Mine to Keep by Wendy Hudson

I like the idea of a romantic thriller, and when done right you have two amazing genres converging for those final moments to keep you riveted to your seat. Will the heroines survive the vicious maniac and live happily ever after? Gripping, right? In my very humble opinion, you need those two plots points to be really tightly woven. The romance needs to pull in the reader. That couple has to ring true, their love must conquer all. The thriller part needs to increase your anxiety level, get the blood pumping. I think for me in Mine to Keep both parts fell short of really capturing the reader’s attention on both fronts.

Erin is this stoic, enigmatic character that you want to love because she has had so little of it in her life. Abigail, the local chef, feels a bit unsettled in being the chef at her parent’s castle turned hotel. Could she have been a renowned chef like her ex if she had left this sleepy little town? So you have two interesting characters and the beginning starts off so well, then just meh. Meh, because once they admit their attraction out loud, there was no more push/pull until you introduce the ex, who just happened to show back up after being gone years. Come on! How much more contrived can you get. The romance between Erin Carter and Abigail Miller felt bit flat and uninspired.

The thriller, you could see coming from a mile away. No twists and turns, you knew what was going to happen and the book just stayed the course. I wanted so much more, anything, just a tiny swerve would have made a huge difference. Not to mention the character decisions that just didn’t totally add up. The thriller was flatter than the romance and the ending was way too glossed over.

I thought Wendy Hudson had an amazing first book. This one is a good one, it just needed more thriller or more romance. Neither was done to full potential. I left me wanting more.

3 out of 5 stars

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Who’d Have Thought by G. Benson

Every once in a while you come across a book that grabs you and holds on. You know what I’m talking about. A book that you are halfway through and you want to close it and start it back over. A book where you stare into space a mull over the characters and what their next move might be. A story that grabs you and holds on. That book is Who’d Have Thought by G. Benson. This book is that good, this book is that amazing!

Hayden PĂ©rez is our main character with the story told through her POV. She is an emergency room nurse that works tirelessly. Hayden loves her career and interacting with her patients in the fast-paced world of emergency medicine at a hospital in NYC. She does have a major problem she cannot seem to tackle. There is not enough money to keep her afloat. Every extra cent is sent home to Miami to help her family. On a whim, she answers an ad for a female looking to pay for someone to be her wife for one year’s time. Hayden is just that desperate for cash and unpredictable enough to take the leap.

Neurosurgeon Samantha Thomson is that lady looking for a wife. Sam is an interesting character, to say the least. She is truly a complex three-dimensional person. 100% an ice queen, but she isn’t going to just be thawed by love. No, this character sees the world a bit differently than most. She vacillates between serious, looking at problems more as the scientist trying to decipher what needs to be done and how to do it most efficiently. Which to the majority of people around her she comes off a cold and unfeeling. With Hayden though, she is sarcastic and witty, personality traits that are often hidden to everyone else. Once Hayden and Sam get on the same page as becoming a married couple their dynamic changes immensely in all the right ways.

A five-star rating would be inadequate for this book. It’s better than that. It truly is. This is easily one of the, if not the very best books I have read this year. Everything was done to perfection. Characters, pacing, dialogue, plot, there is no flaw. This book is a true gem!

5 out of 5 stars, but really so many stars. All the stars 🙂

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Definite Possibility (Bay West Social #3) by Maggie Cummings

I so loved Totally Worth It and was super excited for the sequel to the lesbian Sex and the City-esque story. I did, however, pump the breaks when I found out from a few fellow reviewers that the sequel left you with a broken heart (Meg & Sasha forever). So finally when the third part of the series came out, I am ready to do some power reading and zip through two and three back to back.

I am a fan of this series. I like the style, the pacing, the friendships all tied around cute and sexy romances. For me, this book was all about redemption for Sasha. She let the girl get away and she sure as hell better get her back. Who is this Reina and why is she still here? The story also re-introduced Sam and added a new character, Lucy. If you loved the first one, were frustrated with that disastrous ending of the second, well let me tell you the third one will give you nothing but joy and happiness.

