2019 Book #65 – Christmas in Kilts by Various authors

61R+s8NYm7LTitle: Christmas in Kilts
Author: Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Bronwen Evans, Lavinia Kent, and May McGoldrick
Date finished: 9/1/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Pages in book: 494
Stand alone or series: Many of the stories are part of other 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:

Tis the season to fall in love! These five bestselling authors bring you great tiding of highlanders and romances this holiday season!

A HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Terri Brisbin
A village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander who visits for the holidays and brings with him an offer and hope.

A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall
When a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot—who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.

A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans
She’s ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster, he’s trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family’s wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland.

LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent
What happens when a highlander finds himself stranded, maybe kidnapped, with an English lady around Christmas… maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question.

SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrick
An encounter between an English officer and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays.

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.

I had originally requested this book back in late Fall 2017, thinking it would be a great into to the Holiday season. And I stand by that thought, I think if I had read this during a different time I might have enjoyed it a little more. I liked a couple of these stories ok but I can’t say that I loved any of them. Granted I was reading them over Labor Day weekend when Summer is just wrapping up and it was still really warm. I feel like part of the draw of these novellas specifically is that they’re geared to the Holiday season. I think I liked the last one (Sweet Home Highland Christmas by May McGoldrick) best, as it was (I thought) the cutest story line while not being overtly corny. There were things I liked and disliked about each book, however overall now of them particularly grabbed my interest. They were still sweet and easy reads and I sometimes enjoy an anthology since you can take each novella as it’s own part. I’d recommend it if you enjoy Highlander novels or Christmas novellas.

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

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2019 Book #61 – As Good as the First Time by K.M. Jackson

51Te9w5usZLTitle: As Good as the First Time
Author: K.M. Jackson
Date finished: 8/15/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Dafina
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Sugar Lake 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:

True to its name, the small southern town of Sugar Lake is a sweet place to visit—and you might even want to live there . . .

With her big-city career and relationship in sudden free fall, Olivia Gale isn’t sure where she belongs. So when her help is needed at Goode ‘N Sweet, the family bakery in Sugar Lake, she jumps at the chance to indulge her pie-making hobby while getting her life back on track. Olivia’s not looking for any distractions. Even if the boy who once left her without a word is now a grown man with intriguing secrets—and the same tempting hold on her heart . . .

A firefighter and single dad, Clayton Morris is trying hard to fix his past mistakes. He thought he was doing the right thing by leaving Olivia—and now he’s sure he has nothing to offer the accomplished woman she’s become. But ignoring the sparks between them is impossible. And as unexpected surprises and hard choices endanger their fragile reunion, they’ll have to decide which direction to take if they want to find the road back to love . . .

My rating:  2.0 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 2018 release” box since I should’ve read this one last year! And since this is from my prior years backlog, I also read this as part of my Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge: 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR checking off line #11 – a novel that includes a recipe.

I had read a couple chapters of this book in last year’s Buzz Books Romance collection and was intrigued by them. So I figured I’d check out the full book! And as much as I was interested in the book based on the couple chapters I read, the book overall fell kind of flat for me. I didn’t find that there was enough meaningful interaction between Clayton and Olivia for me personally. They spent a lot of the book not only resisting each other but also not communicating well and not having the type of important conversations that I would look for with character and relationship development. And not just with the two main characters, I also thought that Olivia and her sister Drea’s relationship could have been developed more. I think that a lot of the issues I had with the book though were just based on personal preference and what I enjoy with my reading. Overall the book was entertaining and the characters were interesting, this one just wasn’t quite the book for me. I’d still recommend it if you like a sweet, small town romance (almost all closed door romance) with zany characters and a second chance romance, I’d recommend this one.

Link to author website

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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

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2019 Book #57 – To the Stars and Back by Camilla Isley

51hTVVGAldLTitle: To the Stars and Back
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 8/9/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: June 14, 2019
Pages in book: 231
Stand alone or series: #4 in the First Comes Love 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:

When Hollywood’s sexiest bachelor meets the girl next door their relationship doesn’t follow the script…

On-screen, Christian Slade is America’s favorite heartthrob. Off-screen, letting romance into his life isn’t as easy. The women he dates all seem to want a piece of his glamorous life rather than his heart, and trust doesn’t come easy for him.

Then along comes Lana. A beautiful rocket scientist who’s also sweet, smart, sexy, and has absolutely no idea who he is. But what will happen when she finds out?

Will their worlds prove too far apart or could love really be like in the movies?

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 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 “Author I’ve Read before” since I’ve read a number of books by this author before.

So far I’ve read the other 3 books in this series and I have to say overall this is just a great series. The books are laugh out loud funny and short enough to hold your interest but long enough to still have a well developed story line. If you’re looking for a fairly quick but still engaging and fun read, these are the books for you! This was a cute story, and I liked so many of the details that were included within the story. I loved all the science facts included and how smart Lana was. Even better was how passionate she was about teaching and about helping others – it was positively endearing. And I also loved her cats, they sounded so cute! Christian was an ok hero for me but I couldn’t really connect with him, he felt a little two-dimensional to me even towards the end. I still really enjoyed the book though and I’d recommend both it and the other books in the series!

