Book Review: Enemy Zone by Alex Lidell

Book photo

enemy zoneTitle: Enemy Zone
Author:  Alex Lidell
Genre: Romance, Romantic Suspense
Series: Trident Rescue book #1

Date of Publication: January 8, 2021
Publisher: Danger Bearing Press


Synopsis

I know all about guys like Cullen Hunt.
Gorgeous. Wealthy. Powerful.
I just fled New York to escape one.
But when I reach Colorado, it’s either take a job at Cullen’s Trident Rescue or become homeless.
And Cullen? He’s worse than I thought.
Controlling. Demanding. Jerk.
A grenade always teetering on the edge.

He’s also hot as sin and makes my toes curl.
I hate that I dream about him.
Kissing me, holding me.
He has dreams as well.
Nightmares that only I can tame.

I know all about guys like Cullen Hunt.
I’m smart enough to stay away.
Aren’t I?

Amazon top-hundred author Alex Lidell delivers a page-turning enemy-to-lovers stand-alone romance, with a spunky heroine, a powerful Navy SEAL, and heart-wrenching PTSD that only love can heal.
Enemy Zone is the first book of the Trident Rescue Series, which follows a group of Navy SEALs who return home to Denton Valley, Colorado, and start a search and rescue team called Trident Rescue. The books can be read in any order.

Goodreads

My Thoughts 

This book is a wild ride from start to finish. Enemy Zone was my first read by Alex Lidell, but it definitely won’t be my last. I’ve already picked up The Power of Five on Kindle Unlimited and I have my reading booked for the next little while. 🤓

Alex Lidell has an engaging and personable writing style that immediately drew me into the world she’s created.  She gradually builds characters’ backstories, and I personally loved how well she paces the action amid the romance. I related to Skylar on a personal level, despite us coming from completely different backgrounds. That, in my book, is a sign of a talented writer. Skylar is a tenacious and ambitious reporter. She has a dark past, and she’s moved to Denton Valley for a fresh start at the only place that will hire her after a mysterious career-ending event that occurred in New York. The book has just enough of her personal life to keep me interested and intrigued (I love reading about heroines’ horrible living situations, for some dark and twisted reason. The more vermin, the better), and the plot unfolds in an intriguing and engaging way.

Skylar’s chapters are written in the first person present tense. We get scenes from Cullen’s point of view as well, but they’re in third person past tense. At first, this was odd to me, but I did get used to it after a while. It helped to distinguish between their voices, as I was never confused about whose point of view I was reading, which can happen with other approaches to multi-POV books.

Enemy Zone isn’t just another romantic suspense book. There are some important topical themes presented, particularly the “boys will be boys” mentality and the way that military men tend to stick together. Not going to lie, but I got the “Boys will be Boys” Dua Lipa song stuck in my head on more than one occasion while reading this book. I love the way that this theme is handled in this novel, but I won’t give any spoilers by saying more than that. 

Both Skylar and Cullen have the perfect amount of angsty backstory. It doesn’t feel over the top, but it perfectly explains why they are the way that they are. They have a lot more in common than is immediately obvious in the beginning of the book. They’re both strong-willed, yet vulnerable. They’re both independent, but clearly need someone to lean on during more difficult times. They fit each other perfectly, even if they can’t stand each other at first.  Enemy Zone is definitely a slow burn romance (despite their initial attraction that is clouded by their hatred of one another), but when their fire finally ignites, it’s totally worth it!

I enjoyed getting to know the other “Trident Gods” in this book, and I’m eager to read their love stories!

Enemy Zone Small

*Thank you to Magic Pen Book Tours for the arc to review!*

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Book tour photo

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

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Book Review: The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatsworth

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cover198974-mediumsssTitle: The Brass Queen
Author: Elizabeth Chatsworth
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance
Date of Publication: January 12, 2021
Publisher: CamCat Publishing


Synopsis

In 1897, a fiery British aristocrat and an inept US spy search for a stolen invisibility serum that could spark a global war.

