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!).

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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! 

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella – A 5/5 Star Review!

Everything is not going perfectly for Fixie Farr. Which is not ok. Fixie got her nickname from her inability to leave things be, she has to fix them. Blindsided by her father’s death, she is the only one of her siblings that appears to want things to be as her father would want them in the family-owned store. She runs the shop with her mom, who is going on her first long-term holiday in a long time. When her mom leaves, her siblings and other family members try to step in and take over with their dominant ideas which clash with Fixie wanting things to stay as her father would want it. On top of that her former flame comes back into the picture, she rescues a stranger’s laptop, and she briefly gets back in touch with her old ice skating queen self. With everything falling apart, can she fix it in time for her mother’s return?

Another favorite book by Sophie Kinsella! I have read many of her standalones under this surname and under her actual name: Madeleine Wickham ( see reviews: Surprise Me , My (Not So) Perfect Life). All of them are fun romantic adventures and this one just may be the most fun yet deep one. I think it is the most perfect romantic comedy. It has highs and lows, character building amongst all characters, deceptive villains, and family bonding.

The characters are so clearly identifiable with their own nuances that I felt like I really knew them. And they had personalities of people that I have met in my life! They are so finely tuned from beginning to end that it really becomes a masterpiece.

There was an undertone of grief and how it presents itself differently for every person. Furthermore, it depicts how simply pretending that the void is not there does not allow for healing. I also enjoyed how pride and appearances are thin veils of insecurity that can easily be torn-particularly by showboating and by social media.

True love does not mean fixing everything. True love does not just mean between lovers, it involves family too. Furthermore, a family is not just blood and sometimes we don’t even truly know those closest to us.

There were misunderstandings on many levels and so many characters that I rooted for. I thought the book had reached its conclusion and then I realized I was only about 2/3 of the way through! Once I had read further then I realized that the focus of the book, although a romance, is not on romantic love but on love in its many forms. This story further proves that love isn’t just the romance between lovers. This love story encompasses romantic love, familial love, and self-love.

In conclusion: I laughed, I cried, I snickered, I felt secondhand embarrassment, and I felt so proud of Fixie and her family, not just those related to her by blood. I absolutely loved this book.

I would recommend this book for adult readers who love romances, comedies, romantic comedies, and fiction in general. On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who may be triggered or offended by the following: grief, parental death, sibling death, stealing, foul language, alcohol use, and/or sexually suggestive scenarios.

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

One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan- a 5/5 Star Review!

As the old saying goes: “Secrets, secrets, are no fun. Secrets, secrets, hurt everyone”. But everyone has secrets, don’t they? Some secrets hurt more than others. Like Grace, whose husband decides to tell her his secret. That he’s cheating with a friend. Their daughter’s friend who is more than half their age. And he decides to tell her this at dinner for their 25th Anniversary.

Other secrets we keep so we don’t get hurt or judged by others. Like young Audrey, who is dyslexic and just trying to get through high school. But it is hard to do when she has an erratic and constantly drunk mother.

Both Grace and Audrey meet by chance while each are escaping from their respective chaos in Paris. Both had more in common than they could have possibly expected and develop a strong friendship where they teach each other what it means to be completely honest and to bring out the best in each other. I loved that this book explored friendship love, parental love, love lost, and romantic love all in one story based in the city of love.

This is yet another wonderful book by Sarah Morgan! It is an emotional roller coaster full of secrets: heartwarming yet tense, funny yet serious, hopeful yet grieving. The amount of character development among multiple characters was astounding. There was one character in particular that I absolutely had feelings of rage whenever they were involved in the plot but towards the end I found myself (begrudgingly) rooting for. It also is a great book that highlights the important benefits of traveling, particularly internationally, as well as the importance of a strong relationship with grandparents.

As someone who simply adores my grandmother, Mimi is my favorite character of the book. She is one of the main character’s grandmother who is sassy, independent, unconventional, and just plain fun! She also has a secret that she has been hiding for decades that is later revealed.

I have read many other books by Sarah Morgan:

but, out of all of them, this was the hardest. This was simply not a book that I could finish in one sitting. Hear me out, it does get easier to read as the plot develops but, for me it was hard because, both main characters also had complicated relationships with their respective mothers. In particular, they both had difficult and unstable childhoods due to their mothers’ addictions. I could relate to each of the main characters as this was something I had also experienced. This made reading the book difficult as it brought up a lot of things that I had spent a lot of time repressing. Which also made this book cathartic in that it helped me work through some of it rather than repressing it. (Ms. Morgan, you can bill me later for the therapy 😉 ).

Therefore, if you are one who has also had to deal with a difficult childhood with a parent battling addiction, this book may be heavier than expected. However, I do still recommend it as it can also be healing.

I would also recommend this book for readers who enjoy stories about friendship, traveling, and romance. I would recommend this book for adult readers as it does have foul language, heavy topics, and sexually suggestive scenarios.

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

It’s Getting Scot in Here (Wild Wicked Highlanders #1) by Suzanne Enoch- this blog’s first 5/5 Star Review of 2019!

FINALLY! I had been struggling to find a book that I actually liked in 2019 and it has been a struggle.  Or, it was a struggle until I had the great opportunity to read Suzanne Enoch’s It’s Getting Scot in Here.  If the title alone doesn’t get you, the plot definitely will. Niall MacTaggert may very well be my new definition of swoon-worthy because I blushed, I giggled-I was swooning!

