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Category Archives: 3.5 Stars

Review: Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

In this charming, feel-good debut novel, a cynical assistant at a screenwriting agency must reenact the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedy movies in order to help her #1 client get his scriptwriting mojo back–but can a real-life meet-cute be in store for someone who doesn’t believe in happily ever after?

After seven years as an assistant, 29-year-old Evie Summers is ready to finally get the promotion she deserves. But now the TV and film agency she’s been running behind the scenes is in trouble, and Evie will lose her job unless she can convince the agency’s biggest and most arrogant client, Ezra Chester, to finish writing the script for a Hollywood romantic comedy.

The catch? Ezra is suffering from writer’s block–and he’ll only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. With the future of the agency in jeopardy, Evie embarks on a mission to meet a man the way Sally met Harry or Hugh Grant met Julia Roberts.

But in the course of testing out the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedies IRL, not only will Evie encounter one humiliating situation after another, but she’ll have to confront the romantic past that soured her on love. In a novel as hilarious as it is heartwarming, debut author Rachel Winters proves that sometimes real life is better than the movies–and that the best kind of meet-cutes happen when you least expect them.

MY REVIEW

Would Like to Meet is the super cute debut novel from author Rachel Winters. Would Like to Meet follows the story of Evie Summers. Evie is dying to get the promotion that she deserves, however, in order for that to happen, Evie is going to have to save the day. You see the company she works for is in trouble and unless she can get Ezra to finish his latest script, she’s going to be out of a job. The problem with Ezra though is that he’s got major writer’s block. He strikes a deal with Evie. He’ll finish the script if Evie can prove that you can fall in love just like people do in the movies. With her future in jeopardy, Evie will do whatever it takes; even if that means subjecting herself to meet-cute situations over and over again. Will Evie save the day and her job? Will Evie finally have her own meet-cute and fall in love? There’s just one way to find out….

Overall, I thought this was a super cute and enjoyable read. As far as debut novels go, I thought this was a pretty good one. It had a lot of really great romcom elements. I found the story line to be fun, entertaining and totally unique. I loved the play on some very familiar romcom movies and all of the disastrous meet-cutes. The meet-cute situations were downright funny and super entertaining. They definitely kept me on my toes and had me wondering what Evie would get herself into next.

However, I did have a couple of issues with this story. I did find the plot to be a bit predicable at times and there were some instances where the pacing would lag. Those issues I can easily overlook as long as I’m having fun with the story. My biggest issue though was the romance or lack there of. We have two potential love interests for Evie and while there definitely is a pull towards one character more than the other, I would have liked to have seen more chemistry. I definitely felt like the potential was there with one of the characters, it just needed to be built up a bit more. I needed to feel their chemistry and be given a reason to want them to end up together instead of it just happening with no build up. So, the romance factor definitely left me wanting more.

Despite the issues that I had with this story, I’m still glad to have checked it out. Like as I said, as far as debut novels go, this one was very entertaining. I think this writer has a ton of really good potential and I’d definitely be in to checking out more from her in the future.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

Review: Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day

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About the Book
 
Title: Butterfly in Frost
Author: Sylvia Day
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Publisher: Montlake Romance

From #1 New York Times bestselling phenomenon Sylvia Day comes a hotly anticipated and passionate new love story.

Once, I would never have imagined myself here. But I’m settled now. In a place I love, in a home I renovated, spending time with new friends I adore, and working a job that fulfills me. I am reconciling the past and laying the groundwork for the future.

Then Garrett Frost moves in next door.

He’s obstinate and too bold, a raging force of nature that disrupts the careful order of my life. I recognize the ghosts that haunt him, the torment driving him. Garrett would be risky in any form, but wounded, he’s far more dangerous. I fear I’m too fragile for the storm raging inside him, too delicate to withstand the pain that buffets him. But he’s too determined…and too tempting.

And sometimes hope soars above even the iciest desolation.

Emotional and heartrending, Butterfly in Frost marks a brilliant return by global sensation Sylvia Day, the #1 international multimillion bestselling author of the Crossfire saga.

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MY REVIEW

Butterfly in Frost is the hotly aniticpated and exciting new release from author Sylvia Day. Now, I don’t know about all of you, but I have been waiting and I mean waiting for some new deliciousness from this author. And I gotta tell you, I couldn’t have been more excited to dive into Butterfly in Frost.

