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Book Recommendations

Forget the Star 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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Book Recommendations

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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Book Recommendations

All My Life by Prescott Lane

All My Life Book Review

A beautiful love story set in small-town America filled with layers of love. I devoured this story and then reread some of my favorite parts as soon as I finished it.

Devlyn has been there for Garrett for eighteen years. She’s been in love with him since she was five.  

Garrett sees Devlyn as DD. His friend from down the street.

A new girl comes into town and delivers his first crush. When she shows up pregnant on his doorstep, he becomes a seventeen-year-old dad in a small town where most shun him. His crush leaves him and his baby daughter before they’re released from the hospital. And at first, DD is his only friend.

Eighteen years later, she owns the biscuit shop across the street from his hardware store. She’s still his best friend, and she’s an important person in his daughter’s life.

During Mia’s valedictorian speech, she begs for someone to date her Dad. The video goes viral, and women pour forth. He agrees to three dates. But, something happens along the way. He opens his consciousness up to dating, something he closed off in his quest to be everything for Mia, and once he does, he SEES Devlyn. 

Here’s the thing.

I once had a crush on a friend. That shit was painful. I endured it for about a year. Devlyn endures it for over twenty years! Yes, she dates some during that time, but she knows when he dates and when he has hook-ups and my heart gushes for Devlyn. 

Garrett’s one saving grace is that when he finally sees what’s right before him, he REALLY sees her. And he sees what he’s done to her and he sets about trying to make it right.

Prescott Lane provides plentiful explanations for his lack of romantic life. But, given how much Mia wanted a Mom, it’s a little surprising to me that she never saw the potential between Garrett and Devlyn, or that she didn’t try at some point to push them together. But maybe if you are a kid and you grow up with things being one way, you never think about changing them.  

As I read this book, “See You Through My Eyes” by The Head and the Heart kept playing in the back of my mind. It’s a sweet love story with all the feels, no angsty drama, and strong characters. The whole book is as yummy as I imagine one of Devlyn’s buttered biscuits would be.

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Book Recommendations

A Negotiated Marriage by Noelle Adams

A Negotiated Marriage Book ReviewA delightful and fun fake marriage trope with memorable characters from Noelle Adams‘ Convenient Marriage Series.

A Bookbub deal find, I snatched A Negotiated Marriage up one afternoon when I was in the mood for something light and easy. Ended up reading it in one sitting.

Luke is a reserved, successful businessman. To almost anyone, including Molly, he’s confident and outgoing. However, as we get to know him better, there are definite signs that he’s as insecure as the rest of us, at least on matters of personal importance. He reminds me of the kind of guy who maybe wasn’t the most popular in school, but was studious and kind.

Molly agrees to Luke’s proposed fake marriage scam because she’s just been burned by her ex and the agreement will help her business. She’s completely blind to Luke and is much more focused on portraying the wife he can be proud of to hold up her end of the contract.

I love how in several parts of A Negotiated Marriage he wanders into her bathroom to locate her wedding band to put it back on her finger, since she keeps forgetting it after her shower. In the beginning, there’s a scene where her skirt rises, and he’s staring at her thigh. Molly thinks he’s staring in a critical manner, but we the reader…oh, we know better.

The tension and passion between these two slowly ramps up after they both agree to add sex to their terms. Which, by the way, even the way Luke proposes this addition is kind of endearing. These two aren’t rip-your-clothes-off, sex-in-the-car kind of people, and the way they sometimes discuss sex hardly feels like the start of a heated romance. But, nevertheless, it’s a heart-warming love story that does pack some heat.

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Dirty Secret by Mira Lyn Kelly

Dirty Secret Book ReviewOh, how I love a Mira Lyn Kelly romance! Dirty Secret does not disappoint. This hockey romance had me flipping the pages, smiling and burning up inside.

Yes, the book may have deepened the wrinkles on the corners of my eyes, but that’s why they created thick moisturizer.

This second-chance, big brother in-the-way romance had me lusting after Vaughn. Yum, yum, yum.

Personally, I’m the kind of gal who prefers to play the sport rather than spectate. And I’m extraordinarily wobbly on a pair of ice skates, so, there you go. But, the play by play action made me think dear Mira is one serious hockey fan. Mira could be a sports commentator. And, she makes me want to take the time, with a beer in hand, to watch a game.

I loved this book because it’s down to earth. My heart went out to Natalie. I’ve seen so many siblings get lost in the throes of one sibling’s sport success. And it starts so freaking young. To want a different life, a life away from whatever that sport is…….here it’s hockey, but you can substitute soccer, baseball, tennis…..if it has a ball, it’s game. That desire for a life away from said sport is real.

Vaughn proves himself swoon worthy to the tenth degree. He’s driven, focused, level headed and he knows how to love his woman. He’s a dream athlete. He pushes himself hard, doesn’t let the mind games off the rink play with his game on the rink, and he’s a genuinely good guy. He might be slightly behind the curve on social skills, but that’s only because of his deranged hockey fanatic Dad.

Series!

Dirty Secret also paves the way for Dirty Hookup. And, I’m kind of dying to hear about what went on with Quinn and George. Not that I personally have ever had too much to drink (there’s an evil twin I try to keep locked up who does all that), but my heart did go out to Quinn when it seemed he didn’t remember EVERYTHING….   So, in a nutshell, it’s the best kind of series. Warm, heart-melting HEA and I’m completely stoked for the next book.

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Book Recommendations

Come Monday by Mari Carr

Come Monday Book ReviewCome Monday opens up as a professor student trope, then swiftly shifts into an introductory lesson on the BDSM lifestyle. Wow! Didn’t see that shift coming.

The story features Will, a hunky gorgeous professor and Keira, a twenty-seven year old student.  She put college on hold to help raise her younger siblings after her mother’s death when she was eighteen. Keira stands out from the other undergrads, as she should. She’s been through so much more than most of the others fixated on drinking and hook-ups. It’s not hard to see her creative writing professor being drawn to her.

She’s focused and driven but has difficult closing her eyes and seeing anything other than the tangible and literal. He helps her get in touch with a side of herself that disappeared with the stresses of being the glue for her family. He’s basically every woman’s dream creative writing coach, and a damn fine book boyfriend.

Will is such a good book boyfriend, I’ll probably read more of the Wild Irish series from Mari Carr so I can see him again. Keira’s backstory and her family are fully present in this novel and set the stage for the remaining books in the series that focus on her siblings.

Overall, it’s a fun, easy and sexy feel good read. Nevermind that the gorgeous professor trope feels completely unrealistic to me because after SEVEN years in college I can’t remember a single gorgeous professor, much less a gorgeous English professor, but that’s why we read romance, right? Perchance to dream.

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