Tag: Gallery Books

Review: To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne

Posted August 11, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: To Sir, with Love by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Review Pile Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

Love Is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy following two thirty-somethings who meet on a blind dating app—only to realize that their online chemistry is nothing compared to their offline rivalry.

Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just five months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout to turn the store into a parking garage. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Lauren Layne book and I’m happy to report that To Sir, with Love was another fun one that took me no time at all to read from beginning to end. Layne writes such witty, fun, and charming romances and this was no exception. This wasn’t my favorite of her books but it was still a good one and I expected no less from Mrs. Layne.

This book follows our heroine, Gracie Cooper, a wine shop owner, and, Sebastian Andrews, the guy who wants to buy her shop space as they fall in love. Gracie isn’t a fan of Sebastian’s because, at every turn, he’s trying to run her out of the shop space where she runs her family wine shop. Sure, the wine shop isn’t doing as well as she would hope and sure, the wine shop was more her Dad’s thing than hers but for the time being, she was running the shop and out of love for her father, she kept his dream alive even long after he was gone.

She doesn’t have much of a love life but she does have a fun and flirty online relationship with a man named “Sir” and even though she’s sporting a mean crush on him, it’s not going to go anywhere because Sir is already taken. Their online friendship will make more sense if you read it but I thought it was cute. I also enjoyed seeing Sebastian and Gracie circle each other in real life and then being the complete opposite online without knowing it. Lauren Layne does humor really well in her books and it’s showcased here in this book.

Overall, this book was a light, fluffy romance that made me smile throughout. Gracie and Sebastian ended up being a great couple and their story was a fun one. Sebastian was a swoony hero and Gracie was a strong heroine who went through a lot to finally be able to stand on her own two feet and live her own life without the strings of family obligations. I was glad for her and loved seeing her and Sebastian fall in love. The secondary characters added more charm to this story and I really loved the relationship that Gracie had with her siblings and her friends. Gracie and her siblings didn’t have the perfect relationship and Gracie had some resentments that she was working on but I enjoyed seeing how much they cared about each other and how supportive they were of each other as well. I definitely recommend this book if you’re already a fan of Lauren Layne because it’s a great addition to her backlist but if you’re also looking for a sweet romance with humor, this one fits the bill.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne

Posted June 20, 2021 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Lauren Layne is one of my favorite authors and I’m super thrilled to be featuring the first chapter of her upcoming release, To Sir, with Love. This book releases on June 29th so there’s not a long wait at all.

Sunday Spotlight: To Sir, with Love by Lauren LayneTo Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Love Is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy following two thirty-somethings who meet on a blind dating app—only to realize that their online chemistry is nothing compared to their offline rivalry.

Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just five months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout to turn the store into a parking garage. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.

This book is a cute contemporary romance that features two characters that don’t get along at first but come to fall in love with each other. Their journey made for an entertaining few hours so check out this excerpt and be excited about this release with me.

Excerpt

My dear lady,

I’m not sure how to say this politely, so I’ll just say it. You’re incorrect in every sense of the word. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried a lemon sorbet on a hot summer day in the city. Ice cream, by comparison, is so very pedetrian. I thought I knew you.

Yours in gentle contempt,
Sir
______________________________________

To Sir, with equal contempt, less gentle:

I stand by my assertion that sorbet is an affront to frozen treats everywhere. I’ll see your lemon sorbet and raise you a pistachio gelato any day of the year.

Lady

One

“What am I looking at here? What is that smile?”

I drop my cell phone back into my bag and turn my full attention to the baby settled on my thighs, my hand resting protectively over his warm tummy. I wipe a tiny bit of drool from his adorable mouth. “That smile is me plotting to steal this baby. And maybe the baby’s beautiful daddy.”

My best friend is unfazed by my threats to steal her child and husband. “Never going to work. Felix assures me he’s partial to Jewish women. Oh, and he likes big boobs.”

“I can convert.” I make a cooing noise at the baby. “And get a boob job.”

“I hope those fake boobs produce milk. Because Matteo here’s still breastfeeding.”

