Monday, March 27, 2017

Seeking Mr. Wrong by Natalie Charles



Lettie Osbourne has lived her whole life by the book. Sweet, predictable, and certainly not living life on the edge, she’s always been content to make a living as a kindergarten teacher who writes adorable children’s books on the side. After her fiancé leaves her, Lettie decides she is perfectly content to accept her fate as mother to her beloved dog Odin and favorite auntie to her niece and nephew.

But then everything changes.

When Lettie’s publisher decides to sell only erotica, her editor convinces her to turn up the heat and throw some spice into her vanilla life. Lettie sets out to find the perfect man to inspire her writing...and finds him in her school’s vice principal, Eric Clayman. As Lettie and Eric grow closer and her writing gets steamier, she’s left wondering: is Eric Mr. Wrong? Or Mr. Right?

Publisher: Pocket Star | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher| Rating: 3.5 Cups
 

When I picked this one up, my reading had been a bit all over the place. The books had left me frustrated and growly, so I wanted something light and funny and that’s exactly what I got with Seeking Mr. Wrong.
 
Here’s what’s going on. Lettie’s a kindergarten teach who writes cute little children’s books about manners but when the publishing company she writes for is sold to a company that publishes only erotica and she still has one more book left to fulfill her contract, she decides rather than repaying her advance, she’ll try her had at writing erotica. There’s one little problem, Lettie’s vanilla and lacking the spice she needs to write sizzling erotica, so when her friend suggests that she search for ‘Mr. Wrong’ to inspire her writing, she decides to go for it. Although Lettie never expected that her ‘Mr. Wrong’ was going to be the new vice-principal at her school. But now that she and Eric have started something, they both want to see how it plays out but they have a few hurdles to overcome.
 
Lettie was so much fun. She’s dealing with several different things; her odd family, being jilted by her fiancé, venturing into a new genre of writing. So, there’s a lot of things going on with her and it was nice watching her explore who she was and not feel like she needs to fit into this cookie cutter mold. Eric had his ups and down with me. For the most part, I liked him and he seemed to be a decent guy, but there were moments when I wanted to strangle him. Thankfully, he seemed to know when he was being an idiot and quickly redeemed himself. 
 
The romance, like the characters, was a bit quirky but it worked. It sort of started out with a bit of insta-lust then morphed into a secret romance with a bit more depth to it.
 
While I enjoyed the light and fluffy aspect of this one, it sort of suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. Rather than blending the elements of the story together, it would focus on one then move to another then to another. So, there would be a few chapters just about her relationship, then chapters just about her adventures into writing erotica, then chunks of her family’s drama was thrown in. If these elements would have been blended together, it would have improved the flow of the book.
 
Overall, this exactly the book I needed to read after feeling so frustrated with my reading. The characters were quirky, the plot was different from the norm, and it was just one of those laugh-out-loud books.



 
What was the last fun book that you’ve read?
 
 
 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Someone to Love by Donna Alward



Ethan Gallagher is a firefighter in Darling, Vermont, who followed tradition and pledged his love on the Kissing Bridge to ensure lifelong happiness. A few years later, he's a widower with two rambunctious boys who no longer believes in magic. But even he has to admit that free-spirited Willow Dunaway fills him with wonder...and an attraction he cannot deny.

 

Willow's come back to Darling a different girl than the one who left after high school. Overcoming her past and owning her own business has made her into a strong, independent woman. Single dad Ethan appeals to her in a way she didn't expect, even though settling down is the last thing on her mind. But after fire destroys the local food bank, the town rallies, and a fling between Ethan and Willow leads to unintended consequences. Can they find a way out of their heartbreak to make a home in each other's hearts?

 Series: Darling, VT #2 | Publisher: St. Martin's | Genre: Contemporary Romance| Source: Publisher| Rating: 1 Cups

Normally, I’m a fan of Donna Alward. Her books have small town charm and quirky characters and I normally gobble them up. So, when I spotted this one, I was excited. Sadly, it left me growly.
 
Here’s what’s going on. Ethan’s a widower raising two adorable little boys. He’s also a firefighter. He’s given up on happily ever afters and he’s also a bit grumpy. Willow’s a free spirit. She runs a café, is into yoga and meditation, and the total opposite of Ethan. Much to each other’s surprise, they find themselves falling for each other but one-night changes everything and now they need to figure out if they can work through their past hurts.
 
