Publisher: Kensington

Review: Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Posted January 23, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Love Lettering by Kate ClaybornReviewer: Rowena
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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three-half-stars

In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts one woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

Love Lettering has been on my TBR list for a while now and I’ve been hearing such great things about it so I was really looking forward to reading it. I read the entire thing in one day and while I enjoyed the book as a whole, I thought the beginning really dragged and it took me until chapter 9 before I started warming up to Meg, to Reid, and to everything that was happening in the book.

Our heroine, Meg Mackworth is the Planner of Park Slope. She’s made a name for herself with her custom planner business. She’s a hand-lettering specialist who handwrites party invitations, personal planners and she used to handwrite wedding invitations but her during her last wedding invitations job, she did something she shouldn’t have and so she made sure it wouldn’t happen again by quitting the wedding invitation side of her business. From now on, she’s only doing custom hand-lettering for clients who want custom planners, she’s working on a portfolio of ideas for a stationary line that she’s hoping to get a big sponsorship contract for. She tries not to think about the hidden pattern she wrote into that last wedding invitation and it’s been a year so she thinks she’s moved on from it until the groom shows up, wanting to know why she wrote that hidden code into his invitation.

Meg and Reid spark up a friendship that begins with Meg needing to find inspiration for her stationery line. She invites Reid along with her on walks around New York City so that she can find inspiration for her line and so Reid can discover the beauty of New York for himself. Reid is not happy in New York and Meg wants to show him that if he gave New York a fair shot, he would come to love it just as much as she did. They got to know each other on these walks around New York. They played games while they searched for signs around the city and ultimately, they fell in love on these walks.

Like I said before, it took me quite a while to get into this story. I just wasn’t all that interested in the beginning and that’s weird for me because I LOVE planners. I love all things planning and hand-lettering but I really struggled with this book at the start. I’m really glad that I stuck with this book though because I really came to love Meg, to love Reid, and to love New York. I’m a West Coast girl through and through but while I was reading this book, I could totally see myself moving to New York and falling in love with the city and the signs. This was a slow burn romance and I guess I was too anxious for the romance to pick up but Kate Clayborn has a writing style that flows nicely. This story unrolls slowly and picks up steam with each passing chapter. When I finished the book, I had a big ol’ grin on my face and I loved the heck out of Reid and Meg. I loved seeing Meg come into her own and I really enjoyed seeing Reid and Meg come into their feelings for each other. This was a good romance and I definitely recommend.

Final Grade

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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DNF Review: The Highlander’s Bride by Michele Sinclair

Posted January 16, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

DNF Review: The Highlander’s Bride by Michele SinclairReviewer: Holly
The Highlander's Bride by Michele Sinclair
Narrator: Anne Flosnik
Series: The McTiernays #1
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: June 1, 2007
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 318
Length: 10 hours and 24 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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dnf

BOUND BY DUTY

Highland laird Conor McTiernay had always dreamed of an enduring love. But the reality of women who desired him only for his title and lands made him swear off marriage forever. That is until he first set eyes on the Englishwoman his men found hiding in the forest. Beneath the dirt and grime it was clear Laurel Cordell was beautiful. But would she prove to be yet another beguiling seductress or had Conor finally found the one woman who could lay claim to his heart?

DRAWN BY DESIRE

Laurel trusted that the Scottish chieftain would keep her safe from the cruel laird from whom she had escaped. Looking deep into Conor's silver eyes she saw not only his calculating warrior ways but his quick arousal to passion. But before they can explore the growing desire between them, their newfound love is threatened by secrets from her past. . .

The Highlander’s Bride by Michele Sinclair is the first book in The McTiernay’s Brothers series. I don’t believe I’ve read Sinclair before, but the premise sounded good so I downloaded this from the Audible Escape package. I’m not sure if it was the story or the narrator, Anne Flosnik, but I DNF’d it pretty early in.

Conor and his brothers are on the way home from another brother’s wedding when they come upon a woman who has been sorely abused. They all want to keep her safe, but Conor especially is very attracted to and protective of her. Laurel is on the run from another Highland Laird, and she’s guarding some big secrets from her past. She agrees to travel with the McTiernay brothers because she thinks they can keep her safe, but she’s surprised at how much she trusts Conor from the start.

