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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Media Darling by Fiona Riley

Once again Fiona Riley has written an amazing book. I relished in the journey of our two leading ladies. The push and pull of the relationship was absolutely delightful. Once I started reading this one there was no putting it down.

Hayley Carpenter wants more out of her career, a hell of a lot more. This Ivy League grad has ambitions to be a Hollywood screenwriter but to pay the bills she works as a gossip columnist. She loathes her job! At a red carpet event, Hayley sees an indecent by two of Tinseltown’s leading ladies. This info would be a hot ticket but Hayley is honorable and keeps the info to herself, drawing the attention of Emerson Sterling.

Emerson has been a successful actress since childhood. Her dream role is just wrapping, one that will catapult her career to the next leave, but that doesn’t mean her life is peachy. It’s rocky as hell with a mega secret that she long ago buried are threating to leak. After Emerson and Haley meet, Emerson reaches out to Hayley to write the true story about her past and what happened with her ex co-star/lover.

The chemistry between these two is fabulous. It pushes the story and is really the touchstone of the book. Riley is a master of weaving a story but always keeping the focus on the prize, the romance. She builds their relationship and lets the sparks fly. A fabulous read filled with chemistry and fabulous dialogue. As always Fiona Riley brings the heat.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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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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Heartwood by Catherine Lane

Heartwood by Catherine Lane is an exquisite story that will stay with you long after you’ve finishing reading this one. This multifaceted story weaves a tale of star-crossed lovers of the past and a new love that is just developing. Two stories in one that are weaved together for an unforgettable tale of hope, happiness and perseverance.

The Past – 1960: Beth Walker is a young woman from quaint Steelhead Springs. Beth has never left her hometown, but she has an imagination like no other. Beth, a gifted writer who has only just begun to acknowledge her skill with a pen, spends her day working in a real estate office and spends all her other time writing. Enter, Dawn Montgomery, a famous actress from Hollywood who just one day shows up in Beth’s town with her husband in tow, ready to buy the most remote home possible. Beth and Dawn develop an almost instant friendship. You see Dawn’s husband has left for his next movie and Beth becomes Dawn’s constant companion. These two have this dynamic relationship that just draws you in. The story is told purely from Beth’s perspective and you can really feel how she is totally enamored with Dawn. Dawn is the epitome of complex. You cannot help but have an internal debate of is she playing Beth for a fool or has she fallen under love’s spell as well.

The Present Day: Maggie Chalon is Beth Walker’s, now in her seventies, personal chef. The crazy thing is she has never met the famed writer. Hired by Beth’s lawyer, Maggie makes Beth’s meals every day, most of which are barely touched. Vivienne, the nurse from Hell, reminds Maggie of her place and that she should stop asking questions on Beth Walker’s health. Maggie cannot let it go. She knows without a shadow of a doubt that something nefarious is going on, and why is Beth Walker never to be seen.

Nikka Vaskin is an up and coming lawyer at Truman and Steinbrecker. Work is her everything, she has everything to prove and has a timeline in place for her rise on the career ladder. A chance moment throws her into the path of Beth Walker and Maggie Chalon. This is when craziness ensues, and Nikka working for the enemy, has to look beyond the facts and take a giant leap of faith to find out if the impulsive and highly attractive Maggie might be on to something.

The book switches seamlessly from past to present day, telling the two stories with such emotion and detail you are catapulted into the story. I found myself hanging on every word, desperately cheering for both couples. Catherine Lane develops characters that reach right off the page and steal your heart. To say this a is great book is by far an understatement!

5 out of 5 stars

I was given this book by Ylva Publishing in return for an honest review.

Heartwood
by Catherine Lane
Link: https://amzn.com/3955336743

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Welcome to the Wallops by Gill McKnight

Silly, witty, zany. All adjectives, yes, but that all could easily describe the cast of characters you meet in Gill McKnight’s’ newest book. Welcome to the Wallops. McKnight is an author who always gives the reader characters that are as amusing as they are interesting. This one is no exception.

Jane Swallow is Lesser Wallops resident do-gooder. Raised by a single father, who is a petty thief and all out drunkard, Jane has spent her life giving back. She is friends with everyone, always offering advice and helping in any way possible. This former Army chaplain is now the pastor of the Lesser Wallops only church, Saint Poe’s. Saint Poe’s is a small historical church that dates back to 1348. The church has lost most of it parishioners, many choosing to go to the newer church in High Wallop, mainly because its location next to the mega supermarket. Jane is embroiled in a struggle to keeps the town she lives in original, historical, and honest even when most of the people she works with wants to steal its identity and make it as faceless as High Wallop.

