Tag: Rowena’s Reviews

Review: The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

Posted July 14, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Road Trip by Beth O’LearyReviewer: Rowena
The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: April 29, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
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
three-half-stars

Two exes reach a new level of awkward when forced to take a road trip together in this endearing and humorous novel by the author of the international bestseller The Flatshare.

What if the end of the road is just the beginning?

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry's enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven't spoken since.

Today, Dylan's and Addie's lives collide again. It's the day before Cherry's wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland--he'll never get there on time by public transport.

So, along with Dylan's best friend, Addie's sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart--and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.

The Road Trip was one of the first books that I read by Beth O’Leary and while I did enjoy it, there were things about it that I didn’t really care for. The biggest thing was the back and forth between the past and the present. I almost DNF’d this book because I hated the jumping between the past and the present. If I wasn’t so invested in what happened to break Dylan and Addie up, I probably wouldn’t have finished this one. Also, the lightness of the illustrated cover made me think this was going to be a lighter romance than it actually was, and normally, it’s not a big deal to me but for some reason, it just didn’t completely work for me in this one. It might have been a mood thing because while I didn’t LOVE the book, it was still a pretty solid story.

This is a second chance love story between Dylan and Addie. They met while Dylan was vacationing in the house that Addie was working at over the summer. Dylan comes from money and Addie works for every penny she has but they found love in that French villa and things were going swimmingly…until it wasn’t and they break up. It’s been two years since they’ve broken up and they haven’t spoken to each other since. When their mutual friend, Cherry, gets married they know that they’ll probably see each other at the wedding but they didn’t expect circumstances to make it to where they had to squeeze into the smallest car on the planet and road trip it to the wedding together.

Like I mentioned earlier, this story is told between the past and the present, and in the beginning, it gave me whiplash. I was so anxious to find out what happened in the past to make their present so weird and awkward that it made me a little grumpy when the story didn’t move fast enough to suit me. I preferred the past until the shit hit the fan and the road trip to the wedding was full of Dylan longing for Addie that I rolled my eyes a lot. I also wanted to punch Markus in the junk at every turn too. Past and present, though present Markus less so. Sure, I wanted to knee him in the balls in the present a time or two but he’s a different Markus from the past and I eventually came to not hate him.

This was a heavier book than I anticipated but I am glad that I finished it. I was satisfied with the way that the book came together in the end. I did end up enjoying Dylan and Addie’s characters and seeing them come together again after years and years of pain made for a satisfying end so I would recommend that you read this book if you’re in the mood for a love story that is heavy on the angst, but solid all around.

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Joint Review: Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas

Posted July 1, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Not Quite a Husband by Sherry ThomasReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas
Series: The Marsdens #2
Publisher: Bantam Books
Publication Date: May 19, 2009
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 354
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Sherry Thomas is one of the hottest new voices in historical romance, garnering the highest praise from today’s bestselling writers (“Entrancing.” —Mary Balogh; “Ravishingly sinful, intelligent and addictive.” —Eloisa James). Now Sherry delivers this powerful story of a remarkable woman and the love she thought she’d never find—with the man she thought she’d lost forever.…

Their marriage lasted only slightly longer than the honeymoon—to no one’s surprise, not even Bryony Asquith’s. A man as talented, handsome, and sought after by society as Leo Marsden couldn't possibly want to spend his entire life with a woman who rebelled against propriety by becoming a doctor. Why, then, three years after their annulment and half a world away, does he track her down at her clinic in the remotest corner of India?

Leo has no reason to think Bryony could ever forgive him for the way he treated her, but he won’t rest until he’s delivered an urgent message from her sister—and fulfilled his duty by escorting her safely back to England. But as they risk their lives for each other on the journey home, will the biggest danger be the treacherous war around them—or their rekindling passion?

Holly: I am a total sucker for second chance romances. When our book club suggested this novel, I was really excited. I was frustrated with Bryony in the beginning, because I didn’t understand why she was so cold toward her former husband. But my heart really ached for her after we found out her reasons for pulling away.

Rowena: I haven’t been in the mood for historicals so I wasn’t all that enthused about starting this one but I am glad that I read and finished it. Like you, I spent a lot of the beginning of this story frustrated with Bryony. I was impatient and just wanted to know why she hated her husband so much. He had to have done something but even he was clueless about what he did so I thought I was going to be pissed at Bryony because it was going to be something stupid but that wasn’t the case at all.

I will say that I spent a good chunk of this book annoyed at one thing or another but I couldn’t stop reading it so I guess that’s a good thing?

Holly: It’s funny because I felt the same way. I wanted to keep reading and find out what was going to happen, and why they were at odds when they both clearly loved the other. But man was I annoyed through a good chunk.

I especially struggled with the dubious consent on both sides.

