Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Size Matters by Alison Bliss

Size Matters by Alison BlissSam Cooper just got out of a doozy of a relationship and he's not looking for anything else right now. Not even a night of comfort. Until he meets the emerald eyes of a curvy brunette and then her friend comes over and picks up his friend Max. Too bad he opens his big mouth and the brunette seems to think he's rejecting her based on her size.
Leah knows she's not a size 2. Her ex dumped her because she was too big and her mother mentions her size every time they talk. So she's not surprised when the hot guy at the bar rejects her. It's par for the course. What's surprising is that he comes back to apologize. And then somehow announces to her mother that they're engaged. So now Sam has to help Leah back up his story since he's the one who got her into this mess in the first place. That includes a weekend at her grandparents' place at the beach.
This was a fast, fun, and fluffy story. Like one of Leah's confections, this is sweet but without a lot of substance. Leah and Sam fall in love and get engaged over the course of... a week? We don't get to know them much other than Leah  is not a fan of her size but that Sam is and he wants to save her.
I am looking forward to more books in this series. Especially if Leah's friend/bakery buddy, Valerie, gets to find her own man.

Three stars
This book came out November 29

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jed and the Junkyard War by Steven Bohls

Jed's parents have been doing strange things like dropping him off in the middle of Yellowstone and expecting him home in eleven hours since he was a kid. So when he wakes up one morning and all that's left is a note telling him to crawl through a tunnel with a backpack full of batteries and water bottles and an unusual watch to wait for his grandfather. Finally, he realizes what they've been doing all those years.
But the tunnel leads to an unusual new world. One where batteries are currency and the sky rains junk. It's a new world and Jed is fighting just to survive.
A really nice build up and great world building. Too bad the ending was sooooo flat.

Three stars
This book comes out December 6

Monday, November 28, 2016

Deadly Treasures by Vivian Conroy

Deadly Treasures by Vivian ConroyLady Alkmene grew up with a somewhat peripatetic existence, moving from house to house while her father was on botanical explorations and after her mother died. One boy that never seemed to care was Duncan Woolsbury. He used to torment her and Alkmene used to do her best to get even. Now Duncan is  getting older and his parents are afraid that he's never going to get married and present an heir to the viscountcy. They want Alkmene to present herself as a candidate to be his wife. She's very excited to travel to some far away place like Egypt or the Himalays. Unfortunately, it turns out he's excavating a medieval village in Cornwall.
When she arrives, Duncan is being held in between two constables. It seems a man was killed on the work site, his head bashed in with Duncan's own hammer. And there is a lot of intrigue around the site, supposedly there is a pile of gold buried somewhere in the castle. Duncan may have found some of it but there are plenty of people that would like for him to fail. So was the man killed because of something he did or to prevent Duncan?
I would have liked to see more character development in both Lady Alkmene and Jake Dubois. We're in book three and they're pretty much the same people we met in the first book.

Three stars
This book came out November 21

Sunday, November 27, 2016

In Bed with the Georgians by Mike Rendell

In Bed with the Georgians by Mike RendellI thought the idea for this book was interesting. And the execution was okay. The division of the chapters was interesting but allowed for a LOT of repetition and overlap. The decision to put almost all of the illustrations into an appendix was definitely odd and really difficult to flip back and forth in an ebook. If you like history or would like to learn more about the Georgian period, this was an okay book. The writing was readable if not particularly exciting and the idea was a good one.

Three stars
This book came out November 21

Saturday, November 26, 2016

One Sexy Mistake by Sarah Ballance

One Sexy Mistake by Sarah BallanceI haven't read the other books in the series but didn't feel like I missed anything because of it. The book opens with both Olivia and Grady swiping right on Tinder and agreeing to a one night stand. But, since this is a romance novella, there are complications. In the form of a big storm. And the fact that Grady kinda-sorta already knows Olivia but he doesn't tell her that. Or that he helped cost her a job. And the fact that the ending is over-the-top stalker-weirdness. It was a quite lovely novella until then and I liked that Olivia and Grady were forced to get to know each other and that they seemed to have a good connection. But Grady's ideas of romance are not only creepy, they're illegal and took me right out of the story. And, of course, there's the whole "would this book fall apart if these two sat down and talked to each other the answer is yes" issue. 
I will definitely try Ballance again. I just did NOT like this book.

