrik is prepared to sacrifice his future to remove the people he loves from the princess’s clutches—even if it means he must say goodbye to Clover for good.

But Camellia isn’t willing to turn away from her wicked ways. Just when it seems peace might be possible, she rises again, more powerful than anyone could have predicted. Armed with magic to control a legion, the princess is determined to overthrow Lawrence and take the crown by force.

For the first time in Caldenbauer’s history, humans, Woodmores, and High Vales must band together to defeat a foe who grows stronger with each passing day. Alliances must be formed, but it’s difficult to forgive the wrongs of the past.

A new era is on the horizon, but darkness looms before the dawn…

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

The last book!!  Should I shout for joy or cry?!  Both.  The answer is both.  I always love when epic stories, spanning multiple books, come to an end.  My heart always longs for knowing endings and wrapping things up.  BUT.  It's also hard to reach the end of such a fun fantasy adventure.  The characters have become friends and it's hard to say goodbye to that.

This story is fast moving and full of crazy stuff.  You would expect that from a conclusion, right?  Everything is coming to an explosive ending!!  Each book has been working it's way to this.  Camellia the insane.  War.  Unlikely alliances.  

Henrik and Clover.  Will they?  Won't they?  Yes?  No?  It's the constant questions throughout the whole entire series.  Their story is basically a roller coaster of ups and downs, separately and together.  My desperate heart was so glad to reach a resolution with them.

This book will tug at your emotions.  This band of friends is among my favorite group of characters because of their quirks and their diversity.  I will miss them.

Content:  peril, mild violence, kissing, death.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Bachelor and the Bride (The Dread Penny Society #4) by Sarah M. Eden


London, 1866

Dr. Barnabus Milligan has always felt called to help people, whether that means setting a broken bone or rescuing the impoverished women of London from their desperate lives on the streets as part of his work with the Dread Penny Society.

Three years ago, he helped rescue Gemma Kincaid by secretly marrying her to protect her from her family of notorious grave robbers.

But six months after Gemma and Barnabus exchanged vows, she realized her love for her new husband was unrequited. To protect her heart, she left, telling Barnabus to contact her if his feelings for her ever grew beyond a sense of duty.

When Barnabus sends a letter to Gemma inviting her to return home, she hopes to find a true connection between them. But unfortunately, he only wants her help to foil the Kincaids, who have been terrorizing the boroughs of London, eager to gain both money and power.

Heartbroken, Gemma agrees to help, but she warns Barnabus that she will not stay for long, and once she goes, he'll never see her again.

Yet as the couple follows the clues that seem to connect the Kincaids to the Mastiff, the leader of London's criminal network, Gemma and Barnabus realize they might make a better match than either of them suspected. Perhaps the marriage that had once saved Gemma's life might now save Barnabus—and his lonely heart.

But before the once-confirmed bachelor can properly court his secret bride, they'll need to evade the dangerous forces that are drawing ever closer to the hopeful lovers and the entire Dread Penny Society itself.

 * Goodreads * Amazon * Deseret Book *

I really love the premise of this whole series and how each book gives focus to an individual in the Dread Penny Society but never loses any of it's other members in the process.  We see old friends from previous books and get glimpses of new friends just waiting to happen.  This group of friends work together to fight evil on the streets of London.

Another interesting aspect of these books is that you get a story within a story.  Because each member of the society is a Dread Penny author, we see a story from them, in installments, throughout the book.  It's not my favorite part of the series but it is for a lot of people.

I adored Gemma.  She's smart and plucky and wants to be loved.  She never settles for less than she deserves.  Her motto to leave things better than she found them is awesome.  Barnabus is a bit of a knuckle head, a lot slow to the emotional party but yeah, he does get there.  

Of course the last third of this book was my favorite.  I loved the ending that I didn't see coming.  It really had me turning pages.  Secrets revealed!  I would definitely suggest reading these books in order.

Content:  mild peril, kissing

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

Friday, September 23, 2022

Love in Writing (The Wonder Boys #2) by Dana LeCheminant

Allie has sworn off dating.

