I can tell how good a book is by how many times I use the highlight feature on my Kindle. For this book, I highlighted 32 passages. 32! I think it’s probably a record! And these were just the passages that resonated with me. If I also highlighted all the times that this book made me laugh out loud, that number would be much higher.
I’ve only read a few of Kate Canterbary’s books, and I’ve enjoyed them all, but I think this is my favorite so far. It was originally released in her newsletter as a serial, but I have zero patience, so I waited until it was released as an entire book before I read it. I am currently in the same boat as Magnolia was at the beginning of the book: trying to find a good man. As she says at one point, “It shouldn’t be this difficult.” And yet, it is! Every woman (and man) has their dating horror stories, and many of Magnolia’s made me laugh out loud, and others made me cringe while also being grateful I haven’t had to deal with the men she that had!
Of course, the story delves a bit into the fantasy realm, when she finds not one, but TWO good men to date, and they are are ok with her dating both of them at the same time. (But I guess that’s why we read, to escape reality! 🙂 ) I don’t hold this against her, though, because given the opportunity, I’m sure I’d do the same thing!
The book is so cleverly written (many chapters begin with the words “my date was…” ), and so funny, (“The weekend rolled around but I forgot all about baking. It was probably a blessing in disguise since my sweet breads only rose about half of the time. That seemed like a fair statement on my ability to function as an adult too: fifty percent meeting expectations, fifty percent blobbing around like thick, doughy uselessness.”) and so relatable (“dating was draining my soul.”)
I also enjoy that her books are based in Boston, unlike so many stories that take place in New York. Don’t get me wrong, I love NYC, but the change in venue is refreshing. There’s just something so fun about a woman who has a tiny dog named Gronk! I’ve read some other reviews, and one problem some readers had with it is the lack of actual sexy times, which KC is VERY good at writing. I don’t think this book suffered from their omission, but I was surprised by it.
I am looking forward to reading it again, and I’ve also been inspired to read the rest of the Walsh series. (I’ve only read the first one, Underneath It All, and part of the second, The Space Between, as well as a separate standalone, Coastal Elite, which is actually the KC book that started it all for me!)
After popping up on book recommendations, I decided to try this one. I really liked this book! I connected with many of the inner thoughts she presented. The writing was witty and moved along. Many references to familiar NYC locales that make it fun to read. Amy’s story is funny and entertaining yet pensive at the same time. Mom’s all over will relate to this one. Add it to your summer TBR!
Amy is a mother of two children and an estranged husband. When he returns after three years to connect with his children, offering to take them for the summer, Amy reluctantly agrees and sets off to have a summer to herself in NYC. She starts her trip with a librarian conference (it’s way more exciting that you’d think), meets lots of people, including the Hot Librarian, and gets a makeover.
In the end she rediscovers herself and learns that it’s healthy to take time away. The ending was a twist and ended with a happy resolution.
Here is a passage that I just loved:
“Like most good-looking things, my house is high maintenance. My house makes it so I never, ever have any extra money. If my house starts to notice I’ve been squirreling away a hundred dollars here or there to try to get my kids to a national park for a week, the house breaks something. I think it has abandonment issues.”
I’ve been reading a lot lately, but haven’t reviewed a book in quite a while. My review of Midnight Valentine doesn’t really count, because I basically copied and pasted my initial review to the blog, so there was no original thought required. 🙂
Staci Hart is an exceptional writer, and I’ve enjoyed every one of her books. The whole Red Lipstick Coalition series is delightful and charming and fun. I love books that take place in New York City. At one point, Theo takes a walk through the city, and I could see all the places in my mind’s eye.
Each book can be read as a standalone, if you’re not ready to invest the time in an entire series. (Naturally, I think once you’ve read one, you’ll want to read them all!) My favorite is still book 2, Player, because it’s about Broadway musicians, but this fourth book is wonderful. Of course, by the final book in a series, you know the supporting characters really well, having already read their stories. It’s lovely to see Val and Sam, Rin and Court, and Amelia and Tommy play a role in the telling of the coming together of Katherine and Theo.