Two and a half stars
This novella comes out on November 28

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries

Somehow, I seem to have read this novella before but it wasn't labeled as a re-issue. I kept wondering what happened with Amanda Keane but I apparently knew? This is the novella that is the most danger-boniest of danger-boners.
The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina JeffriesStephen is a reporter who is trying to change the world. He knows that the mill situations are dangerous for the workers and he is writing scathing articles. He wants to take some heat off by writing about Amanda Keane, owner of a factory in America but she keeps dodging him. Now he has tracked her down to a house party. And there, he meets a woman who is not at all what he expected. She may be the one person who can tame his fiery articles and teach him a new way to fight.
It's a novella so there's not a huge chance for the romance to develop. Mostly just a fight-fight-kiss.

Three stars
Comes out November 28

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wild at Whiskey Creek by Julie Anne Long

Wild at Whiskey Creek by Julie Anne LongGlory Greenleaf comes from the wrong side of the tracks. Her family is poor and her brother has been arrested for running meth. Arrested by Eli Barlow no less, Jonah's childhood best friend. Well, all three of them used to run around together. This occurred pretty much right after Glory (Glory Hallelujah, no less) and Eli had one explosive night together. Of course, now that's all over.
Their paths cross again when Eli is called to the bar Glory is working at because there is a very serious poker game in which Glory seems to be the prize. She mostly rescues herself but then Eli also steps in.
Franco Francone, apparently self-absorbed movie star, is back in this book. This time, he too is hitting on Glory. He, of course, means nothing by it, not wanting a real relationship but we do get to see a bit more of the man. Hints at depth were in the first book and we see more here.
We also hear about Glory's talent (singing and songwriting) and her struggles to go further with it.
This was an okay story. It was nice to see Eli and Glory work their way back to each other but I never quite bought them as a pair.

Three stars
This book comes out November 29
Follows Hot in Hellcat Canyon
Followed by Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

The book opens, not unlike many of Krentz's contemporaries, with a murder. We see it through the eyes of the killer. And it seems rather obvious who the killer is as the book goes on, but this is a Krentz novel.
When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann KrentzTo that end, we do get a hero and heroine. Max Cutler is a former profiler. A case went horribly wrong, stirring up ghosts from his past, and he decided (or the decision was made) for him to leave D.C. He ended up in Seattle, working as a private investigator. His current case involves a dead woman who the police believe to have died from an overdose. Her cousin isn't so sure. He things it's murder.
Normally Charlotte Sawyer considers herself fairly boring. She works in a nursing home as an the activities coordinator. It's true that her former fiance left her at the altar, but she's working to get over that.  Charlotte step-sister, Jocelyn, says that she is too trusting, and Charlotte agrees. But it doesn't follow that she is also stupid.
Max and Charlotte's paths cross when Charlotte, watching Jocelyn's house while she's on a tech-free month-long retreat, is the one who picks up the package sent to Jocelyn from the dead woman.  A packages that sends her on an adventure.
Regular Krentz readers will definitely enjoy the book. It's very much in the rhythm of her recent contemporaries. The love story was a bit fast and furious and the multiple "epilogues" were a bit tedious but overall a fast and fun read. I do hope we get to hear about Max's brothers, Cabot and Jack and find out whether the guru Zane really did die.
Three and a half stars
This book comes out November 29

Monday, November 21, 2016

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

So, on my Goodreads review, I rounded up my review of this ARC from three and a half stars to four because it just generally gave me good feels. I was a bit disappointed that I could tell you how the whole story would play out after the first 1/4 of the book
Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan I just kept thinking "Oh, wouldn't it be nice if [this romance convention] were turned on its head and the characters didn't just do what all romance characters do?" And yet, as I mentioned, this was still a fast, fun, and fluffy read for me that generally made me smile at the end. Even with the not-so-subtle introduction, reintroduction, and further mention of the Bark Ranger twins and their hot-to-trot brother Daniel.
Eva Jordan works for Urban Genie, a company that can make your life easier. She's blue because it's the holidays and this is the second year that her grandmother won't be around (I think it's the second year? She says her grandmother died "last year in the fall" which should indicate a second round of holidays). However, Eva begins this book by deciding to change her attitude, starting with the decorations that she's going to put up in the home of a famous author while he's away working on his book.
Luke Blade hates the holidays for a good reason. His wife died during a storm three years ago. The woman that he had loved (sort of off-and-on) since kindergarten. Theirs was a love story to stand the test of time. At least according to his biography. But this year he's hit writer's block and hard. So when a short, cute, and stacked blonde (this comes up an awful lot) sneaks into his apartment, he is not amused. But then he finds out that his grandmother sent her and then she starts to spark his creativity. He decides to hire her as his muse (and personal chef) so that he can finish his book on schedule.
Generally, books where one of the characters (usually the hero) says they can't love and then their partner (generally a heroine) gets all upset because "he won't love me" (which he's been telling you the whole book, why wouldn't you believe him?) engender a real sense of rage within me (see Book #2 of the Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts) but at least this one got cleared up pretty fast. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the book, I can't explain why this book gave me such good feels when I have so many issues but it did and I can recommend it to others who have enjoyed the "From Manhattan with Love" series and regular contemporary romance readers.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out November 29
Follows Sunset in Central Park
Followed by New York, Actually

