Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book review: Stolen Kisses by Annie Rains

Wow. What an amazing book! I really enjoyed the previous book but I have a soft spot for the young brother in family sagas, so I couldn’t wait to read Noah's story. And Annie Rains didn't disappoint. Besides, this book is about one of the sweetest tropes: friends to lovers. So if you like this trope, you HAVE to read this book, even if you haven't read the previous one (although, I have no doubt you will go back and read it afterward).

Noah and Krista have been best friends since they were kids. She's always been ‘one of the guys’ to Noah, but to her he was more than just a friend. For the sake of their special friendship, though, Krista never acted on her feelings until a drink too many makes her a little bolder… Once Noah’s eyes open, going back to seeing her as just ‘one of the guys’ is impossible, though. Can they explore their feelings and take their relationship to the next level or will the fear of ruining their friendship spoil their chance at love?

Stolen Kisses is another beautiful small-town romance set in the cute little beach town of Blushing Bay. Just like all of Annie Rains’s books, it is packed with feelings, chemistry and an adorable epilogue that will make you smile - and even swoon a bit. There is open-door sex but, as in all of Annie’s books, it is never too much that you want to skip ahead because it feels like it doesn't fit with the story. It happens at the right time and conveys the characters’ feelings for each other, not just the physical attraction.
Expect some funny moments, some ‘aww’ moments and get ready for a romantic journey that will leave you with a smile on your face when you reach the last page (and if you're anything like me, you’ll be wishing there were a few more pages!)

I truly enjoyed this book and I can't wait to see more of Noah and Krista in the next book. I'm already looking forward to reading Sam’s story but Noah and Krista’s will have a special place in my heart and in my Kindle.

Fans of Annie Rains, of small-town romance, and of friends-to-lovers stories won't be disappointed.

Buy book 1 
in the Blushing Bay Series

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book review: Wind Chime Summer by Sophie Moss

Sophie Moss did it again, and it’s no surprise. Her books, especially those in the Wind Chime Café series are beautiful and artfully crafted stories that will hook you from the very start and will take you on a journey filled with emotions so strong and real you can nearly touch them, with tension that will make you hold your breath and root for the characters’ happily-ever-after, and with that feel-good vibe that will wrap you in a warm embrace like a blanket on a chilly day. The small-town setting only serves to add up to the emotional connection you get when you read her books. No matter where you are when you're starting the book—you can be sure you'll end up on Heron Island after a few pages. You'll be able to smell the fish and ocean water, you'll hear seagulls and the sound of the wind chimes carry in the air, and soon enough you'll feel like you're one of the residents. 

Izzy and Ryan's story is as beautiful as it is heart-wrenching. The two characters each have their own problems and their own fears to overcome, and even though Ryan seems the one of the two who would be more inclined to get close and see what could come out of it, there are some boundaries he just can’t cross—not to mention, Izzy doesn’t let anyone within arm’s reach.
The challenge Izzy has to face is a tough one. She isn't just trying to overcome PTSD like the other veterans in the program organized by ex Navy SEALs Will and Colin to help veterans get back into the real world and adjust to their life outside the military—she has to deal with demons that ruined her life and forced her to give up on her dreams. Growing up in a family of immigrants, Izzy has had a tough life since she was a child. Enlisting in the Army as a cook was her best chance at making enough money that would allow her to open a food-related business with her grandmother. But someone took that dream from her and when she’s sent to take part in the program on Heron Island, the last thing she wants is to find new friends and get attached to strangers. She just wants to go through the three months and in the meantime complete her own personal mission of finding other women who suffered because of the person who ruined her life—and finally make him pay for what he did.

Ryan is an intriguing character and a total surprise. After reading the previous two books, which featured strong and broken military men, I wasn’t sure how he would fit in the series. He’s not suffering from PTSD or from missing a limb, like Will and Colin did, and he seems okay on the outside. But he has his own demons, too, demons that have been gnawing at his heart for years, ever since the day his mother walked out on her husband and children. He’s determined to prove his father that he can save the bay, that he can resurrect the oyster farming business so, by offering temporary jobs to the veterans in Will and Colin’s program, he’s hoping to make things right and get his father’s approval at last. He sure wasn’t expecting to be struck by strong feelings upon meeting Izzy. And the fact that she’s pulling back whenever he tries to get near only makes him want to dig deeper, to find out what her demons are and help her get over them.
The way things change, as soon as Izzy pulls down the walls around her and lets people in, is heart-warming. I loved seeing her come out of her hard, I-need-nobody’s-help shell and start trusting people. 