4.25 out of 5  stars

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Eyes Like Those by Melissa Brayden

I have a handful of favorite authors who I will read anything they write. What is glaringly apparent to me and my biased little heart is nothing, nothing, comes close to a Melissa Brayden book. (Well, there is one other writer, but we will leave her nameless for dramatic effect). How is she this good? Each book captivates me, her characters, their dialogue, it gets me every single time in the best possible way. I mean really, how is the dialogue so good? It just reads so well! I would give up coffee on a cold winter morning for this lady’s books. They are just that amazing!

After the reading slump of all reading slumps, knowing that this was on the horizon gave me hope for an amazing story with protagonists I couldn’t help but love. Did she deliver? Oh hell yes! Goodness gracious that was fantastic. Do you know a moment when you’re reading along and your heart stops, and you start talking out loud trying to get the character to listen to you? You are so immersed in a story you can feel every emotion radiating off the page. This happened to me with this book! How great is that?

The story starts off with Isabel Chase losing yet another terrible job and fretting how she was gonna pay the bills. Being a waitress is not a fit for Isabel but she keeps doing the job to keep her cat fed and force herself to continue to write, her one true passion. As lady luck strikes just at the right moment, Isabel gets the chance of a lifetime and heads to Hollywood to interview for a staff writer position on a hit television family drama. This is her big break if only she can keep her fears and anxiety at bay.

Taylor Andrews is the executive producer for said TV show. At 32, Taylor has become the It Girl in TV. Her shows have high ratings and basically, everything she touches becomes a success. Shonda Rhimes, better watch out! With five years at the helm, the ratings have dipped just a bit and it’s time to shake things up to keep the show going.

I will say both characters are fabulous. They’re fun, they’re interesting and Brayden makes them so real, with flaws and all. You can’t help for rooting for their success and romance. Not, to mention she gives you a handful of other characters that you will be chomping at the bit to hear their stories as well. I’ll wrap up my gushing, with this book is delightful. Brayden brought the heat with this one and I loved every second with it. I cannot wait for the next in the series. If you are a Brayden fan grab this one and enjoy the ride! Good Lord, it was good!!!

5 out of 5 stars

Eyes Like Those

The Loudest Silence (Part One) by Olivia Janae

A great book to me usually has a few key elements. Dialogue is first and foremost the most important aspect. The dialogue in a story is absolutely crucial. Second, interesting characters. I want them to captivate me, I want to love them or loathe them, but please have them be amazing one way or the other. If I can get some tension and angst thrown in I will love you forever. So when you have it all wrapped into one delicious story, if you are me, your heart sings with happiness. The Loudest Silence has it all and sooooo much more. This book captivated me from the start and you couldn’t have pulled me away if you tried. I loved it!

Kate Flynn has just arrived in Chicago to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is a fill-in for a fellow cellist who had an unfortunate accident and will need an extensive recovery time. This is the first time in forever that Kate and her three-year-old son, Max will be able to put down some roots for longer than a handful of months. Kate is loveable, she’s down to Earth, an amazing mom and she doesn’t hold anything back. If something needs to be said, you can count on Kate to let you know exactly what she thinks.

Vivian Kensington is the ice queen of all ice queens. She is gorgeous, formidable, intimidating, abrasive, rich and above all else, she is the boss. Vivian, who lost her hearing is a young child, was raised by world-class musicians. Unable to go into playing music herself she went into the business side of the music world. You do not want to cross this woman, and of course, that is exactly what Kate does in their first interaction.

The ladies are opposites and it totally works. They butt heads until they realize neither is as bad as the other one has made her out to be. An unlikely friendship strikes up and the love of young Max solidifies this bond. Of course, nothing is easy and there is the not-so-sane, bass player Ash Campbell for their romance to deal with.

