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Category Archives: 4 Stars

Review: Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

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Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey.

Annie is twenty-seven years old, single, and obsessed with romantic comedies (she and her mother watched them religiously, before her mom died). Her dating life is limited by the expectations she’s formed from these movies. She is not as open to new experiences as she might be, because she’s waiting for her Tom Hanks–i.e., a guy she’ll find in the perfect, meet-cute romantic comedy way. When Annie does finally meet her perfect match, it’s not quite in the way she expected, and she’s forced to reckon with the walls she’s built around herself over the years.

Purchase on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MhAUxZ

EXCERPT (Chapter 4)

I blink a few times, staring straight into Drew Danforth’s face. It’s like when you’re a kid and there’s a solar eclipse, and all the teachers are like, “Don’t look directly into the sun! You’ll destroy your retinas!” but there’s always that one kid (Johnny Berger, in our class) who can’t stop staring.

In this situation, I’m Johnny Berger. And I guess Drew Danforth is the sun.

“Are you okay?” he asks again, enunciating his words even more as if me understanding him is the problem. His brown eyes, I notice, are flecked with tiny bits of gold, which is something you can’t see when you watch him on TV. His hair is just as voluminous as it seems in pictures, but in person, I have the almost overwhelming urge to touch it, to reach out and pull on that one lock of hair that hangs over his forehead.

“She’s not responding.” He turns to Chloe. “Is something wrong?”

“She’s French,” Chloe says without missing a beat. “She only speaks French.”

“I’m not French,” I say, breaking my silence. Chloe and Drew’s heads swivel to look at me.

“I’m sorry about your coat,” I whisper, then I run toward Nick’s.

Chloe bursts in the door behind me, the bell jingling in her wake. “I’m not French?” she screeches. “Those are the first words you spoke to Drew Danforth? Really?”

“Well then, why did you tell him I was French?” I shout, ignoring the curious stares of everyone working on their laptops and the calming melody of whatever Nick put on to replace the Doobies.

“I don’t know!” She throws her hands in the air. “You weren’t talking, so I thought I’d give you an interesting backstory!”

I put my hands over my face. “This is ridiculous.”

“No,” Chloe says, grabbing me by the shoulders. “This is your meet-cute, and now you need to go back out there and find him and say something that isn’t a negation of your Frenchness or an apology for destroying his probably very expensive coat.”

“Meet what?”

Nick stares at us from behind the counter, a dishtowel in his hand.

“A meet-cute,” Chloe stands up straight, shoulders back, as if she’s delivering a Romantic Comedy 101 lecture to Nick and his patrons, “is the quirky, adorable, cute way the hero and heroine of a romantic comedy meet.”

Everyone stares at her blankly.

“Or hero and hero. Or heroine and heroine. Not to be heteronormative,” she clarifies.

“Like how me and Martha met at her wedding,” Gary says.

Chloe thinks about it. “I don’t know that I would necessarily call that one a meet-cute, but sure, Gary.”

“Did you just make that up?” Nick asks, arms crossed.

I shake my head. “No. It’s a thing.”

“Watch a romantic comedy, dude,” Tobin says.

Nick rolls his eyes.

“Anyway,” Chloe continues, “Annie straight up ran into Drew Danforth and spilled a cup of coffee all over his coat, which is, like, the cutest of meets.”

“That doesn’t sound very cute,” Nick says skeptically, rubbing the scruff on his chin. “Was it still hot?”

“Scalding,” I say, sinking into my chair and resting my head on the table.

“Sounds like a meet painful,” says Gary, and a few people laugh.

“Thanks,” I mutter. “I’m so glad you all find my embarrassment entertaining.”

“Annie!” Chloe sits down across from me as a customer walks in and the rest of the shop stops paying attention to us. “This isn’t embarrassing. This is merely a story I’ll tell in my toast at your wedding to Drew.”

I lift my head to look at her. “I hate to break this to you, but I don’t think he’s my Tom Hanks. I think he’s just a famous guy with a possible third-degree burn on his chest. And now my first day on set is going to be super awkward because I accidentally assaulted the lead actor with a beverage.”

Chloe’s about to say something, but then a song starts and she closes her mouth, looking up toward the speakers. “I swear to God, I told Nick not to play any more Bon Iver. It makes people look up their exes on Instagram, not buy coffee. I’m gonna go put on some Hall and Oates.”