The romance in this novel is a little more subtle than the usual romance novels, with more focus on the heroine’s journey toward getting over her fears and letting another man close again. I’ll be honest, I was a little sad when I saw the words “The End” and realized I wasn’t going to read more about the two of them together. I personally would have loved to read more of Ryan and Izzy as a couple, after they took the final step and decided to let love in. But don’t let this discourage you from picking up the book, because it really is a beautiful story, with a romantic happy ending and some twists that keep it all more entertaining (there are a couple of edge-of-your-seat moments that will have you hold your breath waiting for the next scene).

Just like I expected, I enjoyed reading this book and I had a hard time putting down my Kindle. It was one of those books you can’t put down but at the same time, you don’t want to read too fast because then it will end too soon. I was thrilled to find out there will be a series crossover in the next book, and I can’t wait to read it. I do hope Ryan and Izzy will make an appearance in that book, just like all the characters from the previous books did in this one, because I really want to see more of them together.

If you’ve read the previous books in the series, you will love this one just as much. If you haven’t, this works as a standalone, but I’m pretty sure you will go back and read book 1 and book 2, as soon as you’ve finished Ryan and Izzy’s story. Fans of emotional and sweet romance, will definitely like Wind Chime Summer.

Buy book 1 and 2 
in the Wind Chime Café series

Monday, August 21, 2017

Book review: Ready To Run by Lauren Layne

A nice and entertaining enemies-to-lovers romance with plenty of chemistry and sparks from the very start. The small-town, country setting is a nice change from the usual city setting of the other novels by this author. I'm a fan of small-town romance and I was immediately pulled into the community, as soon as Jordan reached Lucky Hollow.

Jordan is a career-oriented woman who left country life behind when she was young. Now she's happy with her glamorous city life and determined to prove her worth with her boss. Her mission: convince the ultimate bachelor, the man who left three wives at the altar, to be the star of a new reality show. But since he isn't answering any of the emails or messages Jordan left, she is forced to leave the city behind and head off to the country to make sure he doesn't say no.

Luke is happy to be a firefighter in his hometown and be a valued member of the community. The fact he left three brides at the altar didn't take away from his popularity. Even though the people in his town love him and stand up for him, they’re also eager to see him settle down once and for all, so they also take Jordan’s side and try to pull her into their community.

I enjoyed this book and thought the plot was well thought-out. The characters were complex enough but at the same time they were relatable.
Although at times the heroine was a little stuck up, and I didn't like the way she looked down on everyone because they were small-town folks, as soon as she became part of the community she was way more likable.
Luke is the epitome of the drool-worthy book boyfriend you can’t help falling for. He's a real hero and even though the fact that he jilted three brides made me frown at first, it was clear that there were deeper reasons behind his actions. Which made me want to keep turning page after page to find out what the secret was.

The chemistry between the two is explosive - although the line between hate and attraction is thin and ends up blurring pretty soon.
I enjoyed getting to know the side characters and I would love for the next books to be set in the same town and community, but from what I understand, the next books in the series will be about the show so I'm afraid there won't be a chance to meet these characters again.

This is an ideal weekend read for fans of small-town romance featuring a serve-and-protect hero, and enemies-to-lovers trope with characters who can't stop butting heads even though they're unable to resist the attraction.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Book review: Forbidden Kisses by Annie Rains

Wow. What a great start to a new, very promising series by the author of the Hero’s Welcome series. Annie grabbed my heart with her very first book and I loved every single installment in the military series, so I was sure I would love these new characters too. She proved me right. The Sawyer brothers are great competition for the heroes of Seaside, and the female trio will make you wish you were part of their clique.

Jack and Grace were family, until Grace’s mother did something awful that made Jack’s father ask for divorce and kick them both out of his house—and of his life. Fifteen years later, Grace’s mother is sick and Grace has just lost her job, so she’s desperate to find a new one to support her mother and her medical expenses. A chance encounter with Jack provides the perfect opportunity to secure a good job, but after the way they parted ways fifteen years ago, she’s not sure working for the Sawyers is a good idea. Especially since Jack was her first and biggest crush when they were teenagers. But beggars can’t be choosers, and after all, Grace is old enough now to be able to be professional and keep her feelings out of the equation. But can the Sawyer brothers forgive her and her mother for what happened fifteen years ago? And can they trust her enough to let her back into their lives?

I cannot summarize the rest of the plot without spoiling it, so I won’t say much more. Just like Annie’s other books, this story is a mix of sweet, sexy, heart-wrenching, and funny moments all mixed together. You’ll find yourself smiling, swooning, laughing out loud, crying and basically falling in love alongside the characters.

