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Isabella Jolie

Book Recommendations

The Lineup by Meghan Quinn

The Lineup Book Review

Meghan Quinn delivers a laugh out loud rom-com with The Lineup. Jason, the baseball player perfectly illustrated on the book cover, is one of those characters you’ll remember.

The character role reversal threw me at first, but once I got into it, I became a Jason fan. By “role reversal” I’m referring to the fact that Jason has a whole lot of stereotypical woman in him. He’s emotional, cries easily, loves to talk about his feelings, loves to cook, cares about the presentation of said food.

Then there’s Dottie, his sort of opposite. She’s a no tear, has her own chef, all about work kind of lady. I’ve definitely read many romance novels where she’s the hero to a T. She might be a bit difficult to like, except her long-time besties help to round out those soft edges and we see the heart underneath the shell. 

One thing about Jason. That cover image with the hair and necklace is spot on. And that towel image! So many times in the book we hear about THE towel photo. And, I do love it when the book cover plays out on something in the book, and especially when it nails my image of the hero. But, no matter how many body descriptions of Jason I read, I couldn’t shake my image of having a thicker middle. Maybe it’s just his love of food, maybe it’s the bubble butt, but I kept expecting him to say, “Baby, I love your hands on me, but please don’t grab the love handles.” It’s probably all in my head. In my mind, baseball players’ physiques are one step above golfers’.

As the book progresses, Dottie softens a bit and re-prioritizes. And Jason, well, he’s kind of perfect. Like, amazingly perfect, funny and while he loves the challenge Dottie represents, he falls in love with the woman no other man has taken the time to discover. So, it takes a while to get there, but in the end, Quinn delivers a warm happy HEA. 

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Book Recommendations

Kiss Me With Lies by S.M. Soto

Kiss Me With Lies Book ReviewGripping, suspenseful page turner with one helluva cliffhanger, Kiss Me With Lies will leave you punching the pre-order button for the sequel, Bury Me With Lies. S.M. Soto leaves readers on the edge in this duet.

Yes, it’s a suspense. But there is a love story in here. A sexy, scintillating, pussy clenching love story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Bad boy billionaire Sebastian, or Baz for those he likes, comes across as cold and manipulative, but we get to see his POV and there’re a good guy in there. A good guy who’s also a master in the bedroom. And he falls for Mackenzie, a girl from his past he doesn’t recognize.

After her sister’s murder, her life falls apart to some degree. Nine years later, she’s determine to bring her sister’s killer to justice. As she searches for the truth, she falls for Baz (and who the F wouldn’t?). But, we don’t know everything about Baz and it’s conceivable he helped to murder her sister.

Spoiler Alert

At the end of Kiss Me With Lies, it’s not looking so good for Mackenzie and Baz, but I have confidence he’s going to read that stack of papers she left him and he’s going to see that she’s not the gold digger his friends painted her out to be. And, I don’t believe for a minute he killed her sister. But, it won’t shock me if it turns out he helped his spoiled rich friends get away with the murder.

I’ll admit that at times I had a strong urge to scream at Mackenzie. I mean, first, has the chick EVER watched Cold Case files? And, her sister’s murder is a cold case. Only a total dumbass would save evidence linking themselves to a murder.

So, when she’s hunting around their offices – offices that didn’t even exist when they were all in highschool and the murder occurred – I was like, do yourself a favor and at least do some research on how cold cases are solved. Because it’s not by going through someone’s desk ten years after the murder.

But then, hey, she actually finds the clues she needs in someone’s office. So, yes, some suspension of disbelief is required to complete this book.

All that said, murderers aren’t always the most intelligent. They very often do make stupid mistakes that land them in prison. And, these rich spoiled kids believe themselves to be untouchable. So, why would they bother to go burn those bloody clothes linking them to a murder? Better to leave them buried because who would ever find the post it note with the coordinates leading them to said evidence? I mean, after all, it’s in a safe of an office that didn’t exist at the time of the murder.

All of that aside, towards the end, I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough. And somehow I KNOW there is more to Baz. He’s going to come through and have a mind boggling backstory. My prediction is Mackenzie and Baz are going to end up working together to bring down the monsters. And it’s going to be a hot, sexy, dangerous road to justice. And I for one can’t wait to read the sequel. My only complaint is that it’s not available RIGHT NOW to read.

