2019 Book #33 – The Earl Next Door by Amelia Grey

51swIt3Dy6L._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Earl Next Door
Author: Amelia Grey
Date finished: 6/1/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Pages in book: 300
Stand alone or series: #1 in the First Comes Love 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:

What does a fiercely independent young widow really want? One determined suitor is about to find out. . .

When Adeline, Dowager Countess of Wake, learns of her husband’s sudden death, she realizes she’s free. At last, she can do, go, and be as she pleases. Finally, she can have the life she has always dreamed of. She doesn’t need, or want, to remarry. Especially not the supremely dashing future Marquis of Marksworth, who makes Adeline yearn for his desire. . .

Lord Lyonwood, son of a philandering marquis, will not be like his father. He wants to run his estates and watch them flourish—and find a wife who brings love to his life. When he meets spirited and self-reliant Adeline in a case of near-scandalous mistaken identity, Lyon feels he’s met his match. But Adeline isn’t interested in a marriage proposal. She will only accept becoming his lover—and Lyon finds it hard to refuse. Unless the fire of his passion can melt Adeline’s resolve. . .

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’ve read a number of Amelia Grey novels in the past so I was interested to read this first book in her new series. This really was a lovely story and the characters were interesting and genuine. I loved Adeline’s character and also her friends and how loyal they were to her. I hope their stories are also forthcoming in the series! Overall the story line involving the three women and their idea for the school was a great idea – the students, especially the trouble-makers, provided a bit of excitement to the story line. Adeline’s character development through the story and how she overcame her emotional obstacles with a marriage was very heart-warming. And Lyon was the epitome of a perfect hero – romantic and brooding and great. Overall I really enjoyed the story and I look forward to reading both Julia and Brina’s stories (hopefully)!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #28 – The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

519MFfKuuAL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 5/16/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Pages in book: 416
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:

For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime—maybe even love—in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies.

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

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’ve loved the last couple novels I’ve read by Christina Lauren (technically a pen name for two authors writing together). They’re books are addictive! The characters are always so engaging and find themselves in the funniest situations. The story lines really draw in the reader and engage them emotionally. I don’t want to put the book down but at the same time don’t want it to end! In this book, Olive and Ethan were both very interesting characters and were adorable once they figured out how they felt about each other. One thing I didn’t care for was that the story was told all from Olive’s point of view but then switched to Ethan’s point of view for the last chapter only. To be honest I was annoyed with Olive’s melodramatics mid-way through the book and thought it would’ve been nice to get someone else’s thoughts. And also it was hard to understand Ethan’s thoughts in the last chapter when its the reader’s first look into his brain. Overall though I really liked the book and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #15 – Just Friends: Friends to Lovers series box set by Camilla Isley

5160JaNqjuLI’ve read a few books by Camilla in the past and really enjoyed them, so I was excited when she gave me the opportunity to read this boxed set of her Friends to Lovers Series. I decided to read the whole thing in one full sweep so I wouldn’t lose track of which character was which. I decided to rate the series as a whole but I also discussed each of the separate books below. I’d probably recommend reading them as a series since they’re fairly connected (mostly the last 3 in the set) and might end up being confusing when read as a stand alone, though I’m sure you’d still enjoy it.

Series Title: Just Friends: A Friends to Lovers Series
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 2/25/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: June 28, 2018
Pages in book: 694
Stand alone or series: Full Just Friends 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:

Love and friendship mix in the Just Friends series… the books follow the misadventures and exploits of a group of college students in Boston.

For Rose being in love with her best friend has never been easy, but now that she’s moved in with Tyler her feelings have become impossible to ignore.

Tyler has bitten more than he can chew, torn between two girls he must decide where his heart stands.

Georgiana is determined to do everything in her power to keep Tyler and Rose apart. After all, all is fair in love and war.

Alice fell in love with Jack the day she moved into her freshman dorm. Problem is, she’s been stuck in the friend zone ever since. After another meaningless breakup, she’s ready to confess her feelings to Jack.

Jack has mistaken friendship for love once before and has vowed never to do it again. A varsity sports player, he’s determined to enjoy college with no strings attached.

Peter is Jack’s best wingman. He enjoys his popularity as team captain and when he meets Alice, he’s ready to steal her heart.

David and Scott Williams are in love with the same girl, again.

Haley has never been happier than in her relationship with Scott. But she can no longer deny bad-boy David has gotten under her skin.

Madison has always been insecure in love. The only satisfying romances in her life come from the many books she reads. Book-boyfriends are easy to fall for, but the real world seems short of swoon-worthy heroes. And just when she thought she might’ve found one, he fell in love with her best friend…

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of these books in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read this book as part of the Bookish Romance Novel Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge. This book will be checking off my “Indie Publisher” box, since it was published by a smaller publishing company!

