Book Review, Books, Kindle Unlimited, Romance, series, Uncategorized

Book Review: Insatiable by Melanie Harlow, Cloverleigh Farms book 3

Insatiable AMAZON (1)

4 of 5 swoony stars

Several years ago, Melanie Harlow was one of the first authors that I fell in love with when I started reading romance again after a long hiatus. Her book Some Sort of Love, from the Happy Crazy Love series, is still one of my favorite books. Melanie Harlow is from Michigan, like me, and I enjoy the references to places that I’m familiar with in each of her books.

INSATIABLE AN BT

I enjoy this newer Cloverleigh Farms series. I’ve read books 2 & 3, both of which have couples with a complicated history. In book 3, Insatiable, Noah and Meg have been best friends since childhood. He’s always been her protector, and even saved her life once. Although he has had more romantic feelings for her in the past, he’d never acted on them because he didn’t want to ruin the wonderful friendship that they had.

Insatiable - Teaser 8 AN

When Meg comes back to town for her sister’s wedding, after years away, she asks him why he never made a move on her…and you can guess what happens next!

One of the things I loved about Some Sort of Love was that hero, Levi, was the single dad of a son who was on the autism spectrum. As a mom of a special needs child, I don’t find families of special needs children represented much in books of any genre, so it is refreshing to find them in several of Melanie Harlow’s books. In this story, Noah’s twin brother, Asher, has cerebral palsy, which is what my son has. You get to read about the way his family cares for him, the blessings and the struggles, and also the doubts that his mom has in allowing other people to help care for him. I could definitely relate to that!

Melanie Harlow is GREAT at writing sexy times, and she never resorts to a stupid misunderstanding when it’s time for the Moment of Conflict, which makes her far above several of the authors I’ve read lately! I’m looking forward to reading the other books in this series: Irresistible, which is book 1, and the remaining books that I assume are coming, since there are 5 sisters in the Sawyer family, and April and Sylvia’s stories have yet to be told!

Read Insatiable in Kindle Unlimited

Book Review, Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Man Cuffed, Man Hands book 4, by Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby

Man+Cuffed+T2

4 of 5 stars

I was very excited to read this book, and unfortunately, I was disappointed. Now, I will say that I was in a grumpy place romantically when I read this book, so I wasn’t really in the right mood for it, so that may color my review a bit.

It was very funny, as all the Man Hands books are, but not as funny as the others in the series. It was an interesting concept: Hot Cop who doesn’t date convinces Hot Neighbor, who is an actress, to be his date for his sister’s wedding. It seemed like it would be a Fake Relationship story, which I would have LOVED, but it didn’t really end up being that at all. There wasn’t a lot of sexual tension, either, because they were like NOPE, not going to have sex; let’s banter about how much we want to have sex; oh, okay, never mind, that rule isn’t that important, let’s have lots of sex. I did really like the banter, because they weren’t hiding how much they would have wanted to have sex if Mac didn’t have his Thou Shalt Not Sleep with Thy Neighbor rule.

There was some interesting family drama, which was unlike I’d ever read before, which caused a few enjoyable surprises. The thing I liked most about the book was all the references to the state of Michigan; being a Michigander, myself, I loved seeing familiar things mentioned.

All in all, I did not like this book as much as I wanted to like it. It was funny and well-written, and worth a read, but it just didn’t live up to my expectations. That, however, will not stop me from reading any and all Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby books in the future because I’ve pretty much loved everything I’ve ever read from these talented ladies.

Man Hands series

Book Review, Books, Kindle Unlimited, New Release, Romance, smartypants romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: New Smartypants Romance Release “My Bare Lady” Scorned Women’s Society book 1, by Piper Sheldon

20190530_TSWS01_My Bare Lady_Sheldon_KDP_FINAL.jpg

4 out of 5 classic stars

“I have often walked down this street before….”

I don’t read blurbs, I’ve said it before. I signed up to read and review several Smartypants Romance books because I love Penny Reid’s work. I didn’t read any of the blurbs for any of the books that I agreed to read and review, because I don’t like to be spoiled. I want to go into a story knowing nothing, and experience it for the first time as I go along.

So as I was reading “My Bare Lady,” I was thinking that it was a very odd name for a book. Then, suddenly I realized what I was reading and I felt kinda dumb. 😀

I’m a huge fan of musicals, and I don’t know how I didn’t get this reference straightaway. I actually don’t love the story of “My Fair Lady,” but I do love most of the music, and I loved a couple of sweet little hints to the musical hidden in this book.

