2018 Book #29 – The Beloveds by Maureen Lindley

616KJc+oqsLTitle: The Beloveds
Author: Maureen Lindley
Date finished: 4/16/18
Genre: Thriller, suspense, fiction, scary
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Pages in book: 336
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:

An exploration of domestic derangement, as sinister as Daphne Du Maurier’s classic Rebecca, that plumbs the depths of sibling rivalry with wit and menace.

Oh, to be a Beloved—one of those lucky people for whom nothing ever goes wrong. Everything falls into their laps without effort: happiness, beauty, good fortune, allure.

Betty Stash is not a Beloved—but her little sister, the delightful Gloria, is. She’s the one with the golden curls and sunny disposition and captivating smile, the one whose best friend used to be Betty’s, the one whose husband should have been Betty’s. And then, to everyone’s surprise, Gloria inherits the family manse—a vast, gorgeous pile of ancient stone, imposing timbers, and lush gardens—that was never meant to be hers.

Losing what Betty considers her rightful inheritance is the final indignity. As she single-mindedly pursues her plan to see the estate returned to her in all its glory, her determined and increasingly unhinged behavior—aided by poisonous mushrooms, talking walls, and a phantom dog—escalates to the point of no return. The Beloveds will have you wondering if there’s a length to which an envious sister won’t go.

My rating:  1.25 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’m not going to go on too long but I didn’t care for this book. I think I’m just too literal of a person to really have appreciated everything that went on in this book. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try it yourselves I’m just saying I didn’t like it myself. Betty’s character was a whack job and really there was no closure and no resolution at all, she just keeps on being crazy and trying to kill her only remaining family. I just could not get into the character or the story line. Its well-reviewed on Amazon so don’t let my thoughts discourage anyone!

Link to author website

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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

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2018 Book #23 – Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

510QHlz22KLTitle: Not That I Could Tell
Author: Jessica Strawser
Date finished: 3/27/18
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Pages in book: 336
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:

An innocent night of fun takes a shocking turn in Not That I Could Tell, the next page-turner from Jessica Strawser.

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

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 had read Strawser’s debut novel, Almost Missed You, last year and really enjoyed it so I was excited to see her next book available for review. Strawser’s second book Not That I Could Tell is a great book with a lot to enjoy. The plot line had plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. I especially liked how the narrator / POV was continually changing, every time I felt myself growing a little restless with the story we’d switch the POV and I’d be back and engaged in the story. And I really loved how multi-faceted all the characters were, and how quirky and likable all the women were. There were a couple things in the book that happened that I found to be “unfair” (one example is the chastising speech Izzy gets from her Dad, while he may have been right it was painful still) but life is also unfair and it added to the drama and build up of the story line. I have to say I didn’t see the ending for this one coming, it took me completely by surprise. That being said I’m not sure that I ended up overall satisfied with how it ended. And I think as a reader I would’ve liked more details about Kristen’s back story (other than just the one event) to try and understand more of what she went through leading up to this. Overall though I really liked this book and I would recommend it, this would be a great vacation/beach read!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #22 – It Happened in the Highlands by May McGoldrick

51omP6yEqrLTitle: It Happened in the Highlands
Author: May McGoldrick
Date finished: 3/22/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Pages in book: 239
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Pennington family 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:

It Happened in the Highlands is the next book in the new historical highland series, The Penningtons, from USA Today bestseller May McGoldrick…

Lady Josephine Pennington was jilted by her fiancé once rumors spread about her questionable origins. Her adoptive parents have always provided her with the love and protection she’s needed to feel secure, and over the last sixteen years she’s molded herself to meet the expectations of others. When she receives a package containing sketches where the subject is eerily familiar, Jo believes she might have found a clue to the identity of her birth mother.

When Captain Wynne Melfort ended his engagement to Jo Pennington sixteen years ago, he never imagined he would see her again. But after he uncovers information that could reveal the truth about Jo’s parentage, Wynne feels bound by duty to right an old wrong and inform her of his find. He didn’t expect for feelings long thought dead to resurface, for in his mind a love departed was gone forever.

As they strive to unravel the mystery of her birth, Jo must learn how to trust the man who’d once rejected her and Wynne must reconcile his head with his heart. But as secrets of the past begin to surface, evil forces will stop at nothing to keep Jo from uncovering the truth and reclaiming her legacy. Together, Jo and Wynne must fight the deadly menace lurking deep in the Highland mists.

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.

Readers are first introduced to Jo’s character in the first book in the Pennington family series, which is centered around her brother Hugh. I was drawn to Jo’s story line after reading about her in the first book, since she had to overcome such adversity in her life I immediately wanted to hear about her happy ending. And I thought the author did a great job in this book of reconnecting her with the old love of her life. This trope is one that has been used time and again, and while usually it makes me sad because of the many years of happiness the characters missed out on, in this book it felt like the hero and heroine both needed those years apart to grow emotionally and be better for the relationship they can have now. I thought it was just really well done and I ended up liking the plot a good amount. Overall it was a sweet love story and exactly what you’d want from a historical romance, I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #18 – Maybe This Time by Nicole McLaughlin

51ShRF+aNjLTitle: Maybe This Time
Author: Nicole McLaughlin
Date finished: 2/24/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: #2 in Whiskey and Weddings 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:

Maybe This Time is the next heartwarming contemporary romance from Nicole McLaughlin in her Whiskey and Weddings series.