“You’re a boob man already, hmm?” I ask the baby, who wraps tiny fingers around my own and shakes, grinning at me.

“Not for long,” Rachel says. “I’m trying to wean the little bastard, but bottles make this one gassy.”

“Farts from bottles?” I look over. “That’s a thing?”

“Oh, trust me,” Rachel says in a dark tone. “It’s a thing. Too bad there’s not a return or exchange policy for children.”

“No need.” I make smooching noises at the baby. “I’m stealing him, remember?”

“So you said in your attempt to distract me, but back to your Disney princess smile over whatever you were looking at on your phone. I’ve known you for over twenty years, and I know that smile. You’re in your Cinderella mode.”

“I do not have a Cinderella mode.”

“You totally do,” Rachel says. “I just watched you feed half your sandwich to the pigeons. Who you named.”

“Are you even a real New Yorker if you don’t befriend pigeons in Central Park?”

“And then you sang to them,” Rachel continues.

“I hummed. A slight but crucial distinction.”

“Mmm-hmm, and what song did you hum?”

I purse my lips and refrain from answering the question.

I’d been humming “It Had to Be You,” Frank Sinatra style. To the pigeons. Which, when not in my so-called Cinderella mode, I know are basically sky-rats.

This isn’t looking good for me, and we both know it.

Rachel very slowly shakes her head. “Gracie Madeleine Cooper, you are in love and you didn’t tell me.”

I snort. “That’d be a hell of a feat, considering I haven’t been on a second date in almost six months and waaaaay too many first ones.”

She holds out her palm. “Phone.”

“What?”

“That dreamy smile comes on your face every time you check your phone.” She reaches over me to grab my purse in the confident, overbearing way of a best friend of twenty years. “Let me see it.”

“What? No! Here,” I say, trying to maneuver Matteo into her arms. “Let’s trade. Your baby for my privacy.”

Her jaw drops. “You never want privacy! You have a secret!”

“I do not have a secret!”

I do. I totally have a secret, and it’s delicious and also a tiny bit embarrassing to admit, even to someone who’s held my hair back over the toilet of a Coney Island bathroom after too much blue cotton candy.

I manage to safely get the baby back into her arms, and Matteo takes my side and starts to fuss, granting me a brief reprieve from my best friend’s prying. As though reading my mind about the hair thing, Rachel shifts Matteo to her shoulder and hands me a hair band. “Tail me,” she orders, turning her back to me.

Obediently, I gather her thick hair and attempt to wind the elastic around her mass of gorgeous curls. I smile as a childhood memory bubbles up. Me, on the first day of third grade at a new school, my ponytail a lumpy mess, courtesy of my widowed father who did his best but didn’t know the first thing about little girls’ hair.

Rachel, the definitive alpha of Jefferson Elementary’s third-grade class, had taken one look at my stricken face, marched over, and announced that she needed to practice her French braiding and that I was her muse.

We’ve been styling each other’s hair ever since.

“You have the best hair,” I say, tucking an errant curl into the band and studying my handiwork.

“Attempt to distract from the matter at hand rejected,” she says, turning back around.

“You’re such a weirdo.” But I sigh and relent. “Okay, if I tell you what’s going on, you have to promise not to lecture.”

She makes a mock-wounded face. “If you care about me at all, you wouldn’t ask me to deny my true nature.”

“Fine,” I relent. “But as you lecture, at least try to remember that I already have an older sister who has yet to grasp that I’m thirty-three and not ten.”

“I will take it into consideration. Proceed.”

I take my time, leaning back on the green park bench, studying the cheerful energy of Central Park at lunchtime on a late summer’s day.

I exhale. “So there’s this dating app.”

“Tinder?”

“No.”

“Hinge?”

“No.”

“eHarmony?”

“Okay, you rattled those off way too quickly for someone who’s been married for seven years,” I say. “And it’s called MysteryMate.”

Rachel makes a face. “Oh, I don’t like the sound of this at all. There is no good use for the word mate outside of the Discovery Channel.”

“Yeah, the name’s not great,” I say.