I enjoyed this series, though there were some of the books that I liked more than others. I think my favorite story of the couples was Jack and Alice’s. Madison’s story was a little too quick for me, and Haley’s was a little too sad. And honestly Georgianna and Tyler’s story was just heart-breaking for me and made me so angry. Georgianna was a horrible person and I really hoped that she would get more of a “lesson learned” than what she did. Rose’s story was definitely not what I expected it to be! I kept expecting it to take a hard left and turn around and it never happened. And then I got to the end and was just surprised that was where it ended! There were a lot of characters in this story and many of them were interesting, though I was a little put off by the obsession with “boys” in the story lines. I can certainly understand it but I think being so far removed from that period of my life has made me forget what it feels like to be “boy-crazy.” It reminded me a lot of my youth though, and I didn’t want to put it down. The story line was interesting and I felt involved enough with the characters that I felt engaged in their stories. I’d recommend the series! Thought maybe space it out a little, I think if I had even a tiny bit of room between the books I would’ve been more patient with some of the characters.

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 #9 – A Wedding at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

51INum1JGELTitle: A Wedding at Two Love Lane
Author: Kieran Kramer
Date finished: 1/25/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Pages in book: 346
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Two Love Lane 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:

Never say never when it comes to love in A Wedding at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer.

Greer Jones has made a real name for herself at the elegant matchmaking agency Two Love Lane. For a lot of reasons—including a past engagement she broke off—practical tech expert Greer is more interested in the business of love than the experience of it, but she can’t help but covet a gorgeous wedding gown that’s the prize in an upcoming cocktail-party contest. In a moment of brazen inspiration, Greer asks a handsome Brit she’s only just met to accompany her to the party. He agrees—and Greer believes her date is a starving artist. Little does she know the truth. . .

Ford Smith, as he calls himself, is actually Stanford Elliott Wentworth Smythe, the Eighth Baron of Wickshire. Fresh off a breakup with a money-grubbing siren who deceived him all the way to the altar, Ford has no desire to fall in love—especially with Greer who, like the desired wedding gown, is beautiful but only skin-deep. But soon Ford realizes that there’s more to Greer than meets the eye. Her professionalism is matched only by her passion for life and love. . .and, best of all, she has no idea that he’s to the manor born. Could it be that true love is priceless after all?

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 didn’t care for this one, as is fairly evident by my rating on it. I don’t like to give books low ratings but I also have to be honest about how I personally felt about the book. That’s not to say that others won’t like it (it has a fairly high average rating on Amazon) but just says that I didn’t care for it based on my own tastes. This would be a good book for someone who likes a love story and is looking for a book that is a light read full of quirky characters. That being said, these were a few of the things that I personally did not care for about the book:

-The main character was supposedly this smart tech geek who created an algorithm for her match making company, and yet she talked constantly like a complete ditz and it was really jarring for her character to be such too polar opposites
-I could not get on board with a lot of what was going on in Greer’s life. She has a call with her parents that makes her start to feel like a loser for being single and makes her question herself which I didn’t agree with. I tend to like stronger female leads who are secure in who they are first and are looking for a partner to complement them, not necessarily complete them
-There were a lot of plot points that didn’t make logical sense to me. There was just a whole lot going on in this book and not all of it got resolved. What ended up happening with Teddy? Why did Ford renege on his promise to have a painting for this fancy show, won’t there be a lot of repurcussions for that? And who in their right mind asks a complete stranger to split a bid at an auction over $5,000 for a dress and tell the male stranger that if you win you can share it? That one really just floored me.

So overall suffice it to say I didn’t end up enjoying this one. Not that it was bad, just that too many pieces of the story line and the characters didn’t fit for me.

Link to author website

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2016 Book #102 – Faithful by Alice Hoffman

51ol8tqfs5l-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: Faithful
Author: Alice Hoffman
Date finished: 10/29/16
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Pages in book: 272
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:

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.
Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.
Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

