Thursday, September 28, 2017

Mending Fences by Lorin Grace

From Goodreads:
The fence that once brought them together now keeps them apart.

Mandy needs one last photo to complete her MFA project, digitally transforming the deteriorating Crawford mansion into the stately building it could have been. But a fence stands in her way.

Determined to keep land developers and paparazzi from his great-grandfather’s estate, Daniel Crawford has taken to chasing off intruders by any means possible. No one is going to cross the fence into his land. Or his heart.

My Take:
This was my favorite story in the Mansions series so far! There was nothing to complain or nit pick. The connection between Daniel and Mandy felt real, as did the things keeping them a part. You could argue that Mandy could have let him explain, but women need a cool down period. After that, she did listen. Sadly, the incident with Coach 'Handsy' also felt real to life. Every time "but the team was winning" was mentioned, I wanted to scream because all too often that is more important than women's comfort and safety.

I also loved how in the end, Daniel figures out that love is really about the every day small moments than the big gestures.

I give Mending Fences a 4.5 and Clean rating.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.
R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Kiss Me in the Rain by Lindzee Armstrong

From Goodreads:

Will she risk the home she treasures for the man she loves?

Cypress Grove has always been a treasured constant in Layla's perfect life. Now the mansion will be sold to the highest bidder if she doesn’t date an investor's son. The problem? The man she really wants just rolled into town.

Tyler is done being responsible and never going after what he wants. Layla's finally given him the courage to quit grad school and use his student loans to flip houses. And he's decided to move near Cypress Grove to do it.

When Layla happens upon suspicious ledgers at the mansion, her family's financial woes take a sinister turn. As Tyler and Layla work together to find the culprit, the attraction between them threatens to burst into flames. But admitting their feelings could spell disaster for Cypress Grove.

My Take:
I enjoyed this story. It was a clean read with likable characters and some tangled emotions. The only reason I didn't give it a 5 is because I had trouble believing Layla would go along with her father's crazy plans for so long. She seemed like an otherwise strong woman who knew what she wanted, and yet she was willing to go along with a fake dating/engagement in spite of being in love with someone else to save her mansion. I also didn't believe that it took her so long to figure out who the real thief was. All the clues were there, plain as day.

However, I really liked how Layla and Tyler interacted. That felt real within the confines of the situation they found themselves in. Mostly, I loved the choice that Kayla made in the end. That was real, and it made me go, "finally!"

I give Kiss Me in the Rain a solid 4 with a Clean rating.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.
R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sweet Tea and Kisses Boxed Set

I'm not dead! Sadly, I've been super busy with work and helping plan a community event that will take place later this month. That hasn't left much time for reading for enjoyment. I did get the privilege of reading this fun collection set in Atlanta, Georgia. Having been married in that busy city myself, I definitely see the romance of the area.

Below is the blurb for each short story and my thoughts in italics.

From Goodreads:
(Sweet Tea and Kisses: A Contemporary Romance Boxed Set) Discover the alluring world of the South with six sweet contemporary romance novellas from New York Times, USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors.

Chase fireflies that glitter on starry nights, listen to the call of the cicadas, and smell the luscious scent of magnolias as you experience the adventures of cowboys, brides, second chances, and unexpected romance all set in Atlanta. Don’t miss your chance to fall deeper in love as you explore the South through the eyes and hearts of these unforgettable characters.

A Kiss is Just a Kiss by Melinda Curtis, USA Today Bestselling Author. Kitty Summer has a wedding to stop. She’s sure the groom doesn’t love her sister, but how can she prove it? By testing his fidelity with one very public kiss, of course.

I believe this was my favorite from the boxed set. Kitty and Beck were both strong personalities and that made the sparks fly. That first kiss was more than they both bargained for! I loved everything about the story, from the angry words, the road trip where everything that could go wrong did, sassy grandma Dotty, and the heart wrenching moment when Kitty tells Maggie, "Just...don't hurt him." The best part was Kitty and Beck were both trying to do what was right at the expense of their own happiness. Thank goodness for Maggie!

I give this a 4.5, with a Clean rating.

Taste of Tara by Shanna Hatfield, USA Today Bestselling Author. Falling in love never tasted so sweet… Pastry chef Tara Tarleton has one month to live out her dreams on a plantation in the South. Reality falls far short of her expectations until a chance encounter with a hunky horse wrangler changes her mind.

This was a cute story, and although I like the way it wasn't a play by play retelling of Gone With the Wind in modern times, I felt the connection was forced at time. Bret instead of Rhet for instance. There were lots of little things like that where I felt the author was trying to hard to make me think of Gone With the Wind, when Tara and Bret's story would have been just as good and compelling without it. 

As far as the romance, I appreciated the natural progression of their affection. I give this one a 3.75 to 4. I enjoyed it, just wanted to lose the correlations being forced on me.

The Wedding Charm by Susan Hatler, New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author. In order to retrieve and deliver an antique charm before her best friend’s wedding, maid of honor Sarah Carlton must fake being in love with her childhood nemesis, best man Ben Atkins.