Rowena: Yes. The dubious consent on both sides pissed me off. Every single time that he did it, I wanted to smack him upside his head and then knee him in the balls because what is wrong with him?? I was so mad on her behalf because she was trying so hard to stay away from him and he just kept right on coming back while she had her guard down…so when she ups and does the exact same thing that I was pissed at him for doing, I wanted to pull her hair and poke her eyes out.

Holly: Exactly. I was so angry at him, and then she went and did the exact same thing. I wanted to smack them both.

Rowena: Once all of their drama is out in the open and they start working together to figure out where to go from here (especially during the attack), I was glad. I will say that Sherry Thomas’ writing style is hard to stay away from. No matter how many times I wanted to smack a bitch in the book, I never once wanted to stop. This was a quick read for me and alls well that ends well so for me, I’d give this one a 3.75 out of 5 rating. You?

Holly: Like you, I didn’t want to stop reading, though. This was a fast read and I easily finished it in one sitting.

I’d give it 3.5 out of 5. It was easy to read and I liked the story overall, but there were some problematic themes for me.

Holly: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena: 3.75 out of 5

The Marsdens

four-stars


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Review: The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

Posted June 16, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie DananReviewer: Rowena
The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars

Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won't hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city's hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they'll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems--until they discover a new one--their growing attraction to each other. They've built the syllabus for love's latest experiment, but neither of them expected they'd be the ones putting it to the test.

I really enjoyed The Roommate and liked Naomi’s character in there so I was really looking forward to jumping into my ARC of The Intimacy Experiment.

Naomi Grant is Josh from The Roommate’s ex-girlfriend. When we first meet her, I wasn’t a fan. I thought she was a snobby brat but the more I read The Roommate, the more she grew on me. You could tell that there was a lot more to Naomi Grant than met the eye, so I was thrilled that she got her own happy ending because I wasn’t wrong. Naomi Grant was a fantastic heroine who completely won me over…and her hero, Ethan? Yeah, I want all of his smoke. He was the perfect hero for Naomi and I never really looked at rabbi’s or even thought of a romance novel hero who was a rabbi but Ethan was all that and a bag of chips and I loved him to pieces.

Honestly, I was wary going into this book because I wasn’t that interested in a romance about a rabbi and an ex-porn star but I’m glad that I read it anyway because I really liked it. I think I enjoyed it a smidge more than I did The Roommate and I adored Josh and Clara so that was a bit of surprise. Rosie Danan has cemented herself on my radar. I will definitely be reading more of her stuff. She’s got a great writing style that is easy to follow and you can tell that she works hard in her word choices because she took an unconventional romance novel couple and made them just work.

I really loved the way that she handled the heavy topics brought up. It was honest and refreshing and I loved it so much. I loved that Ethan knew how he felt about Naomi and didn’t shy away from them. I loved how patient he was and just how he loved Naomi. Naomi was no slouch either. I freaking loved her. She was strong and she was smart and seeing her struggle with her faith had me thinking about my own faith. Rosie Danan did such a great job of making me sit up and take notice of the stuff that I haven’t given thought to and I’m glad that she did because it made me connect with Ethan and Naomi all the more.

There’s a lot to love about this book and if Rosie Danan is on your TBR list, pick up her books. Read them. I promise you’ll like it. This one was a good one for sure.

4.5 out of 5

The Roommate

four-half-stars


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Review: Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Posted June 9, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Wicked Fox by Kat ChoReviewer: Rowena
Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
Series: Gumiho #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret--she's a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead--her gumiho soul--in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl--he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He's drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon's.

I read reviews about this book around blog land before I purchased it and though there were a bunch of reviews that said this book was just okay, I was still intrigued to read it myself. I didn’t read it immediately after I purchased it but I did read it while I was watching the k-drama, Tales of the Nine-Tailed with Lee Dong Wook.

I will say that it took me just a smidge longer to get into this story and connect with the characters than I thought but overall, I really enjoyed this one. I really loved Jihoon’s character and though I wanted to smack Miyoung a time or two, I ended up really enjoying her character as well. There were moments during this book that I thought dragged on forever but for the most part, I was entertained and invested in everything that was going on. I also really enjoyed reading a story that is set in the same

The tale of the Gumiho is interesting to me so I’ll give anything that has to do with gumiho’s a chance. I watched Tale of the Nine Tailed and enjoyed it so when I finally got this one, I couldn’t wait to read it. This was a pretty quick read for me though I will admit that the beginning was a little on the slow side. This story follows Gu Miyoung, a teenage girl who is in a new school and one of the guys at her new school has discovered her secret. Her secret of being a gumiho. The gumiho can be pretty ruthless in their everyday life but Miyoung isn’t like that. She only goes after the bad guys and she wants nothing to do with being like her careless mother. Her mother thinks that humans are for eating and being a gumiho and keeping the gumiho secrets are the only things that matter. When Miyoung loses her fox bead (her soul), things really jump off.