Link to author website

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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

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2019 Book #50 – Buzz Books 2019 Romance Sampler

51nJyTD8rGLTitle: BuzzBooks 2019 Romance Sampler
Author: Various – see below
Date finished: 7/29/19
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Various
Publication Date: July 12, 2019
Pages in book: 252
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.

These are the samples that are included in the BuzzBooks 2019 Romance collection – each excerpt I’ve included a brief summary of my thoughts (based solely on the excerpts provided) and my interest in reading the whole book:

  1. Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (November 5, 2019) – This was a really engaging first few chapters but I don’t think it is for me. It made me so sad to think about those little girls and what they’re dealing with. I know it’s really popular and I’m sure I would like it but I’m just not interested in reading it right now.
  2. The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken (August 27, 2019) – There was a lot going on in this book even just in the first couple chapters. There was a lot of dark, murderous stuff in the excerpt too and I didn’t quite grasp what was going on with just the first couple chapters.
  3. Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J Christopher (November 12, 2019) – This one seemed super good! I really liked the first couple chapters of this one, it was engaging and really grabs the reader into the story. I’m planning to request this one and hopefully read the full e-galley!
  4. Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn (December 31, 2019) – I loved the start of this one. The excerpt really leaves you hanging on the edge of a cliff and I can’t wait to find out what happens. I loved the lyricism of the author’s writing and how well developed I felt like the main character was even just within the first couple chapters. Definitely requesting this one so I can hopefully read the full e-galley!
  5. Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (September 3, 2019) – Seemed like a solid historical romance, nothing really grabbed out in the first couple chapters to grab me though. I think I’d enjoy reading it but I’m trying to limit my NetGalley requests.
  6. The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson (December 3, 2019) – This excerpt was tough, it didn’t really get far enough in to give you a feel of what the story would be. It seemed ok but didn’t grab me.
  7. The Bachelor by Sabrina Jeffries (February 25, 2020) – I liked this one, it sounded pretty good actually. I think I’d enjoy reading it but I’m trying to limit my NetGalley requests so I will have to pass on this one.
  8. The Princess Plan by Julia London (November 19, 2019) – I’ve already signed up to review this one so I was interested to read the first couple chapters. It sounds interesting and I’m looking forward to reading it.
  9. The Little Bookshop on the Siene by Rebecca Raisin (January 7, 2020) – This sounded like it would be sweet and most likely interesting to a book reader like me but the heroine sounded a little too naive for me based on the first couple chapters. I’m kind of interested in the book but am trying to limit my NetGalley requests so I think I’ll pass on this one.
  10. Unspoken by Kelly Rimmer (November 26, 2019) – I was actually kind of interested in this one but I can not get on board with these two people getting back together. Overall the second chance romance is not an enjoyable trope for me but especially with how much hatred there was between these two at the start of the book I just can’t see how they’ll end up reconciling.
  11. A Royal Christmas Wish by Lizzie Shane (September 10, 2019) – This one didn’t quite catch my interest, the heroine seemed like she was somewhat whiny which doesn’t appeal to me. And overall the plot doesn’t sound like it would be something I’d love.
  12. The Sunday Potluck Club by Melissa Storm (March 31, 2020) – Lot of potential here! Just the first couple chapters had me feeling so many things. I’m definitely going to be requesting this one and hopefully will get to read the full e-galley!
  13. A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon (February 25, 2020) – This one wasn’t for me (I don’t love cowboy romances anymore) but definitely seems like something others would enjoy!

2019 Book #43 – The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin

41BKiHPdKILTitle: The Starter Wife
Author: Nina Laurin
Date finished: 7/11/19
Genre: Suspense, psychological thriller
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Pages in book: 307
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher/Author
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher/author 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 bestselling author of Girl Last Seen comes “a spine-tingler” (Booklist) of a psychological suspense, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Jessica Knoll.
 
Local police have announced that they’re closing the investigation of the suspected drowning of 37-year-old painter Colleen Westcott. She disappeared on April 11, 2010, and her car was found parked near the waterfront in Cleveland two days later, but her body has never been found. The chief of police has stated that no concrete evidence of foul play has been discovered in the probe.

I close the online search window, annoyed. These articles never have enough detail. They think my husband’s first wife disappeared or they think she is dead. There’s a big difference.My phone rings, jarring me away from my thoughts, and when I pick it up, it’s an unknown number. The only answer to my slightly breathless hello is empty static.When the voice does finally come, it’s female, low, muffled somehow. “Where is it, Claire? What did you do with it? Tell me where it is.”

A woman. A real flesh-and-blood woman on the other end of the phone. She’s not just in my head.

A wave of panic spreads under my skin like ice water. It’s Colleen.

 

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 sounded very interesting so I was glad to be able to read it. I haven’t read anything by this author before but the premise behind the book sounded like a couple of other thrillers I’ve read and enjoyed. This book had some crazy awesome plot twists and turns that rocked my socks. The main character was definitely flawed and seeing most of the book from her point of view really delves the reader into the extent of her psyche. There were some “holes” that I didn’t think ended up making the most sense but it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book. The book was kind of sad but it was really good, some of the plot twists really shocked me. The plot line kept me on the edge of my seat, I didn’t want to put it down.

Link to author website

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