#BookReview: Iris In The Dark by Elissa Grossell Dickey

Solid Sophomore Effort That Doesn’t Live Up To The Author’s Debut. With this book, Dickey gives a solid story that has elements across several genres – and thus may not work for readers who are exclusive to any given genre. For readers who are more open though, this one actually works quite well. There is a mystery/ creepiness factor (combined with a tragic/ dark backstory) that almost gives mystery/ suspense vibes, but when combined with the more romance side of the tale switches to almost a romantic suspense vibe. Then there are the women’s fiction elements of a woman trying to find herself yet again when her world begins to collapse – or is it simply her mind collapsing? In the end, I would suggest that the book ultimately follows all rules I know of for the romance genre, and thus likely best fits there – though I’m not sure that this is what Dickey or her publisher (not known for romances) intended. I appreciate that Dickey tells a dramatically different story here than her debut (The Speed of Light), and I encourage all readers to go check out that book as well, no matter your own thoughts on this one. This book is ultimately the well-travelled tale of a phenomenal debut making the next work so much harder, as it has so much to live up to. Judged on its own, this story is truly a solid and intriguing one. Recommended.

This review of Iris In The Dark by Elissa Grossell Dickey was originally written on June 10, 2022.

#BlogTour: Sweet Home Alaska by Jennifer Snow

For this blog tour we’re looking at an excellent “book one” for a new series after having had a couple of teases in prior works by the author. For this blog tour we’re looking at Sweet Home Alaska by Jennifer Snow.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Excellent Multi-Layered “Series Starter”. After having had a back-door pilot in Alaska Dreams, where the couple traveled down to Port Serenity (our town in this book) to work with the Coast Guard (one of our main groups here, and one who has a direct connection in a secondary character in our unit here) to shoot a movie (which is then watched in one scene in this book) and a lead-in novella in Love On The Coast that explicitly introduces our town and some of its residents and history (and whose couple – and story – is summarized in this book)… we finally get into a proper Book 1 for this new spin-off series from Snow’s semi-long running (6 books or so at this time) Wild Alaska series.

And it absolutely fires on all cylinders. You’ve got a couple of tense Coast Guard rescues in the cold Alaskan waters where our new heroine learns to trust herself. You’ve got the tragic backstory of high school sweethearts who split due to several misunderstandings/ secrets. For the “sweet” / “clean” crowd… eh, you’ve got some pretty dang intense sex scenes, both penetrative and not – and not a dang one of them “fade to black” / “behind closed doors”. There’s enough drama in the book to elevate it above “bubble gum pop” level romance, without it being *too* burdening – and thus it is still a solid escape (and a longer-ish one at near 400 pages) for those who may need to escape the “real” world for a bit. It also happens to be a solid introduction to the author’s overall storytelling style for those who may be new to her. 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 “#BlogTour: Sweet Home Alaska by Jennifer Snow”

Featured New Release Of The Week: When We Let Go by Rochelle B Weinstein

This week we’re looking at a staggering tale of loss and recovery. This week we’re looking at When We Let Go by Rochelle B Weinstein.

Emotional Tale Of Loss And Recovery. This is one of those tales where you know up front that it is dark… and then it gets darker. And darker. And darker. With just enough humor to lighten things up a bit… and then a gut-punch of a form that may be used a bit often (as another reviewer claimed), but which works within the tale being told here. Similarly, as this is ultimately a tale of *recovery* from such devastation, one element of the epilogue that I’ve panned as unnecessary and even detracting from other books in other reviews actually works in this particular tale. And it works *specifically because* of the tale told up to that point. Truly an excellent work, and very much recommended.

#BlogTour: Summer On The Island by Brenda Novak

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a strong summer/ beach tale that is marred by pervasive references to COVID. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Summer On The Island by Brenda Novak.

Strong Summer Beach Romance / Women’s Fiction Tale Marred By Referencing COVID. If one takes away the pervasive references to COVID, this is a strong summer island getaway beach romance/ women’s fiction tale of three women escaping to the far coast from where they currently live in order to get a break and maybe even heal or find themselves in the process. At it absolutely works in those elements, particularly as our central character unpacks her history and uncovers an astonishing family secret. Truly the only reason for the star deduction is because I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID. PERIOD. And thus I’m waging a one man Crusade against any book that mentions it via an automatic star deduction. So if you feel as I do, know that this book does reference COVID quite a bit, but at least in this case it is more backstory/ explanatory than something the characters are actively living through within the text of this tale. Truly a strong, fun summer/ beach type read, great for those who have been stuck inside for two years and are just now beginning to venture out again. Though one final note: For those that want their books “clean” or “sweet”… this isn’t that. Hell, there are some XXX scenes here – as is typical in many romances. Closed door, this ain’t. So know that going in too. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Summer On The Island by Brenda Novak”

#BookReview: Foul Play With My Best Friend by Christina Benjamin

Angsty Teen Sports Romance. For those that enjoy revisiting the high drama of falling for your best friend in high school, look no further. We’re going back to summer camp, y’all, and this time we’ve got love on the diamonds. With a fair amount of actual sports action from various practices to actual games and with all the fun of summer camp on a small college campus in the middle of nowhere, we get a solid tale of “should I/ I shouldn’t”… that we all know how will ultimately wind up, because this *is* a romance novel. ๐Ÿ™‚ But Benjamin executes the entire story well, and when our leads *finally* get together… well, there may be quite a bit of dust in the room. And maybe someone just cut up a lot of onions too. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll probably want to knock some sense into both of these teenagers. But in the end, you’ll get a solid bit of escapism for a few hours… and isn’t that what we ultimately read fiction for anyway? Very much recommended.

