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Review: A Highlander Walks into a Bar (Highland, Georgia #1) by Laura Trentham

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The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland comes to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same…

Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…

Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?

MY REVIEW

When I first heard of A Highlander Walks into a Bar, I was totally intrigued by the story-line. It sounded like it was going to be a really cute read, so I couldn’t wait to dive in.

A Highlander Walks into a Bar starts off really promising. The dynamic between Izzy and her mother certainly was interesting. I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cringe at times. But, those two certainly kept things interesting! Then we meet Alasdair. Alasdair travels to Georgia to try to talk some sense into his uncle and bring him home. Alasdair only plans to stay for a short time, but can’t help but be captivated by Izzy….

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. I think it had a lot of potential and is one of those books that is definitely going to be hit or miss for readers. Like I previously stated, this book did have a promising start. I was intrigued by the characters and was looking forward to diving deeper into their story. I enjoyed how cute the fictional town of Highland, Georgia was.  I liked all of the Scottish touches. I was really looking forward to seeing Izzy and Alasdair get to know one another more. And there were some nice steamy moments and surprises along the way.

However, I did have some issues with this book. The biggest and most important one I will be touching on today is the pacing. And for me, the pacing can either make or break the story. And when it comes to this one, the pacing just killed me. I can deal with a slow pace as long as the story is moving along and the plot is engaging. Sadly, that did not happen here. The pacing was far too slow for my liking and I found myself getting very distracted. At times, I even found myself skimming sections, just to move things along. And that is something I just don’t like to do.

My final thoughts on this book is that it was just an ok read. It had its moments where I thought things would turn around for me, but it never stayed consistent. As far as rating goes, this is a tough one. For now, I think I’m going to round up to 3 stars, because I do feel that the potential is there, it just needs more fleshing out. This is my first book by this author and while it wasn’t a total hit for me, I’m still glad that I checked out this book and gave it a chance.

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

EXCERPT

From A Highlander Walks into a Bar. Copyright © 2019 by Laura Trentham and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Chapter One

“I brought home a surprise!” Rose Buchanan threw her arms out wide as if embracing the world. From the stories she told to the way she entered the room, Rose was exuberant and entertaining and enjoyed being the center of attention.

Isabel Buchanan, who was perfectly content on the fringes, pushed her wavy hair off her sticky forehead with hands that trembled from the nightmare drive through At- lanta to the airport to pick up her mom. Her mom’s trip to Scotland had doubled as both research and vacation. The jammed stop-and-go traffic had left Izzy flustered and already dreading their exit from the airport.

Rolling her stiff shoulders, Izzy stepped around the bumper of the car, popping the trunk open on the way. Her mom had a beautiful plaid scarf of greens and browns and blues tossed over her shoulder and what appeared to be new earrings. Either purchase might inspire her mother to gush, and she would expect reciprocal gushing from Izzy. Making an educated guess, Izzy asked, “Are those ear-rings your surprise?”

Without waiting for an answer, she hauled one of her mom’s giant wheeled suitcases closer and prepared to heave it into the back. The sooner they got out of Atlanta, the sooner she could get back to work planning the High- land festival. Or she might pour an extra-large glass of wine and escape into a book. A guilty pleasure, considering how much she still had to get in order in three scant weeks.

“Allow me, please.” A bearded man who had been roll- ing cases to the curb stepped forward with a grin and an accent Izzy couldn’t place.

She checked her pockets and winced. No cash to tip the man, and no hope her mom had thought of something so inconsequential.

“Do you like them? They’re hammered silver.” Her mom flipped her bobbed matching silver hair to the side and displayed one earring with her fingers. “And as a matter of fact, I did buy them from a lovely shop in Edinburgh, but I brought something bigger home. Something more exciting.”

“Your scarf? It’s lovely.” Izzy gave her mom limited attention while she watched the man load suitcase after suitcase into her trunk, fitting them together like a puzzle. More luggage than her mom had left with. She waved to catch the man’s attention. “Hang on. That’s not all my mom’s stuff.”

For the first time, Izzy really looked at the man. He was close to her mom in age, and good-looking in a bear- like way with a gleaming white smile highlighted by a salt-and-pepper beard. His full head of hair was a shade darker, but graying heavily at the temples. The expression on the man’s face when he looked in her mom’s direction—a mix of adoration and amusement—cleared the fog of confusion.

Lord have mercy, her mother had brought back a six- foot, two-hundred-pound-plus souvenir from Scotland.

Laura Trentham Blog Tour Q&A A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR

  1. What inspired you to write A Highlander Walks into a Bar?

It was actually a Buick car commercial from a couple of years ago where a grandson picks his grandmother up from the airport and she says saucily, “I did a lot of shopping in Italy.” From behind her luggage steps an Italian gentleman. Of course, my writer brain kept picturing what happened after the three of drove off and twisted it into an entire story but had to make up a town for them to return to!

Another big inspiration is a real-life place: Helen, Georgia, is a town that has transformed itself into a German village. It’s picturesque and they celebrate Octoberfest every year. I twisted that concept and made my little town of Highland, Georgia, into a Scottish village including an annual Highland Games that the Buchanan ladies put on every summer which is an important aspect of the book.

  1. Introduce us to your main characters!

Isabel Buchanan is the daughter who picks her mother up from the airport only to be surprised by the appearance of Gareth Blackmoor, who happens to be keeping his title of Earl of Cairndow a secret from everyone in Highland, Georgia, including Rose Buchanan, Isabel’s mother.