Their tagline’s even worse: Love at no sight. And that’s not even the embarrassing part of my secret.

“So how does it work?” she asks.

I reach over and rip off a piece of her unfinished sandwich and toss it to my pigeon friends, Spencer and Katharine, as in Tracy and Hepburn.

“So, you know how Tinder is all about first impressions based on someone’s photo?” I say. “Well, this is sort of the opposite. There are no photos. No names, even. Instead you choose from these little cartoon avatar things and a screen name, and the app matches you with potential mates.”

I emphasize the word deliberately with a grin, and she rolls her eyes. “Okay, I get it. The app is all ‘beauty is on the inside.’ What happens after you’re matched?”

I shrug. “You message each other. If you click, you set up a meeting in person.”

“But what if the other person’s hideous?”

I give her a gently chiding look, and she shrugs as she rubs the baby’s back. “It’s a fair question. A meeting of the minds is nice, but physical attraction is hot.”

“Well, so far, none of the guys I’ve decided to meet in person have been hideous.”

“But one of them was hot, huh? Oh wait, no. You said you hadn’t been on any second dates.”

“I haven’t,” I say a little glumly. “All of the men have been perfectly nice, all pleasant looking in their own way. But no chemistry. None.”

Rachel tilts her head. “Then why the Cinderella mode? You only ever revert to that when you’ve got a crush.”

I take a deep breath. “Okay. Here’s the part where you’re going to want to dust off your best lecturing voice.”

Rachel taps her throat and hums like a singer warming up her voice. “Okay, ready. Hit me.”

“There’s this guy on the app I really like talking to. But . . . we haven’t met.”

“Hmm.” She purses her lips. “No lecture yet. But why not just meet him and see if you have chemistry?”

I bite my lip. “He’s not really available.”

“Then what’s he doing on a dating app?”

“He didn’t actually sign up for the app. He was at a friend’s bachelor party, and I guess one of them got drunk and thought it would be hilarious to steal his phone and set up a profile on his behalf.”

“Okay, but if you guys hit it off—”

“He has a girlfriend,” I interrupt.

“Ohhhhhhhh,” Rachel says, eyes widening. “That’s tricky. Wait. You’re having a cyber affair! With a cheater!”

“I’m not. I’m really not!” I repeat at her look. “And he’s not a cheater. After we matched, I messaged him, and he explained right away what had happened and that he wasn’t looking for a relationship. If he were looking for some sort of weird Internet affair, would he have told me about his girlfriend right away?”

“No,” she admits. “But then why are you two still talking?” “We’re just friends,” I say, shrugging. “After he replied to my message, I replied saying no problem, and then he replied, and then I replied. Somewhere along the line we discovered both of our first crushes are from Empire Records—”

“I’d forgotten about that! You loved A.J.”

“Still do,” I say with a nod. “He had a thing for Corey. We both live in Manhattan, we’re both highly suspicious of oatmeal, we both lost our dads to lung cancer four years ago, we both put mustard on our scrambled eggs—”

“So gross.”

“We don’t, however, like the same ice cream, apparently.” “You’re smiling that smile again,” Rachel says. “Sweetie. I’m not buying this just friends thing. You’re in love with this guy.”

“I’ve never met him!”

Rachel’s lips purse as she shifts Matteo to her other shoulder. “Does Lily know about this?”

“That I sometimes message a male friend? Why would I bring it up?”

I don’t add that I might have mentioned it, if the last time we had dinner Lily had not been going on and on about a documentary she’d just watched about online predators.

“Caleb?”

“Yes,” I say sarcastically. “My younger brother loves to hear all about his sister’s love life.”

“Ah-ha! So it is a love life.”

Whoops. I definitely walked right into that one.

“Did I tell you Caleb moved to New Hampshire?” I ask in an admittedly lame attempt to change the subject.

“Yes, and I still don’t fully comprehend moving out of a rent-controlled loft in SoHo to a barn in New Hampshire, but quit trying to distract me. Does anyone know about this? I need backup that this is nuts.”

