Saturday, July 13, 2019

A Highlander Walks into a Bar by Laura Trentham book review

This book is among my favorites this summer! I do love all things Scottish, so this book had a lot going for it for me with just the cover and title! This story is a blend of the Highlands and southern hospitality. Highland, Georgia is a small town that embraces it’s Scottish heritage and brings in tourists because of it. Rose and her daughter Isabel (Izzy) have been keeping a large estate going by continuing the tradition of the annual Highland festival. The annual festival is a lot of work and Rose decides to take a vacation before the mad dash to the end. When Izzy picks her mother up at the airport, she is not expecting her mom to have brought home a Highlander. They claim it was love at first sight, but Izzy and Gareth’s nephew, Alasdair are not quite as trusting of the whole arrangement. 

It becomes pretty apparent to the reader that Gareth and Alasdair are keeping secrets. But so do Rose and Izzy. Neither party wants the other party to take advantage of their family. Isabel thinks Gareth might be interested in the estate and Alasdair thinks Rose might be interest in what Gareth left behind in Scotland. Alasdair decides to help Izzy with the final plans for the Highland Games and they notice the sparks between. In fact, they are quite hard to ignore. Alasdair is a hot Scotsman who looks good in his regular work clothes, but even better in a kilt! There was so much fun and humor in this story. Lots of laugh out loud moments and lots of really sweet moments. Izzy has her fair share of awkward moments and as a reader you will feel embarrassed right alongside of her. Fortunately, Alasdair thinks her personality and quirkiness are endearing and he enjoys spending time with Izzy. 

There is a little bit of a mystery going on as Alasdair inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will make Izzy and Rose very mad at him. But part of the fun is watching Alasdair work towards making changes in his life that will bring him closer to his family and find a woman that he genuinely cares for. Izzy and Alasdair bring out the best in each other and their personalities balance each other out. I like the secondary romance between Rose and Gareth and some characters are introduced that will be part of the next book. Imagining Alasdair’s accent and good looks make this for a swoon worthy read. He could very well be your next book boyfriend. The author does a nice job ending the first story, but setting up readers for book two.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Charmer in Chaps by Julia London book review

Oh man, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I have written a review. Work and conferences have gotten in the way of my fun reading and reviewing. So, I am trying to catch up and write about some of the books I have loved this summer!

I’m a fan of Julia London, so I was more than willing to give this book a try. She did not disappoint. Our main characters in this book are Ella and Luca. The story is set in Texas and it was full of non-traditional surprises throughout the story. While there are is a lot of chemistry between our two characters and a HEA love story, the author tackles some tough issues. The author does a wonderful job with the character’s back stories and talks about things we don’t always delve into in romance books. Ella came back to where she grew up somewhat reluctantly because she inherited a house from her grandma. She does not have money to fix it all up, or really any money for anything. Ella was a foster kid as she was growing up, but she managed to go to college and get an accounting degree. As her car dies on the side of the road, Luca Prince is the one who finds her.

Luca comes from one of the richest families in their town. He was a star athlete, had access to whatever he wanted, and went through women like crazy. People don’t expect much from Luca because he was never really good at school and people just assume he is not very smart. He gets by on his looks. However, readers will find out that Luca can’t read because he has dyslexia and that is why he did not do well in school. His family is embarrassed by his lack of goals in life. Little do they know that Luca is learning how to read so that he can get into environmental conservation and undo some of the damage his family has done to the land over the years.

Ella and Luca kissed once upon a time in high school. Ella remembers every little detail and Luca does not seem to even remember that he went to high school with her. No reader will be able to resist the charm and flirtatious nature of this hot cowboy! Grab a fan and an ice cold drink because hot damn do sparks fly once Ella starts letting Luca into her life a little bit. They are both cautious about jumping into any sort of relationship with anyone, but Luca’s persistence pays off. I love that Ella worked so hard to make it on her own. She is tough and smart and able to fend for herself. I love that Luca was a male character who was working on getting help with reading. As a librarian, I know this is a problem, but so many adults do not ask for the help they need. So, it’s really progressive that the author wrote it into her story. It’s a perfect summer read for many reasons. You can even pretend you are in Texas by the ranch with all this summer heat! I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Never Deny a Duke by Madeline Hunter book review

I wrote in an earlier review that these books are like a gift - just waiting to be unwrapped by the reader. This book is the 3rd book in The Decadent Dukes Society trilogy. I loved them all! I know it’s going to be a late night for me if I get a Madeline Hunter ARC or it’s release day. I finished this one at about 2am. It was just impossible to stop.

I think what made this book different was that it has an English Duke (Eric Marshall, the Duke of Brentworth) and Davinia MacCallum who is Scottish and is supposed to be a Baroness. Part of the story takes place in Scotland. It is tied into the 1745 uprising and the Battle of Culloden, which is when Davinia’s family lost their land to the English. Davinia petitions the King to have her title reinstated and her estate returned. Problem is that Brentworth is the current landholder and does not want to give it up. He sort of brushes off the demands of the King, which is kind of a funny scene in the book, because what aristocrat doesn’t jump at the King’s bidding???