Butterfly in Frost is a quick, sexy and passionate read. The characters are intriguing and will suck you into their story right away. Teagan intrigued me and I wanted to know more. And when Garrett enters the picutre, all bets are off. Garrett challenges Teagan in ways that she is wholly unprepared for. He is everything she shouldn’t want and he totally knocks her world off its axis. Even with all of that, there is just something about Garrett that calls to her. Their connection is deep and intense. Garrett’s ghosts call to her, almost like a siren song. It is just too hopeless for Teagan to stay away…

Overall, I thought this book was a quick and enjoyable read. I really enjoyed getting to know Garrett and Teagan. I liked their chemistry and enjoyed seeing them go through the paces. I will say that while this book was a short read, I didn’t really like the pacing of the story. I did feel like it dragged at times, and that might just be me. The only other issue I had was the ending. Now, don’t get me wrong, the ending threw me for a total loop. I mean, I DID NOT SEE THIS COMING. I was totally shocked and surprised. However, I was quickly disappointed because there was like only 4% of the book left. I feel like while the story did come to end, there is still a lot that needs to be resolved. I have a ton of questions that I want answered and I have no clue if there will be another book or not!! I mean, the ending of this story took off at light speed and I am just dying/hoping that there will be more. I know I’m being totally vague here, but ugh! The only thing I can say is read it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Butterfly in Frost will take you emotions on a whirlwind adventure. This is a story that readers are either going to love or going to hate. For me, I thought it was a solid story, I just had a couple of issues with it. In the end, this story nailed the sexy factor and left me wanting more.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

Excerpt: 

Roxy bounces on her feet with excitement. “Les and Marge sold their house.”

I blink. “I didn’t know they were selling.”

She laughs and heads toward the front door. “That’s the thing. They weren’t.”

“Wait, what?” I hurry after her as she steps outside.

I look to the right at my home, a lovingly restored butterfly-roofed midcentury, then on to the traditional house just beyond it that belongs—belonged—to Les and Marge. Including Roxy’s, all three of our homes have unique lots set between the homes that line the street and the Sound, affording us unhindered views of the water as well as exceptional privacy—all within a twenty-minute drive of the airport.

Roxy shortens the length of her stride to allow me to catch up, then glances over at me. “The day after you flew to New York, a Range Rover pulled into their driveway, and the guy inside offered them cash to close—and move out—in fourteen days.”

My step falters, and Minnie gets momentarily tangled in her leash. The dog shoots me what I would describe as an irritated look, then keeps trotting forward. “That’s crazy.”

“Isn’t it? Les wouldn’t say how much the offer was, but I’m thinking it was huge.”

We march up the inclined driveway, my head tilted back to take in the houses scaling the hillside. Designed with big windows to maximize the view, the homes have a look of wide-eyed wonder. Our little stretch of the Sound used to be a secret, but with the housing boom taking over Seattle and Tacoma, we’ve been discovered. Many residences are undergoing major renovation to suit the tastes of new owners.

Reaching the road, we turn left. To the right is a dead end.

“Well, if they’re happy,” I say, “I’m happy for them.”

“They’re overwhelmed. It was a lot to happen all at once, but I think they’re happy with their decision.” Roxanne stops when Bella does, and we wait as the two dogs mark one of their usual spots on the gravel edging the asphalt. There are no curbs on the streets in our neighborhood and no sidewalks. Just beautiful lawns and a profusion of flowering shrubs.

“We all tried prying information out of them,” she goes on, “but they weren’t sharing anything about the sale.” She gives me a sidelong glance. “But they did share a bit about the buyer.”

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because Mike and I both think the buyer is someone famous. A film director maybe. Or an artist. Can you imagine? First Emily, a bestselling author. Then you, a reality-TV surgeon. Now this guy! Maybe we’re sitting on the new Malibu—beachside living without wildfires or state income tax!”

The mention of Roxy’s husband, Mike, coaxes an inner smile. A New York transplant like me, he adds a welcome touch of the life I left behind to the reality I’ve since created for myself—a reality that’s just been rocked by the loss of neighbors I like.

“What are the clues you’re working with?” I ask, deciding to play along. If I’ve learned anything the past year, it’s to accept the things I cannot change. A tough task for a control freak like me.

“Les pointed out to this guy that he hadn’t even seen the inside of the house. The guy said he didn’t need to. He knew already that ‘the light is perfect.’ I mean, who would say that? Gotta be someone who’s in visual arts, right?”

“Maybe,” I agree tentatively, disquieted by the unexpected conversation. The road rises sharply before us, the incline steep enough to put a little burn in my thighs. “Doesn’t mean he’s famous, though.”

“That’s the thing.” Her words carry a note of breathlessness. “Les wouldn’t give numbers, but he did say it was crazy the guy didn’t just buy that huge compound at the end of the street. That house is listed for three and a half million!”

My mind staggers at the thought. Les and Marge have—had—a beautiful home, but it’s not worth anywhere near that much.

“I think I saw the buyer once through that big arched window in the living room,” Roxy goes on. “The blonde with him was a looker. Supermodel skinny with legs for days.”

I’m panting when we reach the top; Roxy, who hits a gym most days of the week, is not.

A quarter mile farther, there’s a street to the right leading to Dash Point. Beyond that and straight ahead, the road slopes back down and around until it’s at water level. Redondo Beach is there, as is Salty’s, a restaurant on stilts in the water with expansive views of Poverty Bay and beyond. I’m about to wax poetic about Salty’s seafood chowder when a runner dashes around the corner at a full sprint. His sudden appearance rattles me. A closer look makes me freeze midstride. My breath locks in my lungs.

