Source: NetGalley

Joint Review: The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

Posted May 23, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: The Austen Playbook by Lucy ParkerReviewer: Holly & Rowena
The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker
Series: London Celebrities #4
Also in this series: Pretty Face, Making Up (London Celebrities, #3)
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: April 22, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

In which experienced West End actress Freddy Carlton takes on an Austen-inspired play, a scandal at a country estate, an enthusiastic search for a passion outside of acting…and the (some people might say icy*) heart of London’s most feared theater critic.

*if those people were being nice

Freddy Carlton knows she should be focusing on her lines for The Austen Playbook, a live-action TV event where viewers choose the outcome of each scene, but her concentration’s been blown. The palatial estate housing the endeavor is now run by the rude (brilliant) critic who’s consistently slammed her performances of late. James “Griff” Ford-Griffin has a penchant for sarcasm, a majestic nose and all the sensitivity of a sledgehammer.

She can’t take her eyes off him.

Griff can hardly focus with a contagious joy fairy flitting about near him, especially when Freddy looks at him like that. His only concern right now should be on shutting down his younger brother’s well-intentioned (disastrous) schemes—or at the very least on the production (not this one) that might save his family home from the banks.

Instead all he can think of is soft skin and vibrant curls.

As he’s reluctantly dragged into her quest to rediscover her passion for the stage and Freddy is drawn into his research on a legendary theater star, the adage about appearances being deceiving proves abundantly true. It’s the unlikely start of something enormous…but a single revelation about the past could derail it all.

The Austen Playbook is the fourth book in Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series and it follows Freddy Carlton as she falls head over heels in love with the last man she ever thought she’d catch feelings for. J. Ford-Griffin is a critic who has given her some harsh reviews for her work in different plays so when she signs on to do an interactive play on his home ground, she’s not thinking about him at all…until he’s the only thing that she’s thinking of.

J. Ford Griffin is busy. He’s busy trying to get a movie off the ground but is getting pushback on that and with his family’s spending rising and not enough money coming in, he’s doing everything he can to make sure that they don’t lose their family property that has been in the family for ages. The last thing he needs is an attraction with an actress but Freddy Carlton keeps showing up around his property, in his thoughts and before he knows what’s what, Freddy Carlton is the woman he wants to be his forever.

Rowena: This was a really quick read for me and I really enjoyed it. Freddy and Griff were a wonderful couple and I really enjoyed their romance. What did you think, Holly?

Holly: This is my first book by Parker. Even though it’s book 4 in the series, it was the perfect standalone. I actually thought it was book 1 until you mentioned the others. I really liked the romance, though it took me a little bit to settle into the story. I’m not sure if it was my reading mood or the book itself, but the first 1/3 of the book was kind of slow. Still, I really liked Griff and Freddy. They were cute together. I loved how grumpy Griff was.

Rowena: I’m glad to see that you liked it. All of the books in this series can be read as standalones but I like that Lucy Parker has grouped them together since they all take place in the same world.

Yeah, I really liked watching Freddy and Griff grow closer and closer. I liked that their attraction was organic and it wasn’t one of those insta-love stories. We saw them get to know each other and I felt their connection throughout the entire thing so I was a happy camper.

Holly: Yes, it was great how they started as sort of enemies, became friends, then that turned into more. The progression felt true and natural, and I really liked how Freddy’s naturally sunny attitude worked on Griff.

I didn’t love all the theater drama. That’s not really my style. Every time Sadie came on page I wanted to punch her. I was sad she didn’t get her comeuppance.

Rowena: Yeah, Sadie needed to get punched in the face a time or two. So did Nick. The theater stuff was okay for me, we didn’t get enough of it to make me bored or anything. I was really invested in both Freddy and Griff, together and apart. I wanted Freddy to find the backbone to stand up to her father and I wanted Griff to figure out how to keep his family’s financials afloat without selling his soul. I liked seeing them really grow into their own and I loved that finding themselves, helped them grow together so all around, I just really liked this one.

I also really liked Charlie and loved that he finally found his purpose in life as well. So much good stuff in this one outside of freaking Sadie and stupid ass Nick. I heard that Nick is going to be redeemed in his own book (which I’m assuming is going to be with Freddy’s sister) and that’s good to know since I heard that Nick was named after our blogging friend Nick from The Infinite Limits of Love. 🙂

This book gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. What about you?

Holly: Don’t even get me started on Nick. I’m not sure he can be redeemed. I’m sorry for our friend Nick, because he’ll forever be Nick the Dick to me. haha

I was invested in Freddie’s personal growth and Griff’s determination to save his family. Though I’ll be honest, I don’t see why he didn’t hire a marketing manager for his parents. That bothered me. With direction they could have made quite a bit of money.

