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 #11 – The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

51MbMthRSSLTitle: The Things We Wish Were True
Author: Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Date finished: 1/29/18
Genre: Fiction, suspense, thriller
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Pages in book: 290
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:

In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

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 is from my 2016 Backlog list, I read this for the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge for the “a book whose title uses alliteration” category.

This book delved into the minds and lives of a number of different characters in a small town, including a child and a matron of the community. A boy is rescued from the pool one day during the summer, unconscious and unresponsive. The people there too witness the event seem to form a bond over the shared experience but all of them have significant secrets to hide. I think that’s one of the things that bothered me about this book, everyone seemed to be betraying someone and (while its naive) its sad to me to think that people are so deceptive and selfish. All of the characters were so downtrodden and unhappy at different points of the story, it was slightly frustrating to get involved with such flawed (but realistic I guess) characters. That being said, I thought this was such a great story and I love how everything was laid out in the end and all the loose ends got tied up neatly. There were some great plot twists, most of which the reader can see coming due to being able to tie together multiple view points but were still exciting. This was a really good read and I would recommend it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it even after I’d finished it!

 

Link to author website

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2017 Book #91 – The Right Kind of Rogue by Valerie Bowman

51nxLUiM5GLTitle: The Right Kind of Rogue
Author: Valerie Bowman
Date finished: 10/30/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Pages in book: 314
Stand alone or series: #8 in the Playful Brides 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:

Can two star-crossed lovers come together—until death do they part?

Viscount Hart Highgate has decided to put his rakish ways behind him and finally get married. He may adore a good brandy or a high-speed carriage race, but he takes his duties as heir to the earldom seriously. Now all he has to do is find the right kind of woman to be his bride—ideally, one who’s also well-connected and well-funded. . .

Meg Timmons has loved Hart, the brother of her best friend, ever since she was an awkward, blushing schoolgirl. If only she had a large dowry—or anything to her name at all. Instead, she’s from a family that’s been locked in a bitter feud with Hart’s for years. And now she’s approaching her third London season, Meg’s chances with him are slim to none. Unless a surprise encounter on a deep, dark night could be enough to spark a rebellious romance. . .for all time?

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 also participated in the Blog Tour for this book, you can see the post here.  This book tells the story of Meg (Margaret) Timmons, a wallflower who desperately wants to be noticed by her friends brother. Hart Highgate, Sarah’s brother (Sarah was the heroine of The Legendary Lord, where we first meet Hart and Meg) has recently decided its high time he settle down and find a wife. Even though Meg knows that Hart hates a scheming manipulator, she enlists Lucy’s help (Lucy was the heroine of the first book in the series) to at least get Hart to notice her. Lucy, of course, takes things a bit too far and ends up ensnaring Meg and Hart in a sticky situation. Plus even though they both have feelings for each other, their families hate each other and have refused a match between the two. So do they really have any hope of being together?

Overall I liked this book ok. I thought that both Meg and Hart’s characters could have been developed a little more than they were but their story was still a sweet love story. Lucy in the story compares Meg and Hart to Romeo and Juliet, due to them being star crossed lovers, which I mostly understood except for how hard-headed and not in love Hart was for most of the book. It got to be a little frustrating that no one could talk about their feelings or tell the truth. And the few times someone actually told the truth they weren’t listened to. It got to be quite irksome after awhile. They (obviously) worked it out in the end though and it was a sweet ending. This one wasn’t my favorite but it was a sweet, easy and quick read so I’d recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this book, it was a sweet story and a quick, light read. I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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2017 Book #90 – The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison

51aoPrUgPHLTitle: The Dirty Book Club
Author: Lisi Harrison
Date finished: 10/26/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Pages in book: 321
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:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Clique series comes a novel about the importance of friendship, and, of course, the pleasure of a dirty book.

M.J. Stark’s life is picture-perfect—she has her dream job as a magazine editor, a sexy doctor boyfriend, and a glamorous life in New York City. But behind her success, there is a debilitating sense of loneliness. So when her boss betrays her and her boyfriend offers her a completely new life in California, she trades her cashmere for caftans and gives it a try. Once there, M.J. is left to fend for herself in a small beach town, with only the company of her elderly neighbor, Gloria, and an ocean that won’t shut up.

One afternoon, M.J. discovers that Gloria has suddenly moved to Paris with her friends to honor a fifty-year-old pact. And in lieu of a goodbye, she’s left a mysterious invitation to a secret club—one that only reads erotic books. Curious, M.J. accepts and meets the three other hand-selected club members. As they bond over naughty bestsellers and the shocking letters they inherited from the original club members, the four strangers start to divulge the intimate details of their own lives… and as they open up, they learn that friendship might just be the key to rewriting their own stories: all they needed was to find each other first.