The constant push and pull, mixed with the sky-high chemistry make for an unputdownable book that will kidnap your heart from the very first page and won’t let go until the end. With every chapter, I was pulled deeper into this new world of handsome fishermen and stubborn women who want to prove they can hold their own, to the point I felt like I was there with them. You can rest assured that by the time you reach the last page, you will already be looking forward to the next book.

The importance of forgiveness and redemption is perfectly woven into the romance, so while you dream of Jack Sawyer and his brothers, you will find yourself wishing for a happy ending for Grace’s mother too.

I could share a little more about this book, but I don’t want to spoil it for you so just trust me when I say: if you’re looking for a romance that’s both sweet and sexy, and that will steal your heart, Forbidden Kisses is the right choice. If you’ve loved the Hero’s Welcome series, Annie Rains won’t disappoint you with these new characters. You will love this new series just as much.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Book review: Meant To Be by Maggie McGinnis

Wow. Wow. Wow. Can this series get any better? With every new book in this amazing series I find myself wishing harder and harder that Whisper Creek really existed. Maybe if I wish hard enough, it will somehow materialize out of thin air? It's worth a try!

Every time I reach the end of a new book, I think Mrs. McGinnis won’t be able to write anything better. Then a new book comes out and she sweeps me off my feet. Again. And again. And again.

Meant To Be is another page-turner that won’t let go until you reach the end. Mrs. McGinnis made me fall in love with cowboys from the very first book, but an ex-cop turned cowboy? Well, the hotness scale tips dangerously toward love at first sight (or page?). Add the love for country music and the fact that he plays the guitar and, well, I’m a goner.

Cooper Davis was a cop in Boston, but when he did the right thing it all came to bite him, forcing him to leave the department and his family behind. Moving to Montana after randomly picking a place to escape, he only meant to be away for a short period of time, just to clear his head and let waters settle but being a cowboy becomes him. Until the day he’s forced by his boss’s wife to play baby sitter to a celebrity on the run…

When Shelby, aka pop star Tara Gibson, is sent off to Montana after her father dies in a plane crash she just wants to be left alone to grieve away from cameras and paparazzi. The last thing she wants is an overly-friendly neighbor who’s as hot as they make them. Her pop star career is at risk and she can’t afford to be caught hanging out with a cowboy who’s clearly hiding something from her.

But there’s something in the water at Whisper Creek, and Shelby and Cooper won’t be immune.

I love coming back to my favorite ranch and meeting my favorite group of people—not only the handsome cowboys, but also the funny and sassy women who stole their hearts. With every book, I wish a little more that Whisper Creek was a real dude ranch where I could spend a month (or maybe more) and escape the boring reality for a while.
Decker laughed. "I gather Kyla's been by?"
"Just left."
"And you said yes to watching over our VIP guest?"
"Actually, I said no. She has terrible hearing."
"I'm familiar with that problem." Decker rolled his eyes. "You okay with it?"
Hell, no.
"You can say no to her, you know."
"Right. Have you tried that lately?"
Decker laughed. "I didn't say I could do it, but you could."
The thing I love the most about these books is that there is always the perfect combination of romanticism, suspense and chemistry while keeping it clean. Maggie McGinnis books always make your heart race and pull you right into the story, making you root for the characters from the first page. Meant To Be isn’t any different. You can’t help sympathizing with Shelby and even though I was a little biased about a pop star heroine, thinking she’d be a posh and spoiled brat, I immediately liked her. And I liked her even more when she was her real self in Montana.

Cooper, well, he’s dreamy to say the least. He’s tortured and torn, and just utterly adorable. You can’t not fall for him—he’s all touch cop and easy-going cowboy, and there is absolutely no way you won’t fall in love with him. I dare you.
"You—um—you hungry?"
"Actually, yes." She tipped her head like the realization mystified her. "Which is weird, because, how many donuts did I inhale just hours ago?"
"A gentleman wouldn't comment."
She rolled her eyes. "Thank you."
"Three," he said. "I'm not a gentleman."
Witty dialogue, fascinating settings and romantic moments (as well as an adorable piglet!) make Meant To Be one of those books that have given me a book hangover and will stay with me forever. It’s a book you won’t be able to put down, so make sure you have food and water by your side before you start. 
"Oh, boy." She let one finger rub the tiny space between the piglet's ears. "Can we make a deal here? If I promise to follow all of the directions, could you please not die? Please? Because, omigod, I really, really, really can't be responsible for that, okay?"
As if in response, the tiny piglet raised her little snout and made a noise that was halfway between a mouse squeak and a pig snort, and Shelby laughed.
If you’ve enjoyed the previous books in the series, you’re guaranteed to love this. If you’ve yet to discover the cowboys of Whisper Creek, go ahead and pick up Meant To Be anyway. It works as a standalone and I bet it will make you want to go back and read the previous four books as soon as you’ve finished this one. 

