#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: 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: His Road To Redemption by Lisa Jordan

For this next entry in the Twelve Days of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a solid romance in its own right that seems to be the conclusion, and likely significant payoff in various ways, of a four book The Waltons type saga where each book focuses on a different brother. For this blog tour, we’re looking at His Road To Redemption by Lisa Jordan.

Conclusion Of Modern Day Waltons Saga. If you’re a fan of the old-school Waltons or Little House on the Prairie or the newer shows like Heartland, this book is absolutely right up your alley. These IPs show that the market for this kind of tale is strong, so it is actually great to find a book that fits in fairly perfectly with them. Just be warned that although this isn’t (currently?) marked as Book 4 of a series, it actually *is* Book 4, following Season of Hope (Book 1), A Love Redeemed (Book 2), and The Father He Deserves (Book 3), and seems to serve as a finale for this series. Thus, all three brothers from the first three books show up, as Micah (our hero here) seems to have been at least introduced in Book 1 and is now being brought forth to claim his destiny as a romance hero in his own right here. Having not read the other three books, it clearly seems as though there are significant payoffs for potentially series-running plot threads here – I just don’t know. So the long and short of this review is that while this book is a strong Waltons-type romance in its own right, featuring newer, more modern plotlines (including animals-as-therapy and group homes for homeless veterans)… I actually do recommend reading the first three books of this series before reading this one, which isn’t something I usually say about such tales but truly is fairly critical here. And I’m sure that by the time you’ve finished those other three, you’re going to want this one anyway. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#BookReview: The Taste Of Ginger by Mansi Shah

Blatant Racism Deeply Mars Otherwise Universal Story. This is, without a shred of a doubt, the most racist book I’ve seen published this Millenium, at minimum – and to think that the normally *very* solid Lake Union Publishing allowed it under their banner is very discouraging, indeed. While I would never say a book should not be published at all, this is one that no major company – particularly one so large as Amazon – that claims to stand for diversity, inclusion, and equity should ever stand behind. White / America is EVIL according to Shah, and everything wrong in Preeti’s life is because she had to try to fit in with “White America”. Bullcrap. You take the commentary about everything White and/ or American being so evil out of this tale and look at just the remaining elements of struggling to fit in, to find oneself despite parental desires, to have your parents accept you as an adult… and you’ve got a universal tale that applies no matter the race. *Everyone* goes through these struggles, even in cultures where it appears different. But no, Shah here had to go the racist route and destroy what would have otherwise been a solid, maybe even transcendental, work. While some might think I’m being a bit generous here with 3* based on this write-up, the univeral elements here were done quite well while examining their particulars within Indian culture, particularly looking at both the Indian Diaspora and Indians who never leave the subcontinent – nor want to. And that is where I am confident in still allowing it the three, despite such blatant and rampant racism. Recommended, begrudgingly.

This review of The Taste Of Ginger by Mansi Shah was originally written on December 29, 2021.

Featured New Release Of The Week: My Darling Husband by Kimberly Belle

This week we’re looking at the perfect book to end your 2021 with a bang reading. This week we’re looking at My Darling Husband by Kimberly Belle.

Hole E Sheet! Belle tosses us into the fire from the get-go… and only turns up the gas. All the way until the closing moments. If you’re a fan of Panic Room / The Purge type thrillers, you’re going to *love* this one, where roughly half of the action takes place as a stranger holds a family inside their house – with the other half being the husband/ father of the family racing to try to save them. An interesting story mechanic is also thrown in for good measure, and between the heavy foreshadowing with this and the frequent (usually chapter heading) timestamps driving just how quickly the clock is turning to the pivotal moment… you really are in for a wild ride with this one. There *is* some minor commentary late that is more YMMV, and while it does speak to motivations (as close as I’ll get to mentioning anything remotely specific), it isn’t actually truly essential to anything. Which is why its inclusion is a bit of an irritating note in the aftertaste of the book but isn’t any real reason to like the book any less. If you want to end your year on a bang… you might consider making sure you have this book when it releases in the week between Christmas and New Year’s 2021. ๐Ÿ™‚ Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the various “publisher details”, including the official description of the book, an author bio, social media links, and buy links.
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: My Darling Husband by Kimberly Belle”

Featured New Release Of The Week: Why She Left by Leah Mercer

This week we’re looking at a solid family drama that has some elements of mystery and even a few of suspense – but is completely grounded within the family drama. This week we’re looking at Why She Left by Leah Mercer.

