Book Reviews

Book Review: Swoon by CM Foss

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Swoon is about Steph and Lawrence, a pair who are wildly attracted to one another.

“Swoon. Gulp. Swulp?”

They flirt, they joke around, and they really seem to get each other, so you’ll find yourself rooting for them to be together. But Foss doesn’t make it that easy. Instead she throws in all sorts of issues related to timing, emotional baggage and life in general, making it a realistic account of how it sometimes takes a person a long time to finally end up with that special someone she should have been with all along.

Things I love about this book:

1) There’s zero instalove. Steph’s best friend marries Lawrence’s best friend, so they’ve known each other for a while. They’ve hung out with each other. They like each other. Heck, they’ve even hooked up before. But at no point do things just click, and BOOM, happily ever after. It’s a slow process of increasing attraction and admiration with many ups and downs.

2) There’s a role reversal, which is atypical of most romance novels that include someone who flakes out about commitment. Usually it’s the guy, but in this story, Steph is the one who’s hesitant. I really like this because men are generally stereotyped as being commitment-phobes.

3) The ending made me smile. It was perfect.

“I fell for you years ago, and I’ve never really gotten back up.”

Swoon is the second book I’ve read by CM Foss and it won’t be the last. I love her witty humor and the way she infuses her experiences with horses and farm life into her stories. If you like HEAs and strong, independent heroines you need to check out her books!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Craze (Pierce Securities Book 1) by Anne Conley

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Craze is the third Anne Conley book I’ve read, and I think it’s safe to say I’m a fan. While The Fixer Upper, Craze, and Wire are all heavy on the romance, fans of other genres (suspense, humor, general women’s fiction) are likely to be satisfied too.

When Krista catches her boss in a compromising position, her world is turned upside down. To make matters worse, her boss has a powerful accomplice who will stop at nothing to make sure Krista tells no one what she witnessed. Knowing that her safety is on the line, she flees and does her best to disappear. But her plans are thwarted when her boss hires Pierce Securities to track her down. Enter Coast Guard veteran Ryan, the muscle behind Pierce, who’s tasked with finding her. And that’s where the romance comes into play.

I really enjoyed the shift that occurs when Ryan goes from tracking Krista to protecting her. And I liked all the details related to how the Pierce boys all have their roles to play in figuring out exactly what the boss is involved in.

Conley’s writing style is smooth and easy, yielding a quick, enjoyable read. The characters are well drawn, and she really had me pulling for the H and h. But at the same time, she had my stomach in knots over what the bad guys had done and their individual plans for Krista.

If you’re looking for a solid series of books that can be read as standalones, I highly recommend Conley’s Pierce Securities boys. Starting with Craze!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Fishing Hole by Hillary DeVisser

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Newly divorced Jesse moves back to her hometown for a fresh start. However, with three sons in tow, romance isn’t a top priority for her. But life is full of surprises, so before you know it, she finds herself involved with two men from her past: her high school sweetheart and an old acquaintance. To make things even more complicated, she has to deal with her asshole ex-husband.

I liked Jesse’s independent nature, her subtle sense of humor, and the way she didn’t fall head-over-heels for either of the guys. I also liked the way she dealt with her ex, never allowing him to get the best of her and setting a good example for her kids. As for the men, I was satisfied with the development of her relationship with Levi, but I wish there had been more about the situation with Cole. In other words, I’m a fan of flawed characters and drama, so I wish Cole had played a bigger role. Regardless, this was a sweet contemporary romance with small town flair and several tastefully done sex scenes.

I’m curious about what DeVisser has in store for the next installment in the Coal Country series!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: An Unforgivable Love Story by B.L. Berry

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Compelling. Unique. Suspenseful. Tragic. Infuriating.

An Unforgivable Love Story is all of these things and more. And the title is spot-on. The actions of two of the main characters (one more so than the other) are UNFORGIVABLE! Miraculously, Berry had me sympathizing with one of them. There’s a third key character, too, whose obliviousness broke my heart.

“He will always be my Simon. My unintended. My favorite, most hated mistake.”

The topic of this story–the BIG reveal–is nothing new, but the way Berry tackles it is brilliant. Early on, I thought I knew where things were headed, and I was right. But not entirely. You see, the key to the uniqueness of this novel is a result of the narrative angles Berry chose. I never expected the shift in narration between part one and part two. It blew my mind, and I found myself flipping back and forth to reread coinciding or related events. And then there’s part four. Oh my. It was fascinating (and unsettling at times) to compare the motivations and perceived realities of these three individuals.

I know people who have been in the shoes of all three of these characters, but I’ve never been close to ALL involved parties in a situation like this. And because of that, I’ve been left with only half or a third of the story or perceived truth. This book is a good reminder that sometimes the most deplorable actions can be viewed as unavoidable or even necessary in the eyes of the offender. It’s also a good reminder that people and relationships aren’t always who or what they appear to be.

Anyone who’s familiar with my reading tastes knows how much I enjoy flawed characters and depressing, messed up situations that mirror real life. This book did not disappoint! There was so much honesty and reality within the pages of this book. And the writing? Perfection. B.L. Berry is a must-read author.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: City Beautiful by CM Foss

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City Beautiful offers a captivating mix of romance, humor and drama, and there are even a few moments that had me on the edge of my seat dying to know what was going to happen.

The first third of this book is about how Patrick (a successful young doctor) meets Ivy (a somewhat reclusive farmer/bed and breakfast owner). While Patrick is road tripping from Texas to New York, he finds himself forced to make an unintended pit stop. This is when he meets Ivy and becomes enamored by her and her slow-paced country lifestyle. During this portion of the book, I found myself thinking, “What a nice, sweet romance with a touch of sass.” I thought I knew where things were headed, but then…BOOM. A twist! That’s when my attention was really piqued.

