Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Back in the Game by Meghan Quinn

Single dad and hockey star, Calder Weiss has put his love life on the back burner for the past five years, raising his daughter and keeping up with the demands of his profession.

But all that changes the minute Rachel Perry runs into him in the most unlikely of places, right outside the men's bathroom. Vibrant and enchanting, she captures his attention, making it impossible for him to walk away without scoring her number.

Their connection is immediate, their attraction palpable, and their relationship undeniable. But Rachel isn't the only girl in Calder's life which scares him, because Calder's daughter already lost her mother. He doesn't want Shea to lose someone close to her again, making Rachel's task of breaking through Calder's wall that much more difficult.

Publisher:  Hot-Lanta|  Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Purchased for Book Club | Rating: 3.5 Cups

Challenges Read For:  - Literary Pickers  - Wine

This was a cute yet short little romance that centers around Calder—a pro hockey player and single father—and Rachel, the woman who just so happened to run into him outside the men’s bathroom while he’s wearing a tiara and fairy wings.
I picked up this one because it was one of my book clubs February recommendations—we’re doing a new thing where members recommend different books based on the theme chosen each quarter— and I had fun with it.
Calder and Rachel do have an insta-everything going on but it was expected given how short this one was. I do wish this would have been a full-length book to see more development—given the chemistry and witty banter they had a full-length book would have been fab—but I still enjoyed this one. I thought it was interesting seeing Calder take Rachel on what he considered an ‘old-school’ date.
While I enjoyed this one, I would have liked to have seen Calder and Rachel in the same space a bit more—there’s a lot of texting going on. I would have also have liked to have seen Calder’s daughter a bit more given he is a single dad.
I wouldn’t really classify this as an actual sports romance but rather a romance where the hero is a pro hockey player. While some game play occurs, hockey takes a backseat in this one.
Overall, this was a fun, steamy, little read. It was my first time reading Meghan Quinn and I’m eager to read more from her. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

My Heart's in the Highlands by Angeline Fortin

Sixty-eight seconds.

Can a life be lived in sixty-eight seconds? Can the love of a lifetime be discovered and lost in just a minute?

Mikah Bauer stepped into the street in front of the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art and found herself lost in a nightmare that became a dream come true when Ian Conagham, the Marquis of Ayr, appeared before her. Mikah found herself living another life, a fairy tale of love and passion such as she never imagined. Then came the nightmare that tore it all away as quickly as fate had handed it to her.
Publisher: Tantor Audio | Narrator: Kirsten Potter  | Length10 hrs and 47 mins | Genre: Time Travel Romance | Source: Audible Escape | Rating: 4 Cups

Challenges Read For:  - Audiobook Challenge  Literary Pickers  - Portrait

This one took me on an emotional rollercoaster and I loved every minute of it.
Here’s what’s going on. As the result of an accident, Mikah travels back in time to 19th century Scotland where she finds herself slipping into the life of recently widowed Hero. She also finds herself in the presence of Ian, the man who has captured her dreams since she was a child. As she falls for Ian, it soon becomes apparent that they’re in danger. Once again, Mikah finds her life spinning out of her control.
I’ve recently discovered Angeline Fortin and, while I enjoyed the first book I read by her (A Laird for all Time), this one is my favorite thus far.
Okay, so I’m not going to say too much about the plot in this one because I don’t want to spoil anything but, let me say, this is one of the better time travel romances that I’ve read lately.
One of the things that I enjoyed about is that that Mikah didn’t fight what was happening. She slid easily into Hero’s life as though it was second nature to her. Both Ian and Mikah/Hero were likable characters that I wanted to see succeed.
There were a few minor issues with one. I was hoping to receive a bit more clarity regarding what happened with Hero’s father. It also would have been nice to see more from Ian towards the end of the book. I would have also liked to have seen more of what happened at the end of the book.  There could have been a few more chapters added and I would not have minded in the least.
My Heart’s in the Highland’s reminded me a lot of Susanna Kearsley’s early writing. If you’re a fan of woman-in-jeopardy, slightly gothic tales that have a second chance, fated mate (without being a paranormal book) trope, then I think you’ll enjoy this one.
While Kirsten Potter did an outstanding job on the narration, I feel like this would have been balanced a bit better if there would have also been a male narrator. It would have added an extra bit of life to the audiobook.
Overall, even though it had a few minor problems, I was still blown away. An interesting take on time travel that had me hooked from the start.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

A Laird for All Time by Angeline Fortin

After 10 long years of education and residency, Dr. Emmy MacKenzie decides it's time for a much-deserved vacation. But when she's traveling the British Isles, a twist of fate at the gates of the ancient castle of Duart hurls Emmy more than a hundred years into the past and into the arms of a magnificent Highlander who thinks she is his long-lost wife, Heather MacLean.

