4.5 star reviews, Book reviews, romance

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

Rating: 4 stars

Two years after losing her fiance in a motorcycle accident, Sloan finds a dog running around in the street.  She ends up bringing him home and calling the number on his id tag to locate his owner, who does not respond.  After several days, she is in love with the dog and finally the owner, Jason, calls and explains his situation.  He and Sloan end up texting and talking and when he gets back into town, she agrees to go on a date with him.

This was a really cute, light, happy story.  Jason is a semi-famous musician and I usually avoid books about the rich and famous, it’s just not my thing.  But I loved @authorabbyjimenez’s first book, The Friend Zone, and so many of my friends loved this one, so I gave it a shot.  With a semi-famous musician as a lead, I expected a story of excess and extravagance, two things I am not interested in reading about, but this story could not have been further away from that.  Jason was a very down-to-earth, family oriented guy. I loved how Abby Jimenez explored the demands of a record label, the demands of a music career and touring with a band. I thought it was really well done and added a lot of depth and dimension to this unique rom com.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes romance and rom coms.  

5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, Women's Fiction

Wild at Heart by K.A. Tucker

The Simple Wild was the first romance book I read.  I was blown away by the chemistry between Calla and Jonah.  After I finished the book, I walked around for three days feeling as though I had just fallen in love. Over the last year, I have been making my way through K.A. Tucker’s backlist.⁣⁣

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I was so excited for Wild at Heart.  Instantly upon starting this book, I was swept up in the chemistry between Calla and Jonah – there is just something about these two characters!  Wild at Heart picks up where The Simple Wild left off (you really do need to read that one first), Calla and Jonah move in together, in Alaska and they start a business together that keeps Jonah away from home a lot and challenges Calla in ways that make her grow and make me like her more and more and more (I almost put The Simple Wild down because Calla annoyed me so much, but she continues to grow as a character and I now want to be her friend!).  ⁣⁣

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Wild at Heart is the story of what happens AFTER Happily Ever After… Wild at Heart is the real heat and raw energy of a relationship.  It’s the frustrations of working together and giving so much of yourself and trying to make something work with someone else.  It’s about compromise and real life.  It’s about facing challenges with your partner and sacrificing for your partner’s happiness and drawing the line at where you sacrifice and where you tell your partner what you need.  Relationships are SO MUCH MORE than physical attraction and snarky banter, Wild at Heart tells the story of Calla and Jonah’s relationship beyond getting together and giving in to the heat.  Wild at Heart tells the story of a real couple facing life and challenges together, making sacrifices for each other and learning to ask for what they need.⁣⁣

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There is something really special about the chemistry between Calla and Jonah and I felt like I was leaving two friends when I finished the book.  I hope K.A. Tucker more books and tells more and more of their story. ⁣⁣

Thank you to Social Butterfly PR, K.A. Tucker and Atria books for my copy.

5 star reviews, Book reviews, romance

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Fix Her Up was my first book by @tessabaileyisanauthor and I have since read quite a few of her books on my Kindle!  I was elated when she gave me a copy of Love Her or Lose Her.

And y’all.  The hype is real.  This is a great book!

Rosie and Dominic were high school sweethearts who got married before he went to serve our country in Afghanistan.  He came home different and Rosie has not been happy in their marriage, she doesn’t feel seen and heard, their relationship is just physical and not emotional.  Dominic is a blue collar guy from a working class family and his dad showed love by providing for his family and that is all Dominic knows, he is taken aback when Rosie leaves.  Dominic is loves Rosie deeply and agrees to couples therapy with a very untraditional therapist.

Rating: 5 stars!!

Why I Loved This Book: My husband is a lot like Dominic.  He loves me, but he doesn’t always know how to show it. Tessa Bailey did an amazing job writing Dominic’s character, she really got inside the head of a guy who was raised to believe that you show your love by providing and that is all you need to do.  There is one part where Rosie realizes that it takes two to tango and that she had a part in how their marriage fell apart; I FELT what Rosie was feeling, nerves and anxiety and I realized that sometimes I am full of complaints for my husband, but I too, have some flaws.  That night my girls were out and I asked my husband what I do that I annoys him and he told me – I am organized with my time, but I don’t always organize things like our china cabinet or storage closets the way he would like. I didn’t take it personally, I took it constructively and if he’d like to reorganize the china cabinet and storage closets, he can have at it!