Almost from the second they meet they’re extremely attracted to each other. That’s fine, except they think of nothing BUT how attracted the other is. That, and how good the other smells. They’ve been traveling for the better part of a week through the Highlands, but he smells manly and attractive and she smells of lilacs? I’m not buying it. Laurel’s secrets were alluded to, as well as Conor’s mistrust of women in general, but I wasn’t interested enough in either to keep listening.

I might try to read it at some point in the future to see if it works better for me.

Rating: DNF

dnf


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Review: Sweet Heat by Zuri Day

Posted October 15, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Sweet Heat by Zuri DayReviewer: Holly
Sweet Heat by Zuri Day
Series: Blue-Collar Lover #3
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The Blue-Collar Lover Series

They don't wear suits, but the five Carter brothers work hard to earn a day's pay--and keep the right woman satisfied . . .

No one turns out luscious pies and to-die-for cakes like Marvin Carter. Few outside of the family know about his baking skills, but working as a restaurant line cook is getting old fast. Now he'll do whatever it takes to win start-up money from a major cooking contest and launch his own business. But his prime competition is making things hot for him in--and out--of the kitchen . . .

Naomi Carson is as savory as her soul food and has twice the spice. This confident, large-and-in-charge beauty also has high aspirations, and will work all her skills against the tasty Mr. Marvin to take first place--and stop living with Grandma. As their attraction burns hot, the other contestants can't take their heat nor their talent, and threaten to burn their dreams to ash. Will the desire be doused--or can Marvin and Naomi find common ground and fire up the chance of a lifetime?

ALSO IN THIS SERIES "Great escapism." --Library Journal on Packing Heat "Sexy, hot deliciousness . . . this power couple light up the page like a 100-megawatt bulb." --USAToday.com on Bad Boy Seduction

Sweet Heat is the third book in Zuri Day‘s Blue-Collar Lovers series. This is the first book I’ve read in the series. I don’t feel like I missed anything by skipping the first two. It read well as a standalone. I do want to go back to the first two, however. I plan to pick them up soon.

Naomi Wells and Marvin Carter meet at auditions for a Food Truck cooking competition. Both are looking for a boost in their careers and the $50,000 grand prize, plus a full tricked out food truck, would go a long way. They have a sizzling attraction and great banter, which serves them well as they go through the various challenges. But things aren’t simple – several contestants seem to be after them, and fraternization is frowned upon. They can’t seem to keep away from each other, though…

This was a cute contemporary story. I really enjoyed the cooking competition and the banter between Marvin and Naomi. They had strong family ties and deep connections which came across well. I especially liked the relationship Marvin had with his mother, and the one between Naomi and her Nana.

There were a couple pretty cheesy parts, and the thing with her ex came out of nowhere and made little sense in the context of the story. Those were minor concerns, however, and I ended up enjoying the book as a whole.

If you want a funny, sweet, sizzling hot contemporary romance, look no further. Sweet Heat delivers.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

Blue-Collar Lovers

three-half-stars


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Summer Reading Challenge Review: Marry Me by Jo Goodman

Posted October 14, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: Marry Me by Jo GoodmanReviewer: Holly
Marry Me by Jo Goodman
Series: Reidsville #2
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: December 1, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Westerns
Pages: 447
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge, Holly's Summer Reading Challenge, Summer Reading Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Her Heart Was Locked Away

Rhyne Abbot is fierce, brave, and used to a life of isolation on her father's spread on the outskirts of Reidsville, Colorado. But when, overcome with sickness, she collapses, she knows she must return to town if she is to have any hope of recovery. Only there is no place for her but the new doctor's home, and he wants more than just to heal Rhyne. He wants her hand in marriage.

Until One Man Found The Key

Doctor Cole Monroe's hands are already more than full with his orphaned little sister to look after, and yet somehow he can't resist the magnetic pull of Rhyne's bewitching eyes--or her tempting kiss. But convincing her to trust him won't be easy. For Rhyne's heart needs as much tender care as her ailing body. And the only cure is the thing she most fears: to let herself fall in love...

Mary Me by Jo Goodman is the second book in the Reidsville series. Casee chose this for our Summer Reading Challenge, but I forgot to review it in August. It’s been ages since I read a Jo Goodman. This was vaguely familiar, so it’s possible I’ve read it before. I can’t remember for sure, though, so I’m calling this a new read. I had a hard time getting into it at first, but it picked up by the 3rd chapter.