“Keva knows,” I say, referring to my friend and upstairs neighbor.

Rachel looks away with just the slightest flinch, and I feel instant regret. She and Keva have met a couple of times and get along, but I sense she’s sometimes jealous of the friendship.

“Hey,” I say gently, pushing my finger into her forearm. “You’re still First Bestie.”

“I know,” Rachel says with a sigh. “It’s just another reminder that living out in freaking Queens means I don’t get to see you as often or get to know the daily details of your life anymore.”

“But you have a yard,” I point out.

“It’s more like a patch of dirt, but . . .” Rachel grins. “Yeah, I have a yard. My mother is scandalized. I swear, half the reason she wanted me to bring the kids into Manhattan today was because she’s worried they’re not getting enough concrete.”

Amy and Sammy, Rachel’s other two kids, are spending the day with her mom in Morningside Heights, which is the only reason I’m not fussing more that I don’t get to see my de facto niece and nephew. Grandma trumps best friend, and though I’m careful not to mention it, Rachel’s fears about Astoria being too far away from her old life aren’t totally unfounded. It’s at least an hour by train, which means I don’t get to see her or her family as much as I’d like.

Rachel gives me a sly look. “What do you think he looks like?”

Medium height. Wiry build. Longish brown hair, warm brown eyes. Big smile.

“I haven’t thought about it,” I say casually.

“Uh-huh. Liar. In these fantasies of yours, is he by any chance a musician and a Sagittarius?”

“Okay, that’s impressive,” I admit.

“I know,” she says, looking mollified to have best-friend status restored. “But you forget that we spent all of middle school and most of high school discussing our future husbands in very specific detail.” She pauses. “Damn, I was far off.”

“You mean your hot Puerto Rican husband isn’t a blond surfer named Dustin? Get out.”

“Oh, Dusty. What might have been,” she says dreamily before turning back to me. “Aren’t you worried your mystery guy could be, like, a hundred? With gout and gingivitis? What if his girlfriend is a caretaker at his nursing home, and the most action he gets is a sponge bath?”

“That would be fine,” I say primly. “I can be friends with someone of a different generation.”

I send out a silent plea to SirNYC. Please don’t get sponge baths.

Rachel takes a last bite of her sandwich, then scrunches the paper wrapping into a ball with a sigh. “I want to warn you about catfishing, but honestly this is too adorable, assuming you don’t do anything dumb. Like agree to meet him in a back alley.”

I let my eyes go wide. “Wait, so I shouldn’t have wired my life’s savings to his overseas account and then given him my home address when he asked to see my panty drawer?”

“Aren’t you funny. Here, want to give my arms another break?”

“Absolutely,” I say, taking the baby and kissing his head. “How’d you manage to escape with this one? Grandma Becca would have snatched him right up.”

“Oh, she tried. But though she’d die for her grandkids, she’s not big on diapers, so all it took was a casual mention of eruptive poops to secure some Auntie Gracie time.” She gives a slight sniff. “Joke’s on me though. I think he’s just backed up my lie with a very real diaper situation that needs to be addressed.”

“You want to change him at the shop?” I ask, gathering up the remnants of our lunch as she straps Matteo to her chest in some fancy-looking sling thing.

One of the best things about the champagne shop I own and run is that it’s just across the street from Central Park.

Rachel gives me an apologetic look, and I shake my head before she can speak. “You need to get back. Don’t worry about it.

“I do. Ugh. I’ve become one of those moms, huh? Can’t be apart from her Littles for more than two hours.”

“Those are the good kind of moms,” I reassure her as we begin making our way toward the west side of the park.

Rachel tosses our garbage into the green trash can and links her arm in mine, careful not to jostle Matteo. “You don’t have to walk this way with me,” she says, checking her watch. “Doesn’t the shop open at noon?”

“Josh and May are there. Plus, I need to get flowers for the counter, and Carlos on Seventy-Fourth and Broadway always has the best ones.”

“Damn, I miss those pop-up Manhattan flower carts. Almost as much as I miss May. Give her a squeeze for me, it’s been way too long. And wait, who’s Josh?”