Alasdair Blackmoor is Gareth’s nephew and heir to the title and castle in Scotland. He’s been sent to round up his wandering uncle and to make sure he isn’t being taken advantage of by some pushy American women. Complications ensue, including love (of course!)

  1. Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?

To become a better writer, you must write. Sounds simple, but I know so many aspiring authors who get stuck in their own head. They plot and make inspiration boards and talk about writing, but when the fingers hit the keyboard, they get mired in doubts. Just get the words down. They don’t have to be perfect; they don’t even have to be good, but you can’t fix a blank page!

  1. How is A Highlander Walks into a Bar different from your other books?

While it’s still a Southern small town romance, it has a definite rom-com vibe. Expect low angst and lots of laughs! I love to read reviews where they reader has literally laughed out loud at several points.

  1. I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?

Two series I have loved lately are Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy (a fantasy retelling weaving medieval Russian history and folklore) and Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell’s mysteries (a Victorian butterfly hunter teams up with a taxidermist to solve mysteries. I mean, seriously, how can you beat that combo?!)

  1. Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?

If you need a pick-me-up, good-time, laugh-out-loud book, then read A Highlander Walks into a Bar!

  1. Favorite quote or scene you wrote in A Highlander Walks into a Bar?

As the woman continued to stare at him as if he were the bearer of the bubonic plague, his smile faltered. He stuck out a hand. “I’m Alasdair Blackmoor.”

Although he registered a split-second hesitation on her part, she took his hand. “Isabel Buchanan.”

Her handshake was firm and no-nonsense, but her palm was soft and her hand small in his. On closer inspection, her eyes striated into all different shades of brown and amber, and freckles dusted her cheeks. He hung on to her hand for too long, but couldn’t seem to pry himself away.

Breaking the spell, she wrested her hand from his, pulling it into a fist. Was she planning on throat-punching him? He rubbed his neck and took a step back, out of the radius of her magnetic energy, and her reach. On her approach, she’d seemed birdlike, insignificant even, but up close, he was having a hard time not staring like a first-class prat.

He was punch-drunk with exhaustion. It was the only logical explanation.

She stuck her hands into the back pockets of her jeans, stretching her red V-neck T-shirt tight. His gaze dipped instinctively and then stuck around to read the print on the pocket over the soft curve of her left breast: Highland. The Heart of Scotland in the Blue Ridge.

She cleared her throat. His gaze shot to hers, and he blinked to try to refocus his thoughts. “I was admiring . . . I mean, reading your shirt.”

“It’s not a novel.”

His face heated. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d blushed this hot and fierce.

  1. What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always been (and still am) a huge reader. My youngest child started preschool and I wasn’t ready to go back to work in what I’m trained for (chemical engineering) so I sat down one morning and started writing a book. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing until I was around halfway done and loving every minute! That book became a Golden Heart finalist, got me an agent, and is published as An Indecent Invitation, a Regency historical.

  1. What is a typical writing day like?

During the school year, I work while the kids are in school. I love the flexibility of being there to pick my kids up and drive them to soccer or gymnastics or chaperoning field trips, etc.

  1. Do you have any interesting writing quirks or habits?

My only habit is a bad one in that I drink *way* too much coffee while I’m writing! It’s become a ritual, I suppose.

  1. What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned as a published author?

How slow the industry can move, but also how quickly changes have come because of indie publishing.

  1. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next after this for you writing wise?

For my contemporary fans, I have my second women’s fiction releasing early February 2020, An Everyday Hero. The second book in the Highland, Georgia, series, A Highlander in a Pickup, releases late February 2020.

For my historical romance fans, look out for A Wicked Wedding in the Once Upon a Christmas Wedding anthology releasing in October 2019. And two more full length books in the Spies and Lovers series, A Sinful Surrender and A Daring Deception, coming sometimes in mid to late 2020!

  1. How can readers connect with you online?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraTrentham

Or join my reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1733284316920632/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraTrentham

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lauratrentham/

Sign up for my newsletter:  https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/w7o6b1

Follow me on Bookbub for new release or sale announcements: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/laura-trentham

Author Bio:

Laura Trentham is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, including Then He Kissed Me and The Military Wife. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

Review: Nothing But This (Broken Pieces #2) by Natasha Anders

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A married couple yearns to rediscover lost love in this novel about forgiveness, reconciliation, and emotional growth.

It’s always been complicated between Libby Lawson and Greyson Chapman—and married life isn’t any simpler. But when Libby gets pregnant, she at last sees a bright future ahead. There’s just one problem: Greyson says he’s sterile.

Furious, Greyson abandons the young family. Equally furious and deeply hurt, Libby cuts all ties with him. After all these years, it seems their relationship has finally expired. But love is resilient and endures even when you don’t want it to. Greyson still longs for Libby, and though Libby’s heartbroken by Greyson’s lack of trust, she holds out hope for a complete, happy family.

And so they embark on the journey back to each other, wary of all the obstacles between them. It’s been a long road already—one strewed with fear, doubt, and misunderstandings. Will they keep looking to the past, or will they look to each other and walk hand in hand toward a broad new horizon?

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MY REVIEW

Words can not even begin to express how excited I was to read this book. The synopsis sounded so promising and this author is one that a lot of friends have been raving about. The synopsis for Nothing But This sounded amazing and I just couldn’t wait to dive in.

