Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska #1) by Sarah Morgenthaler

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Sarah Morgenthaler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: May 5th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Graham Barnett named his diner The Tourist Trap, he meant it as a joke. Now he’s stuck slinging reindeer dogs to an endless string of resort visitors who couldn’t interest him less. Not even the sweet, enthusiastic tourist in the corner who blushes every time he looks her way…

Two weeks in Alaska isn’t just the top item on Zoey Caldwell’s bucket list. It’s the whole bucket. One look at the mountain town of Moose Springs and she’s smitten. But when an act of kindness brings Zoey into Graham’s world, she may just find there’s more to the man than meets the eye…and more to love in Moose Springs than just the Alaskan wilderness.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

ALL GOOD THINGS.

This was a gem. I had such a good time reading this that I went through it even fast than I expected. When I saw the setting for Alaska my mind immediately goes to The Simple Wild. That’s a lot to live up to in my bookish brain. No, this isn’t TSW, but it IS another great book set in the Alaskan wilderness I would easily recommend this to others.

With a time period of about two weeks you would think I’d be shouting about insta-love. NOPE. Morgenthaler wrote this romance beautifully. It felt honest, cute, and like they were actually into each other. Graham is the trope-ish grump who meets his sunshine in Zoey. I found myself laughing at their antics and the different situations that kept them colliding. Yet swooning when it was clear that Graham was into Zoey. Resistance was completely futile. Not to mention that utterly wonderful rom-com ending was what dreams are made of.

The only issue I had was wanting more depth from Graham. I felt very surface level with him (and most of the other characters). He spent most of the time in one state. A goofy grump who never divulged too much information. If I had gotten just a bit more from him it would have sent this off the charts.

I liked the rotating point-of-view. I love those in romances. It gives insight to both mindsets and decision making. The setting [of course] played a big part in how this book played out. I loooove the wilderness setting and all it entails. Getting a feel of both sides of tourism vs. those who live there.

Cute, low on the steam (huge plus in for me!), and an easy read that will make you smile. And can’t we all use that sometimes? I can’t wait to read Morgenthaler’s next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little throughout
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a love scene with little detail that fades out quickly
  • Violence: drunk driving (not by either MC, a side character in a small scene)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 348 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: April 28th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

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

LOVE ON THE TRAIL.

I am in awe of Harmon’s writing and how amazing this love story was. And on the Oregon Trail! What a unique setting y’all. I was incredibly impressed with the flow and build of this book. The writing is beautiful and well-paced. I am reminded with each of her books how much I love this author.

This romance comes off a bit more fast paced than I typically love, but the historical setting and writing really made me fall in love with Naomi and John as they fell in love. Naomi is strong, brave and a widow at 20. Her singular goal is helping her family cross the nation to a hopefully brighter future in California. I enjoyed her personality and mindset. She knew exactly what she wanted and made those wishes known. John was stoic and quiet. The perfect contrast to Naomi. He was searching for a place to belong and found his home with her.

While this is mostly a romance I was enthralled by everything else happening around them. My heart continually leaped and panicked throughout this book because Harmon doesn’t shy away from history. She has clearly well researched this time period to bring this story to life. Naomi and John (+Naomi’s family) definitely do not have it easy and it was hard to pull out all the good things that did happen to them. This was a hard read, especially when you stop to appreciate all the travelers and Native Americans went through as their world began to change through exploration.

It’s difficult to fully express my love for Harmon’s writing and her ability to weave together an ending that always makes me tear up. There’s learning moments, powerful connections, undeniable bonds and a faith in the characters that you can deeply feel. Where the Lost Wander isn’t a sugarcoated romantic tale. It’s raw, poignant, and utterly wonderful in all of its lows and its highs.

I also took a chance to read the Author’s Note at the end and loved it as well. I like to read these (especially for historical fiction) to see what artistic choices the author chose as well as what inspired the story. This one in particular was inspired by some of Harmon’s husband’s ancestors. It really brought home how deeply she felt for these characters (some being based on real people) and how much she wanted to write a story involving them.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, make outs, a few very little detail fade out scenes
  • Violence: physical, guns, arrows
  • Trigger warnings: some racist remarks about Native Americans, sexual assault, rape (ch. 17 – a few paragraphs with little detail)

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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

ARC Book Review: Entwined Paths (Swift Shadows #2) by M.L. Greye

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy + romance
Length: 664 pages
Author: M.L. Greye
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 3rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: To be added after release date

BOOK SUMMARY:

Five years ago, Emry was mourning the loss of her only brother and feeling utterly helpless. When the opportunity arose to travel to the exotic nation of Heerth, Emry jumped on it. Through the help of her friend, Trezim, she learned the skills needed to protect herself and possibly save her country.

The past five years have gone a little differently for Declan. He has been kidnapped, beaten, stolen, robbed of all that he had … and trained to become the fastest man in history. But was it all worth it in the end?

Set in a world where eye color determines one’s abilities, Emry and Declan must discover the hard way that not all eyes are created equally. Yet, when they do find their perfect match, everything seems to pair up nicely.

Thank you to the author for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

HIT REWIND.

Another great installment for this series! I am dying for book three and can’t wait to see how it ends. This was actually more of a prequel book rather than a book two. This was definitely a unique choice for the series, but I found myself enjoying it overall.

The entire book is set five years prior and we get a real in-depth background on Emry and Declan. The skimming over that happened in Of Rioters & Royals is nothing compared to this story. It’s long, detailed and gives you plenty of more reasons to love these two main characters.

There is a lot more heartache and emotions throughout this book compared to the previous as well. Getting the full story of when Declan was a Stolen about ripped my heart out. So many horrors and having only a tiny bit of light to cling on to. I love that changes that his character went through and the type of person it made him after. No, he didn’t make good decisions, but he made decisions to survive and still kept his humanity.

Emry went through a lot of growth in this time frame too. Not only physically growing up, but mentally. Her eyes were opened up to her kingdom in ways she didn’t know existed. Being sheltered was no longer an option for her. I love Emry and have bold and brave she is to help her kingdom. She has taken on vast amounts in order to save her kingdom.

I liked that I also got to know more about some side characters that I know will play a part in the third book. Trezim, Rand, and Fiona especially. I love the uniqueness and differences in their personalities. They all leaped off the page and had me loving them just as much as Declan and Emry. Honestly, there could be spin-off books about them and I would definitely be interested. I love when side characters don’t steal the show, but greatly add to it.

An amazing world where eye color determines your powers (still thinks this is so cool). It’s easy to follow and not get bogged down by information. Nor is their info dumping. Things come out organically and help grown everything around the plot. There were lots of different areas that Declan and Emry traveled too really broadening the map.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: skirmishes, physical, torture, magic
  • Trigger warnings: depression, discussion of suicide, loss of loved ones

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