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey

Holiday with a Twist by Shannon StaceyLeigh Holloway is heading home for the holidays. Her parents are under a lot of stress, they're moving to a condo from their family farmhouse and her sister, who just had a baby, has left her cheating husband is living with them. So Leigh doesn't want to tell them that, not only did she and her boyfriend break up, she's out of a job. She's afraid that if two out of her parents three daughters are out of work and out of a relationship, they might try and make her stay on the east coast rather than going back to Texas.
Croy (short for Croydon and very hard to read as I kept seeing "Cory" and then having to correct) isn't stoked that Leigh is in town. They used to be good friends but when she convinced the third of their trio, his girlfriend, to move down to Florida with her, the girlfriend ended up finding a new guy. This led to a giant fight between Croy and Leigh. Of course, it has been eight years so he's mostly over it. And noticing how much Leigh has blossomed through the years. Soon they're involved in an undefined relationship that they're having to keep quiet so that Leigh's parents don't think that she's cheating on the ex.
I didn't love the ending and, like with most novellas, wish that we could have seen a little more growth with the characters but it was a nice short story that I think most Shannon Stacey readers will enjoy.
Major props for the note saying that the book will end with at about the 80% mark so we weren't expecting more. I was SO impressed that somebody finally put something like that in.

Three stars
This novella comes out November 21

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

One Mistletoe Wish by A.C. Arthur

One Mistletoe Wish by A.C. ArthurMorgan Hill is a teacher, widow, and mother of five-ear-old twins. She isn't looking for love. Especially not with a big city business man who is only in town to sell off the buildings he owns, many of which are used heavily by the community, a community that Morgan loves.
Grayson Taylor doesn't love Temptation. It was a town that thrived off of the reality show that was he and his five siblings, sextuplets. Unfortunately, their reality show tore apart his parent's marriage. Now, as the oldest, he's been elected to take care of his father's estate. But he's intrigued by the woman that he sees. And he seriously falls in love with her children. 
I really liked the world building and the story but the writing was a bit... rough. and really dragged in places. I hope Arthur gets a better editor because I'm really looking forward to reading more of her stories.

Three stars
This book comes out November 22

Monday, November 14, 2016

All the Dead Girls by Rita Herron

All the Dead Girls by Rita HerronI didn't realize that this book was #3 in a series but the author had a deft touch with adding enough information from the previous books to let you know about Graveyard Falls but without overwhelming the reader.
Beth Fields is an FBI profiler and a former survivor of a serial murderer. When it appears that the man who killed her friend but let her go is back at it, Beth wants to go back and figure out what's going on.
Local sheriff Ian Kimball also wants to find the killer since the man who raised him, his stepfather, was the man who was blamed. The local coach, his stepfather later escaped from prison.
The two have to work together to figure out who buried dozens of girls with white candles and crosses and whether this is the same man who abducted Beth so many years ago.
This was an okay read but somewhat disjointed. Not so much the story as the sentences. And the romance felt less like a part of the story as something that was tacked on as a "hey, mystery reader like some romance too" kinda deal.

Three stars
This book comes out November 22

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Christmas Challenge by Sinclair Jayne

I rarely read books set in Montana because I live here and I hate it when authors get it wrong. This book didn't get it wrong because there wasn't much mentioned about the area at all, which was ironically disappointing. It sounded like the author was trying to set up a fictional town right in my area and it would have been nice to get a deeper sense of place, a description of the mountains, the wilderness. Instead, it was just a bunch of names, some that were real and that weren't. Bummer.
The Christmas Challenge by Sinclair JayneAlso disappointing was the disconnectedness of the story. It seemed more like a series of vignettes somewhat sewn together. There was just SO MUCH going on that it was hard to really get a handle on what it was that really brought Tucker and Laird together.
Tucker is back in Marietta to try and patch up her relationship with her twin sister Tanner. See, Tucker's been sort of the wild child, wandering the states being a rodeo star and trying to make it in Hollywood. She also "knew" Tanner's fiance. Like, in the biblical sense. And she even tried to get him back after the two were involved. So now she's back and trying to heal old wounds. Needing all the help she can get, she stops off at Miracle Lake. While she's there, she meets Laird who is in town trying to figure out what happened to his fraternal twin. See, Laird was adopted from a teenage girl who had two babies but he didn't know until recently and he's not even sure his twin survived. The reader can figure it out pretty darn fast and it's sort of annoying how long it's drawn out. In fact, I wish that had been shortened to make more room for the story between Tanner and Laird. It was just a bit superficial. Wish we had seen more of what made them want to be together other than explosive chemistry.

