2018 Book #53 – The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant

51vr3JjFD5LTitle: The Christmas Cowboy Hero
Author: Donna Grant
Date finished: 6/23/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Pages in book: 316
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Heart of Texas 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:

’Tis the season for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidays—even if the mood at home is anything but festive. His father is ill. The East Ranch is in financial trouble. And now it’s on Clayton, the prodigal son, to make sure his family doesn’t lose everything.

Headstrong Abby Harper is like a mother to her younger brothers, who she’s helped raise since she was a teenager. Keeping them in line is no small task while she’s also working toward her college degree. And now that one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle at the East Ranch, Abby is at her wits’ end. But there is a silver lining: Clayton East. He believes in second chances, and is willing to give one to her brother this Christmas. Letting beautiful Abby—and the inescapable longing in his heart—off the hook, however, is a whole ’nother story. Could it be that the woman of this local hero’s dreams has been back at home all along?

My rating:  2.75 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. This is from my 2017 Backlog list, I read this for the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge for the “a book you picked up based on the title” category, as I had picked this book originally around the holidays since I thought it would make a good Christmas read.

This book sounded like it would be a cute read for around the holidays, which is when I had originally planned to read it but unfortunately work got in the way last year. So I read it this year while I was on vacation! The premise behind this book was a romance trope cliche, millionaire cowboy rescues poor nice woman in a Texas town. And while it was completely unrealistic, it was still romantic. Clayton as a character was everything you’d want from a romance novel hero: dark, brooding, completely devoted, utterly sexy. Abby was nice enough, and honestly I loved that she was an accountant studying to be a CPA, but she was a little too shy for my tastes in a romance heroine. Their whole relationship moved pretty quickly too, I mean within a week of Brice getting arrested Abby’s whole family was staying to weekend with Clayton’s family, and within 6 weeks they were engaged. This was a sweet romance though with an ok Christmas theme and some serious sparks between the hero and heroine. I enjoyed it and would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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2018 Book #47 – Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper

51taEw8sx6LTitle: Sweet Tea and Sympathy
Author: Molly Harper
Date finished: 6/18/18
Genre: Contemporary romance, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: November 21, 2017
Pages in book: 321
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Southern Eclectic 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:

Beloved author Molly Harper launches a brand-new contemporary romance series, Southern Eclectic, with this story of a big-city party planner who finds true love in a small Georgia town.

Nestled on the shore of Lake Sackett, Georgia is the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. (What, you have a problem with one-stop shopping?) Two McCready brothers started two separate businesses in the same building back in 1928, and now it’s become one big family affair. And true to form in small Southern towns, family business becomes everybody’s business.

Margot Cary has spent her life immersed in everything Lake Sackett is not. As an elite event planner, Margot’s rubbed elbows with the cream of Chicago society, and made elegance and glamour her business. She’s riding high until one event goes tragically, spectacularly wrong. Now she’s blackballed by the gala set and in dire need of a fresh start—and apparently the McCreadys are in need of an event planner with a tarnished reputation.

As Margot finds her footing in a town where everybody knows not only your name, but what you had for dinner last Saturday night and what you’ll wear to church on Sunday morning, she grudgingly has to admit that there are some things Lake Sackett does better than Chicago—including the dating prospects. Elementary school principal Kyle Archer is a fellow fish-out-of-water who volunteers to show Margot the picture-postcard side of Southern living. The two of them hit it off, but not everybody is happy to see an outsider snapping up one of the town’s most eligible gentleman. Will Margot reel in her handsome fish, or will she have to release her latest catch?

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. This is from my 2017 Backlog list, I read this for the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge for the “the first book in a series” category, as its the first book in the Southern Eclectic book series.

This book sounded pretty interesting to me and the cover looked so cute. I’m glad that I read it, I really liked Margot’s character a lot. The supporting characters were all charming and hilarious as well but Margot specifically I identified with a lot. This book was funny and heart-warming, I laughed out loud and I teared up at a couple points too. It was a sweet love story and I really ended up enjoying it quite a bit. Kyle is a widower and I thought that the author handled the emotional complication of that, as well as the emotions of his two young daughters, very well. This was the perfect book for my vacation reading and I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #30 – Third Son’s a Charm by Shana Galen

61pSH2RHthLTitle: Third Son’s a Charm
Author: Shana Galen
Date finished: 4/20/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Pages in book: 418
Stand alone or series: #1 in The Survivors 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:

Ewan Mostyn thinks a job as a duke’s daughter’s bodyguard will be easy—but Lady Lorraine has a few tricks up her sleeve that spark an undeniable passion

Fiercely loyal to his friends and comrades, Ewan Mostyn is the toughest in a group of younger sons of nobility who met as soldiers and are now trying desperately to settle back into peaceful Society. Ewan trusts his brawn more than his brains, but when he’s offered a job watching the Duke of Ridlington’s stubbornly independent daughter, he finds both are challenged.