Amelia-Rose is stuck.  She and her big mouth has landed her in a position where she has barked off every suitor her mother has chosen for her.  Her mother insists on her marrying a man with a title, as she should have when she was younger.  Her father supports her mother but supports his drinking habit more.

The MacTaggert brothers are also stuck.  They barge into London enraged yet encaged in a binding agreement between their father and their absent mother, Francesca, which forces them to marry a woman from London.  Even worse: one of them has to marry a woman that their mother has already chosen.  Their mother who abandoned them as children and took their youngest sister with her to London while they grew up in Scotland.

Amelia-Rose is chosen by Francesca to be married to Coll, the most brutish of all three, and the eldest who will take on the title.  Coll keeps getting into trouble and his younger brother, the dashing peacekeeper Niall (I am still swooning, by the way), steps in for him to court Amelia-Rose and save her from embarrassment from the ton.  No one expected them to fall for each other.

I love the bantering between Niall and Amelia-Rose.  I love his persistence in making sure that she stays true to her character, not what people tell her to be.  I also loved that the brothers were very respectful and supportive of their sister that they did not get the opportunity to see grow up.  The brothers were simply a hilarious trio of mischief.   It was very entertaining when the three of them were in the same scene.  They call each other out yet still humor and maintain a level of respect.

The pacing was great in this book and it is very easy to get caught up in the world that Suzanne Enoch creates.  The villains are very clear in this book and still haunt me.   The character development, particularly of Niall, is very strong and I cannot praise this book enough!

In conclusion, I am thrilled that this is the first book in the Wild Wicked Highlanders because I simply must have more of these storylines!  It has the perfect balance of humor, romance, and conflict. I loved every page and I highly recommend this book to readers of romance, regency romance, and highlander romances.

For those who may be triggered/offended:  There was mild foul language, alcohol use, bullying, violence,  sibling separation, divorce/parental separation, and parental abandonment.

Please note: an electronic advanced reader copy of the book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  (Thank you!)

 

Want to get the book? Click here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250296375

 

You can check out Suzanne Enoch’s website here: http://www.suzanneenoch.com

 

 

Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser-DNF at 51%-A 2/5 Star Review

Two friends separated geographically and by one friend being a new parent.  They finally find time to connect via Skype.  The conversation is awkward then interrupted by a waking child.

One friend is left waiting, the other struggling with pain to get to the now-wailing child.

One friend sees an intruder break-in but has no way of alerting the other friend.

What happens next?

 

Gripping, right?  That’s not only the premise of the story but it is also the very first chapter in summation.  I have to say: the first two chapters were very riveting!  It felt like the plot was moving quickly and I kept being surprised.  Then the resulting chapters I was either confused at the characters’ reactions or bored with the inner monologues and kept skimming.  The inner ramblings of the narrating characters ended up being the downfall for the book for me.  It showed that the characters are as awful internally as their actions have shown.  Their secrets that they kept from one another appears to have been intended to contribute towards the idea that this book is a psychological thriller.  However, in my opinion, it was just a boring novel about entitled suburban strife.  However aversive the adult characters may have been, the children were redeeming in that they were adorable and pure. 2 stars: One for Nori and One for Rosie.

Back to the inner monologues: there were many diatribes in narration, mostly justifying how horribly they are treating the other characters, that I kept finding myself skimming.  They were so lengthy at times that I was relieved when the chapter was finally over so I could put the book down for awhile.  Or I would keep putting the book down because it was a series of the worst things that could happen to a character, happening to each character, more than once.  I am not sure if the author was going with the idea that “bad things happen to good people” because these characters were not exactly great people.  Which is drilled into the readers’ head repeatedly.    Or maybe the author was trying to use catastrophic events to help build character.  But at the point that I stopped, halfway through, that still did not appear to have happened.  Instead, the characters all seem to be self-absorbed and blaming the other for one bad event or another.

There were so many bad things happening with each character that I stopped being surprised at any new element thrown in.  OF COURSE! I kept screaming at my Kindle.  OF COURSE the HR guy’s name is Toby, just like in The Office.  OF COURSE they’re going to mention that his name is like the guy in The Office.  OF COURSE Toby isn’t that great, no one in the book is.  OF COURSE there’s a shady neighbor.  OF COURSE the intruder is not who they originally thought.  OF COURSE there are money issues involved.  OF COURSE their life fell apart, everyone in this book is falling apart! You get the idea.

In conclusion: I would not recommend this book at all.  I would especially not recommend it for younger than adult audiences.  Lastly, I would not recommend this book for those who may be triggered or offended by: foul language, infidelity, intruders/break-ins, stalkers, addiction, marital strife, or arson.

Please note: an electronic ARC of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

 

Adele by Leila Slimani- DNF at 15%-a 1/5 Star Review

DNF at 15%

This book is just not for me. I cannot relate to the main character and I found her to be self-centered with a complete disregard for others’ feelings or any consequences. So far it has only been told in Adele’s point-of-view but it is not an interesting one. She just goes from assessing who she can see herself having sex with on the train to being annoyed by her son’s general existence. It did not seem like the plot was going to be any more than a chronology of emotionless sexual partners.

I would not recommend this book for any reader but I would especially not recommend it for anyone who may be triggered or offended by: foul language, explicitly sexual scenarios, and infidelity.

Please note: an electronic ARC of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.