The 10 years since his new bride abandoned him on his wedding day have brought Connor MacLean, earl of Strathclyde, nothing but misery and bitterness, but that is nothing compared to the anger he feels when she shows up on the 10th anniversary of that day. Determined to punish her for the humiliations she dealt him, he is shocked when his wife insists that she is not his wife at all. Though he tries to cling to his anger, Connor cannot deny the attraction he feels for his mysterious wife, and soon he finds himself wanting nothing more than to take her in his arms and make her his.

When the truth of Heather MacLean's disappearance comes to light, more than just Connor's life could be destroyed. Choices will have to be made. Forgiveness begged. Second chances taken not just for the people of Duart but for Emmy herself.
Series: A Laird for All Time #1 | Publisher: Tantor Audio  | Narrator: Kirsten Potter  | Length: 10 hrs and 31mins  | Genre: Time Travel Romance | Source: Audible Escape | Rating: 3.5 Cups

Challenges Read For:  - Audiobook Challenge - Literary Pickers  - Musical Instrument  
I’ve been looking for new-to-me authors and I stumbled upon Angeline Fortin through Audible Escape and, I have to say, I’m rather impressed. Not only was this a fun and different time travel romance, it helped fill in Droughtlander.
Here’s what’s going on. When Dr. Emmy MacKenzie decided to travel to Scotland for a much-needed vacation, she never imagined she’d end up in the Victorian Era with a handsome Highlander claiming she’s his wife that ran away. She’s even more baffled when she comes face-to-face with a woman who looks just like her. Determined to prove to Connor MacLean she’s not his runaway bride, Emmy soon realizes that maybe there’s a reason she’s been sent back in time. The more time she spends with Connor, the closer they become but she’s still determined to prove who she really is.
This was a bit different from the standard time travel romances I normally read and I found it to be rather refreshing.
Emmy, an OB/GYN, is rather headstrong—she’s very much the embodiment of a modern woman so she’s thrown for a loop when she finds herself going up against the Victorian ways. Obviously, there’s going to be a little resistance but I just felt like she was overly determined to fight about every little thing she felt was wrong in the era she found herself in. When Connor would concede and see things her way, she was still determined to pick another fight. I would have liked to have seen her roll with things a bit more.
Connor is a typical Highlander of that era. Prideful, determined, stubborn, and a bit broody. When he first spots Emmy, he’s sure that she’s his runaway bride but the longer he spends with her he knows she’s not Heather, he just has to admit it to himself.
The relationship between Connor and Emmy was interesting and a bit tedious at times. There’s a constant fight going back and forth between them. Not only are they fighting about whether or not she’s Heather, they’re fighting about what place a woman has in that era. Eventually they begin to give in to each other and put their warring on the back burner but it still flairs up at the oddest of times. While they had chemistry, I don’t feel like it was always prevalent. I would have liked to have seen more of them as a couple.
There is a bit of a mystery in this one regarding the disappearance of Heather. I had a feeling what was going on and ended up being right. I still found it a little odd that Connor never at least suspected it.
I wasn’t thrilled with the ending. I’m not a fan of epilogues that jump a significant amount of time. I feel like there was too much time lost and it felt disconnected.
Kirsten Potter’s narration took a bit of time to get used to but I ended up really enjoying it.
Overall, there were a few things I could have done without in this one but it was still a worthy read.

A Laird for All Time Series
A Laird for All Time  #1
A Time & Place for Every Laird #2
Taken #3
Love in the Time of a Highland Laird  #4
A Laird to Hold  #5


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

In Cold Chamomile by Joy Avon

Callie Aspen can't think of a more appropriate place to spend Valentine's Day than her adopted hometown of Heart's Harbor, Maine. When she's not helping out at Book Tea, her great-aunt Iphy's vintage tearoom, Callie's adorning Haywood Hall with hearts and roses for the big Valentine's event, where townspeople will fall in love with sweet treats, heartwarming music, and delightful books. But tension is brewing: The librarian argues with the expert who is on hand to appraise precious volumes. And Iphy is shocked to recognize the baritone who's slated to sing at the event as an old acquaintance--one she'd hoped she'd never meet again. And then, when a dead body is discovered, the stirring spoon of suspicion points at the many people who had reasons to want the victim dead.

When Iphy's old acquaintance draws the attention of Deputy Ace Falk, Callie finds herself in a spot. Ace, as usual, doesn't want Callie involved, but how can she ignore Iphy's anguish over the fate of a man she cares for more than she will admit? Bringing the killer to justice may endanger Callie's budding relationship with Ace--and, quite possibly, her own life.

Callie and the Book Tea crew may think they have this case in the bag, but un-kettling truths are yet to be decanted.

Series:  A Tea and Read Mystery #3| Publisher: Crooked Lane Books | Release Date: 2/11/2020 | Genre: Cozy Mystery| Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.5 Cups

Callie Aspen is thrilled that Book Tea will be one of the hosts of the Valentine’s Day event held in historic Haywood Hall. Not only will Callie and her Aunt Iphy be providing their fabulous book-inspired tea treats, there’s a bevy of events including music, pet adoptions, and an expert book appraiser. With love in the air, Callie never expected the event to end in murder. When Sean Strong, a person from Iphy’s past, is the main suspect in the appraisers murder Iphy is willing to do anything to prove he’s innocent and she’s determined to convince Callie to help.
I struggled with parts of this one. The mystery was decent—I had a feeling who the murderer was from early on but I was still working out the why, which was enough to keep me invested in the plot. What I didn’t care for was Iphy’s actions. In her pursuit to clear Sean’s name, she bulldozed over Callie and Ace’s relationship. She was very selfish and used tactics that should have had her thrown in jail. I also didn’t care for Callie’s sit back and whine attitude. She knew she was going against what Ace—the deputy currently filling in for the sheriff—asked but she continued to let her aunt do as she pleased.
This one had a slightly different tone to it than what I was expecting. There was a lot going on in this one relationship-wise with the characters and it gave the book a slight jumbled feel. Given that the previous book had Callie and Ace and Peggy and Quinn starting/attempting relationships, I was surprised to see how much drama was going on, especially since this one was a Valentine’s themed book.
Overall, this one wasn’t as strong as the second book in the series (review coming soon) but it was still an okay read. Yes, there were some issues with this one but I’m eagerly waiting for the next in this series.

Tea and Read Mystery Series
In Peppermint Peril #1
Sweet Tea Revenge #2
In Cold Chamomile #3


Monday, February 10, 2020

Zack by Sawyer Bennett

Rising star Zack Grantham has been stuck in a downward spiral of grief that has put his career on hold. Back on the road with the Carolina Cold Fury, still crippled by emotional baggage, and now a single dad, he's in need of some serious help with his son. But while the nerdy new nanny wins his son's heart, Zack isn't sure that he's ready for a woman's touch - even after getting a glimpse of the killer curves she's hiding under those baggy clothes.

Kate Francis usually keeps men like Zack at a distance. Though his athlete's body is honed to perfection, he refuses to move on with his life - and besides, he's her boss. Still, the sparks between them are undeniable, tempting Kate to turn their professional relationship into a personal one. But before she makes a power play for Zack's wounded heart, Kate will have to open him up again and show him that love is worth the fight.
Series: Cold Fury Hockey Series #3 | Publisher: Tantor Audio | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Narrators: Cris Dukehart, Graham Halstead | Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins | Source: Publisher, maybe? | Rating: 4 Cups

Challenges Read For:  - Audiobook ChallengeLiterary Pickers : Game Console  
A hot hockey star falling for his son’s quirky nanny? Yes, please!
Here’s what’s going on. Zack is trying to do his best to survive after the death of his girlfriend. Now a single father, he knows he can’t balance his hockey career and fatherhood without some help. When he reluctantly hires the nanny his sister selected, he never imagined the impact Kate would have on their lives. Kate’s spent years making sure she wasn’t noticed, although there’s something about Zack that has her removing her shields. When their relationship moves from professional to personal, Zack’s quick to point out that there can’t be anything more between them than a few hot nights although Kate’s determined to prove Zack’s capable of loving again.
I have a thing for nanny/employer romances—I blame it on Jane Eyre—so I did a little happy dance when I found this one in my Audible library. I’ve had it for a while (I’m pretty sure it was a review title, maybe?) and decided to give it a go and I’m so glad that I did.
There was a lot going on in this book emotionally. My heart broke for Zack and the emotional torture he put himself though. While he made some wankerish moves and tended to brood (not that I mind a broody man), Zack was still a decent guy who was hurting and unsure how to heal. Kate was a firecracker. I have to admire her determination. She knew that Zack was worth fighting for and nothing was going to stand in her way. I also liked how, even though she had little to her name, she wouldn’t ask him for anything. I also liked how Zack interacted with his son, Ben, and the connection that Kate and Ben formed.
Zack and Kate were great together. Of course, Zack fought it all the way until the end but their chemistry was amazing. I’m a little on the fence about whether to label this an instalust book or not. Yes, they were quick to act on their lustiness but there was an emotional connection as well. Either way, it was still a great romance that was believable in the way Zack was riding his rollercoaster of grief.
I feel like this was a nicely balanced sports romance. While it highlighted the world of pro hockey and what it meant to be one of the team, I feel that it still allowed the romance to be at the heart of the story.
This was my first time listening to Cris Dukehart and Graham Halstead and while I enjoyed both narrators, Cris Dukehart’s southern accent for Kate was just a bit too twangy for me. To me it sounded a little forced. Other than that, I enjoyed it.
Overall, this was a stellar romance that took me on a rollercoaster of emotions. I’m not a massive hockey fan—I’ll occasionally pick up the end of the game when waiting for something else—and yet I didn’t feel lost when reading this one.  
I’m eager to check out the other books in this series.


The Cold Fury Hockey Series

Alex #1

Garrett #2

Zack #3

Ryker #4

Hawke #5

Max #6

Roman #7

Lucas #8

Van #9

Reed #10

Marek #11