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Tag: "Romance"

Review: The Homecoming by Robyn Carr

[ 1 ] August 21, 2014

51+7R46eRLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Reviewed by Amanda Schaefer

A man with a broken past and reputation to salvage returns to his hometown changed and humbled to prove his worth and win back the woman he loves.

Seth Sileski had everything at age nineteen: handsome looks, athleticism, popularity, and intelligence. Destined for greatness, his hometown of Thunder Point had high expectations for this rising star. But a tragic accident changed everything for Seth, and suddenly those expectations altered just as his professional football career should have been beginning. Years later he returns to Thunder Point at peace with the direction his life has taken. On the surface Seth comes home as a policeman to patrol the streets and keep residents safe. He also plans to get back into the good graces of his childhood friend, Iris. Something happened during their senior year of high school and she withdrew from him; Seth wants to reclaim their friendship and see where else it can go. Having so much to prove to himself, his father, his town, and now Iris, Seth finds himself slowly coming back and being able to live up to the superstar legend from long ago.

Iris McKinley grew up in Thunder Point and is now a counselor at the high school, a job she loves. Iris’ mom, Rose, owned the local florist shop for years, and after she passed away Iris sold it to her now-best-friend, Grace. Iris just wants to focus on her job and her students, and be able to make a difference in the lives she touches. When Seth comes back into town, emotions flood Iris as the memories come back and remind her of the humiliation she felt over her experience with Seth in high school. Determined not to allow him back into her life, she continues on with her work and becomes aware of a situation involving a young girl at school. But in order to protect the girl, Iris has to work closely with Seth…and working closely with Seth can only lead to another broken heart.

After clearing the air with Seth, Iris gives him another chance and they become best friends and lovers in rapid time! Thankfully the book doesn’t end there. We get to see how Seth and Iris work together to help this young girl. The two learn their only true home is each other. The words every woman wants to hear are the words Seth said to Iris: “I want to be the person you love the most, get mad at most often, make up with because you can’t help it. I want to be the guy you laugh with, lean on, cry on, yell at, reach for.” ~happy sigh~

Even though I’ve not read the other books in the Thunder Point series, I felt like I was a welcome visitor to this town! Robyn Carr does an excellent job of allowing each book to stand on its own, but after reading The Homecoming you will definitely want to go back to the rest of the books in this series.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian fiction, women’s fiction, and any chick-lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harlequin MIRA. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Serenade by Emily Kiebel

[ 1 ] August 19, 2014

downloadReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Debut author Emily Kiebel’s own passion for music played an integral role in Serenade, a thrilling romance in which Lorelei Clark discovers that she is a siren. After her father is struck by a car in front of her and dies, Lorelei receives a mysterious letter from an aunt she never knew she had, inviting her to her seaside home in Cape Cod. With her mother not speaking to her and her grief still fresh, Lorelei accepts the invitation.

Once she arrives, Lorelei is informed of her heritage and begins her schooling as a siren. However, Lorelei finds that she is not comfortable in her role in assisting men in passing on to the afterlife. Though the number one rule that all sirens must abide by is not to interfere with Fate, Lorelei saves a man’s life. Now Lorelei must find him and complete the task to which she was assigned, or there will be consequences. But Lorelei is falling in love with Taylor, and the only way to keep them both safe is to run.

Serenade by Emily Kiebel was a thoroughly enjoyable book with an interesting twist on sirens, a beautiful love story, and plenty of tension to keep me turning the pages as fast as I could. This is definitely a book readers will want to finish in one sitting. It’s been a while since I’ve come across a book that kept me thinking about it when I had to put it aside and do other things. I think it’s pretty likely that there will be a follow-up to Serenade, and I definitely want to read it!

As I was reading, I saw some similarities between Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid and, surprisingly, the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent. Banshees also play a part in Serenade and I thought the contrast between banshees and sirens was well done.

