Book Review

Book Review: Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

I WANT TO TAKE UP LETTER WRITING NOW.

Oooooooh y’all.

A historical fiction romance written in letter format about World War 1.

That should be the only sentence you need because this was emotional and fantastic. I couldn’t put it down and because of the format it’s a VERY quick read. It appeared very well researched and this had me flipping pages faster than I could manage because I needed to know what happened next.

I love the way the love story was written. It was slow and steady and they fell in love over letter writing guys!! HOW ROMANTIC IS THAT? Both of them holding each other up as dark times flowed between them as the horrors of war took over. It was mesmerizing and I went into full panic mode trying to make sure their was a happy ending.

This had great Christmas vibes as they constantly dreamed of having Christmas in Paris together someday when the war was over. Definitely one of my Christmas favorites now. I love the backdrop of World War 1 because I feel that WW2 usually gets all of the historical fiction books/movies. I try to pick up anything that has a different setting because I love seeing authors takes on characters thrown into real history. It’s magical and enchanting and hits you right in the heart.

I feel as if I can gush more, but also can’t find the words because it was just a great book. And sometimes that’s the only sentence a review needs.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: description of war [namely WW1]
  • Trigger warnings: PTSD (described as war nervousness/neurosis because of the time period), depression, suicidal thoughts, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 327 pages
Author: Ashley Shepherd
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: November 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Olivia Langley is the human embodiment of Christmas cheer, and she has absolutely no problem spreading it around for all to hear.

Christmas sweaters? She has twenty. Christmas cookies? She’ll take three dozen. Christmas movies? Yeah, she’s seen them all.

So it’s no surprise when she’s put in charge of Loveridge & McGowan’s holiday festivities. Secret Santas? Yep. Ice skating? Of course. Holiday trivia? Duh. Christmas-themed bar crawl? That’s one big jingle bell hell yes.

Kissing her boss at a Christmas tree lighting in front of his ex-girlfriend? Well… it is the season of giving.

And Olivia does not come with a gift receipt. No exchanges. No returns. No refunds. All sales are final.

In an effort to ungrinch the grinchiest man she’s ever met, Olivia enlists herself, Santa’s Executive Helper, to scheme up a plan that includes sleigh rides, snow days, and one too many mistletoe kisses, which certainly gets Asher’s tinsel in a tangle.

She’s pretty sure that she sleighed this whole fake dating thing.

Well… until she realizes there’s nothing fake about her feelings for Asher, and suddenly tangled tinsel, unsolicited Christmas trees, and celebrity heartthrobs are the least of her worries.

YAAAAAS TO THIS CHRISTMAS CONTEMPORARY.

Kindle unlimited, indie author, bookstagram recommendation FOR. THE. WIN.

No really. A grumpy guy, a effervescent woman, and Christmas? Hit this one out of the ballpark.

I love enemies to lovers and books like this remind me why. I love the juxtaposition between the two of them. The banter was fantastic and didn’t over step that line of actually being mean to each other. I was laughing to myself over some of the scenes in there because they were too humorous not too. This office romance (with a fake girlfriend component) was PRECIOUS.

Asher was such a charming Grinch. Can’t even handle him. He could throw out the sarcasm and grumpiness then turn around and be considerate and kind. I love seeing those layers peel away slowly as he opened up to Olivia.

Olivia had me laughing at her antics and I feel spiritually seen with how much she loves treats. Her extrovert, people pleasing personality that screamed Christmas was fantastic. She went on her own emotional journey [because of some awful people] that shed lighter on tough subject matter. Olivia was a strong heroine that I immensely enjoyed reading about.

This book was romantic and sweet. Full of emotions and tough moments. Love and charismatic characters. All the things. I can’t wait to read more of Shepherd’s books because this was exactly what I was looking for when I tried to find a contemporary Christmas romance.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance [Christmas theme]
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, one little detailed almost scene, and another little detailed fade out scene
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault to the MC and mentions and discussions on the man’s behavior with others

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Book Review

Book Review: Fame, Fate and the First Kiss (Love, Life, and the List #2) by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA contemporary romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Fan favorite author Kasie West delivers an effervescent story about chasing your dreams and following your heart, perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Huntley Fitzpatrick.

Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part.

But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her.

As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it’s helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction.