This book comes out next Tuesday, January 14. I recommend this book to anyone who likes romance and to ALL MARRIED COUPLES.  We could all use the reminders in this book!!

What is your love language?  How do you show love? What do you like someone to do to show you that they love you?

4.5 star reviews, Book reviews, Women's Fiction

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

4.5/5 stars

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I love books about people on the autism spectrum.  I feel like their personalities magnify universal truths that we can all relate to.  Annika meets Jonathan when they are both students at the University of Illinois.  She is on the autism spectrum, but she doesn’t know it.  Social situations behoove Annika, but both she and Jonathan are aces at chess and they fall in love.  Jonathan doesn’t mind if she’s a bit different.

He graduates and moves to New York to be a stockbroker.  He eventually marries someone else, while Annika is still in Illinois, pursuing a Master of Library Science degree.

Ten years later, they meet again, and try to have a relationship once again.

The author did a tremendous job of showing the reader what someone with autism goes through, how they want to be loved and accepted and just don’t always understand how social situations work and how that is very difficult.  This was a lovely story, with plot twists that I never saw coming.  This is not just your average love story–there is A LOT MORE HERE.

I recommend this to anyone who loved Eleanor Oliphant by Gail Honeyman, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison.

I received this book from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review.

4.5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, Women's Fiction

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

4.5/5 stars

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I heard so many good things about this book from book bloggers and on Bookstagram, that I decided to give it a shot and I am so glad I did because I LOVED it!!

Stella has high-functioning autism. She is super smart, from a wealthy family and makes a lot of money, but she doesn’t like people touching her and her mom would like her to get married and have babies. She realizes that she has to get over her aversion to being touched, so she hires a male escort.

Stella hires Michael Phan. Michael is an escort, he’s half Vietnamese and half Swedish, he works out a lot and has a dragon tattoo wrapped around his body. He’s hot and he knows what he is doing in the bedroom. He is also very kind and patient with Stella and he takes time to figure her out and really help her.

Michael’s dad abandoned their large Vietnamese family and Michael has a lot of issues because of it and a lot to work through. But he is such a great hero!

Here is why I LOVED this book:

Excellent, well developed characters

A great story

I learned A LOT about high-functioning autism. I have several friends that have autistic children and I have heard that when you know one autistic person, you know one autistic person; everyone is different, there is no way of saying that all autistic people are the same or have similar traits and characteristics. I loved learning about Stella and at times, I saw myself in her. I think we are all on the spectrum, some just more on the autism side than others.

Also, I LOVED The Author’s Note. I loved learning the story behind the book and why Helen Hoang wrote it. I loved learning more about Helen Hoang and how she she made herself vulnerable and got personal with her readers.

I can’t wait for The Bride Test, Helen Hoang’s new book out in May 2019!

4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, Women's Fiction

My Favorite Half-Night Night Stand by Christina Lauren

4/5 stars

After reading Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth, I wanted to read something light and fun and easy. This book was just the ticket!

Millie is a college professor and she has a group of male college professor friends, one of whom, Reid, she find attractive, but she won’t admit that even to herself. When a college event is announced, the group of friends decides they all need a “plus one” and they all join a dating website. At first, Millie gets all the creepy weirdos, then she makes another profile using her middle name and is matched with the friend she is attracted to, she tries to give him hints that it is her using her typical joking fashion, but as smart as these PhDs are, they are socially inept and it’s a funny, cute story.

There is quite a bit of sexual situations in this book, so it’s not for people who don’t like that kind of thing in their books. But if you are looking for a light, fun read…this is a great pick!

5 star reviews, Christmas, contemporary fiction, romance, Women's Fiction

One Day in December by Josie Silver

5/5 stars

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I do not normally give romances or women’s fiction 5 stars, but this book deserves 5 stars. This book is EVERYTHING I have ever wanted a romance to be.

One Day in December 2008, Laurie is on the bus on her way home from a grueling day at a job that is not in the field she wants to be in, when she spots Jack through the bus window. He is sitting in a bus stop and he sees her as well. Their eyes meet and although neither believes in love at first sight, they feel something. Jack goes to get on the bus but he is too late and the bus takes off.

Laurie and her best friend and roommate spend the next year looking in bars and clubs for the man she saw through the bus window, but to no avail.

Sarah begins dating someone new and tells Laurie that he may be “the one”. She goes on and on about how wonderful he is and how she wants he and Laurie to be best friends.

When Laurie meets him…she knows instantly… it is the man she saw from the bus window.