We’ve known Katherine since book 1, Piece of Work, and she is, as they say, a quirky bird. (Probably not coincidentally, Staci Hart is known as @imaquirkybird on Twitter!) Katherine likes rules, and order. She likes to make plans, and she’s happiest when things go according to her plans! I had a bit of trouble relating to her in the first three books, because she can be a little off-putting, what with her spouting facts and speaking in a very clinical manner, but I can really relate to this aspect of her personality. I, too, like when things go the way I’ve planned them!
You can imagine that she’s thrown for a bit of a loop when she discovers that she’s unexpectedly pregnant by the brother of her friend Amelia’s husband, with whom she had a one-night stand. She doesn’t believe in love and relationships, but she wants to give her baby the best possible life, so she and Theo enter into a sort of understanding, complete with rules and expectations.
If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know how everything feels completely out of your control: your body, your emotions, your circumstances, and your best-laid plans. Katherine feels this way, and she really doesn’t like it! It was quite funny to read about how much she had to change the way she looked at the world, and see her frustration with having to learn to let go of the rules and expectations she had put on herself, her life, and her relationship with Theo.
Speaking of Theo, I think he’s my favorite of the RLC heroes. I was a little jealous of Katherine, reading about how he anticipated her every need and cared for her and their unborn baby with such devotion, putting up with her quirks and all of the disorder that pregnancy brought to Katherine’s orderly emotions. He was exactly what “Kate”, as he and only he is allowed to call her, needed, even if she couldn’t see it.
Every couple has its moment of difficulty, and I often find myself getting stressed out as I see it approaching. (Sometimes I have to stop reading altogether for a little while!) I really hate when the cause is something stupid, like a disagreement or a misunderstanding which could have been avoided if the couple had simply talked to each other. When Kate and Theo reach this point in their story, it makes complete sense, because they really are two very different people with completely separate outlooks on love and relationships; and I wasn’t anxious about the cause or whether or not they would be able make their way back to each other. I was certain that they would, and not in a “it’s a romance book, and the fourth in a series, no less; of course they’re going to make up!” It’s because these two characters were so perfectly written, that it would not have made sense for them to end up any other way, and I trusted Staci Hart to get them there.
“Whoa. Undeniable is one of my top reads! Sizzling
chemistry, off the charts sexual tension and all the feels I’ve come to expect with a Melanie
Harlow romance!”- Ilsa Madden-Mills, Wall Street Journal bestselling author
Undeniable, an all-new sexy
standalone second chance romance from USA
Today bestselling author Melanie Harlow, is
When we were eleven, Oliver
Ford Pemberton dared me to jump off a barn roof. He said you couldn’t break a leg from a 12-
(You can also break a collarbone,
which served him right as far as I was concerned.)
I wish I could say it was the last
dare I ever took from him, the last bet I ever made with him, the last time I ever trusted Oliver
But it wasn’t.
Because he had the nerve to
grow up gorgeous, charming, and sexy. And as we got older, the dares only got dirtier—and the
betting stakes higher—until finally, he left me in pieces. I swore I’d never talk to him
But twenty years after I took
that flying leap, he’s back in my life, daring me to risk everything for him: my job, my self-worth,
and my heart.
How many chances does true
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Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she’s not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like VEEP, Game of Thrones, Succession, and Homeland. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak.
Melanie is the author of the ONE & ONLY series, the AFTER WE FALL series, the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.
Imperfect Match, a sexy friends to lovers standalone romance, from New York Times bestselling Corinne Michaels & USA Today bestselling Melanie Harlow, is available now!
Rule number one for a professional matchmaker?
Don’t fall in love with your client.
I screwed that up when I fell for my best friend, Reid Fortino. He’s gorgeous, successful, and sexy as hell. I figured it would be easy to find him a match—and save the family business at the same time.
