This is my first book by Jacqueline Middleton and I enjoyed reading this story of chance and what ifs.
The most striking and beautiful description in this book is London at Christmas time. The details in this book about sites to visit, little know facts about London and the special Christmas events give you a very vivid picture of London and is better than any guidebook.
Madeleine Joy is on a flight to Paris to spend Christmas with her sister, but her flight in unexpectedly diverted to London. She is getting ready to hop in a cab when another traveler bumps the line an hops in the cab meant for Madeleine. So, she ends up in Julian’s cab and he offers her his services as a tour guide. This whole story has several moving parts and there are bittersweet and joyful parts to this book as we journey with Julian and Madeleine through London.
Madeleine is going through an emotional time and Julian is a great guy. I really enjoyed the attention to detail in this story and Madeleine’s somewhat unusual storyline. These two are meant to be.
I’m just going to say it: On The Ropes is my favorite for 2021. It’s just what I needed at just the right time. Being a lover of romance, this is shiny and beautiful in all the ways you want to be. It made my heart really happy and at the end you sigh and hold this book close to you.
This book takes place in South Philadelphia, which is a traditionally Italian neighborhood, but, in 2021, it’s a beautiful mixing pot of lots of different nationalities. Being from the Philadelphia suburbs and having worked in the city, it’s really hard to describe Philly in a way that people who don’t live in and around the city understand. This author has done a phenomenal job getting the Philadelphia feeling just right. Philadelphia is, essentially, a side character in On the Ropes.
Our hero, Dean “The Machine” Knox-Morelli, is in his mid 20s and has had a lauded boxing career and he’s now retired. Unfortunately, Philly is Philly and Dean is labeled a quitter by the boxing fans of Philly because he retired right before a boxing championship. You know what they say about Philly sports fans: They Are the WORST. So, Dean is kind of still finding his way a few years after officially retiring from boxing, the reasons he retired are completely valid, plus, pretty relevant for today. Dean and our heroine, Tabitha go way back to high school and, well, they are so damn cute. Tabitha was a couple of years ahead of Dean in high school and when she graduated he relocated to LA for college, they do, however, know of each other and actually walked to school together a few days a week. It’s been a long time since they have seen each other.
Tabitha is absolutely one of my most favorite heroines. She’s an extremely kind person, but she’s living the nomad life of a contract filmmaker. She has rules around relationships and when she meets someone new in a new city she comes with a lot of caveats such as not wanting to entangle herself into a committed relationship. Recently single again after breaking up with her girlfriend, Tabitha arrives to Philly for a two week visit with her family. Tabitha’s family clearly loves her but there are complexities within her relationships.
Tabitha and Dean have a re-meet cute that is the cutest thing EVER.
So, the basics of the story is, a vacant lot in South Philadelphia, two adorable people who are dancing around each other, the art museum, the neighborhood, the neighbors who live there, two great families and a whole lot of love and light.
This book, THIS book gets 5 stars from me. It’s a wonderful story and I’ll never stop telling people to grab a copy on KU and treating yourself to an afternoon or evening visiting Philly. Come on! Philly’s waiting for you!
I’ve had several of my book friends recommend The Broken Hearts series to me over the last few months but I’ve just not been able to get to them. I started Cross My Heart but had to put it aside because of ARC I needed to read with a quick turn around. So, needless to say, I had to fit in reading these when I could, which happened to be in the last couple of weeks.
First off I want to say these books are a found family trope with friends, siblings, parents and a Grandmom mixed in. It’s a wonderful ensemble of characters that add so much richness, love and history to both of these novels. Let me just say, found family is a favorite trope of mine and this found family came right into my heart and had a seat on my big red couch. 😍
First up is Book 1, Beat of My Heart. This is, in trope talk, a single dad, nanny romance that takes place in North Carolina, but it doesn’t feel right to put a tag on Dexter and Lanie’s story. Lanie has a traumatic past, but she’s still healing after 18 months, Dexter has his own healing to do while juggling 3 kids. Dexter is a great Dad, but between heading up his company and managing small children he needs a reliable nanny, which brings him Lanie, a small town Vermont girl looking for a fresh start. These two will light up your kindle and Lanie’s support of Dexter and his children is amazing. There is suspense involved in this story. Absolutely 5 stars, and I couldn’t wait to get to Book 2.