There are too many things to register at once, so my mind attempts to absorb the whole man. Dressed only in black shorts and shoes, he is a visual feast of deeply tanned skin, intricate sleeves of tattooed art, and sweat-slicked, flexing musculature.

And his face. Sculpted. Square-jawed. Brutally, breathlessly handsome.

Roxy, now a few feet in front of me, gives a low whistle. “Hot damn.”

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Review: On the Corner of Love and Hate (Hopeless Romantics #1) by Nina Bocci

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For fans of Christina Lauren and Lauren Layne comes a delightfully sassy and sexy romance about a campaign manager who reluctantly works with the local Lothario to help revamp his image for the upcoming mayoral elections, only to discover that he’s hiding something that can turn both their lives upside down.

What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like.

When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.

Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

A perfect blend of humor and heart, On the Corner of Love and Hate is the first in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci.

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MY REVIEW

“In a lot of ways, Cooper was like the sun: you couldn’t fly close to it, or him, without getting burned.”

On The Corner of Love and Hate was on my most anticipated reads of 2019. I fell in love with Nina Bocci’s writing when she co-wrote Roman Crazy with Alice Clayton. So, when I heard that Nina was venturing out on her own, I couldn’t wait to see what she would bring to the table.

On The Corner of Love and Hate is a small town enemies to lovers romance that will leave you begging for more. If you are a fan of a super slow burn, this book is totally for you.

On The Corner of Love and Hate follows the story of Cooper and Emma. Cooper is well on his way to being the town’s next mayor. The only problem? He doesn’t take much seriously and his imagine is in desperate need of a makeover. And who better to help him out, but Emma. Emma wants nothing more to say no to Cooper, but their past and family connections keep her from turning him down. This new position will test Emma in ways she’s unprepared for. Cooper will do whatever it takes to clean up his image and land the job of a lifetime….

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. I thought the story-line was fun and refreshing. I love small town romances and enjoyed the politics of the story. I thought this story had a really good enemies to lovers vibe. We have Cooper who is the town’s golden boy and total ladies man. He’s too charming for his own good. And then we have Emma. Emma is hardworking, stubborn and takes life far too seriously. Cooper certainly knew what buttons to push and just how to get under Emma’s skin. And while these two get on each others nerves, it was nice to see that they were actually pretty solid friends and have known one another for a long, long time. There weren’t a ton of steamy moments between our two main characters, but the ones that we did get were satisfying.

However, I did have a couple of issues with this story. The first being the slow burn. Now slow burning romances are something that I struggle with from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fleshed out romance that just oozes tension. But, I found this one to be lacking. Sure I think that Cooper and Emma could have just been great friends and I could be ok with that. But, I think the story could have benefited with some chapters from their past, showing us the connection and chemistry between the characters. Also, I think it would have been nice to get inside of Cooper’s head. See what made him tick and show his feelings for Emma. As a reader, I felt like I needed more from Cooper and Emma. I needed more steam, more chemistry, more will they/won’t they moments, that sexual tension that just builds and builds until you want to explode. I needed to see why these two should be together and why I should be rooting for their happily ever after. For me, I found the romance to be lacking–almost like a women’s fiction story instead of a contemporary romance. I personally didn’t get a real romancey vibe until almost the end of the story. Like it took both of these characters FOREVER to come to terms with their feelings. And that might work great for some, but for me, I needed more.

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. It was fun and entertaining. It was filled with politics and drama. The characters were easy to connect with and fun to get to know. I thought the story was written well and has some really great potential. And while this story wasn’t a 100% hit for me, I’m still glad to have checked it out and given it a chance. I think this series has great potential and I do look forward to seeing where it will go from here.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via the publisher & NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*