Miss Constance Haltwhistle is the last in a line of blue-blooded rogue inventors. Selling exotic firearms under her alias, the ‘Brass Queen,’ has kept her baronial estate’s coffers full. But when US spy, Trusdale, saves her from assassins, she’s pulled into a search for a scientist with an invisibility serum. As royal foes create an invisible army to start a global war, Constance and Trusdale must learn to trust each other. If they don’t, the world they know will literally disappear before their eyes.Goodreads

My Thoughts

From the very first page we’re transported to a whimsical, yet deadly steampunk Victorian England. Chatsworth’s writing style makes this novel stand out among the rest. Every single sentence is ripe with humour and wit, and there are countless literary references for every book lover to devour.

This is a true genre-blender, with an action plotline, a historical yet fantastical setting, and a thread of romance holding the whole story together.  While the plot is fast-paced and the characters are three-dimensional and intriguing, Chatsworth’s writing style is the major appeal of this book. She doesn’t dumb things down for the reader, which is a delightful surprise and makes the laughs that much better.

The world that Chatsworth has created is so dynamic and engaging that it seemed to leap from the page like one of the villain’s exo-suits.  The book’s approach to scientific advancement was quite fascinating when it wasn’t downright hilarious. 

Continue reading “Book Review: The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatsworth”

Book Review: Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler

Book photo

cover191494-mediumTitle: Mistletoe and Mr. Right
Author: Sarah Morgenthaler
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Chick lit
Series: Moose Springs, Alaska # 2
Date of Publication: October 6, 2020
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca


Synopsis

Lana Montgomery is everything the quirky small town of Moose Springs, Alaska can’t stand: a rich socialite with dreams of changing things for the better. But Lana’s determined to prove that she belongs…even if it means trading her stilettos for snow boots and tracking one of the town’s hairiest Christmas mysteries: the Santa Moose, an antlered Grinch hell-bent on destroying every bit of holiday cheer (and tinsel) it can sink its teeth into.

And really…how hard could it be?

The last few years have been tough on Rick Harding, and it’s not getting any easier now that his dream girl’s back in town. When Lana accidentally tranquilizes him instead of the Santa Moose, it’s clear she needs help, fast…and this could be his chance to finally catch her eye. It’s an all-out Christmas war, but if they can nab that darn moose before it destroys the town, Rick and Lana might finally find a place where they both belong…together. 
Goodreads

My Thoughts

This is a perfect read for the holiday season! 

We first visited Moose Springs in Tourist Attraction, and I was thrilled to come back and see some of my favourite characters. Graham and Zoey, the couple from the first book, are just as adorable as ever, and we get to see firsthand just how smitten they still are with each other.

Sarah Morgenthaler has a very humorous writing style. I think that she might be my favourite rom com writer, along with Lyssa Kay Adams and her Bromance Book Club series. This novel, like Tourist Attraction, had me laughing out loud numerous times. I’m a sucker for hilarious animals, and the first book in the series had me fall in love with Ulysses, the randy moose. This book offers even more on that front. At the risk of spoilers, I won’t say much, other than treating you with the knowledge that Rick owns a sometimes disgruntled hedgehog named Darla (and the fact that she’s named after the Buffy the Vampire Slayer character makes me love this author even more!).

There are plenty of hilarious situations throughout this novel, but the situations aren’t too over-the-top or ridiculous. It’s the way that Sarah writes them–using a sardonic, yet light tone–that gives me the incurable giggles. 

For instance, there’s a part early in the book where both Rick and Lana have to walk out to their cars at night after town hall, and they parked side by side. Rick leaves the meeting just after her, and he’s walking behind her. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t seem too odd.  But Rick is an awkward character, and the way he comments on the inherent creepiness of him following behind her in the parking lot at night made me literally laugh out loud. This book is chock full of these types of little scenarios that would be boring and fall flat in a less talented writer’s hands.

All this said, the book isn’t without its serious bits. Rick is taking care of a surly teenager whose family tragically died in a car accident years ago.  He also divorced his wife a few years ago, and he’s carrying around the baggage that comes along with that. Lana is the town pariah (or piranha, as Graham would say) because she’s bringing much-needed tourist business to the area, but the locals don’t appreciate her efforts. She also suffers from a hand tremor that gets worse the more stressed she is. Both Rick and Lana have had an eye on each other for years, but, of course, they never thought their feelings were reciprocated.

This is an incredibly sweet romance that is a perfect follow up to Tourist Attraction, and it provides a much-needed escape to Moose Springs for the holiday season.