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Book Recommendations

His Royal Highness by R.S. Grey

His Royal Highness Book ReviewR.S. Grey delivers another heartwarming, feel good romance with His Royal Highness. And, yet again, she pulls out a book cover that perfectly illustrates the hero and heroine.

In this reimagination of a theme park remarkably similar to the one where a mouse reins supreme, Derek’s grandfather plays the role of park architect and CEO. After buying up tons of land in Georgia on the cheap, he builds a masterpiece with a castle and princesses. Cast members strive to keep the magic alive at all cost.

I just came back from Disney, the similar theme park in Florida, and I have to say, everywhere I went I kept thinking back to passages in this book. Yes, it’s a bit laughable to think that, even in a small park, there’s only one cast member per princess.  But, aside from a few creative licenses, R.S. Grey knows her park stuff.

Whitney falls for Derek when she’s nineteen and he’s twenty nine. He’s her mentor. Understandably, he doesn’t see her in a romantic way and sort of does her a solid by ignoring an out of line email that would get her fired in a flash at most companies. She grows up in fairy land and never quite sees the whole situation through clear eyes. And yes, there are times I’d like to be her friend and talk some sense into her.

But, when these two fall in love, it’s sweet and sexy in a way that R.S. Grey has mastered. When we get to the epilogue, it’s like my mind has a movie screen playing and I can see it all in my head. And it’s so good and so sweet I just keep replaying it. It’s the sort of sparkly magic Cinderella’s Castle delivers year round.

If you love theme parks, and especially if you love Disney, this one’s a must read.

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Book Recommendations

The One Night Stand Before Christmas by Jana Aston

The One Night Stand Before ChristmasThe Reindeer Falls series is like a bowl full of red and green gumdrops. For a quick moment, your mouth is filled with sugary sweetness, then it’s all gone. But, look! More are in the bowl.

Reindeer Falls, a quaint, iconic tourist town, modeled after a German Christmas village, provides the snowy backdrop for insta-love and Christmas magic.

Of the three Reindeer Falls Christmas books from Jana Aston, The One Night Stand Before Christmas ranks as my second favorite. Noel’s one night stand with a guy, who isn’t who she thought he was, is make-you-smile romantic comedy.

My biggest issue with it is it’s over so dang quickly, just like a single gumdrop. Teddy/Theo, a city guy with a long history of milking the cow for free, gets wrangled into a Santa suit by someone his GRANDMOTHER recommends. And that’s all she wrote?

We don’t ever get to see his perspective, but I wish we had. He even handles her impatience for him to put a ring on it with ease. I guess his grandmother does know him best. He really did agree with her that he needed a wife.

But see, here’s the thing. I’m being a Grinch. Reindeer Falls isn’t about picking it apart and saying “this is real”, “this would never happen,” or “yeah, right.” Reindeer Falls is about believing in Christmas magic. The Hallmark channel kind where love conquers even the most hardened Grinch heart and makes it explode to ten times its normal size.

The Reindeer Falls Christmas Series

The series includes three books: The Boss Who Stole Christmas, If You Give a Jerk Gingerbread, and The One Night Stand Before Christmas.  Jana Aston rolled them out one right after the other, so you can read them all. These are novellas. (The Boss, the first one, ranks as my favorite).

I read each one over coffee (admittedly, I drink A LOT of coffee each morning), but they are super quick, fun, happy, sugary, no calorie treats. Jana Aston romantic comedy under a perfectly adorned, Christmas lit tree – what could be better?

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a sexy, happy romance!

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Book Recommendations

Forget the Stars by Kelsey Kingsley

Forget the Stars Book ReviewWith Forget the Stars, Kelsey Kingsley delivers a friend to lovers romance filled with strong, memorable characters and a slow burn.

Chad and Molly have been best friends since before they could crawl. They remain best friends until high school, when social pressures and different classes split them up.

Molly is the quiet girl and she struggles a bit with her weight. Chad, in her eyes, was always meant to be the star. He was the popular guy in school and destined to be in a band.

When Chad turns thirty though, his life isn’t where he thought it would be. His girlfriend of eight years doesn’t want to live with him or get married. His health is anything but ideal as he’s always in pain from his “bad gut.”

Meanwhile, Molly’s life is actually pretty good. She’s come out of shell a bit, she’s found a diet and exercise regime that works for her, and she sings at a local restaurant a few nights a week.  When Chad’s band needs an opening act to go on tour, Chad turns to Molly.