Lady Lorraine wants none of her father’s high-handed ways, and she’ll do everything in her power to avoid her distressingly attractive bodyguard—until she lands herself in real trouble. Lorraine begins to see Ewan’s protectiveness in a new light, and she can only hope that her stoic guardian will do for her what he’s always done—fight for what he wants.

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. This is from my 2017 Backlog list, I read this for the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge for the “a book with the moon or stars on the cover” category, I originally requested this book because I just loved the cover. The starry night / purple background is beautiful and I loved the dress featured on the cover as well!

This was a good book. There wasn’t anything that I would say was overtly thrilling about the story line but it was a solidly built romance and the plot line was interesting. The main characters had good chemistry and it was interesting to see their relationship develop. I was satisfied for the most part with how it ended, although I think I would’ve maybe liked to hear more about how miserable Francis turned out, he was a jerk. The hero in the book too was very interesting, he had dyslexia and was considered an imbecile by most of his family and could barely read. It was an interesting change from other books in the genre. The heroine was a bit impertinent and most definitely willful but I liked (for the most part) how headstrong she was and how passionate she was. This was a good book and I’d recommend it, I’d be interested to read more in the series.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #28 – The Bride Who Got Lucky by Janna MacGregor

510FgHQ2n0LTitle: The Bride Who Got Lucky
Author: Janna MacGregor
Date finished: 4/12/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Pages in book: 364
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Cavensham Heiresses 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:

He would do anything to protect her. Even marry her…

The son of a cold-hearted duke, Nicholas St. Mauer isn’t one to involve himself in society…or open his own heart to anyone. But driven by honor, the reclusive Earl of Somerton feels obliged to keep a watchful eye on Lady Emma Cavensham. She possesses a penchant for passions unbecoming a woman that finds Nick in constant peril of losing his well-structured solitude. She even dared kiss Nick once—an utterly unladylike, and delightful, lapse…

Emma can’t deny the appeal of the earl’s attention, and occasional affection, but she has no need for a man. There are worse fates than spinsterhood, as Emma knows too well. She still mourns the loss of her dear friend Lena, and is determined to prove Lena’s husband responsible for her death before he lures another innocent woman into a brutal marriage. But as Emma pursues her prey, a compromising moment upends all her plans. Now, with gossip swirling and her reputation in tatters, Nick may be the only man brave enough to join in Emma’s cause. . .and fight for her heart.

The Bride Who Got Lucky is a sweeping Regency romance from Janna MacGregor in her Cavensham Heiresses series.

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. This is from my 2017 Backlog list, I read this for the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge for the “a book you regret not reading last year” category, I especially regretted not reading it since I ended up signing up to review the next book in the series in May!

I always love it when I get to read a historical romance with a really strong and fierce female lead. In a day and age when women were not at all encouraged to think for themselves, Emma Cavensham rises above the rest with revolutionary ideas about women’s place in society. I especially loved that Emma’s character was so strong-willed and opinionated in this book, although she lost a tad of her luster as the novel went on. I also really was a fan of her wanting to be a career woman and her efforts to make a difference in the world. I also loved that Nicholas’s character encouraged Emma in many ways, although he wasn’t quite prepared to let her make her own decisions (partially because she was making bad ones). Nicholas and Emma ended up being a tad too stubborn when combined for my tastes, I started to grow weary in the end that we’d ever be able to reach a compromise. There were a lot of interesting family characters mentioned in the story and I’m looking forward to potential additional books in the series featuring them. I already am lined up to read the next book in the series, which will be out in May.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #11 – The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

51MbMthRSSLTitle: The Things We Wish Were True
Author: Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Date finished: 1/29/18
Genre: Fiction, suspense, thriller
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Pages in book: 290
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:

In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

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. This is from my 2016 Backlog list, I read this for the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge for the “a book whose title uses alliteration” category.

This book delved into the minds and lives of a number of different characters in a small town, including a child and a matron of the community. A boy is rescued from the pool one day during the summer, unconscious and unresponsive. The people there too witness the event seem to form a bond over the shared experience but all of them have significant secrets to hide. I think that’s one of the things that bothered me about this book, everyone seemed to be betraying someone and (while its naive) its sad to me to think that people are so deceptive and selfish. All of the characters were so downtrodden and unhappy at different points of the story, it was slightly frustrating to get involved with such flawed (but realistic I guess) characters. That being said, I thought this was such a great story and I love how everything was laid out in the end and all the loose ends got tied up neatly. There were some great plot twists, most of which the reader can see coming due to being able to tie together multiple view points but were still exciting. This was a really good read and I would recommend it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it even after I’d finished it!

 

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Bookish 2018 Reading Challenge

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I came across this reading challenge the other day and I had a great idea for using it. While in the past I would have read whatever was next on my list and tried to have it fit into a particular category, I thought this reading challenge would be perfect this year for me to do exactly as described and #killyourTBR! I have a large backlog of books from 2016 and 2017 and I’m not always sure which ones to read next when I have the time. So I decided to use this list to help me slug my way through my backlog lists. Looking forward to a productive 2018!!