Foss did a great job of giving each character a distinct personality. I really liked Patrick and Ivy individually, but when they were together…I loved them. The other characters were all equally as likable, even Stacy due to her entertainment value.

The writing is smooth, and the dialogue is free-flowing, realistic and often laugh-out-loud funny. The conversations between Patrick and his sister were so funny and spot-on when it comes to the way some siblings communicate. And then there were the conversations between Ivy and her best friend Emily-hilarious! I never once had the urge to skim during any of the dialogue because I didn’t want to miss one witty or sarcastic comment.

The title of this book is one of my favorites as far as meaning is concerned. It warms my heart to think about the significance of it. I look forward to reading more books by CM Foss!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Survive by Amber R. Polk

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Survive offers a good mixture of new adult romance, drama, mystery and humor. It moves along at a steady pace for the most part; however, there are a few pulse-pounding scenes. One of the more intense scenes happens during the last chapter, which ends with quite a cliffhanger, ensuring that I’ll be reading part two in this series.

The three main characters are well-developed and believable. I enjoyed the brother/sister dynamic between Jacob and Veronica, which is where most of the humor creeps in. It also warmed my heart to read about the blossoming romance between Veronica and Luke. I appreciate the way Polk slowly builds their attraction toward one another. Bottom line: No instalove! I really liked all three of these characters, up until the end, that is. Remember that cliffhanger I mentioned? Yeah, that has something to do with it…

The only issue I have with Survive is I wish it had more information about the plague and the state of the world. So I hope part two sheds more light on what things are like for other survivors.

Overall, a solid read that showcases elements of various genres. As I said, I look forward to reading more from Polk!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Damaged by C. K. Green

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After suffering a traumatic event, Kiera tries to hide from her past. By doing so, she also hides from Ethan, the man who put his heart and soul into finding out the truth about what happened to her. When they are reunited, Kiera’s demons resurface with a vengeance, causing her to immediately push him away. Too bad their undeniable attraction toward each other throws a wrench in her plans…

I like how this story is told from alternating perspectives and how it’s laced with elements of suspense. While it’s extremely sad for me to imagine someone going through what Keira went through, I find it interesting the way Green conveyed this character’s PTSD. Part of me felt that she should have been further along in the healing process, but I know very little about the disorder, so my opinion could be way off. It seemed clear, though, that the way she kept everyone in her life at arm’s length stifled her ability to heal.

I don’t want to give anything away, but I have to say that I feel Ethan was a bit harsh and too forward with Kiera at times. The way he acted toward her in certain instances made me wonder if his intentions were what they seemed, but it was also kinda hot the way he was so crazy for her. Good debut, CK Green!

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*Many thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of Damaged in exchange for an honest review.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Bright Side by Kim Holden

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I don’t know what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. I loved it. I loved the characters. It was amazing. It made me think. It crushed my heart and made me cry. It made me laugh. It made me want to be a better person. Has all of that already been said? Pretty sure it has. So, what to say, what to say…

One of my favorite things is finishing a book and feeling so emotionally drained that I have to sit and reflect on what I just read. That’s exactly what happened when I finished this book. I sat there. I reread the last paragraph. And then I sat there a little longer. I felt sad and a little bit happy at the same time. I wanted to hug the author and every single character in the book (except for one). Dammit, I didn’t want it to be over!

But that’s life, right? Things suck sometimes. Things change. Things end. And that’s what I loved most about this book. It was so real. Too real. That’s why it made me cry. But even if I didn’t have first-hand experience with the primary theme in this book, it still would have made me cry because Kim Holden did a masterful job of depicting what it’s like.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Playing House by Mira Day

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Playing House is a fast-paced, contemporary romance with several hot and heavy scenes and a couple of twists.

Hannah is a waitress/bartender with aspirations of being a chef. Caleb is a successful lawyer and regular customer where Hannah works. Sparks fly between them despite the fact that Hannah is in a long-term relationship. By the end of chapter three, I thought I knew what to expect from the rest of the story . . . Likeable young woman in a relationship with douchebaggy guy meets the man of her dreams. Woman doesn’t realize just how douchebaggy the guy is so she wavers between the two men. Eventually, douchebaggy guy shows his true colors, making woman’s decision to end the relationship a no-brainer. She lives happily ever after with the man of her dreams. Was I right? Sort of, but mostly no. There’s a lot more to this story.

Early on, I thought I understood what the title meant. It was simple, straightforward. But then a twist was revealed, and the title meant a bit more. Then after reading a little further, another possible inspiration for the title occurred to me. So one thing I really like about this book is the clever title. I also like the ending, but there are definitely some unanswered questions!

If you like contemporary romance with just a bit of spice and a new adult feel, you might enjoy Playing House.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: A Girl Worth Waiting For by S. M. Smith

While the premise of this book is not new (woman is saving herself for marriage, gets cheated on, and then struggles with trust and worries she’ll never find the right guy), the way Smith tells the story is fresh and unique.

Even though this is Christian fiction, it was not devoid of despicable behavior, and nothing about it felt preachy. The characters are well developed–some definitely more likable than others, but all realistically flawed to a point–resulting in believable dialogue and relationships. I really liked Jessie and the promise she’s made to herself (and God).

Loved the ending. I actually got butterflies when I read the last couple of pages. It was that sweet! I look forward to seeing what happens in A Boy Worth Choosing.

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