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 #41 – The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

518+gcmw1JLTitle: The Summer Wives
Author: Beatriz Williams
Date finished: 5/22/18
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Pages in book: 367
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowseEdelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse & Edelweiss 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:

New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams brings us the blockbuster novel of the season—an electrifying postwar fable of love, class, power, and redemption set among the inhabitants of an island off the New England coast . . .

In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda’s catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister—all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion—is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.

But beneath the island’s patrician surface, there are really two clans: the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel’s privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he’s determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph’s enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and as the summer winds to its end, Miranda’s caught in a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop’s hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the island for nearly two decades.

Now, in the landmark summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned Shakespearean actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same—determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda’s stepfather eighteen years earlier. What’s more, Miranda herself is no longer a naïve teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice for the man she once loved . . . even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.

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’ve read some other novels by this author in the past few years and it can be hit or miss. I have found that I really like the plot lines, as there are always some great twists and turns, and this novel definitely had those. At the same time, there is a lot of information included in the novels and it can be easy to get lost in the weeds. I have found that many of the books share a common theme also, that life is hard and there are trials everyone must go through. Things don’t seem to go smoothly for anyone in the story and the main characters usually have to suffer through an unhappy marriage or relationship before they can find a semblance of happiness later on. Its kind of depressing. Also specifically with this novel, while I liked having the three timelines included in the story and I understood why it was presented the way that it was (for dramatic effect), at the same time I had trouble remembering where we were or who the narrator was or what time we were in. Part of my issue I think is that I had a lot going on at work this past week so I couldn’t sit and devote my concentration to the novel except for short spurts of time. I would definitely recommend this one to historical fiction fans, especially if you can carve out some time to just sit and read. If you’re able to find yourself lost in this novel I think the story would be much easier to read and a bit more enjoyable. I’d still recommend this one but it didn’t work out for me personally this week.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #37 – A Duke Like No Other by Valerie Bowman

51zwYAwGydLTitle: A Duke Like No Other
Author: Valerie Bowman
Date finished: 5/3/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #9 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:

First comes love, then comes marriage. Unless it’s the otherway around. . .

General Mark Grimaldi has sacrificed everything for his military career, working his way through the ranks without the benefit of a nobleman’s title. Now, his years of dedication are about to pay off—with an offer for a prestigious promotion to Home Secretary. There’s only one condition: Mark must be married. Aside from the small matter of not actually wanting to be wed, Mark faces another troubling problem: he already has a wife.

Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent ten contented years in France without her husband—and without regret. When Mark asks her to return to London and play the part of his beloved wife, she sees her chance. But neither of them is prepared for news that will throw Mark’s future into chaos…nor the undeniable desire they’ve rekindled. Maybe happily-ever-after can happen the second time around in A Duke Like No Other, the next Regency romance from Valerie Bowman.

My rating:  3.25 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. Also make sure to check out my Blog Tour post on this book!

I’ve read a few of the previous books in this series and enjoyed them, as I enjoyed this one. My main issue with this book is an issue that I end up having with a good amount of romance novels, lack of communication. It frustrates me to no end when the hero and heroine in a novel waste (usually) years of their lives without their loved ones because of stubbornness and lack of proper communication. I realize it can be scary to make yourself vulnerable, but that whole “no risk, no reward” cliche definitely applies to love. It makes me want to jump into the book and scream at both of them to stop being so stubborn and melodramatic. Other than that piece of frustration I liked this book a good amount. Nicole was funny and very fierce, which is one of the reasons I was so surprised by her lack of courage with expressing her feelings to Mark. Mark was alright I guess, not necessarily my ideal hero but that’s ok. Overall good read though and a good addition to the story – I hope we get to read about Regina and Oakleaf in a future novel!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #34 – All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

61NMINqPepLTitle: All the Ever Afters
Author: Danielle Teller
Date finished: 4/26/18
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, fairy-tale retelling
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Pages in book: 373
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss and Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and 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:

In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s “evil” stepmother.

We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.

Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

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 have recently enjoyed the influx of fairy-tale retellings and the tales that are told from a different point of view. I loved the movie that came out a few years ago, Maleficient, and of course one of my all time favorites in this vein was the musical, Wicked. From these stories we learn that evil is not born but made, and truthfully is decided by the story-teller. Tales are exaggerated and told to paint the story teller in a sympathetic tone so that the reader will empathize with their plight. Agnes as a character was much easier to empathize with than I expected, especially considering how well the Cinderella story was ingrained in my mind prior to reading this book. Agnes as a character though was so strong-willed and determined to find a better life both for herself and for her daughters that it was easy to root for her success. And while many things in her life could be defined as “unfair,” her logical approach never let that fact weigh her down and instead she persevered in spite of the unfairness of her circumstances. At first I found the narration to be a tad overly wordy but after a little bit of adjustment it was easy to read, and the words painted such a vivid portrait that infused the text with emotions and feeling. I enjoyed this book immensely and I love that by reading it the reader is made to re-think the truths of good and evil. This was truly an enjoyable novel and I would definitely recommend it, especially for fans of the Cinderella story.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #25 – The Duke of Ruin by Darcy Burke

51qpbLOiCqL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Duke of Ruin
Author: Darcy Burke
Date finished: 4/3/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: March 17, 2018
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: The Untouchables series Book #8
Where I got the book from: Social Butterfly PR
NOTE: I received this book for free from Social Butterfly PR 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:

With her betrothal to a duke in tatters and scandal imminent, Diana Kingman has two choices: live in certain ignominy or flee into obscurity. Diana wants solitude. She never wished to wed in the first place. However, her father will stop at nothing to betroth her to one of the finest titles in the realm…no matter how loathsome the bearer. Escape is Diana’s only option, and she’ll pay any price to achieve freedom. Universally blamed for the death of his wife and unborn child, Simon Hastings doesn’t dispute his guilt over an accident he cannot even remember. He hasn’t had a drink since, nor a moment’s peace. Determined to be a better man, Simon rescues a young woman in need—only to be accused of kidnapping. They must marry to save him from prison. But how can a man haunted by the love he lost and a woman afraid to get too close find happiness together?

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. Be sure to check out my BLOG TOUR post on this book as well!

I had been looking forward to reading this story since I read the last Untouchables book, The Duke of Ice, where we were introduced to Simon and Diana’s characters. I really liked Diana’s character, she had such a great strength of character and was a really fierce woman. I especially loved that Simon was able to help get her out from under her father’s thumb because – man that guy was a jerk! I also really liked that both Diana and Simon each helped the other to overcome something that was holding them back in life. They seemed to have a true partnership and I really found it to be quite a touching love story. This was a fairly quick read, and though I kind of saw the ending coming it was still a really good book and I would recommend it. I think this was my favorite in the series so far!

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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2018 Book #4 – Like Broken China by J.D. Thompson

51yezZ6480LTitle: Like Broken China
Author: J.D. Thompson
Date finished: 1/10/18
Genre: Fiction, Women’s fiction
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: November 21, 2017
Pages in book: 284
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

Is love enough to repair the pieces of a shattered life?

This is the question plaguing Courtney Cook’s mind as she packs her whole existence into a 20ft moving van. When she first encountered Matt in a coffee shop ten years prior, she was immediately transfixed. Dark, adventurous, and wildly untamed, Matt was everything Courtney didn’t know she wanted. One night of uninhibited abandon was all it took for her to be completely enthralled by the boy without limits. Now saddled with two children, a sky-high mortgage, and a marriage crippled by addiction, Courtney finds herself desperately trying to hold on to the life she knew. But as she struggles between letting go of what could have been and accepting what is, one question simmers at the surface of Courtney’s mind: is love ever enough?

Powerful and provoking with humor woven throughout the raw sting of heartbreak, Like Broken China offers an honest take on the decisions two people make and the aftermath that can destroy an entire decade.

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.

Letting go of a toxic relationship

In this novel we follow Courtney Cook as she navigates her separation and divorce from her alcoholic husband. The story line alternates between the present day as Courtney struggles to move on with her life and the past as we learn about Courtney and Matt’s history. Honestly the more I read about the stuff Matt pulled early on in their relationship, I was more and more shocked that Courtney stood by him. The first time she came home to find Matt passed out drunk with their BABY SON Noah screaming and crying in his crib I would’ve been like, nope I’m out. Anyways, the story overall was really engaging, even though pretty much the entire book is about one character’s development it was still really a quick and interesting read. I liked that Courtney was finally able to let go and realize that the relationship she was in with Matt wasn’t a healthy one for anyone involved (including her children), though I was technically a tad frustrated in how long it took to get there. Overall a good story though and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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