Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: Madly (New York #2) by Ruthie Knox

Blurb from Goodreads:
An impulsive trip to New York City, a heartthrob from London, and a scandalous to-do list turn a small-town girl’s life upside down in this sultry romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Truly and About Last Night.

Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways.

Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?
My Review:
This was my first book by this author after seeing others whose opinions I trust post rave reviews of her work and I can now see why -- this definitely will not be my last! This was a bit of an odd premise (although not necessarily farfetched) in that Allie travels to New York to try and bring her mom back before her parents' 30th wedding anniversary party.  Allie presumes that her mom is with the man she's had a mad affair with and who is actually Allie's birth father but, needless to say, she gets more than she bargained for when she stumbles into Winston on her first night in town.  Winston - what can I say?  Seriously, new book boyfriend material to the max. I loved him so much, even more than Allie. That being said, however, even as much as I loved the romance and relationship blooming between Allie and Winston, I loved that they both had real issues to work out, mostly family related, what were handled in a realistic and pragmatic, but not easy, way. This book had a whole cast of secondary characters that I loved and, aside from the ending, I loved everything about this book. Can't wait to read more by this author!

Madly comes out later this month on March 14 2017 and you can purchase HERE. I definitely recommend this one if you love contemporary romance that's a bit quirky!  I just purchased the first book in this series, Truly, as well, which means both that I really liked this one but also that you can read it as a standalone. The third book, Completely, comes out in June.
"I thought, after I left him, that I would do all kinds of crazy stuff. Pick up someone at a bar. Move. Go to the south of France and pick someone up at a bar. The only thing I did was buy a wholesale club pack of coke and put it in the fridge where anyone could see it." 
Winston obligingly raised his eyebrows in question. 
"You know. All the sugar. Caffeine. Or maybe it was the high-fructose corn syrup." 
"Not reasonable?" 
"Not even a little. Sometimes I drink them right before bed, just like a giant 'fuck you,' and then I read a book with the TV on and fall asleep without brushing my teeth." 
"My God." 
"Thats right." She cocked a finer gun at him. "Living on a prayer, baby."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: The Last Night at Tremore Beach by Mikel Santiago

Blurb from Goodreads:
What starts out as an idyllic summer holiday on the Irish coast soon becomes a living nightmare with unpredictable consequences for a world-renowned composer and his family in this chilling psychological thriller.

Recently divorced and in the middle of a creative crisis, Peter Harper decides to take shelter on Ireland’s scenic and isolated Tremore Beach. But after he is struck by lightning one stormy night, he begins experiencing terrible headaches and strange dreams. As the line between his dreams and reality begins to blur, Peter realizes that his bizarre dreams may be a warning of horror still to come…
My Review:
Guys, I just didn't like this one.  Almost the entire time I vacillated between DNF and not.  I also found myself skimming the last 30% like whoa, I just wanted this to be over. This was supposed to be some sort of thriller but it was really just about Peter, who was supremely unlikable and self-absorbed, and his "premonitions." The blurb is accurate - poor famous Peter moves to the remote coast of Ireland, gets struck by lightning and then starts having horrible dreams that he interprets as premonitions of violence to come.  I won't tell you the ending but this book was just so disappointing - no depth, so many tangents and frankly, kind of boring.  There are so many better options out there that I would skip this one.

The Last Night at Tremore Beach came out earlier this month on February 14, 2017, and you can purchase HERE. Hopefully you have better luck with this one than I did!
I closed my eyes, and could see the vision so clearly in my mind. Even nightmares had a way of fading with the morning, becoming a vague recollection that evanesced in the coming hours o days. But no this one. This image was fresh and clear in my mind. This was no simple nightmare.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: The Art of Us by Teri Wilson

Blurb from Goodreads:
Harper Higgins, art history professor and Vincent van Gogh scholar, doesn’t need a man. She needs an artist. Fast. The art show she’s counting on to secure her tenure is in trouble. So when she collides with a ruggedly handsome man carrying a basket of violets on a rainy night in Boston, she thinks she’s found her miracle. Cynical, brooding ex-soldier Tom Stone can paint. And he’s quite good. He just needs Harper’s artistic touch.