EXCERPT-Chapter One

Thud. Whoosh. Slap.
Thud. Whoosh. Slap.
The trio of irksome sounds repeated another half-dozen times.
My eyes darted upward, a silent prayer falling from my lips.
Dear God, please give me the strength not to shove that tennis
ball somewhere that would require surgery. Amen.
My coworker casually leaned back in his chair, his long legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles on the shiny surface of the conference room table. Beneath his brown leather loafers sat a report.
His unfinished-yet-due-tomorrow report.
I marveled at his ability to multitask. It would have been more
appropriate if he had been, say, working. Instead, he was tossing a
ball against the conference room wall with one hand while texting
with the other. Even though he didn’t take his eyes off his phone
screen, he caught the ball every single time. If I hadn’t been so
annoyed, I would have actually been impressed.
The clock ticked against the pale yellow wall above his head.
With each passing tick, the ball struck with a thwack to its right.
“Cooper, could you please stop?” I finally said, rubbing my
temples to ease the headache that was forming.
Thud. Whoosh. Slap.
“Cooper,” I repeated, glancing up from my laptop. “Hello?”
Thud, whoosh, slap was the only response I got.
Sliding back my chair, I stood up and walked around the long
maple conference table. It was only when I got close enough to
see the scantily clad woman in his text window that I noticed the
wireless earbuds that were blasting music into his ears. As the
ball left his hand, I touched his shoulder.
Startled, he lost his grip on the ball, sending it sailing behind
him. “What’s up?” he sputtered, quickly pulling his earbuds out. I
didn’t miss his hand sliding his phone into his pocket. He looked
every bit like a teenager caught red-handed by the principal.
“Are you kidding me?” I exclaimed. “You’ve had music on this
entire time? I read nearly two pages of the brewery expansion
proposal out loud to you twenty minutes ago!”
At least he had the decency to look remorseful. “I thought you
were talking to yourself, so I”—he motioned to the black Beats—
“figured I’d give you your privacy while I caught up on work.”
My eyebrows must have reached my hairline, because with a
mildly guilty expression he pulled his legs down from the table.
I snorted. “Yes, I start all sentences with, ‘Cooper, what do you
think about’ when I’m talking to myself. Were you just smiling
and nodding for my health?” Shifting in his seat, he straightened.
I huffed.
The small laugh lines around his mouth became more pronounced, an indication that he was fighting back a smile. “Emmanuelle,” he purred smoothly.
“Don’t Emmanuelle me,” I clapped back. “That tone may work
on your fan club, but not me.”
He held his arms up in a defensive position. “Okay, okay, I’m
sorry. What did I miss?” He grabbed for the papers in my hand.
Holding them back against my chest, I scowled. “Hope Lake
Brewing Company. Expansion. Asking for input before it goes to
the town council for approval.”
He whistled and rocked back in his chair. “Council is going to reject anything that comes across their desk from them. They
hate the ‘vibe’ the brew house brings, and the addition would
make the council’s heads explode.”
I nodded. “Yep, which is why the guys asked us for help. To
try and edit the proposal to appeal to them. It’s also why I booked
us the conference room for this meeting that you just Tindered
your way through.”
“That’s not a word, and I wasn’t—” he began, patting his pocket
absently. Probably making sure the evidence was tucked away
safely.
I held up my hand. “Save it. I don’t care what or who you’re
doing. Just that you’re not paying attention. Again.”
When the owners of HLBC, Drew and Luke Griffin, first
came to our department, Cooper and I had championed their
proposal to build a brewing company, tasting room, and outdoor
entertainment space just along the lakefront. It was one of the
first projects Cooper and I had worked on together, and it was just
what we’d needed in town back then—a fun, innovative business
that catered to every age. Now, six years later, HLBC was one of
Hope Lake’s most popular spots, and the brothers were looking to
expand their space to include rooms for private events and a small
restaurant. Cooper and I were supposed to be discussing how to
approach the town council about it.
Looked like I’d just been talking to myself instead. “I’m going
back to my office, where I can work in peace,” I said. Exasperated,
I started gathering up my stuff.
After a few seconds of awkward silence, he cleared his throat.
“You’re right. I’m sorry. Let’s go over it. Again.”
I stacked my files, feeling my blood starting to boil. Having
to repeat myself irked me, but I needed his input whether I liked
it or not.
Glancing up, I noticed Cooper readying to say something else
when our shared assistant, Nancy, hurried in with the main office
calendar and a fistful of Sharpies clutched in her hand.“I’ve been searching for you two everywhere,” she said, looking
wide-eyed at each of us in turn. The conference table, at least on
my side, was covered in charts, graphs, and photos of the lakefront. On Cooper’s side—well, there was a lot of polished maple
visible.
“Did you discuss the project?” she asked hopefully, her face
falling when I shook my head. “Okay, well, I guess you’ll handle
that, uh, later. I’m sure.” She gave me a look. “I hope,” she mouthed,
then cleared her throat and pulled out the head chair of the conference table and sat down with the main office calendar in front of
her. “It’s time for the afternoon rundown—are you ready?”
Cooper groaned. Not at Nancy but at the calendar she had
opened. It had been on my desk this morning when I’d filled it with