Book 2, Beat of My Heart brings us Julia and Trevor’s story. It starts with a flash back and that is something else. These two absolutely explode together and you just want them together forever, but, sadly, they are apart for a while. Trevor has, what seem to be, dangerous issues with his family and Lokie, another found family member, is helping him with those issues but it’s very cloak and dagger. The friend group isn’t afraid to confront each other and that happens a few times in this book. Poor Trevor sometimes does need a kick to get sorted out! Julia is adorable and genius level intelligent. She’s a mighty woman and I really love her character. Trevor is also a super smart guy and is pretty similar to Julia, they may both be a little neuro diverse but that wasn’t a huge part of the book, all I know is I loved them both. Another 5 star read putting Avery Maxwell firmly on my “one click-I don’t need to read the blurb-must read” author list.
Fireproof by Delancey Stewart is a wonderful book. I was very enthralled with this story of Mason, the former Marine turned goat farmer. Heather is our heroine and she’s an advocate for education issues in Washington DC. Heather was embroiled in a public legal proceeding and she is wrongfully targeted and has a few alarming things happen. Heather’s brother, an active Marine, is on leave and entrust Heather’s safety to his best friend and former Marine, Mason. But, Heather’s brother Eric drives her hours away to Vermont to Mason’s family farm, drops her off there for a month with no transportation of her own and not much for Heather to do.
Mason will do anything Eric asks of him, they are tight and even though Mason has reservations about Heather intruding on his carefully built routines, he allows it. Mason spends the better part of a week grumping about, being gruff with poor Heather and generally being a bit rude. Mason is described as having a “resting murder face” so obviously Mason has grumpiness down pat.
I really love the character of Heather. She’s a positive person with firm beliefs and she’s a helper and caretaker, but also knows when to take a step back even if it hurts her. She spent some time trying to figure out Mason, but just couldn’t convince Mason to open up.
There are side characters in this book that are wonderful and add so much to this story. Mason’s Uncle Billy who is oh so wise, Mason’s sister Amelia, Eric and the sweetest puppers named Rascal who Mason rescued on a mission as a Marine.
I should mention this book is written in Serena Bowen’s True North world and is part of a series of stand alones.
I’m very behind on ever in my life right now. I have a high school freshman who is also in band, so the next few months are going to be crazy busy, but, I’m enjoying it as much as I can since these days are fleeting. My 22 year old daughter was in her own apartment while attending college, but she moved back home when covid started because everything was online so she couldn’t justify rent; it’s been great having her back home but also very challenging.
As we move into fall, I’m always looking for quick dinner recipes that are nutritious. I’ve been slowly shifting to pescatarian/vegetarian diet, and, my 23 year old has been helpful with meal ideas as she has been pescatarian for a few years.
Fish tacos are one of my most favorite recipes and my family loves them too and it’s something we can all enjoy together without double cooking separate meals since my husband and son still eat red meat, pork and chicken.
This is one of my favorite recipes, it’s simple, quick and delicious!
Since I was on vacation last week, I took some time to read a little bit more than I normally do and I chose two Susan Stoker books since she is an attending author at a romance book signing event I’m attending in November. I’ve read her books and series before so I knew what to expect!
My ratings: 5/5 Stars. possible triggers for a mob style torture scene with introspective thoughts by the victim, shooting, general violence, being stranded in the ocean
Where to start! Well, Susan Stoker’s books always start with the FLC in some kind of trouble that requires an assist of some kind, this assist that Elodie needs is a rather big one as the boat she works on as the cook has been taken over by pirates. The Navy SEAL team is already in the area for another op, but are reassigned with the pirated cargo ship. As the SEAL team leader, Scott, AKA Mustang, picks up contact with Elodie while the SEAL team is en route to the cargo ship. Mustang admires Elodie’s bravery given the situation she currently finds herself in. At the end of the rescue, Maverick follows his gut and gives Elodie his phone number, in hopes she will contact him.
All kinds of things happen and they end up together, but, Elodie has baggage and it ends up at her front door. There’s a daring rescue, but, mostly I never really feel like she’s a damsel in distress.
This book gets 5/5 for all these areas: characters, storyline and overall tense moments in the story.
5/5 stars, possible triggers: hostage situation, homelessness
Honestly, I didn’t even care who the main male character was when I pre ordered this just hours before it was released this past week because I needed my fix!