Renata Braak is Jane’s new next door neighbor. Even before Renata moves in she has become the source of Jane’s ire. Renata has hired workers to tear down willow trees, erase a beautiful garden all for the sake of a garage monstrosity that does not in any way fit in with the beautiful historic cottages on Jane’s street. Jane is not feeling neighborly to this new development. The irritation it only gets worse when she discovers the new tenant is actually her ex-girlfriend.

This book is fun, it’s lighthearted and the characters are just amusing. This is a fantastic choice for a summer afternoon when you just want relax and have an entertaining read.

3.75 stars out of 5

I was given this novel by Ylva Publishing in return for an honest review.

  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing
  • www.ylvapublishing.com

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A Reluctant Enterprise by Gun Brooke

Aeron DeForest had a childhood void of love. Her mother a rich Manhattan heiress Maeve DeForest spent more time partying and chasing men, than she ever spent with her daughter. Aeron was sent off to boarding school and was basically raised by her mother’s housekeeper and then the school administrator. Now as an adult Aeron has become a reclusive but successful horror novelist. One phone call uproots her comfortable life that she has spent years protecting. Her mother is dead, and her will must be tended to.

Sylvie Thorn is a Swedish business mogul that resides in in New York. Her childhood was equally as horrible. Her father’s commands must be followed at all times. Her dyslexia has always made him think less of her and she has been subjected to years of ridicule at her father’s hand. Sylvie escaped to the States to be out from under his constant control. By doing so she became Maeve DeForest’s business partner, starting up a chain of high-end boutique spas. Sylvie had come to respect Maeve, and for all her faults as a mother she was a great friend to Sylvie. Now her company is in the hands of Sylvie’s only child Aeron. These two must find a way to work together.

While both Sylvie and Aeron grew up with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths, they both endured harshness by parents who lacked the emotional capacity to give unconditional love. Their childhoods would be a feast for a team of psychologists. In terms of the book, this angst took up the most of story. While interesting, it left very little in the way of romance. These ladies gravitate towards each other with the understanding of the how badly the past has hurt them, and that becomes the foundation of their relationship. I had trouble with grasping the love story. It just didn’t come off that natural to me. At one point these two have a breakup and quite honestly one of the characters was so harsh I am surprised the other even gave her the time of day after that. So all in all the book is good, it’s just too angst filled in the non-romance kind of way.

3 out of 5 stars

ARC provided by Netgalley & Bold Strokes books in return for an honest review

A Reluctant Enterprise
by Gun Brooke
Link: https://amzn.com/B01FTGM8KO

 

 

 

The House at the End of the Street by Stephanie E. Kusiak

Ghosts, I have never encountered one. I am not sure I really want to. I have quite the chicken heart and having a ghostly encounter, to be honest, gives me the heebie jeebies. With this being said I would usually pass on a ghost story, but the fact that it was written by Stephanie  Kusiak made me override this immediately.  Her book Loved and Lost is one of my all-time favorites, and therefore her books are on my automatic read list.

Caitlin Cassidy is a newly divorced author that has decided to lick her wounds the only way she knows how, she heads home. Packing up and leaving Los Angeles was harder than she ever imagined it would be. Her marriage is over. A life she was 100% committed t, but could not make work. In her devastation she decides to buy an old abandoned home and restore it to its former glory.  The thing about the home is there is a ghost that lives there. Caitlin knows this because the ghost saved her life when she was a little girl, and that moment has stayed with her forever.

Natalie Hargrove is the ghost that remains in Caitlin’s house. Once an accomplished painter, Natalie had it all. A great family, a beautiful lover, amazing friends, but she lived in a time where she couldn’t be open and honest about who she was and who she loved. Upon telling the truth to her loved ones it all came crashing down. Natalie turned to the bottle in her despair and she fell to her death falling down her grand staircase. Natalie should have never met Caitlyn but she did, and now they are roommates.

I will tell you this book made me cry. I am not really much of a crier, I try to repress those feelings most of the time, but this book brought out the waterworks. While this book is on the short side, it does not lack for emotion. There are times parts of the story are rushed or glossed over, but what you do have is simple and beautiful. The interactions between Natalie and Caitlin are power packed, and with heavy emotion. The two women and their journey was incredible, not like any other story I had read before. I was enthralled, completely captivated by Natalie and Caitlin. This is an amazing story of lost souls and love. Stephanie Kusiak does not disappoint with this one!

5 out of 5 stars

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