Charlie was wonderful. I really hope we get a book for him.

I’m going to give it 3.75.

Rowena: Nick the Dick….hahahahahaha. Girl, I’m crying. I have faith in Lucy Parker’s abilities. Just you watch.

Final Grade

Holly: 3.75 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

London Celebrities


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Review: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne

Posted May 16, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 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


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan

Posted May 15, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Every Last Breath by Juno RushdanReviewer: Jen
Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan
Series: Final Hour #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 418
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

48 hours2 covert operatives1 chance to get it right

Maddox Kinkade is an expert at managing the impossible. Tasked with neutralizing a lethal bioweapon, she turns to the one person capable of helping her stop the threat of pandemic in time: the love of her life, back from the dead and mad as hell at her supposed betrayal. Recruiting Cole to save millions of lives may be harder than resisting the attraction still burning between them, but Maddox will do whatever it takes...even if it destroys her.

When Maddox crashes back into Cole Matthews' life, he wants to fight back. He wants to hate her. But the crisis is too strong to ignore, and soon the two former lovers find themselves working side-by-side in a breakneck race to stop a world-class killer with a secret that could end everything.

It’s a secret agent book! I am always down for a good spy thriller, and this book didn’t disappoint.

Maddox Kinkade is an elite operative with a covert government organization trying to stop a bioterrorist attack. The problem is, the person they need help from is none other than the fiance she thought dead. For his part, Cole Matthews let Maddox think he was dead because she betrayed him. He doesn’t particularly care about helping the US government, but he doesn’t want to look the other way as people are murdered. Plus, he finds he’d still do anything for Maddox. They have to move beyond their past together and go all in to find and stop the terrorist threat.

Maddox is my favorite kind of heroine–she’s prickly, smart, and so very capable. She can fight with the best of them, and I adored seeing Cole slowly realize he didn’t need to protect his little woman. Cole was even pricklier, however. He feels so betrayed and hurt by Maddox, and it makes him snippy and mean at first. To be honest, the whole betrayal was a bit vague in my mind–it had something to do with Maddox telling her CIA father information about Cole’s Russian organized crime family. However, to me it seemed more like the real issue was that her family was in law enforcement while his were in crime! “Betrayal” or not, it didn’t seem realistic that they could have worked out when they were so young. They both needed to grow up and get the perspective of a little time and space.

The terrorist plot was great. You know who they’re chasing, and you get lots of scenes from his perspective. I love the cat-and-mouse story, where the killer seems to always be one step ahead. I also love a good “traitor in our midst” plot, and this book had that as well. In short, the plot ticked my buttons!

As with most action romances, there were some things that didn’t quite make sense. I didn’t know why the agency let Cole in on the operation. I get that they don’t have to follow the “regular rules” of law enforcement, but no way would they let a civilian (and one connected to organized crime no less) in on a case like this. Plus Cole’s family and their crime connection was not well explored. His dad was supposedly trying to go legit, but his brother is not, and what exactly did Cole have to do with anything? There’s also a little bit of melodrama in Maddox’s past. (Small SPOILER ALERT for a content warning: there’s talk of miscarriage in the book.) But listen, I don’t read action romance for the accuracy or relatability. None of this bothered me enough to diminish my enjoyment of the book!

This was an excellent story from a new author, and I cannot WAIT to read more.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Final Hour

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , ,

Review: Getting Hot with the Scot by Melonie Johnson

Posted May 13, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Getting Hot with the Scot by Melonie JohnsonReviewer: Holly
Getting Hot with the Scot by Melonie Johnson
Series: Sometimes in Love #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

IT’S TIME TO FLIRT WITH A MAN IN A KILT

Cassie Crow, a pop-culture reporter for a TV talk show, is focused on becoming a “serious” journalist. But when she stumbles into a kilted Highlander with a killer accent, Cassie decides that taking one night off from work and spending it with a sexy Scot couldn’t hurt. . .

Logan Reid has built a career on his charm, hosting a series of off-the-wall hijinks on the Web. But when the Scottish prankster meets the all-American, equal parts intelligent and irresistible Cassie, Logan realizes that one night of fun won’t be enough. Could it be that this career-focused, commitment-phobic couple is finally ready to take a chance at true and lasting love?

Getting Hot with the Scot is the debut novel from author Melonie Johnson, and kicks off the Sometimes in Love series, which features 5 college friends who embark on an epic vacation, spanning 5 countries. Here we meet Cassie. She’s uptight and organized to the nth degree, but she decides to let loose during her vacation in Scotland when she comes across a sexy highlander. Logan is pretending to be a time-traveling laird of old as part of a skit for his online show when they meet. He wants her signature on a release form so he can use the clip, but Cassie is trying to move into serious journalism from the fluffier stuff she does now, so she refuses. She doesn’t turn him away from her bed, though, and she expects to have an enjoyable one-night-stand. Until Logan follows her to London, that is.

I liked the premise of this book, and it ended up being a cute read, but the heroine drove me batty for half the book. She kept jumping to conclusions and refusing to talk things out with the hero. Every time she got angry at him, she ran away. I really wanted to see her stay and fight. Logan had some issues stemming from losing his father, and I thought those were well done. I enjoyed the two of them together, but I thought they were both immature at times.

Still, while the story was somewhat predictable, I came to enjoy it in the end. I’m especially interested in reading about Cassie’s friends, so I’ll probably continue the series.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

Sometimes in Love

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: Wild Country by Anne Bishop

Posted May 8, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Wild Country by Anne BishopReviewer: Holly
Wild Country by Anne Bishop
Series: The World the Others #2, The Others #7
Also in this series: Written in Red, Murder of Crows, Vision in Silver, Marked in Flesh, Etched in Bone, Written in Red, Murder of Crows
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 480
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

In this powerful and exciting fantasy set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, humans and the shape-shifting Others will see whether they can live side by side...without destroying one another.

There are ghost towns in the world—places where the humans were annihilated in retaliation for the slaughter of the shape-shifting Others.

One of those places is Bennett, a town at the northern end of the Elder Hills—a town surrounded by the wild country. Now efforts are being made to resettle Bennett as a community where humans and Others live and work together. A young female police officer has been hired as the deputy to a Wolfgard sheriff. A deadly type of Other wants to run a human-style saloon. And a couple with four foster children—one of whom is a blood prophet—hope to find acceptance.

But as they reopen the stores and the professional offices and start to make lives for themselves, the town of Bennett attracts the attention of other humans looking for profit. And the arrival of the Blackstone Clan, outlaws and gamblers all, will uncover secrets…or bury them.

Wild Country is the 2nd book in Anne Bishop’s World of the Others series. Though it’s set in the same world as the Lakeside Courtyard, and features many characters we’ve come to know and love, it’s set in Bennett, which readers of the Lakeside Courtyard books should recognize. This is the book I thought we’d get after Etched in Bone, as it runs parallel to the events there.

It took me the entire week to read this book, which is completely unheard of for me. It jumped around quite a bit, so I think I had a harder time connecting with it than I did with the previous books in the series. Still, I love this world and I was glad to see some of my favorite characters return. Wild Country picks up about the time Cyrus Montgomery arrives in Lakeside in Etched in Bone. We see the events that happen in Lakeside from a different perspective and see more about the inhabitants of Bennett.

In the land of Thaisia, there are very few human controlled towns, and no human controlled lands. The Terra Indigene – The Others – control everything that comes from a natural resource. Shapeshifters live in Courtyards in human controlled cities to keep an eye on what the humans are doing, and to act as a go-between for The Elders – the truly terrible Others that live in the wild country. The Humans First and Last movement brought death and destruction to many towns by attacking The Others, thinking the shapeshifters were the only Others out there. Bennett was one of the towns The Others made an example of. Tolya Sanguinati agrees to go to Bennett to try to reestablish the town, with the help of Intuits – humans who have an overdeveloped sense of intuition and often “know” things before they happen – and shapeshifters. They agree to allow some humans into the town, but The Others are distrustful.

Wild Country follows Jana Paniccia, Jesse Walker and her son, Tobias, Barb Debaney, and Tolya Sanguinati, all of whom we were introduced to in the previous series. I was ridiculously excited to see how Jana would fare as the first female cop in Thaisia, and how Barb would do with all the animals in Bennett. The whole series is really dark, but the overall tone is still..hopeful, I guess. Like, all of this bad shit happens, and all these dark things are explored, but each book ends in a…not happy, but hopeful place. I didn’t really get that here. The world is very well drawn, I feel like I’m living in Thaisia with the characters, but I didn’t end it feeling super happy or glad for them.

There wasn’t as much humor in this book to balance out the darker aspects, so it didn’t end on the hopeful note Etched in Bone and Lake Silence did. The lack of trust the The Others have in the humans made perfect sense, but I wanted to think they’d realize some were different – especially those who put their lives on the line for The Others. I also thought Jana and Barb would have more common sense, or better intuition about danger. I was frustrated with them on a number of occasions.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book, because I did. I absolutely loved how Virgil Wolfgard came to see Jana as his pack, I loved the cast of characters and the way this story played out in connection to Etched in Bone. Bishop is a master at world-building, and like I said, I could easily imagine everything that was happening on the page. Though this isn’t my favorite in the series, I can’t deny it was well done.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

The Others

World of The Others

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,