Which is unfortunate, because the cute guy at the grocery store has finally struck up a conversation, and shy and sweet Ben is even more adorable than he looks. When an ex shows up trying to rekindle the flame at the same time her mother tries to set her up with a neighbor, Allie ropes Ben into being her fake boyfriend to get everyone off her back.

Ben has been in love with the stranger at the grocery store for months despite never speaking to her. When he finally works up the courage to say hi, he’s suddenly thrown into a fake relationship with no chance of things becoming real. Not unless he helps Allie on her journey of self-discovery.

A weekend of pretending to be a couple turns into weeks of hanging out and discovering together the people they want to be. But despite Allie’s growing feelings for practically perfect Ben, she isn’t sure she can risk the best friendship she’s ever had when all of her past relationships have failed.

Or maybe a little risk is worth a chance at real love.

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

Book two is here!  This is a book series I am SO excited about!  The Wonder Boys!  Do I think you need to read book one (Love On Camera) before reading this one?  No.  But you will be probably be happier if you do.  Plus, it's a great story you just don't want to miss.  You can find it HERE.

Ben and Allie are both great characters with a great arch of growth.  I just loved Ben, especially as I got to know him more and more.  I feel like I fell in love with him right along with Allie.  He's so sweet, so unassuming, so aware of Allie and what she needs.  She brings out the best in him and makes him want better things for not just Allie, but himself too.

This whole story was so gentle and soft around my heart.  It felt so good.  I adored it.

And of course I love this group of friends who are always around, in every book.  The Wonder Boys!!  And Madi.  😀  I can't wait for the next book!!

This book is in KU if you have that.  Happy reading, friends!

Content:  kissing

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Seoulmates by Susan Lee


Her ex-boyfriend wants her back. Her former best friend is in town. When did Hannah’s life become a K-drama?

Hannah Cho had the next year all planned out—the perfect summer with her boyfriend, Nate, and then a fun senior year with their friends.

But then Nate does what everyone else in Hannah’s life seems to do—he leaves her, claiming they have nothing in common. He and all her friends are newly obsessed with K-pop and K-dramas, and Hannah is not. After years of trying to embrace the American part and shunning the Korean side of her Korean American identity to fit in, Hannah finds that’s exactly what now has her on the outs.

But someone who does know K-dramas—so well that he’s actually starring in one—is Jacob Kim, Hannah’s former best friend, whom she hasn’t seen in years. He’s desperate for a break from the fame, so a family trip back to San Diego might be just what he needs…that is, if he and Hannah can figure out what went wrong when they last parted and navigate the new feelings developing between them.

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

I absolutely love watching K-dramas.  That love lead me here, to this book, because a fellow K-drama lover met this author and mentioned her book.  I haven't read a book like this before and I was so curious!  

Curiosity satisfied!  What a cute story.  Hannah and Jacob have a history that is so heartwarming and also complicated.  Jacob's family move to Korea left them both with misunderstandings and hurts that have to be addressed before they can move on after reuniting.  It all felt very natural and normal for two teenagers.  I loved all their adventures and the rebuilding of their friendship that turned to more.  Hannah had a journey to self love and an acceptance of who she is.  Jacob learned to stand up for himself and his family.  They both learned to trust and stand up for each other.  It was all very satisfying as a reader.  This could easily be turned into a cute teenage movie!

My only complaint would be the level and frequency of swearing in this book.  It's a personal preference and one I realize is not shared by everyone.  If this book were a movie it would be rated R for language.

Content:  swearing, kissing, making out, alcohol use by minors at a party.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Harvest Moon (Riverbend #3) by Denise Hunter


When a tragedy leaves a divorced couple with guardianship of their friends’ little girl, Laurel and Gavin drop everything for the sake of the child. Meanwhile, a case worker begins searching for a more suitable arrangement, and the estranged couple move into their friends’ home to provide temporary care for Emma and manage the on-property apple orchard. As they work together to comfort the grieving child and manage the busy harvest, tempers flare—as does the passion they both remember so well. But will the seeds of love, still growing inside them, thrive and flourish? Or will grief and regret strangle the feelings before they can fully blossom?