As she walks away, I rest my head on the table again. As if it wasn’t embarrassing enough to have my uncle get me a job on set, now I have to deal with this.

MY REVIEW

If you are a fan of romantic comedies or obsessed with 90’s romantic comedies featuring Tom Hanks, than look no further, Waiting for Tom Hanks is the book that you’ve been waiting for.

Waiting for Tom Hanks follows the story of Annie and Drew. Annie wants what ever girl wants. She wants the perfect man that she just happens upon and they fall instantly in love. And the rest as they say is history…..Only that perfect guy doesn’t exist. This isn’t a movie, this is real life. And while Annie dreams of finding a man who is just like Tom Hanks, she needs to keep her eyes open or she might not see that Mr. Perfect is right under her nose….

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved all the Tom Hanks movie references and the nods to You’ve Got Mail & Sleepless in Seattle. Both of those movies I’ve seen over a million times and still find myself swooning over. I adored Annie. I think she was a little clueless when it came to men and that she did have some rather unrealistic expectations, but you’ve got to give props to the girl for knowing what she wants and not being embarrassed about what she’s looking for.  And in Annie’s case, I love that her match was the total opposite of her. He was everything that she was looking for, just wrapped in a different package.

I have to say, I enjoyed Annie and Drew together. I love that Drew just got Annie. Drew was the kind of guy that didn’t show attraction or affection in the most traditional ways. He’s the grown up version of the boy at the playground who can’t help but pull a little girls hair. So, when it came to Annie, Drew’s flirting skills might not have always hit the mark, but I found it to be funny and when he really did pull out all of the stops, it made those moments that much sweeter.

Waiting for Tom Hanks was a cute and fun read. I loved the idea of the story and was drawn into Annie’s story instantly. I enjoyed watching Annie live out her own romantic comedy and couldn’t wait to see how it would all unfold. I really enjoyed all the almost moments and the tension between the characters. This story was easy to read and light on the drama. In the end, I was hooked on Annie and couldn’t help but root for her to find her happily ever after.

Waiting for Tom Hanks is a terrific debut novel and I’m excited to check out more from this author in the future.

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

Review: Badd Daddy by Jasinda Wilder

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Lucas Badd…the Baddest of them all, he’s patriarch of the clan, a man with the size and temperament of a grizzly bear whose past holds the keys to not only his own future, but also the way everyone connected to him will move forward as a family.

Who can tame a man this wild?

Olivia Goode. A widow, a mother, and a woman who is Lucas’s opposite in every way imaginable. If anyone can, it would be her, but the real question is whether she can move past her own tragedy to see the man beneath the grizzly bear exterior, and whether Lucas has the courage to face his demons and become the man he’s spent the last forty years pretending not to be.

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Amazon: https://amzn.to/31gj3Lh

KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/badd-daddy

MY REVIEW

Badd Daddy is the 12th story in the Badd Brothers Series and it follows the story of Lucas and Olivia. Now, I’ll be 100% honest with you, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into with this book. I think I’ve only read one book in this series and have so many that I really need to get caught up on. Even with being behind in this series, the synopsis of this one was too hard to pass up and let me tell you, this book does not disappoint.

Lucas and Olivia had my attention from their very first encounter. Lucas is loud, wild, a beast of a man. Olivia is his total opposite in every way. But, you know the saying, opposites attract. And well the attraction between these two was one not to be missed. A good woman can bring a man to their knees, and Olivia might just be what the doctor ordered….

Overall, Badd Daddy was a quick and enjoyable read. Even though this is the 12th book in this series, you can read and enjoy this book as a stand-alone novel. The characters were fun and engaging. Their stories realistic and one that tugs at your heart. This story had just the right amount of sexy good times, romance, and drama. I enjoyed everything about this story from beginning to end and can not wait to explore more of the books in this series.