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ebook to review*

Five stars

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan

cover194500-mediumTitle: Ten Rules for Faking It 
Author: Sophie Sullivan
Genre: Romance
Date of Publication: December 29, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; Griffin


Synopsis

What happens when your love life becomes the talk of the town?

As birthdays go, this year’s for radio producer Everly Dean hit rock-bottom.

Worse than the “tonsillectomy birthday.” Worse than the birthday her parents decided to split (the first time). But catching your boyfriend cheating on you with his assistant?

Even clichés sting.

But this is Everly’s year! She won’t let her anxiety hold her back. She’ll pitch her podcast idea to her boss.

There’s just one problem.

Her boss, Chris, is very cute. (Of course). Also, he’s extremely distant (which means he hates her, right? Or is that the anxiety talking)?

And, Stacey the DJ didn’t mute the mic during Everly’s rant about Simon the Snake (syn: Cheating Ex).

That’s three problems.

Suddenly, people are lining up to date her, Bachelorette-style, fans are voting (Reminder: never leave house again), and her interest in Chris might be a two-way street. It’s a lot for a woman who could gold medal in people-avoidance. She’s going to have to fake it ‘till she makes it to get through all of this.

Perhaps she’ll make a list: The Ten Rules for Faking It.

Because sometimes making the rules can find you happiness when you least expect it.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

The book is written with a sardonic tone that had me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. Everly is extremely unlucky when it comes to birthdays, and right off the bat we’re introduced to that bad luck when she walks in on her boyfriend cheating on her.  

Everly is a unique protagonist in that she suffers from extreme anxiety. She seems to think that she needs a partner who is her polar opposite–an extreme extrovert–since he’ll force her to do things that she’s uncomfortable with.  She’s also aware that she has the problem of coupling up with guys that she doesn’t feel strongly for. It’s harder for her to get hurt if she’s not that invested. So, in the beginning of the novel, when her boyfriend cheats on her on her birthday, she’s angry and upset, but not devastated. 

One of the (many) things that makes Chris perfect for Everly is that he understands her anxiety and how it influences every aspect of her life in a way that not even her parents or best friend understands. He doesn’t try to push her, and even his presents for her are thoughtful on such an adorably sweet level.  Even though he’s the one that suggests the dating show, he never actually forces her into it, and he constantly gives her the option of getting out of it. 

I’ve noticed a lot of books will have a heroine who’s “socially awkward” in the sense that the author keeps telling us that. But in this case, it’s shown to us on so many occasions and in different ways–from the way that Everly speaks when she’s uncomfortable, to the way that she handles things.  The author does even more than show us these personality traits, but I honestly felt them in almost every one of Everly’s interactions.  This is a sign of a fabulous writer in my book!

Just like a true romantic comedy, there are a lot of laughs in this book, but there are parts that are heartfelt and sweet. Everly learns a lot about herself and her relationships, not only with past boyfriends, but with her parents and her best friend. I’ve talked a lot about Everly (because I love her so much!), but Chris has a beautiful, if more subtle, character development in this novel as well. 

I definitely recommend this romance book to those who suffer from varying degrees of social anxiety, and anyone who wants to read a sweet, clean, and at times hilarious feel-good novel.

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ebook to review*

Five stars

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams

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cover187512-mediumTitle: How to Fail at Flirting
Author: Denise Williams
Genre: Romance
Date of Publication: December 1, 2020
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group


Synopsis

One daring to-do list and a crash course in flirtation turn a Type A overachiever’s world upside down.

When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.

Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship—except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her career.

Naya has two options. She can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again. – Goodreads

My Thoughts

I work at a university, and it was refreshing to read a romance novel framed by this setting. The anxiety over budget cuts, wanting to teach students who can’t be bothered to pay attention in class, and excitement about research were all things that I can relate to on a deeper level, and were well represented in this book. Naya is a relatable character, and even if you don’t work in higher education, I think that she has aspects of her personality that everyone can relate to. She’s recovering from an abusive relationship that ended three years earlier, and it’s clear right off the bat that she still doesn’t trust herself to make good decisions in love.  

Jake was quite the sweet romantic interest. He’s hilarious with his puns (the word “adorkable” comes to mind), and he’s the perfect match for Naya. He’s the polar opposite of her abusive ex. Jake and Naya’s back and forth and cheesy jokes (that are so Gouda) is the epitome of witty banter.