Gavin!  I feel like I've been waiting forever to finally get Gavin's story.  You know from the first book in this series that Gavin's story is tragic and haunts him.  But this book?  The tragedy just expands and it is honestly heartbreaking.  My heart was invested in the characters, the story and the outcome.

Grief is such a hard thing because everyone grieves so differently and the process moves at a different pace for everyone.  This is very true for Gavin and Laurel.  I was so grateful for the flashback scenes to when Gavin and Laurel fell in love and how their love story progressed.  It gave me the much needed foundation and information I needed to understand them both- maybe especially Laurel.

There's nothing like joining forces for the good of someone else to bring people together.  In this case, the sweetest little girl needed love and security and family.  I love that no matter what was going on between Gavin and Laurel, they were one hundred percent committed to Emma.  That was good for my heart.  And there is something so satisfying about second chance love stories.  This is such a good one.  I loved it.

I would definitely recommend reading this series in order.

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

Friday, September 9, 2022

A Pumpkin and a Patch by Jennifer Peel


Every person has that one thing they’re known for, and it doesn’t matter what you do, that one thing—whether good or bad—follows you around like a bloodhound for the rest of your life. For me it’s a story I wrote when I was fifteen. Forever more I will be known as the Reece the Rogue Pirate girl, instead of Josie Peterson. Why couldn’t I be known for all the cute children’s stories I’ve written about my family’s pumpkin patch?

Tragically, the torrid story I wrote as a teen was based on a real person, Reece Cavanaugh. And guess what? He grew up to be a pirate—okay, lawyer. Same thing. To make matters worse, the man is representing my ex-fiancé who wants to steal my treasure, aka engagement ring. If that wasn’t the icing on the cake, Reece has an adorable daughter who happens to be my new student. That’s right, I must now have actual conversations with him after avoiding him for half my life, even by hiding behind banana displays when needed. But the more I get to know Reece—the real version, not the imaginary one who ravishes me on sandy beaches—I can’t help but wish we could roll around in the sand together. There’s a problem though, the school I work for frowns upon relationships between parents and teachers. And it’s pumpkin season, which means all my free time is spent on the family farm. But when he kisses me, I can’t help wanting to break all the rules and get tangled up in the barn. The burning question is, am I brave enough to make my story a reality or will it be another bad ending?

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

Move over pumpkin spice, there's a new flavor in town and his name is Reece Cavanaugh. Get a fan ladies because he's coming in hot and determined. And HOT. 🔥

Josie is one lucky girl. Here's my one line to her: Resistance is futile.
Seriously, she tries to run and avoid at first. Then she tries to hide. Then she is angry. Then she is in denial. Then she sets boundaries that shrink with every encounter. Like I said, resistance is futile. That's because Reece is really that charming, that attentive, that considerate, that determined and that hot. He doesn't try to hide the fact that he is one hundred percent into Josi. He's full on and I absolutely LOVED him.

I think I've reread the first kissing scene, well, I won't give a number. Let's just say a few times. hee hee.

Other things I loved?
Reece the dad.
Reece the rogue pirate.
Reece the room parent.
Reece the lawyer.

If you are looking for some romantic entertainment, this is your book. The tension and build up is great, the kissing is fantastic. You will fall in love with Josie, Reece and the pumpkin farm. It's a feel good kind of book that will have you smiling the whole way through. And then later too, when you think back on it.

This book is on KU if you have that!

Content: kissing. Mild innuendo.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The Opera Sisters by Marianne Monson


Based on the true story of the Cook sisters, who smuggled valuables out of 1930s Nazi Germany to finance a daring, secret operation to help Jews find hope for a new life in England
British sisters Ida and Louise Cook enjoy their quiet, unassuming lives in south London. Ida writes romance novels, and Louise works as a secretary. In the evenings, the sisters indulge in their shared love for opera, saving their money to buy records and attend performances throughout England and Europe, becoming well-known by both performers and fellow opera lovers.