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

Release Blitz with Review: This is Crazy (This Is #1) by Natasha Madison

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From the best selling series, Something So comes the spin-off This is…

Zara Stone

All my life, I’ve said I will never date a hockey player. I know better because I’ve seen and lived it all. My father is a hockey god, my brother is the captain of the most successful NHL team in the world, and my brother-in-law also plays in the league. Their lives are complicated, so I went in the opposite direction.
I fell in love with a scholar. But instead of proposing marriage, he broke up with me.
Three months later, I saw his engagement picture on Instagram. I couldn’t let him get away with that. No, it didn’t matter what, I was going to make that man see that I did not need him.

Evan Richards
I was in the running to pass my point record from last year, ready to claim the number one spot in the league. On top of my game, I was riding my career high wave.
Then, Hockey’s Princess, Zara Stone tweeted me. She wanted me to crash her ex’s wedding.
The worst that could happen? A PR nightmare. The best? A fun night with a beautiful woman.
It started out as a game—something I’m good at. Her crazy idea twisted into something I wasn’t looking for, something neither of us wanted.

When push comes to shove, one thing runs through my mind:
This is Crazy. Also, this is crazy right.

 
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MY REVIEW

“It’s a dangerous place.” “What is?” “Your eyes” ” I can get lost in your eyes.”

“I look into her eyes, and I swear it’s more dangerous than swimming in shark infested waters.”

“The house could fall down around us, the dogs could eat the couch,  and the world could come to an end, but the only thing I’ll be doing is kissing you.”

Who would have thought a simple text message that started off as a joke, would turn both Zara and Evan’s world upside down???

This is Crazy is a spin off of the Something So Series, but can totally be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel. This is Crazy follows the story of Zara & Evan. Zara thought she met the man of her dreams. They seemed headed for a bright future, but instead of getting engaged, Zara finds herself dumped. Zara is devastated and can’t believe the direction her life has taken. Three months later, her world will be tipped on its axis once again. Thanks to a post on Instagram, she finds out that her ex is engaged. That one post set Zara’s life in a direction she never saw coming…..

This is Crazy is the kind of story that just hooks you instantly. The characters are fun and super entertaining. I loved getting to know Zara and her twin sister Zoe. Their connection and banter was a joy to see in action. I loved the way they just got one another and always had each other’s back, no matter what.

And then we have sweet Evan. Evan is a force to be reckoned with. He’s on top of his game and could have anyone he wanted. So, when Zara sends out her tweet, he couldn’t help but take her up on it. It should be just fun and games, but the chemistry between these two quickly turned this game into something more. I loved seeing Evan pursue Zara. Even though their story started off with an insta-love vibe, Evan was the perfect gentleman and wasn’t afraid to woo Zara. Evan was the absolute perfect blend of sweet, alpha and man. Zara didn’t stand a chance and had no choice but to just go along for the ride.

This is Crazy was a fun read from beginning to end. I loved all the hockey moments that made this story more than just a romance. I loved getting to spend time with Zara & Evan’s families. They were good people who made me laugh, but had their kids backs when it was needed the most.

This is Crazy is swoon worthy and sweet with just the right amount of sexiness. I loved the chemistry and tension between Evan & Zara. I couldn’t get enough of the dirty talk, sexy times and moments that just made me sigh. Yes, there was some drama. But, the drama that was there was perfectly placed and was just what the story needed.

Overall, I found this book to be a really enjoyable read. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters and the plot. I enjoyed getting lost in Zara & Evan and couldn’t help but devour their story. The ending was just right and the epilogue sets up the next story in this series perfectly. I for one can not wait to see what this series will have in store for us next!

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

When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers
flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals.
You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or
possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her
characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…
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Review: The Two-Week Arrangement by Kendall Ryan

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A steamy romance about a sexy (but emotionally broken) single dad and the smart, driven (doesn’t take no for an answer) intern who makes him feel things he has no business feeling.

About The Two-Week Arrangement

Dear Sexy AF Intern,

I know you don’t particularly care that I’m the CEO of this company, and you’re just an intern. I also know you’re not impressed by my power or my wealth, and that’s fine.

You think you’ve got me all figured out from working alongside me for two weeks, but you don’t know me. Not really.

You don’t know that I’m a single dad to twin toddlers, or that those two little girls matter more to me than this entire hotel chain.

I’m not interested in starting something deep and meaningful, but what I am interested in is the way your body reacts to mine when we’re in the same room. You probably assume the concentration on my face is work-related, when in reality, I’m figuring out which I want more–to nail you against the wall, or to bend you over my desk.