But the more time I spend attempting to find the perfect girl, the more I realize how much I want him for my own. What’s the harm if we give in for just one night?
I should have known that would never be enough.
Now I’m on the verge of losing my job and my heart.
We were an imperfect match from the start, but I don’t know how to let him go.
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What would it be like to have her that way? Skin to skin? Breathless and begging? My body inside hers?
I want answers, I think as I open the door to our building.
No, I need them.
I take the elevator up to our floor and go right to her apartment. Using the key she gave me, I unlock her door, smiling that she still hasn’t changed the lock, and head inside.
“Reid?” She jumps off the couch and I freeze.
Jesus, she’s fucking beautiful. I’ve seen her a million times like this, but I don’t know what it is—I can’t breathe.
Her hair is piled up on top of her head in some sort of nest, the glasses that she swears she doesn’t need are on, and her legs … God, her legs. Long, sweet, slender … they would look perfect around my neck.
“What are you doing here? If this is about …” She stops talking and looks at me, her eyes full of confusion as I watch her chest rise and fall.
I walk toward her, unable to stand still. My hands grip her cheeks, and I pull her mouth to mine. Her gasp is swallowed by the searing kiss. Her fingers wrap around my wrists and I don’t know if she’s trying to stop me, but I’m going to keep going until she does.
Yet she never does. Instead of pushing me away, her hands move to my hips.
Willow kisses me back.
She kisses me like this is the only option.
She kisses me harder and more passionately than the last time.
She gives as much as she takes and I fucking revel in it.
This is crazy, but I don’t care. It’s right. It’s everything that finally makes sense. I wondered what it would be like and now I know—it’s fucking perfect.
“Reid.” She says my name and then pulls my mouth back to hers.
I kiss her, loving how our mouths fit and the way her tongue feels against mine.
“Tell me to stop.” I give her an out that I pray she won’t take.
“Tell me now, Wills.”
I’m desperate for her. Seeing her tonight, knowing she was spying on me, did something to my heart that I can’t explain. It was the answer to the question that neither of us was willing to face.
There’s something here.
Maybe it’s new. Maybe it’s always been there but we didn’t see it. Maybe Willow and I needed to be pushed. Whatever the reason, the outcome is this.
She touches my face. Her fingertips are soft, and she moves her thumb to my lip. “I can’t. I don’t know what’s happening, but I don’t want it to stop.”
“Good, because I don’t think I could.”
My mouth is back to hers the second the words are out.
“I have loved every second of this series and I hope that there will be many more installments to come. This series has everything that I look forward to in getting my love and romance fix.”—Twin Spin
“An absolute must-read . . . To Have and to Hold is fabulous.”—The Romance Reviews
“Five stars . . . [To Have and to Hold is a] crackling read that’s full of emotion and drama.”—Jeannie Zelos Book Reviews
“A great story that unfolds beautifully . . . There’s a great balance of drama and romance, and I really liked the characters and their journey.”—The Escapist Book Blog
“A well-crafted welcome addition to a great series . . . [with] plenty of passion.”—I Love Romantic Fiction
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD (RETURNING HOME, BOOK THREE)
He doesn’t remember her. She cherishes every moment of their time together. Is there any hope for a second chance?
Hunter Cross has lost a year. There’s a gap in his memory, and the woman who is living in his house has disappeared into it. He slept with her, fell for her, loved her—and he doesn’t remember any of it.
He knows he should send her away—except for one little thing. At night, when she slips into his bed, his body remembers hers.
Trina Levine is heartbroken, alone with her memories. Hunter won’t claim any of it—not the joyful days, not the steamy nights. It’s like Trina Levine dreamed it, and it hurts like nothing else could.
Except when Hunter cries out in his sleep and Trina comforts him. At those moments, Hunter’s body knows hers, and for a few, brief, blissful moments, Trina’s sure everything will be okay again.