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. This book tells the story of M.J. Stark, a woman still recovering from the tragic death of her family three years earlier. M.J. works for The City as an editor and is looking forward to an upcoming promotion. When she finds out that she will have to share her position with another employee though, she runs off to be with her boyfriend while she figures out what to do. Her boyfriend is a doctor opening a practice in California and is happy to have her there, but their up til now long-distance relationship is tested when they start living together. M.J. befriends their neighbor, an older woman named Gloria, who soon after meeting M.J. moves away and leaves a legacy behind. The Dirty Book Club, where they gather to read scandalous books. M.J. doesn’t have girlfriends and welcomes this chance to be a part of a group. But with such different women, can they really come together as friends and survive the drama that is life?

Overall I did like this book a lot, it was really interesting and I really connected with M.J.’s character with all her odd quirks. I loved the author’s dive into women’s relationships and how they’re formed and how they struggle. All the characters in this story were flawed but the reader still ends up liking them (for the most part). I loved how brave M.J. was and how much she was willing to risk for her friendships and her relationship. The story line was not too graphic despite the title and it was actually heart-warming and very sweet, but there were some holes and things that didn’t quite add up. By the time we get to the end especially there were a couple scenes that I found somewhat anti-climactic, like when Jules “finds out” Britt’s secret. Other than these few things though it was a good book and I enjoyed it a lot.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, although there were some holes to it. I thought it was an interesting book about female friendships and I found parts of it laugh out loud funny. I would recommend giving this one a try!

Link to author website

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2017 Book #75 – Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews

41eDiHG-MLLTitle: Bad Girl Gone
Author: Temple Mathews
Date finished: 9/1/17
Genre: Fiction, young adult
Publisher: A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Pages in book: 265
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:

Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents’ car drives right through her.

She was right. Her parents are alive—but she’s not.

She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.­­­­

My rating:  2.5 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 tells the story of Echo (Eileen) who wakes up in Middle House, unsure of how she got there. Middle House is an orphanage and Echo is very sure her parents are still alive. Unfortunately when she leaves to prove that, she instead discovers that she was (**SPOILER**) murdered, and Middle House is more of a halfway house where kid ghosts live until they can find and take revenge on their killers/ Echo misses her boyfriend Andy but from the stories we hear from when she was alive, Echo was a pretty shitty person. And now Echo has Cole at Middle House, another dead-o like her. Unfortunately Echo can’t decide between them so she strings both of them along for the next few days, generally making them both miserable. And all the while her new friends are helping her discover who it was that murdered her.
Overall I didn’t particularly care for this book. The premise behind it was just a little too far-fetched for me – the thought that a kid would get to Heaven (the After) only after haunting/killing someone (even if it was their murderer) seems not right to me. Also, Echo as a person/character really was just not at all likable. The plot was not my favorite and I hated how devoted Andy and Cole were considering what a shitty person Echo was. And everything really was just so sad, Echo’s parents lost their only child. And there were many pieces of the plot that just didn’t feel like they really fir to me – the stuff with Mrs. Tourney and thinking Echo is someone else wasn’t necessary in the plot at all and felt superfluous. Overall wasn’t my favorite book but there were some creative thought to it.

The bottom line: Eh this book was ok, it wasn’t my kind of story and it was super sad. If you like ghost-y stories though I would give this one a try, it was kind of interesting.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #63 – Her Fake Engagement by Gigi Garrett

51jp6ZXjDhLTitle: Her Fake Engagement
Author: Gigi Garrett
Date finished: 7/23/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Pages in book: 100ish?
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Heroes & Heartbreakers
I downloaded this e-book from the site

Blurb from the cover:

No artists, no smokers, no men with beards… Manhattan real estate broker Lottie Langerman feels confident that if she follows her long list of dating rules, she’ll meet The One and her life will unfold exactly as planned. Everything changes when her best friend decides to throw a fake bachelorette party—just to see what all the fuss is about—and Lottie reluctantly agrees to play the role of bride-to-be for a night.
Faking an engagement turns out to be more fun—and trouble—than Lottie could have imagined. Not only does her dream man think she’s taken, but Lottie keeps running into bearded Brooklyn jewelry designer Tyler, who breaks every single one of her rules…yet manages to get under her skin like no one else. Soon, Lottie finds herself at a crossroads where she must decide: Play it safe—or ditch the rules and follow her heart?
A HeroesandHeartbreakers.com Original Novella!

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I get the newsletter from Heroes and Heartbreakers on a daily basis and I saw this novella being advertised to members of the site a month ahead of it being released to the general public. I had some “free” time this weekend so I thought I would give this book a shot. It wasn’t my favorite, there was a situation between Lottie and her girlfriends that I didn’t agree with. They got in a fight partly because Lottie wanted to go home before midnight on a Saturday night while they’re out for the third weekend in a row. I’m sorry but I don’t think that’s something that should be disallowed. I like going to bed early and I hate when people make me feel guilty for it, so I felt like this kind of hit a nerve for me. And I had some trouble connecting with the hero and heroine in the story, I didn’t think there was a lot of emotional tension in the book. Other than that though this was an ok romantic comedy / contemporary romance.

The bottom line: This short story was ok. It wasn’t my favorite but it wasn’t bad.

Link to author website

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