The thing I loved most about this story was how entrenched it was in Green Valley, Tennessee, and the story of Jethro Winston that I’d already become familiar with. (If you’re reading My Bare Lady and you HAVEN’T read any of the Winston Brothers books, then you’re missing out.)

I’m generally not a fan of books about motorcycle clubs, or the women associated with them. But I loved Prose before Bros, another Smartypants Romance book, which was about the Iron Wraiths, the main MC in Green Valley.  I liked Suzie Samuels, the heroine of My Bare Lady, who was involved in both this organization and the Black Demons, which was new to me. I did not like reading about some of the stuff that happened to her, which is the reason I tend to stay away from books that involve an MC.  But I loved Clifford “Ford” Rutledge, and I wanted both him and Suzie to find their HEA. They were interesting, complex characters, who brought out both the best and the worst in each other. And let us not forget Jack, and the ladies of the SWS.

This was not my favorite of the Smartypants Romance books that I have read thus far, but it certainly kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t wait to find out how everything would be resolved. I love the idea of the Scorned Women’s Society, and I can’t wait to read more of their stories! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go listen to the soundtrack of “My Fair Lady.”

My Bare Lady is available on Amazon through Kindle Unlimited!

SWS01-LIVE copy

Books, Kindle Unlimited, New Release, Romance, smartypants romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: New Smartypants Romance Release Crime and Periodicals, Green Valley Library book 2

20190718_GVL02_Crime and Periodicals_Everly_KDP_FINAL

4 of 5 nerdalicious stars

Any book that has a reference to my favorite literary hero, Samwise Gamgee, gets a thumbs up from me! This was my first Nora Everly book, and she has earned a reader for life. There was so much to love in this book.

1. So. Much. Nerdiness! Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars…and some that even I didn’t know, and I consider myself to be pretty nerdy. Sabrina is an uber-nerd, she doesn’t apologize for it, and I could really relate to that!

2. Single dad. I love a good single dad story, and one where said dad accepts and loves the child/ren of the woman he adores is even better. Wyatt is a fantastic hero, and I really enjoyed his relationship with his own children, as well as his extended family.

3. Special needs child. This may seem like a weird thing to be a plus, but when you’re the mom of a special needs child yourself, it means a lot to see one as a main character. Sabrina’s nephew, Harry, who she is in the process of adopting, is on the spectrum, so his special needs are different than those of my son. But all special needs moms/dads are on the same team.

4. All the Winstons! If you have read Penny Reid’s Winston brothers series, then you will love this book. (And if you haven’t, I’m surprised you even found your way to Crime and Periodicals. Get yourself a copy of Truth or Beard, immediately! You won’t regret it.) Sabrina runs into Winstons everywhere she turns, much to her chagrin, and almost every time, their interactions end up being embarassingly and unintentionally hilarious!

5. A main character with anxiety. I don’t think Sabrina ever puts an official diagnosis to her anxiety issue, but it is a major part of her life. My daughters struggle with anxiety to differing degrees, and it was informative and interesting to see the way it affected Sabrina’s everyday interactions. She works hard to overcome it, making it a big part of her storyline and character development.

6. I love a story that can make me laugh one sentence and tear up the next. This is one of those.

You don’t have to have read any of the other Smartypants Romance books to enjoy this one. In fact, I read Green Valley library book 3, Prose before Bros, before I read this one. (Review earlier in the blog! Check it out!) The books in the Smartypants Romance collection are written by different authors, and the storylines do not overlap, so you can start anywhere. I’d totally recommend Crime and Periodicals!

GVL02-LIVE

Book Review, Books, Kindle Unlimited, New Release, Romance, smartypants romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Smartypants Romance New Release “Prose Before Bros” Green Valley Library book 3, by Cathy Yardley

GVL03-BANNER-RB-SBPR

5 of 5 spectacular stars

If you’ve been around the blog at all, you may know that I don’t like spoilers, so I don’t read blurbs. If there is an author that I love and trust (Lucy Score, Kristan Higgins, Sarina BowenChristina Lauren, Mae Wood, Daisy Prescott and Serena Bell, to name a few), I don’t need to know what a book is about before I start reading it. In fact, the less I know, the better. I’m the same way with movies. The only reason I can think of for this to be the case is that if I know that something is going to happen, I wait in expectation for that thing to happen and am not fully present in the telling of the tale. (For example, the first time I saw Endgame in the theater, I’d mistakenly thought that there would be an intermission, and spent the whole movie wondering when it would occur.)