I know that this at one time was a SwanQueen fanfic. I know that I read it, but it doesn’t feel the same, and I mean this in the best possible way. I felt like I was getting a new story that was so fantastic just every once in a while I had an, oh yeah, I remember this moment. This book is wonderfully written and will grab your attention and keep it until the last page is turned. It is part of a series with a bit of an angsty ending. So, be prepared to start counting down the days till Olivia Janae releases the next one. I was glad this wasn’t over, I need more of this in my life.

5 out of 5 stars

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Fearless by Robin Alexander

Robin Alexander is one of my go-to writers. She writes these amazing fun loving books that pull at your heart, bring a tear to your eye and make you laugh as you turn the pages of her story. She is one of the few writers where you don’t even have to tell me what the book is about, I’m going to buy it immediately. Fearless her newest addition is no exception, this book has it all (humor, romance, adventure) and it was a fantastic read.

Falon Whyte is on a cruise ship vacation trying to relax and have an amazing time. The problem is she just broke-up with her girlfriend on said trip. Not exactly what she had planned but the constant fighting had to stop.

Haley Hollis is on her first vacation since undergrad. Holly is a workaholic who takes no time for the fun in life. The problem is her bunkmate continues to hook-up in their shared cabin and Haley has spent most of her vacation sleeping on a poolside lounger.

Neither Falon or Haley imagined their vacation to start so epically bad, and that’s not going to be the end of it either. I’ll let you read about their mishaps and experience that for yourself. What I will tell you it’s a glorious adventure full of romance and fun. Two fantastic characters who explore their past and presents to create the future that they desire. I loved this one!

4.25 out of 5 stars

  • Publisher: Intaglio Publications

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Perfect Rhythm by Jae

I have taken a step back from reading for a bit, there is a lot going on and at times I find myself reading current events more than being able to zone out with a book. It hasn’t helped that the last couple of months nothing really sounds interesting to read. When I got a chance to read Jae’s newest book, it sat on my Kindle for a few days before I opened it. Can I just say, I am so glad I did. Perfect Rhythm has that quintessential Jae style. It’s focused, romantic, detailed and has that amazing quality where you come out on the other side smarter than you went in.

Leontyne Blake is a pop star. She has made it big, a household name with millions of fans and millions in her bank account. She is also just going through the motions of life, she’s burnt out, tired and needs a break from the constant travel of pop star life. She’s lost in a sea of fans and adoration. When her mother calls and tells her to come home, her dad is very ill, Leo finally has a break from music but has to face her demons of coming back to her childhood home.

Holly Drummond is Leo’s father’s home health nurse. Her job is her passion, so going above and beyond the call of duty is nothing new to her. She is a godsend to Leo’s mother. Holly is happy with small town life, loves seeing her friends and family regularly and she can’t begin to understand how Leo left her hometown and her parents behind.

These two start off on the wrong foot, they spar a bit before breaking down and communicating their misconceptions about the other. Jae keeps the tension high and then takes it from “enemies”, friends and then to romance. She does it wonderfully, the emotions that pour out in this book are amazing. I found myself hanging on every word, devouring their dialougue and loving every moment. It is a very well written romance!

While the two characters move from friends to the development of romantic feelings, Holly holds back from Leo. Holly is an asexual lesbian. Coming from poor relationships in the past, Holly is not willing to take that risk with the world famous pop star, no matter how down to earth she is. Leo is everything she wants in a partner, but the uncertainty of their future is too great to chance it. You can say angst, and it’s my favorite when done right. Let me tell you, it’s done masterfully!

Never does the book feel like a human sexuality book or preachy soapbox, this is a romance novel. The love story is front and center, Holly lets Leo know how she feels, her experiences, how she’s different but it never overshadows the heart of the book. You don’t want to miss this one, it’s a fabulously written romance that pulls at your heart strings. Thank you, Jae, for a book that renewed my faith in taking time out for a damn good book.

5 out of 5 stars

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