With her entire future riding on this movie, Lacey knows she can’t afford to get sidetracked by a crush. But for the first time in her life Lacey wonders if it’s true that the best stories really do happen when you go off script.

CUTE, BUT EH.

This was my first Kasie West book y’all. I feel I could have chosen better. This was a case of an audio book being available and I now realize my mistake. NOT enough to turn me off of picking up another West book, but to be more picky about it.

Audio notes: The narrator was fine, the only thing I didn’t love was that I felt she really played on the younger voice for the MC. Which in turn made me not love her as much. It made Lacy seem really young, rather than almost 18.

This was a cute young adult rom-com. Nothing flashy, nothing crazy, just a simple read. I did enjoy it. I was looking for more though. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something was missing.

I didn’t love Lacy as an MC. She did get better over time, it took a long time to get there though. Lacy was naive and purposely difficult while also trying to be everyone’s friend. It was an odd combo. I think Donovan in the picture helped her out. I did really love him (as I do usually prefer the book boyfriend). He was sweet, charming, and way more down to earth. I did love that this was a clean and young audience friendly romance. Some tender kisses was all this book needed to be pleasant.

Between each chapter were scenes from the movie Lacy was recording and I thought by the end I would understand why there were there…nope. Purely to add pages in my mind. I didn’t think they added anything other than us knowing what the movie was about, but it never pertained to the story. It would take me out of the real story every time it went to those scenes.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Trigger warnings: I felt like Lacy had an unhealthy relationship with food, a few sentences in there made me cringe about how she viewed food, this didn’t over take the book in anyway, just something I noticed

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Book Review

Book Review: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary fiction + romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: March 24th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It’s supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can’t imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen’s well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.

Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen’s own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.

TIME FOR MY OWN HIKING ADVENTURE.

Picked this audio book up on a whim because bookstagram made me do it. I feel when this happens it has really helped me get to read books I normally wouldn’t have scene or had a chance to read. Yay for a backlist winner!

Audio notes: I enjoyed the audio! I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite narrator, but I didn’t mine the way the book was read and was able to listen at an increased speed with no issues.

Back to the book, oh this one hits all the feels. Not only is this a romance, but it’s also about facing trials. Having to conquer some crappy situations, grow from them and letting them go. I liked seeing the inner struggles and the true human sentiments of these difficulties. I felt connected to the main characters, Helen and Jack, and really understood their turmoil. Neither were perfect protagonists and that made this all the better of a book.

The romance was a bit different than usual couples I read about, but the way this was written had me shouting in my head to get together. Why is it different? There’s a 10 year age difference. I don’t have an issue with that, it’s just new to me in books I’ve read! The approach and slow-burn between them was dynamite. This isn’t a super steamy read because the focus is on other matters. Jack and Helen both helped each other through their issues and I was ecstatic to get my happyily ever after.

This definitely reminded me of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was a fictional version of that type of adventure novel. How the outdoors awakens an inner part of us. This type of book always makes me want to go on my own kind of wilderness trip to see what things I’d learn.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction + romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses and make-outs
  • Violence: falling on a broken log
  • Trigger warnings: a few mentions of a past miscarriage (and a small description of the day she lost the baby), loss of a sibling, attempted suicide

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kay Adams

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 10th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assist Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even while she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

I JUST LOVED THIS.

Okay. It’s official. I loved this more than The Bromance Book Club. While I appreciated and adored that it was about a married couple, Undercover Bromance brought in my favorite trope, enemies to lovers, to make this a stellar read.

I am TOTALLY SMITTEN WITH BRADEN MACK. Oh my goodness. I fell in love with him over this book in more ways than one. I couldn’t get enough of his tougher exterior, but softest soul. And can we all applaud the fact that men express real feelings in this series? Because I am here for it. I love how Mack conquered his past and fought for his love. He was incredibly sweet and his perseverance with Liv is admirable. I’m so glad we got a sequel with him because I will be gushing for days.

The way the book club helps Mack throughout this story made me smile and want to group hug all of them too [who doesn’t?]. I love their friendship with each other and feel like the romance books have helped them all explore their own softer sides and be able to talk to one another. I love a good gal pal friendship, but seeing all of these guys together is one of my favorite aspects of this series.

Undercover Bromance covers a really relevant and serious topic [sexual assault, specifically in the work place]. This was a hard subject to read about. I thought it was well put together in the story and while broaching a tough theme it didn’t overshadow the romance. It was great to see so many men in this story stand up for women and have constructive discussions.

