BookReview: The Last House On The Street by Diane Chamberlain

Solid Exposition Of The End Of An Era. This is one of those that as a Son of the South – and of a region in particular that literally still bears the scars of that war criminal terrorist b*stard William Tecumseh Sherman – I find myself leery about going into… but which was actually respectful while not condoning any of the mistakes of prior eras.

Now, I *have* reached out to an aunt who actually lived in a similar region to the one depicted here in 1963 (specifically, in the countryside outside of Atlanta vs the countryside outside of Raleigh) and was of a similar age as Ellie at the time for her thoughts on the book as well. But for me and my experiences as a Southern White Male who grew up more in Kayla’s era (turned 30 in 2013, so a couple of years younger than Kayla)… this rings fairly true. Yes, there were absolutely horrors and tragedies in those prior eras, but as the recent Ahmaud Arbery case in my native Georgia shows… that isn’t the South anymore. And Chamberlain shows that as well here. Having had a good political friend (former Governor of Georgia candidate John Monds, the first Libertarian Party candidate ever to receive over 1 million votes) actually attend Morehouse and growing up with Hosea Williams Feed The Hungry being one of the most well known food drive campaigns in Atlanta, the scenes with Morehouse and Williams were particularly interesting to me.

Thus, for me the book works well in both timelines, and I truly found both timelines quite compelling – though for very different reasons. Ellie’s timeline was absolutely fascinating as almost a coming-of-age tale where a young woman learns what is important to her and why, and has to fight for her new beliefs against staggering odds. Kayla’s timeline is more of a light-ish domestic suspense, with a widowed mother alone in the woods facing an ominous threat. Very much recommended.

This review of The Last House On The Street by Diane Chamberlain was originally written on January 17, 2021.

#BookReview: Not The Romantic Kind by Nicola Marsh

Solid Tomboy Romance. And because it *is* a romance… yes, a wedding is mentioned late in the book, and because this is set in Australia it is a “spring” wedding… in October. Which feels weird to this reader who has never been South of the Equator – nor even within 1,000 miles of it. ๐Ÿ˜€ Otherwise a fun take on the tomboy / enemies to lovers idea where he is a corporate tycoon out to build mansions on the property that meant so much to her as a kid but which her mother recently sold off. This is something I personally identified with a bit, having grown up with a small 3 acre lake outside of Atlanta being owned by my grandfather’s family before my mother’s cousins sold it off in my early 20s after both my grandfather and his twin brother died. So seeing Gemma be able to fight to save any piece of “her spot” was pretty awesome for me. Overall a fun book and on the quick/ short side at right around 200 pages, this one is a solid introduction to Marsh’s romance books for those who are new to her while also being a satisfying one for long time fans. Very much recommended.

This review of Not The Romantic Kind by Nicola Marsh was originally written on January 14, 2022.

#BookReview: Bad Luck Bridesmaid by Alison Rose Greenberg

Rampant Misandry Mars Otherwise Interesting And Compelling Debut. Up front: If you’re looking at this as a potential romance book… it isn’t that. It is more of a women’s fiction book, with an interesting take on the genre and in particular the well-travelled bridesmaid trope. My biggest problem here is the truly rampant misandry – the main character here is *constantly* being so utterly bigoted towards men, to the level that if even a female author had flipped this and done the same thing with a male character towards females, every single review would lead off with how misogynistic the character was. Which is my own standard for bigotry: ok for me, but not for thee. If you can flip the demographics from the targeted to the targetter without issue, awesome. But if you would have a problem if that happened… then there is a problem, period. But again, fun and unconventional story outside of the blatant and rampant misandry, and thus one that truly is worthy of consideration. Just, again, do NOT go into this expecting a romance. More of a train wreck, really. Just a particularly entertaining one. Recommended.

This review of Bad Luck Bridesmaid by Allison Rose Greenberg was originally written on January 12, 2022.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Under A Sky Of Memories by Soraya M Lane

This week we’re looking at a visceral and harrowing fictionalized version of a real-world WWII event that even with my intense fascination with that period, I’d never heard of before reading this book. This week we’re looking at Under A Sky Of Memories by Soraya M. Lane.

Visceral, Harrowing, And Heartbreaking. Yet again Lane manages to take an event out of WWII, fictionalize a story into it, and show just how real and relatable it must have been to have been the real people involved here. The motivations for our three primary women here are distinct but relatable, and their journeys through the tale are seemingly all too real – so many times, you’re going to find yourself dreading that the worst is about to happen. In the end, you will likely shed tears of both happiness and heartbreak – and particularly when joined with the resources in the Author’s Note, you’ll likely learn a few things too. As in, despite both mine and my father’s life long “obsession” with WWII (in his case due to how it shaped his father and in mine due to how it shaped *both* of my grandfathers in dramatically different ways), even I had never heard of this particular event that Lane bases the story around here. Once again a very fine piece of researched fiction from Lane, and very much recommended.

#BookReview: The Starless Crown by James Rollins

Solid Storytelling. Nearly Deceptive Description. Let me be explicitly clear: THIS IS A FANTASY BOOK. It is NOT a Sigma Force style science-bending military technothriller. Given Rollins’ rise to fame on the back of his Sigma Force books, as well as the fact that he has *another* pseudonym for his pre-Sigma Force fantasy novels, the fact that the description of this book does not make clear that THIS IS A FANTASY BOOK is dang near deceptive marketing. If you enjoy fantasy tales, this one is going to be perfectly in line with what you enjoy and more power to you. But despite having a *far* wider range in my own reading than most readers, fantasy books are one of *few* genres that just make for dang good naps every time I try to read them – and this one was no different, despite LOVING Rollins’ Sigma Force work and at times reading it in a single sitting. This noted, Rollins’ abilities to craft a tale are just as strong here, and for what it is the story is compelling. Truly my only complaint is that it should have been made explicitly clear that THIS IS A FANTASY BOOK, and I would never have touched it at all. Recommended.