Two stars
This book comes out November 15

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Duke of Deception by Darcy Burke

Aquilla Knox has carefully crafted a persona over the past five seasons that will make her unappealing to suitors. In fact, she wouldn't even be here this year except that Lady Satterfield offered to sponsor her. And now she's accidentally locked herself out of a party and it's the Duke of Deception, actually the Earl of Sutton who comes to her rescue.
The Duke of Deception by Darcy BurkeEdward "Ned" Bishop is known around town for breaking hearts. He leads debutantes on, testing them without their knowledge, but never actually proposes. He's just about to decide whether to propose to a girl when he meets Aquilla. The real Aquilla, not her persona. He is intrigued. Not especially because his family has the DRAMA and he thinks she might be up for it.
I did not like the overly secretive nature of this book. Aquilla had secrets from Ned, she had secrets from her friends and from the readers. Ned had a ton of secrets as well. And with so much going on, the story seemed somewhat fragmented. Especially since there's a former suitor of Aquilla's and a disappointed father that are also upping the dramatic factors of this story. And, quite frankly, the ending is wrapped up just a little too fast and way to quickly.

Three stars
This book comes out November 15
Follows The Duke of Daring

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Bridesmaid and the Bachelor by Kris Fletcher

The Bridesmaid And The Bachelor by Kris FletcherI do like novellas where the H/H knew each other before so we don't get a massive case of insta-lust. Kyrie Elias and Ben Sitka had a short, week-long affair years ago. But Kyrie knew it couldn't last, so she left without saying goodbye.
Now she's at the wedding of her sister's friend and she's pretending to be her twin. See, her sister was in Vegas for a wedding and fell in love. But the bride was already approaching 'zilla status so Paige called in Kyrie to fill in. Paige will then forgive Kyrie the loans she gave her so Kyrie could open a coffee bar/jazz venue. So when Kyrie realizes that the groom's brother is Ben, she tries to fake it at first. But Ben knows her well enough to realize she's not her sister. And they use their time to get to know each other better.
It was a little stilted in places and some major relationship things were glossed over but this was an fast, fun and fluffy read that sets up the world of Calypso Falls.

Three stars
This book comes out November 15

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay

Miss Pongleton was not a well-liked woman. She was cheap and somewhat mean, even walking to the next London Underground station to save a penny on fares. Once there she would be one of the few commuters using the stairs while the rest waited for the elevator.
Even though she wasn't the friendliest person, it still came as something of a shock when she was found on those stairs strangled. With her dog's leash no less.
Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel HayHer renters are shocked and immediately start guessing what might have happened. Of course, the police arrest the wrong man first but then seem somewhat befuddled. We get a look at the strange movements of the woman's nephew and supposed heir (but is he really?) as well as the ways that his friends and family are helping him.
It was an odd sort of mystery not really fairly clued (until the very end) and definitely from the "classic" era of mysteries and indeed, I learned of it from the Classic Mysteries podcast.

Three stars
This book came out November 1

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal

The Lost Property Office by James R. HannibalJack Buckles, American, is in London with his mother and sister trying to find out what happened to his father, a man who was reported dead but now they can't seem to find his body. While Jack's mother goes out to search the hospitals and morgues, Jack is supposed to stay in the hotel with his eight-year-old sister. But when she sees a man that looks like their father and runs out of the hotel. Jack finally finds her but a sinister man rushes them into a nearby building, the Lost Property Office. There he meets Mrs. Hudson, who is in charge of helping people find lost items and people and she seems to be really in love with forms and making sure they're filled out. Jack is about to leave but it stopped by Gwen Kincaid who introduces him to the real Lost Property Office, the one that his father is part of, a world where Jack's apparent ADHD is really a superpower.
This is a great book for world-building -- explaining Jack's role as the 13th Jack Buckle, combining history and current day, showing how Gwen and Jack would work together in the future. I've been reading a lot of Sherlock Holmes adaptations and this one really worked for me. Sally, the sister, was WAY too plot-moppet-y but there are signs that she may grow some character in later books.

