Shadowboxer by Jessica L. Webb

If you start by just looking at the front cover of this book, you’ll notice a few things. Now sometimes a cover doesn’t do the book justice, this is absolutely not the case for Shadowboxer. The cover is dark and gritty. The focus is on heavy boxing gloves that have been battered and bruised, much like the kids that face life in the foster care system, on the street, and in abusive homes.

Jordan McAddie was raised in a home by two parents who abused alcohol. Her father was an emotionally abusive drunk. He took is abuse out on the mother of his children and well as the kids, finally going so far that Jordan was removed from her parent’s custody. We meet Jordan as she is well into her career as a child advocate and social worker in Halifax. Jordan uses her past experience as a professional boxer as a way to connect with the local kids. After working grueling hours she spends all her free time opening up her boxing gym to local kids interested in the sport and needing a place they can feel wanted.

When new funding for her gym comes available from a large corporation, Jordan is faced with a face from her past. Ali Clarke is back in Halifax as a representative for Centera Corporation. Her job is to learn from the youth at Jordan’s gym and create some good PR for her company. Ali is the one Jordan let go of so long ago. Her first and only love is back in Halifax. To see Ali again is a blessing, but also brings back all those old feelings. These two have a new chance at love if they are willing to risk it.

As heavy as the subject is about kids that are in desperate need of better representation and social services this book gives you lightness and hope as well. Ali and Jordan have a fabulous chemistry and it’s a delightful slow burn romance. At times this book is heavy but the counterbalances are done well. The secondary characters add so much to the book but never out shadow the mains. That is hard to pull off and Webb did it flawlessly. More than anything this one keeps you hooked.

4.5 stars out of 5

  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
  • Purchase: https://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/books/shadowboxer-by-jessica-l-webb-2675-b

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Bring Holly Home by A.E. Radley

A.E. Radley knows how to deliver a great story. Her newest book, Bring Holly Home is one of her best yet! A great ice queen romance gets me every single time.

Victoria Hastings is one of the world’s most influential people in the world of high fashion. As the editor-in-chief of an international fashion magazine, Arrival, Victoria is busy, demanding and an absolute ice-queen. Her assistants are known for fleeing, and if they don’t get away first they are often times fired for inconsequential reasons. Under all of her tough exterior, there is a sweet woman who loves fiercely. You just have to break down the massive concrete barriers around her heart.

Holly Carter is one of the few assistants that handled working with Victoria with ease. Victoria threw every challenge her way and Holly met expectations with ease and excellence. So when Holly up and walked away during Paris Fashion Week, Victoria was surprised and unbelievably hurt. Twist! Holly didn’t leave to quit, somehow she was injured and developed amnesia. The young assistant has been living in Paris for a year now.

This ice queen age gap romance will keep you on your toes all the way to the end. Radley keeps the tension taut all the way through the last chapter. My only grievance with this book is that I wish there had been more one on one interaction between the two leading ladies. A little more dialogue would have launched this book into the next stratosphere. With that being said, this book is a really great read, and I sincerely hope that we get another book featuring Victoria and Holly.

3.75 out of 4 stars

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Bait and Switch by Blythe H. Warren

Basically, I started writing this blog as a cathartic way of getting my feelings out about what I. So many times, especially after Kindle Unlimited unrolled, I would read a great review, purchase a book and then go WTF. So many bad book suggestions by Amazon and so much money wasted. A few months ago, I get nailed by a reader on the blog, just ranting at me about a bad review and how mean and awful of a person I was. That book was special to her and how dare I claim that it was not an amazing, fabulous read. It wasn’t that bad a review either, 3 stars actually. To me, the book was not to my taste and I pointed out the reasons, always trying to be fair but honest. Why I’m saying this is in such a convoluted way is that it’s funny, awesome and so fascinating to me how some books can be one person’s treasure and another person was like blah, next, please.

Bait and Switch by Blythe H. Warren is one of those books that I went in with high hopes and came out on the other side wondering what did I miss. By no means a lacking book, but I did not resound with me personally. My biggest reason, I did not really connect with the main character, Liv. I for the life of me could not see why Mira would be interested in her, other than being good at her job, character wise she was flat and uninteresting. I felt like as the reader I was supposed to already get and like Liv. Other than working at an aquarium, and a love for beer, I don’t know much more about her. The book is told from her POV so I would hope to have more understanding of this character and what makes her tick.

Just because Bait and Switch wasn’t my cup of tea and Liv wasn’t the protagonist of my dreams doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t read this author again. I absolutely would. Thanks for reading my rant!

3 out of 5 stars

The Secret Pond by Gerri Hill

Gerri Hill is a phenomenal writer. I love her books and have read almost everything she has published. What I love most about Hill’s writing is she sets the scene perfectly. In The Secret Pond, I felt as if though I could truly see the landscape of Leakey, Texas. She described it perfectly, Hill transported you right into one of the most beautiful places in the vast state of Texas.

There’s going to be a but now. While the setting for the book was perfect, the romance was not. Our two main protagonists in the story have been dealt horrific losses. Lindsey McDermott, an architect from Dallas, has lost her entire family to a plane crash. I’m talking everyone, parents, grandparents, both siblings, siblings spouses and their children. Hannah Larson lost her husband to a fifteen month battle with a brain tumor. She watched her husband deteriorate as cancer ravaged his body. So when these two ladies meet, they have so much backstory and pain to navigate through.