This book is about Midas, who we met in book 1 and his love interest, Lexie. When the team is briefed on a 3 month old hostage situation in Somalia, Midas realizes he knows the female hostage from high school. He has brief memories of her when they were assigned to do a project together. She was a transfer student in senior year.
Their story is good one and the threat is kind of not apparent to either Midas or Lexie until it’s actually happening. Lexie has very firm beliefs about human rights along with other topics and I really appreciate that as it gives Lexie’s character a lot of depth. Great story that overall gets 5 stars for characters, storyline and the female friendships that develop.
Incidentally, one of Lexie’s new friends is Ashlyn, a woman whom Lexie works with and we find out Ashlyn’s got something going on with SEAL team member Slate, however, according to the pre orders, Slate’s story isn’t next. Finding Kenna is next (Aleck and Kenna) and releases in October while book 4 is Finding Monica which is Pid’s story and that releases in May. Slate and Ashlyn’s book will be book #6.
Overall, if you’re craving some suspense, with strong women who need an assist, this might be a series for you to check out. I promptly finished these two books and hopped over to Susan Stoker’s Silverstone Series, which is available in KU read and listen.
5/5 StarsPossible spoilersin this reviewTriggers: childhood sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, child neglect
The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner is a memoir that was published in 2015 and takes us through the horrors that Ruth and her family suffered while members of The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times, a mormon fundamentalist polygamy colony in LeBaron, Mexico. Ruth Warner is the daughter of the founder of the church, but, when Ruth was just a few months old, her father was shot and killed by men hired by his brother to kill him. Kathy, Ruth’s Mom, remarried Lane, a dead beat pedophile who’s neglect and manipulation rained down on Ruth’s Mom and family for years.
I’m currently on vacation and today was a down day for me and this book was absolutely riveting, I couldn’t put it down and finished it tonight. The trauma this author, and many of her siblings went through was actually astonishing. What was the saddest fact in this book is the fact Ruth was being sexually assaulted by her stepfather and was told by her mother and other women in the community to just forgive her step father, yet, no one actually did anything about it until it was revealed that Lane was sexually assaulting Ruth’s brother, who has intellectual disabilities.
My overall review of this book is 5 stars for the engaging writing style and the storytelling aspect of this book. While I’m sure there are big fact that are correct in the story, I’m pretty certain there had to be some patchwork here and there. This author is amazing for sharing this awful, harrowing story. She’s overcome many obstacles including a huge educational hurdle since she did not finish high school, and yet she achieved college and a graduate degree. This family suffered a lot and sadly, Kathy had 3 children with either medical or intellectual issues and Kathy was not equipped to manage these problems her children had. So many things fell on Ruth, the 2nd oldest girl and it was quite sad.
Well, it’s vacation time in my house, and I just really need this get away. It’s been almost 3 years since I’ve had a “real” vacation. Since I’m a nurse, nothing is going to feel as good as R&R this year. Of course, the Covid-19 Delta variant is happening but luckily, we are renting a remote cabin and going on day excursions.
My husband is in finance and he has no idea how much I’ve been though as an RN in this last year and a half and he’s pretty much chalked all my dissent up to being a whiner, so that’s been super fun here. But at least I have my fellow healthcare workers to commiserate with!
My big plan for my week away is to have fun with the family and to read or listen to as many books as I can while I’m on vacation. It won’t be super easy and I am currently taking summer classes so I can get out of the hole I’m in with direct care nursing. I’m what you would call a “seasoned nurse” so I’ve been working under duress for some time now and Covid made me take a hard look at my professional life and what I’m doing everyday; changes have to happen. I know that now. This is the final week of my classes coming up, and while I’ve worked ahead, some things are not opened yet for me to complete before I leave on vacation.
That being said, I’m currently finishing up some awesome books!
Currently reading The Broody Brit by MJ Fields and Jessica Ruben and I’m loving it so much. It’s a small town, single Dad book that is totally swoon worthy. Raff is the hero of this story and he’s everything you’d want in a book boyfriend. He’s a bit broody, but he’s basically a cinnamon roll. He’s a good man and father and he loves big. He’s protective but knows his boundaries and always supports his woman. I have about 2 hours left and I’ll be posting a review when I am done.
