Reading Challenge: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge

Joint Review: The Wedding by Julie Garwood

Posted October 18, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: The Wedding by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Holly and Rowena
The Wedding by Julie Garwood
Series: Laird's Fiancees #2
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: January 1, 2003
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

It's a classic plot: a marriage of convenience that lays the groundwork for true love.

1119. Journeying from England to Scotland to wed a highlander, Lady Brenna had resigned herself to the arranged match. But when a band of fierce, painted warriors captured her en route, she fearlessly met their demand to marry their leader -- the quick-tempered laird Connor MacAlister. She couldn't know that her capture was merely the first act of vengeance against her betrothed, Connor's sworn enemy.

Brenna harbored no illusions that her husband was in love with her; after a hasty forest wedding, MacAlister assured her she could return home once she had borne him a son. But she could not deny that she had once proposed to MacAlister -- ten years ago, when she was just a child, and the visitor to her father's castle charmed her with his dazzling, unexpected smile. Now, as she sets out to win the brave chieftain whom she has come to adore, a legacy of revenge ensnares Brenna in a furious clan war -- and only her faith in her gallant hero can save her....

Lady Brenna is on her way to marry Highland Laird McNare, when her party is intercepted by Laird Connor McAllister and some of his men. Connor has a feud going with McNare and intends to steal Brenna for his bride in retribution for something McNare did. It’s convenient that Brenna once asked him to marry her..when she was about 4.

Holly: This has long been one of our favorite Julie Garwood books. Rowena and I both love Connor and Brenna, the setting and the storyline. We both recently read it, so we decided to review it together.

So, what do you think? Did it hold up for you?

Rowena: This book is one of my all-time favorite books by Julie Garwood. I have always loved this book but I’m not going to lie, the older I get, the scarier it is to re-read books that I loved from back in the day. But no matter how many times that I read this book, I love it just a smidge more than I did the last time. This book is just too damn good.

Holly: Girl, preach. The older I get the more scared I am to re-read old favorites, too. I’d be so sad if I read an old favorite and the magic was lost. Thankfully that wasn’t the case here. I love this book. Connor, Brenna, all of it.

Rowena: I loved Brenna. I loved Connor. I loved it all.

Holly: I really enjoyed Brenna. Garwood writes too-perfect heroines, and Brenna followed suit, but I still loved her. Her quirks, her fears, her anger when Connor acted inconsiderate really worked for me. I loved seeing the glimpse of her as a precocious child, and then her grace and humor as an adult.

Rowena: I’ve pimped this book out to so many of my friends and my family and while they enjoy the book, nobody ever loves this book as much as I do. It just hits differently with me, I guess. I really love how easy it is for me to fall into Connor and Brenna’s world every single time that I read this. And every time I read this book, I’m thrown back to my early reading days when I read all of Julie Garwood’s books over and over again. I loved the writing in this one. I could see everything so vividly and I felt everything that Connor and Brenna felt and loved all of the side characters (except Raen and his stupid ass Mom).

Yeah, you’re right. Julie Garwood’s historical heroines are super perfect (even their imperfections are perfect) but that doesn’t stop me from loving each and every single one of them. Brenna included.

Some of my favorite scenes ever are in this one, and it doesn’t matter how many times I read this book, I cackle like a crazy person every time Connor answers Brenna with, “Nay, tis Connor.” And then there’s the wedding scene when Brenna talks in circles and circles and then Connor recites her vows back to her better than she does. Ha! I freaking love this book!

Holly: Raen and his mom came across so vividly on page, I really and truly hated them. I remember you telling me about this book when I first started reading Garwood, and thinking “There’s no way it’s that good”. I was wrong. It is that good.

That wedding scene gets me every time. And Brenna chewing Connor out in the stables and calling him a goat. I laughed. There was so many great scenes in this book.