Nothing But This follows the story of Greyson and Libby. Things between Greyson and Libby have always been complicated. Libby has had a crush on Greyson for as long as she could remember and Greyson never once gave any indication that he felt the same way. It wouldn’t be until years later, when fate reunites Greyson and Libby, that Greyson finally makes his move. Greyson and Libby have a whirlwind romance and before they know it, they find themselves married. The sky’s the limit. That is until Libby ends up getting pregnant. Libby’s happily ever after is anything but. Greyson believes himself to be sterile and his actions and treatment of Libby are inexcusable. Libby is so hurt. The only answer is to leave Greyson….Will Greyson open his eyes and see the mistakes he’s made? Is the damage between Libby and Greyson too much to repair? There’s only one way to find out…..

When I first picked up this book, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of Greyson and Libby. I felt like I couldn’t read fast enough. Their story started off so promising. A young couple who fell in love hard and fast and suddenly had the rug pulled out from under them….Yep, I couldn’t get enough. I was angry. I was frustrated. The angst and hopelessness so palpable. I couldn’t wait to see where this story would go.

Unfortunately, things feel apart pretty quickly for me. As much as I loved the angst and frustration. I found myself annoyed with Libby and Greyson. Don’t get me wrong, I totally was team Libby. She was so right in all the decisions she was making and I didn’t mind seeing Greyson grovel. Greyson made some terrible assumptions and his actions were irredeemable. I loved that Libby put him through the paces and didn’t just accept that he pulled his head out of his butt. She made him see how his behavior hurt her and she made him work for it.

However, after a while, the back and forth stopped working for me. It felt repetitive and like the plot was dragging. I wanted to see more from Greyson and Libby. I needed to see some type of a connection other than the baby & good sex. The sexual tension was on point and the angst factor definitely had my heart working overtime. But, I needed more than that. I needed some flashbacks of the good times and moments that would make me root for them. I needed to see these characters connect with their clothes on.  Like show me why these two characters should be together because at the end of the day, sex and a baby are not enough. My other issue was the secondary plot line between Harris and Tina. I found that to be really confusing since their story was the first book in this series. I get that their stories were running parallel with one another, but the way it was done, it felt like we never jumped ahead of their story, if that makes sense. Like I understand that some parts of their story were important to this plot, but it made it feel like this was all four of their stories instead of just Libby & Greyson’s.

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. I think it will be a hit for some and a miss for others. I’m going to round this one up to 3 stars, because I really did enjoy the first half of the book. I think this story had a lot of good potential, but for me just fell flat. This is my first book by this author, and while I didn’t love it, I would be open to checking out other books from her in the future.

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

Blog Tour: Making Up by Helena Hunting

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A new standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy by New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting.

Cosy Felton is great at her job—she knows just how to handle the awkwardness that comes with working at an adult toy store. So when the hottest guy she’s ever seen walks into the shop looking completely overwhelmed, she’s more than happy to turn on the charm and help him purchase all of the items on his list.

Griffin Mills is using his business trip in Las Vegas as a chance to escape the broken pieces of his life in New York City. The last thing he wants is to be put in charge of buying gag gifts for his friend’s bachelor party. Despite being totally out of his element, and mortified by the whole experience, Griffin is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself attracted to the sales girl that helped him.

As skeptical as Cosy may be of Griffin’s motivations, there’s something about him that intrigues her. But sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas and when real life gets in the way, all bets are off. Filled with hilariously awkward situations and enough sexual chemistry to power Sin City, Making Up is the next standalone in the Shacking Up world.

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MY REVIEW

Making Up is a laugh out loud romantic comedy. Told from dual points of view, Making Up follows the story of Griffin and Cosy. Cosy has a some what unconventional job, yet she’s really good at it. If you’re feeling awkward, she knows just how to put you at ease. So, when Griffin walks into her store, for the first time ever, she’s knocked off her feet. He overwhelms her, but that won’t stop her from doing her job. Griffin is in Vegas for business and somehow got the short end of the stick and was stuck having to get gag gifts for his friends’ bachelor party. He’s in way over his head and that’s where Cosy comes into play. Not only is she charming, but she helps him get all the items on his list. Cosy thinks this will be the last she’ll ever see of Griffin, but she couldn’t be more wrong. Griffin is drawn to Cosy in a way he can’t explain or understand. He’ll do anything to get her to take a chance….

Making Up is a hilarious and awkward read…and I mean awkward in the best possible way. Cosy and Griffin couldn’t be more opposite from one another, but neither can deny the pull they feel. Cosy is young and a total free spirit. But don’t let her age fool you, she is a lot wiser than one might expect. And then you’ve got Griffin. He’s older, more mature and is used to getting his way. He makes Cosy feel like a million bucks and will stop at nothing to make her his.

Overall, I thought this book was a really fun read. I loved the awkward moments and the sexy ones too. It’s impossible to not fall head over heels for Cosy and Griffin. These two are just so much fun and I loved getting swept up in their story. Sure the road to happily ever after was filled with some bumps and drama, but what good romance isn’t. At the end of the day, this book had me in stitches with laughter and left me with a huge smile on my face. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

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

Excerpt

We’re a couple of minutes away from my apartment, which also means we’re almost at the end of our date. End-of-date protocol often means a goodnight kiss.