This review of The Starless Crown by James Rollins was originally written on January 8, 2022.

#BookReview: Treachery Times Two by Robert McCaw

Santa Blows The Case Open. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking (accurately) that Santa is never once mentioned in this police procedural/ mystery set in Hawaii and showing off many elements of its land and people not often seen by non-Islanders. But I swear the connection is there, at least for me – you see, there is one particular clue that blows at least part of this case wide open. It tells Koa, our hero, that all is not as it seems – and an *eerily* similar situation, wherein x happens (though not the exact particulars and certainly not in a murder investigation), is how I learned that Santa wasn’t real nearly 30 years ago. So that was cool for me personally, and shows that just that thing *can* actually lead to life changing real-world events. Overall truly an excellent book of its type, one that shows a great layering of plot and characterizations in order to show just how complex we all are – even when we look like we’re not. Very much recommended.

This review of Treachery Times Two by Robert McCaw was originally written on January 7, 2022.

#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: The True Cowboy Of Sunset Ridge by Maisey Yates

For this final entry in the Twelve Days Of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at another Maisey Yates story that is steamy.. and yet somehow also very introspective and contemplative. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The True Cowboy of Sunset Ridge by Maisey Yates.

Contemplative Steamy Romance. Wait. How can a romance novel that effectively starts off with a sex scene be contemplative? Well, you’re gonna have to trust me here… and then read the book for yourself to verify. ๐Ÿ˜€ Yes, there is hot and heavy sex here, even pretty well hate sex. So the sweet/ clean crowd… eh, maybe not for y’all. But this book also features quite a bit of solid introspection, and indeed it is this part of the book that is a refreshing change of pace to so many in the genre. At nearly double the length (380 ish pages vs 220 ish pages) of Yates’ other soon-to-release romance from Harlequin (Rancher’s Forgotten Rival, Jan 25), there is quite a bit more here, and much of it is more in the extended introspection and angst than anything else. (There are also a few more plot complications, including a fairly significant one. But really this book is about both of our leads figuring out how to clear their own heads enough to see what is right in front of them.) Excellent romance with a fair amount of cowboy to it, and a refreshing change of pace within the genre. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: The True Cowboy Of Sunset Ridge by Maisey Yates”

#BookReview: The Abbey House by Elizabeth Bromke

Compelling Conclusion. This is an excellent conclusion to the short novel/ novella trilogy of Heirloom Island, where all three sisters play prominent roles in each book yet with each book focusing primarily on one of the three in particular. Because it is such a great conclusion, I have to make the rare recommendation of actually starting with Book 1 of this series, The Boardwalk House, and reading through the entire trilogy – which is still shorter than some single books out there. And when you do that, you’ll be glad you had the entire trilogy at hand at one time. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

This review of The Abbey House by Elizabeth Bromke was originally written on January 5, 2022.

#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: Rancher’s Forgotten Rival by Maisey Yates

For this penultimate day of the Twelve Days Of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a solid series starter romance that manages to combine the comedy of Overboard with the saga of the Hatfields and McCoys. For this blog tour we’re looking at Rancher’s Forgotten Rival by Maisey Yates.

Overboard x Hatfields and McCoys. This tale is essentially a ranching version of a combination of Overboard (take your pick on the 1980s version or the 2010s version) and the saga of the Hatfields and McCoys. Throw in two people dedicated to their families yet who have always wanted each other despite their families… and you get some pretty intense hate sex and a romance that Shakespeare could never be bothered with. (Yes, some might try to go the Romeo and Juliet route in their comparisons, but those were immature teenagers with a remarkably high body count. Here, our leads are more established – late 20s/ early 30s ish – and more importantly *don’t get anyone killed*.) As a series starter, it works in establishing that our male lead has several brothers and our female lead has a sister… who may be interested in one of said brothers. Overall a solid romance that elevates its basic elements into a more mature – and arguably more enjoyable for it – tale where people actually try to do the right thing, even when it may cost them everything. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: Rancher’s Forgotten Rival by Maisey Yates”

#BookReview: The Wedding Setup by Sonali Dev

Easy, Safe, Short Second Chance Romance. This was one of those second chance romances where you’re really not putting too much on the line giving it a chance. It is short – though its page count is not known even a week before publication, it is an easy hour or two read. So likely in the 100 ish page range, *maybe* out to 150. It is a fairly easy read too with the infamous meddling of the Aunties during a semi-traditional Indian wedding with modern flare providing much comedy and the actual romance being of the second chance, standard Hallark Movie fare variety. If you’re not deeply immersed in the Indian culture and fighting these particular battles of tradition vs modernism yourself (even though so many of us face those same battles within our own cultures, whatever they may be), this is a pretty safe read as well. Nothing overly challenging about the actual writing or the content. And a bonus for this reader, since the characters here weren’t involved in politics, the author didn’t bring her personal politics into the story here. Overall a solid introduction to this author and her *general* style, this is an easy one to take a chance on for new readers and a safe one for long time fans. Very much recommended.

This review of The Wedding Setup by Sonali Dev was originally written on January 4, 2022.