upcoming appointments and meetings. By the looks of it, Nancy
had managed to fill almost every empty space that remained.
We kept it old school at our office. Instead of using Google
calendar or iCal, we used a large paper desk calendar with a
color-coded legend, labels, and tabs to keep our government office running like clockwork. It’s not as though we hadn’t tried to
modernize, but some of the, ahem, older department staff were
frosty toward change.
Nancy, Cooper, and I worked at the Hope Lake Community
Development Office on the top floor of Borough Building. In a
small town like Hope Lake, my department was sort of the home
base for everything. From simple things such as parade permits to
more detailed ventures—for example, helping to secure funding
for business owners like HLBC—the CDO, as we tended to call
it, had its hand in pretty much everything. It wasn’t big, but what
we lacked in size and staff we made up for in energy and results.
“The upcoming week is brutal,” Nancy apologized, looking at
Cooper, who, not surprisingly, was on his phone again. “Emma,
I’m afraid you’re a bit overscheduled.” She tapped a Sharpie on
the table.
I waved a dismissive hand. “It can’t be any worse than that week the staff came down with the flu.” I had practically run the
office that week even though I was heavily medicated myself.
“It’s close.” She held up two fingers barely an inch apart.
“You’re back-to-back Monday. There is a pocket of time during
the event this weekend with the future Mr. Mayor here and his
opponent.”
Cooper perked up then. He knocked twice on the wooden
table. “Don’t jinx me.”
Oh, sure, you’re paying attention now.
“You’re a shoo-in. People love you, Cooper. And with the mayor
already behind you, how can you not be?” Nancy assured him.
Nancy wasn’t blowing smoke. Cooper had decided to run for
office this year, and his magnetic personality made him the perfect political candidate. He was brilliant, liked by the majority
of the town, and had confidence to spare because he knew he
was the best choice for the job. Even I could admit that, and we
were often at odds.
“Emma, I know you wanted to have a sit-down with Drew and
Luke from the brewing company about the proposed expansion
before they go to the council, but I don’t see how it’s going to
happen.”
Nancy jotted a note onto the calendar. Over the years, we’d
gotten our system down to a science: orange for me, blue for
Cooper, hot pink for our department administrative assistant,
green for Nancy, and red for the mayor, because red was my
dad’s favorite color. Blue, not surprisingly, was the color least visible on the entire calendar. It was sporadically used, even from
my vantage point, which meant that Cooper had a light schedule
this week.
Shocking.
I chewed the pen cap, irritated. Nancy continued reading off
meeting after meeting throughout the week.
“These two on Thursday—I can probably sit in on them to
give you a break, Emma,” she offered.
Looking over Nancy’s shoulder, I marveled at the Technicolor
scheduling system. It might have been old-fashioned, but at least
it looked good.
Shaking my head, I pointed at the partially torn yellow Post-it
stuck on the edge of the frame. That was how my father added
mayoral meetings to the calendar. Stickies. He was nothing if not
professional. “No can do, my friend. You’re going to be at a ribbon
cutting with Mayor Dad.”
She looked up, her lips a thin, flat line. “I am? He didn’t tell me.”
Sighing, she jotted the information down. “I wish he’d told me
I was supposed to go, too!”
She took her calendar duties very seriously. I for one appreciated it, and I knew my father did, too, even if he did use his own
odd system to add to it. It kept all of us in line.
Together, Nancy and I figured out the rest of the week, Cooper staying silent and, surprise surprise, on his phone. We looked
over the days, pointing and crossing out, trying in vain to find
somewhere to squeeze in a last sit-down. “It’s not going to work,”
I lamented, sinking into the chair beside her.
“Well, someone from the department needs to at least show
their face at the city events meeting,” she urged, looking pointedly at Cooper. A notebook was now on his lap, his hand moving
swiftly over the page. He didn’t look up when she said his name
or when she repeated it a few seconds later. He was too deeply
invested in whatever he was doing.
At least he’s off the phone.
Tearing the Post-it off the calendar and balling it up in her
fist, Nancy lobbed it at him. “Cooper!” she shouted, snapping her
fingers as if she were telling a dog to sit.
Fitting.
He smiled at her. “I’m listening.”
“Uh-huh, we need you to take a meeting or two on Thursday
so Emma can head down to the lake to meet Drew and Luke.
Unless you’d rather take the HLBC meeting.”
“Thursday?” he repeated, sliding his phone out from behind
the notebook.
When did he take that out? He was stealthy like a teen texting
in class.
With a shrug, he shook his head. “Sorry, I’m booked all day
and I’ve got a campaign publicity debrief at noon. That’s taking
up most of the afternoon.”
“Doesn’t that just mean you and Henry are meeting at the
diner to play on Facebook and Twitter together?” I scoffed, feeling
the blood rushing to my face.
Henry was one of my and Cooper’s oldest friends. As a teacher,
he had limited time to meet up with Cooper, so I understood
Cooper’s reticence to reschedule, but—
Then it hit me. “Wait . . . why are you having mayoral meetings during work and school? How’s Henry getting out of class to
meet you?”
Setting his phone down, he stood and straightened his tie. “I’ll
have you know, I’m meeting him at the high school. I wish I could
help, but alas—”
