The Christmas Cottage (Ever After) by Samantha Chase-3/5 Star Review

Ava and Mason are getting married. This alone is cause for some family stress, but when it’s a Callahan that’s getting married, it has to be a huge event. Fortunately for Ava, her best friend Lacey is her maid of honor.

Lacey Quinn has been best friends with Ava since childhood and in love with her older brother, Ean, since then too. She has been equipped with an extremely detailed binder of instructions to get the cottage ready for Ava and Mason’s honeymoon. Every detail was specified in the giant book, except the minor detail that Ean would be coming home early from out of state and hoped to stay at the cabin before getting together with his family.

When they meet again, accidents happen, a bad snowstorm rolls in, and they both have to decide how to go about their feelings while setting up the cottage.

The story was easy to relate to when Ava and Lacey’s opposite personalities clashed. Ava’s personality in particular was one that I have met in real life a few times. A person so desperate for the romantic fantasy of love that they overlook the red flags along the way. I wanted to like her, since she was the main character’s best friend, but I found her to be exhausting and immature.

A lot of it was over the top, although it may have felt more so because of the overuse of exclamation marks. It was predictable and rather impractical, but despite these things it was also a cute and quick holiday read.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was provided for free from Sourcebooks Casablanca via daily e-mails containing excerpts. You can sign up for these e-mails by going to http://books.sourcebooks.com/casablanca-stay-in-touch/ and clicking on the Free Romance Reads Daily Email.

Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan With Love #1) by Sarah Morgan-5/5 Star Review!

Paige Walker has finally gained her independence. After spending her childhood in and out of surgery to repair a hole in her heart, she is determined to live life on her own terms. She and her two best friends, Eva and Frankie, busted out of their small hometown and are living and working together in New York City. Her older brother and his best friend (turned family friend) live nearby and things seem to be looking up. Heading into a meeting with her boss ready to urge her for a promotion, the last thing she expected to be was fired.

Her brother’s best friend, Jake, has pushed her to her limit as long as they have known each other. Instead of jumping to protect her and fix things for her, he pushes her to start her own business with Frankie and Eva. Jake can help her and her new company get off the ground, but can Paige accept his help or try to do it on her own?

I received an ARC of the third book of this series, Miracle on 5th Avenue, a few weeks ago via NetGalley. Although that book could be read as a standalone (yay no cliffhangers!) I do wish that I had read this series in order. There were parts in this book that hinted at the third book. Since I had already read the third book, it was physically impossible for me not to squeal giddily at those hints. I have already purchased the second book in this series which I hope to read as soon as possible because this book also hinted at the next story. These hints were merely dropped along the way but did not hinder or distract the story of Paige and Jake at all.

Furthermore, these characters are unique which I appreciate as a reader. Each character is distinct in words and actions which led to humorous dialogue. Each character also has a powerful backstory that I am looking forward to reading more about in the next book. It is a steamy yet uplifting romance and it was fun getting to know each character!

For those who may be sensitive: there were several scenes that were sexual in nature.

Make It Hurt (Texas Bounty #2) by Jackie Ashenden Review: 2/5 Stars

Nora Sutcliffe is a tough bounty hunter who always gets her target. She has had to prove her strength and fearlessness consistently in her line of work as she is often underestimated. No one has been able to rattle her. That is, until she goes to pick up her target who skipped his court date at a bar that is infiltrated by a Motorcycle Club. Her target is the Vice President and she has to convince the MC President to let her do her job. The only problem is that the President happens to be her only ex-boyfriend, Smith.

Smith has come a long, hard way since he last saw or heard from Nora. He was working on her wealthy family’s pool house when he was distracted by her. He has had a grudge since their breakup and has since joined the military, then the Ministry (Motorcycle Club), where he has recently become President. Not only does he have to make his mark as President, but now he has to battle the one person who has sparked his rage for the last 8 years.

The first 20% of the book was fast-paced and switched perspectives from Nora and Smith. The alternating perspectives worked for the most part, except when the characters would argue with their own selves. There would be dialogue, then a character’s thinking, which would be interrupted by it’s own thinking in italics. It seemed like the author was going for the angel on one shoulder, devil on the other concept, but I found it to be distracting.

Along with the distracting perspectives, I also found Nora (and Smith for that matter) to be one-dimensional. Instead of working out their issues and finding a compromise that they can work towards, Nora and Smith spend most of the book rehashing the breakup. Over. And. Over. It was beyond redundant. Additionally, I found Nora to be irritatingly immature. There were a few scenes where she and Smith were heating things up and working out their past and she would suddenly change courses (by a thought in italics as discussed earlier) and decide to be cold and distant. Smith was greedy and disrespectful, especially in regards to Nora. He made promises he did not have intentions of keeping in order to benefit himself. He also coerced Nora into having sex with him in order for him to work with her on this job.

In conclusion, this book was only 2 out of 5 stars for me because it lacked depth. While it was not completely boring, it was unbelievable. ****SPOILER ALERT****For example: after 2 nights of sex, Smith asks Nora to move in with him. He did not like her apartment and even wanted her to quit her job because he could provide for her.

Warning: This book does contain foul language, sexually graphic scenes, and gun violence.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Miracle On 5th Avenue (From Manhattan With Love #3) by Sarah Morgan Review: 5/5 Stars!

Eva Jordan is a hopeless romantic in the worst time of year to be single: the holidays. Furthermore, she is struggling with grief following the death of her grandmother who raised her. Yet through all of this she remains optimistic. Even in the face of her latest work assignment, the cynical widowed crime fiction writer, Lucas Blade. When a winter storm traps them in the same place, will opposites attract?

I was a little nervous about starting this book because I had not realized that it was part of a series before I had requested it. Fortunately, it did not hinder the storyline at all. This book could easily read as a standalone and I assume the other 2 books have to do with her 2 best friends and co-workers. There is a brief background provided when these characters are introduced that was helpful and flowed well with the story.

What also flowed well with the story was the development of the characters. Lucas and Eva’s story reminded me of the tale of Beauty & The Beast as we see Lucas transform from cynical to charming. Additionally, events in the story also reminded me of Cinderella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Anastasia. Since all of the above mentioned movies are some of my favorites, this book also quickly became one of my favorites. In fact, once I finished it, I was tempted to start the book over right away because it made me so happy. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for an uplifting holiday romance. However, I should also warn you not to read this book hungry because Eva also has a food blog and her culinary creations were very tempting.

For those who may be sensitive: there is foul language and graphic sex scenes.

Please note: a copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley.