Publisher: Gallery Books

Buddy Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Posted June 12, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Buddy Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina LaurenReviewer: Ames & Rowena
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Format: eARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 395
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren features Olive Torres and Ethan Thomas as they go on their sibling’s honeymoon because the happy couple and everyone else that attended the wedding got serious food poisoning and couldn’t go on their non-refundable trip. Olive and Ethan don’t even like each other for reasons that neither of them is aware of but that is not going to stop them from going on this trip…for free.

Once they land in Hawaii, things get really complicated when they both have to pretend to be together …they get really good at pretending to be together, so good that it soon starts to feel like they’re not pretending anymore. The trip brings out some truths between the two of them and when they return home, the party is still going but other things outside of their love bubble complicate things for them and Christina Lauren did their magic with bringing the drama. Olive and Ethan had to work for their happy ending and I thought everything was handled well.

Rowena: This was a fast read for me and I really enjoyed the whole thing. What about you, Ames?

Ames: It was a quick read for me too! I got swept right up into Olive and Ethan’s story so I wanted to see how it all worked out. I love that they went from enemies to lovers. One thing that just made me so happy was how Ethan purposely got Olive’s name wrong so then she started to do it too. I thought them calling each other by different names was too funny. Oscar…LOL The set up of the book was very well done too, the forced proximity really made Olive and Ethan see each other in a new light. There wasn’t anything forced about how their minds change over time.

I liked how the characters were built up too. Olive was the unlucky twin but she still had a go-getter attitude and wasn’t too woe is me. So I really felt for her when her sister and Ethan didn’t believe her at the end of the book. Jerks. LOL.

What did you think?

Rowena: I had the same thoughts toward Ami and Ethan at the end…and the way that Ami confronts the big bad and Ethan shows up and you can just feel how sorry he was toward Olive? Man, Christina Lauren did a great job of writing that scene. It pulled at my feels and I was so Team Olive through it all.

This was such a work of fiction, a little over the top with certain things (the lucky and unlucky twin thing is one thing that comes to mind) but I didn’t care about any of that. This book entertained the socks right off of me and I enjoyed getting to know Olive and Ethan, seeing them work things out between them since they spent so much time hating each other. They came together in a believable way and Ethan’s grand gesture had me smiling from ear to ear. So good.

Ames: See, I don’t know if I would have forgiven Ethan so quickly. Maybe I’m just a petty bitch and would have held on to my hurt for a bit longer but I thought it was too easy. Mind you Ethan did redeem himself…so it must just be me. haha!

I really liked Olive’s character. She hated lying to her new boss and she couldn’t lie to save her life! She did jump to conclusions quickly but Ethan always called her out on it so I liked that he balanced her that way. And I like that she eventually comes clean. She has integrity.

You know what I realized? The whole running into your ex with their new partner in Hawaii was very Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Remember that movie?

Anyway, I really enjoyed The Unhoneymooners. It made me laugh, it was definitely steamy and it was full of good characters. Even the extended family members were fun and added to the story. Olive had herself a little journey of self-discovery throughout the whole thing (especially around her career goals) so I feel like this one just checked all the feel-good boxes.

Rowena: Haha, you’re right. This movie was so Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I forgave Ethan a lot sooner than I thought I would because I knew that he was sorry and he got me with the, “I’ll spend the rest of my life being sorry for this” line so yeah, maybe it was just you. LMAO!

Olive was the highlight of this book for me. I loved her, her family support system and I loved her relationship with her twin sister. It wasn’t perfect and I was annoyed with Ami at first but man do they really come around for me. This book was definitely funny but I could have used for some more steam. I think there was like one sex scene in the entire book, I didn’t know that I needed more of those but it wouldn’t have hurt this book.

Christina Lauren did their thing with this one and I’m glad that we read this one together. It was a lot of fun and I’ve come to expect these kinds of stories from the Christina Lauren duo. I give this one 4.25 out of 5 stars, you?

Ames: I’m giving the Unhoneymooners a 4.25 out of 5 as well.

Final Grades

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne

Posted May 19, 2019 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 7 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Lauren Layne has been at the top of my Best of lists in the last few years and she keeps coming back with these heaters. I’m really loving everything that she’s putting out lately and I’m super excited to jump right into this one. Passion on Park Avenue is the first in a new romantic comedy series and this series is being promoted as more chick-lit than romance but I’m not mad about that. I will read anything this woman puts out.

Sunday Spotlight: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren LaynePassion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne
Series: The Central Park Pact #1
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps.

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

Early reviews of this book are pretty decent so I’m stupid excited for its release. This is something fresh and new for Lauren Layne and I’m stoked to see what she does in the chick-lit but still romance genre. Check out an excerpt from this week’s Sunday Spotlight feature.

Excerpt

Oliver’s jaw clenched. He did not lose his temper often, but this woman was seriously pushing his buttons.

“Alright, I give up, Ms. Powell. What’s your deal?”

“My deal?”

“You’ve been eying my jugular since I walked in the door.”

He waited for her to deny it. Instead, she inspected her manicure. A deep navy, he noted, and not the demure pale pink or classic red he was used to seeing. And yet everything else, the expensive-looking dress, the brand-name handbag, the sleek hairstyle was expected, just like every other woman he knew.

But there was something else there—something more interesting that he couldn’t put his finger on. Almost like she was a blend of self-confidence and vulnerability all wound into one feisty, compelling package.

She was a contradiction.

Maybe Oliver didn’t need to start that jigsaw puzzle tonight after all. He had a hell of a puzzle right in front of him.

“You do realize that I’m the gate keeper to the next round,” he prodded again.

She craned her neck, pretending to look at his hands. “Oh, is there a ring I was supposed to kiss? I’m new to this whole process. Should I bow?”

There it was again. The flash of familiarity. Who was this woman?

“Have we met?” he asked, tossing the folder on the desk as he studied her.

She looked away, and Oliver’s eyes narrowed. “We have. How do I know you?”

Naomi looked back, her eyes guarded. “You don’t.”

“You sure?”

Instead of replying, she rewarded him with her first genuine smile. And damn, what a smile it was. Seductive and lethal all at the same time.

He was still reeling from its impact when she startled him by standing.

“We’re not done,” he said, then hid a wince at how pompous he sounded. How much like his father he sounded.

“Oh, I think we are,” she murmured. “I think we both know exactly what you’re going to write on my application the second I leave.”

“Yeah, we do,” he snapped, standing up too. “Left interview early.”

She glared up at him, and Oliver was a little surprised to realize that they were both breathing hard.

Naomi Powell wasn’t particularly short, but at six feet, he had the physical advantage. For the first time since he’d hit his growth spurt in high school, he relished his height. This perplexing woman got under his skin like nobody had in a long time, and he needed every defense he could get.

Just as he was gearing up for her retort—anticipating it—she turned away.

Oliver called after her. “You understand that I’m not going to recommend you for the next round of interviews, right?”

“No problem, Mr. Cunningham. And look on the bright side. With me gone, there’ll be more room for your emperor complex up in here. I’ll send your secretary in. You’re looking a bit overdue for your daily hand-feeding of grapes.”

Naomi Powell sailed out the office door without so much as a backward glance.

Oliver stood staring at the doorway, feeling somewhere between dumbfounded and off-balance. And most annoyingly of all …

Intrigued.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: May 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than two dozen romantic comedies. Her books have sold over a million copies, in nine languages. Lauren's work has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Glamour, The Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City.


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Review: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne

Posted May 16, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne
Series: Central Park Pact #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps.

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

Passion on Park Avenue is the first book in Lauren Layne’s new Central Park Pact series and it kicks off a series of three women who became friends on the day of their boyfriend’s funeral. Yeah, all three had the same boyfriend but they didn’t know that they were sharing. It’s a weird premise but I think Layne did a great job of making it work. Each woman is different in personality and even in looks but it doesn’t take a genius to know why Brayden (the dead ex) was attracted to all of them. They’re all gorgeous and they’re all successful in their own way. I enjoyed getting to know each of them in this book. I also look forward to getting to know them some more in the other books.

In Passion on Park Avenue we get Naomi Powell’s story. She grew up around rich people but her mother was the housekeeper of a rich family and Naomi holds a lot of resentment for the family that her mother worked for. They were thrown out without a reference and Naomi’s Mom never really picked herself up so there was a lot of struggle for Naomi growing up. Naomi worked hard as hell to get to where she is these days. Gone are the days of struggling for Naomi. She’s smart, strong, and driven and that is what it took to get her accessories business, Maxcessories, off the ground. Naomi is the proud business owner of one of the biggest accessories business and her life is going great until she receives a phone call about an apartment opening she applied for…in that building. The building that her mother used to work in. The same building that Naomi and her mother were thrown out of. The building that that family lives in, a family that Naomi has no interest in seeing ever again until curiosity gets the best of her.

Naomi is surprised by how mad she still is at Oliver Cunningham for not telling the truth the day that her and her mother were kicked out of the building. She understands that they were kids but the resentment is strong and she is having trouble letting it all go. When she moves into the building, she does it thinking that she is going to get the closure she needs so that she can finally move on from it all but moving in, means living so close to Oliver, who doesn’t know who she is and getting closer to the man he grew up to be…and she really likes that guy. To make things even worse, she winds up helping Oliver with his father and she hates him even more than she thought she hated Oliver. The game was changed on Naomi and she spends most of the book trying to grow and move on from the past and that would have been fine and dandy if it didn’t take her so long to come clean about who she really was with Oliver.

Naomi does a lot of growing in this book and I enjoyed seeing her really come into her own without the baggage from a past that should have been left in the past. Seeing her deal with all of her emotional hangups made for a great reading adventure. There aren’t any love scenes in this book and I was okay with that. There is still plenty of romance between her and Oliver and Lauren Layne still delivered a fabulous story that I enjoyed. My hangups were mostly with how long it took Naomi to come clean but other than that? This was a fantastic contemporary romance with a cast of characters that I’m looking forward to get to know in the other books. I’m hoping that we’ll get a best friends to lovers story for Audrey and Clark. Fingers crossed.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

Central Park Pact

four-stars


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Review: The Savior by J.R. Ward

Posted May 6, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Savior by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
The Savior by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #17
Also in this series: Lover Unbound, Lover Avenged, Lover Unleashed, Lover at Last, Lover at Last, The King, The Shadows, The Beast, Lover Enshrined, The Chosen, Lover Mine, The Thief
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 479
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

In the venerable history of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, only one male has ever been expelled—but Murhder’s insanity gave the Brothers no choice. Haunted by visions of a female he could not save, he nonetheless returns to Caldwell on a mission to right the wrong that ruined him. However, he is not prepared for what he must face in his quest for redemption.

Dr. Sarah Watkins, researcher at a biomedical firm, is struggling with the loss of her fellow scientist fiancé. When the FBI starts asking about his death, she questions what really happened and soon learns the terrible truth: Her firm is conducting inhumane experiments in secret and the man she thought she knew and loved was involved in the torture.

As Murhder and Sarah’s destinies become irrevocably entwined, desire ignites between them. But can they forge a future that spans the divide separating the two species? And as a new foe emerges in the war against the vampires, will Murhder return to his Brothers... or resume his lonely existence forevermore?

After reading The Thief, I was very much interested in reading The Savior. Murhder is a Brother that has been whispered about through the series. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I thought he was dead. Huh. I guess I didn’t pay enough attention. At the end of The Thief, it was apparent that Murhder was about to make his debut back into to the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

One of the last missions he was given as a Brother was to go to a lab to destroy research that was being done that could possibly hurt their race. What he ended up finding was something that went far beyond research papers. The research company had somehow captured and was doing experiments on vampires themselves. It is at that lab that he initially meets Xhex, who has freed herself so she can escape the torturous experiments.