Over the next ten years, Sarah, Jack and Laurie are caught in a love triangle that ripped my heart out at times. I was expecting a sweet little romance and this was not that…this was powerful and gripping and beautiful and it felt real. I felt like this could happen and if it did, it would happen like this because nothing is perfect.

This book had every aspect of my favorite romances: undeniable chemistry, loyalty to friends and family, reunion. This book was everything I have ever wanted a romance to be!

This book is recommended to anyone who loves the movie “Love Actually” which may well be my favorite Christmas movie, so it is not surprising that I adored this book and didn’t want it to end!!

4 star reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, thriller

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

4.5/5 stars

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From the Publisher:

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

My Review:

4/5 stars

I loved this book and read it in one day–I don’t remember the last time I did that!

This book was like The Great Alone meets Magic Hour (both by Kristin Hannah) with a little Child Finder by Rene Denfeld.

Lucas and Josiah Blackthorne disappeared from society ten years ago and were assumed dead.  Then Lucas is caught robbing a store.  He is violent and nonverbal, so he is sent to a psychiatric facility where he meets Maya who is a speech therapist, wrestling with her own demons.

 

Beautiful setting of the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota, a strong female lead character, a thrilling escape, a captivating mysteray and a little romance…this book has everything.  This book also explores issues of mental health in our society and how one action can have a snowball effect and affect people for decades.  I also felt that the author made a statement about power and people who think differently or want different things than the norm.  I thought these issues were well thought out and presented and encouraged deeper thought for the reader.

4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hildebrand

4/5 stars

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I don’t remember what year I discovered Elin Hildebrand, but I know the book was Barefoot and my girls were still in school, we still had a Swim Club membership and I sat beside the pool that summer and read every single one of the books she had published up until that point, while my girls splashed and played with their friends.  Since then, I have looked forward to her summer book.

I saved this one until we were in LBI for a few days.  I wanted to read it on the beach.  Which I did.  And I enjoyed every single second of it.

Celeste is from a lower middle class hard working, close-knit, very moral family and Benji is from a very privileged upper class family that originally came from England, but now lives in the US.  Her mom works at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA and his mom is a well-loved novelist.  Her dad sells men’s clothing at Neiman Marcus and his dad is some sort of hedge fund manager or something financial like that.  But Celeste and Benji meet and date and decide to get married.

On the morning of their wedding, her maid of honor is found floating in the marina outside Benji’s family’s Nantucket compound.  An investigation ensues to determine if this was foul play or an accident or even suicide.

The mystery is playful.  It didn’t feel dark or sinister, yet it was very intriguing.  I kept thinking that I had figured it out, and then was wrong.  Over and over.  Which was fun and kept me reading.

There are two beautiful love stories.  I loved Shooter’s storyline and Karen’s storyline.  I think Karen and Bruce (aka Betty and Mac) ARE the Perfect Couple.

The author encouraged the reader to contemplate how class and privilege weigh in to people’s decision making.  Were the Winburys more morally corrupt because they had been given everything and just thought they could/should have whatever they wanted?  Did the Winburys make poor choices because their choices never involved survival, homes, cars, foods would never be an issue for them.  Did Mac and Betty make better choices because they had to work hard for everything they had and the threat of it being taken away was always there?  Did Mac and Betty have higher morals because they couldn’t afford not to?

I thought the author did a great job with keeping a murder mystery not too heavy or dark (who wants heavy and dark on the beach?), but still raising questions about class and privilege and still telling a fabulous story!

I would like to thank Netgalley and Little Brown for my copy.

4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, Women's Fiction

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

4/5 stars

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My Review:

Beautiful book, well-paced, inside view into someone else’s relationship and marriage.

This book goes between 7 years ago and present.  Seven years ago, Graham and Quinn met, started dating, fell in love and got married.  Present day is seven years later and they are having fertility issues that is driving them apart.  I love books that give you an inside look into someone else’s relationship or marriage because I do think we all have a story to tell and I also think it’s interesting to see what makes other people’s marriages tick.  I felt myself getting caught up in their relationship and hoping they would work things out.  I actually got tears in my eyes when they wrote letters to each other…I don’t want to say anymore because I don’t want to give too much away!

I recommend this book to fans of romance, women’s fiction and domestic dramas.  If someone is struggling with fertility issues, I think this book may be a good fit to see how another couple deals with things.

From the Publisher:

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?