Rowena: Same. They were such awful characters. I rage each and every time I read the part in the book where Euphemia tells Brenna to submit and my heart goes out to Brenna every single time when all of the shenanigans go down with Raen. They were such great villains, I swear. And I just love the way that Connor avenges Brenna. These Highlanders do vengeance really well.

Holly: My heart did hurt for Brenna at the end, though. When she thought Connor chose his family over her.

Rowena: The Wedding is just an all-around feel good romance. It’s packed with all of the best things that we love about romance novels. A strong main couple, a steamy romance, with humor sprinkled throughout and I think that I will always love this book. It gets 5 out of 5 stars from me.

Holly: This book is definitely a feel-good read. Humor, emotion, strength and cunning on the part of both main characters…it never fails to suck me in. 5 out of 5.

Final Grades

Holly: 5 out of 5
Rowena: 5 out of 5

Laird’s Fiancees

five-stars


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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: GoodReads Challenge, 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: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge, Holly's Summer Reading Challenge, Summer Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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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Review: First Contact by Kat Green

Posted October 11, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: First Contact by Kat GreenReviewer: Holly
First Contact by Kat Green, Kat de Falla
Narrator: Kate Tyler
Series: Haunts For Sale #1
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: August 11, 2014
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Length: 5 hours and 25 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
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one-half-stars
Series Rating: two-stars

Sloane Osborne is a paranormal realtor in the business of selling haunted houses but, in truth, she’s only searching for one ghost. And her time is running out. It’s the 366th day after her fiancé’s death. Michael used to like putting things off for “a year and a day”—so tonight’s the night. Sloane will do anything to make contact with him before the clock strikes midnight. When she gets a call to check out a home in Waukesha, Wisconsin, it’s the last place she thinks Michael would contact her. Sloane is dead wrong.

I really liked the premise of this story. A paranormal real estate agent who checks to make sure haunted houses are safe to live in before she sells them? One who is looking for a chance to contact her dead fiance just one more time? I’m here for that. Unfortunately, it wasn’t well executed. I found this on the Audible Escape package. The narrator was okay. I liked some of the voices she used for the characters, but I don’t think she put a lot of emotion into the story. Things that should have been sad, or scary, came across as kind of flat. She was also very slow. I generally listen at 1.85x speed, but I ended up bumping this one to 2.10x speed.

Sloane Osborne was on her way to pick up her marriage license with fiance Michael when they got into a car accident and Michael was killed. He always joked that everything would happen in “A Year and a Day”. For the past year, she’s been working as a Paranormal Real Estate agent. She sells haunted houses, but first she makes sure they’re safe to live in (that the ghosts aren’t evil or angry). She’s also been searching for Michael’s ghost. It’s been exactly a year and a day since the accident, so Sloane is convinced she’ll be able to finally make contact with him tonight. She got a tip about a house in Wisconsin that’s up for sale, so that’s where she heads. It turns out the house is very haunted, and she’s able to make first contact with spirits..and Michael is one of them.

More often than not Sloane was TSTL (too stupid to live). Her dead fiance’s best friend, Jonah, is a cold case investigator with the FBI, and also a strong medium. She used to hunt ghosts with him until her fiance died and she retreated into herself. She called him once she made first contact with the spirits in a house in Wisconsin, because she suspected girls had been murdered there. He asked her to wait for him before venturing back into the house, or speaking to anyone about her suspicions. She thinks to herself, “I should wait..but I’m not going to.” She also thinks to herself several times that she’s in over her head, yet she still continues on her merry way. It was no surprise to me when she ended up trapped in a hole in the floor for her stupidity.

The villains were easily picked out from the first, and honestly they were both such dumb-asses I’m surprised they got away with anything as long as they did. The only reason I kept reading was because I was interested in the ghosts themselves. I was hoping we’d see more of their backgrounds and they’d be a bigger focus of the story. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. It mostly focused on Sloane and she bumbled her way into danger.