This review of Foul Play With My Best Friend by Christina Benjamin was originally written on March 30, 2022.

#BookReview: The Suite Spot by Trish Doller

Short Fun Atypical Romance. This is one of those romance novels that is almost more women’s fiction than romance. Yes, ultimately it satisfies every “romance book” check box I am aware of, even the most stringent ones… but it really does read as more of a women’s fiction “find yourself” type tale. Hell, we don’t even meet the male lead of the book until a fairly decent way into the overall text. Quite a few wokeisms tossed in as well, but those are more irritants than true detractions from the tale, and at least a couple of them are actually fleshed out into realistic characters. Overall a solid and fun tale, and *as a story*, very much recommended.

All of this noted, I would be doing readers a disservice to fail to note that after I picked up this book to review last fall, I became aware that the author had signed a petition in favor of banning books because she didn’t like them. And this reader does not abide those who ban books, no matter the reason. So this author is now on my “never read again until she recants from book banning” list, though certainly you as a reader of this review and potential reader of this book are more than welcome to do with the information I’ve provided here both on the book and the author as you will, and I wish you well either way. ๐Ÿ™‚

This review of The Suite Spot by Trish Doller was originally written on February 28, 2022.

#BookReview: The Arc by Tory Henwood Hoen

Interesting And Controversial Story. This is one of those stories that is off-beat enough that it really defies normal conventions in most every way except the obvious: ultimately, it checks every single box to be a romance novel even according to the strictest definitions I am aware of. Now, it turns out to be a very angsty romance novel filled with some unique characters and twists and turns that few romance novels are prepared to attempt, but ultimately it *is* a romance novel. And while I debated internally of 4 vs 5 stars due to pretty heavy handed feminist preaching, one scene in the back of the book redeemed it just enough that I feel comfortable not deducting a star over it – though I won’t detail which scene here. It will be obvious to most readers once they get there. ๐Ÿ™‚ Still, a lot of the quirks that other reviewers commonly panned this book over – The Stake women’s club, the cocktus cactus-styled vibrator, even the quick banter ala Gilmore Girls (my own connection, I didn’t see others panning that one) – were things that stood out as interesting and funny enough to keep me interested. Then there is the billionaire our female lead gets tangled up with, who always struck me more as Mike from Madam Secretary but who one character portrays as Gordon Gecko. Absolutely read the other reviews, as this book truly won’t be for everyone. But if you like *late* late night offbeat comedy… maybe give this one a chance. If that type of story isn’t your thing… yeah, you may not like this one. Very much recommended.

This review of The Arc by Tory Henwood Hoen was originally written on February 21, 2022.

#BookReview: Gucci Girls Don’t Date Cowboys

Solid Single Dad Meets City Girl Romance. This is the second book in the new O’Sullivan Sisters Series, and as such contains at least minor spoilers from the book before (that are obvious due to it being a romance book, nothing really more than that). And yet, while it does contain the overall series mythos to a certain degree… it doesn’t really do much to advance it other than a surprising moment at the end to rather blatantly set up the next book. Ultimately this one is mostly concerned with telling a standalone (though set in a common world) romance… and that absolutely works here. It has enough length so that growth doesn’t appear sudden, even as it mentions months passing by in single sentences to show time progressing that way as well. In the end, a satisfying romance that does just enough to continue the series. Very much recommended.

This review of Gucci Girls Don’t Date Cowboys by Sophia Quinn was originally written on February 14, 2022.

#BookReview: The Country Cottage by Elizabeth Bromke

Dark Side Of The Reno. This is a modern day romance with old school flair, featuring concepts of social media “influencer” (God how I hate that term, particularly when applied to myself), DIY craze (and the multitudes of shows and networks that capitalize on it), cryptocurrency… and an old bed and breakfast that suddenly gets handed down to an unsuspecting nephew. As with Emily Bleeker’s What It Seems, this does a really good job of showing the darker/ more realistic side of certain aspects of social media and television… but it *is* still a romance, and a shortish one to boot. So there is quite a bit of story in these 130 or so pages. And Bromke does it all so very well. And then, because this *is* a series starter… there is a “dun dun dun!” moment in the closing words that will have you waiting with bated breath for Book 2! Very much recommended.

This review of The Country Cottage by Elizabeth Bromke was originally written on February 2, 2022.

#BookReview: Wildflower Wedding by Grace Greene

Beautiful Ending. This is the finale of the Wildflower Saga, with a lot of summary of the events that took place before while also progressing other events to solid conclusions. So don’t start with this book, start with Book 1, Wildflower Heart. But then you’re going to want to reach this point anyway, and when you do… well, while fitting for the characters here it is also a short and fast read. So perfect for a beach break, a quick getaway… or a night beside the fireplace because you’ve lost power in a blizzard. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Beautiful story excellently told, and while I’m a bit sad to let these characters go, Greene truly does a remarkable job sending them off. Very much recommended.

This review of Wildflower Wedding by Grace Greene was originally written on February 2, 2022.