And I’ve eaten onions. Lots of them. What the hell was I thinking? I feel around in my shorts pocket, hoping I have a random stick of gum. I find a tiny square packet and pull it out, along with an old tissue. I shove that back in my pocket and sigh with relief as I carefully open the Listerine Pocketpak. There’s one strip left. I pop it in my mouth, wishing I had water since my mouth is dry and I’m suddenly super nervous.

Griffin pulls up in front of my apartment building. I swallow a bunch of times, trying to get the strip to dissolve on my tongue and glance out the tinted window, seeing it from his perspective. I don’t live in a bad part of town, but I sure as hell wouldn’t leave this car sitting out here for any length of time unless I wanted it keyed or stripped down.

Griffin shifts into park and turns to me, one hand resting on the back of my seat near the headrest. “I had a great time, Cosy.”

“Me too, thanks for dinner.” I tried to fork over my share, but he was quick on the credit card draw.

“It was my pleasure.” He leans in the tiniest bit, a nonverbal cue that he’s going in for a kiss.

I mirror the movement, giving him the go ahead. My stomach flutters in anticipation. I exhale slowly through my nose. Even though the Listerine strip should be doing its job to mask the onions, I don’t want to ruin the moment by breathing that in his face.

His fingertips skim my jaw, and I close my eyes. And then his lips brush my cheek. I wait for them to move a couple of inches to the right, but after what feels like a lot of seconds—and is probably only a few—I crack a lid.

Griffin is still close, a wry smile on his lips and a smolder in his eyes.

“Seriously, that’s it? A kiss on the cheek?”

His smile widens, making his eyes crinkle at the corners. He’s nothing like the guys I usually end up on dates with. College boys don’t take things slow. If I were out with one of the guys from school, I’d be sitting in a beat-up Civic with some stupid music playing, and he’d be all over me with his tongue halfway down my throat, copping a feel.

“I thought all the onions you ate were the equivalent to garlic for vampires.” Griffin fingers my hair near my shoulder. I’d really like him to finger something else. Wait. I mean I’d like to feel his hands on me. Not in my pants. Okay, maybe I’d like them in my pants, but not after date number one.

“I wasn’t thinking, and I really like onions. A lot. In hindsight, it’s not a great date food. I feel kinda dumb. And I guess at first I wasn’t so sure about you. How was I supposed to know you’d actually be kind of normalish?”

“Normalish?”

“Well, you drink club soda on purpose, so you can’t be all there.” I tap his temple.

Griffin circles my wrist with his fingers and drops his head, lips brushing over my knuckle. “We can’t all be perfect, now, can we?”

“I suppose not, and perfect is boring.”

“That it is.” He hums against my skin, and I feel it through my entire body. “I would like to try that kiss again, if you’re still interested.”

Helena Hunting Q&A MAKING UP

  1. What inspired you to write Making Up?

I’d introduced Griffin in the previous Shacking Up Series novels, Shacking Up and Hooking Up—he was a bit of a mystery for readers because he was talked about, but not really present. I had a very clear picture in my mind of who he was, and the kind of woman who would end up being the perfect fit for him, and it was not his fiancé from the previous books.

  1. Introduce us to your main characters!

Griffin Mills is the oldest of the three Mills brothers. At thirty-three he’s had several very long term relationships and was formerly engaged, but that relationship went up in flames. He’s gorgeous, smart, loves the numbers side of the family business he’s part of—a chain of hotels he’s set to inherit with his brothers. Also, he’s a little awkward, which I love, because there’s nothing quite like a hot guy who doesn’t have all the lines and fumbles a bit when he’s dealing with someone he’s attracted to. It makes for some hilarious banter with his love interest, Cosy Felton. Our heroine is a twenty-two year old who has been a bit of a nomad for most of her life, but is finally finishing school and happens to work at an Adult Toy Store part time. It’s definitely not her favourite job, but it pays the bills. She’s sassy, not much of a planner and definitely more than Griffin bargained for.

  1. Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?

Just keep writing. Every day put words on the page and surround yourself with positive people who are there to support you. Ask questions, join book groups, be an avid reader and an observer.

  1. How is Making Up different from your other books?

Making Up has a trope I’ve never really explored or played around with before, so it was a lot of fun to write. While I’ve written age gaps before, it hasn’t been a key part of the storyline, or had a significant impact on how the characters perceive the relationship. Griffin and Cosy are from two very different worlds and balancing their expectations and insecurities was one of my favourite parts of writing their story. Making Up has my signature quirky, sassy heroines and I love writing heroes that are sexy, yet a little awkward. While it’s a light read, there’s some drama, and some heavy baggage, which I think grounds the story and balances out the hilarity.

  1. I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?

I’ve been so lucky to read so many amazing books this year but I’m going to go with Broken Knight by LJ Shen which releases this August. I love YA/NA romance and angst, and she knows how to deliver both flawlessly.

  1. Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?

We all need a little escape from our own realities once in a while and Making Up is a fun, sexy romance that’s perfect for the summer. Also, Griffin is hot, and not particularly suave at times. I think we can all appreciate a guy who doesn’t have all the lines, especially if he looks like he should.

  1. A famous movie producer wants to make your books into movies and they want you to cast your characters from Making Up. Which actors/actresses make the cut?

