2018 Book #79 – Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

51R44pJdXnLTitle: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 9/7/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
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:

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Most men can’t handle Hazel. With the energy of a toddler and the mouth of a sailor, they’re often too timid to recognize her heart of gold. New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (RoomiesBeautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely notdating, no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

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.

I had just recently read my first book with this author in July and LOVED it so I was excited when this book became available for review. And I’m so glad that I got to read it, I ended up loving this book too. Hazel as a character was hilariously funny. She was sweet and precocious and just utterly charming. I was infatuated with her from the start and she really drew me in through the rest of the book. I really liked Josh too, but my favorite thing about him was how much he loved and accepted Hazel just for being who she was. The plot was somewhat predictable, friends turn to lovers and fall in love, but the authors imprint such emotion into the story that its astounding. And the characters were all wonderfully developed and like-able – Hazel is probably one of my favorite characters of all time. I didn’t want to put this book down, and while the last book I read by this author duo was poignant and touching, this one was lighthearted and fun. Reading this book just made me feel so happy and light and I wish I could read 100 more like it. I’d highly recommend this one.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #78 – Hot Pursuit by Rebecca Freeborn

51iIzFRSO4LTitle: Hot Pursuit
Author: Rebecca Freeborn
Date finished: 9/5/18
Genre: Contemporary romance, suspense-ish
Publisher: Pantera Press
Publication Date: July 28, 2018
Pages in book: 266
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:

Meet wannabe investigative journalist Sarah Burrowes. For Sarah, life hasn’t worked out as she’d hoped. At 30 everyone expects you to have your life together but she’s is in a job she hates and, to top everything off, her boyfriend has run out leaving her shattered and up to her ears in debt.

Heartbroken and fed up, she decides to take her career by the reins and manages to bag the assignment of a lifetime in Europe. The next day she’s on a plane to Barcelona with Nick, the gorgeous and egocentric photographer (who also happens to be her ex’s best friend), hot on the trail of a missing rockstar. With no investigate journalistic experience, Sarah must use all her intuition and wiles to track the rockstar down. But things go far from smoothly – in the assignment, and in her love life.

As Sarah and Nick travel from Barcelona to Madrid and on to Amsterdam, they uncover something much bigger than just a missing rockstar. As things get more dangerous, Sarah must decide if she’s prepared to risk everything – even their lives – for the story of a lifetime.

My rating:  1.5 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 sounded like it would be interesting so I decided to give this one a try. I ended up not especially loving it, I just couldn’t connect with Sarah as a character. She spends a lot of the book being treated like crap by either Nick or James and yet she still kept just brushing it off like it wasn’t a big deal. Her relationship with Nick was dysfunctional, those two just could not communicate and they kept lashing out at each other because of it. And don’t even get me started on James, dude disappeared on her and left her alone with a mortgage she couldn’t afford and yet she answered the phone when he called her. I would’ve torn that man a new one and then never contacted him again except to have my lawyer resolve the mortgage issue with his lawyer. So I just had a lot of trouble getting into this story line with the characters and how convoluted the plot was. Unfortunately this one just wasn’t for me.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #77 – One More Moment by Samantha Chase

51AsbX4k7TLTitle: One More Moment
Author: Samantha Chase
Date finished: 9/2/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Pages in book: 353
Stand alone or series: Band on the Run #3
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:

Julian Grayson is taking a break
…from his cheating fiancée
…from his band
…from his life in the spotlight

Charlotte Clark is devoted to her work
…to save the world
…to help the homeless
…to get a broken man back on his feet

When Charlotte Clark offers to pay for Julian Grayson’s coffee, the world-famous drummer assumes she wants something from him. But Charlotte has no idea who he is, and Julian can’t resist keeping up the charade—being incognito is a novelty and a relief. He’ll have to tell her…eventually. But as Charlotte cheerfully undertakes to transform his life, Julian realizes there’s something about her that gives him what he hasn’t felt in years: hope.

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.

The description of this book sounded like it would be interesting so I decided to give this one a try. This wasn’t my favorite contemporary romance I’ve read but it was interest enough. The plot was interesting enough to keep me reading but at the same time I wasn’t feeling overly invested in the novel. The characters were ok but Julian and Charlotte were both a little whiny / melodramatic. And I always have trouble getting invested in a story where there’s some rich dude that swoops in and saves the overworked female, because that’s just unrealistic and unfair. I also found the plot to be a tad anticlimactic, or maybe it was just creating drama where I didn’t think there needed to be any, but the tension wasn’t really creating any kind of emotions or anything in me. It was a decent romance novel and I think would be a good beach read for something light and entertaining but it didn’t really capture me.