While you’re too disciplined to act on it, I’m not. And the night you stepped into my limo, all bets were off.

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MY REVIEW

“One touch, and I’m pretty much putty in his hands. One whispered promise, and I’m done for.”

Two-Week Arrangement is a fun and unconventional office romance. Two-Week Arrangement follows the story of Dominic and Presley. Dominic is the powerful and wealthy CEO. He’s so busy with his home life and professional life that dating has become a thing of the past. But, what you don’t know about Dominic is that he’s got a secret. You see, he’s not just a powerful CEO, he’s also a single dad. He’d do anything for his kids, even if it means keeping them a secret from the one person he’s come to care about….

Two-Week Arrangement was a fun and easy read. Dominic and Presley’s story pulled me in from page one and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the pace of this story. The pace was fast, easy and compelled you to read this story in just a single sitting.

I was instantly intrigued by Presley and Dominic. Presley would do anything, take any job to provide for her family. She has a big heart and isn’t afraid of working hard. And then we have Dominic. Dominic could have any woman he wants and has more money than even he knows what to do with. Together, these two make the most unexpected team. Neither one of them were looking for love and maybe just maybe they might have found it when they were least expecting it. The road to happily ever after is a bumpy one for these two and when secrets and misunderstandings come into play, all bets are off…..

Overall, I had a really good time getting swept up in Dominic & Presley’s story. Two-Week Arrangement was entertaining, fun and steamy. There was some drama and a few good twists along the way. And the ending….The ending I did not see coming at all and I promise you, it will leave you dying for more. I for one can not wait to see what will happen next!

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

About Kendall Ryan

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than three dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 2.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world.
Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than 70 times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

She lives in Texas with her husband and two sons.

Visit her at: www.kendallryanbooks.com for the latest book news, and fun extras.

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Review: Wolf Rain (Psy-Changeling Trinity #3) by Nalini Singh

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New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh takes us on a new adventure in this next novel of the Psy-Changeling Trinity series…

The end of Silence was supposed to create a better world for future generations. But trust is broken, and the alliance between Psy, Changeling, and human is thin. The problems that led to Silence are back in full force. Because Silence fixed nothing, just hid the problems.

This time, the Psy have to find a real answer to their problems–if one exists. Or their race will soon go extinct in a cascade of violence. The answer begins with an empath who is attuned to monsters–and who is going to charm a wolf into loving her despite his own demons.

Purchase on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2VvDCmZ

MY REVIEW

This series just keeps getting better and better! Wolf Rain is the third book in the Psy-Changeling Trinity Series and I gotta tell you, I was a little worried going into this one since I haven’t had the opportunity to read book 2 yet. That being said, I am happy to report that I was worried for nothing. From the moment I picked up Wolf Rain, I was HOOKED. I couldn’t put it down and I didn’t feel lost at all. I was completely and totally lost to Memory and Alexie’s story and I couldn’t wait to see how things were going to play out.

I loved Alexie & Memory together. They both had their share of baggage and were broken. Even with that, Alexie had the biggest heart and was so protective over those he let into his life. And then we have Memory. Memory’s story has been filled with heartache. I can’t even fathom her heartbreaking past. She might seem like she needs to be handled gently, but don’t let that fool you, Memory is stronger than ever. And Alexie is just what the doctor ordered and is sure to bring the swoons. The attraction between Alexie and Memory was instant, yet the progression of their story had me hanging on each and every word.

Wolf Rain is a fantastic addition to this series and a terrific shifter romance. I love how complex this world is and the addictiveness of the plot. The world-building continues to blow my mind and there is never a dull moment. The characters are compelling and complex. The story-line is filled with amazing fantastical and paranormal aspects. And of course, you can’t forget about the romance and let me tell you, Wolf Rain has it in spades. Wolf Rain gave me absolutely everything I was looking for and was a fabulous read to spend my day getting lost in. At the end of the day, the skys the limit with this series and this world the author has created. I for one can not wait to see what this author will have in store for us next.

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

Review: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne

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From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps. 

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

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MY REVIEW

“Two miles in this city can mean the difference between real people and pretension.”

