Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: Size Matters by Alison Bliss


The rules of (fake) engagement . . .

Leah Martin has spent her life trying to avoid temptation. But she's sick of low-fat snacks, counting calories, and her hyper-critical mom. Fortunately, her popular new bakery keeps her good and distracted. But there aren't enough éclairs in the world to distract Leah from the hotness that is Sam Cooper - or the fact that he just told her mother that they're engaged . . . which is a big, fat lie.

Sam sometime speaks before he thinks. So what started out as defending Leah's date-ability to her judgmental mother soon turned into having a fiancee! Now the plan is to keep up the fake engagement, stay "just friends," and make Leah's family loathe him enough to just call the whole thing off . But Sam has an insatiable sweet tooth, not only for Leah's decadent desserts but her decadent curves. Her full lips. Her bright green eyes. Yep, things aren't going quite according to plan. Now Sam has to convince Leah that he's for real . . . before their little lie turns into one big, sweet disaster.

I appreciate when authors break out of the norm in romances.  Most women (myself included) are size 16, so to have stereotypical heroines be portrayed over and over again, well, it's nice to have a option.  Leah Martin seems like she could be a super fun character.  Someone who'd laugh with you, someone who is a perfect baker, someone who would be an all-around awesome friend. 

If only Leah would be a friend to herself!

Size Matters was a easy read, literally perfect for an afternoon escape.  Unfortunately, there were a LOT of BIG MISUNDERSTANDINGS between Leah and Sam, starting with the night they met.  And the misunderstandings -- or lack of communication -- continue until the end of the book.  I was very surprised by the ending. 

Leah's mother plays the role of villain, but Leah does a lot of self-harm as well through her negative thoughts.  Between Leah and her mother, it's a wonder Leah is a functioning member of society! 

I do plan to read the second book of the series, On the Plus Side, which features Leah's friend and co-worker, Valerie. 

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor



IS MARRIAGE A BLESSING OR A CURSE?

A man of honor, Alexander Hallworth, Marquess of Pembrooke, will not rest until he exacts revenge on the man who destroyed his family. Just one more piece must fall into place for him to succeed. He needs to convince his enemy’s fianc√©e, the tragically beautiful Lady Claire Cavensham, to marry him instead.

Lady Claire’s curse has always left her one misstep away from social ruin Her past three engagements have gone awry, and now her fourth is headed in the same direction. . .until Alex, a man she barely even knows, shocks the ton and Claire by announcing their engagement. What begins as a sham turns into something deeper, and more passionate, than either Claire or Alex could have imagined. But when their secrets are revealed, will the truth behind their union scandalize them both or is their love strong enough to break the curse and lead them toward their happily ever after?

EXCERPT

 Alex smiled in earnest. “I would never allow you to be humiliated in front of society. I’m trying to help you.” Somehow, he had to convince her of that fact, then the idea of marrying him would be much easier to accept.

She blinked rapidly, then turned back to him and, for an instant, appeared startled to see him there. “That’s very gallant, my lord. Truly, thank you for the effort. But I must leave.”

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Review: Twice Tempted by Eileen Dreyer


Fiona Ferguson and her twin sister Mairead are missing. Sisters of an alleged traitor, they have been cast out by their noble grandfather, who believes their brother's reputation will taint them. Furious at the old man's behavior, Drake's Rakes Alex Knight and Chuffy Wilde set out to find the sisters.

What Alex and Chuffy don't know is that they are also leading agents for the traitorous cabal The Lions right to the women. Caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, the sisters and their rescuers are forced farther and farther into the slums of London to escape not only the Lions, but Minette Ferrar, a notorious assassin looking to revenge herself on Ian Ferguson by killing his sisters. What Fiona Ferguson cannot escape, though, is the dawning realization that she is falling in love with Alex Knight, who is burdened with secrets that pose the most danger of all.


In an effort to finish books I've started, then put away for one reason or another, I sat down and made myself read Twice Tempted.  I have read all the Drake's Rakes novels (Always a Temptress was my favorite of the series), so it was pretty easy to put myself back into this world, even though it's been several years.