"I don't want anything from you, Shelby. Nothing except for you to be free to be yourself. Your real self, not the one the record company created."
"What if I don't even know who that is anymore?"
"Then we figure it out together."

If you like sweet romances with hot cowboys and sassy heroines, you definitely want to read the Whisper Creek books. And this one is perfect for fans of country music, too!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book review: Starlight Bridge by Debbie Mason

Ava DiRossi has a secret that destroyed her life—and her marriage—ten years ago. Now that her ex and love of her life is back in Harmony Harbor, and the book containing her secret confession is hidden somewhere in Greystone Manor, she needs to find it asap, while at the same time finding a way to stay away from Griffin and the attraction that never stopped sizzling.

Griffin Gallagher lost the love of his life without ever knowing what really ruined their fairy-tale marriage. After his second marriage ends too, he’s determined to stay in his hometown only as long as it takes for the family to sell the manor. But being around Ava all the time stirs up old feelings that never really stopped simmering underneath his Navy SEAL tough façade.

When an unexpected twist complicates things, will they be able to get their happily-ever-after, or are they doomed to fail again?

Every time I start a book by Debbie Mason, I know I’m in for a marvelous adventure that will make it hard for me to put my Kindle down while at the same time making me wish I never reached the last page. This book is no exception. I loved it from the very first page to the last word.

I adored her Christmas, Colorado series and devoured every book, always looking forward to the next one. Although I do miss the characters from the town of Christmas, I have to admit I’ve grown attached to the people of Harmony Harbor just as quickly—and this is all because of the author’s ability to create relatable characters you can’t help but love. I loved book one (Mistletoe Cottage - read my review), and I was curious to read Ava and Griffin’s book. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of love triangles and even though this isn’t exactly one, since Griffin divorced both his wives (Ava and Lexi), I wasn’t happy to find out Lexi was back in the picture. But I decided to give the author the benefit of the doubt, since I knew this would be the perfect obstacle to Griffin and Ava’s happy ending. After all, there wouldn’t be a story if everything was easy-peasy, and Griffin and Ava saw each other after ten years and got married again the day after, right? 

Eventually, as the story progressed and I got to know Lexi a little better, I was happy that she got included in the book and got a tiny happily-ever-after herself. So there you go: even if you think there might be a love triangle and you aren’t a fan of the trope, trust me when I say there really isn’t one. It’s just Griffin being overly adorable and, wow, I thought I couldn’t find anyone I’d like more than Liam (Griffin’s firefighter brother and the hero in book 1), but it was a really tough match. These serve-and-protect Gallaghers are all quite charming! Of course, they’re Irish so they have a bonus point, but still… 

Ava is a great heroine and I adored her. Sometimes I wanted to step into the book and hug her. She wants people to think she’s strong and perfectly capable of taking care of herself and her father, but when her fragile side shows, even if only for the reader to see, you’ll really want to be able to hug her and comfort her. Good thing Griffin’s around to help her with that.

I loved their early banter, the way her Italian temper exploded whenever Griffin was around. I loved seeing how they both tried to stay away from each other (the opening scene when they meet in Griffin’s room is hilarious), how they wanted to fight their feelings but couldn’t. The constant push and pull, the big question mark lingering over their heads for most of the book that made me wonder whether they’d ever get their happy ending or if life would get in the way again, the beautiful romantic scenes—it all made me feel like I was right there with them, experiencing their pain, their anger, their love, and like I said at the beginning of this review, the book took me on a journey that left me with a contented smile on my face while already looking forward to the next book. Once you’ve met the people of Harmony Harbor, I know you’ll feel the same. 

Whether you’re a fan of Debbie Mason’s books, or she’s a new-to-you author, this book is a must-read if you love clean romances with scorching chemistry but always behind locked doors and without graphic descriptions. I adore Debbie Mason's books and this one has all the ingredients I love about her books: there are funny moments, romantic moments, swoon-worthy heroes, strong female characters, the perfect amount of angst and tension, and also a meddling ghost who’s the highlight of this series. Get ready for some laugh-out-loud moments, courtesy of Colleen Gallagher, the ghost.