This isn’t the first time I’ve thought that a romance book hasn’t been given the right title. “How to Fail at Flirting” makes the book seem like a rom com, and while there are funny parts, this is more about Naya learning to trust again three years after breaking up with an abusive ex-boyfriend. An ex-boyfriend who’s back in her life, introducing quite a bit of suspense to the plotline. Also, I wouldn’t say that she’s “failed at flirting” when the second time she flirts in the book she meets her love interest, a love interest who’s very into her style of flirting. Just saying. I was expecting many more awkward flirting moments (like open-mouthed gaping bystanders and wishing-a-hole-would-swallow-you-up level of awkward). If anything, this book should be called “How to fail at dating” because she self-sabotaged quite a bit, particularly early on in their relationship.

The side characters were also engaging, though there weren’t many of them. Aside from the abusive ex, Naya’s best friend and her husband were solid supporting characters, providing just enough push for Naya to get out of the rut she’s been in since ending it with her ex. 

All in all, I recommend this book to anyone looking for a light, yet mildly angsty romance about finding love and learning to trust again, all while stressing about budget cuts at work.

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ebook to review*

Five stars

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Netted: The Beginning by K.T. Rose

Netted book photo

netted smallTitle: Netted: The Beginning
Author: K.T. Rose
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Series: The Silent Red Room Trilogy #1
Date of Publication: February 22, 2019
Publisher: Self-published


Synopsis

When Dale uses a dating app to get over his ex, he connects with Marla, a beautiful eccentric. All is well and good…until they meet in person.

Meanwhile, Jessica, a troubled teen, takes to surfing the darknet to fulfill her ever-growing curiosity. Within its labyrinthine vastness, she discovers Father Paul, a sinister figure who uses creative methods of torture to please his rich audience. Her dreams of meeting her hero soon come true, but not in the way she hoped.

Will Dale and Jessica survive when they’re pulled into the cyber mass known as the darknet? Or are they already lost to The Silent Red Room, a horrific place amongst the darknet’s web of horrors?

The Silent Red Room: making the underbelly of the internet a better place, one missing person at a time. 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

This little book sure packs a lot of punch.  KT Rose caught my attention right away with the grotesque prologue. Within the first paragraph, I knew I was hooked and that I would be glued to my couch until I was finished.  I couldn’t help but keep turning the pages, wondering what would happen next. I found the plot delightfully unpredictable and even the parts that I could anticipate were satisfying in their execution.

“Netted: The Beginning” follows two very different characters. Dale is a thirtyish guy looking for love in all the wrong places. Jessica is a fifteen year old who has a dark hobby. These two polar opposites are brought together through the events of this book in a shocking and disturbing way.

While Dale’s chapters were well written and interesting enough, I found Jessica to be what makes this book stand out. She’s a refreshingly unique character, and I feel like I truly understand her, despite the little time we have to get to know her. Dale isn’t quite as well developed, in my opinion.  With Jessica, we get a glimpse into her past, her relationships, and what makes her tick.  In a word, her plotline was riveting.  

I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of the Dark Web, and this book was the perfect snack to satisfy this craving. This is the first book in a trilogy, and KT Rose does fabulous worldbuilding, embellishing upon the compelling and creepy world of the darknet and the disturbing people who dwell there.  

I did find it strange how the book is split into parts based on points of view.  Most books with two main perspectives will alternate chapters, but in this case, we have Dale’s POV, then Jessica’s, then back to Dale’s. While that approach did work for the story, I can’t help but wonder if back and forth might have made the two storylines flow a little more smoothly. However, because of how short this novella is (only 109 pages), perhaps switching back and forth would have caused confusion among some readers.

Netted book cover

Netted: The Beginning lays out the groundwork for a brilliant trilogy that I look forward to finishing soon. A quick look at the sequel’s blurb reveals that it picks up right where this one left off, and it’s currently available on Kindle Unlimited!