But when Hitler seizes power in 1933, he begins targeting and persecuting German Jews, passing laws that restrict their rights and their lives. The sisters continue their trips to the German opera houses, but soon, Jewish members of the opera community covertly approach the sisters, worried that they will be stripped of their wealth and forced to leave their homes and the country. Danger looms on the horizon, threatening to spill across all of Europe’s borders.

Ida and Louise vow to help, but how can two ordinary working-class women with limited means make a difference?

Together with their beloved opera community, the sisters devise a plan to personally escort Jewish refugees from Germany to England. The success of the plan hinges on Ida and Louise’s ability to smuggle contraband jewelry and furs beneath the watchful eyes of the SS soldiers guarding various checkpoints. But how many trips can they make before someone blows a whistle? Or before the final curtain falls on Germany’s borders?

The Opera Sisters is a riveting and inspiring novel of two unlikely heroines whose courage and compassion gave hope to many Jews desperate to escape Nazi persecution.

 * Amazon * Goodreads * Deseret Book *

I absolutely love historical fiction and when it is based on real people?  Even better.  I was so excited to read about these two sisters, Ida and Louise Cook, who bravely changed and saved people's lives during WWII.

It was fascinating to read about Ida and Louise's path that led them to helping so many people from Germany.  The opera and a love for music started it all.  A love for humankind and kind hearts led to the rest.  Ida sacrificed so much and honestly, it was very touching.  Stories like this remind me of the good people in the world.  

The harder part for me was how the story was told.  There were SO many people, it was sometimes hard to keep track of them all.  Because of this, I had a harder time connecting emotionally.  Of course I cared about what was happening and the people spoken of, but it was more in a general type of way and not an individual connection.  The way the story jumped from the sister's story to other stories took some getting used to.  I didn't really love the format.  

I feel like I learned something and of course I was reminded of the atrocities of war and most specifically, the atrocities against the Jewish people.  Heartbreaking.  But so important to remember.  What a great tribute this book is to these to these people.

Content:  peril and wartime violence.  Nothing in great detail.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Sinister Secrets by Traci Hunter Abramson, Clair M. Poulson and Paige Edwards


Traci Hunter Abramson: Secrets of St. Augustine

FBI Special Agent Doug Valdez is in France looking for money launderers. The last thing he expects is to find a young girl fleeing for her life or the deadly game of cat and mouse that ensues.

Paige Edwards: In Plain Sight

Jaclyn Girard was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now she’s caught in the middle of a deadly investigation. With danger mounting, she must work alongside FBI operative Cody Ackert if she hopes to survive.

Clair M. Poulson: Hounded

Recently retired Army Ranger Renn Huitt has found the perfect job. Working for Bob, a private investigator nearing retirement, should be easy. But Bob has put a lot of people behind bars—people who hold a grudge. And now they are coming for him.

Secrets of St. Augustine: 5 stars
If you have read any of this author's books, Agent Doug Valdez will be familiar to you.  He's been in quite a few books so his character was familiar to me.  Even if you haven't read about him before, his general backstory is covered so you will have a good idea just how awesome he is.  This story is action packed and fast moving starting in France and then through Europe.  Poor Layla.  The history of her short life so far will break your heart.  Doug was the perfect person to cross paths with her and save her.  I loved this story!  (no romance here, but definitely love!)

Hounded:  3.5 stars
Author Clair Poulson is going at knowing his terminology and the way the police process works.  His stories always sound believable and reasonable.  There was a lot going on in this story, and there were a lot of people involved.  I didn't have trouble keeping them all straight, I just had trouble connecting to the characters and to any sort of emotion.  I liked the strong men who had strong women helping them though.  That felt good.  (mild romance)

In Plain Sight:  5 stars
This story was such a good balance of all things emotional and suspenseful.  I loved the dual perspective from both Cody and Jaclyn.  Jaclyn's family was brought into the story and it really made things feel homey and gave that touch of realistic as they all shared a cramped apartment for a bit.  The food, the sleeping, the bathroom.  There was plenty of action and tension to keep me reading, anxious and invested all the way through.  My favorite of the three novellas in this book.  (This novella held the most romance.)

Content:  peril, violence (running, chasing, gunshots, fighting).

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