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #71 – Maybe For You by Nicole McLaughlin

51cPfPQkVPL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Maybe For You
Author: Nicole McLaughlin
Date finished: 8/16/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 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:

She’s never had a no-strings fling. He’s never had anything else. But maybe this time will be an exception?

After a year of mourning her fiancé, Alexis Parker has worked hard to rediscover what she wants out of life. Fresh out of the military and back stateside, her brother offers her a marketing job at the Stag Distillery. Ready for a new challenge, Alexis agrees to accompany her new co-worker Jake Cooper on a Stag cross-country promotional tour. He may have an infamous playboy reputation, but Alexis is surprised to find out that there is more to him than meets the eye. And she likes what she sees. . .

Jake promised Alexis’s brother that he’d be an absolute gentleman. Of course, that was before he and Alexis hit the road, and they both agree that what Alexis’s big brother doesn’t know won’t hurt him. The plan: to keep their fling confined to the RV, and everything will go back to normal once they head home. Things progress in ways neither of them could have imagined, and Jake realizes that he and Alexis make a perfect mix. Can he convince her that he’s ready to shake things up and give true love a shot in Maybe for You?

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 finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Friends to Lovers” box, since that was kind of the point of the story.

I am glad that I got to read Alex’s story after being introduced to her in the last book in the series. Alex had a rough journey in life, and I thought that the author actually did a really great job of detailing what it feels like to have to fall in love again after losing a loved one. The grief and guilt that Alex had to work through was tough and though I’ve never gone through that, it seemed really true to what anyone would feel in that situation. That being said, it did get a little repetitive, Alex had a lot of trouble with her feelings of guilt and the reader is presented with some of her journal entries and she tended to talk about the same things. I did like the book though, it was a really sweet story and I like Jake’s character a lot. I thought Alex was kind of rude to him though, and I felt like some of their relationship issues that were presented early on were kind of glossed over and never resolved. Overall though this was a quick read and was a pretty solid romance. There were some exciting plot developments and I was interested to keep reading and follow Alex and Jake’s story through to the end.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #70 – Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

51fPxsHhIwLTitle: Jane Doe
Author: Victoria Helen Stone
Date finished: 8/14/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 1, 2018
Pages in book: 267
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:

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

My rating:  5.0 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 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Start & Finish 2 ARCs in August” box (I’ve technically finished 6 at this point but I’m being strategic with my boxes and 6 is more than 2).

I hope to goodness that someone makes a movie out of this one. #1 it would be amazing (if they did it correctly). #2 this book rocked and I just loved it. Jane as a character was cold-blooded and vengeful, which fit her story in every way possible. There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book. Stephen was the perfect villain, someone you love to hate and who gets worse with each turn of the page. He was absolutely a pompous ass and a completely horrible person. Building up so much hatred for him throughout the book just made the ending that much more amazing. This book had one of the best endings I’ve experienced, an immensely satisfying experience for the readers as we vicariously live through Jane’s journey to get the perfect revenge. I couldn’t put this book down but at the same time I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t even mind that Jane was a sociopath, it almost made it more amusing – there were a lot of very dry humor and logical observations about Stephen the asshole. I also thought Jane’s commentary on the cat was funny, calling it a fellow sociopath and all. Honestly this book was a great read and I’d highly recommend it, especially for anyone who likes to see a villain’s complete annihilation.

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #69 – BuzzBooks 2018 Romance Sampler

51qDFDwEZCLTitle: BuzzBooks 2018 Romance Sampler
Author: Various – see below
Date finished: 8/12/18
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Various
Publication Date: July 12 , 2018
Pages in book: 241
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.

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 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “FREE! Happy ARC August” box.

