Thursday, October 19, 2017

Unqualified by Anna Faris

Unqualified by Anna FarisIf you've ever listened to the podcast, you've got a good idea of what this book is going to be like. If Faris had a ghostwriter, that person captured her voice perfectly. A lot of these stories have also been part of the podcast. And then there's the super-awkwardness of having your ex-husband not only do your introduction, but be referred to by "my sweet husband" in all of the stories that include him. I have a feeling this will be a fabulous audiobook.
If you like Hollywood bios, you'll like this book. If you like Anna Faris, you'll like this book.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 24

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers

Loving a holiday story and being a fan of anthologies, I requested this ARC from NetGalley. It is, as described, an eclectic mix of sixteen stories that span the subgenres of mystery from noir to cozy. There are stories with Santas but some without but all take place at the Christmas season. It is a nice collection with authors that were mostly new to me. There really are stories from around the world including England, France, Vietnam, China to name a few. There are also several time periods covered, early 1800s, early 1900s, 1970s, 1980s, present day.
An enjoyable collection.

Four stars
This book comes out October 24

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How the Finch Stole Christmas! by Donna Andrews

How the Finch Stole Christmas! (Meg Langslow #22)It’s Christmas in Caerphilly once again. This year brings Michael directing A Christmas Carol but, instead of a one-man show, it’s a full-on play. The university is insisting he bring in an aging B-list (on a good day) television actor in as Scrooge. Too bad the man is not only ill-tempered, he’s drunk more often than not, even with the mayor threatening retaliation to anyone who gives the man liquor. And Meg Langslow’s usual web of spies can’t figure out where the man is getting his booze.
While it might be expected that the grumpy actor is the one to get bumped off, it is actually the man who is supplying him the alcohol. Oh, and seems to be illegally smuggling animals at the same time.

This is your usual Langslow book though lately I’ve felt like the books have fallen into the trap of some other long-time series – there is a certain smugness combined with seemingly miraculous fixes at the end. This has always been a fast, fun, and fluffy series without a lot of depth but the ending on the last couple books have felt more… judge-y than usual. 

Three stars
This book comes out October 24
Follows Gone Gull

Monday, October 16, 2017

Christmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates

Christmastime Cowboy (Copper Ridge, #10)Sabrina and Liam have a past. One that ended badly and scarred both of them for years. It even spiraled to the point where Sabrina is estranged with her father. She now works in the family's vineyard... which no longer belongs to the family since her brother cheated on his wife. Sabrina sided with her (not the reason for the estrangement but it certainly isn't helping since her brother is the family's golden child.)
Liam's family is trying to branch out their dairy program and think that partnering with the vineyard will be a perfect way to do so. Unaware of her past with Liam, Sabrina's boss assigns her to work with him.
Watching these two get back together was interesting. Liam didn't exactly sleep with Sabrina and then discard her but he was still an asshat, even thirteen years later. I didn't love the end of Sabrina's storyline with her father but it was overall a sweet book that regular Yates readers will enjoy.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 24

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm by Dana Simpson

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm by Dana SimpsonPhoebe and her unicorn are back and as adorable as ever. This time they not only have to deal with Dakota and her goblins but with a serious cold spell and a sudden lack of magic. Marigold and the goblins are able to figure out most of the story but they still have work to do to clear everything up. Through their explorations, they manage to charm the reader as well as help facilitate another human/magical creature pairing. All this and yet there is time for a costume montage.

Four stars
This book comes out October 17

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines

Capital Gaines by Chip GainesIf you’ve picked up this book, you probably already know why Chip Gaines is famous. And if you already know why he’s famous, you’ve probably already heard his voice and know the way he thinks. This book is on point for that. Chip and Joanne wrote a book that describe much of their lives, both apart and together. In this book, he goes a little bit deeper into his own thought processes as well as a little bit more into the history of the Magnolia shop and ideas. He’s a big proponent of listening to your gut, even if it means sometimes not waiting for evidence. And he’s not only a fan of listening to his own gut, he helps Joanna when she wants to listen to hers.