“For a moment Oliver’s breath caught with an unfamiliar sensation. Want, yes. Desire, sure. But this moment was different. Fuller somehow, as though this woman belonged to him not just for right now, not just for a night, but for always.”

“He turned and walked back to his apartment, resuming his whistling and looking as though he had no idea that he’d managed to turn Naomi Powell’s world upside down with one simple, unforgettable kiss.”

“If the kiss from Saturday had been the promise, this was the delivery. The sort of kiss that ruined a girl for all other kisses in the future.”

Lauren Layne is my go-to for smart, heartfelt romances. So, when I heard that she had a brand new series coming out, I was over the moon. So excited! And let me tell you, Passion on Park Avenue does not disappoint. It has drama. It has chemistry. It has lots of love/hate moments. There is steam. There is angst. Passion on Park Avenue had it all and I could not put it down…

Passion on Park Avenue follows the story of Naomi & Oliver. When we first meet up with Naomi, her world has been totally turned upside down. But, it’s that life changing moment, that brought two new and unexpected friends in her life. Her goal now is to take changes and make the life for herself that she’s always wanted. The first step in that process, to prove that she can fit right in with the Upper East Side elite. It’s no easy task when she discovers her new neighbor is non other than her childhood nemesis. Even though a lot of time has passed, Naomi finds it hard to separate the past from the present. Oliver represents everything Naomi should hate, but she’s quickly finding that hating Oliver isn’t as easy as she hoped it would be…..

Passion on Park Avenue is a great start to the Central Park Pact Series. I was sucked into the story instantly and couldn’t help but fall in love with Naomi. I admired her strength and determination. I felt bad for her that she felt like she had to prove that she was worthy to the social elite. I loved the push and pull that she had with Oliver. She wanted to hate him so desperately, but quickly found out that he is not the same person she remembers. There is more to this older version of Oliver than meets the eye. And Oliver, yeah, he’s not perfect. But he is pretty close to it. Sure he’s made some mistakes, but he’s done the best that he could with the cards that he was dealt. I feel like he worked really hard to break through Naomi’s frosty exterior and I really enjoyed watching their relationship shape and transform. While Oliver & Naomi’s story started out as an enemies type romance, I have to say, I really enjoyed the slow burn between the two them. Their chemistry was intense when they allowed it come out to play and I just couldn’t wait to see how their story would play out.

Overall, I really enjoyed Passion on Park Avenue. It was a quick and easy read for me. I devoured it in just a few short hours. Passion on Park Avenue was a lot of fun to read and was well written. This book checked off all my boxes and has me excited to see where this series will go next.

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

Review: Smitten by the Brit (Sometimes in Love #2) by Melonie Johnson

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An English professor starts a new chapter in her life and is swept up in a Jane Austen-esque romance with a modern day duke

Bonnie Blythe has modeled her life after her favorite books. If only her fiancé would get on the same page and agree to a wedding date.

She’s not at all bitter that her best friend is getting married to a man she’s known for less than a year, and Bonnie most definitely isn’t thinking about the best man to be, Theo Wharton. It’s just whenever she talks with the blue-eyed Brit, sparks fly.

When a shocking reveal ends Bonnie’s engagement, she accepts a summer teaching job at Cambridge—only an hour away from Theo. Bonnie isn’t ready for a new relationship, but the chemistry between her and Theo is impossible to ignore. But Theo’s been hiding the truth about his identity; will Bonnie be able to weather the plot twist and grab the happily ever after of her dreams?

Buy this book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250193063

MY REVIEW

Another great addition to this series. After reading Cassie & Logan’s story, I was super excited to see where this series would go next. And let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed. Smitten by the Brit is the second book in the Sometimes in Love Series and it follows the story of Theo and Bonnie. From the moment I dove into Bonnie’s story, I was hooked. I knew from the previous book in this series that Theo & Bonnie had some serious chemistry, but that nothing came of it due to her engagement. So, when Bonnie’s world gets turned upside down and Theo is once again brought into the picture, I knew all bets would be off. Bonnie & Theo’s chemistry burns brighter than ever and is impossible to ignore. Bonnie has had her heart broken once before, but is taking a leap with Theo. Will Bonnie be able to give her heart to Theo or will the revelation of Theo’s secret destroy everything before it has a chance to begin?? There’s only one way to find out….