The Highlights

The book is filled with strong secondary characters, but by far my favorite is Sebastian, one of Chad’s bandmates. He comes close to stealing the show, er book.

The mothers border annoying. At times, they are sweet. But, when Molly and Chad have their first date and they come out into the backyard at 1am, I wanted to scream at them, “They are thirty years old. Leave them the f*ck alone if you want them to get together.”

The southern accents are strong in this book. I’m from the south, and I’m sensitive to a misuse of southern accents. But, Kingsley carries it off. The accents work to build out their personalities and solidly place them in their small hometown.

The Chad deals with IBD and his eventual stay in the hospital is eye-opening and real. When random fans criticize him for his illness, it’s infuriating. One wants to believe no one would ever actually be so cruel, but unfortunately, we all know it’s too true. When fans pick at Molly for her weight, there too, we know that sadly, it’s all too real.

Kingsley  artfully shows both sides. Through the story we see that behind a mean person, there is often a person who is hurting or dealing with a lot of pain in his own world.

Molly could be a star on her own merit. After opening for Chad’s band, she has the opportunity. But, it’s not what she loves and she recognizes she doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. At thirty, she’s wise for her years.

Overall, it’s a sweet love story about a friendship that ebbs and flows through the years. A love destined in the stars as their mommas liked to say. When Chad finally opens his eyes to Molly, he has no doubt that she’s the one he’ll be with and there’s a sweetness to their love that’s heartwarming and endearing.

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Book Recommendations Series

The Deception by Nikki Sloane

The Deception Book Review

The Deception delivers a gut-wrenching, page-turning final installation in the Filthy Rich Americans series by Nikki Sloane finishes out a twisted, complicated chess game between one powerful man, his son and daughter-in-law.

Rarely has an antagonist filled me with disgust and hate to the degree Macalister did in the first two books in this series.  Minotaur? Zeus?  Monster?  I went with monster.  Sick, twisted, depraved monster.

In The Deception, he plays the role of a falling God. Visions of infallibility and self-grandeur become his downfall. And, in the end, we see flashes of the man before he became a God. The man who loved the mother of his children. The man who was human before death sliced his heart.

In the first two books, Marist plays the chess game on par with a naive, young guileless chess player joining the rank of seasoned experts.  Bountiful mistakes and missteps befall her, but through her struggles, she holds onto herself to some degree.  She recognizes the importance of not completely losing her soul.

In this final book, my frustration with her almost forced me to put the book down I at times. Frustration rose not only from going against Macalister with no good reason to believe she could beat him, but in her insistence on keeping her husband in the dark.  It’s not until the bitter end that we see how well she has played the game.

The father son dynamic between Royce and Macalister roils the stomach.  The psychotic, unhealthy relationship borders disgusting.   But, I kept turning the pages because I had to see what happened.   Like a twisted reality TV show, I knew it was all kinds of wrong, but I couldn’t just turn it off.

And, I have to say, I like that in the end, the relationship is still strained. We don’t flip a page and all is forgiven. Because, really, he’s done horrible things for most of Royce’s life.  I think if at the end he and his Dad were BFF’s, I’d have to throw the book (er, Kindle) at the wall.

The Best

The best thing about the The Deception, for me, is this is the book where we really see Royce and Marist not only fall in love, but prove their love.  The Deception continues the fight against the all powerful ruthless heartless Gods. But, the love story takes center stage.

Nikki Sloane delivers in this series as master storyteller.  Yes, it’s twisted and demented.  But I love the modernized twist on the stories of old, the original religions and fables.

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Book Recommendations

The Boss Who Stole Christmas by Jana Aston

Reindeer Falls Book ReviewOh my word, I do love a good Jana Aston love story! The Boss Who Stole Christmas introduces Reindeer Falls, a quaint, iconic tourist town, modeled after a German Christmas village.

Holly and Nick work for a toy manufacturer, or rather, Holly works for Nick. He’s recently taken over Reindeer Toy Company from his Uncle.

Holly kicks ass as a product manager and marketer and while her Teddy Bear cafe ideas are a direct rip-off of American Girl, all is fair in business.