*Thank you to Blackthorn Book Tours and the author for the ebook to review*

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Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Hiring Mr. Darcy by Valerie Bowman

Hiring Mr Darcy

55001078._SY475_Title: Hiring Mr. Darcy
Author: Valerie Bowman
Series: Austen Hunks # 1
Genre: Romance
Date of Publication: September 25, 2020
Publisher: une Third Enterprises


Synopsis

She’s hiring…

Meg Knightley is a history professor with a little OCD and a lot of love for Pride and Prejudice. When her similarly nerdy history professor boyfriend tosses her over for a starlet on the eve of the Jane Austen Festival and Games, she needs a new Mr. Darcy ASAP.

He’s the man for the job…

Jeremy Remington left a lucrative tech job to follow his dreams—but getting his custom woodworking business off the ground isn’t cheap. When his best friend’s sister offers good money for little more than acting the gentleman, he jumps at the chance. After all, how hard could it be to fly over to England and wear a cravat for a few days?

Until things get real.

She hired him to play the part of a proper gentleman, so why can’t she stop thinking about what’s underneath his waistcoat?

And when Meg finds out Jeremy has had a crush on her for years, will the job turn into a permanent gig? – Goodreads

My Thoughts

Meg Knightley is an interesting protagonist. She’s a planner, and she has her entire life and all her goals mapped out, and she’ll do whatever it takes to have everything run smoothly. I found that this characteristic somehow made her a relatable and an unrelatable character at the same time. Her desire for tenure and her career aspirations are completely understandable (you don’t go through that many years of schooling without some ambition).  She’s been dating Harrison for three years, and she doesn’t want all that time to be thrown out. This, in my opinion, was understandable, yet also made her unlikable. She didn’t seem to genuinely love him, yet she was hoping for that ring on her finger–even when there was a good chance he was cheating on her with a movie star. The saving grace for her character was that she didn’t truly believe he would cheat, but he treated her so poorly that I honestly don’t think that should matter. She should have dropped him and found herself a handsome woodworker much sooner!

Meg is an Austen scholar with a PhD and a somewhat condescending outlook on those without a pHD, but I was surprised by how accessible the writing style was. At times, it was a little immature, which is odd because it’s first person from her perspective. Having a PhD in literature would imply that she have a more advanced writing style. That said, the nature of the book (romance) with a lighter hook makes the type of writing style expected from her type of character not mesh with the genre and its intended audience. 

I loved the twist in the story, as it becomes clear that Meg is the one with issues surrounding her pride and prejudice. She can’t see herself dating a simple woodworker, and it becomes clearer and clearer as the story progresses that she isn’t Elizabeth Bennett.  She’s Mr. Darcy. This characterization is well done.  However, I did think on more than one occasion that Jeremy was too good for her. He’s so sweet, smart, and trying so hard to become Mr. Darcy for her. Fortunately, she starts to learn the error of her ways sooner rather than later, making for a more gradual character development, transforming her into a person worthy of the love of someone like Jeremy.

This book does require a little bit of suspension of disbelief in one aspect. Her brother’s close friend since high school is her love interest–yet she barely remembers him. That’s fine that she doesn’t remember him well from high school (kind of makes her shallow because apparently he wasn’t attractive then), but it’s revealed that she’s met him a few times since. And she only knows him as the hot guy on her brother’s instagram feed. Sorry, but if she’d met him a few times since high school, and he’s that attractive to her, shouldn’t she have remembered him? Food for thought.

This book is light and fun and sweetly romantic, and despite some of my criticisms, it is perfect for those who love modern-day romances that take inspiration from Austen’s works.

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ebook to review*

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Written in the Stars

54718291._SX318_Title: Written in the Stars
Author: Alexandria Bellefleur
Reader: Lauren Sweet
Genre: Romance, LGBTQ+
Date of Publication: November 10, 2020
Publisher: HarperAudio


Synopsis

In her debut with nods to Bridget Jones and Pride and Prejudice, Alexandria Bellefleur delivers a charming #ownvoices queer rom-com about a free-spirited social media astrologer who agrees to fake a relationship with an uptight actuary until New Year’s Eve–with results not even the stars could predict!

After a disastrous blind date, Darcy Lowell is desperate to stop her well-meaning brother from playing matchmaker ever again. Love–and the inevitable heartbreak–is the last thing she wants. So she fibs and says her latest set up was a success. Darcy doesn’t expect her lie to bite her in the ass.

