Jae is one of the premier writers in the romance genre. She knows how to write a romance novel that keeps you engaged and gives you those amazing butterflies. Not the Marrying Kind maybe one of her best books yet. This romance is sweet, well developed and pulls at your heartstrings. This book was so good and I hated to see it end.
While this is a spin-off of A Perfect Rhythm, you definitely do not need to read the latter before you start this one. Our main characters are Ashley and Sasha and the story throws the two protagonists together as they plan the flowers and coordinating wedding cake for their friends Holly and Leo’s upcoming nuptials.
Ashley owns the one and only flower shop in this sleepy mid-west Missouri town. Ashley is deep in the closet, you can count the number of people that know her sexuality on one hand. She is terrified of disappointing her parents and fears that if she is out her business in the conservative community would suffer greatly. Ash has convinced herself that she is fine living her life alone and without a love interest. The risk is just too great.
Sasha is an amazing baker who runs the local bakery. A popular resident who came back home after culinary school. Sasha is a pansexual, who is out but rarely speaks of her sexual preferences or past relationships she had before coming back to her hometown. Ashley was her high school crush but since then they only speak pleasantries to each other in passing.
When Holly and Leo pick their friends to do the cake and the flowers, Sasha and Ashley are thrown together. Sasha pushes Ashley to open up and these two leading ladies develop an amazing friendship with an undercurrent of sexual tension. They are attracted to each other but no it is a no-go.
Where this book really excels is the slow burn racked with emotions. This book pulls that string just tight enough and then gives you all the emotions. I loved the dialogue between the two mains. Ashley’s fear of revealing her sexuality is palatable. You feel her nervous energy pop right off the page. Sasha’s quiet strength gives her the courage to reveal her true self and to stop suppressing all of her emotions. So many feels in this one! THIS BOOK IS SO, SO GOOD!
5 out of 5 Stars
Nicole Stiling’s debut novel Secrets in a Small Town is a dynamic romance meets mystery that keeps you on your toes yet smiling page to page. No worries with this one, you won’t be scared to turn out the lights but you will be enchanted and thoroughly entertained.
Savannah Castillo is the town manager of a sleepy little community of fewer than 1,500 people. She picked this small town specifically because it was an ideal place to raise her daughter, Eliana. Savannah is 100% an ice queen. She lets no one, other than her little one, close to her. This control fanatic is disturbed by the sudden onslaught of mysterious gifts. They arrive at her office and home at all given times with no sender to be found. The gifts start increasing in frequency as well as becoming more and more threating. Savannah thinks she can handle this on her own until her assistant goes over her head and involves the one person Savannah wants to avoid more than anyone, the chief of police, Micki Blake.
Micki loves working in Winter Valley. She was worried when she left the hustle and bustle of the city she would be bored. Come to find out she likes the slow pace of small-town life. The only thorn in her side is that the town manager seems to loathe her for reasons she can’t quite grasp. Micki takes Savannah’s attitude in stride and throws it right back at her needling the uptight town manager whenever she gets the chance. You really can’t rule this lighthearted good-natured police chief. When Micki’s friend and Savannah’s executive assistant, Chloe, brings the gift situation to Micki’s attention, the chief is bound and determined to help her abrasive nemesis.
Nicole Stiling can write a damn good book that is for sure. My mind is still boggled a bit that this is a debut novel. It really has a good flow, the plot is dynamic and the dialogue reads very natural. From the very first page, I was drawn to the story and the main characters. As caustic as Savannah was at times I still liked her and Micki is just a main you are immediately drawn to. There were enough twists and turns in who the stalker might be that I was guessing to the end. I will definitely be reading what Nicole Stiling has to offer next.
4.25 out of 5 stars
I picked up A Curious Woman by Jess Lea on an impulse. I was looking for something different and was struck by the book’s description of quirkiness and fun. I’m down for a good rom-com and I am always curious about a new author from Ylva Publishing.
Bess Campbell is learning to live a grounded grateful life. She has an off the grid tiny house, a handful of chickens and a job she absolutely loves at a hip and zany museum of oddities. Bess is a total hipster who lives her life quoting self-help mantras. She is a ray of positivity and light, with a heart of pure gold.
Margaret Gale is Bess’s direct opposite. Margaret is stern, rigid and has guarded herself against everyone in her small seaside town. She is an outcast whose past is shrouded in gossip and rumors. Margaret comes across very cold and unforgiving but really has built a fortress around herself not to let anyone hurt her again.
These two are thrown together when Bess’s boss and Margaret’s rival, Leon is murdered. Everyone in Port Bannir immediately thinks Ms. Gale is the killer and is ready to pin it on her. Bess comes to Margaret’s defense and they begin a journey of uncovering who done it in this sleepy small town.
What I liked about this book is 100% about Bess and Margaret. They were fascinating characters and their interactions together were delightful. The murder mystery was interesting but nowhere near as gripping as the romance. I wish there had been more of it. I’m hoping that this is a series where we get to see Bess and Margaret take on the bad guys again. For Jess Lea’s first book I thought she produced an amazing debut. She is definitely an author whose works I will be reading again.
