2019 Book #61 – As Good as the First Time by K.M. Jackson

51Te9w5usZLTitle: As Good as the First Time
Author: K.M. Jackson
Date finished: 8/15/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Dafina
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Sugar Lake series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

True to its name, the small southern town of Sugar Lake is a sweet place to visit—and you might even want to live there . . .

With her big-city career and relationship in sudden free fall, Olivia Gale isn’t sure where she belongs. So when her help is needed at Goode ‘N Sweet, the family bakery in Sugar Lake, she jumps at the chance to indulge her pie-making hobby while getting her life back on track. Olivia’s not looking for any distractions. Even if the boy who once left her without a word is now a grown man with intriguing secrets—and the same tempting hold on her heart . . .

A firefighter and single dad, Clayton Morris is trying hard to fix his past mistakes. He thought he was doing the right thing by leaving Olivia—and now he’s sure he has nothing to offer the accomplished woman she’s become. But ignoring the sparks between them is impossible. And as unexpected surprises and hard choices endanger their fragile reunion, they’ll have to decide which direction to take if they want to find the road back to love . . .

My rating:  2.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish 1 2018 release” box since I should’ve read this one last year! And since this is from my prior years backlog, I also read this as part of my Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge: 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR checking off line #11 – a novel that includes a recipe.

I had read a couple chapters of this book in last year’s Buzz Books Romance collection and was intrigued by them. So I figured I’d check out the full book! And as much as I was interested in the book based on the couple chapters I read, the book overall fell kind of flat for me. I didn’t find that there was enough meaningful interaction between Clayton and Olivia for me personally. They spent a lot of the book not only resisting each other but also not communicating well and not having the type of important conversations that I would look for with character and relationship development. And not just with the two main characters, I also thought that Olivia and her sister Drea’s relationship could have been developed more. I think that a lot of the issues I had with the book though were just based on personal preference and what I enjoy with my reading. Overall the book was entertaining and the characters were interesting, this one just wasn’t quite the book for me. I’d still recommend it if you like a sweet, small town romance (almost all closed door romance) with zany characters and a second chance romance, I’d recommend this one.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #57 – To the Stars and Back by Camilla Isley

51hTVVGAldLTitle: To the Stars and Back
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 8/9/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: June 14, 2019
Pages in book: 231
Stand alone or series: #4 in the First Comes Love series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When Hollywood’s sexiest bachelor meets the girl next door their relationship doesn’t follow the script…

On-screen, Christian Slade is America’s favorite heartthrob. Off-screen, letting romance into his life isn’t as easy. The women he dates all seem to want a piece of his glamorous life rather than his heart, and trust doesn’t come easy for him.

Then along comes Lana. A beautiful rocket scientist who’s also sweet, smart, sexy, and has absolutely no idea who he is. But what will happen when she finds out?

Will their worlds prove too far apart or could love really be like in the movies?

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Author I’ve Read before” since I’ve read a number of books by this author before.

So far I’ve read the other 3 books in this series and I have to say overall this is just a great series. The books are laugh out loud funny and short enough to hold your interest but long enough to still have a well developed story line. If you’re looking for a fairly quick but still engaging and fun read, these are the books for you! This was a cute story, and I liked so many of the details that were included within the story. I loved all the science facts included and how smart Lana was. Even better was how passionate she was about teaching and about helping others – it was positively endearing. And I also loved her cats, they sounded so cute! Christian was an ok hero for me but I couldn’t really connect with him, he felt a little two-dimensional to me even towards the end. I still really enjoyed the book though and I’d recommend both it and the other books in the series!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #56 – The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

41jIQ21NjHLTitle: The Right Swipe
Author: Alisha Rai
Date finished: 8/6/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 394
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Alisha Rai returns with a sizzling new novel, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

– Nude pics are by invitation only

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

– Protect your heart

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish 1 New to You Author” box since this is the first book I’ve read by this author.

As I mentioned, I haven’t read anything by this author before, but I’ve heard so many good things about this book. I definitely think it lived up to the hype! This was a super engaging read with endearing and complex main characters. There was a lot that I really liked about this book, especially Rhi’s relationships with her various co-workers, friends and family. It was so uplifting to see the world of support that she had and it didn’t hurt that her support team was just hilarious. I especially loved her assistant and her best friend as they were just so funny. I laughed out loud reading this book, and there were some very touching scenes that made me cry also. This book made me feel a lot of things, but for some reason one of the things I couldn’t really feel was lusty. There were a couple of steamy scenes but it seemed like they were a tad rushed almost. And there were parts that I thought Rhi was pretty hard on Samson, even though he was just such a good guy. That’s easy for me to say as the reader though, since Rhi had no access to Samson’s inner thoughts like I did. Overall though I really enjoyed this book and I thought it was a great read! I’m glad I got to read it and I’d recommend other romance fans to read it as well!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #55 – The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

51SWKLzVjxLTitle: The Book Charmer
Author: Karen Hawkins
Date finished: 8/4/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, women’s fiction, magical realism
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Dove Pond series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Start one series” box since this book is the first in a new series by this author.