You can read this book even if you haven't read the previous one, but I recommend reading Mistletoe Cottage first, because 1) it’s a great book that will warm your heart all year long and 2) you’d be able to understand and appreciate better the role of the meddling ghost. And 3) because Debbie Mason never disappoints fans of good ol’ romance and of modern-day happily-ever-afters.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Book review: Catch And Release by Laura Drewry

When trivia fanatic and TV producer Hope Seaver lands on the secluded piece of land where she’ll have to be filming the "Hooked" show, she’s not expecting to fall for the gruff fisherman who all but bit her boss’s head off during their phone conversation. She’s determined to make the show as good as it can be, and she won’t let him—and his rough ways—stand between her and success. But how can she think straight when he’s so hot?

The last thing Ronan O’Donnell wants is to have cameras following his every move. He just wants this show to be over asap, so he and his brothers can go back to a quiet life running their fishing lodge and staying away from the crowds. But the show is the only thing that can help their business get out of the financial trouble it’s in. And for the sake of their family’s legacy and his brothers’ happiness, he knows he’ll have to suck it up for as long as the cameras are around. Can he resist the determined and so beautiful TV producer, though?

Whoever said fishing isn’t sexy has obviously never met the O'Donnell brothers. Book 3 in the Fishing For Trouble series is about the grumpy older sibling, Ronan. I loved book 1 and the handsome baseball player, fell head over heels for The Fish Whisperer, the youngest brother, in book 2, but I had my doubts I’d be able to connect with Ronan. After all, who could ever fall for a grouch? 
Well, with this series, not only did the author manage to give fishing a whole new level of sexiness... she also managed to make me fall in love with a grouch! 

As a fan of Laura Drewry’s “Friends First” series, I had no doubt I’d like her female leads. In her previous series, she made me feel as if the heroines were my friends and made me wish I could be part of their clique. As predicted, I liked every female protagonist in book 1 and book 2, and I immediately connected with Hope—mainly because her bag (and her being “a little” OCD about being prepared for anything) reminded me a little of, ahem, myself. Besides, she’s super funny in her trivia nerdiness that, when she first meets with Ronan and tells him about blood-spurting toads, I laughed out loud.

This new book in the Fishing For Trouble series is another page turner. I couldn't put it down but I didn't want it to be over. Ronan surprised me with his character growth and with the way he changed completely when he was around Hope. I was expecting a grouch nobody would ever be able to like—let alone fall in love with—but he turned out to be the most adorable grouch that’s ever existed.

Even though Hope is a little scared of Ronan at first, after witnessing a telephone call in which Ronan wasn’t exactly a sweetie, I liked how their chemistry was immediate but at the same time, as they both resisted it—or at least, tried to—it built slowly toward the explosion of fireworks when they finally caved. They’re so different and yet they complement each other so well, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine Ronan with anyone but Hope. As I got to know Ronan and got a little deeper inside his mind, he grew on me a bit more, and I knew there was a Prince Charming under all those layers of curse words and gruffness.

In the last four days, anytime he was near her, it was as if everything inside him calmed for that moment, making him feel less of the miserable old shit Liam said he was and more of the man he used to be. The man he wanted to be again.

Hope brought out the best in Ronan, and this was one of the things I loved about the book. The subtle—or not so subtle—lesson that love can transform even the grumpiest, most disillusioned person into a better version of himself gave the story a bonus point. His attempts at being romantic, which forced him to go out of his comfort zone, made me laugh but at the same time they warmed my heart.

Hope had changed him, taught him how to trust again, and for some reason he couldn’t understand, she didn’t care that he wasn’t good at the flowery shit. And the crazy thing was, just knowing that made him want to figure out how to be more flowery for her, to be able to find words that described how he felt about her, no matter how stupid he sounded saying them.

And the ultimate thing that won me over were Ronan’s interactions with JD, the stray dog that showed up at The Buoys and became Ronan’s most loyal friend. The more he tried to push the dog away, the way he was used to doing with everyone else, the more affectionate the dog became—and the more my heart melted when Ronan eventually grew attached to the dog. 

I loved being back at The Buoys. It felt like coming home to a group of dear friends, and I wish there were more books in the series. I don’t feel quite ready to let go of the O’Donnells yet, and I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way. 

If you haven’t read the previous two books, you can still enjoy Ronan and Hope’s book—but I’m pretty sure you’ll want to go back and read Liam and Finn’s stories. If you’ve read book 1 and book 2, you’ll love Ronan’s story—and brace yourself for a twist toward the end that, wow, I hadn’t seen coming!

Thanks, Laura Drewry, for another beautiful romance. You completely changed my mind about Ronan and made me believe that even behind the gruffest and grumpiest attitude there can be a loving and under appreciated soul waiting to be discovered and loved. And this, in a world that’s all about appearance, is an important lesson more people should learn.