#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 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.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Sapphires Are A Guy’s Best Friend by Nicola Marsh

This week we’re looking at a romance tale that manages to tell three separate second chance stories all in one excellent tale that combines second chance romance with the world of high fashion. This week we’re looking at Sapphires Are A Guy’s Best Friend by Nicola Marsh.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Fun Merger Of Haute Couture. Jewelry, and Second Chance Romance. This is a really fun and fairly short (barely 200 pages) look at the glitzy and glamorous world of high end fashion… which Marsh then wraps a solid second chance – in more ways than one – romance into. Solidly written such that both the business and the personal are given their fair due and are equally compelling, this is *not* one for the “clean”/ “sweet” crowd. But for those that appreciate a good amount of steam – maybe not enough for a sauna, but easily enough to set off a smoke alarm… you’re gonna like this one. Very much recommended.

#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: The Shoe Diaries by Darby Baham

For this entry in the Twelve Days Of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a tale that is, at its core, essentially a Black Sex And The City. For this blot tour, we’re looking at The Shoe Diaries by debut author Darby Baham.

Essentially A Black Sex And The City. This story is essentially Sex And The City, but replacing the mostly white cast with a mostly black one and replacing the “city” in question with DC. Same shoe fetish (though possibly amplified here?), used remarkably well as a plot device in this particular case. Same big oops moment with a former flame early on, only for the book to ultimately become a second chance romance later – with an interesting interlude in between. Minor discussions of the HBCU life and the central character wanting to be much more radical as a professional journalist than the “stodgy old white men” are allowing her to be, but at least here said “old white dudes” aren’t thinly veiled racist caricatures, as so many similar novels from less talented authors have done. (The desire to be more radical is more central than the HBCU mentions, to be clear.) Overall a strong tale that will clearly play well with a couple of demographics in particular, but may not be something that will play as well in a more general audience. Still, excellent book and very much recommended.

(Also, I should note that I’ve never watched a single full episode of anything in the Sex And The City franchise and only know the *general* plot from it being in the zeitgeist so much.)

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: The Five-Day Reunion by Mona Shroff

For this entry in the Twelve Days of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a grounded yet funny fake marriage romance… during a traditional Indian wedding week! For this blog tour entry, we’re looking at The Five-Day Reunion by Mona Shroff.

Solid Second Chance Romance. This is one of those second chance / forced proximity / fake dating types of romance tales, all combined during a five day traditional Indian wedding celebration. The angst between the two leads is palpable, and their own individual motivations are solidly grounded. The Indian family interventions – and ensuing irritating (for the characters) hilarity (for the readers) hijinx – are well done, and Shroff does well to explain the various ceremonies reasonably well in-story so that those not familiar with them can follow along and not get lost in the story, yet not so much that it becomes an academic treatise on each ceremony. Overall a fun, funny, and short-ish (220 ish page) romance that gives a solid break from reality for many, and really… isn’t that most of what we expect a book to do? 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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#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: Buried Cold Case Secrets by Sami A Abrams

For this entry in the Twelve Days of Romance blog tour series we’re looking at a solid Christian Fiction romantic suspense novel ala Dee Henderson. For this entry, we’re looking at Buried Cold Case Secrets by debut author Sami A Abrams.

Solid Tale Of Its Type. So apparently “Inspired” / “Inspirational” is code for “Christian” in American marketing parlance (I guess similar to how “family friendly” is code for “kids”?). Did not know this going in (or, more likely, had known it long ago and forgotten over the years since I left that world behind). Thus, I was quite surprised to see a Christian Fiction book on the same blog tour schedule (well, emails sent within a few minutes of each other anyway, though in fairness there were a few different sets and I’ve picked up books from all of them) as some other… steamier… books, one of which I had just read earlier in the same day as this one. ๐Ÿ™‚

My semi-shock at stumbling into a Christian Fiction tale published by Harlequin aside (and kudos to them for reaching out to *all* segments of their market), this tale was actually quite solid. Reminded me a bit of Dee Henderson’s O’Malley Family series many years ago in that the suspense was high wire level tight, the leads worked well together personally and professionally, and the religious aspects were at least worked in as every day parts of the characters’ lives and thus never truly preachy. And hell, the actual mystery at hand was actually sufficiently creepy that fans of the general romantic suspense genre will find quite a bit to enjoy here – so long as you don’t mind praying. (I know of at least some readers who absolutely will not touch a book that mentions God or prayer *at all*, *no matter what*. If you’re that level… yeah, this book isn’t for you. If you’re at least ambivalent about that particular feature and just looking for a great suspense tale… you’re gonna like this one.) As I said in the title here, this is truly a solid tale of its type, and thus it is very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: Buried Cold Case Secrets by Sami A Abrams”

#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: Little Girl Gone by Amanda Stevens

For this next entry in the Twelve Days Of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a *very* slow burn romance that serves as a solid series starter. For this entry, we’re looking at Little Girl Gone by Amanda Stevens.