“You can’t,” I finished, sliding out of my chair to stand myself.
With Cooper running for mayor of Hope Lake, the brunt of
his work at the CDO was taking a backseat. I noticed, the staff
noticed, and the mayor noticed. If it had been anyone else, they
probably would have been fired, but Cooper was Hope Lake’s
golden boy. Once he was elected, we could hire someone new
to replace him. But until that happened, it fell to us to pick up
his slack.
Cooper walked toward the door, leaving his phone—aka
his most prized possession—on the conference table. Surely he
would be back in for it the second he realized it wasn’t attached
to his hand.
“Wait, you can’t leave!” Nancy called after him. “I need the
theater proposal paperwork. You guys have that meeting with the
council on Monday and the mayor wants the weekend to review the specs. Cooper, it has to be before end of day since you have the
debate tomorrow! Everything is done, right? Please tell me it’s done.”
“It’s handled,” Cooper said smoothly over his shoulder, tapping his temple. “And it’s not a debate. It’s a photo op, remember?
Pose, smile, shake hands. You know, the usual.”
“Thank God. I don’t have time today to do it if you didn’t,” she
said, pretend wiping her brow.
Smiling broadly, he clapped his hands together. “Oh, come on,
Nance. Have I ever left you hanging?”
Her silence spoke volumes. If she’d had the time, and the
inclination, she could have created a depressing list of how often
that had happened.
Looking uncomfortable at Nancy’s lack of response, Cooper
disappeared through the door, only to reappear two seconds later.
“That would have been bad!” he said with a tight smile, jogging
in to grab the iPhone.
“Cooper, are you sure you can’t reschedule your Thursday
plans with Henry until after work so Emma isn’t pulled in nineteen directions?” Nancy said quickly. “It’s just about the local
sports participation in the Thanksgiving parade. They’re looking
for guidance with the floats and theming—it won’t exactly take
up all your brain space. The other is an initial meeting to see if
the CDO can finally purchase the old bank.” Nancy already had
a blue Sharpie at the ready, clutched between her fingers. “Or if
you wanted to switch with Emma, you could meet with Drew and
Luke and Emma could handle the parade instead. You’d probably
get some free beer out of it.”
For a moment, he looked like he was going to agree. His
jawline ticked anxiously, a habit he’d had since we were kids. It
appeared whenever he struggled with a decision. Reluctantly, I
admitted to myself that it was happening more often than not.
“I’m really sorry, I can’t,” he finally said. “You know how important these meetings are for the core of my campaign. I’ve got
to run. I’m late.”
I glanced at the clock. “It’s barely four.”
“I have a thing.”
“You came in at ten because of a ‘thing.’” I air-quoted it because although he said those things were for the mayoral campaign, I didn’t believe him. Call it years of experience or just a
gut feeling. “Cooper, I need you to focus. You’re all over the place,
and things are going to start falling through the cracks here. We
can’t afford any missteps. Not when we’re under a microscope.
The council is looking for any reason to put the screws in this
department.”
Cooper’s opponent, Kirby Rogers, had been on the town council for the past few years. He had made it his mission to strip the
CDO—funding, staff, all of it gone.
With nothing but a grimace, Cooper left, leaving no opening
for discussion. I shook my head at his retreating form.
“Forget him, I’ll figure it out,” I said, glancing between the calendar with the work appointments and my nearly empty personal
calendar. “I can pop over to the brewery and see Drew and Luke
on my way home Tuesday or Friday night. They owe me dinner,
anyway,” I said with a weak laugh, an attempt at loosening the
anxiety-ridden ball in my stomach. How am I going to accomplish all of this? “Just see when they’re free.” I tapped away on my
phone. Making a note, I double-checked my iPhone’s calendar as
Nancy read off the rest of the upcoming schedule.
“Emma,” she said with a heavy sigh, “I don’t want you to overwork yourself.”
“I’m fine. It’s an adjustment we’re going to have to get used to
since we’re going to be picking up all the Cooper slack,” I insisted,
knowing that she was always worried about me in a big-sisterly
sort of way. “Promise,” I said after seeing her frown.
Months ago, before he had decided to run for mayor and before
he had become so distracted by the election, Cooper had been an
asset. I longed for those days. He had a gift, an ability to coax the
very best of ideas out of you, and he transformed them into solid plans that we then presented to Mayor Dad and the town council.
His undivided input would have been valuable here.
That part of Cooper I respected and enjoyed working with.
Pre-candidate Cooper. Except lately, so much had changed. I
missed the focused Cooper. The guy who would pull together a
presentation in just a few hours. The guy I could count on to bring
the best ideas out of me when I thought I had hit a wall. Or even
the guy who got his work done on time. I hated myself a little bit
because I was missing that coworking partnership. We did make
a good team when we weren’t arguing.
“Not for anything, but you’d think he’d want to head over to
Hope Lake Brewing Company to see the guys.”
“His head was so buried in his phone, he probably didn’t hear
you mention them.”
Nancy nodded. “What do you think? Is this going to get better
or worse as the campaign progresses?” She packed up her Sharpies and hoisted the large calendar off the table, mindful not to
drop any of the Post-its and papers tacked to it.
I slung my arm over her shoulder. “Worse. So much worse.”