I absolutely adored Smitten by the Brit. It was so much fun being in this world again. I loved catching up with Cassie and Logan. I loved getting to know Bonnie & Theo more. Their story captivated me and had me devouring all the words. I loved seeing the characters grow and take chances they otherwise would have never taken. I enjoyed the chemistry that just oozed between Bonnie & Theo. I loved their friendship and I loved seeing them steam up the pages together.

Smitten by the Brit was a lot of fun to read. I found the story-line to be entertaining and thought it flowed really well. The characters were real and flawed with relateable hangups and frustrations. I loved the humor, chemistry and the friendships. This is the kind of story that you will be able to devour in a single sitting and that leave you with a smile on your face.

Smitten by the Brit hit all the marks for me and I look forward to seeing where this series will take us next.

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

EXCERPT

Tucking herself into a stall, Bonnie took several deep breaths. The space was too tiny to allow for pacing, so she turned in a tight circle, careful not to let her dress fall in the toilet. Why? Why did this have to happen now?

At any other time in her life, she’d have jumped at the opportunity. Teaching Shakespeare, even only for a few weeks, at a school like Cambridge would be a dream come true. But this summer was supposed to be the summer another dream finally came true. She was supposed to be planning her wedding, not running off to England for two months.

“No offense, but how much longer you gonna be in there?” An irate South Side accent demanded from the other side of the stall.

Is forever an option? But when South Side began pounding on the door, Bonnie knew she needed to get out of there. She flushed the toilet for appearance’s sake and opened the stall, coming face-to-face with an irritated- looking witch. Bonnie slipped past the girl, offering her an apologetic smile. Leaning against the wall, waiting in line, were two more witches, looking equally annoyed. “The Weird Sisters, huh?”

The girls glared at her. Right.

Before she found herself in double toil and trouble, Bon- nie washed her hands and made a hasty exit. She hurried through the restroom door, careening straight into a solid wall of suit-covered muscle. “Oof!” she exhaled, stumbling as her floral crown flopped down over her eyes and icy liquid splashed across her chest.

“Sorry!” a smooth male voice apologized, his British accent slicing the r’s into a crisp d sound.

Bonnie froze. She recognized that voice, knew that pol- ished British accent. Heart beating faster, Bonnie lifted her chin, trying to peek through the tangle of flowers cur- rently blinding her. Warm fingers brushed her forehead, and a moment later she could see . . . straight into a pair of familiar blue eyes fringed with sinfully long, sooty lashes.

“Theo!” she sputtered. “What are you doing here?” “At the moment?” He set his now-empty glass on a

passing server’s tray and reached up to adjust her crown, gently freeing a flower ensnarled in her mass of curls. “As- sisting you.” Theo grinned, twin dimples appearing in his cheeks.

A fluttering sensation tickled the backs of her knees, and she swayed.

“Are you quite all right?” he asked, holding her by the shoulders and steadying her.

“Me? I’m fine, totally fine,” she babbled, wishing she’d gone home when she’d had the chance. Why hadn’t Cassie mentioned Theo was coming tonight? She had to know he would be here; Logan was his best friend.

In fact, it was through Logan that Bonnie had met Theo in the first place while in London last summer, on a sup- per cruise along the Thames. It was a meeting she was un- likely to forget, even though she’d been trying very hard to do just that ever since. Tall, dark, and handsome, not to mention that accent, Theo embodied every Austen hero Bonnie had ever crushed on. And she’d crushed on several.

Meanwhile, her friend Ana, who’d also been on the sup- per cruise that night on the Thames, had christened Theo “Prince Eric.” It was an apt moniker. With his cap of thick black hair, soulful blue eyes, and easy smile, the Brit did look like the cartoon prince come to life.

“Who are you supposed to be?” Bonnie took a closer look at the get-up Theo was presently sporting and smiled. Maybe he wasn’t a prince, but he looked like someone noble . . . “A duke?”

He breathed in sharply. “Pardon?”

“Your costume.” She gestured at the formal sash and medallion decorating his chest. “I’m guessing Orsino, maybe? From Twelfth Night?”

“Oh, right. Orsino. Exactly.” He exhaled, shoulders vis- ibly relaxing beneath the tailored cut of his coat. “If music be the food of love . . .”