3.75 out of 5 stars
Lucy’s Chance by Jackie D was just what I needed after a long week of craziness that just won’t quit. A great escape, that didn’t overthink what it really was, two ladies with a life-long bond that even after twelve years of separation, the love was still there.
Lucy Rodriguez made a terrible decision at the age of twenty. Caught up in the razzle-dazzle of undergrad she decided to break up with her girlfriend to see what dating life was all about. She has regretted that decision every day thereafter. She broke her true love’s heart and has spent every day thereafter paying the price. She works and she works with very little else in life. A renowned journalist who covers the crime beat for San Diego and has Pulitzer for her stories from the Middle East, her works is her lifeblood.
Erica Chance is a small town police officer in Northern California. Erica has spent the last decade of her life trying to repair the hole in her heart Lucy left behind. She doesn’t let any woman close to her heart anymore. Four months of casual dating and then that relationship must end. Erica’s regimented life is thrown out of orbit when dead college-age women appear in rapid succession. It also brings Lucy Rodriguez back into her life.
Add a bit of conflict, add a bit of angst, a derail killer and you have a really good read. Is this anything revolutionary? Not so much. What this book is a great escape. You have a few hours to decompress from real-life’s craziness, and enjoy a quality story with interesting characters. Well minus the psychopath murderer, but you know what I mean.
3.5 out of 5 stars
The Roundabout by Gerri Hill is what I would call a sweet romance. There really isn’t a lot of heat/ I want to ravish your body moments, and there isn’t any angst to dial up the tension. No, it’s just a cute story with some awe moments along the way.
Megan Phenix is thirty-nine and has sworn off dating forever. After two monumental strikeouts in the love department, she has decided that relationships are not worth the hassle and heartbreak. To make matters worse, Megan is the hottest commodity in her little town. This bachelorette is asked out by every woman in her little town and they just won’t take no for an answer. After too much tequila one night Megan passes out and her “friend” Mary Anne takes some R-rated pictures of her and uses them as leverage to get a date. This blackmail by humiliation on Facebook drives Megan to take drastic measures.
At fifty, Leah Rollins decides to retire from the tech industry, and thanks to a windfall from her late aunt, Leah is able to make her dream come true. She moves to Eureka Springs to open up a t-shirt shop in the sleepy little tourist town. What she also gets is a grouchy, sassy business neighbor, Megan. These two spar over parking spots on a daily basis. Their war over parking leads them to face off a few times before they decide they can help each other out. To stay out of the shallow dating pool, Leah offers to be Megan’s fake girlfriend, until she just doesn’t want to fake it anymore.
The Mary Anne picture blackmail is almost pushing being offensive. I found it hard to believe that an entire community of conscientious grownups would think blackmail by almost nude photos is funny. Especially when they know for a fact that person was drunk and passed out, when the photographer ( Mary Anne) was POSING her for the photos. That’s not cool at all and only a sicko would do that! Then factor in that one of the really amused is Megan’s older sister. Nope, no sister would do that! I think this part of the storyline was taken just a bit too far.
In terms of romance other than a few silly spats over parking, there really aren’t any true love/hate moments. They quickly become allies fighting off the single ladies who want dates. I know a terrible dilemma to be in, right. Of course, over time their attraction becomes the forefront of the story. Overall the story is nice and sugary sweet, but it doesn’t have anything truly special about it. The characters are totally likable but also unmemorable.
3 out of 5 stars
I love HP Munro’s books. They have interesting characters, well thought out plots, and more than anything else they are just good romances. When I found out she had a new one out, well I hit that buy button and got right to it. With that being said, before you buy this one, you will definitely want to read Grace Falls first. While Saving Grace is a follow-up story with two new protagonists, you will be lost in a sea of details and sub-characters if you don’t.
Erin Hunter is the town veterinarian in Grace Falls. She has lived there all her life, with the exception of the years she was away for college. Erin’s life has been professionally successful while being emotionally stunted. She has never been able to successfully let go of her first love, Charlotte Grace .
Charlotte Grace was born to Grace Falls most prominent family. Her father owned the lumber mill that employed the majority of the town’s population. Charlotte’s mother never let anyone forget that the Grace’s were the royalty of the town. No one was ever good enough and everyone was beneath them. You can imagine mean ol’ mama’s discontent when her daughter befriends the town’s little Dr. DoLittle. Charlotte and Erin have a bond that is undeniable and as the years go on they become young lovers. That is until Charlotte’s mother finds out and ships her daughter to boarding school, breaking both Erin and Charlotte’s hearts.
The story revolves around Erin and Charlotte finding their way back to each other. Throw in a bunch of zany supporting characters and you have some really funny moments. This novel is charming and heartwarming. While I don’t think it had quite the staying power as Grace Falls I did thoroughly enjoy my time with it. HP Munro is definitely on my automatic buy list.
3.75 stars out of 5
- Publisher: Red Besom Books