Review: Bad Apple by Elle Kennedy

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A flirty standalone novel* from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy!

One night with him will change her life…

Between her waitressing job, volunteer work, and college classes, there are never enough hours in Maggie Reilly’s day. Especially not for a relationship. Luckily, she’s got the perfect arrangement: a lover she meets three or four times a year. But when she shows up at the hotel expecting to hop into bed with one man, she accidentally ends up with another—Ben Barrett, Hollywood’s most notorious bad boy.

Ben, determined to lay low after another scandal, just wants some much-needed sleep. What he gets is a scorching make-out session with a gorgeous, naked redhead. He won’t accept her apology, but what he will accept is a place to hide out…and if there’s some hot, no-strings sex involved, why the heck not?

But Ben soon discovers that one week with his sassy, bed-hopping waitress is definitely not enough. He wants more. A lot more.

Now he needs to convince relationship-averse Maggie that a bad boy might be oh so good for her—and the best thing that’s ever happened to both of them.

* Previously published in 2008, Bad Apple (formerly Midnight Encounters) features almost entirely new content, including a point-of-view switch. Enjoy this new version of an old favorite

MY REVIEW

If you’re looking for a quick and sexy read, then Bad Apple is the book for you.

Bad Apple follows the story of Ben and Maggie. Ben is tired of living in the limelight and misses his privacy. After a scandal causes utter chaos in his life, he decides that now is the best time to take a break. All he wants is to forget for one moment that he’s famous. But, what Ben didn’t plan on was Maggie. Maggie is like a breath of fresh air. They meet in the most unlikely of situations and Ben is totally stunned that Maggie has no clue who he is. Fate keeps bringing these two opposites back together and the tension between the two of them burns brighter than ever. Will Ben be able to leave the limelight behind? Will Maggie take a chance on commitment? There is only one way to find out….

Overall, I thought this book was a fun read. Bad Apple is a book that you can easily read in just a single sitting. The characters are a lot of fun and easy to get lost in. I thought Ben and Maggie had terrific chemistry and I just loved their unconventional, first encounter. If you’re looking for a quick, sexy read that is mostly light on the drama and high on the sexy good times, then look no further, Bad Apple is just the book you’ve been looking for.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

Review: Saint (Knights of Fury #1) by Chantal Fernando

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From the New York Times bestselling author of the Wind Dragons and Cursed Ravens MC series comes sinners, saints and secrets… 

Dear Skylar,

Five years. That’s a long time to go without talking to somebody, especially someone who was such a huge part of your life…

A letter from my first kiss and my childhood everything…from prison.

He may be nicknamed Saint, but this sweet, sexy biker most definitely has a wild streak. Hearing from him draws me right back into the Knights of Fury motorcycle club—the people I’ll always think of as family.

He’s still the only man I’ve ever wanted.

Each good, old-fashioned letter from my “prison pen pal” has my heart racing. Which is nothing compared to how I feel when Saint surprises me in person, as a free man.

I was just a kid the last time we saw each other, but the connection between us now is anything but innocent.

He’s the type of man who would do anything to protect his woman. And with my world crashing down around me, that’s exactly what I’m going to need.

Please note: This book is part of the Knights of Fury MC series but can be read as a stand-alone.
 

MY REVIEW

“If jealousy is that burn in your chest and that feeling of dread in your stomach, then yeah, I’ve got that.”

“Happiness is the wind in my hair and a road trip leading to a fresh start.”

“This is where I’ve always meant to be, this is fate, and this man is my soul mate.”

From the moment I laid eyes on this book, I just knew I had to read it. I mean, not only was the cover fantastic, but the synopsis drew me in. I haven’t read a biker book for a while, so I was more than ready to check this book out.

Saint follows the story of Saint and Skylar. Skylar has had a crush on Saint for as long as she can remember. The only problem was that she was five years younger. So, as much as she felt the pull, she and Saint could never be. Skylar thought she’d always live the MC life, that is until her mom took her away. It will be five years before Skylar is reunited with not only Saint, by her Knights of Fury family. The chemistry between Skylar and Saint burns hotter than ever and now that Skylar is an adult, all bets are off. Saint is everything that Skylar has always wanted and there is nothing Saint wouldn’t do to protect those he loves. And when Skylar is found in a dangerous situation, she can only hope that Saint will rescue her before it’s too late….

Overall, I found this story to be a really enjoyable read. I liked Skylar. She was loyal to her MC family and has been doing the best she could without them. She’s sassy, and super smart. She loves big and loves hard. And then we’ve got Saint. Saint is far from perfect, but is as loyal as they come. There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do to protect the ones he loves and Skylar. He’s fierce and protective, but has a lot of secrets he’s keeping close to his chest. Together these two were a smokin match. I loved their chemistry and their banter. I loved the moments where Saint was oh, so sweet, and then the next he was a total alpha male. Now, I will be honest with you, Skylar did get on my nerves sometimes. She jumped to a lot of conclusions and let her inexperience and immaturity show. Those moments really frustrated me, but I was able to look past it and just enjoy the ride.

Saint kicks off this new series to a really good start. I thought the characters were great and their story certainly sucked you in. I loved the suspense and danger, as well as the steaminess and romance. I loved the twists that kept me on edge and wondering what was going to be thrown at us next. Even though I did have some issues with this book, I think this series has a ton of really good potential and I look forward to checking out the next book in this series.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

Review: Fire Trucks, Garter Belts, & My Perfect Ex (Edie’s Automotive Guide #2) by Heather Novak

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After facing the same health scare that took her mother, adult film star Vera Eastman sets out on a road trip to finish her mom’s bucket list. First stop, the hometown she escaped the moment she graduated. Her defiant arrival puts her face-to-face with her first love—her first everything—Jack Reeves.