Elle Jones, one of the astrologers behind the popular Twitter account, Oh My Stars, dreams of finding her soul mate. But she knows it is most assuredly not Darcy… a no-nonsense stick-in-the-mud, who is way too analytical, punctual, and skeptical for someone as free-spirited as Elle. When Darcy’s brother–and Elle’s new business partner–expresses how happy he is that they hit it off, Elle is baffled. Was Darcy on the same date? Because… awkward.

When Darcy begs Elle to play along, she agrees to pretend they’re dating to save face. But with a few conditions: Darcy must help Elle navigate her own overbearing family during the holidays and their arrangement expires on New Year’s Eve. The last thing they expect is to develop real feelings during a fake relationship.

But maybe opposites can attract when true love is written in the stars?

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Written in the Stars is a fresh take on two of my favourite tropes: enemies-to-lovers and the fake-girlfriend/fiancee.  Darcy and Elle could not be more different.  Darcy is an actuary.  Elle is an astrologer.  Darcy deals in facts and numbers and common sense. Elle follows her gut and believes in magic. Darcy does not believe in soulmates. Elle does. 

When Darcy’s brother, Brandon, sets her up on a blind date with his new business partner, Darcy agrees to go along, even though she has no intention of falling in love. She had her heart broken when her ex-fiancee cheated on her, and she never wants to be put in a position to be hurt like that again.  After a disastrous blind date with Elle, Darcy decides that she doesn’t want to go on any more dates that her brother sets up for her. But he’s relentless, so Darcy finds herself telling a little white lie. She tells her brother that she really hit it off with Elle, so now she’s off the market. Unfortunately, her lie catches up to her almost right away, as Brandon brings this up to Elle.  Desperate to get her brother off her back, Darcy strikes up a deal with Elle. They will pretend to be dating for two months before “breaking up” amicably.  Darcy will get her brother off her back, and Elle will be able to convince her family, who doesn’t respect her chosen career path or her life choices, that she is capable of being in a serious relationship with the type of person that they would want for her.  

Of course, neither of them expect to catch feelings for each other. Despite all their differences, they have more in common than they previously realized. And maybe their differences are what makes them perfect for each other.  (Insert “awww, so cute” here.) 

This novel is jam-packed with humorous, cringey scenes between Darcy and Elle. Their first date was both hilarious and a little sad.  Elle is desperate to find her soulmate, the one person in the world who is perfect for her, and Darcy is a closed book, desperate not to make any connections out of fear of being hurt again.  As the novel progresses, Elle and Darcy start to get to know each other better in a perfectly crafted slow-burn romance.  Bellefleur does a fabulous job of revealing the characters’ backstories along with their insecurities and vulnerabilities.  

The theme of astrology is carried throughout the book, from the title of “written in the stars” to a sweetly romantic scene in the observatory. 

This book is for those who are looking for a sweet (and at times quite steamy) FF romance that definitely isn’t love at first sight, but it’s a love that still gives off the vibe of being written in the stars.

*Thank you to NetGalley and HarperAudio for the advanced audiobook to review*

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Say No More by Karen Rose

Say No More

say no more 2Title: Say No More
Author: Karen Rose
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Sacramento Series #2
Date of Publication: August 11, 2020
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group


Synopsis

Mercy Callahan thought she’d escaped the cult decades ago, but its long fingers are reaching out for her again in this electrifying novel in the Sacramento series…

Seventeen years ago. That was the last time Mercy Callahan saw Ephraim Burton, the leader of the twisted Eden cult where she was raised. But even though she escaped the abuse and terror, they continue to haunt her.

When her brother Gideon discovers new evidence of the cult’s—and their victims’—whereabouts, Mercy goes to Sacramento to reconnect with him. There, she meets Gideon’s closest friend—homicide detective Rafe Sokolov. From Rafe, she receives an offer she never knew she needed: to track down Ephraim and make him pay for everything.

But Ephraim, who had thought Mercy long dead, discovers she is in fact alive and that she is digging around for the cult’s secrets. And now he’ll do anything to take her back to Eden—dead or alive. 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

This is the much anticipated follow up to “Say You’re Sorry”. Because this is a trilogy, it’s necessary to read “Say You’re Sorry” before this book in order to understand and follow the overarching plot. That said, I read the first book years ago before it was released, and my memories of what had happened were hazy.  Karen Rose does an excellent job of explaining what had happened in the first book without it feeling like too much of an info dump.