Solid Series Starter. Ok, so I use that same title a fair amount. But it applies so often! Here, Stevens focuses primarily on the investigation, as police procedurals tend to do, while establishing at least her primary leads fairly well, and giving readers reasons to want to continue to invest in them. Arguably one weakness is that this is a *very* slow burn, second chance kind of romance that may or may not meet the strictest “rules and regulations” of the genre in that regard. So for the absolute genre purists… read and decide for yourselves here. For the rest of us, this was a solid story all around, one that resolves its primary mystery while allowing enough to remain open that we’ll want to come back to this world again – which is exactly what a Book 1 is supposed to do, so kudos there! 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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#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: His To Defend by Sharon C Cooper

For this next entry in the Twelve Days of Romance blog tour, we’re looking at a book that features both a second chance romance *and* a love angle (there are no love triangles among same-sexuality people)… with a dead man. For this blog tour, we’re looking at His To Defend by Sharon C Cooper.

A Love Triangle With A Dead Man. This is a second chance romance *and* a love triangle – except the third point, the best friend / ex-husband, is murdered in his very first scene in the book. From there, the suspense involves finding out who murdered him and why, even as our remaining two parts of the triangle work through their long-standing feelings for each other and how their relationships with the third complicated this. Overall a solid story on both the suspense and romance sides, and a touch on the shortish side at under 300 pages (which happens to be a touch on the high side of average for the genre, in my experience). Also a Solid Series Starter, for those following my reviews. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I look forward to coming back to this world. 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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#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: Christmas In Rose Bend by Naima Simone

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a warm gingerbread cookie of a Christmas romance tale that someone thought needed some cilantro on it. For this blog tale, we’re looking at Christmas In Rose Bend by Naima Simone.

Christmas Romance With A Touch Of Preachy Politics. This is *mostly* a Hallmarkie Christmas Romance that would *mostly* fit right in with a typical Hallmark Christmas Movie. So for fans of that kind of story, you’re going to love this one. That noted, it does have a moment or two of getting particularly preachy about the author’s politics here – enough that when reading through that section (an extended one early and a few other comments here and there) there was debate within my head about a star deduction. But ultimately even the preachiness was more spice than actual substance here – kind of a cilantro. Some will LOVE it. Others will HATE it. No matter which side you’re on here, know that it truly doesn’t form the actual meat of the tale here, and the rest of the tale really is a solid story of the type described above. This is marketed as Book 2 in a series, and honestly with the various backstories provided it almost seems like it could be even deeper than that – and yet the story here still works as a standalone by itself. Ultimately a solid Christmas Romance, and very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media links, and buy links.
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#BlogTour: The Christmas She Married The Playboy by Louise Fuller

For this blog tour, we’re looking at an entertaining romance featuring a bickering billionaire and an ice-queen iceskater. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Christmas She Married The Playboy by Louise Fuller.

Entertaining Royalty/ Commoner Romance. He’s a dude that was burned years ago and reacts by pretty well sleeping with anything that moves. She’s a figure skater with a troubled past. When they happen to see each other in the airport where they both happen to be going to the same hotel… y’all, this is a Harlequin Romance. You know how this goes. I for one loved the bickering of the first half of the book, though I do wish the antics in Vegas had been shown. Instead, at the halfway point we fly (almost literally, in story) right past the Vegas wedding and suddenly we’re en route to the honeymoon. But here is where the sweeter side of the romance – and the steamier side – really kicks in and becomes arguably more in-line with what most Harlequin Romance readers expect. I love how both of our leads here make active choices to go against their nature – rather than it just happening, here Fuller actually has the characters’ internal monologues *showing* it happening – for the preservation of their new marriage. In that, it becomes atypical – and yet totally in line with the genre and publisher. Could have done without the last bit of the epilogue, but otherwise truly a great story here. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Christmas She Married The Playboy by Louise Fuller”