Tag: Rowena’s Reviews

Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

Posted December 10, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini SinghReviewer: Rowena
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »

Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh welcomes you to a remote town on the edge of the world where even the blinding brightness of the sun can’t mask the darkness that lies deep within a killer…

On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.   That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement not to look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.   Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.   It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light.

Nalini Singh has written a thriller novel and I didn’t think I’d be interested in that kind of thing since I read almost strictly romance but Nalini Singh is such a good writer that I couldn’t help myself. I had to check this one out and though there were parts that were a little slow for me, I still had a good time reading this one. Nalini Singh tells a story so well, that I could almost feel the coastal breeze on my face and see everything so clearly even though I’ve never been to New Zealand before.

Golden Cove, a coastal village on the west side of New Zealand was home to Anahera before she fled for London, swearing to never return. Eight years later, Anahera is back in Golden Cove to try to heal from the death of her husband and the ghosts that haunted her before, return when a girl she knew as a child, who is now a young woman disappears and the old hurts and scares of the past return with a vengeance. The residents of Golden Cove have always been more than neighbors. They’re a family in the small village and this time Anahera is older and she won’t just sit aside while bad things happen to her family. With the help of Will, the town’s only police presence, Anahera starts to investigate the disappearance of Miriama. The more the two of them dig into their investigation, the more shit starts popping up. You’d think that because this is a Nalini Singh book that there would be a romance between the out of town cop and the newly returned Anahera but this book wasn’t a romance. It wasn’t romantic suspense. It was a straight-up suspense novel and while I missed a central romantic plot, overall, I still enjoyed this one.

The beginning was really slow because we’re getting the set up of the story and it’s not a happy go lucky kind of story. There’s a history that is dark and it’s hard but the more that I kept reading, the more that I started to understand, the more I appreciated the slow start. Nalini Singh does a great job of making the small town of Golden Cove a character that was just as important as the good guys and the bad guys. When all was said and done, I appreciated her efforts but if I’m honest, I much prefer her paranormal romances. That’s more of a preference than anything else. Nalini Singh is good at whatever she decides to write. She can write her ass off and this book proves that. She does romance extremely well and with this book, she really does her thing. I think with a couple of more books under her belt in this genre, she’s going to be another force in the suspense, mystery and thriller worlds. She’s legit.

Final Grade

3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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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: Shadow Music by Julie Garwood

Posted November 19, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Shadow Music by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Rowena
Shadow Music by Julie Garwood
Series: Highlands Lairds #3
Also in this series: Shadow Music , Ransom, The Secret (Highlands' Lairds #1), Ransom (Highlands' Lairds, #2), Shadow Music
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 339
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

For Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland is a land of stunning vistas, wild chieftains, treacherous glens, and steep shadows--skullduggery, betrayal, and now murder. Prized for her exquisite beauty, the daughter of one of England's most influential barons, Gabrielle is also a perfect bargaining chip for a king who needs peace in the Highlands: King John has arranged Gabrielle's marriage to a good and gentle laird. But this marriage will never take place.

For Gabrielle, everything changes in one last burst of freedom--when she and her guards come upon a scene of unimaginable cruelty. With one shot from her bow and arrow, Gabrielle takes a life, saves a life, and begins a war.

Within days, the Highlands are aflame with passions as a battle royal flares between enemies old and new. Having come to Scotland to be married, Gabrielle is instead entangled in Highland intrigue. For two sadistic noblemen, underestimating Gabrielle's bravery and prowess may prove fatal. But thanks to a secret Gabrielle possesses, Colm MacHugh, the most feared man in Scotland, finds a new cause for courage. Under his penetrating gaze, neither Gabrielle's body nor heart is safe.

I read this a couple of months ago and have been really busy so I’m catching up on writing my reviews right now. Shadow Music is the third book in Julie Garwood’s Highlands Lairds series and it follows Ransom, which came out ages and ages ago. While this book is part of the Highlands Lairds series, it can totally be read as a standalone. Reading this book brought back many memories of the other books that I have loved from Julie Garwood and it started an epic Julie Garwood binge readathon. I went back and re-read The Secret and Ransom and just kept right on re-reading all of my Garwood favorites. I enjoyed this book and even though it wasn’t a favorite read of mine, it was still a solid read that even my picky book club friends enjoyed.

Gabrielle’s father is a Baron from England and her mother is a Princess in St. Biel. St. Biel is a small country that has an interesting history that not very many people on St. Biel believe to be true. They believe the story of their homeland is more myth than truth but it’s part of their history and everyone knows it. When the story of St. Biel’s history becomes a real life threat to Gabrielle’s life, this story really heats up. Between being a pawn in King John’s efforts in trying to keep the peace with the Highland Lairds, her betrothed being killed and then coming upon an attack that starts a Highland war, there is much to dig into with this story.

Laird Colm MacHugh is trying to find out what happened to his brother. He is healing from injuries suffered from an attack at a nearby abbey and Colm means to find out what happened and who did this to his brother. He was not expecting to find himself engaged to an English lass who was just outed as a whore. As a favor to his friend, Brodick Buchanan, Colm steps up to protect the young lass and claim her as his. When she accepts his suit and then promptly disappears, Colm knows that he’s going to have his hands full with this new fiancee.

There is a lot going on in this book but I thought that Garwood handled the storytelling really well. I was invested in what was going on with Gabrielle and Colm. I loved seeing them come together in love. I adored seeing Brodick again, hearing about the Maitlands and the Ramsays and even though Brodick brings up what went down in Ransom and got the details wrong (he said that Ramsay’s brother Michael was taken when it was actually Iain’s son Alec that was taken), I still really enjoyed this one. Gabrielle was a great heroine and I really loved her guards. I loved how loyal they were to each other. They didn’t question anything or back down from anyone but Gabrielle and I really loved that. I also really loved seeing Gabrielle run circles around Colm until he couldn’t help but love the heck out of her. There were parts of the book that I didn’t care for, like the constant crap with the two English barons fighting over Gabrielle but I enjoyed the other bits enough that I could overlook them and their shenanigans.

This was a solid romance that I enjoyed from beginning to end and even though it’s not my favorite book by Garwood, I’d still recommend it to fans of her other historicals. I really wish she’d write more historicals.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

Highlands Lairds

four-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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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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