Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday

All's fair in love and war
Wendy Liu should be delighted to be her best friend's maid of honor. But after years spent avoiding the bride's brother - aka the boy who once broke her heart - she's now trapped with him during an endless amount of wedding festivities. Luckily she's had time to perfect her poker face, and engaging Noah Denning in a little friendly competition might just prove that she's over him for good...

Noah Denning is determined to make his little sister's wedding memorable. But it seems Wendy is trying to outdo him at every turn. Challenging each other was always something he and Wendy did right, so when she proposes they compete to see who can throw the best bachelor or bachelorette party in Sin City, Noah takes the bait - and ups the stakes. Because this time around, he wants Wendy for keeps. And when you're fighting for love, all bets are off. 

Wendy has a LOT of feelings to process:  feelings for Noah, feelings about Jane's wedding, feelings about her teenaged self.  As someone who keeps my baggage pretty close to the vest, I understood exactly where Wendy was coming from.  She doesn't want to rock the boat, she doesn't want anyone else to get hurt.  

Noah is a Wendy's missing puzzle piece.  

Whereas Wendy keeps things to herself, Noah worries about those around him:  his mother, his sister, Wendy (to an extent).  He and Wendy haven't seen each other in a while, but once they are back in close proximity, those feelings jump back to the surface.  

I thought Noah and Wendy had great chemistry here, perhaps even better than Jane and Cameron in One and Only.  Then again, I love "best friend's brother/sister" romance trope, and Wendy and Noah were ridiculously easy to root for.  

(A very special thank you to Grand Central Publishing, Forever Romance, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of It Takes Two.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Review: One and Only by Jenny Holiday

Miss Responsibility meets Mr. Reckless
With her bridezilla friend on a DIY project rampage, bridesmaid Jane Denning will do anything to escape - even if it means babysitting the groom's troublemaker brother before the wedding. It should be a piece of cake, except the "cake" is a sarcastic former soldier who is 100% wicked hotness and absolutely off-limits.

Cameron MacKinnon is ready to let loose after returning from his deployment. But first he'll have to sweet talk the ultra-responsible Jane into taking a walk on the wild side. Turns out, riling her up is the best time he's had in years. But what happens when the fun and games start to turn into something real?

Jane is super dependable, which is why one of her best friends ask her to babysit the groom's younger brother prior to the wedding.  And Jane agrees!  On the plus side for her, since she's involved with "watching" Cameron, she cannot fall for the bride's latest DIY wedding idea (there were a LOT of those). 

I knew Jane and Cameron would fall for each other (it's a romance -- of course they will!), but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed their playful banter and their friendly conversations.  Jane puts Cameron at ease, even though he is irritated to have a babysitter.  They also have crazy chemistry once they both look a little closer at the other.  It was very enjoyable to watch them fall in love.

This was my first book by Ms. Holiday, but I'm certain it won't be the last!  

(A very special thank you to NetGalley, Forever Romance, and Grand Central Publishing for providing me with an ARC of One and Only.)

Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne

Can the fiercest master of battle conquer a woman’s heart?

They call him the Demon Highlander. The fearsome Lieutenant Colonel Liam MacKenzie is known for his superhuman strength, towering presence, and fiery passion in the heat of battle. As Laird to the MacKenzie clan, the undefeated Marquess has vanquished his foes with all rage and wrath of his barbaric Highland ancestors. But when an English governess arrives to care for his children, the master of war finds himself up against his greatest opponent... in the game of love.

Defying all expectations, Miss Philomena is no plain-faced spinster but a ravishing beauty with voluptuous curves and haughty full lips that rattle the Laird to his core. Unintimidated by her master’s raw masculinity and savage ways, the headstrong lass manages to tame not only his wild children but the beast in his soul. With each passing day, Liam grows fonder of Miss Mena—and more suspicious. What secret is she hiding behind those emerald eyes? What darkness brought her to his keep? And how can he conquer this magnificent woman’s heart... without surrendering his own?

The previous books in this series -- The Highwayman and The Hunter, respectively -- featured broken heroes; The Highlander, however, features a broken heroine.  