This is always a fun question and I’ll be 100% honest, I never actually look at actors prior to writing a story because I generally have a picture of the character in my head. But, I went on a Pinterest mission and Alex Morgan (she’s a soccer player, not an actress) would make a fabulous Cosy if she suddenly switched career paths. Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee) is super sassy, and could definitely play up the humor in this story, so she would be a legitimate actress choice. Gabriel Macht has a great smolder and can rock a seriously sexy suit, so I think he’d be great as Griffin.

  1. Favorite quote or scene you wrote in Making Up?

Making Up is definitely a rom-com with some incredibly hilarious moments, but Griffin has some heavy baggage, which means there are also serious moments, and this is one of my favourites: “Talk to me. Fall apart on me. Show me your weakness so I can give you my strength.”

  1. What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always loved to write, but finding time was a challenge during university and then afterward I was building a career and we renovated a house down to the studs—which takes up a lot of time and doesn’t leave much of an opportunity for putting down words (but it was an amazing experience). When I gave birth to my daughter she struggled to sleep—or rather stay asleep—and that meant I spent a lot of time awake in the middle of the night. So I started writing again during those late nights, and finally penned my first full novel.

  1. What is a typical writing day like?

I usually start with a run and then copious amounts of coffee while I manage the administrative side of things—ie emails, social media posts etc. But when I sit down to write I have a playlist I put on repeat, more coffee, sparking water (so I can stay hydrated) and my cat Pumpkin generally lies on top of my closed laptop and supervises me for the day.

  1. Do you have any interesting writing quirks or habits?

I listen to the same playlist while I write a novel. So if it takes me two months, then I listen to the same set of songs for two full months. I’ve destroyed A LOT of albums for my husband over the past several years. I just need the background noise, and listening to the radio or unfamiliar songs can be distracting.

  1. What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned as a published author?

I’ve only been in the industry for five years and there has been so much change, learning to adjust and adapt and just staying true to your personal goal is really the most important thing I’ve learned. I think when you start out there are just so many unknowns, and taking risks can be scary, but if you don’t take those risks, it’s hard to grow as an author.

  1. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next after this for you writing wise?

I have one more book in The Shacking Up Series, HANDLE WITH CARE, which releases at the end of August! Griffin’s cousin and best friend, Lincoln Moorehead, is the hero and if you didn’t know, he is also Armstrong’s brother. Lincoln is the polar opposite of Armstrong so it was so fun to write. I can’t wait for people to meet Griffin and Cosy and Lincoln and Wren.

  1. How can readers connect with you online?

They can connect with me all over social media!

Website→   http://www.helenahunting.com/

Amazon →  http://amzn.to/1y6OBB7

Twitter → http://bit.ly/HelenaHTwitter

Facebook  → https://www.facebook.com/helena.hunting69/

Pinterest →  http://bit.ly/1oQYRVN

Instagram →  http://instagram.com/helenahunting
Goodreads→ http://bit.ly/GoodReadsHH
NEWSLETTER  → http://bit.ly/HelenaHnewsletter

Bookbub →  http://bit.ly/BookBubHH

Facebook Reader Group  →  http://bit.ly/TheBeaverDenHH

Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

Buy-Book Link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250253378

Review: Wait For Me by K.L. Grayson

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My life is a mess. Literally. 

I’m a single dad, which means If I’m not cleaning up spilled milk or changing a diaper, I’m pulling gum from my daughter’s hair. I barely have enough time to eat—let alone sleep.

And women? Forget about it. That ship sailed two years ago along with my ex-wife. My brother says I need to get laid. I say, screw that. I’m content with my life, until pop star Nora Hayes walks through my best friend’s front door and flips my world upside down.

She’s beautiful, famous, and completely off limits.

My life is a headline waiting to happen. Literally. 

It all started with fishnet stockings and ended with a baseball bat to my boyfriend’s Porsche, putting me on the front page of every newspaper and gossip magazine in the country.

My life is spiraling out of control and I’m ready to make some serious changes. What I’m not ready for is a hunky man to strut his jean clad tush into my life. Grayson Calhoun is as rugged as he is sweet. He’s also way in over his head with his kids, and I have an offer I’m hoping he can’t refuse.

What starts as an agreement, turns to a friendship, and quickly escalates to stolen kisses and heated nights spent wrapped in each other’s arms. What we have is temporary. I promise him that I won’t fall in love.

But I make that promise already knowing it’s a lie.

MY REVIEW

“Nora’s eyes are hot and commanding as she looks at me. I’ve never been stared at like this by a woman. It’s like she wants to devour me.”

“I’m the moth to her flame. Her body calls to me, and now that I’ve had a taste of her, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to stop.”

“Nora Hayes owns me. She ruined me for every other woman in the world.”

When I first picked up this book, my initial thought was bring it! Wait For Me started off with one heck of a bang and left me totally intrigued. Wait For Me follows the story of Nora and Grayson. 23 year old Nora wants nothing more than to break away from her child star persona. She knows what she wants and is finally starting to stand up for herself. However, it’s her cheating boyfriend that gives her the wake up call that she needed. And when your life spirals out of control, there’s nothing better than returning home……Grayson’s life is a total mess. He never imagined he would find himself a single father to 3 children, but here he is. He’s just one fight or accident away from losing his mind. And when Nora comes home to visit with her brother, she just so happens to knock Grayson’s world upside down….

