Tag: Guest Reviews

Guest Review: Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

Posted January 22, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Finding Christmas by Karen SchalerReviewer: Tracy
Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 374
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three-half-stars

From the writer of the Netflix sensation, A Christmas Prince, and Christmas Camp, the Hallmark movie and novel, comes a heartwarming new Christmas story, Finding Christmas, showing how sometimes the detour in your journey is the path to true love.

With all the glittering decorations, twinkling lights, snow angels, gingerbread men and mistletoe, Christmas is Emmie’s first love.

This year, she can’t wait to share her favorite Christmas traditions with her boyfriend, Grant. She thinks he’s “the one.” So when Grant’s hectic work schedule has him more “Bah Humbug” than “Ho, Ho, Ho,” Emmie creates a holiday-themed scavenger hunt to help him find his Christmas spirit. At the end of the journey, Grant will arrive at the charming town of Christmas Point where she’s planned a romantic weekend filled with holiday activities.

But Emmie’s plan backfires when a mix-up has the wrong guy following her clues! Sam, a best-selling mystery writer, thinks Emmie’s clever Christmas riddles are from his agent, who is trying to help him get over his epic writer’s block.

When he arrives at Christmas Point and finds the stunned Emmie, he immediately feels she’s someone special, but she can’t see beyond the fact that the wrong guy has shown up. Inspired by the small, charming town, Sam decides to stay and convinces Emmie to join him in a little holiday fun while she waits for Grant.
When Grant finally shows up, Emmie is disappointed to discover he’s not enjoying the activities she planned and can’t help wonder if he’s really the one for her. She also can’t get Sam out of her mind and all the great times they had together. With Christmas coming fast, Emmie will need the magic of the season to help steer her in the direction of true love…

Emmie loves Christmas.  I mean she loves Christmas.  She can’t get enough of ornaments, wreaths, holiday spirit or Christmas trees.  This will be her first Christmas with her boyfriend, Grant, so she’s planned a holiday getaway for just the two of them.  Grant is a lawyer and with her as director of the community center their both busy and can’t spend much time together.  This getaway will give them a chance for uninterrupted togetherness and Emmie can’t wait.  She’s planned a scavenger hunt for Grant that includes a huge Christmas theme and will eventually take him to Christmas Point, a town that is all about Christmas.  Emmie will be waiting for him there.

Unfortunately through no fault of her own, Grant doesn’t end up getting the first scavenger hunt clue, Sam does.  Sam is a mystery writer who lives in the same building as Grant and ends up getting Emmie’s clue.  He’s excited because he thinks this is from his agent and is a way to help him start writing again. He’s been unable to write and she told him she was going to send him something to inspire him.  Sam also adores Christmas and so is totally into the scavenger hunt.

When he gets to Christmas Point Emmie is shocked when she learns what’s happened.  She had all of the activities planned to the minute and now there’s no Grant. Sam decides to tag along on her activities and their friendship grows from there.  When Emmie realizes that she’s got feelings for Sam she’s beside herself as she knows she loves Grant.  Doesn’t she?

I liked this book because I really liked Sam and Emmie together.  Before Emmie and Sam were in Christmas Point together I was wondering why Emmie was with Grant as he seemed like a bit of an ass.  And a Scrooge.  Not really her type, imho.  Emmie was fun and fun-loving, and I could see that in Sam as well.  They were much better suited for each other than Emmie and Grant.  Grant was a stick in the mud and though we didn’t get to know him well, I didn’t like him.

Overall I thought this was a cute story.  I can’t say that I love Christmas as much as Emmie and Sam do, but it was fun to see their joy in the season.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: His Convenient Husband by JL Langley

Posted January 9, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 14 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: His Convenient Husband by JL LangleyReviewer: Tracy
His Convenient Husband by J.L. Langley
Series: Innamorati #1
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publication Date: September 4, 2009
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Genres: M/M
Pages: 134
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A temporary arrangement? Don't bet the ranch on it.

Innamorati, Book 1

At the tender age of seven, newly orphaned Micah Jiminez lost everything and got lucky. The Delany family opened their hearts and their home, treated him like one of their own. One Delany in particular, though, became more than a brother to Micah. The handsome and protective Tucker is the man to whom he wants to give his love.
But after a single passionate night together, Tucker rebuffs him and hightails it to Dallas to pursue his dreams. Leaving Micah to pick up the pieces of his broken heart and feeling like a fool.