This story give "A Kiss is Just a Kiss" a run for the spot of my favorite story from the collection. Sarah and Ben have been in love with each other forever, but they've both been quiet about it. All the tasks that are given to them are fun to read about. Even better is the way it shows Sarah how well she fits and works with Ben until she's reached the place he's been waiting all those wasted years. Very satisfying read.

I give this a 4.5, with a Clean rating.

Sassy Bride by Ciara Knight, USA Today Bestselling Author. A Cinderella meets Rich Charming tale set in small town, Georgia, full of sass and sacrifice. Can a girl form the wrong side of town win over the ugly in-laws, or will she lose her happily ever after forever?

*spoilers* I really wanted to like this one, but Sadie bugged me. Well, maybe it wasn't Sadie, but Ashton's mom? Not really sure. I grew up in the South and am glad to say I never knew any mom's as evil and devious as his mom. It just didn't feel real to me that you could get so close to your wedding date and not have worked out these family issues. In the end Ashton saved this story because he was a good guy who really loved Sadie and truly did choose her over his family. 

I'd probably give this a 3.5, with a Clean rating.

It Could Happen to Us by Lucy McConnell, Contemporary Romance Author. An irresistible contemporary romance about a not-so-humble cop who splits his raffle ticket with an unlucky waitress and the actor who falls in love with her.

This one was cute. At first I was worried about the story following the movie "It Could Happen to You", but luckily it took a detour rather quickly. Instead of winning money, they win a lunch with some celebs--and the cop is a total jerk. Anyway, I also loved that this short story had some time passage involved. Even when we have that first love/attraction/connection thing going on, life is never a fairy tale. Allie and Mark had to wait for their happily ever after for real world reasons. I appreciated that.

I give this a 4, with a Clean rating.

Hit and Run Love by Jennifer Peel, Award Winning and Bestselling Author. What happens when a no-nonsense lawyer and her ex-boyfriend, a police officer, run into each other? Lots of sparks, literally and figuratively. Will this be another hit and run? Or, this time around, will Harrison be able to convince Kallie to give up her running shoes?

This was one of my three favorites from the boxed set. It was easy to connect with Kallie as she kept running away even while I kept thinking she was being stupid. Maybe she's my brand of stupid? Harrison kept chasing her, always wanting to break down that wall he could feel between them. This was one that had me cheering when Kallie finally figures things out. 

I give this a 4-4.5, with a Clean rating.

The Sweet Tea and Kisses Boxed Set by the Sweet Six authors will have you falling in love with the South with every turn of the page.

I give the boxed set Sweet Tea and Kisses a 4-4.5 and Clean rating for easy readability with memorable characters.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.

 R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot

Friday, May 19, 2017

Cancun Getaway by Cami Checketts

From Goodreads:
Don't miss this inspiring and romantic addition to the bestselling Billionaire Beach Romances that bestselling author, Taylor Hart, has dubbed, "Fast-paced, fun, and flirtatious."

Moriah Jackson arrives in Cancun expecting a relaxed beach vacation with her son. She doesn't plan on meeting a charming, blond Adonis who's intent on sweeping her off her feet. And she certainly doesn't expect to be targeted by human traffickers. Fighting the urge to be drawn in by Jace's kindness, Moriah must let go of her past or she'll jeopardize more than just her own future.

Jace Browning lost his former love to the obnoxious and arrogant Brooks Hoffman. He buries himself in work until his brothers force him to meet them at an all-inclusive Cancun resort. He never dreamed he'd meet a dark-haired beauty who captures him with her dancing, positive attitude, and love for everyone. Now that he's found her, he's not going to let her go without a fight, but her son's biological father might ruin both of their futures.

Cancun Getaway is the fourth book in the Billionaire Beach Romances. It is a stand-alone book but has characters from Cozumel Escape and The Faithful One: A Billionaire Bride Pact Romance.
The bestselling Billionaire Bride Pact Romance series also features books by Jeanette Lewis.

The books in order would be:
The Resilient One (free on Amazon)
The Passionate One
The Feisty One (free when you sign up for Cami's newsletter at camichecketts.com)
The Rebellious One
The Independent One
The Adventurous One
The Protective One
The Faithful One
The Daring One
The Glamorous One

Enjoy these top-rated contemporary romance books FREE as part of your Kindle Unlimited Prime Subscription. You can read the ebooks on your Amazon Kindle Fire, on a computer via Kindle Cloud Reader or on any smartphone or tablet with the free Kindle reading app.

My Take:
This was another great read from Checketts. I will admit the way Moriah talked was really irritating for me at first. I'm a southern girl, even lived down in Mobile, AL for many years as a child. I don't remember people talking like that, but then again maybe it was just normal? Anyway, after I got used to it, I was fine.

Let's talk about the suspense elements first:

Checketts brings the traffickers back into the picture for the suspense element in this story. It's a different set from the ones in Cozumel Escape, but every bit as scary. There's also a fun suspense element with knowing Jace has a twin that Moriah knows nothing about. Of course it's going to be a great way to throw in a few more problems for our characters.