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 book is about a girl named Shelby Richmond. The book begins when Shelby has just graduated from high school and follows her life over the next few years. Shelby was driving the car when she and her best friend Helene were involved in an accident and although Helene survived she was irreparably damaged and is now living in a hospital bed at her parents’ house. Shelby blames herself and falls into a deep and violent depression, never wanting to leave her parents’ basement and wishing only to escape from the world. Eventually though she moves to New York City with her boyfriend/drug dealer Ben Kink. From here her life twists down some unexpected paths and somehow she ends up with a comfortable life even though she still feels like she doesn’t deserve happiness.
Overall I just loved this book. I have to be honest though, this one was a hard story for me to get into at first. When the book starts Shelby is so lost in her own grief that it is hard to see past her prickly character. But as the story evolves, the reader becomes connected to Shelby in a deep and intense way. Shelby feels so deeply and is so wounded but as her story progresses and she begins to heal, we fall in love with Shelby and the human being cracking through the shell of her former self. Shelby is so lucky in that there are so many people who care for her, somehow she is able to take her broken life and make something wonderful out of it. I loved her continual dog-napping activities and I loved her relationship with Marvelle and her kids. Shelby may have been a damaged individual but she loved fiercely and was unceasingly loyal. The progression of her character through the story really was just astounding and Hoffman does such a great job of creating a well-rounded character who is nothing if not a survivor. Be warned, this will rip your heart out of your chest, chew it up, and give you back the pieces when its done. I cried the last 1/3 of the book, but it was such a powerful and wonderful story, it was so worth the read! I would definitely recommend this one.

The bottom line: I just loved this book, Shelby as a character was so engaging and it was great to see her character evolve through the story. This was an extremely moving story, definitely keep a box of tissues handy for this one!

Link to author website

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2016 Book #100 – To Love and To Cherish by Lauren Layne

51bimis3kcl-_sx303_bo1204203200_Title: To Love and To Cherish
Author: Lauren Layne
Date finished: 10/19/16
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Wedding Belles 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:

Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, a contemporary and witty romance series about three high-powered New York City women who can plan any wedding—but their own.
Alexis Morgan has spent the past eight years devoted to turning her tiny start-up into Manhattan’s premiere wedding planning company, The Wedding Belles. Now that her business is thriving, it’s time to turn towards her much neglected personal life, and Alexis approaches her relationships like she does everything else: with a plan. Not a part of that plan is Logan Harris, the silent partner in the Belles, and the one person who’s been there for her since the very beginning. But Alexis needs someone fun, and Logan’s all business, all the time—except when a late night at the office ends with an unexpected kiss that leaves the usually cool and together Alexis reeling.
Logan has lusted after Alexis since the day he walked into the tiny Harlem apartment that used to double as her office. But the ambitious wedding planner has always been untouchable…until now. Alexis has made it clear that she’s on the dating market—and equally clear that he’s not in the running. But when Alexis finds herself in need of a date for her sister’s last minute wedding in Florida, Logan knows it’s the perfect time to show Alexis that there’s more to him than numbers and spreadsheets—and beneath the pinstripes and glasses lies a hot-blooded heartthrob. As Florida’s sultry days turn into even hotter nights, Logan’s out to convince Alexis that the fling of a lifetime could just maybe turn into forever…

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. This book is about Alexis Morgan, owner of the Wedding Belles in NYC (a wedding planning company). I haven’t read the other books in this series yet, but I’m guessing Alexis has been a character involved from the beginning of the series since she is the owner of the company and the previous books in the series are centered around other girls that were working at Wedding Belles. Alexis has known her whole life what she wanted to do, she’s had the vision for what Wedding Belles could be and she’s been working to make that vision a reality pretty much her whole life. Her silent business partner, Logan Harris, wasn’t a part of the dream from the beginning but now she can’t imagine running Wedding Belles without him.  Logan has been in love with Alexis since the moment they met and he has been patiently biding his time, waiting for Alexis to open her eyes and really see him. And after 8 years for waiting, Logan’s father calls him home to London to take over the family business,  giving Logan the nudge he needs to force his hand with Alexis and stop waiting. But is Alexis too scared to admit that she cares about Logan too?
Overall I liked this book a lot, it was entirely engaging and I didn’t want to put it down. Logan’s character was great if a little unrealistic, I don’t know of any guy that would actually wait for someone for 8 years like that. Alexis was an ok character for me, I actually connected with her on the control issues but overall I found her to be a frustrating character. Logan kept telling her she needed to be brave and I really agreed, I thought that she should have been a little more open to Logan since she obviously loved him and also wanted to be happy. And overall the story line made me a little sad, not only because Alexis and Logan could’ve had a closer relationship sooner but also for Alexis and her sister who were kind of in a relationship limbo for ten years as well. This book overall was great though and I would really like to find time soon to read the other books in the series. Worth the read, I would recommend it!

The bottom line: I thought this was a really sweet book. I did get frustrated with the story line at a couple points but the author really engages the reader with the characters, I didn’t want to put it down! I hope to find time very soon to read more in the series. I would recommend this one!

Link to author website

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