Pretending in Paradise by M. Ullrich

I love a good fauxmance. Hence the word good! If this troupe is done right, in the end, you have a delightful romance. What I really love about the whole fake girlfriend scenario is you have these tricky moments that both parties have to navigate to “prove” that their love is the real deal. M. Ullrich brings the heat every book she writes but this one took a lot of skill to pull off. Why? She gave us two characters that were not easy sells. What I mean by that is both characters had their flaws, big personality traits, you as the reader don’t automatically pull for them, its actually quite to opposite.

The gist of the story is you have Caroline Beckett, a PR specialist, who comes into a new job with an internet travel company, straight into a problem she needs to fix quickly. Her problem is travel blogger Emma Morgan and her on the side hookups while at destinations she is reviewing. So throw these two together in Miami while Emma reviews an exclusive couples only resort and Caroline keeps an eye on the wily blogger.

This one is a slow burn, you have two characters that resent being put in the position they are in. Therefore they resent being in the same room together. These ladies did not hit it off at all. I am here to tell you in the first few chapters you are going to wonder how this is a romance. It was not looking good my friends. These two have a lot of personalities and they are going to clash, I had to wince a few times. As the story progresses these two find their footing, common ground and begin to look through a new lens. The rocky start morphs into more slowly and you the reader are right there for it all.

This is a great read by M. Ullrich. I always expect so much from this amazing author and she has yet to let me down. A fantastic read that will not disappoint.

4.25 out of 5 stars

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The Do-Over by Georgia Beers

Georgia Beers is one of my favorites. She has a beautiful writing style that captures both the imagination and the heart. You can count on Beers to give you a quality well-paced book each and every time. Pretty amazing, right?

Easton Evans is coming off a divorce. Not a messy one, but one of mutual respect, positive interactions and co-parenting their seven year-old daughter. Easton married her high-school sweetheart and after years of marriage finally admitted to herself, her husband and close friends that she was a lesbian. When we meet Easton she is working through her guilt of a failed marriage, parenting an unruly adolescent and grappling with a corporate merger that has left her the bad guy to her new sales staff. When the company bigwigs ask her and the other managers to attend conflict resolution, Easton has no choice but to attend.

Bella Hunt is the therapist that will be running the six-week course that Easton and her co-workers will attend. Bella knows Easton from high-school and is dreading working with her former classmate. Bella had a nightmare experience in school and struggled to endure and escape that time period. The memories of the bullying she faced are more than enough. While Bella is a well-rounded accomplished adult, you cannot help but notice that her youth left a few forever scars. When Bella realizes that Easton doesn’t remember her she decides to keep their past a secret. Why go back through those emotions is she can just endure a six-week class? One major problem, she cannot help be drawn to grown-up Easton Evans.

From the beginning, the story has flashbacks of the characters when they were in high school. You become invested in their past as much as their present. You ache for the young girls that were dealing with insecurities, one in the popular crowd, the other the object of their bullying. The chemistry The Do-Over is absolutely amazing and the high school flashbacks are perfectly written so as not to distract or confuse but to add to the plot. They brought depth to the story and gave you more insight into the present day leading ladies. This is another fabulous book from Georgia Beers.

4 out of 5 stars

Listen by Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant did an outstanding job with this book. Her best work so far! Listen is so sweet and compelling you just cannot help but fall in love with the characters she has created.

Lily Croft is a 27-year-old hermit. She spends the majority of her time in her Chicago apartment with her rescued tomcat. Lily lives for math and she excels at her finance focused career. She does not interact with anyone other than basic conversations. With no friends or family, this amazingly talented woman has shut herself off from the world. Why? Lily is a child music prodigy. Leading symphonies by the time she was 11 years old. With that talent came unspeakable demands and abuse from her parents. Forced to play 24/7, Lily began to have mental health issues including social phobia. Therefore she cut everyone out of her life, including the music that she once loved so much.

Hope De’Marco is also a musician. Hope runs a grant-funded music therapy studio that focuses on children with disabilities and inner-city kids. Lily just happens to be sub-contracted to a company that is right by Hope’s studio. One evening on her way home Lily hears Hope playing and it sparks curiosity in her and draws her to the music. She continues to go by the studio to hear the pianist play again.

Hope and Lily have a charming romance. Its gentle pace has you rooting for Lily’s growth and cheering Hope’s gentleness. What Bryant really excels at with this story is letting the reader feel the emotions of Lily. You feel her anxiety rippling off the page. When she was in a social experience that sparked her anxiety you were right there with her feeling those heart-pounding emotions. You root for Lily’s growth, you are dazzled by Hope’s kindness and you are terrified for that inevitable shoe to drop. A great book that keeps you spellbound to the end. You leave this one with a massive smile on your face.

4.25 out of 5 stars

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Payback by Charlotte Mills

Oh wowzers! Payback is a solid whodunit with smart twists and turns that keep you turning the page. You are working just as hard as the detectives to keep up with this one. Charlotte Mills has written a delightful police drama filled with romance, banter, and suspense. Did I mention this book was smart?

Detective Constable Kate Wolfe has been sent to Warner, a small rural town as punishment for a screw-up. We don’t know what Kate did but it must have big enough for the brass to send her away far away from London. She super sullen about being sent away and her attitude towards everyone speaks volumes about her level of pissed off. Kate’s arrival just happens to coincide with an unexpected rash of crimes. So she might be mad but she’s also busy.

