Book Review, Books, New Release, Romance, series, smartypants romance, Uncategorized

Book Review! Beef Cake, Donner Bakery book 4 by Jiffy Kate, from Smartypants Romance

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4 of 5 satisfying stars

I was looking forward to the spring launch of Smartypants Romance, so I was excited to read this book. I’d read the other Jiffy Kate contribution, Stud Muffin, and I enjoyed it but found it surprisingly angsty. I’m not familiar with any other Jiffy Kate books, so I don’t know if that is standard for these authors. This had some elements of angst, but not nearly as much as the first book.

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I felt like it was a bit rushed toward the end, and would have liked to see more of the relationship between the two characters once they got past their conflict. One thing I will say is that I loved how persistent Gunnar was in his pursuit of Frankie. She was an interesting character and a tough nut for him to crack; but while he recognized she needed her space, and gave it to her, he didn’t give up.

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Buy Beef Cake here

Book Review, Books, New Release, Romance, romantic suspense, series, smartypants romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Code of Honor, Smartypants Romance Cipher Security book 2, by April White

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5 of 5 suspenseful stars

Since this was a Smartypants romance book, chances were good that I would like it. However, I was happily surprised that I LOVED it! I haven’t read any other books by this author, so I’m definitely looking forward to going back to the first book in the Cipher Security series, Code of Conduct.

I used to read a lot of mysteries and suspense stories: Mary Higgins Clark, Patricia Cornwell, Anna Rivers Siddons, Nevada Barr. Since getting back into romance books, I haven’t read a lot of suspense, but Code of Honor is a nice mixture of the two. Is it a romance book with suspense, or a mystery with a side of romance? Either way, I loved it. It was fast-paced, and interesting, and fun, with a dash of sexy sprinkled here and there. I liked Anna and her relationship with her twin sister, Collette. I loved Darius, and the peek into Iranian culture that his character and his family gives us. I loved that Anna referred to him as a Disney prince throughout the story. It really did paint a lovely picture.

The thing I like best about books from Smartypants Romance is that they often contain characters we love from the Penny Reid Universe, in this case, Cipher’s two big kahunas, Quinn and Dan. April White captures them both perfectly, and as I read Dan’s lines, I could hear them as if they were spoken by Stephen Dexter, who narrated Dan and Kat’s book in the Knitting in the City series, Marriage of Inconvenience. It was a wonderful, unexpected bonus.

When I finished the book, I was all set to give it four stars. Then I read the acknowledgments, which bumped it up to five stars for me, because the mystery in the book was based on REAL LIFE EVENTS. Now I want to read the book all over again, after I’ve read Code of Conduct, of course! Thanks to the author for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Book Review, Books, New Release, Romance, series, Uncategorized

New Release! Sugarcoated, book 1 in a new series by Erin Nicholas!

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5 of 5 scrumptious stars

I love Erin Nicholas. Her books are the perfect combination of sweet and sexy. This lady knows how to write, and her characters never have conflicts that are the result of a stupid misunderstanding. The strife that their relationships go through – and overcome – comes from a more organic place, and it always makes SENSE. I always roll my eyes in disgust when one character in a story overhears the other, or discovers something on their laptop, or finds out something important before their significant other has the opportunity to tell them. Erin Nicholas could have done any of these things in Sugarcoated, which is the first book in her new Hot Cakes series. But she DIDN’T.  And I love her for it.

Sugarcoated is the story of Zoe and Aiden. They’ve known each other since they were kids; they grew up together. Aiden is Zoe’s brother Cam’s best friend, and he practically lived with them after his mom passed away. Zoe runs the bakery that has been in her family for many years. Aiden is back in town after moving away to run a very successful business with four of his best friends. He’s back for two reasons: because he loves Zoe and wants to have a future with her, and he and his friends are buying the pastry factory that Zoe and her family sees as their number one competition. It’s a very interesting premise for a story, and Erin Nicholas handles it so well.

I just loved this book. It was so well-written, and the storyline was fun, and sexy, and sets up nicely the rest of the books in the series. If you haven’t read her Sapphire Falls series, that is definitely the place to start. There are enough books in that series to get you through this lockdown quarantine business!!

Buy Sugarcoated on Amazon

Book Review, Books, netgalley, New Release, Uncategorized

Book Review! New Release! The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

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3 of 5 disappointing stars

I am a huge fan of books by the writing duo known as Christina Lauren. Two of my favorite books of all time,  Love and Other Words, and Roomies were written by these ladies. I love these two books so much because they’re beautifully written and gut-wrenching and can make you laugh one page and cry the next. This means that I hold books by CL to a higher standard. Unfortunately, The Honey-Don’t List didn’t live up to those standards.