Okay, so I really enjoyed the start. Ethan and Willow totally had the whole opposites attract things going on. He’s surly and she’s like a ray of sunshine so I was having so much watching the two of them together and I was really rooting for them. Then I learned about the secret that Willow was keeping and nearly put down the book. Although Ethan kept me reading and more was revealed about Willow’s secret and, while I couldn’t get behind it, it made me understand her a bit better. Then Ethan decided to say/demand something and I lost all respect for him.
 
Honestly, I should have just put the book down then and there and walked away but I kept going hoping that he would redeem himself. Yeah, that never happened. I just can’t get behind Willow’s choice or what Ethan wanted.
 
What I did like about this book was the sense of family. I really enjoyed the Gallagher family and I’m actually eager to pick up the first book in this series just to see what happened with Aiden and Laurel.
 
Overall, I liked the beginning but it went downhill from there and given the way Ethan and Willow behaved, I just can’t believe their HEA was actually real.


 
Darling, VT Series
#1 Somebody Like You
#2 Someone to Love
#3 Somebody’s Baby (coming April, 2017)
 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Healing a Heart by Amy Lillard



Rancher Jake Langston prides himself on being the sensible type. But five years after the loss of his wife left him to raise their daughter alone, he indulges in a one-night stand with a sexy stranger. He thought he'd never see the woman again. Four months later, though, she's standing in his driveway with a big surprise. Bryn Talbot wants nothing from the hunky cowboy who got her pregnant, but her southern nature demands she at least tell him about it. When Jake's family persuades her to stay for a while, she's soon won over by their charms - and by Jake. But with the losses the two of them have suffered in the past, neither is sure if they're ready to take the leap to forever....

 

Series: Cattle Creek #2| Publisher: Tantor Audio | Narrator: Rebecca Estrella  | Length: 9 hrs and 3 mins | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher | Ratings:  3.5 Cups
 

Jake and Bryn have both suffered loss. They’re damaged, not sure if they’re ready to let someone into their lives, and they need some healing to make them whole again. So, when a one-night stand leaves Bryn pregnant, Jake’s not exactly thrilled. And when his family convinces Bryn to stay, they slowly start to heal and figure out where things are headed.
 
Okay so, I’m not going to lie, if you’re going to pick up this book, AVOID THE AUDIOBOOK. The book itself is frustrating because, for the majority of the book, Bryn is frustrated then the narrator’s annoying narration only compounded to the frustration I felt.
 
Even though I felt frustrated on Bryn’s behalf, I found myself liking her. She’s been through a lot and suffered so much loss but she’s a tough cookie and she’s slowly figuring how to dig herself out of her grief. Jake’s another story; I ended up disliking him from the start. I know that’s he still dealing with the death of his wife, but he was such a wanker. As the book progressed, I started warming up to Jake but never found myself actually liking him and I think that had to do with the surly way the narrator portrayed him.
 
So, this was my first time listening to Rebecca Estrella and I have to say she’s not my favorite narrator. She made Bryn whiney, Jake was surly, and she portrayed a five-year-old little girl as if she was a tween.
 
This is the second book in the Cattle Creek series and it works well as a standalone. It also offered up just enough information on Jake’s brothers to pique my curiosity about the books to come.
 
Overall, this book sort of put me through the wringer and made me want to scream on Bryn’s behalf. I wished that I would have actually read this one because I’m wondering if my opinion of Jake would have changed.

Cattle Creek
#1Loving a Lawman
#2 Healing a Heart
 
 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Joyous Blooms to Color by by Eleri Fowler



Eleri Fowler’s Joyous Blooms to Color has won over tens of thousands of fans who have embraced it with such words as "beautiful," "a keepsake," "a delightful escape from reality," and much more. 

Wander along a winding path with intricate, gorgeous illustrations of natural settings, lovingly represented in this delicately rendered coloring book. From landscapes of weeping willows in the breeze to patterns of bees and blossoms, all are waiting for your creative touch. Words to color—including quotes, like Emily Dickinson's "Bring me a sunset in a cup"—are set into beautiful, delicate designs that will inspire you as you create!

Joyous Blooms to Color’s large, 10x10 interior has 96 black-and-white pages printed on heavy paper stock, good for colored pencils and most markers. A perfect gift for loved ones, this sturdy and brilliantly illustrated coloring book will delight.
This is the perfect coloring book for Spring. It’s filled with blossoms, blooms, literary quotes, and whimsical little birds.
 