But once she talks him into pretending he’s a long-lost descendant of van Gogh, the trouble really begins. As the art opening draws near, their identities—both real and imagined—hang in the balance. The student becomes the master as Tom teaches Harper that passion is its own work of art…
My Review:
I had pretty high expectations for this one after loving my last read by Teri Wilson, Unleashing Mr. Darcy.  While this definitely didn't wow me like that book, I still love the characters that this author creates; they are so complex and unique to contemporary romance. The Art of Us is a book with an interesting premise - drawing on some of those tropes we know well but also introducing new feelings.  Harper is curating an art show for the college where she works and when her star artists ends up in jail, she's left scrambling to find someone to replace him. Enter Tom, the swoony and mysterious veteran that started painting as therapy after he returned from Afghanistan. Although Harper is reluctant to tell anyone Tom's real story, and that didn't quite make sense to me considering how awesome his story was, her reluctance to tell the truth ended up with them spending a lot of time together in preparation for the show. As with Unleashing Mr. Darcy, Teri Wilsons love of dogs was also on full display in The Art of Us, which I once again appreciated. This book is definitely quirky, but it mostly works.  I found it a bit slow at times but I still can't wait to read more form this author.
The Art of Us came out last year, and you can purchase HERE.
But in that moment, she wasn't thinking of the art show, Dr. Martin or Archer, sitting in his jail cell down in New York. She wasn't even thinking of Lars Klassen waiting in the wings to steal her promotion right out form under her. She wasn't thinking about Rick and how she'd never felt quite good enough for him. She wasn't thinking about her father or all the other men her mother had brought home. A laundry list of men who'd let Harper down, time and time again. 
Her thoughts centered around one man, and on mean only. The man whose hands had created those gorgeous paintings. The man standing beside her, watching, waiting, with those unreadable frosty eyes of his.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review: Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

Blurb from Goodreads:
In this sharp and clever debut novel of suspense, a young woman—presumed dead—leaves a series of clues for her twin sister, which leads her on a scavenger-hunt-like quest to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. But two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.

Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls’ increasingly unstable mother, Zelda is allegedly burned alive when she passes out in the barn with a cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message—from her sister. Just as Ava suspected, Zelda’s playing one of her games. In fact, she’s outdone herself, leaving a series of clues to her disappearance. Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda’s drama. Along the way, Zelda forces Ava to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke her heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving? To teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?
My Review:
I have to tell you that this was pretty depressing - it's a family with a multitude of secrets, all of whom are also alcoholics. When her twin is presumed dead, Ava descends back on the family home to complete chaos -- her absent father has shown up along with her ever critical grandmother and her mother has spiraled even further into dementia. No one in this family is helping each other and no one seems very concerned about her sister's death.  I just felt like the interactions were very unusual as well as the responses to events. I had a hard time connecting with this or suspending my disbelief for the events that occur. There is an underlying thriller aspect to this, which I did like but definitely a hard read.
Dead Letters comes out later this month on February 21, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.
Burned alive on the summer solstice. With the charred remnants in plain sight of half the windows in the house, where my mother can't help being reminded of Zelda, even with her brain half rotted and her liver more than half pickled. My sister couldn't have contrived a more appropriate death if she planned it herself. Indeed.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Review: Wicked Cowboy Charm (Lucky Penny Ranch #4) by Carolyn Brown

Blurb from Goodreads:
Josie Dawson is new in town, but it doesn't take a local to know that Deke Sullivan is trouble--in a smokin' hot package. He's sweet, sexy, and has charmed just about every woman in Dry Creek, Texas. Well, Josie won't be next. She'll keep her distance, even if he is great with babies and makes a mean cup of homemade hot chocolate. 
Deke Sullivan really is a one-woman type of guy. He just had to do a lot of looking to find that one woman. Now he thinks he's found her and he won't let a strong, sassy gal like Josie slip away. Just when he's wondering how to convince her he only has eyes for her, they get stranded in a tiny cabin during a major blizzard. If Deke can melt her heart before they dig out of the snow, he'll be the luckiest cowboy in Texas . . . 

My Review:
I was so excited for Deke's story after diving into this series last year and I can easily say it's my favorite! We get to know Deke really well in books 1-3 because he owns a ranch next to the Dawsons and is best friends with Allie, who is the star of book 1.  We know he's a crazy womanizer but I didn't fully understand him until I got to be inside his head a bit in this book and he was so much more complex than I realized.  It wasn't that he didn't want to settle down, he was just waiting for the right one.  And when he meets Josie, she is IT. I really love romances premised on being stranded (if done well) and this one was done so right! Perfect winter romance and I liked the change in the setting - kept the series from feeling staid while also still giving us a glimpse into past characters. I think this is the end of this series but there may be a spin-off, for which I am super excited!  

Wicked Cowboy Charm came out earlier this week on January 31, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.  I definitely recommend this series and this book if you love a good cowboy romance!  My review HERE of book 2 in this series, and HERE of book 3 in this series.
She slipped her hand under his. Yes, there were sparks and vibes and desire at his touch but there was something more that night and ti went much deeper than anything she'd ever known before.
And it felt so right.
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