Tag: Contemporary

Review: Open House by Ruby Lang

Posted December 9, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Open House by Ruby LangReviewer: Rowena
Open House by Ruby Lang
Series: Uptown #2
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: November 11, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 165
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Love can take root where you least expect it.

Tyson Yang never imagined that one day he’d be the de facto spokesperson for an illegal community garden. But when the once-rat-infested-but-now-thriving Harlem lot goes up for sale, Ty can’t just let all their hard work get plowed under.

Even if he is irresistibly drawn to the lovely but infuriatingly stubborn real estate associate.

Magda Ferrer’s family is already convinced this new job will be yet another flop in her small but growing list of career path failures. But her student debt isn’t going anywhere, and selling her uncle’s historic townhouse and the lot nearby means a chance to get some breathing room.

Ty is her charming rival, her incorrigible nemesis, the handsome roadblock to her success.

Until one hot Harlem night blurs the hard line drawn between them, and the seeds of possibility in this rocky garden blossom into love…

This book is approximately 48,000 words

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the

Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Open House is the second book in Ruby Lang’s Uptown series but it is the first book that I’ve read by Lang and it won’t be the last. She’s got a charming writing style that I liked and I enjoyed the romance that blossomed between Ty and Magda. I also liked seeing Ty grow to really love the community garden and see the old ladies in the neighborhood take him under their wing at the same time that he took them all under his protection. I even enjoyed Ty’s sister and the relationship that they had between them. Magda’s family was a lot harder to like at first but they really did come around and when Magda finally stands up for herself and demands that they treat her like the adult she is, I cheered for her.

Magda was really trying to find herself over the course of this book and even though there were times when I wanted to smack some sense into her, I respected the hell out of her because she was trying. I liked that she understood why her family treated her the way that they did and I really liked how she was putting in the work to make something of herself without any influence from anyone. She was just a normal woman with normal problems that I related to and I connected with her character. Ruby Lang did a great job with Magda’s character and I appreciated her efforts.

Ty was another interesting character and even though there were times when I didn’t understand his thought processes, I never once hated him. Like Magda, Ty was a normal guy with normal problems and it was easy to relate to the stuff he was dealing with. I enjoyed seeing him come into his own and deal with the issues that have ruled his life so far. It was a nice perk to see him fall in love in a realistic way.

Magda and Ty had great chemistry and they were awesome on their own but better together. I enjoyed seeing them grow closer, and then battle to figure out how to be together with the different things in their lives that were pulling them apart. It wasn’t always easy for them because he was trying to save a garden that was on a lot that she was trying to sell. There’s some push and pull and while that was bothersome, they figure it out and all is well that ends well so even though I spent some time in this book rolling my eyes around the room, Ruby Lang still wrote a fun romance and I was still invested in what happened to everyone so all in all, this was a solid read. I recommend.

Final Grade

3.5 out of 5

Uptown Series

three-half-stars


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Review: Blitzed by Alexa Martin

Posted December 3, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Blitzed by Alexa MartinReviewer: Rowena
Blitzed by Alexa Martin
Series: The Playbook #3
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Maxwell has finally met an opponent that he can't best in this new football romance from the author of Fumbled.

According to Brynn Larson, Maxwell Lewis is more trouble than he's worth. She doesn't care if he's a football god with a rock-hard body that brings most women to their knees. After an encounter that ends poorly, she's not interested in giving him a second chance. The last thing Brynn expects is for him to turn up at her bar months later, hat in hand. It doesn't matter if he brings more customers to her business--she's still not going on a date with him.

Maxwell knows he made a mistake. He'd been waiting to make his move on Brynn since the day he laid eyes on her and he was finally ready to go for it until he screwed up. He wishes he could tell her the truth about what happened that night, but he just can't. He can't tell anyone, so he'll make amends and hope she'll forgive him.

Brynn's not like other women, though. Playing for the Mustangs doesn't impress her and gifts make her scoff. Max will have to bring his A game if he hopes to win her over.