There are several character perspectives in this book, which is one of the things that makes Karen Rose’s romantic suspense novels so darn compelling. We get Mercy and Rafe’s POVs, but we also get an additional three. We get to follow Mercy’s “husband” from the cult who is tracking her down and leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. There’s the point of view of a teenage reporter who is convinced that Mercy’s story needs to be told and that he’s the one who needs to tell it. And then, there’s the point of view of a Mercy and Gideon’s stepfather–who’s still in the cult, but he is beginning to realize that it isn’t the safe haven he’d thought it was, and he’s realized that he needs to get his daughter out–before it’s too late.

This book is compelling, and so much more than just a romance.  This is a make or break it for Karen Rose’s books. Sure, there’s a romance, but it’s on the sidelines from the action.  If you want the focus to be on Mercy and Rafe’s budding relationship, then this isn’t quite the book for you. Sure, we get that in the book, but there is so much more going on.  

The story is thrilling and has a few twists along the way, though there aren’t any major surprises in the plot. That said, I’m very eager for the final instalment in the trilogy, because it isn’t entirely clear what will happen next. (I also have absolutely no idea who the couple will be! This is driving me nuts. In the first book, it was obvious that Mercy would be getting together with Rafe. For the third book, I can’t even pinpoint who one half of the couple will be.)

I do have one complaint about this book, which is the same complaint that I had in the first one in this trilogy. I recently read an older book by her (“You Can’t Hide”), and it was thrilling from cover to cover. In this trilogy, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of talking, exposition, and quite frankly, repetition. Even in the action scenes, it feels like they need to be heavily edited down for pacing. This 630 page book could have easily been only 500 pages, maybe even 400.  Even some of the thrilling scenes–like when we’re following Ephraim as he tracks Mercy and kills people that get in his way (and even some people who are just around, minding their own business. Ephraim’s a monster!), I felt that some of these scenes started to feel repetitive. He’s killing, I got it. 

That said, Karen Rose has created another fabulous book to get lost in, filled with dynamic side character and intriguing subplots that make her romantic suspense novels more complex and rewarding than most. 

*Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for the ebook to review*

Four stars

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Book Review: Howl-O-Ween by Gary L. Holleman

Howl-O-Ween

Howl-O-Ween

Title: Howl-O-Ween
Author: Gary L. Holleman
Genre: Horror
Date of Publication: October 1996
Publisher: Leisure Books


Synopsis

Cyrus Twigg, a professional bodyguard, is hired by the mysterious and beautiful Kyna to protect her while she delivers jewels to clients across Canada and the US. Little known to either of them, her boyfriend and boss, Bryan, gave her a jewel that she wears around her neck, one that’s more valuable than the rest to the strange “Dark Man” who’s hot on their trail.

My Thoughts

What a weird book. Now, don’t get me wrong–I love weird. But this was weird in a way that didn’t quite make sense.  I don’t even know if I would classify it as horror, even though there were some gory bits. Also: werewolves.

The book has a noir-style feel to it, which normally I love, but if a book with a ridiculous premise takes itself too seriously… I think you see where I’m going with this. I think that in order to enjoy this book, you have to appreciate the dry humour, if that’s what it was intended to be. Still not sure on that point.

I was a fan of the Voodoo and the way that magic and werewolves worked in this novel.  However, it was a little convoluted and hard to keep my interest at parts. I’ve read a few books on Voodoo, and Holleman took some fact and threw it in with his fiction, which makes for a more interesting read.  While I love a book that’s heavy on the magic, however, I needed more likeable characters and a stronger plot to keep me interested.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character, Russ.  He was a typical thug.  His interactions with Kyna, the gorgeous woman who magically transforms into his lover (shocker) were so cheesy they bordered on comical. Here is an excerpt:

They made love. Not the way they usually did–like two sumo wrestlers in heat trying to pin each other–but slowly, carefully, lovingly, the way the Swiss make watches.

That said, the intentionally unlikeable characters were great. Holleman did a phenomenal job of making me detest characters like the boyfriend/boss “Bryan”, who fortunately get what’s coming to him in the end of the book.

Howl-O-Ween

I recommend this book to those looking for a cheesy horror book that’s set around Halloween.

starstar

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