The book is 10x10 and the size is one of my favorites. I just find I like the square shape opposed to the rectangular books. The ink is high-quality and doesn’t smudge when blending colored pencils over it. The paper is a nice weight. It’s heavy and smooth, a nice crisp white and it works well with both fineliners and colored pencils.
 

Because the paper is so smooth, there’s no tooth to it, so I would avoid watercolors because they will, more than likely, run or bead up. I would also avoid using makers because the pages are double-sided and they will seep through.
 
 
The drawings in the book range from simple ones to more complex ones but each of them have something to do with nature and they all have a sense of whimsy to them.
 

My only complaint with this one is that some of the images run on both pages, so some of it gets lost in the spine. I would much rather have the images centered or to have fold out pages to avoid this issue.
 

Overall, this one would make a great gift to give or receive. Easy to color, nice quality, and just so much fun.

 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Audiobook Review: Penmort Castle by Kristen Ashley



Cash Fraser is planning revenge, and to get it he needs the perfect woman. So he hires her. Abigail Butler has lost nearly everything in her life and she's about to lose the home she loves.

Cash meets Abby, who is posing as a paid escort, and the minute he does he knows he's willing to pay for more than Abby being his pretend girlfriend. A lot more. Abby needs the money or the last thing that links her to her dead family and husband will be gone. The deal is struck, but both Cash and Abby get more than they bargained for.

Cash realizes very quickly that Abby isn't what she seems, and while he changes strategies, Abby discovers that Cash's legacy, Penmort Castle, is like all the tales say - very, very haunted. Making matters worse, the ghost in residence wants her dead.

Abby's found herself in the battle of her life, so she enlists Mrs. Truman, her nosy neighbor; Jenny, her no-nonsense friend; Cassandra McNabb, white witch and clairvoyant with a penchant for wearing scarves (and lots of them); and Angus McPherson, dyed-in-the-wool Scot (which means he hunts ghosts in a kilt) to fight the vicious ghost who has vowed that she will rest at nothing to kill the true, abiding love of the master of Penmort.

Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation, Book 1 | Publisher: Audible Studios | Narrator: Abby Craden  | Length: 16 hrs and 52 mins | Genre: Paranormal Romance | Source: Publisher | Ratings: 4 Cups
Kilts, ghosts, a bossy hot Scot, and a quirky heroine? Yes, please! Seriously, who could resist this one?
  
Here’s what’s going on. Cash Fraser’s intent on reclaiming his birthright that was stolen from him but he needs a woman to help pull the wool over his crooked uncle’s eyes. When Abby Butler discovers that Cash is willing to pay anything to obtain a woman, she decides to pose as an escort in order to use the money to save her grandmother’s dilapidated house.  As time passes, Cash soon discovers that Abby’s not an escort and Abby starts to realize she’s feeling something for Cash. Although if the ghost of Penmort has her way, Abby won’t have time to discover if her relationship with Cash will go anywhere. So, Abby’s motley crew of friends decide to take matters in their own hands and rid Penmort of the ghostie.
  
Okay, so Cash and Abby were amazing together. They’ve both suffered loss and they’re both trying to figure out how to handle things. Abby’s thrown herself into remodeling her grandmother’s house and Cash is hell-bent on exacting revenge on his uncle and reclaiming his ancestral home. They have some healing that needs to happen and they both have to face things before they can move on.   
  
As most of you know, I have this thing for damaged heroes and Cash is definitely one. He’s broody and totally an alpha male yet he’s also kind, patient, and he takes care of what’s his. Abby’s a tough cookie. She’s not afraid to stand up to Cash and she never lets him off easy.
  
The relationship was an interesting one. It started out as Abby pretending to be an escort, then developed into something real. The physical relationship was started sooner, but the emotional relationship was a bit slower as they figured things out.
  
The secondary were interesting and entertaining, yet I found myself hating Jenny, Abby’s best friend. She just rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, she was there for Abby when she suffered her losses, but when Abby was able to stand on her own two feet, Jenny seemed annoyed and some of her actions seemed to me like she did them just to hurt Abby.
  
So, while this one has a nasty vindictive ghostie, the paranormal aspect was slow to start. It wasn’t until the latter half of the book that things started happening—the first part focused more on the relationship between Cash and Abby—and it worked. I also found the paranormal aspect to be believable.
  
Okay, so this was my first time listening to Abby Craden narrate and I’m not sure she was right for this one. While I had no problem with her narration of Abby and Mrs. Truman, I struggled when she narrated a character with an accent. And, more often than not, Cash sounded Russian rather than Scottish.
 