Blitzed is the third book in Alexa Martin’s The Playbook series. It follows the owner of the women’s bar, Hers, Brynn Larson as she falls in love with Denver Mustang, Maxwell Lewis. Their story wasn’t an easy story because it just about ended before it even started and the telling of this story is on the slow side so it was hard to stay invested in what was the characters were going through because of that. I spent a huge chunk of this book waiting for something, anything to happen and when things started to pick up, I had almost given up on the story as a whole.

In the previous book, I liked Brynn a great deal. I loved the idea behind her bar, Hers, and I really loved her personality but I struggled with her in this book when she’s front and center of all of the action. She was really whiny and I didn’t understand why for a lot of this book and I wasn’t a big fan of the conflict between them. When we first see these two together, Maxwell receives a phone call that shakes him up pretty bad that he behaves in a way that scares the crap out of Brynn but instead of being scared, Brynn gets mad. I could have understood that and even accepted it but it came off as too whiny and it bugged the snot out of me. Don’t even get me started on the Theo thing.

Then there was Maxwell. When we first meet him, my initial thought was that he was a sweetie pie. A giant teddy bear with a heart of gold but then that scene at Hers happens and we spend quite a long time not knowing what happened to cause him to lose his shit the way that he did and if I’m being honest, I didn’t dig that whole thing. I didn’t dig the fact that he threw his phone and nearly took Brynn’s head off, I didn’t like that he spent a long-ass time not being able to talk about everything but even though there were times when I wanted to shake some sense into Maxwell, I never hated him. I never wanted him to not get his shit together and get the girl in the end but I don’t know, I guess I just wanted a different story for Brynn and Maxwell.

I will say that Alexa Martin brought the magic with the female friendships, and the whole reality shows stuff because I adored all of that. I loved how strong the friendships between all of the Mustangs women were. I loved how supportive they were of each other and how sure I was that they each had each other’s backs. They were loyal to each other and they cared and you saw it. You felt it. You understood it. That was my favorite thing about this book and even though the romance didn’t live up to the hype that I gave it leading up to my reading the book, I’m still looking forward to more books in this series. I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll get more books and that we’ll get a book for Eloise.

Final Grade

3.25 out of 5

The Playbook

three-stars


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Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Posted November 12, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina LaurenReviewer: Rowena
Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 358
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

As an adventurous send-off to her childhood, eighteen-year-old Tate Jones travels with her grandmother from their small town in Northern California to London. But the vacation of a lifetime is wonderfully derailed by the appearance of two charming Vermont farmers: grandfather Luther and his handsome grandson Sam.

Sam and Tate fall hard and fast. For two glorious weeks, the couple share their hopes, dreams, and secrets. Sam admits he suspects his grandfather is dying and that this could be the last trip they take together, and Tate reveals that she is the hidden daughter of one of the biggest film stars in the world—a secret she’s never told anyone before.

But when Tate is exposed by a crush of cameras and reporters, she knows she's been betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust. She is forced to decide whether she will return to her quiet life or embrace being in the public eye. So when Sam reappears in her world more than a decade later, can Tate forgive the past and rekindle the passion they shared on their magical trip abroad? And does she even want to?

Christina Lauren’s latest addition to their backlist released last month and I couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough. It may have taken me a little bit to get this review written but reading the book? Nah. I read this one as soon as I could. My initial thoughts on this book upon first finishing it were that it wasn’t my favorite book by this fantastic writing duo but it certainly wasn’t my least favorite either.

So Twice in a Blue Moon tells the story of Tate and Sam. They met the summer after Tate graduated from high school and went on a trip to England with her grandmother. Sam, who was twenty-one at the time was there on his own vacation with his grandfather. When the two of them keep bumping into each other and then swap hotel rooms, a friendship sparks between them. They spend a good chunk of their vacations getting to know each other under the stars in London. Tate, who is the daughter of an aging A-List actor is pretty closed off from the world. She lives in a small town in the Bay area with her mother and her grandmother and she lives far away from the limelight of Hollywood. Nobody knows who her father is and she’s kept that secret close to her vest for the longest of times. She remembers the mob that greeted her the last time she was found out and she has no wish to repeat that adventure. There are three people in her life that know who she really is and when she meets Sam, she feels a connection with him that has her opening up to him about things she never speaks about aloud. She falls head over heels in love with Sam and even though she was only eighteen, she knew her mind and she knew her heart and both of them wanted Sam. So when Sam betrays her trust in the cruelest of ways, she leaves him behind and never looks back.

Years and years later, Tate has become a break out star in Hollywood and she’s just signed on to shoot a movie with her Dad. It’ll be their first job together and Tate secretly hopes that they’ll finally forge a bond that’s real and not the smile for the camera’s relationship that they have now. This movie could be a really big break for Tate and she’s stoked to be a part of the film until she comes face to face with Sam. An all grown up Sam that is just as good looking, if not more good looking than he was the last time she saw him.

So this story is told in parts. The first part is for young Sam and Tate. We see them falling in love as young adults in London and their love was super sweet but fun. I really enjoyed the young Sam and Tate. I loved seeing their friendship grow and grow into a love that took them both by surprise and yet I fully supported. A summer romance that they both wanted to try to keep alive when they returned home held so much promise and I was here for it…until Sam does the unthinkable and then I was heartbroken for Tate. I mean, she didn’t trust anyone with that information but she trusted Sam and he did her dirty. So that brings us to part two, when they come together on the movie set of the movie that Sam wrote about his grandparents. They’re both grown adults now and on Tate’s part, there’s a lot of resentment and on Sam’s part, there’s remorse. I thought I’d get a whole lot of groveling from Sam and sadly, we didn’t get that. A huge part of the reason for that was this story was told in first person, strictly from Tate’s point of view. She’s pissed off at Sam (rightfully so) and so that’s what we see. We see glimpses of Sam being remorseful and we see Sam’s apology to Tate but for me, it wasn’t enough. Sam didn’t grovel nearly enough to make up for the giant kick in the teeth he delivered to Tate all those years ago.

I will say that I adored all of the side characters. Tate’s best friend Charlie was the bomb. I love me a loyal bitch and Charlie was that and more. I loved how fiercely she had Tate’s back and I was really hoping that her and Nick would become a thing. I really adored Nick and wished that his part was a bigger part of the story. I felt like the biggest thing about the movie that Sam wrote was the relationship between his white grandmother and his black grandfather. Nick’s reasons for wanting to do the movie hit me in my feels and I wanted more from that so I was bummed when it was such a small part of the book. Also, the whole thing with her Dad felt displaced. Like, it didn’t really fit in with everything else in the book. I wish that was dropped and that Tate hadn’t wasted so much time and energy into trying to forge a bond with her Dad that he just did not seem to want to reciprocate. I felt like she was too old to still be chasing after her father’s affection. When all of that was said and done, I was completely underwhelmed.

This book was a lot more serious than other Christina Lauren books. It’s not the rom=com books that we’ve come to expect from Christina Lauren like Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Dating or My Favorite Half-Night Stand. I enjoyed the first half a lot more than I enjoyed the second half but overall, the story was solid and I’m glad that I finished it. I’m looking forward to the next one from Christina Lauren for sure.

Final Grade

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

Posted November 6, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: We Met in December by Rosie CurtisReviewer: Rowena
We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
Publisher: Harper Collins, William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating First

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

Following a year in the life of a twenty-something British woman who falls hard for her London flat mate, this clever, fun, and unforgettable romantic comedy is the perfect feel-good holiday read.Two people. One house. A year that changes everything. 

Twenty-nine-year-old Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling, but grand, Notting Hill house-share with four virtual strangers. On her first night, Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor, at a Christmas dinner hosted by her landlord. They don’t kiss, but as far as Jess is concerned the connection is clear. She starts planning how they will knock down the wall between them to spend more time together.

But when Jess returns from a two-week Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else—beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams…and the woman of his.

Jess has finally done it. She’s stepped away from the comforts of the life she lived with her ex-boyfriend and made the move to London, where she finally went after her dream job. She’d never be able to afford to live in London on her own so when her college roommate offers her a room to rent in the mansion that she inherited from her late grandmother, Jess has nothing standing in her way…so off she goes to London to start a new life. As nervous as she was about this major life change, on her first night in her new house, Jess meets Alex, one of her roommates that she immediately feels a connection with. She has such high hopes that her and Alex have the chemistry to make a go of it that she leaves for a week-long ski trip with her best friends with a happy heart. But when she returns, she finds out that Alex is actually seeing another of her roommates, Emma, and Jess has to let go of the fantasy she’d been rocking and settle into a platonic friendship with him.

The premise of this story was what caught my eye at first. I’m a sucker for the one that got away trope and boy is this one of those stories. Jess was a charming female lead and I was really invested in what she was going through all throughout the book. My heart was bruised right along with her when she returns from her ski trip to find Emma sneaking out of Alex’s room. Every single time that she went to bed with her earplugs in because she did not want to hear anything, I sighed sadly along with her. But as bad as I felt for her, there were times when I wished she would have spoken up, both her and Alex, to be honest, because there were too many missed opportunities. All of those missed opportunities slowed the book down for me. I spent quite a few chapters, annoyed that they both made such huge life changes because they wanted to feel something, to make a difference and yet when it came to opening up about their feelings for each other, they just didn’t.

I did like Jess’ character. I liked that she was finally living the life she had always dreamed of and I really loved the relationship between her and her grandmother. I even understood why she didn’t speak up at first about her feelings for Alex because things between him and Emma messed that up but after all of the time that they spent in each other’s company and growing closer and closer, I just wish she had thrown her feelings out into the open and let Alex deal with them. I didn’t need the complication of another person thrown into the mix to make things interesting for me. I wanted them to figure out how to be together without all of the extra people.

I also liked Alex though there were plenty of times that I wanted to smack some damn sense into him. Every time that he hooked up with Emma, knowing full well he didn’t return her feelings, made me want to knee him in the balls but when he finally gets his head out of his ass, I rejoiced because it was a long time coming. I liked his walks with Jess and seeing their friendship really grow and blossom into such a beautiful friendship and I loved seeing them grow into their feelings for each other. There’s a lot to enjoy in this book. From the roommates, to the friendships that developed and fizzled out, to the family support and the romance between Alex and Jess, there’s great stuff here but the slow moving middle pushed my enjoyment into the 3 stars section instead of the 4’s. Still, if you’re looking for a slow burn romance between roommates, give this one a go.

Final Grade

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Posted October 24, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley ElstonReviewer: Rowena
10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents' house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That's when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she's started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever... or is it?

What a fun book this turned out to be. I haven’t read too many books by Ashley Elston but I’m going to need to change that because if her other books are anything like this one, I’m all in. This book features Sophie who thought she’d be spending the holidays with her longtime boyfriend but ends up being dumped and spending the holidays with her big ol’ family instead. She shows up to her grandparent’s house and she’s heartbroken so in an effort to cheer her up, her family members set up her on blind dates, ten of them to be exact, and when she doesn’t completely hate the first date, she figures, why not?

Sophie really grows into herself over the course of this book and it was a lot of fun to be a part of her journey. As she learns more and more about herself, and as she grows closer to the family members that she drifted apart from, I grew to adore her more and more. She wasn’t perfect and there’s some shadiness going on that I thought was handled well by the author but overall, this book was a fun, holiday young adult romance. I’m super glad that I read it. It was a fast read, it was a fun read, and I closed the book with a giant smile on my face so needless to say, this was a successful reading choice and I am going to Goodreads right now to check out Elston’s backlist for more goodness to read. I really enjoyed the emphasis this book put on family relationships and I definitely recommend this one.

Final Grade

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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