2018 Book #60 – The Obsession by Nora Roberts

61hhWGisimL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Obsession
Author: Nora Roberts
Date finished: 7/16/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Pages in book: 469
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: My Grandma gave me this book to read when we were visiting her last weekend!

Blurb from the cover:

“She stood in the deep, dark woods, breath shallow and cold prickling over her skin despite the hot, heavy air. She took a step back, then two, as the urge to run fell over her.” 

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

I am historically a fan of Nora Roberts, which is something that my Grandma and I have in common. When my parents and I were visiting her last weekend she said she had read this one so I could have it if I was interested in reading it. The synopsis of the book sounded really interesting so I worked it into my reading schedule so I could start reading it sooner rather than later. This was a great book, I really liked the plot and it was very interesting. It really grabs you right from the first chapter, and I didn’t want to put it down once I started it. The tension between the main characters was great. And while I loved how strong and brave Naomi was, Xander was the character that really captured me. He was just so rock-steady and completed devoted to Naomi and I loved that. Tag (the dog) was also really great, and a loving character for the story. Naomi was really lucky with her family base that resulted from all the tragedy. Her brother and two uncles and her formed a cohesive and loving family unit that was great to see. I think that was one of the things that I really enjoyed about this book was that while there was creepy and the killings and yes those parts were sad, there was also a lot of hope and love and friendship in the book and that was especially wonderful. Great book and I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #59 – The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

51Xyv20J3RLTitle: The Home for Unwanted Girls
Author: Joanna Goodman
Date finished: 7/13/18
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Pages in book: 362
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from  Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.

In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy on the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents force her to give baby Elodie up for adoption and get her life ‘back on track’.

Elodie is raised in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. It’s a precarious enough existence that takes a tragic turn when Elodie, along with thousands of other orphans in Quebec, is declared mentally ill as the result of a new law that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages. Bright and determined, Elodie withstands abysmal treatment at the nuns’ hands, finally earning her freedom at seventeen, when she is thrust into an alien, often unnerving world.

Maggie, married to a businessman eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. As time passes, the stories of Maggie and Elodie intertwine but never touch, until Maggie realizes she must take what she wants from life and go in search of her long-lost daughter, finally reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.

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 requested to review this book because of the description. I hadn’t heard anything about this particular historical event before but as horrifying as it is there is some truth to it. The children that lived through this horrendous event are sometimes known as the Duplessis Orphans, as Duplessis was the premier of Quebec at the time these events occurred. Maggie and Elodie’s stories are heart-breaking but more than that, there is a string of hope that can be felt and seen throughout the book that uplifts the story. Elodie suffered tremendously but she still hopes for a better future. I loved that the book was told from both Maggie’s and Elodie’s points of view, this added a lot of important details that the reader would’ve missed otherwise but also allows us to grow attached to both characters. Both their journeys were amazing and inspiring, and although the story is fictional (but based on true events) I found many of the ideas in the book to be thought-provoking. To imagine these things would have happened to real people is baffling to me, that humanity could be that cruel to children for money incomprehensible. Underneath all the tragedy I found that this was also an important story of love, specifically Maggie’s love for Gabriel and also for Elodie. I really very much enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend reading it. It was an engaging and interesting read, and I hope to have a chance to read more by this author in the future.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #56 – Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

51voySJEiTLTitle: Love and Other Words
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 7/3/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Pages in book: 433
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.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

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 haven’t read anything by Lauren in the past, but I’ve heard a lot of good things from various other readers so I was excited to give this one a try. This is going to be a hard one for me to write down though, not because I didn’t like it but because there honestly just aren’t enough words to describe how this book made me feel. The emotions and reactions this book invoked from me were powerful and raw. The plot was perfectly captivating, it has been a long time since I’ve read a book that so perfectly captures what that first love feels like. There is joy, but hand in hand with the joy there is also pain, and the situation in this book in particular led to intense heartbreak. Reading the development and intensity of Elliot and Macy’s relationship though was like a testament to true romance. I just couldn’t put it down, I stayed up until one in the morning last night reading it. This book was a roller coaster of emotion that I didn’t want to end. I just can’t say enough, I loved this book and everyone should read it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #53 – The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant

51vr3JjFD5LTitle: The Christmas Cowboy Hero
Author: Donna Grant
Date finished: 6/23/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Pages in book: 316
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Heart of Texas 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 for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidays—even if the mood at home is anything but festive. His father is ill. The East Ranch is in financial trouble. And now it’s on Clayton, the prodigal son, to make sure his family doesn’t lose everything.

Headstrong Abby Harper is like a mother to her younger brothers, who she’s helped raise since she was a teenager. Keeping them in line is no small task while she’s also working toward her college degree. And now that one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle at the East Ranch, Abby is at her wits’ end. But there is a silver lining: Clayton East. He believes in second chances, and is willing to give one to her brother this Christmas. Letting beautiful Abby—and the inescapable longing in his heart—off the hook, however, is a whole ’nother story. Could it be that the woman of this local hero’s dreams has been back at home all along?

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. This is from my 2017 Backlog list, I read this for the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge for the “a book you picked up based on the title” category, as I had picked this book originally around the holidays since I thought it would make a good Christmas read.