Wait For Me captivated me from the very first page. While Nora had some growing up to do, it’s not hard to understand why she acts the way that she does. I found her very easy to connect with and loved that she was paired up with Grayson. Grayson is the ultimate catch. He’s sweet, caring and totally devoted. He’s not perfect, but is trying to raise his kids the best that he can. And when fate throws Nora his way, he tries desperately to fight the feelings that he has for her. What starts off as an innocent friendship, quickly becomes stolen moments and a romance that is destined to last a lifetime.

Wait For Me checked off all the boxes I was looking for. From a sexy single dad to a former child star trying to make a name for herself. To a beautiful and unexpected friendship. To a romance that has a terrific slow burn that leaves you rooting for the characters to find their way to a happily ever after. This book had it all. Grayson and Nora were impossible to not fall in love with and I enjoyed every second of their journey. Wait For Me had just the right mix of drama, misunderstandings, romance and swoon-worthy moments. I really enjoyed spending my day getting swept up in Nora & Grayson’s story.

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

Review: The King (A Wicked Trilogy #3.6) by Jennifer L. Arementrout

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From #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes the next installment in her Wicked series.

As Caden and Brighton’s attraction grows despite the odds stacked against a happily ever after, they must work together to stop an Ancient fae from releasing the Queen, who wants nothing more than to see Caden become the evil Prince once feared by fae and mortals alike.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

MY REVIEW

“He kissed–God, he kissed like a man starving. He kissed as if he were going to devour me, and I wanted that. I needed it. It was all I could think about. Or maybe I wasn’t thinking at all. Instead, I was feeling. I was just letting myself feel.”

“Now, you’re seen, and you’re heard. You stand up for yourself. You’re living. They did take a lot from you, Brighton. Your mother. Your contentment. But it also seems like you gained a lot. Not from them, but from yourself.”

“You are my strength. My sun. You are my heart.”

Man, oh man, was it great to be back in this world again. The King picks up right where The Prince left off and there is never a dull moment. Yes, this book hits the ground running and just totally sucks you back in to The Wicked World. Now, don’t be fooled by the fact that this book is a novella because let me tell you, this little novella packs a punch. It will easily consume you and will leave you hanging on each and every word.

Since this book is a novella, I’m going to keep my review short and sweet and just say I LOVED this book!! I loved it. Within seconds of starting this story, everything from The Wicked Series came rushing back to me. I remembered why I originally fell in love with this series and all of the characters. The King is easily a novella that you can finish in just a few short hours.

The King is sexy and smartly written. The characters pull you into their story immediately. There is humor and angst. There is drama and moments that will leave you holding your breathe. There are moments where you’ll find yourself screaming at your kindle and ferociously flipping the pages to see how the story will play out. The King had it all and then some.

The King was a thrilling ride from beginning to end. From will they/won’t they moments, to lots of delicious tension & steam to danger around every turn…. I just couldn’t get enough. And with an ending I never saw coming, all I can say is when do we get our hands on the next book???!!

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

Review: Jackson (The McBrides of Texas #1) by Emily March

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Sometimes it takes a new beginning 
Caroline Carruthers married young to a much-older man. Now that he’s gone, she’s lost…until she dares to chase a dream all on her own. Moving to Redemption, Texas, is chapter one in Caroline’s new life story. Opening a bookstore is the next. Finding love is the last thing on her mind as she settles into this new place called home. But when she meets a handsome, soulful man who’s also starting over, all bets are off.
to reach a happily-ever-after 
Jackson McBride came to Redemption looking only to find himself, not someone to love. Ever since his marriage ended, he’s been bitter. Sure, he used to believe in love–he even has the old song lyrics to prove it–but the Jackson of today is all business. That is, until a beautiful young widow who’s moved to town inspires a change of heart. Could it be that the myth of Redemption’s healing magic is true…and Jackson and Caroline can find a second chance at a happy ending after all?

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Kc1V3W

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250314918

MY REVIEW

Jackson is a cute and sweet small town second chance romance. While technically this book is the first in The McBrides of Texas Series, It is the 16th book in the Eternity Springs Series. So, it is a spin-off that can be read as a stand-alone novel. The author did a good job trying to make it so that you didn’t feel like you were missing anything, but there were a few moments where I felt like I was missing something from the previous series.

Jackson is my first book by this author and it follows the story of Jackson and Caroline. Since losing her husband, Caroline has wanted nothing more than to grieve and have a fresh start. Moving to Redemption, seems like the perfect place to call home and get that fresh start she was looking for. She wasn’t looking for love, but when Jackson enters her life, she doesn’t stand a chance….Ever since his divorce and bitter custody battle, Jackson has been blocked. He’s lost his love for music and belief in true love. A fresh start in Redemption, might just be what the doctor ordered. And when Jackson lays his eyes on Caroline, his whole world gets kicked off its axis. Will Redemption heal these poor lost souls??? There’s only one way to find out….

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. It’s one of those books that’s going to be great for some and a miss for others. Jackson is built as a romance, and while it does have some romantic elements, this story is more about family, the small town Caroline & Jackson have come to call home, and finding oneself again.

I enjoyed getting to know Caroline and Jackson. I thought their romance was sweet and their story was interesting. However, I felt like something was off with them. They had some really good moments, but at times, I struggled to connect with them. I think they worked well as friends, but as far as romance goes, I guess I just needed more. Maybe see their relationship develop more and maybe add just a touch of steam. I know this is supposed to be a clean romance and that’s fine, but I could have used some really good, heart-clenching kisses.

