2018 Book #7 – Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins

51mDRlMABVLTitle: Wallflower Most Wanted
Author: Manda Collins
Date finished: 1/17/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Studies in Scandal 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 PICTURE OF ROMANCE
A dedicated painter, Miss Sophia Hastings is far more concerned with finding the right slant of light than in finding Mr. Right. But when an overheard conversation hints at danger for another local artist, Sophia is determined to get involved. Even if it means accepting help from an impossibly good-looking vicar who insists on joining her investigation—and threatens to capture her heart…

Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle knows that Sophia is no damsel in distress. But he won’t allow her to venture into peril alone, either. . .especially since he finds Sophia’s curious, free-spirited nature so alluring. But protecting her from harm is becoming more difficult than the vicar could have expected as he and Sophia confront their fiery mutual passion. Who could have known that the art of love would prove so irresistible?

My rating:  3.25 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.

A talented artist painted into a tale of true love

Sophia Hastings is another of the Beauchamp heiresses, a talented painter and artist. She finds herself paired up with the local vicar, Benedick Lisle, to solve a mystery. Unbeknownst to them both Sophia was actually charged with this task by Celeste Beauchamp herself, though they will find this out later in the story. Sophia and Benedick’s story line was very similar to those in the previous two novels, and while things did start to feel a tad repetitive, Sophia and Benedick had a story all their own. One of the things I love most about this series is that it features intelligent and strong women, and also women that form a deep and meaningful friendship with each other even though they’re all technically “competing for their own legal rights to this house. I think that it is so inspiring to read about such strong and talented ladies. That being said, the characters weren’t as fully formed as I think they could have been and also with the plot it felt almost like we dove right in without much preamble, which felt a bit jarring at first. I thought this was a sweet story though and a good romance novel, and a good addition to the series. I look forward to reading the rest of the ladies stories (hoping for one on Serena’s story too!).

Link to author website

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

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2016 Book #73 – Results May Vary by Bethany Chase BLOG TOUR

51TqxsdHhSL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Results May Vary
Author: Bethany Chase
Date finished: 8/9/16
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
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:

Can you ever really know the person you love?
She never saw it coming. Without even a shiver of suspicion to warn her, art curator Caroline Hammond discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man—a revelation that forces her to question their entire history together, from their early days as high school sweethearts through their ten years as a happily married couple. In her now upside-down world, Caroline begins envisioning her life without the relationship that has defined it: the loneliness of being an “I” instead of a “we”; the rekindled yet tenuous closeness with her younger sister; and the unexpected—and potentially disastrous—attraction she can’t get off her mind. Caroline always thought she knew her own love story, but as her husband’s other secrets emerge, she must decide whether that story’s ending will mean forgiving the man she’s loved for half her life, or facing her future without him.
Compassionate and uplifting, Results May Vary is a bittersweet celebration of the heart’s ability to turn unexpected troubles into extraordinary strength.

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My rating:  4.75 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 book will count for my ARC August reading challenge for this month. This book is about Caroline Hammond, whose life up until we meet her could be described as ideal. She has a husband who worships her, a beautiful home in a town she loves, and a fulfilling job as curator at a museum, MASS MoCA (real place). Her life seems to shatter though when she discovers (accidentally) that her husband has been having an affair. With a man. Having had no inkling that her husband was attracted to men, or a lying jerk either, she calls into question everything she thought she knew about the man she’s been with for 17 years (half her life). This book is really about Caroline’s journey on the road to forgiveness and independence, as she discovers what may become of her marriage and what may become of her future.
Overall I really just loved this book. Caroline as a character was easy to relate to and interesting to talk to. Honestly one of my favorite things about her was that her sister could tell she was drinking when she started to talk more formally, I think I’m going to start doing that from now on because it is too funny! As a reader I was drawn into the story right from page one and just could not put this book down. The author really paints such a vivid picture for the reader, I would look up from reading and not have any idea where I was. The author was extremely talented at giving descriptions of the backdrop and Caroline’s internal monologue without being too wordy. And I really loved how Caroline talked about art and the museum, it was inspiring to see how passionate she was about her job and about art overall. This book deals with a lot of ups and downs for each of the characters as they make their way through the story, including devastating blows to the heart and to the ego. It was amazing the wealth of emotions that the author was able to draw out of me as I read this book: frustration, anger, love, and eventually forgiveness. The plot was riveting and really had some great plot twists to keep the reader engaged. I think that this is one of my favorite books of the year so far, I would definitely recommend reading this one!

The bottom line: This book was awesome, the author really taps into the emotions of the reader and makes the story come alive. I would look up from reading and not know where I was. Story was heart-wrenching and touching, with some good twists in the plot to keep the reader on their toes. I would definitely recommend!

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ADDITIONAL CONTENT!!!