I absolutely was all over the chemistry between Liv and Mack. It was a lightening storm out there whenever they were near each other. The banter, flirtations, steam, honest moments, tender moments. Oh my, this book had it all. Every single thing I could ask for when looking for a memorable romance. My only 1/2 star deduction was from Liv. Occasionally I didn’t love her character. She did have a solid arc over the course of the story and once she started apologizing I was way more on her side.

There was only one added scene from a romance novel. Unlike The Bromance Book Club, where a few chapters were dedicated to a romance novel within the book, Undercover Bromance only had a few paragraphs one time. I looooove this change and thought it kept the pace and the story smooth. Nothing felt broken up as the POV switched back and forth between Liv and Braden. And can we talk about that epilogue? Because it was adorable and I live for happy ever afters.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: a lot of strong language throughout
  • Romance: kisses, passionate make-outs, a few detailed love scenes
  • Violence: physical
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault [MC walks in on it happening; discussed throughout as one of the main themes of the story; hearing survivor stories]; domestic abuse [MC recounts past of abusive father]

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Book Review

Book Review: Christmas Like This (A Love Like This #2) by Carina Taylor

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance novella
Length: 148 pages
Author: Carina Taylor
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: November 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

I know exactly what I’d like to put in Trey’s stocking: the biggest lump of coal I can carry.
Unfortunately, I won’t get the chance, because our boss has delivered an ultimatum: plan the company Christmas party with Trey and learn to get along, or else.
After only one day of trying to plan the Christmas party, I’m ready to pick the “or else.” Is it possible to learn to get along with the most aggravating, overprotective, handsome guy I’ve ever known?
We’re about to find out if we can get our names off the naughty list or not.

IT WAS CHRISTMASY AT LEAST.

This is a novella, so my review will be shorter than usual. I am on a quest for some great Christmas reads, this could have been better.

I think this actually would have been more enchanting if it was longer. Things happened way too fast and background information was thrown out haphazardly and inconsistently. I know there was sadness and drama put in to add an emotional component, but I wasn’t feeling much towards anyone.

The banter between them did get better over the novella. At first, it honestly seemed flat out mean and made me cringe. The push to create the enemies to lovers trope flew off the handle and I was happy when it turned down and they were able to communicate civilly with each other.

Definitely great Christmas vibes and I loved the plot of them having to plan the Christmas party together. I did like the writing, just felt like everything needed a bit more.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance novella
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: car wreck

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: A Temporary Boyfriend (The Fake Romance Series #2) by Summer Dowell

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 157 pages
Author: Summer Dowell
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: March 5th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

How far would you go to get your dream job?Madison Hudson has spent the last six years working for the position that’s almost in her grasp. She’s got the qualifications, the schooling, the perfect resume; all she has left is to impress her future boss. Something a little white lie about an imaginary boyfriend can achieve. Eric Ward usually stays away from drama. As a matter fact, he generally prefers computers to humans. But when his sister begs him to play her roommate’s boyfriend for a night, he can’t find an excuse to say no. How hard can one evening be? Pity no one told him ahead of time what a knockout his fake girlfriend would be.How long before their little white lie turns into a whole lot more than these two planned for?

Thank you to the author for a digital copy. All opinions are my own!

SHORT AND SWEET.

Another cute installment in the Fake Love Series. At its length it’s easy to read in one evening if you’re needing a pick me up in-between bigger books (which is something I’m always looking for)!

There’s not a whole lot to this book, which is its strength and weakness. I was immediately tossed into the story with little time to bring me slowly in. Meeting Madison and her dilemma happen within the first few pages. Meeting Eric happens shortly after. I do like the quick pace, but I always wish these books were longer. More character background, some deeper drama, maybe a sub-plot or two. Doesn’t matter! Just something to make this more than 150 pages and for me to really have a chance to be sucked in. I feel by the time I get there I’m nearing the epilogue.

The chemistry between Madison and Eric was great. I looooved their banter and found myself snickering at their flirtations. They had plenty of interactions and time to talk that their relationship made sense and gave me plenty of warm fuzzies.

I liked the plot, but wish it had been more put together towards the end (there’s a name issue that never gets solved so I’m still wondering how that works out). I do enjoy these quick and light stories and definitely plan to read the last one!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses

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