“Play on.” She finished the line, beaming up at him. Their eyes met, and just as she had last summer, Bonnie felt an irresistible pull. Well, not literally irresistible—she had managed to resist him, after all. Faithful to her fiancé, Bonnie might not be able to control how her body reacted to the dashing Brit, but she could control what she did about it. Which was nothing.

She pulled back, breaking their gaze and pushing an- other wayward curl out of her face. “Can you guess who I am?”

“Hmm,” he murmured, “I’d wager on Ophelia.” He looked her over slowly from floral-crowned head to slip- pered feet. “Going for the Millais version, I see.”

“Very good.” He knew Millais? Impressive. Cute and smart. Oh, her willpower was going to get a workout to­ night.

“You like Millais’s work?” He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and offered it to her.

“No, I love his work. And Waterhouse too.” She sighed and accepted the handkerchief, dabbing at the alcohol soaking the bodice of her dress. A memory flashed through her. “I once tried to recreate his painting of The Lady of Shallot.”

“You paint?”

“No.” She laughed. “Not well, anyway. I acted it out. I’d read about a girl doing that in a book and wanted to give it a try.” It wasn’t the first or the last time Bonnie tried to copy a scene from Anne of Green Gables. She believed Anne Shirley to be her literary doppelgänger and cast her best friend, Cassie, as Anne’s bosom buddy, Diana Barry. Luckily, unlike the boat Anne borrows from Diana in the book, the inflatable raft Bonnie borrowed from Cassie hadn’t sprung a leak.

Theo shook his head. “What is it with you and watery tarts?”

“Are you quoting Monty Python at me?”

He pulled a serious face. “I’m simply concerned about your apparent obsession with strange women lying in ponds.”

She tittered. Oh God, she actually tittered. Bonnie winced. She dropped her gaze and dabbed harder at the dark stain spreading across the front of her dress. “The painting is so beautiful, so ethereal . . . even a copy of it in a book brings the magic of Tennyson’s poem to life. I wanted to live that magic.” She was rambling but couldn’t seem to stop. Her brain went on sabbatical whenever the Brit was near. That’s it, Ophelia, time to get thee to a nunnery.

“They are beautiful,” he murmured.

She glanced up to find him staring at her chest. “Excuse me?” Bonnie stopped dabbing. Was he talking about her breasts?

“Did you see them at the Tate?” His blue eyes met hers, coal black brows arched with polite curiosity. “When you were in London last summer?”

The paintings. Right. She shook her head. “We did the Victoria and Albert Museum instead.”

“Shame.” He sounded truly disappointed. “There’s an- other Millais at the Tate, of a different Tennyson poem. Based on one of Shakespeare’s comedies. Do you know the one I mean?”

“Please,” she scoffed. “Is this a quiz? Mariana, from Measure for Measure.” She handed him back his handker- chief, now a little worse for wear. “Though I could never think of that play as a comedy.”

“The lady knows Shakespeare, poets, painters . . . and even Monty Python.” He blew a soft whistle. “My, you are quite cultured for an American.”

A hum of awareness threaded through her, and she tamped it down. “Are you complimenting me or insulting my country?”

He didn’t reply, but the corners of his mouth curled with amusement, one dimple coming out to play.

The backs of her knees immediately began to prickle again. Damn it. Why couldn’t the Brit have stayed on his side of the pond?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Star Wars junkie and Shakespeare groupie who quotes both Yoda and the Bard with equal aplomb, award-winning author Melonie Johnson—aka #thewritinglush—is a two-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist who loves dark coffee, cheap wine, and expensive beer. And margaritas. And mimosas. And mules. Basically any cocktail that starts with the letter m. She met her future husband in that most romantic of places—the mall—when they were teenagers working in stores across the hall from each other. They went on to live happily ever after in the suburbs of Chicago with two redhead daughters, a dog that’s more like a small horse, and a trio of hermit crabs. After earning her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago, Melonie taught high school English and Theatre in the northern Chicago suburbs for several years. Now she writes smart and funny contemporary romance and moonlights as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym, Evelyn Eibhlin.

Author website: https://meloniejohnson.com/

Author Twitter: @MelonieJohnson

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SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance or @heroesnhearts

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