 
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It had humor, serious bits, and hot moments.  


Ghosts and Reincarnation Series
Penmort Castle
Lacybourne Manor
Sommersgate House
Fairytale Come Alive
Lucky Stars
 
 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Home at Last by Lily Everett



Marcus Beckett left Sanctuary Island after his mother's funeral, and he hasn't been back since. Until now. Needing a change from the high-risk, high-stakes life of a bodyguard, Marcus makes a solitary life for himself running the neighborhood bar in his hometown. His only mistake? Seducing and then dumping the town's sweetheart, Quinn Harper. Marcus knows he did the right thing—a good girl like Quinn has no business with a broken man like him. But now no one will come to his bar, and he's watching his last chance at a peaceful life go up in smoke. So when Quinn proposes a fake four-week courtship, he can't refuse...even though he knows it's a bad idea.


It's a romantic charade that will buy Quinn time to distract her mother and father from their own maritial problems—and will help Marcus welcome back some paying customers besides. But what begins as an engagement of convenience slowly transforms into a deeper connection, one that heals both of their hearts...and ignites the simmering passion between them. Could it be that pretending to be together is just what Quinn and Marcus needed to give their real love a second chance?


Series: Sanctuary Island #6  | Publisher: St. Martin's| Release Date: 3/7/2017 | Genre: Contemporary Romance| Source: Publisher | Rating: 4.5 Cups

Marcus and Quinn were amazing together. They’re both wounded and need healing that only they can offer.
 
It's a romantic charade that will buy Quinn time to distract her mother and father from their own marital problems—and will help Marcus welcome back some paying customers besides. But what begins as an engagement of convenience slowly transforms into a deeper connection, one that heals both of their hearts...and ignites the simmering passion between them. Could it be that pretending to be together is just what Quinn and Marcus needed to give their real love a second chance?
 
Marcus Beckett never thought he’d step foot back on Sanctuary Island. Yet, after the client he was assigned to protect is murdered, this Marine-turned-secret agent needs a change. So, he opened a bar in his hometown, then made the mistake of dumping Quinn Harper, the town’s sweetheart. Now his business is floundering but Quinn, who has been in love with Marcus since she was a little girl, has a plan; if he would pretend to be her boyfriend for a few weeks to help save her parents’ marriage, she’ll help get people back into his bar. Although the lines between fake and real are becoming blurred and Marcus is realizing that, while his goal has been to keep Quinn out, she’s found a way in and he doesn’t really want to let her go.
 
Marcus is one of my favorite heroes. He’s loyal, faithful, yet stubborn. He’s also broken and needs someone to heal his wounds. He’s suffered loss and doesn’t know how to let anyone in. While he’s head-over-heels for Quinn, he doesn’t think he’s good enough for her so instead of letting her in, he pushes her away. I really liked Quinn. She’s just an all-around good person who is willing to do whatever she can to help others. She’s still figuring out what she wants to do with her life and just wants someone to believe in her and Marcus does.
 
I really enjoyed the romance. It’s a slow burn romance. Marcus and Quinn have a past and he broke her heart. They are both in love with each other but they’re cautious. He has a lot of things he needs to work out and she needs to figure out if she can trust him not to hurt her again.
 
There’s a subplot that involves Quinn’s parents. Paul and Ingrid’s marriage is in trouble thanks to Ingrid listening to a marriage guru that’s she’s moved into the house with them. Paul’s a straight arrow while Ingrid is sort of a hippie. I found that I enjoyed their story and rather than taking away from Quinn and Marcus, it added to it.
 
This one was so close to being a 5-cup read, so so close. The only reason that I knocked it down half a point was because, while Marcus’s secret was a weighty secret, I was expecting something a bit more than what I received.
 
Overall, this one is a keeper. While I did miss the start of Quinn and Marcus by not having read the previous books in the series, I had no problem keeping up with what was going on. Although, since I could not put this one down, I plan on picking up the previous books just to see what I missed in this series.



 
Sanctuary Island Series
Sanctuary Island  #1
Shoreline Drive  #2
Heartbreak Cove  #3
Home for Christmas  #4
Close to Home #5
Home at Last #6
 

Friday, March 10, 2017

DNF Roundup: The Black Sheep's Secret Child by Cat Schield and Under the Hood by Sally Clements

The Black Sheep's Secret Child (Billionaires and Babies #74) by Cat Schield
 
Widow Savannah Caldwell faces the challenge of her life: begging Trent Caldwell—her former fling and late husband's brother—to save the family's ailing music business. That she's still attracted to Trent makes things hard; that Trent is her son's secret father makes things impossible!
 
