The Night Before by Wendy Walker – A 5/5 Star Review!

Laura Lockner is misunderstood and difficult. She has been hard to love since being a little girl with “fists for hands”. Her sister Rosie’s sweet nature has been the perfect force to balance out Laura’s harsh personality. The two sisters along with their childhood friends Joe and Gabe have seen each other through horrific events in their childhood which built their friendship. Adulthood took Laura out from their hometown but now that she is back, can they remain a solid team as the past re-emerges?

I had read Emma in the Night in the past, also by Wendy Walker (see review here ).  I had high expectations for this book and it was nothing short of marvelous.  Everyone knows that there are lots of great books. But only rarely does a reader come across a brilliant masterpiece like Wendy Walker’s The Night Before that simply takes your breath away. There were multiple points where I had to pause, put the book down for a second, and take a moment to process the latest revealing truth. It is an intricate and delicate puzzle. Mind-blowing, fun, and a must-read for all fans of psychological thrillers.

For those who may be triggered or offended, there was violence, murder, adultery, divorce, foul language, and kidnapping.

Please note: an electronic ARC was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (thank you!).

A Lady’s Past by A. S. Fenichel – A 5/5 Star Review!

Another great book by A. S. Fenichel! One of my all-time favorite authors! A Lady’s Past is a fast-paced regency romance that is an exciting adventure. It is the fourth book in the Everton Domestic Society series but can easily be read as a standalone. However, if you have read the other books in the series (which I recommend all of them, see my reviews  first  ,  secondthird  ) it is a joy to spend more time with the previous characters. Lady Honoria and a beloved uncle have a stronger presence in this book which make it so much more fun.

Jacques and Diana’s story becomes increasingly difficult the more time they spend together, yet they can’t seem to stay away. Jacques was recently betrayed by a romantic partner yet finds the ability to trust Diana who clearly has secrets. Diana is being hunted by French spies for her father’s brilliant work. Jacques also recently escaped France, and with the good help of his friends, was able to help his family escape as well. Diana doesn’t know if she can trust Jacques, the Frenchman. Jacques doesn’t know if he can trust Diana because she is so evasive. The friction is so well defined in the plot that it leaves the reader begging for them to finally fall for each other.

I highly recommend this book for adult reader fans of regency romances with a kick of adventure. I would advise caution to readers who may be triggered or offended by: foul language, violence, kidnapping, murder, and sexually explicit scenarios.

Please note: an electronic Advanced Reader Copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!).

One Day in December by Josie Silver – a 5/5 Star Review!

It was love at first sight but life got in the way. One glimpse and their lives were forever changed. This story spans almost ten years and dangles the hope of a Happily Ever After in front of the reader and sneaks in pain, grief, and other unexpected turns that life takes. It’s a winding track with many hurdles but it makes the story authentic and the ending bliss. I would highly recommend for adult romance fans, especially around the holidays.

For those who may be triggered or offended: there was foul language, alcohol use, grief, death, pregnancy struggles, and mild sexually suggestive scenarios. 

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was provided for free by my local library via OverDrive. Please support your local libraries! 🙂

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan – A 5/5 Star Review!

Another great romance novel from Sarah Morgan! Having read her From Manhattan With Love series and a couple of standalones (see reviews: Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan With Love #1)  , Sunset In Central Park (From Manhattan With Love #2)  , Miracle On 5th Avenue (From Manhattan With Love #3)  , New York, Actually (From Manhattan With Love #4)  , Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5)  , Moonlight Over Manhattan (From Manhattan With Love #6)  , A New York Christmas Story  , How To Keep A Secret  , The Christmas Sisters  , One Summer in Paris ), I expected romance, humor, and character building.  I was not disappointed! Sarah Morgan has crafted building hope from trauma in her characters.  She also shows that bumps will happen in life but turning to those you love in those hard times help you get through.

This is not a simple sappy Christmas romance.  There is grit, trauma, misunderstanding, but there is also hope, love, and strength.  Rosie has moved an ocean away from her loved ones leaving her sometimes overprotective family behind.  She has found how to overcome her lifelong battle with asthma as well as how to stand on her own two feet for once.  She has also found love.  With her soon to be mother-in-law at the helm, she finds herself engaged with a Christmas wedding! Her family has to scramble to get to America and get through the blizzard to get to the wedding but what could possibly go wrong?

Everything.  Of course.