For me Jackson was a quick and easy read. I thought it was written well and had a nice flow to it. However, there were moments where we were introduced to a lot of characters and it just kind of felt like there was too much going on. I found those moments to be distracting and it made me want to just skim over it. As I previously states, I also had some issues with the overall romance between Jackson and Caroline, but loved the moments with his daughter. It was clear that he was devoted to her and would do anything for her.

Jackson isn’t one of my typical reading styles. It was a lot cleaner than I was used to and this is coming from someone who reads YA books. While I did have some issues with this story, it wasn’t all bad. There were a lot of good moments, I just was left wanting more. All that being said, I’m still glad I picked up this book and gave it a chance.

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

Chapter One Excerpt

Nashville, Tennessee

Bang. The judge’s gavel fell and officially crushed Jackson McBride’s heart. He closed his eyes. Bleak despair washed over him. Up until this very moment, he hadn’t believed she’d take it this far.

He’d thought she’d come to her senses. He’d thought she would recognize that this proposal was not only nonsense, but truly insane. He’d believed that somewhere deep inside of her, she still had a spark of humanity. That she wouldn’t do this to him. To them. He’d been wrong.

Damn her. Damn her and the yes-men she surrounded herself with. Damn them all to hell and back.

The enormity of what had just happened washed over him. Oh, God, how will

I survive this?

On the heels of his anguish came the rage. It erupted hot as lava, and it fired his blood and blurred his vision with a red haze of fury. He’d never hit a woman in his life. Never come close, despite plenty of provocation from her direction. In that moment had she been within reach, he might have lived up her accusations.

It scared the crap out of him. That’s what she’s brought me to.

Abruptly, he shoved back his chair so hard that it teetered, almost falling over. He strode toward the courtroom exit. “Jackson? Jackson, wait!” his attorney called, hurrying after him.

Jackson waved her off and didn’t stop. There was nothing left to be said. Nothing left to be done. No place left to go.

No little girl waiting at home to hug and cuddle and kiss good night.

The tap on the toes of Jackson’s boots clacked against the tile floor of the courthouse as his long-legged strides ate up the hallway. He shunned the elevator for the stairs and descended three flights at a rapid pace, then headed for the building’s exit. In a foolish bit of positive thinking, he’d driven his SUV to the courthouse this morning. Now the sight of the safety booster seat in the back seat made him want to kick a rock into next week.

He didn’t want to go home to a quiet, empty house. He shouldn’t go to a bar. Alcohol on top of his current mood could be a dangerous combination. Somebody probably would get hurt.

He got into the car and started the engine. For a long moment he sat unmoving, staring blindly through the windshield, his hands squeezing the steering wheel so hard that it should have cracked. When his phone rang, he ignored it.

A couple of minutes later, it rang a second time. Again, he ignored it. When it happened a third time, he finally glanced at the display to see who was calling. His cousin. Okay, maybe he would answer it.

“Hello, Boone.”

“How did the hearing go?”

Jackson couldn’t speak past the lump in his throat, so he said nothing.

Following a moment’s silence, Boone got the message. He muttered a curse, and then said, “I’m sorry, man. So damn sorry.”

“Well, it is what it is.”

“You can take another run at it.”

“Yeah.” In three years. Three years. Might as well be three decades. He cleared his throat and changed the subject. “So, how are things in Eternity Springs?”

“Good. They’re good. My friend Celeste Blessing visited my office a few minutes ago and spoke of her granite-headed cousin. Naturally, I thought of you.”

“Naturally,” Jackson dryly replied. But he felt a little less alone.

“Do you have plans this weekend? I could use your help with something.”

Pretty convenient timing. Knowing Boone, he had a spy in the courtroom. But Jackson wasn’t in the position to ignore the bone he’d been thrown. “I’m free. Whatcha got?”

“I’d like you to meet me at home.”

Jackson straightened in surprise. “You’re going back to the ranch?”

“No. Not there. I’m never going back there. However, I am talking about Texas. The Hill Country in particular. A little town west of Austin called Redemption.”

“Redemption, Texas?” Jackson repeated. For some weird reason, his heart gave a little skip. “Why there?”

“It’s a long story. Too long for a phone call. I’ll give you the entire skinny when I see you. When can you get there?”

After today’s debacle, Jackson had absolutely no reason to remain in Nashville. “When do you want me there?”

“I’ll be in later today. I’m in Austin now. I’ve been helping a friend with a project. I have a flight back to Colorado Sunday evening. The earlier you can get here the better, but I’ll make anything work.”

Jackson figured the distance and the drive time. “I’ll meet you tomorrow afternoon. Where?”

“Great. I’ll text you the info when we hang up. Bring camping gear.”

When a sound behind him had Jackson glancing up into the rearview mirror and the booster seat caught his notice, he made an instant decision. “Can’t. I’ll be on my bike.”

“You’re gonna ride your motorcycle all the way from Nashville?”

“Yes, I think I am.”

“Okay. I’ll bring stuff for both of us.” Boone hesitated a moment and added, “Hang in there,

Jackson. It’ll get better.”

No, I don’t think it will. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Jackson ended the call and finally put his SUV in gear and backed out of the parking place. With the distraction of the call behind him, fury returned, and by the time he reached home, he felt like a volcano about to explode.

He threw a handful of things into his tail bag, filled his wallet with cash from his stash, and ten minutes after his arrival, he fired up his bike and took his broken heart and headed out of Nashville. He left behind his home, his work, and his one reason for living, his six-year-old daughter, Haley.