Fast forward to the present day. Dr. Sarah Watkins does research for a biomedical company. Her finance died of complications from diabetes and Sarah blames herself. It doesn’t help matters that they were at odds when he died. He had become secretive about his work and it soon becomes apparent to Sarah why that was. She discovers a safe deposit box that he opened at their bank and the usb drive tells her the horrific things that are happening where she works. Sarah knows that no one will believe her if she tells them that there are people with four chambered hearts being experimented on, so she goes to investigate herself.

I could keep going on with this review, but I don’t want it to be too long. Sarah and Murhder’s love story was really sweet. Sarah easily accepts the vampires because the medical evidence is right in front of her face. While she does want to panic, she doesn’t have the luxury. John Matthew is fatally injured in the field and it soon becomes apparent that Sarah might be the only one that is capable of helping him. Which is amazing considering that she is only human.

I love Xhex and John Matthew. Their love is strong, but John Matthew’s faith is tested here. There is a new Big Bad introduced. It’s been floating around the last few books, but it finally manifested itself in this book. I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads. Overall, I was really happy about this book even though I was annoyed as I was reading it. When I was done and I thought it over, everything fit together. Everything I was annoyed about just went away as I finished the book. Bravo for this one, JRW.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Black Dagger Brotherhood

four-stars


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Review: The Key to Happily Ever After by Tif Marcelo

Posted April 18, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Key to Happily Ever After by Tif MarceloReviewer: Rowena
The Key to Happily Ever After by Tif Marcelo
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

A charming romantic comedy about three sisters who are struggling to keep the family wedding planning business afloat—all the while trying to write their own happily-ever-afters in the process.

All’s fair in love and business.

The de la Rosa family and their wedding planning business have been creating happily ever afters in the Washington, DC area for years, making even the most difficult bride’s day a fairytale. But when their parents announce their retirement, the sisters—Marisol, Janelyn, and Pearl—are determined to take over the business themselves.

But the sisters quickly discover that the wedding business isn’t all rings and roses. There are brides whose moods can change at the drop of a hat; grooms who want to control every part of the process; and couples who argue until their big day. As emotions run high, the de la Rosa sisters quickly realize one thing: even when disaster strikes—whether it’s a wardrobe malfunction or a snowmageddon in the middle of a spring wedding—they’ll always have each other.

Perfect for fans of the witty and engaging novels of Amy E. Reichert and Susan Mallery, The Key to Happily Ever After is a fresh romantic comedy that celebrates the crucial and profound power of sisterhood.

I’m a sucker for family drama’s and though I thought this book would be a lot lighter than the book actually was, it was still an enjoyable reading adventure. This book follows the de la Rosa sisters, Mari, Jane, and Pearl as they take on the running of the family wedding planning business. The story focuses on the dynamics between the sisters, and we also get a small love story for each of them. There’s a lot going on with this and I thought Marcelo did a nice job of weaving all of the little side stuff into the bigger story being told. Between the family business in crisis and the romances, there’s a lot of things to focus on without the book as a whole being crammed.

Mari is the oldest and she’s the controlling sister. The one that sets rules and bosses everyone around. Jane is the middle sister who is the peacemaker and then there’s the creative artist, Pearl. Pearl is the youngest sister who nobody trusts to get the job done. They’re all going through their own personal struggles and I was really invested in their lives. I wanted to know everything and fix everything for all of them. I thought Marcelo did a really great job of fleshing out each character because they were all super different but they were also flawed and just real, and raw. They each took turns getting on my nerves but I felt for each sister, how I feel for my own sisters. I loved each of them and wanted them to find their happy endings.

There’s loads of drama but there’s also humor and a whole lot of charm mixed in for good measure. I’m glad that I read this book and I will definitely be reading more from Tif Marcelo. I think I enjoyed this book a lot more than I enjoyed the contemporary romances that I read by her last year. She’s got great stuff and I’m adding the rest of her books to my TBR pile. I definitely recommend this book if you’re in the mood for family drama, bridezillas, and love. This one packs in all of that.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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