When I found out about a collaborative writing universe, called Smartypants Romance, which would create a series of books that took place in the worlds created by the very talented Penny Reid, I was all in. I wanted to read every single book, and I didn’t care what they were about. I didn’t care who wrote them, or in which part of the “Pennyverse” they would take place, or who the main characters were. I. Was. In.

20190718_GVL03_Pros Before Bros_Yardley_KDP_FINAL

I’ve read three of these delightful books so far: “Baking Me Crazy” by Karla Sorensen, “Stud Muffin” by Jiffy Kate, and now “Prose Before Bros” by Cathy Yardley. The first two were very good 4-star reads, but my favorite so far is the third one, and I’ll tell you why.

All three of these books take place in the fictional town of Green Valley, Tennessee, (home of the Winston Brothers series) and the first two stories revolve around the Donner Bakery, known for Jennifer Winston and her famous banana cakes. Meanwhile, Thuy Nguyen, the main character of this third title, works at the Green Valley Public Library. Now, I enjoy baked goods, but there is very little that I love more than books. (I write a book blog, so you probably knew that coming in!)

Thuy and I have a very similar outlook on bookstores and libraries: “There was a smell to libraries and bookstores that Thuy always found comforting. She took a deep breath, soaking in the ambience. Cliche as it probably was, it felt like coming home.” I’ve lived a lot of places, as my dad was in the Army (Happy Veterans Day to all who served, by the way!) and I would always seek out the local public library and I can still remember so many of them. They felt like home to me, too.

I loved Thuy (and I’m really glad the author told us how to pronounce her name – Twee – because if she hadn’t, it would have been like Hermione all over again!) Thuy is loyal, and smart, and strong, and determined, and not afraid to try new things. She goes across the country because her best friend Maddy needs her. As it turns out, Maddy’s brother should be familiar to anyone who read the Winston Brothers series. As I started reading Chapter 2 of “Prose,” and I realized who Thuy’s love interest was going to be, I got so excited that we were going to find out more about him, because I love a good backstory!

Copy of GVL03-LIVE

I don’t seek out a lot of MCC books, but the Wraiths, the motorcycle club in Green Valley, plays a big part in the Winston Brothers series. Maddy’s brother Drill, or Teddy, as she knew him growing up, is high up in the Wraiths, but the club has gone through a lot of changes of late, and he’s not sure he likes the new direction it is taking. When his father dies, and the sister he hasn’t seen in over a decade comes back to town to take care of the arrangements as well the family farm, he starts to see that there’s more to life than the Wraiths, and maybe they aren’t the family he thought they were, or the family he needs.

There are twists and turns in this story, and danger, and surprises. It kept me riveted, so much so that I rearranged my work schedule so I could finish it! This is my first book from Cathy Yardley, and peeking at the list of her other books, I found one that references The Doctor, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be checking those out, as well. I’m also very excited to read the other three books in the Smartypants Romance series that revolve around the Green Valley library (find them here!)

This book is exactly what I wanted from Smartypants Romance. I did enjoy the books about brand new characters, but I have a feeling that the ones about established Green Valley folk will be the ones I love the most.

Thanks to the author and Smartypants Romance for the chance to read and review this wonderful story!

Read Prose Before Bros on Kindle Unlimited

Uncategorized

Book Review: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

5 out of 5 Stars

Okay I did it. I gave this one all the love. It takes A LOT for me to give a 5. It has to have a significant impact on thoughts and create a connection. This is everything I could want in a book.

This story takes you on quite a journey. Vivian is a well-to-do young girl in the 40s trying to sort out who she is and where she belongs. She is writing a letter to Angela who has asked Vivian how she came to know her father. (I’m purposefully not telling you who Angela is). This sets the scene for the retelling of her rollercoaster adult life. After dropping out of college, Vivian is sent to live with her zany Aunt Peg (I also have an Aunt Peg).  Viv takes her seamstress talent to work at her aunt’s off beat theater. She quickly finds herself swept up in the fast and tawdry lifestyle of the years before WWII. Men, cocktails, late nights (early mornings), fancy clubs, you get the idea. In what may be the apex of the story and the turning point, her need to “be a part of” and her naivety leads her to make a decision that turns her life upside down.  Along the way we all have the privilege of meeting many interesting characters, with interesting stories that are unique for the time period. She goes on to tell the story of her adult life, of which she does find fulfillment. Angela gets to learn (perhaps more than she wanted) about how Vivian knew her father. I won’t spoil it because you will be wondering, “who is Angela’s father” for the majority of the book. And it is SO GOOD! I didn’t see it coming. This book throws you curveballs when you aren’t expecting them. And at times, the writing was funny, making you smile.