Detective Chief Inspector Helen Taylor had her time in a big city. For years she worked in Manchester but decided to leave the urban epicenter for the laid back life of Warner. While Kate is sullen and prickly, Helen is cheeky and fun-loving. She knows Kate is mad and she prods her with humor and sass until she finally chips away at the walls of the new detective. From the moment these two formidable ladies meet there is heat and attraction. How Mills writes the interactions between Kate and Helen is skillful and dynamic. It keeps you on your toes much as the crimes everyone is trying to figure out.

You really feel like you are in the investigative process of two highly skilled detectives juggling multiple cases. Often times in crime based novel the romance is a lesser part of the whole story. Not this one! Charlotte Mills does a fantastic job of balancing both the romance and crime aspects and weaving them together to make an excellent story. Not to mention there is a monster holy moly guacamole moment. Damn, I never saw it coming and that was awesome. This is a great book you will not regret picking up.

4 out of 5 stars

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Major Surgery by Lola Keeley

It safe to say Lola Keeley will always have a bit of my heart. You see last year she wrote hands down the best book of 2018. That story took my damn breath away countless times. Fighting one hell of a reading slump, I was truly grateful to read her newest novel, Major Surgery. 

Medical romances, I’m going to flat out tell you, I love them. LOVE THEM! Two hot lady doctors that square off and have tension, heat and intelligent banter, oh yeah, that is just what I am looking for. Add in that one of our docs is a total ice queen. Give me this book!

Major Cassie Taylor is a trauma surgeon who has left the service and is applying for a new position as Head of Trauma for St. Sophia’s hospital in London. As skilled as Cassie is at saving lives with quick thinking and great hands she cannot do anything right in the eyes of Veronica Mallick, the head of the Acute Medical Unit. Cassie’s not supposed to be the head of Trauma. Veronica had been grooming another colleague/friend to take that spot for years. The major’s arrival is unexpected to twist to Veronica’s world. To say this woman is a control freak would be an understatement. As much as these two clash, there is still a level of respect and professionalism in their stand-offs. That I appreciated! Veronica and Cassie challenge each other professionally as well as personally and you can see as the story progresses that they relish the banter and the friendship that develops.

This story has that slow burn that starts with dislike, eases into friendship and then develops into something more. I thought the two characters were very well written dynamic leading ladies. The story is smart and leans just a bit more of into a drama than an actual romance. It is a very good story. I really loved my time with it. Keeley is definitely one of those authors that you cannot wait to see where they take you next. 

4 out of 5 stars

A Wish Upon a Star by Jeannie Levig

A Wish Upon a Star by Jeannie Levig is a fabulous read. This book has those little moments that pull at your heartstrings. A slow burn romance that uses tension in the most glorious way. Leving writes a balanced well-written book with characters that you just cannot get enough of. So damn good!

Leslie Raymond has had her heart shattered. The wounds are deep and extraordinarily painful she decides to move from her home in Florida back to her childhood residence in Burbank, California. This is a chance for a new beginning, a chance to heal and start fresh. What is she isn’t prepared for is her gorgeous neighbor and her amazing daughter.

Erica Cooper is a college professor and mother to Siena, a special needs child that that is on the autistic spectrum. Siena is immediately taken to Leslie and her dog. They strike up and unlikely friendship that is filled with understating, patience and kindness.

Erica and Leslie each have baggage and trust issues from previous relationships. They develop an easy friendship that builds as the story moves along. It feels real, I cannot say how impressive these characters are. They are three dimensional and are 100% relatable. Not to mention the chemistry between Erica and Leslie is out of this world.

What makes this book special is not just the two mains and their romance but how Siena and even Gus, the dog all play such an intricate role in the book. You cannot help but fall in love with them all. This is an amazing story.

5 out of 5 stars

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books                       https://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/books/a-wish-upon-a-star-by-jeannie-levig-2726-b

Calendar Girl by Georgia Beers

Georgia Beers writes a dang good story. You know that when you pick up one of her books you are going to get a quality story with interesting characters that have dynamite chemistry. I would be hard-pressed to find a Beers book I’ve not adored but this is quality stuff that every romance junkie will love.

Addison Fairchild is the runs one of the three branches of the Fairchild Empire, Fairchild Rentals. She is an absolute ice-queen that is cold and aloof. Trained from birth to run her mother’s real estate corporation she has learned to become hard-nosed and closed off. Since her mother has decided to retire, Addison has increased her workload with no breaks, zero fun, and life that is nothing but work, emails and phone calls. What this does is takes a toll on her health and leaves everyone who loves her petrified.

Katie Coper is the exact opposite of Addison. She has a magnetic personality that draws people to her. She lovable, cheerful and radiates positivity. Katie has every reason to be down on her luck but she still has that sunny disposition. Katie recently gave up a job she loved in the tech sector to take a part-time nanny position watching pre-school twins. Her father had been diagnosed with early onset dementia and Katie put her career on hold to move in with her parents to help be there for both of them during this trying time. After a while, the bills pile up and Katie needs to help with the financial load, when her bestie at Fairchild offers her a well-paying personal assistant job to the distant Addison, Katie has no choice but to jump at the opportunity.

These two get off on the wrong foot, mostly because Addison is a control freak who is being forced by her mother/boss to have a PA. Katie has big ideas of how to help her new boss but Addison is hesitant to change anything. These two butt heads, but as their time together increases they begin to see each other in a new light. The walls fall, and perceptions fall away. The chemistry between these two is seriously dynamic and sexy.

I adored this book. The two mains were written beautifully and the whole opposites attracts thing is always a winner in my book. Loved the amped up tension with some angst! The connection between Addison and Katie is palpable. You can feel the chemistry coming right off the page. Loved it!

4.25 out of 5 stars

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