Book Review

ARC Book Review: Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Sarah Grunder Ruiz
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 23rd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sometimes a yacht, a bold bucket list, and a kiss with a handsome stranger are all a person needs to dive into the deep end of life.

For the last year, yacht stewardess Jo Walker has been attempting to complete a bucket list of thirty things she wants to accomplish by her birthday. Jo has almost everything she’s ever wanted, including a condo on the beach (though she’s the youngest resident by thirty years) and an exciting job (albeit below deck) that lets her travel the world.

Jo is on track until a family tragedy turns her life upside down, and the list falls by the wayside. But when her two nieces show up unannounced with plans to stay the summer, they discover her list and insist on helping Jo finish it. Though the remaining eight items (which include running a marathon, visiting ten countries, and sleeping in a castle) seem impossible to complete in twelve weeks, Jo takes on the challenge.

When she summons the courage to complete item number five–kiss a stranger–and meets Alex Hayes, all bets are off. As her feelings for Alex intensify and Jo’s inability to confront difficult emotions about her family complicates her relationships, she must learn to quit playing it safe with her heart before she loses what matters most.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the eARC.

ABSOLUTELY LOVED.

I called a five-star from chapter ONE. That’s how convinced I was this was going to be a great read and y’all, IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. It gave me allllllll the Below Deck vibes minus without being over the top dramatic (like the show). I am here for the romance between a stewardess and a Hot Yacht Chef.

There were many themes at play here and they interconnected beautifully throughout Jo’s story. Jo is working through the grief of losing her nephew. When her two nieces show up for the summer she struggles to approach the topic and discussions surrounding him. Jo made some mistakes in this arena, but also really grew as a character. The dialogue and open apologies had me tearing up and loving Jo all the more.

Jo is approaching 30 and has a difficult time opening up and letting in others. Allowing herself to love and be loved as she deserves. ENTER ALEX. From kissing a hot stranger in a bar to finding out he’s your co-worker, BRING ON THE FORCED PROXIMITY. The tension from these two are wild. I don’t know how many times I shouted to KISS HER ALREADY. Then I got one of those arguments turning into confessions of love and I am swooning. Absolutely done for. There’s no spice and I didn’t miss it for one second. Alex and Jo were this charming, real-life couple I dream for. Did I mention Alex is a single Dad to an amazing teen Greyson? I loved this duo and how seamlessly they fit into Jo and her nieces lives.

Y’all. I couldn’t get enough of this South Florida love story. Weaving many plot lines together that had me laughing, tearing up, and devouring this story. Consider this a must add to your TBR. I am off the roof excited for the next story!!!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: death of a teen (off page, but is discussed often), loss of a parent (prior to book, but again, discussed), parental abandonment, intense guilt, depictions of grief and depression

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Well Matched (Well Met #3) by Jen DeLuca

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Jen DeLuca
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: October 19th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

An accidentally in-love rom-com filled with Renaissance Faire flower crowns, kilts, corsets, and sword fights.

Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell.

Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire–a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she’ll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what’s real and what’s been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship.

As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch’s family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch’s girlfriend again…something that doesn’t feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans–and open her heart–for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.

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

AAAAAAPRIL.

Someone please tell me they read that in Andy Dwyer’s voice?

After that brief intro, let me voice my thoughts on this book.

BECAUSE I LOOOOOOVED IT.

All I could want for Mitch and April’s storyline was in here. I have been waiting for this book since Well Met. It wrapped me up and filled me with so many emotions throughout. I finished it in a day because I was so enraptured by this love story.

I love that there was a deeper story for Mitch. I really got to see all of his layers pulled back and see the insecurities that he struggles with. Watching April stand up for him and be by his side brought all the warm fuzzies and fist pumps because I was behind her back saying YEAH TELL ‘EM. The united front brought on by fake-dating (YUP THAT TROPE Y’ALL!!!) gave way to the clear emotional pull between them. [And let’s face it, I’m a total sucker for the fact he wore a kilt for a good portion of this book.]

April frustrated me, but not in an overly annoying way. More of a, I get it, kind of way. She had to work through a lot of feelings. Coping with becoming an empty nester after being a single-mom, seeing her ex again and learning that plans change. And that all of that is okay. But that it’s also okay to have moments of pure doubt and freak out a little because change is scary. Even when I felt exasperated, I still sat in April’s corner cheering her on to her, much deserved, happy ending.

There’s many a trope abound in here. And I love a good mash-up. Fake-dating was already mentioned, but there’s also single bed, age gap, and more. I was wrapped up in all the Ren Fest related and this series always makes me want to pull out a corset and dive into the fray. I ADORED a moment that reminded me of a scene in Grease (and I’m sure many other books/movies, IYKYK because I don’t want to spoil). There was layer upon layer of story here that had me swooning, begging for reconciliation, and rallying for that final push to my favorite kind of HEA.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to a few open door scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: divorce (husband abandons April), family tension/bullying, abandonment of a child (side character)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Emily Henry
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 11th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart–she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown–but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together–lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

LOVED THIS.

I can break down this review really simply.

I have a hard time loving these tropes: friends to lovers, second chance, and books with flashback chapters.

People We Meet on Vacation made me love them ALL. It was written so beautifully and magnetically that I devoured this in a day. I didn’t want to put it down, I needed to know what happened. The story was a journey and gave me plenty of wanderlust about traveling.

I LOVE Alex and Poppy. Goodness gracious. Their chemistry leaped off the page into fireworks. From the get-go I knew I was in for this book. I love the opposites attract vibes and watching their love story play out over the flashbacks. It was expertly accomplished. I can’t say enough good things about how this story. I wish I could read it fresh again.

Need I mention some tropes I do love that were also included? ONE BED, slow burn and tension for days. The angst here was real. Alex was such a cinnamon roll. Poppy was vibrant and larger than life. I just love them. LOVE THEM. I found myself smiling and laughing at the banter and antics. How things were going utterly wrong in one way and perfectly right in another.

I like to mention in romances if that conflict we all know is coming took away from the story. This time? It didn’t take away at all. It fit into everything I learned about the characters over the book. It allowed for growth from both characters and learning what they truly wanted and needed from their own lives as their’s collided.

What a book. I love Emily Henry’s romances!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses to brief open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: depicitons of anxiety, loss of a parent, bullying

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Book Review

Book Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Thriller / Mystery
Length: 327 pages
Author: Simone St. James
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 18th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

DEFINITELY CREEPY.

Another thriller that I immensely enjoyed. Even as my Husband asked multiple times in the last 50 pages if I was okay. I was that enthralled and NEEDED TO KNOW.

What creeped me out most about this book was that relevance of it all. How easily this can and does happen to women. It was freaky to think of being watched, of being chose “just because” and disappearing without a trace.

The alternating story lines worked really well. I occasionally found them repetitive of each other, but overall, they kept the story moving. I was equally interested in both stories and thought they connected at the right time to tell the newest timeline.

I’m usually not into ghost stories, but this worked so well!! I was spooked by them, but they also played their own part. They definitely added to the ambiance and vibes of the whole book and gave me the heebie-jeebies multiple times. Remind me to never work at a run down motel in a small town. NOPE. That ending with all of the information rolling out was like WHOA. I loved finding out who was all included in what really happened in 1982.

Generally, thrillers slow down to where I feel like I need to just skim and get it over with. I never felt that way here. I found it easy to want to keep reading and the pages really flew by. An all out great thriller for it being a lesser read genre for me.

Overall audience notes:

  • Thriller / Mystery
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: murder, physical altercations
  • Trigger warnings: mentions of rape victims (no full scenes), harassment, kidnapping, stalking

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