Sunday, April 21, 2019

review: between you & me by susan wiggs

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When a young Amish boy sustains a life-threatening farming accident, his guardian goes against the community's wishes and allows a helicopter to take the boy to a hospital. That's how Caleb along with his nephew Jonah and niece Hannah come into the life of Reese, a surgical resident at the hospital. Soon Reese and Caleb are connecting and trying to navigate the tremendous differences between them.

Between You & Me opens with someone, clearly Amish, abandoning a baby at a hospital. It was initially unclear how this would come into the plot, but eventually Susan Wiggs clunkily works it in. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel until that point. Once the baby is found (very appropriately in the safe haven box), the previously open-minded Reese becomes extremely judgmental. Wiggs also completely misrepresents Pennsylvania law which does allow a baby to be left at a safe location such as a hospital without there being any consequence to the parents. It's unfortunate that Wiggs twisted what had been a well-written love story into an agenda against safe haven laws.
3/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Avon.

Friday, March 1, 2019

review: the devil's daughter by lisa kleypas

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Two years after the death of her husband, Phoebe is still not ready to remarry despite the pressure from her husband's cousin who Phoebe's husband had expressed a desire to have take his place and is overseeing the family estate. Phoebe isn't happy with the arrangement, but even so, she never expected to fall for the man who bullied her husband when they were at boarding school. Despite West's reputation, he proves to be kind to her children and concerned about the management of the land Phoebe's eldest son will one day inherit. It's a sweet romance (that gets steamy at times) of a pair who prove to be perfect complements. It was especially cute how the cat repeatedly brought the pair together.

Devil's Daughter works well as a standalone, although it’s the fifth in The Ravenels series as well as a crossover with The Wallflowers series as it features the daughter of Sebastian and Evie from Devil in Winter.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Avon.

Friday, February 15, 2019

review: the girls at 17 swann street by yara zgheib

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Told partly through medical reports, but mostly through Anna's almost stream of consciousness narration of her days, Yara Zgheib's debut novel tells of Anna's stay at 17 Swann Street as she battles anorexia. With a tragic childhood and her days of being a professional ballerina in Paris behind her, Anna struggles with a new life in America after her husband takes a job in Missouri for, as Anna puts it, "St. Louis was not a ballet kind of town." The Girls at 17 Swann Street is a powerful tale with Anna experiencing realistic struggles, heartbreak, and triumph. Anna, her husband, and the other women at 17 Swann Street are all amazing characters who are beautifully brought to life by Zgheib.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, St. Martin's Press.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

review: one taste too many by debra h. goldstein

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Sarah Blair is starting over at 28 after divorcing her wealthy husband, who happens to be an owner of the restaurant her twin, Emily, works for. Debra H. Goldstein's new cozy mystery series opens with Emily informing Sarah that her ex is dead and the police suspect Emily. With the police focusing their attention on Emily, the twins launch their own investigation and uncover numerous lies and a bit of a conspiracy.

As with some first books in a series, One Taste Too Many introduces a lot of characters. The leads are memorable and fleshed out (especially in regards to those who interacted with RahRah, the cat), but the secondary characters who work at the restaurant are one-dimensional and forgettable—I had to flip back in the book to figure out who someone was when plot developments involving those characters occurred. The mystery unfolded well though with some pretty great twists and plenty of entertaining moments with both Sarah's cat and her kitchen blunders.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, MM Book Publicity.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

review: a duke changes everything by christy carlyle

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As the second son, Nick never expected or wanted to inherit his father's title. When he does, his immediate plan is to sell the property and return to his life in London. But for as much as Nick loathes Enderley Castle, the estate steward loves it and the people who work there. Mina is determined to change Nick's mind, but they both get more than they bargained for in the first book of a new series from Christy Carlyle.

The romance between Nick and Mina develops slowly and naturally, but there's plenty of drama to keep the plot moving along. It was also nice to get both Nick and Mina's perspectives as it allowed both characters and their motivations to be better understood. Carlyle nailed it with this one.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Avon Books.

Friday, December 14, 2018

review: forbidden passion by rita herron

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When Dante was a teen, he disobeyed his demon father to protect a girl named Marlena whose mother and sister were killed by Dante's brothers. Now decades later, Dante has literally fought demons as the sheriff and Marlena is a doctor doing research on the blood of serial killers. Although Dante has resisted contacting Marlena, he's forced to when she becomes involved in a murder investigation.

The romance is quick in this paranormal tale. It makes sense for Dante, but is a little less reasonable for Marlena who is warned that Dante isn't quite who he seems. The plot developments regarding the murder investigation are good, but it all gets wrapped up at rapid speed with the revelation of who the killer was and then a battle of demons. This is the third in the Demonborn series, but it works as a standalone with Vincent and Quinton from the first two books making only brief appearances.
3/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Grand Central Publishing.

Friday, December 7, 2018

review: the accidental beauty queen by teri wilson

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Charlotte and Ginny are identical twins who couldn't be more different. Charlotte is a school librarian who prefers wearing t-shirts with literary references while Ginny is a glamorous pageant contestant. In The Accidental Beauty Queen, an allergic reaction leads to Charlotte having to take Ginny's place in the pageant their deceased mother once won. It's a story that could be completely vapid and superficial, but Teri Wilson makes it incredibly moving. Wilson nails the sister dynamic and creates plenty of comedic twin-switch moments. She also doesn't fall into the trap of making the other pageant contestants stereotypes. Another great element (involving the twin-switch) is the sweet romance that develops between Charlotte and one of the judges. It gives just the right amount of conflict to elevate The Accidental Beauty Queen from great to excellent.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.