The impending death of the Delany patriarch brings an unsavory relative out of the woodwork, threatening Micah's beloved adopted family. They're going to need all hands in the fight to keep The Bar D from being pulled out from under them all including Tucker. Micah steels himself to convince the man he can't forget to come home.

To his everlasting surprise, it's Tucker who comes up with the perfect solution: a marriage of convenience to Micah. His gut tells him Tucker's motivation involves nothing more than saving the ranch. Now he just has to convince his fragile heart.

This title has been revised and expanded by more than 10,000 words from its original published version.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on January 9, 2010.

The blurb tells us a lot about what’s going on so I won’t go into too much detail. Micah, who’s had a thing for Tucker for most of his life, goes to Tucker because he’s in a bad spot. The Bar D is in financial trouble and Tucker’s grandad, owner of the ranch, is dying. Micah needs Tucker to look over the will that Micah found to see if anything can be done about saving the ranch from the hands of the oldest son, Duncan. Tucker decides to help the ranch out by marrying Micah. You see in the will it says that the first person to marry gets the ranch – even if the marriage is between two men. The marriage only has to be legal somewhere not necessarily in Texas, which is where the story takes place.

I think this story was a bit old school in the fact that the marriage was of convenience. I didn’t mind that so much as I minded the fact that Tucker thought of it and acted on it so quickly. I realize that time was a wastin’ but it happened so fast I was a bit surprised.

At first I thought that Tucker was a complete bastard. The way he was treating his current man-interest was a bit shocking but I soon came to see that it was his way of dealing with men that he truly didn’t want to get too involved with because he still had a thing for Micah – even though he wouldn’t admit to it. He changed his tune once he was back on the ranch and became a much nicer guy. A bit stifling for Micah but with good intentions.

I enjoyed Micah’s character’s strength. He did what needed to be done around the ranch and the Delaney men listened to him. When Tucker came back to the ranch and tried to take over a bit I was happy to see that Micah stood up for himself.

That said, I wish that the story had been a bit longer. I would have liked to have seen a bit more time taken in making the decisions that were made and maybe delving into a few more characters a little deeper but what was there, I liked. I understand this is an extended version of a shorter story that was previously published. Maybe I can hope for an even more extended version? lol I won’t hold my breath. 🙂

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-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
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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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Guest Review: When the Marquess was Mine by Caroline Linden

Posted December 31, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: When the Marquess was Mine by Caroline LindenReviewer: Tracy
When the Marquess Was Mine by Caroline Linden
Series: The Wagers of Sin #3
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

In the game of love…

Georgiana Lucas despises the arrogant and cruel Marquess of Westmorland even before learning that he's won the deed to her friend Kitty's home in a card game. Still, Georgiana assures Kitty the marquess wouldn't possibly come all the way to Derbyshire to throw them out—until he shows up, bloody and unconscious. Fearing that Kitty would rather see him die, Georgiana blurts out that he's her fiancé. She'll nurse the hateful man back to health and make him vow to leave and never return. The man who wakes up, though, is nothing like the heartless rogue Georgiana thought she knew…

You have to risk it all

He wakes up with no memory of being assaulted—or of who he is. The bewitching beauty tending him so devotedly calls him Rob and claims she's his fiancée even as she avoids his touch. Though he can't remember how he won her hand, he's now determined to win her heart. But as his memory returns and the truth is revealed, Rob must decide if the game is up—or if he'll take a chance on a love that defies all odds.

Georgiana Lucas is visiting her friend Kitty and her family when they receive a message from Kitty’s husband.  It just says that by no means are they to let the Marquess of Westmorland into the house.  The family has no idea what’s going on as Kitty’s husband is non-specific as to why.  When Georgiana is out riding with a groom, she sees a man being attacked and insists on scaring off the attackers and helping the man back to Kitty’s house.

When they finally get the man back to the house, some of the mud from the road rubs off and Georgiana sees that it’s the Marquess of Westmorland.  Georgiana knows that Kitty can be vindictive (at least she could be when they were in school together) and since her husband told her not to let Westmorland enter the house, Georgiana knows that Kitty might not help him, even though he’s injured.  Georgiana panics and tells Kitty that the man is her fiancé Robert Sterling.