There were also a lot of inconsistencies in the story. Michael, the dead fiance, was a paragon of male worthiness and nothing could ever live up to his memory..except he sounded like a controlling asshole a lot of the time and she even thinks to herself at one point that things may not have worked with them long-term after all. Except, wait, he was the LOVE OF HER LIFE. She was a paranormal real estate agent and, according to her, the market was hot and a lot of people wanted to buy haunted houses. Yet she hadn’t made a single sale yet and was on the brink of starving and being homeless. Things like that really pulled me out of the story and kind of drove me crazy.

I did really like Jonah, however. He kind of made the story for me, though he spent more time off page than on. Although the premise is interesting, I don’t believe I’ll continue on with the series. Watching Sloane stumble around and make dumb decisions mostly just gave me a headache.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Haunts for Sale

one-half-stars


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Review: Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh

Posted October 10, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Archangel’s War by Nalini SinghReviewer: Holly
Archangel's War by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #12
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Blade, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm, Archangel's Storm (Guild Hunter #5), Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6), Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter, #8), Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1), Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Archangel's Kiss, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10), Archangel's Viper, Archangel's Prophecy, Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter, #3), Archangel's Prophecy, Archangel's War
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Wings of silver. Wings of blue. Mortal heart. Broken dreams. Shatter. Shatter. Shatter. A sundering. A grave. I see the end. I see. . .

The world is in chaos as the power surge of the Cascade rises to a devastating crescendo. In furiously resisting its attempts to turn Elena into a vessel for Raphael’s power, Elena and her archangel are irrevocably changed. . .far beyond the prophecy of a cursed Ancient.

At the same time, violent and eerie events around the world threaten to wipe out entire populations. And in the Archangel Lijuan’s former territory, an unnatural fog weaves through the land, leaving only a bone-chilling silence in its wake. Soon it becomes clear that even the archangels are not immune to this deadly evil. This time, even the combined power of the Cadre may not be enough. . .

This war could end them all.

Archangel’s War picks up shortly after the events of Archangel’s Prophecy leave off. Like everyone else, I was dying to know what became of Elena and Raphael after the quasi-cliffhanger of the previous book.

It’s difficult to review this book with no spoilers. I’ll attempt to avoid them, but be warned that spoilers from previous books are unavoidable.

When we last left Elena and Raphael, they were cocooned in a chrysalis made of pure golden energy. In an effort to save Elena from certain death, Raphael took his immortal heart and gave it to Elena, while taking hers for his own chest. When Archangel’s War begins, they’ve been in the chrysalis for 9 months. Dmitri has been holding Raphael’s territory with the help of troops from Caliane, Raphael’s mother, and the Archangel Elijah, Raphael’s closest ally. The world is holding its breath, waiting to see what the Cascade will bring next. When Raphael and Elena finally emerge from the cocoon, it’s an explosive moment – literally. They blow a giant crater in the Earth. It’s too soon, Elena isn’t ready to be awake, but the world needs them now more than ever as War looms on the horizon…

The question of who and what Elena will be when she emerges from the cocoon is well answered here. She’s the same, yet not. Her bond with Raphael is as strong as ever, and her connections to his Seven and her friends and family are still tight. I loved the early parts of the novel where she reconnected with them. Even her strained relationship with her father is revisited.

The majority of the book is focused on the Archangels’s War. As battle rages on, loyalties are tested and the very fate of the world hangs in the balance. I enjoyed the battle and felt it was as epic as one would expect from Archangels, but it did drag on a bit. I struggled to stay focused during a portion of it, but Singh eventually pulled me back in again. I loved seeing Raphael and his allies stand together against an ancient evil, and I was very satisfied with the way things ended (though it did feel a bit anticlimactic).

I can’t wait to see what happens now. I’m anxious for the next book, and thrilled we’ll get at least 3 more.

This novel is full of action, intrigue and underlying it all, a love so strong nothing can break it. Archangel’s War was everything I needed it to be. Oh, and the Legion? <3 <3 <3

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Guild Hunter Series

four-stars


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