The chemistry between Holly and Nick is deelish and the whole story is full of ‘All I want For Christmas’ swoon-worthy moments.  I read this novella in around one hour over coffee. So, that’s the only sad thing about this story. It’s over in a flash.

Good news is that Holly Mistletoe Winters has two sisters, Ginger and Noel, and they have novellas on the way to be delivered before December 25th.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate these names? It’s like a dip into nineteenth century naming techniques. In the same way Heathcliff set my fantasies into a frenzy by name alone, look at this cast: Holly, Nick, Ginger, Noel.   Nick’s last name is Saint-Croix. Come on! These names alone promise joy, good will towards men and a frollicking good time.

Jana Aston nails the rom com genre. She has me laughing while simultaneously flying through the pages to watch the romance unfold. I can’t wait for the next two in the Reindeer Falls series. And, I think I’m gonna have to stop by the Grind Me Cafe to figure out if Reindeer Falls exists. Even if it’s modeled after one street somewhere in Colorado, I want to visit. And, obviously, apply for a job at the Reindeer Toy Company while there.

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Work in Progress by BJ Harvey

Work In Progress Book ReviewWork in Progress stands out as an angst-free romance between mature adults who are more than ready to meet their life partner. How rare is that in romance?

She’s a single Mom living with her ex mother-in-law. Yep, you read that right. Her ex is such a complete d-bag his own mother chooses her over him. Her six year old son is well-adjusted and adorable. She’s a confident, balanced nurse but her number one priority in life is her son.

He narrowly escaped marrying a world class bee-atch. He sees his mistakes for what they are, and by the time his neighbor pounds on his door for playing music too loudly, he’s starting his own company and proving to himself and his ex that he does indeed have what it takes to follow his business dreams.

One of the best things about this book is the family camaraderie. He has a ton of brothers and I’m guessing they’ll each take a turn in the Cook Brother’s series from BJ Harvey.

It’s a fun, light-hearted sexy read. It’s a slow burn romance that heats up as they get to know each other, and when they finally find that alone time, it’s explosive.

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Book Recommendations

Deal Makers by Laura Lee

Deal Makers Book reviewIf you’re in the mood for a funny, sexy, fast and easy read, then Deal Makers is a great one to pick up. This brother’s best friend romance kicks off with a drunken Vegas wedding between two friends.

Deal Makers is the third in the Dealing with Love series from Laura Lee. I didn’t read the first two books and had zero problem following along as Charlee and Drew found their way.

Bro code plays a big role in the conflict for Deal Makers, and that in and of itself didn’t bother me, but Charlee’s brother, Brody, at times did annoy the crapola out of me. He’s annoying, childish and hypocritical. Maybe if I’d read his love story, I’d be more sympathetic to his bratty ways, but I didn’t and I wasn’t.

All that said, it’s easy enough to slide right past the annoyance and follow along as Charlee and Drew work it all out. Once these two are married, neither are particularly eager to get it annulled, and watching the go through self-doubt and insecurities while slowly admitting what they have might be more than a drunken mistake is a fun little sexy ride.

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Book Recommendations

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Twice In a Blue Moon Book ReviewA second-chance romance and heart-warming rom-com, this one from Christina Lauren might push YA boundaries but it’s close.

Sam and Tate first meet on a trip with their grandparents to London. He’s twenty-one and she’s eighteen. His grandfather has a great sense of humor and warm wit. Her grandmother is protective and worried about every dollar she spends.

Tate tells him her deepest, most private secret because she feels she can tell this stranger anything. She falls for him during their light night meet-ups in the hotel garden and one afternoon away from their guardians she gives him her virginity.

The beginning of the story is completely YA. Then he does a seemingly horrible thing and Tate’s life changes forever.

Fourteen years later the two meet again. My wish upon a blue moon would be that Tate would be a stronger character, not quite so slow on the uptake and more the hollywood savvy self she realistically would have had to become in order to survive in Hollywood for fourteen years.

My second wish upon a blue moon would be that Sam would have manned up and run to Tate when she’s seemingly sold out once again by someone. Agreeing to go into hiding and not being there for Tate didn’t warrant her hunting him out and wrapping her arms around him for the expedient HEA.

So, yes, I have a wish for each blue moon. All that said, it’s still an entertaining book. I have a friend who truly enjoyed it. And I love the title and the book cover design. And if you are curious about life behind the scenes on a movie set, then this book will be doubly entertaining.

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