The majority of the book is spent with Hannah’s son Jack, playing in the Frio River or a secret pond on the McDermott ranch. Lindsey meets Jack, and they see a bit of themselves in each other, grief recognizing grief. They fish, swim and enjoy summer, finally including Hannah on their adventures. That takes you through almost 75% of the book. After halfway, I could not see any way for these Hannah and Lindsey to have a romance. They do, but it feels less than and rushed.

I will continue to read every book Hill writes, this one just was not my favorite. It felt long, a bit repetitious and the romance felt like an afterthought.

3 out of 5 stars

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Long-Distance Coffee (Midnight Coffee #1) & Coffee and Conclusions (Midnight Coffee, #2) 

Long-Distance Coffee (Midnight Coffee #1)

I really, really like Emma Sterner-Radley’s work. She is a writer that gives you a great story with interesting characters that draw you right into the story. I love when an author can take you away from reality and pitch you right into their book. Sterner-Radley is one of those authors.

Erin Black is a personal trainer residing in Manhattan. She is a loner and suffers from insomnia. Her sleepless nights turn into late night infomercials and surfing Twitter for entertainment. Her boredom leads her to meeting Isabella Martinez. Isabella is the mother of an infant that has stomach issues that keep them both up. Erin becomes her late-night companion, first through sarcastic interaction on Twitter and then into more personal communications via Skype.

This is slow-moving, long-distance friendship that eventually blossoms into more. These two bare their souls to each other, needing a friend and finding it in the most unlikely place. They have witty banter that can turn into fun/playful as well as serious.

A super cute story that ends rather abruptly. You will need to go into this one knowing that the sequel is essential.

4 out of 5 stars

Coffee and Conclusions (Midnight Coffee, #2)

Book one of this series ended rather abruptly, so I was very glad to see the publisher did not waste any time with getting the next installment out. I’m going to get right to it and say I really enjoyed the first book, Long-Distance Coffee. I thought it was a sweet story of two lost souls connecting and finding each other. They bared their feelings and hurts to each other, needing a friend and then finding that once in a lifetime chance at love. A sweet, heartfelt story that consisted of adorable banter between the two main characters.

The second book left me feeling more along the lines of meh. Let me explain. This part of the book we finally get the two characters to meet. Woohoo! That’s a great moment. Really a couple of great moments, but then the story began to just drag. It was too much talking and it felt soap-boxy and unrealistic later in the book. I felt myself wanting to skip paragraphs and even rolled my eyes at the parts that I thought were a bit over the top.

I think this series would have been better slimmed down and made into one book. The second part felt too long. Just my opinion, though. I enjoyed Emma Sterner-Radley’s work and look forward to where she takes me next.

2.75 stars rounding up to a 3

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The Last First Time (Norfolk Coast Investigation Story #3) by Andrea Bramhall

The third installment of the Norfolk Coast Investigation Story series is gruesome, gory, violent, enchanting and heartfelt. So many feelings all rolled into one magnetic story. Kate and Gina are back and life keeps throwing them into chaos and danger. It also brings them closer than ever before.

The book starts with a bang. Literally, unfortunately. Gina and Kate’s co-worker Stella are shopping for Christmas presents at the local mall. While deciding on presents and Stella notices something off about two of the other shoppers. By the time she relays the message to Gina, the bombers have set off a massive explosion that takes the lives of many. Terrifying, gut-churning fear jumps right off the page and lands in the pit of your stomach. You feel and see the horror of the crime scene.

Kate joins the scene quickly, only to find out in the midst of the rubble that Gina and Stella were in the very store where the bomb was detonated. These ladies cannot catch a break! This is where the story begins to weave one of the many subplots into the story.

Bramhall brings the past and present to life. History is weaved throughout the story while Kate and Gina conquer the demons of both their past and present. While emotions rocket all over the place there is still time for that beautiful romance between the two leading ladies amidst the craziness and danger. Everything about this book is done very well. Even when it was hard to read, I wanted more. Kate and Gina’s softness was the perfect anecdote to the scary heart-wrenching crime portion of the book. I cannot wait till the next book.

4.25 out of 5 stars

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Little Dip (Garoul 0) by Gill McKnight

The Garoul series has always been one of my most favorites to read. I have adored each book and been captivated by the characters that have jumped off their pages. I had no idea what to think about going back to the beginning and telling Connie and Sylvie’s story (set in the late 1970s) but I was in for whatever adventure Gill McKnight was going to throw my way.

Connie Fortune is in the Little Dip area to photograph and illustrate the Yellow Cukoo. A bird the has recently been placed on the endangered species list and is extremely rare to be seen in North America. Connie’s quest for the elusive bird drops her right into the path of Sylvie Garoul.

Marie Garoul has been brought back to Little Dip to help her mother/pack leader work on the family almanac. Marie and Connie clash from the minute they meet. There is that pull towards each other but their heads and smartass comments keep them circling each other the majority of the book. Tensions and high and so is the attraction.

Beware once you start this one you will have a hard time putting it down. As always Gill Mcknight dazzles us with her storytelling. You couldn’t ask for a better escape. This book is fun, sexy and so well written. I sincerely hope that we see more Garouls soon!

***Note if you haven’t read any of the books in this series you can absolutely start with this one!

5 out of 5 stars

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