Now, the romance moves super fast, but it still feels believable. Moriah knows she has a type, and she tries to stay away, but man, how do you resist an Adonis? Especially one that makes your little boy so happy with his attention?

There's a lot of story in these few short pages. It's a fun, quick read.

I give it 4.5 stars and a clean rating.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.
R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Reluctant Rescue by Cami Checketts

From Goodreads

Caylee Compton has determined she'll never commit to a man, especially a too-handsome, fun-sucker like volunteer firefighter, physician, and ex-military Captain Levi Turner. Levi determines to change her mind. In the beautiful and exciting location of Lake Powell, Caylee fights valiantly to stay strong, but Levi's patience, kindness, and kisses might conquer even her commitment phobia.

My Take:

This is my first book in the Park City Firefighter romances. Once again, Cami delivers a fun, quick read that is pleasantly different from so many romances out there. I don't know if it's the locations she visits or what, but I love her writing.

Caylee is a fun loving, in your face kind of girl. However, she has her dark secrets too. The kind that make you ache for her. Levi is a great match for her. He wears his pain on the outside, with his fun side hidden deep. I loved that they needed to bring each other's hidden side out in order for both of them to heal and be ready for the love waiting for them.

I give Reluctant Rescue a 4.5 and a Clean rating.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.

 R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

SEALed with a Kiss by Leeanna Morgan

From Goodreads:
Three billionaires, an emerald lake, and a lifetime's worth of happy endings.

John Fletcher is used to living his life on the edge. He’s an ex-Navy SEAL and the owner of one of the most successful security companies in the world. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. When his daughter asks for the one thing he can’t give her, it breaks his heart.

Rachel McReedy isn’t impressed with John Fletcher’s money, fast cars or jet-setting lifestyle. What she cares about is Bella, his eight-year-old daughter. She might not have had the type of life Bella has, but she knows what it’s like to be left on her own. Rachel is determined to show John the error of his ways, but she isn’t prepared for what she’s about to find.

The day John meets Rachel, life as he knew it comes to an abrupt end. She stirs something deep inside of him, creates havoc in his orderly world, and makes him question what’s really important. He knows Rachel holds the key to his daughter’s happiness, but will she willingly hold the key to his heart?

My Take:
This story starts off kind of similar to "Sleepless in Seattle" in that the daughter mails a letter to Rachel's Bride's Maids Club to ask that they help find a wife for her daddy. She doesn't leave a last name or any other way to get in touch with her, but Rachel figures it out when Bella comes into the classroom she's subbing for. After that, we depart from the light hearted RomCom.

We get glimpses that there is something much more serious going on in John's life. There is a reason he's so protective of his daughter, and even though it takes Rachel a while to catch on, she only wants Bella to be happy. I love that she doesn't just cave to everything that John tells her to do. She tries to be helpful, even if it's a little outside of his comfort zone.

These two fight the attraction for as long as they can in an effort to protect themselves, each other, and Bella. After a blow up, where John says lots of mean things and fires Rachel, we have a PG-13 make up closed door scene. And it's all downhill from there. Which is what usually happens in romance novels. However, I appreciate that the split up after sex isn't because of something stupid like they didn't talk. Rachel asks John straight up what it meant, how he feels, and he just can't man up to his own feelings. That feels like a natural situation to me.

Anyway, we eventually get our HEA, although it kind of felt rushed to me for some reason.

I give SEALed with a Kiss a 4, with a PG-13 rating.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.
 R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Reclusive Billionaire by Lucy McConnell

From Goodreads:
Lucas Scott, a world-renowned microbiologist, is desperate to find a cure for the butterfly flu before it spreads. Hounded by the media, he escapes to his houseboat in Santa Barbara where he meets a vivacious veterinarian with a penchant for taking in strays. While he searches for the key to unlocking the butterfly flu, Becca somehow unlocks his analytical heart.

Becca Lee isn't impressed with her new neighbor. His clothes are constantly wrinkled and he's grumpier than a cat with digestive problems. However, Luke isn't easy to brush off. He's always around, has a magnificent mind, and is full of surprises. But, what she can't figure out is why her instincts tell her to trust this rouge billionaire. It doesn't take long to realize he is the only one alive who can save the world and Becca has to make a choice--open her heart or watch Luke sail off into the sunset.

My Take:
This story went by fast. I don't know if it was shortish, or if I just flew through it. Anyway, I really like Becca and her love of animals. She seems to get along with them better than people at times, but everyone loves her. Luke takes a bit to get to know. He's hurting and hiding, but Becca is just what he needs. It's sweet that Big Red sort of breaks down Luke's defenses enough for him to let Becca in too. And Becca? Smart, loyal, forgiving and willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I loved that she's the one to help Luke's brilliant mind latch onto the one thing he was missing.

I will say that I didn't buy the end of the world because of some weird flu that was spreading. It's possible, but I didn't feel the peril of it breathing down my neck in the story. Other than that, cute romance with a little more pain and healing behind the heart.

I give this a clean 4.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.
R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot