Publisher: Macmillan

Throwback Thursday Review: Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Posted June 3, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 8 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Love in the Afternoon by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Holly
Love In The Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Hathaways #5
Also in this series: Tempt Me at Twilight, Married By Morning
Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: June 29th 2010
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted...and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man—just to avoid spinsterhood?

Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix's friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul—and it's becoming clear that Christopher won't come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru's disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru's letters to Christopher for her.

Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep...and when Christopher comes home, he's determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix's innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love—and a passion that can't be denied...

I’ve been really into re-reading Lisa Kleypas recently. I enjoyed this book just as much this time around. Beatrix is so wonderful.

This review was originally published on July 20, 2010.

I have to be honest and say I wasn’t really looking forward to this book until the very end of the last book. Up until that point, Beatrix still seemed very young to me. Even after the last book I still had reservations about her as a heroine.

I should have had more faith in Kleypas. Both Beatrix and Christopher were delightful. I loved the premise behind their romance. The letters they exchanged really set up the romance beautifully. It was easy to see how they’d fallen in love with each other as Christoper was at war, and Beatrix waiting at home for him. Those first few chapters were so emotionally charged they pulled me in completely.

But Christopher doesn’t realize it’s Beatrix he loves. Because Beatrix has been writing her letters in the name of her friend, Prudence Mercer. Pru shared Christopher’s first letter with Bea and it was obvious to her that he needed someone to correspond with. The selfish and shallow Pru didn’t want to hear tales of war, and refused to respond to him. So Bea offered to do it instead, agreeing to signing Pru’s name to the letters.

When Christopher returns home he expects to find Miss Prudence Mercer waiting for him. He knows she loves him, just as he loves her. But Pru isn’t there waiting, and he realizes he needs time to decompress before going to her in London. That’s when he runs into Beatrix Hathaway. He’s always thought Beatrix was unconventional, and not in a good way. He’s surprised to see she’s grown into a beautiful woman, one he desires. Not that it matters, since it’s Prudence he loves. But still, he’s a man and he noticed. He also starts noticing other things about Beatrix – how comfortable she is to be around, how understanding she is, and how much she challenges and frustrates him.

Once he reaches London it isn’t long before he realizes Prudence Mercer did not write the letters he received. She’s nothing like the woman he corresponded with. But who then? Certainly not..Beatrix Hathaway?

Christopher is a young, foolish, vain boy when he leaves for war. He’s what you would expect a spoiled, entitled man to be. But the things he sees in battle change him. He comes home with darkness in him, and a better understanding of himself and the word. It was really interesting seeing the way he matured. He also suffers from PTSD. I think Kleypas did a really excellent job of showing how that effects a soldier.

Beatrix was everything I expected from the earlier novels – loving and caring, helpful and more interested in animals than humans. She was also stronger and much more mature than I expected. I guess I always saw her as the youngest Hathaway, always into mischief and taking care of animals, so I didn’t think of her as a woman. She feels terrible guilt over writing letters to Christopher as Pru, but she just couldn’t not write to him. It was easy to see how something that started innocent got out of hand the longer it went on.

I loved that they admitted their feelings for each other early on. Neither of them play coy, or try to deny what’s between them. Christopher is worried that he’s too damaged for Beatrix. Not in a “I’m a martyr” kind of way, but he has very real concerns that, as a result of his PTSD, he might hurt her at some point. He’s against marrying her because he’s afraid of himself. But he doesn’t deny that he loves her, or try to pretend his feelings aren’t what they are, or try to push her away. I loved that.

I also loved how Beatrix stood beside him and pushed him to get better. She didn’t let him wallow in his misery, or fall into depression. She was just exactly what he needed.

Though this was a darker novel than some of the others in the series, it still had moments of great humor. There’s one scene in particular where I was literally laughing out loud. I won’t spoil it, but it has to do with squirrels. You’ll have to read it yourself to see what I mean.

It was lovely to see the Hathaway’s again, as always. The family is so quirky and strong. I adore them. Kleypas once again managed to include scenes with them without taking away from the main romance, which was great.

One last thing I have to mention: Beatrix’s animals. I loved all her pets. The goat scene was hilarious, and I loved the hedgehog. But it was Albert, Christopher’s terrier, who really stole the show. It was heartbreaking to see how much he was suffering, and delightful watching Beatrix work with him.

While I enjoyed Married by Morning more than many others, I’d have to say Love in the Afternoon was deeper and more emotionally compelling.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Hathaways

four-half-stars


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Review: Lick by Kylie Scott

Posted March 3, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Lick by Kylie ScottReviewer: Casee
Lick by Kylie Scott
Narrator: Andi Arndt
Series: Stage Dive #1
Also in this series: Lick: Stage Dive 1, Lead: Stage Dive 3, Lick (Stage Dive #1), Play, Deep
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: July 1, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 8 hours, 37 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Waking up in Vegas was never meant to be like this.

Evelyn Thomas's plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure as hell never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

One thing is for certain, being married to rock and roll's favorite son is sure to be a wild ride.

After waking up in Vegas, Evelyn Thomas has no idea why she’s woken up in a strange man’s room. She has little memory of the night before. Evelyn is then informed by the stranger that not only did they meet the night before, but they also got married. Evelyn freaks out and leaves. She wants nothing to do with a marriage to someone she doesn’t even remember. She has an upcoming internship that she does not want to jeopardize. She heads home from Vegas not knowing that her new husband is one of the most famous rockstars in the world. It becomes apparent that nothing will ever be the same in Evelyn’s life after this. Her internship is canceled and she has no job. The only thing she can do is hope that staying with her husband for awhile will quiet the press and they can get an amicable annulment.

It’s obvious that David has never had such a strong connection to someone. It’s also apparent that he is deeply hurt by the fact that Ev doesn’t remember their night together, their elopement, their matching tattoos. I really enjoyed David. A lot. He was such a great hero. Which is why I don’t know why he ended up with Evelyn. She was pretty awful. And she didn’t get better.

After about two days of being together they decide to give their marriage a try. They like each other, the sex is good, etc. I still couldn’t like Evelyn. She just treated David like crap with her wishy-washy attitude. There wasn’t a lot of redemption for how she treated David from the beginning. I honestly don’t know why David wanted to stay married to her. Honestly the reason I even liked this book a little was because of David. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. The secondary characters were very interesting and I can’t wait to learn more about them.

I listened to this book on audio. It was really good. I wish we had David’s POV, but Scott did an amazing job of getting his emotions across the page to the reader. Just like in her book Repeat she doesn’t need the hero’s POV because she writes such a good story.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Stage Dive

three-half-stars


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Review: Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Posted September 30, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Deal with the Devil by Kit RochaReviewer: Holly
Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha
Series: Mercenary Librarians #1
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Deal with the Devil is Orphan Black meets the post-apocalyptic Avengers by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha.

Nina is an information broker with a mission--she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America.

Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he's fighting to survive.

They're on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process...

Or they could do the impossible: team up.

This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance.

When Kit Rocha first announced they were writing a Mercenary Librarians series, I was beyond excited. Mercenary.Librarians. COME TO MAMA. Deal with the Devil is the first book in the series, and it definitely left me wanting more.

Garrett Knox is captain of the Silver Devils, an elite squad of super soldiers. He joined up to change the world and do some good, but he quickly realized TechCorps, the agency in charge of their genetic modifications (and basically the world), just wanted elite assassins. They finally have enough and he and his team have gone AWOL, but without regular maintenance, their genetic modifications will deteriorate and slowly kill them all – a kill switch embedded by TechCorps to keep them in line. The problem? The scientist they need to fix their implants has been kidnapped, and the only way she’ll be returned is if Knox delivers Nina, an information broker, in exchange.

Nina is skeptical of Knox’s offer to lead her to the fabled hidden Library of Congress, but she it’s an opportunity she can’t pass up. She and her sisters-of-the-heart a strong and capable, so they agree, but keep their guard up. She’s surprised at the chemistry they have, but she knows falling into bed with someone she doesn’t trust is a bad idea. The more time the two teams spend together, the harder it is to keep a wall between them.

I absolutely loved the sheer amount of Girl Power in this novel. Nina, Dani and Maya were wonderfully written. They were kickass, but also relatable. Knox and his Silver Devils were also very well done. I like that they paid attention to the strengths the ladies brought and didn’t try to take over or make decisions for them. There was a good amount of mutual respect on both sides that really brought this novel together.

Parts were a bit predictable View Spoiler », and there were times the story moved rather slow, but I easily fell into this book and can’t wait for the next.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Mercenary Librarians

four-stars


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Review. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Posted September 16, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review. The Flatshare by Beth O’LearyReviewer: Holly
The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: April 18, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars


Tiffy and Leon share a flat

Tiffy and Leon share a bed

Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary is a contemporary romance told in alternating first person and epistolary format. Rowena mentioned this book to me around the time it was released, but I completely forgot about it until I saw The Switch had come out. I requested The Switch from the library, but there was a wait, so I decided to read this one instead.

Tiffany Moore needs a cheap place to live ASAP. Her on-again/off-again boyfriend of several years has suddenly come home with a new woman, and she’s convinced him to put Tiffy out. Her options are a moldy, crumbling flat that should be condemned, or a flatshare – where two people share the same one-bedroom flat at opposite times of the day. She chooses the flatshare.

Leon Twomey is in desperate need of an extra £350 per month to help pay for his brother’s legal fees. Since he works as an overnight palliative care nurse, he figures a flatshare is the easiest way to make the extra he needs. He’ll have access to the flat from 8am-6pm, and his flatmate will have it during the evenings and weekends.

Leon and Tiffy haven’t met, but sharing a bed and a flat, not to mention daily notes, bring them together. Between his wrongfully imprisoned brother and search for a long-lost-love for a patient at work, and her crazy ex-boyfriend and work projects, they have a lot to share. Leon is an introvert who is happiest when things are quiet and he’s alone. Tiffany is an extrovert who is happiest surrounded by chaos. The two shouldn’t have anything in common, but as they come to know one another through their shared flat and notes, they realize they share more than they think.

Tiffy is dealing with the realization that the relationship she’s been in for years is very unhealthy. With the help of her friends, a therapist and Leon, she’s beginning to deal with repressed trauma over the emotional abuse she suffered while with her controlling ex. I thought that aspect of the novel was well done. We don’t always see what’s happening in the moment, and it takes some space for us to realize how bad a situation has gotten. I really liked that Tiffy’s friends were supportive and helped her realize how awful her relationship was, while also giving her space to figure things out on her own.

Leon is struggling to deal with the incarceration of his brother, Richie. He was sent to prison for 7 years for armed robbery, but Leon knows he’s innocent. He’s trying to find out information from Richie’s attorney about their appeal, and also be strong for his mam. To take his mind off his problems, and to keep him busy on the weekends when he isn’t allowed at his flat, he’s begun the search for Jonathan White, the lover one of his patients had back in WWII.

Leon and Tiffany both came alive on page. They felt like real people with real friendships. I loved how they grew and changed, together, yet separate.

I smile. The note is stuck on the fridge, which is already one layer deep in Post-its. My current favorite is a doodle Leon did, depicting the man in Flat 5 sitting on an enormous heap of bananas. (We still don’t know why he keeps so many banana crates in his parking space.)

I rest my forehead against the fridge door for a moment, then run my fingers across the layers of paper scraps and Post-its. There’s so much here. Jokes, secrets, stories, the slow unfolding of two people whose lives have been changing in parallel―or, I don’t know, in sync. Different time, same place.

There was quite a bit of humor, especially when it came to Tiffy’s co-worker, Rachel. I cracked up on more than one occasion because of her jokes and antics.

Tiffany [9:07 a.m.]: It was really weird. I literally told her the most embarrassing stuff about me within like ten minutes of meeting her.
Rachel [9:08 a.m.]: Did you tell her about when you vomited in your hair on the night bus?
Tiffany [9:10 a.m.]: Well, that didn’t actually come up.
Rachel [9:11 a.m.]: How about the time you broke that guy’s penis at university?
Tiffany [9:12 a.m.]: Didn’t come up, either.
Rachel [9:12 a.m.]: That’s what he said.

This was such a cute, uplifting story. I really loved how it was told from both points-of-view, and also through the notes they wrote to each other. I smiled my way through this book, and I can’t wait to read more from O’Leary.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Under Currents by Nora Roberts

Posted January 2, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Under Currents by Nora RobertsReviewer: Tracy
Under Currents by Nora Roberts
Narrator: January LeVoy
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 436
Length: 14 hours and 36 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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three-stars

Within the walls of a tasteful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, young Zane Bigelow feels like a prisoner of war. Strangers—and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake—see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Zane and his sister know the truth: There is something terribly wrong.

As his father’s violent, controlling rages—and his mother’s complicity—become more and more oppressive, Zane counts the years, months, days until he can escape. He looks out for little Britt, warning her Be smart. Be careful. In fear for his very life, he plays along with the insidious lie that everything is fine, while scribbling his real thoughts in a secret journal he must carefully hide away.

When one brutal, shattering night finally reveals cracks in the façade, Zane begins to understand that some people are willing to face the truth, even when it hurts. As he grows into manhood and builds a new kind of family, he will find that while the darkness of his past may always shadow him, it will also show him what is necessary for good to triumph—and give him strength to draw on when he once again must stand up and defend himself and the ones he loves…

This is a difficult review to write.  Not only because of the subject matter, but because I don’t want to add spoilers into it.

You’d think that the Bigelow family was perfect.  They had a big beautiful house, lots of money, the father is a doctor and the mother doesn’t even have to work!  The children are darned near perfect as well!  But behind closed doors no one knows the abuse that the wife and children suffer at the hands of the Dr. Bigelow – a monster. The mom does nothing to help her children as she’s fine with the abuse as long as he doesn’t hit her face.

WTF?

When the son of the family, Zane, is 14 years old his father goes a bit nuts and hurts every family member.  When the daughter calls the police, their father blames everything on Zane stating that he went crazy.  The police believe the father because he’s a doctor and why would he lie? Ugh.

The story eventually moves on to Zane’s adulthood and him falling for a new woman in town. She also was abused by her husband and is looking for a new life.  Zane is now a lawyer and has just moved back to town after working in a large city for years.  The story is about them falling in love and adjusting to their new lives.  Of course there can’t be a HEA without a villain to try to ruin it all.

This book is told in four parts. The first part was incredible, though very hard to listen to.  The abuse was graphic and hard to hear, but it was written incredibly well and narrated perfectly.  Unfortunately, parts 2-4 fell flat for me.  There were definitely things happening but there was too much every-day life being told.  I get that books need that, but not for 3 parts of the book, imho.  The parts that had to do with the villain were predictable and not that exciting.

The romance (and I use that term loosely) was truly unimaginative. I guess I just expect more from Roberts.  I know this isn’t classified as a romance, but if you’re going to include one in the book then it needs to be done well and I just can’t say that it was.

Overall it was a decent read, but not one I can highly recommend. That said, I adored the narrator, January LeVoy. Strong voice, great characters voices, and just a pleasure to listen to.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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