Solid Family Drama With Some Mystery. Reading through the Goodreads reviews (as I do before writing my own), a lot of the more negative reviews (anything less than 4* is considered by Goodreads/ Amazon to be negative, fwiw) tended to center around complaints that this book wasn’t a suspense/ thriller. And yet looking around through the description and other materials available, I find no claims from the publisher that this is a suspense or a thriller. The closest claim is that it is a “suspenseful family drama”, which is 100% accurate. There was an event years ago that caused one daughter to flee, and there are a few different events in the present day that build a decent amount of suspense (for a family drama, which is truly what this is, anyway). Yes, the years-ago event becomes rather obvious rather quickly – *hopefully* Mercer intended that. But there are many more wrinkles here that aren’t so obvious, and even my usually fairly perceptive reading didn’t actually catch some of the bigger reveals until they were actually revealed. Indeed, arguably the one true weakness here I can think of isn’t actually one anyone else has cited – it is never truly established just how bad the situation the returning daughter is fleeing from now actually was. Still, for what this tale *actually* is, and seems to *actually* be being marketed as, this is actually a fairly solid story that will trigger some in a variety of ways but which is a truly solid story for most everyone else. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the various “publisher details” including book description, author bio, and social media links.
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Why She Left by Leah Mercer”

#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery

For this blog tour we’re looking at a very Hallmark Christmas type tale that happens to be a two-for-one romance, with *two* couples’ stories told at once. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery.

Two-For-One Christmas Romance. This is one of those Christmas Romance novels that almost seems destined to be made into a Hallmark Christmas movie – you’ve got the quirky town, the various leads that have no interest in an actual relationship, the innkeeper, the local shop owner, the mysterious stranger, and even the unusual-yet-cool career… and *none* of them are actually looking for romance. And yet… Mallery has a lot to cover in nearly 400 pages, and does a solid job of showing the two relationships – one new, one second chance – building throughout. If you’re looking for a book where the couple is already together a quarter into the book… this isn’t that. This is one of those where they finally actually get together closer to the end (which isn’t a spoiler due to genre ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), and it is indeed a satisfying conclusion. It will be interesting to see where Mallery takes Book 2 of this new series, with a couple of interesting possibilities there. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” including book description, author bio, social media links, and links to buy the book.
Continue reading “#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery”

#BlogTour: Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert

For this blog tour we’re looking at the first entry in a new series of gay military romances. For this blog tour we’re looking at Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Solid Military Romance. This is a fairly standard romance / Annabeth Albert romance with one guy in uniform and the other not… and eventually, neither is. ๐Ÿ˜‰ She’s done the virgin thing at least once or twice (I fully cop to not reading her full back catalog, and I seem to remember her covering this even in the books I *have* read from her), and here it works just as well as it did the last time. For those looking for “clean” / “sweet” romance… Albert uses the virgin trope to explore as many successive sex acts as she can squeeze into a book. So this won’t be something that fits those definitions, but will work well within the more general romance/ gay romance reader crowd. The family dynamics are fun, some of the situations border on silly yet work, and the military scenes are accurate enough for someone who is only vaguely aware of US Navy operations. Looking forward to seeing where this new series will go. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt and the details about the book from the publisher, including the book description, author bio and social media links, and links to buy the book.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert”

#BookReview: The House That Christmas Made by Elizabeth Bromke

Tonight, On The Conclusion Of The Harbor Hills Saga… This is the final book in this highly interconnected series of much drama and secrets among neighbors on a particular street in small town (fictional) Michigan. As such, you *really* need to start at the beginning of the series and work your way to this point – which you’ll be glad you’ve done by the time you reach this book, as this is absolutely a series that leaves you wanting the next book in your hand the moment the previous book is done. And yet, in this conclusion of the saga… everything *does* get wrapped up. All is revealed. And yet we *also* maintain the fun, intricate, and varied progressions and relationships that have come to define this series. Very much recommended.

This review of The House That Christmas Made by Elizabeth Bromke was originally written on September 26, 2021.

#BookReview: The Keeper Of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis

Blend Of Historical And Women’s Fiction That Leaves The Room Dusty Through Its Final Quarter. This was an excellent blend of historical fiction on one end and a “current” (mid-80s) timeline women’s fiction tale on the other. Not quite an either/ or thing, but both play well with each other (and most of the historical stuff is done by the 2/3 point or so). Just be prepared for a VERY dusty read through the back quarter of the book, where Davis does an excellent job of revealing things but then letting them play out in a more natural setting and timeframe than other authors may have done. The book starts off with a lot of The Giver type vibes before becoming something so much more than that work ever intended to be – but the fact that it even feels similar to that award winning book speaks to just how well Davis crafts her story here. Very much recommended.

This review of The Keeper Of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis was originally written on August 27, 2021.