The pacing of the story moved well -- we know Alex and Fiona will have a HEA; we assume Minette, the assassin, will be caught and the threat neutralized -- but once Chuffy and Mairead's connection became obvious, I was glad to see Chuffy get a HEA as well.   He has been my favorite minor character since the first novel.

The main issue I had with Twice Tempted is that it felt like a series finale.  All the loose ends were tied neatly, and I found myself speed reading simply to reach The End without having a real sense of connection between Fiona and Alex.  Still, all's well that end's well, and I'm glad Drake's Rakes ended well. 

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Review: Home at Last by Lily Everett


Home is where the heart is…

In Lily Everett's Home at Last, Marcus Beckett left Sanctuary Island after his mother’s funeral, and he hasn’t been back since. Until now. Needing a change from the high-risk, high-stakes life of a bodyguard, Marcus makes a solitary life for himself running the neighborhood bar in his hometown. His only mistake? Seducing and then dumping the town’s sweetheart, Quinn Harper. Marcus knows he did the right thing—a good girl like Quinn has no business with a broken man like him. But now no one will come to his bar, and he’s watching his last chance at a peaceful life go up in smoke. So when Quinn proposes a fake four-week courtship, he can’t refuse…even though he knows it’s a bad idea.

It’s a romantic charade that will buy Quinn time to distract her mother and father from their own marital problems—and will help Marcus welcome back some paying customers besides. But what begins as an engagement of convenience slowly transforms into a deeper connection, one that heals both of their hearts. . .and ignites the simmering passion between them. Could it be that pretending to be together is just what Quinn and Marcus needed to give their real love a second chance?

I was skeptical of Marcus and Quinn's relationship as seen in Close to Home, not because of their age difference -- although often mentioned -- but because Marcus seemed to return to Sanctuary Island with a lot of baggage.  I had hopes that Home at Last would address those issues and allow Quinn and Marcus to have a HEA free of secrets or half-truths, but it did not. 

Marcus spends a lot of time running:  running from his mother's death, running from his boss's, running from the fragile relationship he has with his father.  He kind of runs from Quinn too.  But I didn't believe *any* of his past issues were fully and completely addressed.  He talks with his father and boom! -- they have an immediate reconnection.  He tells Quinn a little about his former boss and boom! -- any guilt he felt is gone. 

The majority of Home at Last kept Marcus and Quinn's real romance as a backseat to their fake one in order to help Quinn's parents resolve their marriage problems.  So this is me, being disappointed in that. 

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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Review: Close to Home by Lily Everett


The best journeys take us home….

When Tessa Alexander came to Sanctuary Island, she left behind a marriage to a man who didn’t love her the way she loved him. When she finally found the strength to set them both free, she discovered friendship and self-acceptance in her adopted hometown. Now she’s settled into a quiet life on her own—never expecting to see her husband again.

Johnny spent almost two years deep undercover, unable to let his wife into his cold, dangerous world. He’s shaken to the core when he comes home to find her gone. It’s painfully clear that Tessa is no longer the timid young woman he married—she’s become a force of nature, a brave and determined beauty. Johnny can’t let her go without a fight so he sets out to seduce his own wife. But will passion alone be enough to convince Tessa that her new life should include a second chance at happiness with a man who must learn to believe in love?



Close to Home takes readers back to Sanctuary Island with never-before-introduced characters.   I loved the first two books of the series, but it took me longer to connect with the other characters brought to the forefront.  Close to Home gives us a familiar setting and people who are using Sanctuary Island as just that:  sanctuary.

Tessa Alexander is not the same woman her husband Johnny knew.  Johnny has a habit of wanting to take care and rescue people -- a need to do so, actually.  That is how he and Tessa came to be married.  When he finds her in Sanctuary Island, she is outwardly confident and strong.

By placing Tessa's life in danger (again), Johnny is able to do what he loves and let go of himself a little bit too.  He and Tessa are able to connect and move forward with their marriage.

Close to Home was an easy read, a good place to start for those curious about Sanctuary Island.  Tessa and Johnny don't have any obstacles in their way to happiness, which didn't ring that true for me, but this is a nice slice of life story.

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