I will definitely be recommending Serenade to any friends of mine that are looking for books with an oceanside theme, mermaids/sirens, mythology, and a romantic couple worth rooting for.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by SparkPress. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Avenge Me by Maisey Yates

[ 1 ] August 17, 2014

18528407Reviewed by Rebecca Donatelli

Ten years ago, Austin, Hunter and Alex became part of something bigger than they could have ever imagined. Sarah, their friend, committed suicide after many attempts to tell the people around her what was going causing an impact on their lives in many ways. Austin Treffen, son to the infamous Jason Treffen, father of good-deeds around New York, has struggled to put the pieces together for years until one day, Katy Michaels rounds the corner and unlocks information needed to put an end to the suffering.

Sarah, Katy’s older sister, along with their brother, Trey, grew up with a less than privileged life. Katy admired Sarah and her strength, the will to attend college and aspire to be something more in life, and will stop at nothing to avenge her sister’s death. After meeting Austen at his father’s Christmas party, the two have chemistry and end up on a wild ride of passion, dominance and secrets.

I have mixed feelings about Avenge Me and these series and although they were easy reads, I struggled to find substance within the characters. Austen is another typical strong-willed man with a preference for dominance and lacks emotion due to his past. I was looking for more of a story to build on the relationship he and Katy formed but it all seemed so rushed. I loved the idea of the book – in terms of the storyline with Sarah and Austen’s father being a philanthropist advocating for  women – but it quickly turned into a rush of events that were not fulfilling for me.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Rebecca is passionate and insane, empathetic and aggressive, loud and predictable. She loves reading, writing, shopping and creating. She is what she is and it may not be what the world wants but it is what it is. Love.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harlequin Presents. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

[ 4 ] August 15, 2014

IHOW-final-coverReviewed by Lindsay Yocum

What do you do when you are stuck with someone you loathe for months? You hate life, that’s what. When Sidney Sinclair’s sister drops the bombshell that she is getting married–and very soon! Sidney met Vaughn Roberts only minutes prior to hearing her sister’s news; Vaughn witnessed Sidney’s less than stellar coffee date and proceeded to hit on her. Both of them are now less than enthused about the situation they are being thrown into because, as it turns out, Sidney’s sister is marrying Vaughn’s brother.

It’s a lose, lose situation for Sidney. She has just gone through an incredibly humiliating engagement, and now her baby sister is getting married–before her. On top of all that, she also has to deal with the gorgeous man she does not want anything to do with. As an investment banker, Sidney is used to putting her game face on and getting to work, and that’s exactly what she does with her sister’s wedding as the Maid of Honor. But she can’t shake the irritation (or attraction) she feels for Vaughn and even though the feeling may be mutual, Sidney doesn’t want things to get messy. After all, he’s going to be her brother in law pretty soon and he is exactly the kind of man that she has been trying so hard to avoid since her break up.

When Sidney agrees to accompany her sister on a weekend trip to her future brother in law’s hometown, she is less than enthused to find out that Vaughn will be there as well. After a slight hiccup in trying to resist Vaughn while at his parent’s house, they’re both unsure of where to go from there. What they do know is that their siblings cannot find anything out. Vaughn’s brother knows his playboy ways but can Vaughn convince everyone, and himself, that he is ready for something more? And with Sidney? Or will he end up crushing her heart even more than it had been before?

I really enjoyed It Happened One Wedding. It was fun, cute, and the characters just meshed together effortlessly. Sometimes the conversations characters have with each other in books seem so forced, like the author didn’t exactly know how to write out what they wanted and make it sound normal. Thankfully, that was not the case here. Sidney was at times a fun character but more often than not she was uptight and it was easy to see how Vaughn could get annoyed with her. I thought Vaughn was great, and he was pretty funny as well.

This was the first book I have read from Julie James and I am definitely interested in reading more–especially since this seems to be a series of some sort! I give this book a rating of four stars because it will appeal to most women. A fun and light read with a great storyline!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The One by Kiera Cass

[ 3 ] August 14, 2014

3138132Reviewed by Christen Krumm

Author Kiera Cass has hit it out of the ballpark with The One, the smashing conclusion to the New York Times bestselling The Selection series.