Jack’s still the guy who can steal her heart with a smile, but he hasn’t forgiven her for leaving, and avoiding him proves difficult. Not only is he her grandma’s neighbor, but Grandma pays Jack to mow the lawn shirtless, and his firefighter job has him frequently rescuing Vera, as her ability to find trouble—was it her fault the ladder on the water tower broke?—becomes as formidable a matchmaker as her grandma.

Small-town-itis must be contagious. That’s the only explanation for Grandma’s stupid cat being in love with Jack’s damn dog, for Vera’s sudden urge to move home, and for her falling for Jack all over again. Eating chocolate body paint out of the jar can’t even help her with this mess.

MY REVIEW

“The moment our eyes met, everything else fell away. The space that had separated us for so long vanished. The constant humming inside of me–the unquenchable need to keep going and doing and conquering–quieted, like the last raindrop of a thunderstorm.”

Fire Trucks, Garter Belts, & My Perfect Ex is my first book by this author and follows the story of Vera and Jack. Once upon a time, Vera and Jack had a love written in the stars. But, life and circumstance kept these two young lovers apart. It will be 11 years before these two will be reunited and Vera isn’t the same woman that Jack remembers….Vera is making quite the name for herself in the adult filmstar world and never thought she’d see the day that she’d return to the town she couldn’t leave fast enough. But, when Vera decides she needs to finish her mother’s bucket list, she has no choice but to return to the town she let behind. However, she never saw herself being reunited with her first love. One moment with Jack and it turns all of her precious plans upside down. He reminds her of all the good times, even if he can’t forgive her for the past. Jack and Vera attempt to become friends, but the fire that’s always been between them burns hotter than ever. Will Vera give small town living a second go, or is history destined to repeat itself?? There’s only one way to find out….

Overall, I thought this book was a quick and enjoyable read. The plot certainly was intriguing and kept me wanting to know more. I really loved the idea of Vera being forced to return home and face up to her past. I loved that she wanted to finish her mom’s bucket list, no matter the cost. I loved how easily Vera captivated total strangers, making them easily fall under her spell. I loved how hard she had to work to move past small town living and gossip. Not letting gossip get to you is a lot harder than it seems.

I found the chemistry between Jack and Vera to be real and honest. You could tell these two would just steam up the pages together despite their rocky past. There was still intense passion between them and only time would tell if they would be willing to put their hearts on the line again.

I will be honest with you that I had a hard time with Vera’s occupation. I was intrigued to see how the author would handle it, and did appreciate that she tried to humanize Vera and make her more relateable. But, for me personally, it was kind of hard to move past. I had a hard time wrapping my head around how accepting Jack was of Vera’s situation. I mean, on one hand, I liked that he accepted Vera for who she was and didn’t try to change her. But, on the other hand, I was like dude, how can you be ok with this???

Other than that, I thought this book was a fun and sexy second chance romance. This story doesn’t miss a beat and will certainly hold your interest the entire time. Fire Trucks, Garter Belts, & My Perfect Ex has just the right amount of small town drama, steam, humor and sexiness. This is my first book by this author and I would definitely be up for checking out more of her books in the future.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

Review: Cliff’s Edge by Meg Tilly

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Meg Tilly returns with a second gripping romantic suspense novel set on the idyllic Solace Island in the Pacific Northwest.

Eve Harris is all set to house-sit and run the bakery she shares with her sister while Maggie goes on her honeymoon, but there’s one problem–the house is already occupied. By a movie star. He claims to be her brother-in-law’s friend, and not only does he insist on staying, he also offers to help. Playing house has never been so tempting…

Rhys Thomas is looking for a place to lie low after wrapping up his latest film, so when Luke offers up his house as a safe haven, Rhys sees the perfect opportunity for a little R & R. But rest is the last thing on his mind as he and Eve grow close.

But Eve and Rhys are not as alone as they think. And as danger trails Eve, it will take everything Rhys has to save the woman he loves.

MY REVIEW

“Her life was about to change. She just didn’t know it yet.”

Cliff’s Edge is my first book by this author and won’t be my last.

Told from multiple points of view, Cliff’s Edge follows the story of Eve and Rhys. When Eve’s sister goes on her honeymoon, she finds herself house-sitting. Only when she arrives, she finds the house is already occupied by non other than Rhys Thomas. Not only is he a movie, but he’s also friends with Eve’s brother-in-law. He’s looking for a place to unwind and get away from it all. And he’s not about to let Eve’s presence stop him from getting the sanctuary he so desperately is looking for. The time Rhys and Eve spend together, the closer they become. Little do they know that their entire worlds are about to be turned upside down….

Overall, I thought this was a really good read. I loved the idea of the story and I was certainly sucked into it. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and loved seeing them all interact. I thought this story was paced well and I enjoyed not only the romance, but the suspense element. I really liked getting the villains point of view and the suspense kept me glued to the pages. While this is the second book in the Solace Island Series, it can totally be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.

As I previously stated, this is my first book by this author and I look forward to checking out more from her in the future.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via the publisher & NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*