The next book I’m listening to via Alexa is Finding Elodie by Susan Stoker. She’s an author I read religiously for about 18 months around 2017 or so, before I fell into Romancelandia on FB and became pretty much enamored with all sorts of different indie and traditionally published authors. I have to tell you, Susan Stoker has a knack for really strong heroines who bring their military guys to their knees and Finding Elodie is no different. I’m a lover of romantic suspense and so far, Finding Elodie is really giving me a lot of thrills. I’m glad I’ve returned to Susan Stoker books, I’ve missed them! Incidentally, Susan Stoker is an attending author at Indies Invade Philly in November and I’m attending the signing!
The next book I’ve just started is Cross My Heart by Avery Maxwell. You all, Avery Maxwell is a new to me author and I’ve had many of my book friends throw Avery Maxwell books at me. I’m not going to lie here, Cross My Heart is billed as a “small town, billionaire, single Dad romance” and I’m a huge fan of small town romances. I run hot and cold on single Dad, but I’d rate my love of single dad romance at 75% love and billionaire is usually a “proceed with caution” situation for me because I’m not a fan of the billionaire sweeping in and providing/fixing everything for his woman. All that being said, I’m absolutely loving this book so far. Dex is our leading man and he’s a billionaire, but he’s worked for it all while maintaining being a Dad in the worst possible situation he was dealt. The writing is amazing and the characters have a lot of depth, even from the beginning of this book. While this is a nanny-billionaire book I’m just enamored by the writing and storyline, which isn’t the usual storyline. Please be aware the author does provide a trigger warning for this book. I will be providing a review for this when I’m finished by I’m looking forward to finishing this book. I can already tell that Avery Maxwell is going to be a must read author for me. Avery Maxwell is also an attending author at Indies Invade Philly signing!
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now! I’ll be sure to post next weekend after I’m back from vacation, or maybe while I’m on vacation! If you have favorite vacation read, please feel free to share them in the comments! Have a great weekend!
See you on the flip side and don’t forget to have some pineapples and coffee!
Only Melissa Foster could give us this charmer! Sweet Sexy Heart is just that, sweet and sexy.
Amber Montgomery has spent time creating a bubble around herself. She has a medical condition that has her, to some extent, proceeding with caution in all things concerning her life. She lives a quiet and predictable life with her dog and has close friends and family.
Dash is enamored with Amber, just smitten with her and he slowly weaves his way to Amber. Dash is everything you’d hope and want to your life partner; he’s patient and kind with Amber but, his life is very different as he’s a motivational speaker. This doesn’t stop him from wanting Amber.
This is a beautiful escape from every day life with small town charm and sweet love. 5 star read for great characters and wonderful escapism.
I didn’t have a lot of time to read during July, summer is distracting for me! But, here’s what I did read!
I wrote a previous blog post on the wonderful Mistaken for Love by Delancey Stewart, and I enjoyed the fanciful fairytale quality to the story.
Save the Last Text by Delancey Stewart and Marika Ray
Delancey Stewart had a busy month with two back to back releases, brand new covers on her backlist books and series, plus posting TikTok dance offs with Pippa Grant and Marika Ray! (Seriously, her dance moves are not to be missed! Follow her on TikTok here: https://bit.ly/3jcQ7Og)
Save the Last Text is Book 3 of the Digital Dating Series and can be read as a stand alone, but, for maximum fun and enjoyment I recommend reading the series; they are all KU and the Cunningham brothers are dreamy! This entire series is what’s considered “sweet” romances because there isn’t written out sex scenes, but do not let that cheat you out of this great series! This series is romantic and these Cunningham men know how to bring the big romantic gestures! This was a 5 out of 5 star read for me. Grab the series in KU right here: https://amzn.to/2WCjmSL
my very first book by this author, I started this book with high hopes and I enjoyed it at the very beginning, but, then a lot of problems emerged for me while I was reading this novel. Lexi, our heroine, hasn’t had a good life. She craves love and acceptance, she’s got a trauma history related to her Mom, Dad and Grandfather who have either discarded Lexi or compartmentalized Lexi in their lives. Lexi’s father did something horrible and Lexi carries some guilt for that. Lexi has a run in with a billionaire businessman, Cain, who was directly affected by Lexi’s father’s bad decision. She loses her job because of this run in as well and down the hill the storyline goes.