Jen Mackenzie has been knocked down more than a few times, but she always gets up and makes sure she has the last word. It’s the reason she now considers herself equal parts self-sufficient and free-spirit. But since losing her job and trying to help her mother beat cancer, real life—and her occasional careless choices—have begun to catch up with her. Her one saving grace: The Stag, a boutique distillery that has become Kansas City’s go-to wedding venue. The only catch: One of the owners, TJ Laughlin, happens to be the one man who somehow manages to make Jen feel inadequate.

TJ has secretly had a thing for Jen since high school. Now, as her new boss, it’s a daily struggle between revealing his feelings and wringing her beautiful neck. Only one thing is for certain: he can’t stand idly by and watch the woman he cares for struggle. She may be convinced that accepting TJ’s help is a weakness. But all he sees in Jen is beauty and strength, inside and out. As things finally heat up between them, can TJ find a way to convince Jen that love is about give and take—and having it all, together?

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.

TJ and Jen went to high school together but now they’re in their early thirties and Jen is a bartender at TJ’s distillery. They’ve been circling each other like cats in heat for the past 15 years, each having their own relationships while still being secretly in love. Luckily TJ finally gets the courage up to say something. Jen and TJ were both just such stubborn people and at first they can’t seem to let their guards down enough to make a go of it. Overall I liked the characters ok but Jen wasn’t exactly what I usually look for in a heroine. I did love how colorful she was and I loved that she had tattoos and wasn’t the conventional good girl. At the same time, for such a strong character, I didn’t like that she needed rich TJ to come swoop in and pay off her thousands of dollars of credit card debt. That being said though, I did like the characters and I especially liked the setting of the distillery in the small town. TJ was such a devoted hero and he really was just so romantic and sweet. I liked this book overall and I’d be interested to read others in the series.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #16 – When the Stars Come Out by Laura Trentham

518BAq-QbIL.jpgTitle: When the Stars Come Out
Author: Laura Trentham
Date finished: 2/16/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #5 in the Cottonbloom 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:

Willa Brown never planned to stay in Cottonbloom. She was on the way to somewhere else when she landed there and found work at the Abbot brothers’ garage. . .and a sense of comfort and safety that she had never known. The same holds true for Jackson Abbott himself. With one glance in her direction, he can make Willa’s heart melt. But what begins as an unrequited crush turns into something far more powerful than Willa could have ever imagined. . .

Jackson’s most meaningful relationship has always been with his car—and he’s not afraid to admit it. Still, he can’t help but become emotionally entangled with his new star mechanic Willa, who is definitely hiding some dark secrets of her own beneath the hood. Jackson desperately wants Willa to trust him, and to seek protection in his arms. But even as the two slowly surrender to their shared attraction, the danger lurking in Willa’s past remains a stubborn obstacle. Can she open up enough to give them both a chance at having real and lasting love?

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.

Love will always find a way!

Willa and Jackson were introduced in previous novels in the Cottonbloom series, Jackson being Wyatt’s twin brother and Willa the auto garage’s only non-Abbott family employee. It took Jackson a while to wake up to the fact that Willa was standing there right in front of him, but when he did she still wasn’t quite ready for all the attention. I resonated with that about her character as I am also not grateful for too much attention. Anyways, so Willa and Jackson finally end up figuring things out and getting together. This was a sweet story and a light-hearted romance and was exactly what I needed right now. I like the series overall, and this was a great story with all our friends from previous books. There wasn’t necessarily anything overly thrilling about the story line but work has been super stressful lately and it was so nice to escape into a sweet and easy love story, especially with it being right around Valentine’s Day. This was a good read and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #12 – Christmas Glitter by Ann B. Harrison

51ESHgfyFKLTitle: Christmas Glitter
Author: Ann B. Harrison
Date finished: 2/2/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Publication Date: November 13, 2017
Pages in book: 154
Stand alone or series: #1 in The Moore Sisters of Montana series
Where I got the book from: Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from Library Thing 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:

After a rough year involving a serious car accident, painful recovery and broken engagement, Dakota Moore moves to Cherry Lake to rebuild her life. To embrace her new community, she volunteers to coordinate the annual Christmas tree gala.

Adam Clements has come home to help his mother run the family business while his father recovers from a heart attack. For the last decade, he’s been a high-flying soccer player, enjoying the life that comes with his popularity. But something is missing and he can’t put his finger on it… until he returns to Cherry Lake and remembers the feeling of home.

Adam tries to keep his distance because he knows he’ll be leaving, but he can’t deny his attraction to Dakota. With the countdown to Christmas on, can Dakota convince Adam that his home is right there in Cherry Lake, with her?

My rating:  1.75 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 would make a great Hallmark movie, it was cheesy and kind of corny and a had a sweet ending. This certainly wasn’t a bad book and I think a lot of people would definitely enjoy it, especially since its set right around the Christmas holiday (which is a great time to fall in love!). For me personally though this book did not do the trick. The main character, Dakota, and even many other women in the novel are very insecure and self-doubting. I understand we all have moments like this but they’re all successful self-employed business owners and I feel like to earn yourself that kind of success you wouldn’t then constantly be downplaying every thing you do like its not good enough. That got to me a little. The descriptions of the interactions between men and women in the book too seemed very old-fashioned in a way that was off-putting to me, specifically when one of the older men in town is trying to talk Dakota into going to have a drink with Adam and afterwards she goes to change. The narration says “Ever since the decision had been taken out of her hands” – you can stop right there, this is not the girl for me. If you want to go that’s fine but don’t say that the decision wasn’t yours to make because that’s pretty ridiculous.

So anyways I don’t want to go on a rant, other than those types of things the book was a cute read and it was exactly the kind of story I’d expect to see on the Hallmark channel during the month before Christmas – heart-warming and sappy. I would recommend it to anyone who’s pining for a good Christmas love story after the holidays 🙂

Link to author website

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