Mena St. Vincent was rescued from the asylum by Dorian Blackwell and Christopher Argent and sent to the Highlands under a false identity to protect her from her husband and his family.  Mena has a lot of fire and grit, and despite her past, she is stronger than she knows.  

Liam and Mena have instant chemistry, but there was something off about this novel that I didn't experience while reading the first two.  I didn't inhale it; it took longer to finish.  I cannot really articulate what that "something" was, only that I didn't enjoy The Highlander as much as I had hoped I would.  

(A very special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Highlander.)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Review: Need You Now by Emma Douglas

Welcome to the small island town of Cloud Bay, where it's never the wrong time to find a love that's oh-so-right. . .

Caleb White knows what he wants out of life--and being a star tennis player is not it. After speaking to the press about his plans to retire, Caleb decides that a trip to quaint, beautiful Cloud Bay for its legendary music festival is exactly what he needs. There will be time to figure out what to do with his life without a racket in his hand soon enough. Until then, Caleb is content to be stuck on an island with CloudFest's gorgeous director Faith Harper. . .

The daughter of a famous rock star, Faith knows all about fame, fortune, and hot flings that aren't meant to last longer than a few good songs. Gorgeous, built Caleb is a temptation she can't resist, but she's not prepared for the way he makes her feel. . .and the dreams that they both share. What begins as a carefree distraction deepens into something real. But is Caleb ready to put his celebrity behind him and give life in the slow lane with Faith a chance?

Need You Now is an interesting take on the "rock star romance" subject. Faith Harper is the daughter of a famous, and now deceased, rock star, who lives in Cloud Bay to keep her father's company and music festival alive.  Caleb is in Cloud Bay simply to have a good time at the festival and escape his own fame. 

I fell quite easily into life in Cloud Bay with Faith, her mother, half-sister, and various employees of her father's company. The setup for the series about the half-siblings is very nice. While Faith bristles at the attention of being Gray Harper's daughter, she handles it with grace.  Caleb definitely pulls her out of her shell and encourages a more free version of Faith. 

(A very special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Need You Now.)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Review: Maybe I Do by Nicole McLaughlin

She doesn’t believe in fairy tales. He’s married to his job. Maybe whiskey is the secret ingredient that will bring them together—and give true love a shot?
Wedding photographer Charlotte Linley loves her work—even though she hates weddings. Sure, she still holds a grudge after being left at the altar by her high-school sweetheart. But today Charlotte is just happy to have complete control over her career, which is flourishing. Especially since she joined forces with one of the three gorgeous owners of The Stag, a boutique distillery that has become Kansas City’s hottest wedding venue.

Dean Troyer, bitter after the end of his own marriage, knows that Charlotte is the real deal—beautiful, talented, and successful. He may flirt with her every time she comes to The Stag but Dean is determined to keep his professional distance. . .particularly now that she’s helping him with his own sister’s wedding. The only problem? The more time Dean spends with Charlotte, the deeper their connection grows. Is this a rom-com cliché or could it be that these two jaded souls in the wedding business have finally found their real-life happily ever after?

It's really easy for me to gravitate to romances featuring weddings. I really loved all the minor details about the set-up of this series too:  the secondary characters, The Stag.  And while I thought Charlotte and Dean were cute together, their romance didn't really knock me flat, if you know what I mean.  

Charlotte has been hanging around The Stag for a few years, taking pictures of wedding receptions, so she knows Dean in a polite, professional way. Despite trying to maintain her professionalism, she is also highly attracted to him. Dean feels the same way about Charlotte. When Dean asks for Charlotte's help in planning his sister's wedding, it's a no-brainer that she'll say yes.  

Some of the conflicts Charlotte and Dean experience -- exes, for example -- seem manufactured and a little contrived. I think readers are missing out a bit in the newness of Charlotte and Dean, the beginning of their relationship, their initial attractions. Maybe that would add the spark of chemistry that's needed for the final third of the book. 

Still, I enjoyed Maybe I Do, and I plan to read the second in the series. Maybe This Time.  

(A very special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Maybe I Do.)

Eagerly Anticipating: March 2018


Thursday, February 1, 2018

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