“Newish hire. Mostly helps with inventory and stocking, but it’s sweet to watch him overcome his shyness customer by customer.”

“I’m surprised you even know what shyness looks like. Have you ever met a human being who didn’t instantly adore you?”

“Blake Hansel, fifth grade.”

“No, he just really adored you, in the pull-her-pigtail kind of way,” Rachel says as we exit the park and step onto the bustling Central Park West sidewalk. We embrace, careful not to smoosh the baby between us.

I pull back and give Matteo a proper goodbye, unapologetically inhaling his sweet baby smell, mingled with—yep, there’s the eruptive poop. “Goodbye, handsome. You sure you don’t want to run away with me?”

“You, young lady, will text me more often,” Rachel orders with a pointing finger as she begins walking backward uptown toward her parents’ place in Morningside Heights.

I salute in acknowledgment and wave goodbye.

The second my best friend’s back is turned, I pull out my phone to see if I have more messages from him.

Okay, fine. So maybe I’m a tiny bit in love with a man I haven’t met.

My dear Lady,

Pistachio gelato, you say. That’s my mother’s favorite, on the very rare occasions she lets herself eat food with actual flavor or calories. Alas, I confess the often-added green food coloring creeps me out.

Yours in renewed devotion to sorbet,
Sir
______________________________________

To Sir, with alarm,

Did you just compare me to your mother? Not sure how I feel about that…

Lady
______________________________________

My dear Lady,

I hear it now. I take it back and reassure you that in no way do I think of you as my mother.

Yours in apology,
Sir

Copyright © 2020 by Lauren Layne. From TO SIR, WITH LOVE by Lauren Layne , published by Gallery Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Printed by permission.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: June 2021

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than two dozen romantic comedies. Her books have sold over a million copies, in nine languages. Lauren's work has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Glamour, The Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City.


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Review: The Sinner by J.R. Ward

Posted June 17, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Sinner by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
The Sinner by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #18
Also in this series: Lover Unbound, Lover Avenged, Lover at Last, Lover at Last, The King, The Shadows, The Beast, Lover Enshrined, The Chosen, Lover Mine, The Thief, The Savior, Where Winter Finds You, Lover Unleashed
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 498
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

A sinner’s only hope is true love in this passionate new novel in J.R. Ward’s #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
Syn has kept his side hustle as a mercenary a secret from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. When he takes another hit job, he not only crosses the path of the vampire race’s new enemy, but also that of a half-breed in danger of dying during her transition. Jo Early has no idea what her true nature is, and when a mysterious man appears out of the darkness, she is torn between their erotic connection and the sense that something is very wrong.
Fate anointed Butch O’Neal as the Dhestroyer, the fulfiller of the prophecy that foresees the end of the Omega. As the war with the Lessening Society comes to a head, Butch gets an unexpected ally in Syn. But can he trust the male—or is the warrior with the bad past a deadly complication?
With time running out, Jo gets swept up in the fighting and must join with Syn and the Brotherhood against true evil. In the end, will love true prevail...or was the prophecy wrong all along?

It’s been awhile since I read this book, but I’m going to give this review my best shot.

Syn isn’t officially in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, but he fights along side them in the war that threatens the vampire race. Something the Brothers don’t know is that moonlights as a mercenary. He has some part of him (I just tried to look it up and couldn’t find it) that needs violence. Likely literally needs it or he goes crazy. When he takes a new contract, he is given the name of a journalist at the local newspaper. No problem for Syn. Give him a name and it’s done. Only it doesn’t go at all like what he expected.

Jo Early has been trying to prove that vampires exist. Along with her journalist partner, Bill, they embark on a journey that takes them to some pretty bad places. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for Jo, she doesn’t remember any of it. She doesn’t know that the very vampires that she is trying to prove exist have made her forget what she’s looking for. What those vampires don’t expect is to find a half-breed that may or may not transition into a vampire. All Jo knows is that she probably has cancer and is dying.