Four stars
This book comes out November 8

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Lord’s Persuasion of Lady Lydia by Raven McAllan

The Lord's Persuasion of Lady Lydia by Raven McAllanLady Lydia has worked hard to make herself known as a wallflower. At twenty-five, she only has a couple more weeks until she inherits her own money and can finally leave London to live in the country on her own. Unfortunately, she's lately come under the notice of Lord Harry Birnham.
What brings her into his notice is first an encounter where one of his friends accidentally clocks her and he realizes that she may be hiding more fire than is shown by her outer mask. Secondly, his heir declares that he is going to marry Lady Lydia without ever having talked to her. This makes Harry rather suspicious since he is also getting reports that his heir has run up big debts and is currently telling everyone that he's about to come into some money which means he's either going to marry or that he's planning to bump Harry off.
I liked the beginning of this story but the back half fell off for me. It felt like it just wasn't as tightly edited as the start of the story. Suddenly Lydia and Harry are engaged after incredible lengths not to get engaged and there's no real reason for Lydia to have changed her mind. The denouement with the nephew is a bit squirrelly and it just felt unfinished. But it was an overall an okay book.

Three stars
This book came out Oct. 27

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Whole Latte Murder by Caroline Fardig

A Whole Latte Murder by Caroline Fardig
Juliet and the Java Jive crew are back. After the events of the last book, Juliet's best friend, boss, and probably the man she'll end up with, Pete, is surly. Super surly. It's a good thing there's a serial killer on campus who is helping to shake things up. Well, maybe it's not that good since Juliet's boyfriend has just been promoted to the homicide division which means that he's going to be chasing someone really dangerous. Oh. And Juliet, along with her friend Trevor, discovers the first body. And the body is of a girl who Trevor adored and he was the last person seen with her. More and more stress is heaped on Juliet as one of her employees is the next woman to disappear and one of her old friends gets dragged into the case.
I said this in the last book but I have to repeat it. Caroline Fardig is somehow magic. She took a character that I really, really, really don't like (Juliet) and made a book that was worth reading. I mean, Juliet really is TSTL. I barely made it through the first third of the book as Juliet yelled at her POLICE DETECTIVE boyfriend for... doing his job, she helped with a B and E, vacillated between doormat-ship and being a "red-headed she-devil", and basically proved that she is in love with Pete but dating someone else. I am just so irritated by this will they/won't they that has invaded so many contemporary cozies. Frankly, I hope that she takes the job offered at the end of the book and gets out of the Java Jive so she can finally get over Pete and go to just being friends. I am glad that I finished this book but hope that Juliet starts to get a bit smarter in all areas of her life.

Three stars
This book comes out November 8
Follows Mug Shot
Followed by Brew or Die

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Haunted Is Always in Fashion by Rose Pressey

Cookie Chanel, proprietress of It's Vintage Y'all and a psychic who sees ghosts, is back with another mystery. The book opens with the death of a young woman that Cookie was supposed to be meeting, Julianna. She is a ghost who immediately gets picked up by Cookie and her rather permanent ghost, Charlotte.
Haunted Is Always in Fashion by Rose PresseyThe story of this book is figuring out why Julianna got killed as much as who killed her. We also get to learn a bit more about Wind Song, the cat that Cookie has picked up.
I really hate that this series is starting to fall into the "if this is a cozy, there must be a love triangle" trap. It really felt like Ken was being shoehorned into the story, it really didn't make sense that he was there most of the time. In fact, there was a lot of making characters fit into the story which made for a lot of "coincidences" that got a bit annoying.
Overall a good book. I just hope they dump one of the love interests soon so we can get back to the mysteries with just a sprinkle of romance.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out November 29
Follows Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore

Hold Me, Cowboy by Maisey Yates

Madison West made a mistake when she was seventeen; she had an affair with a married man. He, of course, turned it around on her and made her a pariah among the horse community. It's been  a long time since she's had sex with anyone else and she's ready. She's made plans for a no-strings-attached weekend with a sales rep in a cabin far out of town. Too bad it's snowing so hard. And now her cabin has lost power. And the person in the other cabin is none other than Sam McCormack.
Sam doesn't like Madison. He's dated women like her before and it didn't end well. Too bad he's so attracted to her.
They make an agreement for one night. An agreement that leads to twelve nights. They'll break up at Christmas. But what if they both want more?
There was a Big Misunderstanding that was disappointing and I'm not a huge fan of the fast and furious romance but I mostly liked both Madison and Sam and their growth in this book.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out November 8