This book has a lot of the following issues: emotional abuse, coercion, office power play, office sex: from Cain, the CEO and her direct boss. They agree to a sex only relationship, but Lexi continues to want and hope for more from Cain. Cain has his own baggage and it’s a bit of a doozy. In the end these two get an HEA, with Cain finally waking up and sweeping in when Lexi most needs him. This book gets 3.5 out of 5 stars from me. The writing and character development is amazing and I would certainly read this author again. I borrowed Hero from the library! Author’s website: https://bit.ly/3ltRaMx
Riley Thorne and the Corpse in the Closet by Lucy Score
Summer has come around again and so has book 2 in Lucy Score’s Riley Thorne Series! If you aren’t familiar with the Riley Thorn character, she’s a reluctant medium from a family of gifted women; her Grandmom being famous for her abilities. This book brings back all the hijinks, madcap adventures and colorful cast of characters you can handle and Burt, the cutest puppers, with an adorable, standout puppy personality. There is a lot of summer fun to be had in this book and a case to be solved. I almost forgot to mention Nick Santiago, Riley’s boyfriend and also a PI, so there a whole lot of sex scenes in this book, sometimes they make sense, sometimes not so much, but it’s like a make your own adventure, you can chose to read it or skim it! 5 out of 5 stars because: what a fun read! Lucy Score website: https://bit.ly/3ihQ9VC Riley Thorne series available in KU: https://amzn.to/3lnFt9T
Dear Mr. Brody by AM Johnson
Well, AM Johnson brings up the loveliest writing for Book 3 in the For Him Series. This author has a gift for words and I honestly just revel in their gorgeousness. The characters are most times flawed and imperct; they make mistakes, doubt themselves and ultimately forgive themselves. I love Dear Mr. Brody because it’s about new beginnings and discovering parts of yourself that you may have, knowingly or unknowingly, suppressed. The love and care between Van and Parker, well, it’s magical. Parker is about 10 years younger than Van and is Van’s student at university, so you can see the possible issues they could experience. What I love most about this book is Van’s understanding of himself, his seized opportunity to change what his life looks like and his acceptance of who his is, however hard fought his internal struggle is. This books garner 5 out of 5 stars; it’s a lovely read. Find AM Johnson here: https://bit.ly/3jhkdQE For Him Series available in KU: https://amzn.to/3fkDmzJ
Cocky Marquess by Annabelle Anders
Oh, what a fun book! This is book 6 of this author’s Regency Cocky Gents Series. Our Marquess of Greystone (Greys) is quite proper and dresses quite dandy, but he’s QUITE man enough. Lol. I had so much fun reading this book and how protective he is of Miss Diana Jones, the illegitimate daughter of Greys close friend, Chase, Baron of Chaswick (Cocky Baron by Annabelle Anders). Chase is hellbent that his sisters have coming outside in society, but it’s not going well at all for Diana. A gifted dancer, Diana wanted to be a professional but agrees to enter society and find a husband under her brother’s sponsorship. Greys and Diana enter into an agreement so that Diana appears more attractive to suitors with Greys taking her out for carriage rides and boating on the lake. Greys is a bit stuffy and superfluous for Diana but he helps her understand society, protects her from jerks and, eventually, loves her. Great HEA and wonderful writing and characters. 5 out of 5 stars! Find Annabelle Anders here: https://bit.ly/3A2X6A6 The Cocky Series on Amazon:https://amzn.to/3zZV03O and available on various platforms.
Coffee Shop Girl by Katie Cross
I purchased this entire series as an impulse purchase and what a great impulse on my part! Katie Cross in a new to me author and I’m pretty hooked on this series right now. This is considered a “sweet” romance because it has no written out sex scenes. This is a medium sized series with 6 released books and, so far, two books posted that haven’t been released yet.
This is small town in the mountains and revolves around a family that’s got a spotted history. These siblings share the same Mom, but have different fathers, but we’re raised by Bethany’s Dad. The Mother in this story has passed out n, but her awful legacy lives on in her children. This book is about Bethany and Maverick. Bethany has recently taken over ownership of Frolicking Moose, a coffee shop after Bethany’s father passed away and leaves the shop to her. The shop is failing and Maverick enters the picture to help Bethany turn the business around. These characters aren’t perfect and there are real life issues in this book. This book gets 5 out of 5 stars! I wanted to also let you know, Katie Cross has several YA Fantasy book series that are great, check them out too! Katie Cross chick lit website: https://bit.ly/3ljoHJ8 Katie Cross YA fantasy website: https://bit.ly/3CaNtRN
And, that’s a wrap for me! Enjoy the rest of your summer! 🍍☕️