From Jackson. Copyright © 2019 by Emily March and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Emily March Q & A 

  1. You wrote a book! That’s pretty awesome. Why don’t you tell us a bit about what inspired Jackson and the rest of the books in the Eternity Springs world?

The saying “Write what you know” says it all in my case. I’m a small-town girl and my family and friendships are center to my world. I write about love and family and friendships. I have roots in both the Colorado Rockies and the Texas Hill Country, so it was natural for me to set Eternity Springs and Redemption there. The idea for JACKSON grew out of my interest in the music currently being written and performed in Texas. I’ve always thought singer/songwriters are romantic figures so I was excited to create a hero with this background. Unfortunately, I’m not a musician and I’m definitely not a singer, but I am creative so it was fun for me to explore that aspect of a character.

  1. Introduce us to your main character!

Okay. Well, Americana singer/songwriter Jackson McBride is a bit damaged when the book begins. His famous, talented and wealthy ex has won a custody battle that severely limits his access to his six-year-old daughter, so Jackson goes home to the Texas Hill Country to nurse his broken heart. He finds solace in Enchanted Canyon hiking the trails with the dog he rescues and working to bring a historic dance hall back to life. The last thing he expects is to find love again with a woman whose heart is as battered as his own.

  1. Walk us through a day in the life of Emily March.

Ready to be bored? Now that my daughter’s and niece’s weddings are behind me—they consumed me for months—I’m boring and happy about it. I split my time between Fort Worth where we have a condo downtown in a 1930’s passenger train station and our lake house in the Texas Hill Country. I recently gave up my office in town because I’m spending more and more time at the lake. My husband also offices out of our condo, so on days when we are both working in town, I’ve started riding the new TexRail train that runs from our building to DFW airport. It’s quiet and comfortable and I don’t have Internet to distract me. And at $5 a day, it’s much cheaper than office rent. 🙂 When I’m at the lake I’m either working or doing yard work. My new favorite toy is my power washer.

  1. Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?

I’ve always thought that one of the most important things you can do for your writing is to read. And read. And read some more. Read across genres. You absorb so much about pacing and plotting and character development when you read. Plus, you get to READ! 🙂

  1. How is the Jackson trilogy different than your other series?

I don’t think it’s necessarily different from the rest of the Eternity Springs series. I write about love and family and friendship—that doesn’t change. Readers will still see old friends from Eternity Springs and a few scenes in JACKSON are set in Colorado. What’s new is we get to spend some time in the Texas Hill Country and meet a few new characters—Celeste’s cousin, Angelica, for example.

  1. I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?

I’m a big fan of Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series and I’m reading her latest right now, STORM CURSED.

  1. Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?

My goals as a writer are to touch a reader’s heart, to entertain her and make her laugh, to maybe cry a little and sigh with satisfaction upon reaching the end. With JACKSON, I believe I’ve achieved those goals.

  1. Describe yourself in 3 words.

Family. Family. Family. 🙂

  1. What is your most embarrassing memory?

Walking out of the junior high school cafeteria in seventh grade, not realizing that my very short dress—it was the 70’s—had gotten hung up in my underwear and I inadvertently flashed my rear end to the entire cafeteria—including the tables where the football players sat. Thinking about it even today gives me the hives.

  1. Favorite quote or scene you wrote in JACKSON?

I love the ending.  Jackson is a songwriter who has lost his music and when he finds it again…the song he sings to Caroline…just makes me melt.

  1. What is one piece of advice you would tell everyone?

Call your mother.

  1. What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always loved to read, so that is part of it, but my father was my primary inspiration. He was a fabulous storyteller. I grew up sitting at his feet and listening to him tell stories about his youth and his experiences in Europe during World War II. Listening to him tell his stories was my favorite thing to do. I didn’t inherit his talent for verbal storytelling, but I think I learned from him how to tell a good story on the page.

  1. Do you have any interesting writing quirks or habits?

Like I mentioned before, I’m pretty boring. My perks and habits are always evolving. The train writing thing is new for me. I usually write on a laptop and edit on a desktop. I listen to movie soundtracks when I write and always finish a book with The Last of the Mohicans.

  1. What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned as a published author

I’m always a little surprised and honored that readers are excited to meet me. Like I said…I’m a boring person.

  1. What is your favorite state to visit?

Colorado, of course, because I must keep returning to Eternity Springs. 🙂

What are hobbies or interests do you have?

We are lake people, so I love waterskiing and boating and fishing. As I write this we’ve just finished Memorial Day weekend at the lake, so I sort of feel like chief cook and sheet-and-towel washer, too. I love, love, love hosting big holiday gatherings of family and friends at the lake house, but I will admit I do tire of the mountain of laundry in the aftermath.

  1. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next after this for you writing wise?

I’m writing Tucker’s story. Fun fact for this—as part of my research I attended a survivalist training school for a weekend. I searched long and hard to find one where I could return to town to spend the night in a comfy hotel rather than sleep on the ground—I’m only willing to go so far for my art. I did learn to start a friction fire, though, something I’me VERY proud of. 🙂

  1. How can readers connect with you online?

My website is www.emilymarch.com. I’m active on Facebook. My Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/emilymarchbooks. You can also reach me by email at emily@emilymarch.com.

Author Bio:

Emily March is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the heartwarming Eternity Springs series. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

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*