As part of the blog tour I was given access to some additional content from the author, Bethany Chase. Since I’m a New England girl through and through her narrative on why she picked the Berkshires for the setting to this book really spoke to me. I’d like to share this with you readers as well!

The Setting: Why Bethany chose the Berkshires for Results May Vary

I set Results May Vary in the Berkshires because, like Caroline, I went to college at Williams and fell in love with the region. It reminds me a little bit of the Virginia Blue Ridge where I grew up—I am a mountain girl, through and through—but it has its own flavor, which is very much a New England one. It has beautiful old 18th-century houses, and a winding river or two, and maple trees everywhere that really do turn just the most outrageous colors of coral and red and gold in October.

The area is an interesting cultural hotspot—in Williamstown itself you have not just the college but also the world-class Clark Art Institute (I debated long and hard between having Caroline be a curator at the Clark vs MASS MoCA, but went with the latter in the end because it suited the plot better), and the Williamstown Theater Festival. Nearby you have the Tanglewood concert series, the beautiful Hancock Shaker Village, and then of course MASS MoCA, which is not just one of the largest contemporary art museums in the country but also a multi-disciplinary facility that hosts music, dance and theater as well as visual art. North Adams is interesting because it is a former industrial town that has been in a resurgence for the last 15 years or so, which is very intentionally led by the museum. One of the reasons I think the region is so great is that it has the beauty and charm of a small town, rural environment, yet packs this amazing cultural punch that far exceeds what you might expect from its population.

And, of course, it is beautiful. Those leaves! Those mountains! Those velvety white snowstorms, and the way they make you hunker down inside in front of a roaring fire. And then the spring that slinks slowly over the landscape, apologizing for the months that preceded it, until it bursts into the full green roar of May. I hope everyone gets to experience the Berkshires in their lives, not just in one season but in all of them.

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Link to author website

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

2016 Book #42 – The Blue Bath by Mary Waters-Sayer

51xE13On2YL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Blue Bath
Author: Mary Waters-Sayer
Date finished: 5/3/16
Genre: Fiction, literary fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Pages in book: 320
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:

Kat Lind, an American expatriate living in London with her entrepreneur husband and their young son, attends an opening at a prestigious Mayfair art gallery and is astonished to find her own face on the walls. The portraits are evidence of a long-ago love affair with the artist, Daniel Blake. Unbeknownst to her, he has continued to paint her ever since. Kat is seduced by her reflection on canvas and when Daniel appears in London, she finds herself drawn back into the sins and solace of a past that suddenly no longer seems so far away.
When the portraits catch the attention of the public, threatening to reveal not only her identity, but all that lies beyond the edges of the canvases, Kat comes face to face with the true price of their beauty and with all that she now could lose.
Moving between the glamour of the London art world and the sensuous days of a love affair in a dusty Paris studio, life and art bleed together as Daniel and Kat’s lives spin out of control, leading to a conclusion that is anything but inevitable.

My rating:  4.25 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. Also just as a side note, I did an author interview with Mary Waters-Sayer (author of The Blue Bath) which you can check out here! This book was about Kat Lind, who is currently living in London with her husband Jonathan and her son Will. The book alternates between present day and Kat’s memories of what happened 20 years ago when she was studying abroad in Paris. There were a few different interwoven topics being dealt with in this book: unconditional love of mother and child, death and loss, and, of course, overall there was a great deal of love. Kat hasn’t seen Daniel Blake since she left him in Paris twenty years ago but when she sees him again at his gallery show, it is almost like no time has passed. Kat had an intense and almost violent passion for Daniel, one that encompassed her whole life. Since leaving him though, she has moved on and found a new love with Jonathan and her son Will. But can anything really replace that first young love? Kat discovers that even though they have aged since, her and Daniel still have a reckless passion that can not be ignored. But how much is she really willing to sacrifice to be with him again?
Overall I really enjoyed this book a lot. The writing was in itself almost like a painting, the author strung the words together in a way that painted a vivid picture for the reader and made me feel like I could almost reach out and touch the scene. The chemistry between Daniel and Kat is tangible and the description of Kat’s love for Will is everything I would expect, unconditional and as encompassing as her (different kind obviously) love for Daniel once was. I had a few questions pop up as I got towards the end with some of the goings-on, but it didn’t hinder the story for me, instead it almost added to the feeling of being in a haze that Kat must have felt at those times. I felt as if I was really able to put myself in Kat’s character. And there was a twist ending that was indeed satisfying. Great read and definitely one that should be on everyone’s TBR!

The bottom line: I found this story captivating, I couldn’t put it down. I was trying to read it during every second of free time I had. Vivid imagery brings the story alive for the reader, the words are strung together in an almost lyrical prose that surrounds the reader with beauty. A must read!

Link to author website

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