Four stars
This book come out October 17

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis

Holiday Wishes (Heartbreaker Bay, #4.5)In high school, Lotti was the ultimate good girl while Sean was the bad boy. One night, she was trying to comfort him (I guess?) and they lost their virginity to each other. Since then, Sean has pretty much just been bed-hopping while Charlotte (she's grown-up now) has been a serial monogamist.
They've met again because Sean reserved Lotti's B&B as the place to host his brother and all of their friends for his brother's wedding. Now the two are forced together because a giant storm has made all the roads impassible. It also gives them time to get to know one another as adults.
This was pretty good for a novella. There is never enough time for character development or really getting into a romance but it was a light, fun read that fans of Shalvis will enjoy.

Three stars
This novella comes out October 18

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Pride and Prejudice and MistletoeIn this gender-flipped, updated version of the beloved P&P, Darcy Fitzwilliams is high-powered, beautiful, and rich. She doesn't get home to Pemberley, Ohio very often but her mother has suffered a heart attack so she's back for the Christmas season. She's been "dating" a family friend, Carl for eight years on and off but hasn't been able to commit. It is that lack of commitment that caused an estrangement between she and her father. It's at her parents annual party that she realizes another reason she hasn't committed, there are no sparks. At least, not like the sparks she's getting with Luke Bennett. They've had a contentious relationship since high school and it's morphed into... well, one hot kiss. But then they get engaged quickly afterward. To other people.
This book had a nice start but it veered too far from the original story. The best adaptations show the author's love for the original work but I didn't really even get that de la Cruz had even read P&P much less enjoyed it. The heart of that book are the relationships that already exist between the main characters and the new ones they are starting to build. Elizabeth and Luke barely interacted.
I liked that Darcy's best friend Bingley was still male and that he fell in love with one of Luke's brothers. But then there was a lot of exposition that was just... bleh. And Luke's explanations for his behavior both in present day and in high school were just gross.

Two stars
This book comes out

Monday, October 9, 2017

Murder Over Mochas by Caroline Fardig

Murder Over Mochas by Caroline FardigI was more than a little trepidatious when requesting this book from NetGalley. The previous couple of books have pissed me off more than made me smile from enjoyment of reading. This book cleared up most of my issues. Juliet is finally settling in to being a PI. She's not bumbling around but actually doing her job. Well, sort of. It seems she needs to use her developing skills to prove that she didn't kill her ex-fiancĂ©. The one who stole her life. The one who just walked back into it. The one she punched in the nose.
I didn't love the crossover. Maybe those who regularly read about Lizzie and Blake would enjoy. I did love that the romance triangle (quadrangle?) is finally resolved.

Four stars
This book comes out October 24

With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins

With This Christmas RingThe cover blurb on this one is a bit misleading. Miss Merry Parks isn't exactly a wallflower. After all, she was once engaged to Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham. That was, admittedly five years ago and she hasn't gone out much in society since but she's about to come face-to-face with the man again because of a deathbed promise.
Alex is delighted to see Merry. He never understood why she left him so many years ago.  He might have been happier had she not shown up with a baby in tow. But when he finds out it is his cousin's child and her mother is dead, his disappointment knows no ends. As the head of the family, he is duty-bound to make sure that the child is well cared for. If that means he can wrangle some extra time with Merry... well, okay.
It's always nice to have novellas where the two main characters already know each other. It means an author can skip the meet cute and head straight to the HEA. The ending  was a little TOO happy, happy, joy, joy it-was-actually-misunderstandings all around for me but a nice enough read anyway.

Three stars
This novella came out October 3

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Fowl Language: The Struggle Is Real by Brian Gordon

Fowl Language by Brian  GordonThis was an interesting read as an ebook in that a lot of the punchlines would be on the next page-- an extra swipe and some processing time really disrupted some of the flow of the book. I would definitely get this as a paper book. Those who love Brian Gordon though will still enjoy this book.