Of the thirty-five girls who entered the contest to become the next princess of Illea, there are four left—and only one can win. Tensions are rising… and not only behind the closed doors to the castle. The rebels—Northern and Southern—are pressing for change. And America is still trying to decide if she really wants Prince Maxon and the crown — or Aspen and her old life. Who will she choose? And why is she suddenly the people’s favorite?

When you become a fan of a particular book, it is easy to become leery of sequels. Readers have in their heads how they want the series to end. Who this character or that character ends up with by the last page. Who does or does not lose their life for the sake of story. I, for one, love where Cass takes readers in The One. The story gripped me from page one (page one of the very first book, if I am honest), questions from the previous two stories are answered, and challenges are met with adventures and bravery. America grows as a character. In book one she thinks she has her whole life planned out, but gets a wrench thrown in things when she signs up for The Selection and is actually chosen as one of the original thirty-five. By the third novel, America’s view on life has changed, and she is ready to be a change for her country—even if that means crossing the king. America has grown from a whiney teenager to a woman ready to take a stand to make things right.

I felt America’s relationship with one of her two suitors (you are not getting the ending out of me that easily!) was cut a little short from book two, but by the beginning of book three, America made her decision (not that I minded, she did pick the guy I wanted her to be with). I love the fact that America and “evil” Celeste end up being good friends—and yet, she is still the same sassy Celeste. The ending was just perfect icing on the cake. Standing bravo for the final book in Cass’ The Selection series! The One is a perfect choice of a novel for readers who enjoy young adult dystopian fantasy and love fairy tales.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Christen graduated from the University of Arkansas Fort Smith with a BA in English. She’s a coffee drinking stay at home mom by day and a freelance writer/editor by night. She currently resides in Arkansas with her husband and daughter and is excited to welcome a son in August.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperTeen. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Love Straddle by M.P. Knox

[ 2 ] August 13, 2014

cover-art-newestReviewed by Shannon Trenton

When Selwyn meets the beautiful and intelligent Vicki he instantly falls for her but is stung by her apparent rejection. Focused on his obsession with closing the deal, he begins a stock-market-inspired love straddle with Vicki as his short option and unsuspecting townie Barbara as the long. Will he ever be able to “close the short” on Vicki, or are they destined to be apart?

The premise of M.P. Knox’s Love Straddle is an intriguing one, and at its core the story is relatable. Love affairs disrupted by circumstance and cross purposes are a central and often drawn-out element in many people’s lives. While some are fortunate to consummate the relationship, or at least resolve their feelings toward its failure, others are doomed to forever skirt the edges of a deeper connection. With neither Vicki nor Barbara behaving as he predicts or expects, Selwyn learns that not everything in life can be approached with black-and-white answers—sometimes emotions come into play that will not be easily maneuvered through a straddle.

So it goes with Selwyn and his passion for Vicki, unfading after the separation of years and continents and other relationships.

In similar stories it is almost instinctual to root for the star-crossed lovers to align and live happily ever after. However, from the beginning I found Selwyn impossible to like because of his superior attitude and complete lack of any emotional understanding. Despite his upbringing, which he briefly explains in the opening chapters, I could only shake my head at his complete disrespect of other people and at his approach to relationships.

Another significant issue for me was the unnecessary depth of many details. Pages of explanation of engineering concepts and political discussions obscured the real story and made it nearly impossible to stay engaged. Even some information that proved to be somewhat important, such as the brief explanation of a straddle in prospecting terms, was far too drawn out. This 600-plus page book could lose half its length and be twice as compelling.

That said, despite my distaste for Selwyn as a character it was interesting to see how his relationship with Vicki changes over the forty years that Love Straddle spans and to see the other relationships that Selwyn begins and ends in the meantime. Ultimately, I find the question of Selwyn’s maturity beyond his earlier mindset to be questionable.

Readers who are interested in reading a more calculated approach to a love story may enjoy Love Straddle, as may those who enjoy an antihero who doesn’t always win.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, son, and two cats. When she isn’t reading, getting paid to play on social media, or running her own business she enjoys playing with her baby and cooking.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by M.P. Knox. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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