Trent is fiercely proud of making his own fortune, despite his controlling father. And he's always believed his brother got the girl who should have been Trent's. Now he'll have the family business, and his brother's widow in the bargain. But will their romantic reunion be waylaid by Savannah's shocking baby secret?
 
Okay, so when a heroine sleeps with one brother, gets pregnant then passes the baby off as the other brother’s—who happened to be dying of cancer—to make sure the child inherits the family business, there’s just no coming back from that. So, this one was definitely a DNF by chapter 4.
 
                                   


Under the Hood by Sally Clements
 
When Alice Starr mistakenly believes attorney Mark Jameson needs her help, he discovers he likes being rescued for a change. Smitten by her confidence, he hides his expertise so he has an excuse to see her again. Alice doesn't have time for a man. But with one kiss, she and Mark have advanced into water so deep she's in danger of drowning...
 
I normally like Bliss titles; they’re short and fluffy and normally leave me with the warm and fuzzies. This one not so much. Not only was the writing lackluster, Alice and her friends annoyed me. They started a women only garage because they were tired of men talking down to them when they had their cars worked on, then Alice breaks the rules and tries to, heaven forbid dare I say it, work on a man’s car. The shock and horror of it. Yeah, I may have pulled an eye muscle from all the eye rolling. Then there was Mark. He acts like he doesn’t know how to fix his car because he wanted to a knight in distress then he goes on and on about feeling bad about how he lied to Alice.
 
Needless to say, I was so over this book before the halfway mark.



It happens. The dreaded DNF. You know you’ve had one or two, or ten. Rather than posting them individually, I decided to do a monthly roundup of the books I’ve DNF’d.

 
What’s the last book you DNF’d?
 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Cat, the Quilt, and the Corpse by Leann Sweeney



Recently widowed Jillian Hart is rebuilding a life for herself and her three beloved cats - Chablis, Syrah, and Merlot - as a quilter in a small South Carolina town. The quilts she makes are for cats as smart, special, and sweet as her own, and business is thriving.

But when she returns from an overnight quilting show, she discovers Chablis sneezing - and since Chablis is allergic to humans, that can only mean one thing: Someone has broken into her house. When she realizes her Abyssinian, Syrah, is missing, Jillian suspects catnapping.

Spurred by Chablis and Merlot’s mournful meowing, she investigates - and discovers more missing cats and a murder. Now she’s got to save more than one cat in trouble - not to mention herself.

Series: Cats in Trouble #1 | Publisher:  Audible Studios | Narrator: Vanessa Johansson  | Length: 10 hrs and 32 mins | Genre: Contemporary Cozy Mystery | Source: Publisher | Ratings: 2 Cups

Challenges Read For: Cruisin' thru the Cozies Reading Challenge  (animal related)
 
When Jillian returns from an out-of-town quilt show, she soon discovers one of her cat’s sneezing (due to being allergic to human dandruff) and another one missing. As she searches for her missing cat, she soon discovers that there’s a cat thief in their midst. When she finally finds her missing Abyssinian, she also finds that man who catnapped him dead and a house full of stolen cats. Now, not only does Jillian have a murder case to crack, she also has to help reunite the stolen cats with their humans.
 
I’m a bit on the fence about this one. While I liked the characters and the mystery, I found I couldn’t really get into the book and I can’t really pinpoint why. I’m not sure if it was because it was the first in a cozy and they can be a little draggy as they establish the characters and setting or if the narrator just didn’t hold my attention but I found that my mind wandering several times and I had to force myself to pay attention.
 
I also found myself struggling with Jillian. For the most part, I liked her; she’s a widow trying to figure out what to do with her life after her husband died. She’s a cat enthusiast and she makes quilts for charity and cats. Although there’s a part of the book where she makes the choice to use a guy that’s into to gain information about the case and, while the guy didn’t mind, I still found it to be a poor choice on her part.
 
While the major parts of the mystery were addressed, there was one part that was never fully explained and it irked me given that it was something that was brought up quite a bit.
 
Overall, this one was just an okay cozy mystery. While I liked the random bits of cat trivia, I just couldn’t get interested in the book.

 
 
What makes you not click with a book?