This book sounded like it would be a cute read for around the holidays, which is when I had originally planned to read it but unfortunately work got in the way last year. So I read it this year while I was on vacation! The premise behind this book was a romance trope cliche, millionaire cowboy rescues poor nice woman in a Texas town. And while it was completely unrealistic, it was still romantic. Clayton as a character was everything you’d want from a romance novel hero: dark, brooding, completely devoted, utterly sexy. Abby was nice enough, and honestly I loved that she was an accountant studying to be a CPA, but she was a little too shy for my tastes in a romance heroine. Their whole relationship moved pretty quickly too, I mean within a week of Brice getting arrested Abby’s whole family was staying to weekend with Clayton’s family, and within 6 weeks they were engaged. This was a sweet romance though with an ok Christmas theme and some serious sparks between the hero and heroine. I enjoyed it and would recommend it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #51 – Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

51-uzv1SVHLTitle: Our Kind of Cruelty
Author: Araminta Hall
Date finished: 6/21/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: MCD
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Pages in book: 288
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 spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely, life before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job; he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his e-mails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move, he’ll know just when to come to her rescue . . .

My rating:  1.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book has what I would say is a text book example of an unreliable narrator. Mike is our narrator throughout the whole book and there are multiple examples of scenes that are told from his point of view that I’m sure are not actually how it happened. Which ended up being frustrating for me only because there was a lack of closure in the end with not knowing which items were true and which were entirely false based on Mike’s perspective. It was hard as a reader to determine the truth from the lies, I know this is something that appeals to some readers but it has never been one of my favorite things. Beyond that the plot itself was just so very sad and to be honest disturbing. Mike was obviously mentally unstable and really needed help. He was delusional in many of his thoughts and beliefs and he seemed so emotionally detached from humanity outside of how he felt about V. This book was too dark for me, but it did have an interesting plot line and I can see how it would be very popular. I would recommend giving it a read, it didn’t work for me but I think it would appeal to a large majority of suspense readers.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #50 – Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree

510TX2YTB7L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Perfectly Undone
Author: Jamie Raintree
Date finished: 6/21/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Pages in book: 278
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the 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:

Yes is such a little word…

Dr. Dylan Michels has worked hard for a perfect life, so when her longtime boyfriend, Cooper, gets down on one knee, it should be the most perfect moment of all. Then why does she say no?

For too many years, Dylan’s been living for her sister, who never got the chance to grow up. But her attempt to be the perfect daughter, perfect partner and perfect doctor hasn’t been enough to silence the haunting guilt Dylan feels over her sister’s death—and the role no one knows she played in it.

Now Dylan must face her past if she and Cooper stand a chance at a future together. But when Cooper makes a startling confession of his own, can Dylan find the courage to define her own happiness before her life becomes perfectly undone?

Set among the breezy days of a sultry Portland summer, Perfectly Undone is a deeply moving novel of family secrets, forgiveness and finding yourself in the most surprising of places.

Sometimes you have to lose your way to find yourself

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. To be honest I’m not 100% sure where I had won it from. It kind of just showed up in my mail last year, but I’m never one to turn away a free book!

The main character in this story, Dylan, was a pretty flawed character. This is something that I struggle with in various novels, while it is reality that a main character will have flaws its hard for me to connect with a character who has deep flaws that hurt those around them. Dylan was unending-ly selfish and self-centered, wrapped up in her own pain to the point that she self-destroys her relationship with her mother, boyfriend and various others. And while the ending was fairly hopeful, overall the story is just such  sad, depressing, painful journey for Dylan and those around her that it was hard to get through. I was in a funk the whole time I was reading it. While that means that the author did a great hob of being able to influence my emotions from the text, it just wasn’t an emotion that I necessarily wanted at the time. While this wasn’t my favorite book, I thought it was well written and I think it would be a book that many would enjoy, I would still recommend it.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #49 – One for the Rogue by Manda Collins

51g3q-n0tQLTitle: One for the Rogue
Author: Manda Collins
Date finished: 6/20/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #4 in the Studies in Scandal 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:

LOVE IS THE GREATEST DISCOVERY OF ALL

Geologist Gemma Hastings has no interest in pursuing romance—and no patience for Lord Cameron Lisle, an esteemed fossil hunter who has a way of always honing in on her territory. . .annoyingly handsome though he may be. But when a shocking attack puts Gemma in very real danger, she may have to accept Lisle’s offers of protection. Even if that means entering into a dangerous flirtation. . .

Lisle was once amused by Gemma’s dedication to her work. But now that he understands how much he’s underestimated her—a woman whose beauty is matched only by her genius—Lisle is desperate to prove his respect…and prove himself worthy of her. But is he too late? A bitter rival, desperate to steal Gemma’s scientific findings, is still at-large. Can Lisle help uncover the culprit and keep her safe—forever, in his loving arms?

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 been following this series from the beginning and I’ve really enjoyed the series overall. The premise behind the four connected stories was great, and I love that each story involved such a strong minded woman. And in each story, the heroine ended up trying to solve a mystery and the female-driven sleuthing made it feel almost like a historical romance Nancy Drew. With this fourth book in the series, there was great tension developed between the two main characters, Gemma and Cam. I thought their relationship was very dynamic and the development from adversaries to husband and wife was well done. The plot line in this book was alright, I don’t think it was my favorite of the series but I still enjoyed it. I would love to see the series continue with whatever happens to Lady Serena and also possibly with romances of future students in the school. I have enjoyed this series and don’t want to see it end!

Link to author website

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