While out fighting the Lessers, Syn smells her. Yes, that would be Jo. He smells her and goes bonkers. When he comes face-to-face with her, he knows exactly who she is. His mate. His reason for living. Too bad Syn doesn’t think he’s good enough for her. Well, not at first. At first the two really hit it off even though their first meeting didn’t go well. Then Syn realizes that Jo is way too good for him and there is no way that he’s going to be the one that helps her through her (probably) transition.

I know I say it every time I review a book in this series, but seriously. I can’t quit it and it drives me nutso. There is something about these characters that is so compelling to me. I couldn’t tell you why. One thing I really loved in this book was everything from Butch’s point of view. I’ve always loved Butch as a character and that hasn’t changed since the first book.

The big bad in JRW’s Fallen Angels series has come over into this series. I’m unsure how I feel about that. Honestly, I like this big bad better than the Omega. She (yes, she) is just more interesting. I think she’s going to bring a lot to the series, but I still think it is kind of a copout. Overall, I enjoyed this book but I didn’t love it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Black Dagger Brotherhood

three-half-stars


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Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

Posted January 7, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne
Series: The Central Park Pact #3
Also in this series: Passion on Park Avenue, Love on Lexington Avenue
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne, comes the final installment of the Central Park Pact series, a heartfelt and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that’s perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Christina Lauren.

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?

Marriage on Madison Avenue is the final book in the Central Park Pact series by Lauren Layne and IMO, it was the weakest book in the series. I still enjoyed it but not nearly as much as I enjoyed Love on Lexington Avenue and Passion on Park Avenue. I was bummed out about not enjoying this book nearly as much as I was prepared to love it because it’s got the best friends to lover trope and a fake relationship trope that I’m super trash for but I was disappointed in a bunch of little things that I didn’t completely recover from by the end of this one.

Audrey Tate and Clarke West have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Since they were kids. They have amazing chemistry that everyone but themselves can see but they’ve never gone down that road before because they’ve always been such great friends and who wants to mess with that? Not these two for sure. Audrey is a social media influencer and when the haters start to talk about her in a not so great light, a fake engagement to her best friend seems like the way to fix her problems. When Clarke’s ex-girlfriend tries to come back into his life, he’s got his own reasons to want a fake engagement to his best friend. So Audrey and Clarke become “engaged” and plan to only keep up the ruse for a little while, just until the rumors about Audrey die down and Clarke’s ex-girlfriend goes away. Only things don’t go down the way that they planned and before they know what’s what, their engagement goes on longer and longer and starts to feel a lot more real with each passing day.

Here’s what I did like about this book. The book still had the strong female friendship that I adored in the previous books and I loved seeing how protective both of the previous heroes were over Audrey…even against Audrey’s own best friend. I loved seeing Alexis Morgan make an appearance in this one. I also still really enjoyed both Clarke and Audrey individually and the romance was still a good one even though I had some issues.

The lack of communication between Clarke and Audrey had me rolling my eyes down the street. You guys are best friends, you tell each other everything but you can’t tell each other that you’re in love with each other? Clarke, you let Audrey find out about your Dad’s deal on the day of your wedding? You guys love each other so much, have each other’s back but you let each other settle for a marriage of convenience instead of pushing each other to hold out for true love the way that you guys both deserve? On top of that, the way that their engagement kept getting bigger and bigger when they had every intention of calling it off made me mad too. They were wasting so many people’s time and it just annoyed the crap out of me. I would have much preferred the conflict to be more about Clarke and Audrey figuring out that they’ve been in love with each other for a long time without the drag out, knock down fake engagement that started to piss me off the longer it went on and the deeper Audrey and Clarke got into the planning of a fake wedding.

Despite my issues, Lauren Layne still kept my attention throughout this entire book and though I was still annoyed with both Clarke and Audrey, I was glad that they got their heads out of their asses and figured their shit out. I thought the ending was rushed but by the time that came around, I was ready for the happy ending so I wasn’t too annoyed with that. So while this book wasn’t one of Layne’s best, it wasn’t all bad. I came for the female friendships and wasn’t disappointed in the least in that department.

Final Grade

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

The Central Park Pact

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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