Book Review

Book Review: Just a Heartbeat Away (Forever Yours #1) by Cara Bastone

Rating: ★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Cara Bastone
Publisher: HQN Books
Release Date: June 30th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Some people change your life

Others change your heart

Newly widowed dad Sebastian Dorner was unraveling at the edges—until his son’s teacher, Via DeRosa, threw him a lifeline. Now, two years later, they reconnect at Matty’s new school, and an inconvenient but unmistakable jolt of attraction crackles between them. But why does the first person to spark with Sebastian in years have to be a millennial? Is twentysomething Via really too young for him or does fortysomething Sebastian just feel too damn old?

A former foster kid, Via’s finally forged the stable life she’s always dreamed of—new job, steady income, no drama. The last thing she needs are rumors about her and a single dad at school. But why does she keep being drawn into his capable, worn-flannel orbit? And why does being around Sebastian, Matty and even their dog, Crabby, seem to spark so much want?

They’re trying to ignore the tension threatening their friendship. But sometimes what’ll heal you is just a touch—and a heartbeat—away.

DID NOT START OFF WELL.

Okay.

This book made me realize one of my biggest contemporary romance pet peeves.

I HATE when one of the love interests starts off in a relationship. Just super unnecessary for me. It makes all of those good moments between them when that chemistry is starting to build feel tainted by the fact that someone is still attached to someone else. UGH. And in this book it wasn’t until 60%+ where it was confirmed Via was at last single.

Since that brought my rating real low I’ll throw in a few things I did like. I liked the other tropes and conversations surrounding grief, resilience and moving on. There’s some good moments about being in a relationship with a larger age gap and what that can mean for both parties. Solid side characters who were supportive friends to Sebastian and Via.

Also this was oddly Hallmarky and then got dashed with way more heated spice RIGHT at the very end that I was a bit taken back. Easy to skim over since it’s at the end, but if you’re waiting for that slow burn to kick in, it eventually does.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: multiple open door concentrated at the end
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: widower, mentions of growing up in foster homes, depictions of grief

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Book Review

Book Review: How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

Rating: ★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Sophie Sullivan
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: January 18th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.

FRUSTRATING.

If you’re going to call a book enemies to lovers, you better give me some enemies. This was NOT THE CASE. The forgiveness/kiss came waayyy to soon and then I was left upset with the rest of the book.

Within the rest of the book were some sweet moments. I’ll give it that. I liked most aspects of the relationship and interactions. There’s my good thing. Oohh, I did also love the design aspects! That was a nice plot point and I loved learning about things through Grace.

The rest was a slow slog to the standard conflict and eh reconciliation. Some of the drama worked well and other parts of it seemed childish and soap opera like through the altercations. Just a lot here that I couldn’t recommend. Moving on.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: closed door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: gaslighting, strained mother/daughter relationship

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Book Review

Book Review: The Co-Op by Tarah Dewitt

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 364 pages
Author: Tarah Dewitt
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: October 20th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

They say love and construction don’t mix.
By that logic, hate and construction may as well be condemned.

LaRynn Lavigne and Deacon Leeds had one short and contentious summer fling when they were teens.
Certainly nothing to build a foundation on.
But a decade later, when their grandmothers have left them with shared ownership of their dilapidated Santa Cruz building, they’re thrust back together and have to figure out how to brace up the pieces.
LaRynn has the money, but to access her trust, she has to be married.
Deacon has the construction expertise, but lacks the funds.
A deal is struck: Marry for however long it takes to fix up the property, collect a profit, and cut ties.
Thrust into a home without walls, they quickly learn that it’s easy to hide behind emotional ones, even in a marriage. But, with all the exposure and pitfalls that come with living with the opposite sex (and none of the perks) they’ll also have to learn what it means to truly co-operate as a team.

The Co-op is a steamy story about restoration and renovation, and uncovering all the things that build character within ourselves. It’s about the never-ending construction project that partnership is, and finding enjoyment at every stage.

BEST [YET].

Easily calling this my favorite book by this author. It was this beautiful steady growth that just made me fall in love with the characters and story. I live for character progression and this had that in spades. LaRynn and Deacon CLEARLY have some unresolved history and I appreciated immensely that amidst the digs and teases real communication started to flow. Both sides started to look at the situation differently and were able to talk about things that had been sitting on their souls for too long.

And what happens after? A wonderful relationship filled with pure love. These two had the heat, the banter, and all of the emotions. The innuendo was a bit past my comfort zone, but the steam itself is easily moved over. I just loved this story. LaRynn was not an easy character to love and sometimes we feel like that about ourselves and so I loved watching her story unfold (and I promise I did love her by the end!). Deacon was just the sweetest. And I loved that they both didn’t let each other get away with anything that needed to be discussed. Gah, I love communication.

The setting with the house flip was great. I liked the mix of construction shenanigans and everything else happening. The romance really stood out and dang do I love no third act break up that makes me want to pull my hair out.

I can’t wait to see what Dewitt writes next. I will eagerly be anticipating her next book.

Overall Audience Notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: multiple open; high explicit + high innuendo
  • Violence: Low
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: parental abandonment

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Book Review

Book Review: Shattered Sea (Tattered & Torn #4) by Catherine Cowles

Rating: ★★★★☆
Audience: Romantic Suspense
Length: 316 pages
Author: Catherine Cowles
Publisher: Pagesmith LLC
Release Date: September 13th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

I’ve known every kind of pain. Of the heart. Of the body. Of the soul. All I want now is the freedom that comes from making my art.

The last thing I expected was Hollywood royalty to waltz into my gallery in a small town in the middle of nowhere and see me.

A man like Boden Cavanaugh shouldn’t understand me. Shouldn’t be able to soothe my most ragged edges. Even worse, he makes me want the one thing I can’t have. Him.

All it takes is one spark, and friendship catches flame. But as our attraction burns bright, there are forces desperate to send us back into the darkness. And they’ve already killed before.

LOVED.

Catherine Cowles owns me when it comes to romantic suspense. The way I binge read this would astound some, I could NOT put it down.

I loooove these characters. And that the love interest was new and got added into the mix. Boden was so dang sweet and I am always here for a protective hero and yet never forces Laiken into any sort of a box. I love watching two people get to be.

The plot got intense?! I naively thought I had everything nailed down and didn’t see the blindside. The darkness leaking out from Wolf Gap was palpable and seeing these friends and family come together to help one of their own is my favorite.

It was a touch too insta-y love for me. Luckily Laiken and Boden’s relationship grew on me and I found myself begging the pages to turn quicker so we could get to their HEA.

Another great read, READY FOR THE NEXT.

Overall audience notes:

  • Romantic Suspense
  • Language: some
  • Romance: 2 brief open; medium explicit
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: gun violence, murder, kidnapping, physical violence, loss of loved one from a car wreck, depictions of grief and depression, loss of a loved one from drug overdose

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