Three stars
This book comes out October 10

Friday, October 6, 2017

Necessary Roughness by Julie Brannagh

Necessary Roughness by Julie BrannaghTanner Cole was a football star until one bad tackle took him out of the game. Now he’s just struggling to get through rehab and move on with his life. Too bad he doesn’t really know what he wants to do. Physical therapy is not one of the things, he knows that. Too bad his physical therapist is dealaing with his own mending after a car accident which means that Tanner is about to get reassigned.
Jordan loves her job. No, like really, enjoys going to work every day. Until she meets Mr. Full-of-Himself Tanner. Him, she doesn’t like. His house, she does. And since she needs a place to live (not a great plot point) and he has space (and the hots for her), she moves in. So that she can be his in-house physical therapist. Or something. Living together leads the two to believe that the sparks between them might be more than just annoyance with each other.
Wow. This book REALLY struggled with pacing issues. The first 2/3ds was just a discussion of how much Tanner and Jordan really disliked each other with some growth toward friendship. Then, suddenly, in the space of 10 or so pages, they’re suddenly desperately in love and dying to be together even though they’re geographically apart. And whatever happened with Star? She was set up to be a much larger plot point and then just ended up as the psycho ex-girlfriend.
If this weren’t from an author I know could do better, I don’t feel like I’d be as disappointed.

This book comes out October 10

Two and a half stars

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Hope for Christmas by Stacy Finz

Hope for Christmas by Stacy FinzIn a previous Nugget book, we met Emily and Clay McCreedy. She's a famous cookbook author while he's a rancher. They've created a blended family with his two sons but Emily can't ever forget her daughter. Especially now that there are calls claiming that somebody has her. After seven years, can it possibly be true? And what does that mean? Not only for Emily but for her ex-husband and his new wife.
A nice addition to the Nugget series. I like that everything wasn't solved neatly and some ties were left undone. This is definitely not a story for people who haven't read the rest of the series.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 10

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki

Lumberjanes by Mariko TamakiI love the Lumberjanes, their friendships, their propensity for exploring, and the tongue-in-cheek stories. This chapter book continues all of those properties created in the graphic novels. And I might have liked this book even just a teeny bit more because we got more story in this book. We've got the adventure (climbing the highest mountain; one that didn't seem to have been there before), the supernatural (the Cloud People), and the humor (the unicorns smell bad, really, really bad.)
Definitely worth reading.

Four stars
This book comes out October 10

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Homicide for the Holidays by Cheryl Honigford

Homicide for the Holidays by Cheryl HonigfordIt's the Christmas season but Vivian is not so merry. She's back at the family mansion for a command performance and has stumbled on a secret key in her father's study. It's a key that opens up a drawer that has been locked for eight years, since her father's death. In it, a mysterious envelope filled with cash. But it has disappeared when Viv next goes back to look for it. It's a mystery that Viv isn't sure she wants to explore, delving deep into the last few weeks of her father's life. Even though it is eight years past, this murder has repercussions that ripple into Viv's life today.
I'm not sure about the ending on this one. And the story is just a little confused. I am still looking forward to the next one in the series.

Three stars
This book comes out October 3

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay CurrieIt wasn't Tessa Woodward's decision to move her family from Florida to Chicago. And it certainly wasn't her decision to move them a month after school started. Nor is she especially excited to live in a haunted house. And it's... really haunted. Like, not just a little haunted. The ghost is even communicating through her brother's ventriloquist's dummy. AS if that weren't creepy enough to start with.
But, at least it does help lead her to making friends. While Tessa doesn't actually believe in ghosts, her new friends are willing to help her do research in order to solve her problem.
While 3/4 of the book was fairly intriguing, the end was WAY too sappy for me.