I highly recommend this romance to those getting ready and excited for the holiday season! It has a beautifully depicted backdrop of snowy mountains and treehouses at a resort I would absolutely love to go to for a vacation.  I would also recommend this novel for adults as there is mild foul language and sexually explicit material.

This is a standalone novel but I would love if further novels developed from this novel.  I would also recommend her other standalones as well as her From Manhattan with Love series!

Please note: an electronic version of the Advanced Reader Copy of this novel was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (Thank you Harlequin!).

The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney-DNF at 8%

I was very excited about the new book by JP Delaney as I was a fan of The Girl Before and Lie to Me. The Perfect Wife was very sci-fi and, unfortunately, was not a book that could keep my interest. I stopped reading after only a few chapters and could not find anything that kept me gripped to the story or even to a character. It seems as though the plot can easily be figured out but, being a seasoned reader of JP Delaney, I am sure nothing is what it seems. I would recommend for fans of sci-fi and psychological thrillers as this seems to combine the two.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – A 4/5 Star Review!

This is not a feel-good book. It drowns you in grief and chokes you with secrets. It deals with family dynamics, gender roles, racial discrimination, and death. This is the story about the interracial family in the 1970s in a small Ohio town and how they deal with their favorite daughter’s shocking death. Was it suicide or was she murdered?

The Lee family dynamic was full of underlying messages that were not well communicated and often conflicted. Parents having different expectations for the same child. Siblings fighting over attention but only one getting it. Therefore, there are many cases of misunderstandings that cut to the core. Celeste Ng did a fantastic job of making each member of the family a complex with their substantial secrets. Each of them hid their struggles and they all seemed just out of reach from each other. It was a heavy read as the narrative changed between each family member including flashbacks from Lydia, the deceased. It was also a hard read because one of the underlying themes is that you can’t always achieve your dreams exactly as you wish because unexpected life circumstances will throw you out of orbit.

My favorite character in this book is Hannah. My heart went out to her as she was the most innocent and the most forgotten. She seemed to be a vehicle to move the story along as it can get stuck sometimes dwelling in the grief. She also seemed to channel the inner child in all of them that was desperate to connect the family.

I would recommend this book for adult readers who are looking for something heavy and complex. This is not a light-hearted book about families coming together with a happy ending. This is full of grief and misunderstanding. I would not recommend this book for readers who may be offended or triggered by the following: violence, infidelity, misogyny, racial discrimination, sexually suggestive scenarios, parental abandonment, gender roles, and the death of a sibling, child, and/or parent.

The Duke Is But A Dream by Anna Bennett (Debutante Diaries #2)- A 5/5 Star Review!

Anna Bennett is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  I absolutely loved the previous book in this series, First Earl I See Tonight (see review here ) and had similar feelings for this book.  The Duke Is But A Dream also had adventure, humor, and (of course) romance.  This time it focuses on the headstrong and bold Lily Hartley’s love adventure following memory loss from a bar brawl injury.  This injury brings her and Nash, the Duke of Stonebridge, together in a unique situation that forces them to show their true character.  Even if Lily can’t remember her character, or her own name for that matter.  It then forces the question: Can you truly love someone if you don’t even know who you are?

This is not a simple romance.  All characters are dealing with heavy subjects that are not simply resolved by a true love’s first kiss (sorry Disney, I still love you).  Grief is an ongoing struggle that cannot truly be resolved, just like the void cannot truly ever be filled in reality.  However, this novel does portray how to cope with the grief in healthy ways and that trying to avoid it just makes you stuck and does not honor their memory well.  Abandonment is another issue that is dealt with as there does not seem to be anyone looking for Lily as she is missing and going by the name Caroline (as she does not remember her own name).  Don’t worry, reader, it was a misunderstanding that has a happy ending.

Additionally, this book briefly catches us up with the characters from the previous book in the series, Sophie, Gray, and her sister Fiona.  However, this book could be read as a standalone as it does not rely heavily on previous events.  Probably because Lily does not have any memory of previous events.  I did like the new characters that were introduced and I hope there are more books in the series.  I would love to see a story about Lily and Fiona’s close friend and colleague, Sophie.  I would also love to see a story about Nash’s sister, the bubbly and lovely Delilah.

I would absolutely recommend this book for fans of regency romance novels that have to do with brooding dukes and concerns about the reactions of the ton.  I would also recommend this book for adults as there are graphically sexual scenarios, mild foul language, violence, and alcohol use.

Please note: An electronic Advanced Readers Copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!