These are the samples that are included in the BuzzBooks Romance collection – each excerpt I’ve scored on a scale of 1-5 on my interest in reading the whole book:

  1. Time Bridge: Cassie by Annie Becker (Oct 16, 2018) – The book summary sounded a little dark, but the time travel aspect was interesting. The book reminded me a lot of books I’ve read in the past by John A. Heldt. Score: 3.5
  2. Tempt Me with Diamonds by Jane Feather (Jan 29, 2019) – I don’t particularly like the race horse aspect that seemed to be a part of the book’s plot. Also the heroine sounds kind of drama-loving, it didn’t sound like it was for me but who knows based off of two chapters. Score: 1.75
  3. Unchained by Helen Hardt (Blood Bond Saga Book 1) (Oct 2, 2018) – Sounded pretty interesting, maybe a little cliched (vamp falls in love with a human) but the characters sounded good. Score: 3.75
  4. The Memory House by Rachel Hauck (April 2, 2019) – I liked the puppy and the mystery baby, story peaked my interest a good amount. Score: 4.25
  5. On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter (Last book in the Blue Ridge Romance series) (Nov 6, 2018) – I didn’t find anything in the excerpt overly intriguing, it was ok but didn’t seem exciting. Score: 2.5
  6. As Good as the First Time by K.M. Jackson (Sugar Lake novel) (Oct 30, 2018) – This one sounded interesting, I was eager to learn about what had happened to Clayton and his previous relationship. Score: 4.0
  7. In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston (March 26, 2019) – I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole shifter thing. Also there were just so many characters within th efirst two chapters I couldn’t keep everything straight. Score: 1.0
  8. Intercepted by Alexa Martin (Sept 11, 2018) – I got pretty hooked in the story, I’m interested to see what happens with Marlee (even though see was acting a little like a doormat). Score: 4.25
  9. The Sweetest Thing by Judith McNaught (Oct 23, 2018) – First couple chapters seemed pretty cheesy but I’d be interested to hear more about what the TV show was about. Score: 2.75
  10. Their Perfect Melody (Matched to Perfection) by Priscilla Oliveras (Nov 27, 2018) – Seemed ok. Nothing overly thrilling in the first couple chapters. Score: 2.5
  11. Ignite by Angel Payne (Volume 2 – Parts 4-6) (July 31, 2018) – This seemed super interesting, I’ve never read a romance novel with a super hero before. The first couple chapters of this were interesting and steamy. Score: 4.0
  12. The Rancher by Kate Pearce (Nov 27, 2018) – It sounded ok but there were a LOT of characters introduced in the first couple chapters, I could barely keep it straight. It probably would’ve been easier if I had read the previous books. THe characters sounded interesting though. Score: 3.0
  13. Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose (Feb 12, 2019) – LOVE the involvement of the cult aspect, that always gets me interested. This one sounded like it would be really interesting! Score: 4.5
  14. Solace Island Island by Meg Tilly (Nov 6, 2018)  – I loved how fierce the main character was, she had so much spark! And I loved that she gave her ex what he had coming to him, the first couple chapters really had me hooked. Score: 4.25

 

2018 Book #67 – At the Heart of It by Tawna Fenske

51ZxBkN1V4LTitle: At the Heart of It
Author: Tawna Fenske
Date finished: 8/7/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
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:

TV producer Kate Geary is in unscripted heaven. She’s piloting a reality series featuring her favorite self-help guru, Dr. Vivienne Brandt. The Dr. Viv—whose nuggets of wisdom helped Kate get through some of her toughest times. Thanks to Dr. Viv, Kate is almost on the verge of figuring everything out. That is, until Jonah Porter, the superhot book nerd Kate just spent an amazing date with, appears at the show’s first meeting.

Jonah did not want to get reeled into a world filled with invasive crews, pushy network execs, and over-the-top drama, but a connection to the story leaves him no choice. Fortunately, Kate—hot, smart, and funny—helps make it bearable. Now they’re both on the verge of violating their contracts as they find themselves sneaking around off set. But the cameras have a way of finding out everyone’s secrets…especially the ones that can break hearts.

My rating:  3.0 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 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish a 2017 ARC” box. PLUS! The fun never ends, since this is from my 2017 Backlog list, I am also completing this book as part of the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge,  for the “a book you picked up based on the title” category.

I had read another of Fenske’s books, Now That It’s You, a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. I have to say I wasn’t as thrilled about this one’s plot but overall I still did enjoy it. This was a solid romance novel for me but wasn’t anything that really grabbed me. I liked all of the characters, Kate especially seemed like a very strong woman and I really admired her. The insight into reality television was also interesting and learning about how the show featured in the book was produced. The show itself was an unusual idea that made me curious how that would turn out in real life. Other than that I would say it was pretty standard but still a good book. I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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