I haven’t read anything by this author before, I was intrigued enough by the description and the cover to give this a read! I love books with magical realism and this one was really just such a magical read. I loved the story building and how the author wove different pieces of magic into the story. The thing I found kind of frustrating was how unresolved the ending was. We spent so much time delving into Sarah’s character, which I understand was necessary to understand the whole book talking and saving the town thing, but I was super bummed that we didn’t get resolved on Sarah’s story at the end of this book. I usually prefer to read series consisting of stand alone novels for that reason, I like the connection but I like for things to be resolved at the end. I’m excited to read Sarah’s story though, whenever it may come! Also I thought there was a lot of build up to the Apple Festival and then the actual event only ended up taking up like a page, which left the event feeling a little anti-climactic to me. I loved all the tension and plot building, then when it was wrapped up so quickly it felt a little rushed. There were so many emotions in this book though, I loved it. I laughed, and I cried a bunch. There were so many touching scenes in the book. All of the characters were charming and I loved how much of a family was formed by the various town members. I’d definitely recommend this book.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #54 – A Highlander Walks into a Bar by Laura Trentham

51tkiNhStZLTitle: A Highlander Walks into a Bar
Author: Laura Trentham
Date finished: 8/1/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Pages in book: 311
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Highland, Georgia series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland come to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same…

Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…

Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish 1 ARC that DOES NOT have a picture of a girl on the cover” box since the cover only features one brawny looking Scotsman.

I’ve read a few books from Laura Trentham’s Cottonbloom series in the past and I have enjoyed them, so I was excited to see she had a new series coming out. I enjoyed this book, it was cute and sweet. The relationship development between Alasdair and Isabel I thought was really well done. I was really engaged in their relationship and also their banter was hilarious. Isabel was precocious and charming and Alasdair sounded handsome and funny. The rest of the story line fell a little flat for me – there wasn’t anything overtly exciting about it – but it was a solid story. There was also an interesting lead in into the next book. The townspeople were a great asset to the story since they were all so funny and added to the overall charm of the story. I’d recommend this for a sweet and quick read!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #47 – How To Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway

510gqX-FQ+LTitle: How To Hack a Heartbreak
Author: Kristin Rockaway
Date finished: 7/19/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, women’s fiction
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Swipe right for love. Swipe left for disaster.

By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers–“Hatchlings”–who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.
But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.

Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez–the only non-douchey guy at Hatch–has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I haven’t read anything by this author before, I was intrigued enough by the description and the cover to give this a read! This was a really cute book a good story. I love how modern it was with all the creative ideas on website creation, dating sites, and some of the hazards women face in the modern world. There were some pieces of this modernity within the book that I found frustrating though – specifically how Melanie has to put up with blatant sexual harassment at her office with absolutely no form of recourse. I understood that the “Hatchlings” were important to the owner but at the same time that kind of flagrant disrespect for someone shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere in a professional working environment. That being said, it was an interesting plot line and definitely different from other books I’ve read lately. I liked the varied cast of characters and how supportive Melanie’s friends were with helping her realize her full potential. I also loved how talented Melanie was and her journey to becoming a confident business woman at the end was a wonderful character arc. I would recommend this book, I enjoyed it!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #36 – Waiting For Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

51Fiej09wKL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Waiting For Tom Hanks
Author: Kerry Winfrey
Date finished: 6/17/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, women’s fiction
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Pages in book: 288
Stand alone or series: Seems like it will be a series! Next book is about Chloe and Nick!
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A rom-com-obsessed romantic waiting for her perfect leading man learns that life doesn’t always go according to a script in this delightfully charming and funny novel.

Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days…can he?

My rating: 3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I thought this book sounded sweet and cute, and I love rom-coms! And this book definitely fit the bill for exactly what it sounded like – it was a sweet story with LOTS of rom-com tie-ins and an interesting array of traditional romance tropes used. I think that’s my main hang-up is that those are the only two words that really come to mind are sweet and cute. There were some very humorous parts to the book also, I found myself laughing out loud at more than a few of the situations Annie gets into in the book. Annie’s character was a bit naive for me though and she could be very melodramatic at times. It was very obvious that Drew liked her but she seemed very immaturely closed off to him. And then the whole thing with the mistake she made with the text about Drew – that’s a pretty intense mistake. I mean, I’m sure it’s possible it could happen, but it just made me cringe so badly. Everything worked out ok in the end but the ending also was a bit too syrupy sweet for me. Overall it was a light-hearted and fun read and I’d recommend it but I can’t say that I found it overtly thrilling.

Link to author website

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