When Cole Monroe’s younger sister talks him into moving to Reidsville, CO to become their new town doctor, he isn’t sure what to expect. The colorful residents are interesting, and he’s enjoying himself as the only doctor to service a large area. When he meets Rhyne Abbot, he knows he has to help her.The only way to do that is to have her move in with him. Not an ideal situation, but one they make work. Only, he never expected to come to have such strong feelings for her. Her fierce independence and indomitable spirit really call to him.

Rhyne was raised as a boy, until her father could no longer ignore the fact she was a girl. Even then, she kept up the pretense with the town’s inhabitants. Now that she’s been outed as a woman and forced to move in with the new doctor, things sure are different for her. Finding her footing in this new world is difficult, but she’s managing. If only she could get rid of this pesky attraction she has for the doctor…

I really thought the romance was super sweet. I liked both Cole and Rhyne. I liked how patient he was with Rhyne and how she slowly came to trust him. Some of the medical stuff was on the boring side, but I was able to move past that. I struggled more with how quickly Rhyne seemed to overcome her trauma, but I do think it was rather in keeping with the times. Rhyne didn’t have time to become hysterical, so she didn’t.

While this isn’t my favorite book by Goodman, it was enjoyable and I’ll probably read it again in the future.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Reidsville

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken

Posted September 19, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. AikenReviewer: Jen
The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken
Series: The Scarred Earth Saga #1
Also in this series: The Blacksmith Queen
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken.  The Old King Is Dead With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals.  Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned … 

I have to start this review with two points of context. First, I FREAKING LOVE THIS BOOK. I enjoy everything Shelly Laurenston/GA Aiken writes, and I particularly love this book. I just wanted to lay that out at the start of this review because there will be some squee. Second, while it pains me to say it, I would not call this book a romance. There is a satisfying, HEA romance storyline in it, and it’s a lovely one, but the romance is only a small part of the plot. Therefore, it’s not a romance, and if you go in expecting that you may be disappointed. That said, the book is so good, and I am all in on this world and these characters.

It’s hard to summarize this book without spoilers, so I’ll just let the cover copy do that. What I can talk about, however, is the main character Keeley Smythe. I love her! She is a blacksmith who runs her own shop, and she is capable AF. The opening scene, where she kicks the asses of a whole group of baddies in order to save a defenseless young man, just sucks you right in and shows you what kind of person she is. She is strong, she is fearless, and she is by and large very cheerful. She is also incredibly devoted to her family, and it was so great to see. Basically most of what she has done in life has been to protect and serve her family, but she isn’t resentful and doesn’t play the martyr. She does it because it needs doing–she is a woman who quite simply gets shit done. Aiken’s heroines are pretty much all capable and strong, however. What sets Keeley apart is that she’s really…nice. She loves the people around her despite their obvious faults and despite, in some cases, them being seemingly undeserving of her love. I love her for it.

The rest of the characters in the book are also amazing, particularly Keeley’s family. One thing I love about Aiken’s characters is that they have faults but are still deserving of their own happiness. Keeley’s family isn’t perfect, but they are ALWAYS interesting. There are so many conflicting personalities and agendas, and you get the sense that this book only revealed the tip of the iceberg of what’s really going on. I particularly loved the dynamic between Keeley and her sister Gemma. I am definitely hoping to hear more of Gemma’s story in the future! This book is also set in the same universe at the Dragon Kin books. We’ve also heard allusions to the queen we know is Annwyl, and hopefully we’ll get even more crossover later. (Hoo boy I’d love to get a scene of Keeley and Annwyl together!)

As for the romance, it may be small but it’s cute. Caid is taciturn and grumpy, but his grumpiness is no match for Keeley’s exuberance and kindness. It was fun to see her grow on him until she had wormed her way right into his heart. They were a great match, and I could see how his support would be so valuable for Keeley going forward. While I would have loved to see more page time for the romance, even my “romance or GTFO” heart was satisfied enough at the end of this book.

I know the small amount of romance will disappoint some, and as usual Aiken’s campy, violent fairy tale style is not for everyone. I, however, loved this book and I just want more. I want more of seeing Keeley come into her own, I want more story for the rest of Keeley’s family, and I want more of this world.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5.

five-stars


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