Stepping through the glass gate doors at SeaTac. Striding, head up, not uniformed, as she’d expected, but clad in jeans, a gray T-shirt, and hiking boots. A backpack slung over both shoulders.
Trina felt like she’d never seen him before, and maybe she never really had. Because before, he’d been somebody’s dad. Somebody’s husband. And then friendship had morphed into love, so she’d never had that first-time-I-laid-eyes-on-you, love-at-first-sight moment. No heart stopping, no breath catching, no hormones firing in one big surge—
Not till now.
Because, damn. Dark hair and dark eyes, stubble smattered over his jaw, shoulders that poured off strength. Six-foot-plus of him, moving with intention. He was a guy who’d catch your eye on the street, pheromones setting you back on your heels before you’d registered that you’d turned to look. The hardness of his features, the everyman handsomeness, made an impression only after it was too late to decide how you felt about his appearance.
There were more lines in his face than she remembered—the laugh crinkles at the corners of his eyes, yes, but deep lines in his forehead, too. His eyes combed the crowd, looking for someone.
I’m right here.
Then his gaze swept past her and locked somewhere else, and his pace quickened until he was almost running. Behind her, someone broke away, flip-flops smacking heels.
Clara ran to her father and threw herself into his arms, forgetting Trina’s and her grandmother’s warnings to be gentle with him. Clara was laughing and crying and trying to tell her father everything that had happened in the last year, all at once.
“Slow down, baby.” Hunter knelt so he could hug Clara in earnest. “Slow down. We’ll have plenty of time.” He was smiling, looking so much like the man Trina remembered, and she realized she was silently pleading for him to raise his eyes and search her out. To turn that smile on her. And she shook her head, because this moment wasn’t for her. It was for Clara and Hunter. Trina would have her moment later. When she and Hunter were alone.
Hunter raised his head, and her heart skipped.
But his eyes caught on something behind her, and he rose and strode forward: “Mom.”
Trina wasn’t going to panic. She clutched her welcome home, hunter sign tighter, and tried to slow her pulse down.
Homecomings are weird, Hunter’s mom had told her when Trina met her flight several hours earlier. Don’t get your expectations up too high.He’ll need some time and space, and then it’ll be like he never left.
Plus, Trina had known they’d have to play it a little cool, to maintain the fiction for the girls.
In the meantime, Trina would remember what he’d said to her. Not only I love you, but also, I know my feelings, and they’re not going to change.
Hunter’s mom, Linda, was getting the full Hunter. Or the half Hunter, maybe, because Trina was pretty sure that Hunter at full strength would have swept both mother and daughter off their feet. Certainly in all her fantasies he’d swept her off her feet.
But with his chest wound just barely healed—a wound that had almost killed him—he wouldn’t be sweeping anyone off her feet for a while.
A hand snaked around her waist. Phoebe, at her side. Her daughter, awkwardly twelve and yet so beautiful, with that coltish mix of woman and little girl.
Phoebe was clearly feeling as awkward and left out of this homecoming as Trina was, and wanting solidarity.
That was the moment when Trina started to feel really, truly freaked out. Because she was fine with the fact that homecomings were weird and fine with Hunter’s priorities being for his daughter and his mother and fine with the secrecy that they’d agreed to keep up a while once he got back, but—
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Photo credit Susan Young
USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes contemporary romance with heat, heart, and humor. A former journalist, Serena has always believed that everyone has an amazing story to tell if you listen carefully, and you can often find her scribbling in her tiny garret office, mainlining chocolate and bringing to life the tales in her head.
Serena’s books have earned many honors, including an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Apple Books Best Book of the Month, and Amazon Best Book of the Year for Romance.
When not writing, Serena loves to spend time with her college-sweetheart husband and two hilarious kiddos—all of whom are incredibly tolerant not just of Serena’s imaginary friends but also of how often she changes her hobbies and how passionately she embraces the new ones. These days, it’s stand-up paddle boarding, board-gaming, meditation, and long walks with good friends.
L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.
Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets people’s’ birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.
She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.