There is also a serious tone to this book. Dark and serious. We also get to feel the impact, and societal shift, that happens when the U.S. joined World War II. NYC would never be the same. Women went to work in professions that perhaps they had not in the past. Men (and some women) went to war. Some rushed to marry. Some never came home. And after the war ended, NYC was a different world.

At one point during the first half, I was like, okay, I get it move on. I was becoming “done” with hearing that arrogant accent of fancy Golden Age “The-a-tah” actors have been portrayed to possess. But yet it was vivid, dense, and delicious. Goodness the second half of this book I could NOT put down. I was highlighting so many introspectful quotes (29 total). I would read some lines and sit there pondering them. City of Girls is full of surprises and full of depth. I can see this book becoming a movie, and I truly hope it does.

 

Quotes that I loved:

-“A person only gets to move to New York City for the first time in her life once, Angela, and it’s a pretty big deal.”

-“But this is a city that gets born anew in the fresh eyes of every young person who arrives here for the first time. So that city, that place—newly created for my eyes only—will never exist again. It is preserved forever in my memory like an orchid trapped in a paperweight. That city will always be my perfect New York.”

-“This is what flirtation is in its purest form—a conversation held without words. Flirtation is a series of silent questions that one person asks another person with their eyes. And the answer to those questions is always the same word: Maybe.”

-“You must learn in life to take things more lightly, my dear. The world is always changing. Learn how to allow for it. Someone makes a promise, and then they break it. A play gets good notices, and then it folds. A marriage looks strong, and then they divorce. For a while there’s no war, and then there’s another war. If you get too upset about it all, you become a stupid, unhappy person—and where’s the good in that?”

-“When we are young, Angela, we may fall victim to the misconception that time will heal all wounds and that eventually everything will shake itself out. But as we get older, we learn this sad truth: some things can never be fixed. Some mistakes can never be put right—not by the passage of time, and not by our most fervent wishes, either. In my experience, this is the hardest lesson of them all.”

-“After a certain age, we are all walking around this world in bodies made of secrets and shame and sorrow and old, unhealed injuries. Our hearts grow sore and misshapen around all this pain—yet somehow, still, we carry on.”

-“When something ends, let it end.”

-“This is what I’ve found about life, as I’ve gotten older: you start to lose people, Angela. It’s not that there is ever a shortage of people—oh, heavens no. It is merely that—as the years pass—there comes to be a terrible shortage of your people. The ones you loved. The ones who knew the people that you both loved. The ones who know your whole history.”

[I lost it reading this last one. The flow of the text into this conversation and the raw truth of it.]

 

Book Review, Books, netgalley, New Release, Romance

Review of Dating by the Book by Mary Ann Marlowe

Four out of five delightful stars

I really liked this book, from its nerdy references (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter) to the discussion of the more historical literary works (Jane Eyre, Little Women) as well as the peek behind the scenes of an author’s life, it was fun to read and very well written. There was also a bit of a mystery to solve, which I will not spoil, but it definitely kept me guessing and kept me reading!

That being said, this book should be considered less of a romance and more of a fantasy. Maddie, the heroine, had four men vying for her attention. Four! I can barely get one to show any interest, so I just had to chalk that up as a fantastical plot device. However, this was my first book by this author, and I requested it from Netgalley because I liked the summary, so I knew what I was getting into! I just had to suspend my disbelief a little bit.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Maddie has a bit of an online flirtation going on with a reviewer she knows as Silver Fox, and I loved this aspect of the story! I think the “flirty exchanges with an online stranger” storylines are super sexy and fun. If only real life online dating went as well as what I read in books!

I also love books that make me say, out loud, “oh wow…” and this one did. I’m looking forward to reading this author’s other books and I’d encourage you to give this one a try! Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Buy Dating by the Book on Amazon here