2019 Book #60 – The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

51QgvPrXOnL._SY346_Title: The Arrangement
Author: Robyn Harding
Date finished: 8/13/19
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery / Scout Press
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:

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

Emotionally powerful and packed with page-turning suspense, The Arrangement delves into the sordid, all-too-real world of shadowy relationships between wealthy, powerful men and the young women who are caught in their web.

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 “Start and finish 2 ARC’s between August 1st and August 30th” box since I’ve done that at this point!

I had read another book by this author, The Party, and enjoyed it a good amount. This next book by her was described as “a Pretty Woman tale that turns toxic and deadly” and that tag line really grabbed my interest. This book turned out to be really good – I both liked and hated how dark and twisted it was. Natalie was a deeply disturbed young woman but the other POV, her sugar-daddy Gabe, wasn’t much better. The plot twist at the end of the book was a tad predictable but was still done really well and everything came to a satisfying ending. I love how the book started with Nat saying she had killed someone to really ramp up the tension right from the beginning and draw in the reader. The book overall was a quick and pretty easy read – the chapters flew by. Everyone was just so deeply damaged in this book, it made it a little depressing with how sad I felt for each of the characters involved. Overall I liked the book though and I definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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

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2019 Book #59 – The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

514ieZC9mqLTitle: The Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Date finished: 8/11/19
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery / Scout Press
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley and Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley and 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:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

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. 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 set in Summer ” box since this book takes place in the July to early September time frame.

There was a good amount of buzz going on about this book and I really wanted the chance to read it. I had read another book by this author last year (The Death of Mrs. Westaway) and didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it enough and I hear so many good things about this author that I wanted to give another book a shot. I’m glad I did because I really ended up liking this book. It started out a little slow and I had to struggle a bit through the first part of the book. I was worried that I wouldn’t end up liking this one either but once the action picked up towards the latter half of the book I didn’t want to put it down. There was a good build up of tension in the story and I thought it was appropriately creepy for what it was trying to accomplish. And the plot twists, holy bananas. I never saw it coming! There are only a handful of books out there that I’ve gasped literally out loud when getting to the plot twists and this book was one of them. If I hadn’t felt quite the struggle I did in the first half of the book I would’ve given the book higher stars rating. Also I felt like there were some things left unresolved at the end – like there was a mention of Jack also hiding secrets but I don’t remember them being revealed. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the first half of the book but the second half definitely made it worth it! I would recommend this one, I ended up really enjoying it!

Link to author website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Book #41 – Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

418+xum57JLTitle: Good Girl, Bad Girl
Author: Michael Robotham
Date finished: 7/7/19
Genre: Suspense, psychological thriller
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Pages in book: 369
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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 girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity. Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who dies on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth? Fiendishly clever, swiftly paced, and emotionally explosive, Good Girl, Bad Girl is the perfect thrilling summer read from internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham.

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.

The description of this book really grabbed at me and I haven’t read many thrillers lately but I’m glad I read this one! This book had such a good plot, I love all of the twists and turns. Some of the plot twists were a little predictable for me but I still loved them. And I loved getting to know Evie’s character, as warped as it is. Both her and Cyrus’s characters were so well-developed and nuanced and so deeply wounded – I thought the author did a fantastic job of peeling back the characters layer by layer. And I thought the author also did a great job pairing these two characters, since Cyrus was the perfect point of view to offset Evie’s combustible but endearing character. I think that may have been part of my problem though, is that I felt so invested in Evie’s character that I was so disappointed that we don’t find out certain pieces of her story by the end of the book. I realized that (1) this may be part of a series and (2) even if it isn’t – the ending was in keeping with what Evie would have wanted (open-ended) but I still couldn’t help feeling frustration! Overall this was a pretty sad story but I’d still definitely recommend it – I thought it was great!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #30 – My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

51dnsu+ESALTitle: My Favorite Half-Night Stand
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 5/20/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Pages in book: 385
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:

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Perfect for fans of Roxanne and She’s the Man, Christina Lauren’s latest romantic comedy is full of mistaken identities, hijinks, and a classic love story with a modern twist. Funny and fresh, you’ll want to swipe right on My Favorite Half-Night Stand.

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 read this during Bout of Books 25 but I also read this as part of my Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge: 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR checking off line #16 – a book by two or more authors.

I’ve loved the last couple novels I’ve read by Christina Lauren (technically a pen name for two authors writing together) and I had been approved to read this title last year but ran out of time. This book had Lauren’s signature humor – I laughed out loud and was still struck by the emotions evident within the story lines and between the characters. This wasn’t my favorite of the plot lines from what I’ve read of Lauren’s books (Millie was a little dishonest for me) but I still really enjoyed it. I loved Reid’s character, and I loved how well he and Millie interacted with each other and how their relationship and chemistry were so intense. Their group of friends were so funny too and the antics they got into were immensely entertaining. I always love how much joy I get out of reading Lauren’s books – they are light and easy to read and they lighten the burden on me that at times is reality. I’d definitely recommend this book, as well as any of the other ones I’ve read by this author so far!

Link to author website

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