Jihoon, the boy that discovers Miyoung’s secret when she saves his life vows to be Miyoung’s friend, and of course that turns into more over the course of the story, and while I enjoyed Jihoon’s character, Miyoung made it hard to full-on cheer for their romance to blossom.

There were times when I wanted to strangle Miyoung but she could probably kick my ass so I let a lot slide, haha. The background story was pretty interesting and I did really love Jihoon’s character. He had a depth to him that I connected with and I adored his relationship with his grandma. It took me quite a while to warm up Miyoung’s character but I did eventually do it. It’s hard not to sympathize with everything she goes through but I don’t know, I guess I had hoped that she would warm up to Jihoon a lot sooner than she did.

Overall, I enjoyed this story and am looking forward to continuing the series. I liked Kat Cho’s writing style and agree that it was like reading one of my k-dramas. I’m looking forward to what’s next for the gang so yes, I recommend this one if you’re into the high school k-dramas with a little bit of fantasy thrown in.

Gumiho

four-stars


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Review: Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick

Posted May 10, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Heart and Seoul by Jen FrederickReviewer: Rowena
Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Review Pile Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

From USA Today bestselling author Jen Frederick comes a heart-wrenching yet hopeful romance that shows that the price of belonging is often steeper than expected.

As a Korean adoptee, Hara Wilson doesn’t need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, she’s reminded that she doesn’t look like anyone else in her family—not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Pat’s new wife and new “real” son.

At the age of twenty-five, she thought she had come to terms with it all, but when her father suddenly dies, an offhand comment at his funeral triggers an identity crisis that has her running off to Seoul in search of her roots.

What Hara finds there has all the makings of a classic K-drama: a tall, mysterious stranger who greets her at the airport, spontaneous adventures across the city, and a mess of familial ties, along with a red string of destiny that winds its way around her heart and soul. Hara goes to Korea looking for answers, but what she gets instead is love—a forbidden love that will either welcome Hara home…or destroy her chance of finding one.

Heart and Seoul is about the emotional journey of Hara Wilson. Hara was abandoned when she was just a baby, outside of a police station in South Korea. She was adopted and raised by Pat and Ellen Wilson in Des Moines, Iowa. She grew up being the only Korean in a sea of white faces and she was uncomfortable being the only one that didn’t look like everyone else. Being teased about the way she looks, the way she smells and the Korean food her Mom tried to make for her made her want nothing to do with being Korean. So when you grow up rejecting your ethnicity, when it finally hits you in the face that no matter how far you run away from what you are, it doesn’t change a hot damn thing.

When she hears an offhand comment at her father’s funeral, Hara begins to question who she is and becomes curious about where she comes from so she books a trip to Seoul to find some answers for herself. What she finds over there is a whole lot more than she bargained for and her life is upended. The truth about her present, the truth about her past, and where she goes from here is enough to drive anyone crazy and it’s driving Hara crazy. Her entire life has been thrown for a loop and she spends the whole of this book trying to sort through how she feels about the truths uncovered and it hurt my heart more than once.

Getting to know Hara reminded me a lot of myself when I was younger. Growing up in the states, as a person of color, your culture is always weird and the food you eat, the way that your home is set up is always a discussion that made me feel uncomfortable with my white friends. So I understood Hara when she said that she rejected being Korean in Iowa. I did pretty much the same thing when I was in high school because it was easier to blend in when you liked the same things that everyone else did. I remember getting so embarrassed when my Mom and Dad would speak Samoan when they came to my school or if we were out and about. I just wanted them to blend in with everyone else around us and speak English. Like Hara, I finally wised up and decided that blending in and denying that I’m Samoan was not something I wanted to do anymore. I never hated being Samoan, I just hid it when around my non-Samoan friends. So I really connected with everything Hara went through in this story. My heart went out to her and I rooted for her to really come into her own.

The love interest in this one melted me a little and I pictured Park Seo Joon from What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim as Choi Yu Jun. I liked seeing him try to woo Hara and I really enjoyed seeing him try to get Hara to understand that no matter where she grew up or how little she knew about the Korean culture, she was still Korean. Nobody could take that away from her and their romance was just super cute and I enjoyed it.

I will say that while I did really enjoy the story and Hara’s journey, there were parts of this story that I felt weren’t needed and kind of dragged the story a bit. There was a lot going on with Hara’s trip and everything she was going through internally that a lot of the stuff that happened directly to her felt unnecessary. I was also not super thrilled with the ending. It felt too unresolved. I get that this was more of a women’s fiction story than a romance but I really just needed more of a solid resolution to everything that happened at the end. I’m wondering if there’s going to be a follow-up book to this one. I’m so on board for another one if that’s the plan.

Final Grade

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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