Brentworth is really tightly wound and very discreet with everything. His friends make fun of him for that. Davinia is a writer for Parnassus and part of the Parnassus Club. It didn’t seem like she was on the hunt for a husband. She liked her independence and she was surrounded by good friends. She was also well educated by her father and did not want to give any of her time up that she spent helping people. Her goal was to get her land back and restore her estate. She managed to get an audience with an assistant to the King, but she didn’t feel like she got anywhere. So, she went directly to Brentworth to try to sort things out with him. Ha! This led to some witty and humorous dialogue that was fun to reread.

What a great couple. Eric and Davinia are well matched. Not only do they have great conversational compatibility, but they also are certainly not lacking in the physical chemistry department. I love how in some parts they cannot keep their hands off of each other. *fans self*. I love the historical accuracy, the detailed setting, the descriptive language about the food, clothes, and estates. I don’t know if the author has had an authentic carriage ride, but it sure seems like it with how the rides were described. All in all, I loved this book! A happy and satisfying ending. I highly recommend it for fans of historical romance.

Under Her Spell by Eliza Watson

This book is a light, fun and quick rom-com. I admit I was expecting a bit more “witch” but it was more along the lines of the show “The Good Witch”, but it was cute and there was dabbling in spells that were quite entertaining. In this story, I would stay that opposites attract. Monica is trying to get a romantic event planning business off the ground and Reed moves in next door as a divorce attorney. Not the best business neighbor. There was a lot of sexual tension leading up to them actually getting together. It was funny and had some laugh out loud moments.

Reed is very charming and can easily become a book boyfriend. He is hot, smart and as the story unfolds, doing the right thing. That, right there, is swoon-worthy. This book is a great escape. It’s well written, a good story, funny dialogue, and a satisfying ending. It’s a great choice if you are looking for your next contemporary romance.

A Touch of Forever (Cowboys of Colorado #3) by Jo Goodman book review

I’ll admit right away that my romance consists of Regency England and sometimes Scottish historical fiction. I also read small town contemporary romance. Also, erotica. Lots and lots. I get derailed by the things I really love and don’t always try new things. So, this book seemed like it would be a cowboy western romance, which it sort of was...but wasn’t. I’ve probably only read a couple books in this genre and this author was new to me. Even though she has written tons of book. I’m glad I took a chance on it. Yes, it takes place in Colorado in the early 1900’s (ish?). The railroad is being built and cowboys do exist. But Roen came from a pretty wealthy family in New York City, so he’s not really a cowboy. He’s a talented artist (not sure if he would be considered a cartographer) in the book he is a railroad engineer and kind of running away from a stalker. He likes the outdoors and working as a freelancer for the railroads suits him just fine.

Lily Salt is a widow who has sworn off men for good reason. She is a survivor and her story comes out throughout the book. When the two meet, there is instant attraction although Lily nor Roan would admit to that. Lily comes with kids and Roen is from out of town. It seems like the odds are stacked against them. Roen (I really like his’s hot) gets a message he decides that a marriage of convenience would be a good answer. It would help him out and it would help Lily out. Things weren’t necessarily easy for single women in her time. This was a very slow-burn romance and normally I don’t wait that long to get to the good stuff….but this story was so good, that I had to keep reading. The kids and the people in the town were so well written that they were captivating in their own right. The nuances of racism towards Chinese Americans was historically accurate and powerfully woven into the story.

I may have fallen in love a little bit with Roen. But it was ok that Lily got him ;) This book is part of a series, but since I read it as a standalone and it was my first Jo Goodman book, it doesn’t have to be read in order. Even though I am a stickler for reading things in order. I guess I made all sort of exceptions by delving into this book. All in all, I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it to anyone willing to settle into a longer romance book. Oh, and the cover is really sexy.  I think the cover models chosen did the characters justice.

Hired by Zoey Castile book review

A contemporary romance with a twist. Aiden is a stripper turned escort who finds himself in New Orleans for a client who canceled on him at the last minute. She let him stay in the hotel room that she paid for. He doesn’t really know what to do with himself, so he heads to the bar. Aiden has a Colombian background and is close with his family, but doesn’t tell them everything including some of the mistakes he has made. Faith stops by the bar because she had a rough night. Faith works for her mom who is a prominent politician. She is well educated and proud of her African American heritage. Faith feels like she can’t please her mom and in order to do something for herself, hooks up with Aiden. They had a ton of chemistry and both ended up wanting to see more of each other. However, Faith does not really know what Aiden does for a living and she is not supposed to be doing anything that would tarnish her mom’s political campaign. Faith and Aiden really are perfect for each other, but they have to learn to accept and trust what each of them bring to the relationship. They had a strong emotional connection. The friendships in this story are worth nothing because they are strong and can persevere some bad choices. The setting was really great too and made me want to travel to New Orleans.

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway book review

I spend a lot of time reading historical and small-town contemporary romances. So, this book was a bit of a change of direction for me. The main character is Mel and she lives and works in New York. She is underpaid to do the work she is doing at a startup and her dating life has not been on point. After one too many bad dates from online apps, she made a site called JerkAlert. That is what drinking and being a good programmer will produce;) Mel is trying to navigate the male-dominated world of IT and it makes for a good setting to a modern romance story.

It’s funny, it’s believable and you will find yourself rooting for the HEA. Strong friendships and girl time add a lot to this story. Once I started this book, I could not put it down. It was a fun, witty, quick read. A perfect escape if you are having a bad day (or a good day).