Georgiana stays with Westmorland day and night while he fights for his life, and the family is touched by how dedicated she is when in fact she’s just scared he’ll wake up and utter his true identity.  Fortunately for Georgiana, Westmorland wakes up and has no idea who he is.  Before Georgiana can tell him the truth, the doctor spouts that he is Robert Sterling and that he’s Georgiana’s fiancé.  Oops.

So begins the romance of Georgiana and Rob. Rob believes that Georgiana is his fiance, so he treats as he would a fiance – with kindness, compliments and love. He’s also amazed that the beautiful woman by his side is his.  I loved watching Georgiana fall in love with Westmorland and learn that he wasn’t the complete ass she believed him to be. He’s actually very sweet and kind and I loved him to pieces! Yes, he liked to gamble and drink, but what young buck of that time didn’t?  Their time spent together was lovely and Linden did a great job with this couple.

When Rob gets some of his memory back, he’s not upset at Georgiana for not telling him the truth – he’s too in love with her by that time.  He’s encouraged by his family to forget her, but he just can’t.  He heads back to London and his friend reminds him how he had agreed to help him catch a smuggler.  This was subtly mentioned at the beginning of the book but not in any detail.  Though there was that mention, it still felt as if this part of the book was tacked on and I didn’t really care for it.

Overall I really enjoyed this book.  When I read a Linden book it reminds me of how much I like her as an author and now I need to go read more of her stories.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Wagers of Sin

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Ugly Christmas Sweater by Jackie Paxson

Posted December 23, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Ugly Christmas Sweater by Jackie PaxsonReviewer: Tracy
The Ugly Christmas Sweater by Jackie Paxson
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 260
Add It: Goodreads
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three-stars

7 Reasons to Never Do a Favor for Your Best Friend:

1. It’s an ugly sweater party
2. The party is full of handsy executives
3. It’s an ugly sweater party
4. It’s an open bar and you need lots of alcohol to get through the party
5. It’s an ugly sweater party
6. Your friend leaves you to humiliate yourself in front of a sexy suit
7. It’s an ugly sweater party

Being a good friend means attending a corporate Christmas party with the ugliest sweater your friend could find. Cierra is a very good friend. However, coping with the party with the open bar lends her to humiliating herself with the sexiest guy there.

Justin knows the girl who threw up on his shoes at his company’s Christmas party, if only he could remember where. Between her drunken slurs and unfiltered conversation, she was the most fascinating woman he’d ever met.

Christmas is the season filled with love and cheer. Can a woman with no filter and a billionaire CEO find a way to survive the season, fall in love, and save an animal shelter in the process?

Cierra reluctantly says yes when one of her best friends asks her to attend her company Christmas party with her.  When she finds out it’s an ugly Christmas sweater party she’s even less thrilled.  She attends but decides to get completely drunk so she can drown out the fact that she’s there.  She doesn’t expect to meet a gorgeous man and do some dirty dancing.  She manages this, but by the time she met the man, she was already 3 sheets.  She ends up throwing up on him and then in the ladies room with the man holding her hair. 

Cierra is mortified the next day when she realizes what an ass she made of herself the night before.  When it turns out that the gorgeous guy she puked on is the one she’s been drooling over at the coffee shop, she’s mortified. (She was really drunk.  Drunk enough she didn’t even recognize the guy.) That doesn’t stop the man, Justin, from asking her out.  Cierra agrees and is thrilled when she has a great time. 

Cierra and Justin soon become an item, but there are issues to deal with.  Cierra is now working as an event planner at the company where Justin is the CEO.  He’s extremely wealthy, she’s not.  She’s got a smart mouth, he’s pretty tame.  His mother wants him to marry someone else and hates Cierra.  Yeah, issues. 

Justin’s mother was a complete bitch for 95% of the book.  Even though she was only on page about 3 times she made a BIG impression.  I disliked her a lot.  She was grieving the recent loss of her husband but that didn’t give her the right to treat Cierra like she was worse than pond scum. 

There was a “sort of” side story that had to do with an animal rescue that Cierra and Justin were trying to save that was cute.  I liked it, but it seemed a strange roundabout excuse to have Cierra and Justin work together when they were already working together – you know what I mean?  Not my choice, but I didn’t write the book.

Nothing bowled me over in this story, and I got annoyed at Cierra a couple of times because of her attitude towards things, but in the end it I thought it was just a cute Christmas book.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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