This story had a couple things going against it for me, through no fault of the authors. I’m not a fan of books about “famous” people: rock stars, movie stars, TV personalities. It’s just not my thing. I think a lot of the things in pop culture that fascinate most of our population are trite and shallow. I don’t care who dated who, or who cheated on who, or who was caught at the grocery store without makeup, or how many pounds so-and-so has put on. Secondly, I’m not obsessed with home improvement shows like a lot of people are. This book is about famous people on a home improvement show!

It was well-written, as all CL books are, but it lacked that gorgeous word play that can be found throughout many of their books, including the two favorites I mentioned earlier. I read this book on my iPad, and I hardly highlighted any phrases, which is the sign of a good book for me. I finished it just to finish it, not because I really cared that much about how it turned out. It definitely lacked the angst and conflict of an excellent CL story. There was a moment in Love and Other Words where I literally had to put the book down and go take a break for a few days. (The same thing happened with Dating-ish by Penny Reid.) This book had none of that. I don’t want that in every book I read, but usually there is a sense of urgency and drama in a CL book, and this time, there wasn’t.

By no means will this stop me from reading books by these great authors. But perhaps I should lower my expectations a bit for their next one, because I hate being disappointed that they’re not as good as my two favorites.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

The Honey-Don’t List releases on March 24 and you can find it here

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

Book Review: New release “Damn Wright,” book 2 in The Wrights series by Skye Jordan

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The first ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) team I was ever a part of was Skye Jordan’s, back when she was writing her Rough Riders hockey novels (which I LOVED). I’m happy to still be reading and reviewing her books, although it’s been a while for me. Somehow I missed the first book in this series, So Wright, and I can’t wait to read it!

Skye Jordan is really good at creating story lines that you haven’t read before. In this book, Emma and Dylan have a very complicated history, and those are my favorite kind of stories! When you start reading, you think there is no way that they will be able to overcome their history, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that you would be wrong about that. 🙂

There was a moment in this story where one character finds out something about the other character before he/she has a chance to tell them, and I really hate that because I feel like it’s overused. I know that lack of communication is a real thing in relationships, but it frustrates me when characters in books get into trouble because they won’t simply TALK TO EACH OTHER! It turns out okay, of course, but I like when the issue causing conflict for the couple is more natural, and not such a cliche. The ending was a little predictable, but it was still a good read.

Thanks to the author for the opportunity to read and review this book. I’m thinking that the next book is about Dylan’s sister, Gypsy, which will be fun, because I know there must be a good story there!

Purchase Damn Wright on Amazon here, or read for free through Kindle Unlimited!

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

Book Review: Protecting What’s Mine by Lucy Score

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4 of 5 swoony stars

I’m a big fan of Lucy Score! I’ve been on her ARC team for many years, and I love when she writes a new book in a beloved series. It is not necessary to have read the previous two books in this series (Pretend You’re Mine and Finally Mine) about the small town of Benevolence, Maryland. Protecting What’s Mine can be read as a standalone, but this story is a little richer and deeper if you already have connection with the characters from the first two books.

I was so glad we finally get to find out that there’s more to Lincoln Reed than meets the eye. He has hidden depths, and isn’t the player he pretends to be. I really want to go back and read the first two books in this series again, knowing what I now know about the fearless firefighter!

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Linc has met his match in Mackenzie “Doc Dreamy” O’Neil, who has a bit of a history with one of our previous heroes, Aldo Moretta, whose story can be found in Finally Mine. She has quite the background, and no interest in anything long-term, whether it be in the form of a romantic relationship or a home in which to settle down. She resists Linc at first, since she’s only in Benevolence for a short time, but eventually she gives in, because she’s a very smart woman! 😀

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Lucy writes funny, sexy books with lots of depth and heart. One of the things I like best about her is that she never manufactures a conflict for the sake of a conflict. There’s no misunderstanding that causes a stumbling block between the characters. One person never accidentally overhears the other saying something, proceeds to take it out of context and then breaks up with the other person. The conflicts in Protecting What’s Mine usually involve great danger. You usually don’t see it coming, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

This wasn’t my favorite of the Benevolence books, but it’s filled with wonderful characters and sexy times and laugh out loud moments, not to mention a beautiful dog named Sunshine! Don’t miss it.

Find Protecting What’s Mine on Amazon where it’s available in Kindle Unlimited

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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!

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

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

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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!

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