Three stars
This book comes out October 10

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Bachelor Games by Daire St. Denis

Bachelor Games by Daire St. DenisBecca and Grace have always been a team. Grace is the beauty while Becca is the brains. And even though Grace is the elder, Becca has been protecting her since high school. And that’s what Becca plans on doing during the latest contest at a resort in the Caribbean. The prize is a date with a billionaire eligible bachelor, Calum Price.
But it’s not Grace who gets a seat next to Cal on the flight to the Caribbean, it’s Becca. And it’s the plain, brainy, slightly mouthy sister who captures the man’s attention. Sure, Grace is nice enough, but she’s not the one who arouses his… curiosity.
I should have figured, this being a part of the “Blaze” series, that this book would have some sex scenes that were less than vanilla. They’re not my favorite but I think regular readers will enjoy the book as a whole.

Three stars

This book comes out October 9

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran KramerI was intrigued by the premise of this book. You've got a Southern matchmaker, Macy Frost, meeting a Northerner who just wants to have fun, Deacon Banks. Macy takes her matchmaking role very seriously. How could she not? She comes from a family of matchmakers who may or may not be descended from Cupid himself.
Deacon Banks is a confident tech entrepreneur (isn't that nice and vague?) who just wants to make his aunt happy this Christmas season by appearing to be searching for his true love. As long as the women know what the score is, why would it be a problem? Except that Macy seems to want him to concentrate on true love and Deacon's wondering why he can't be matched to the matchmaker.
I thought I knew Kramer's name and at the end of story, I finally remembered why. I have tried at least a couple of her books before but there is something about her writing that I just do not connect to. Not her fault or mine, it's just not a good match. I really liked the idea of this book and I think her regular readers will be more than satisfied.

Three stars
This book comes out October 3

Hello Again by Brenda Novak

Hello Again by Brenda NovakEvelyn Talbot is still working in Alaska trying to decipher the secrets of some of the world's worst serial killers. In this story, she is concentrating on Lyman Bishop, a man who liked to lobotomize his victims. But was he wrongly convicted?
At the same time, she's trying to figure out whether the murder of a woman from her high school class was perpetrated by Evelyn's high school sweetheart, the one who murdered three of her friends and tried to murder Evelyn.
I liked the short story that started this book, the first book a little less, and this one even a little less. The overall arc for Evelyn is just so slow moving. She's more or less the same woman we met in the short story. You'd think that events would change her more. I think people who enjoyed the first book will like this one but this may be the end of the road on the series for me.

Three stars
This book comes out October 4
Follows Her Darkest Nightmare

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Human Workplace by Andy Swann

The Human Workplace by Andy SwannNonfiction books, especially books about the workplace can get a little dry. This book was very readable and eminently pragmatic. Definitely a British book, I think there are still applications for those of us in America. My personal takeaway was that you need to have the right person in the right place doing the right actions to make a successful workplace. This is a little more touchy-feely than most of the work-related books I've read and a little bit more than I really wanted in a workplace book but overall a nice read.

Four stars
This book comes out October 3

A Talent for Temptation by Sabrina Jeffries

A Talent for Temptation by Sabrina JeffriesMeriel Vyse isn't sure about the way her life is going. She has been working for her husband's brother as a spy but she hates the work. And getting to know Quinn Raines has really made her long for a normal life.
Quinn Raines is also in love with Meriel which is why he fakes a kidnapping (really?) so that he can "rescue" her. Little does he know she's perfectly capable of rescuing herself. He finds out when she pulls a knife from her reticule and stabs him.
At under 50 pages, that really is pretty much the whole story. It's a nice story though short. Very, very short.

Three stars
This book comes out October 2

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander

Death on Tap by Ellie AlexanderThe book opens with brewer Sloan Krause walking in on her husband in flagrante delicto with one of their new barmaids. She'd had a general sense that he might be cheating on her but now there's proof. So she leaves. Not only him but his family's brewery.
But her start at the new brewery in town (a destination town where beer is king) is more than a little rocky. Her ex seems determined to win her back, the supplier seems squirrelly, and Sloane discovers the body of a rival brewer in one of Nitro's beer tanks.
It's an interesting start to a new series but I'm a little trepidatious about whether it will be one that I will continue to enjoy. This book includes a LOT of set up so not as much story.

Three stars
This book comes out October 3

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Holiday Spice by Samantha Chase

Holiday Spice by Samantha ChaseFinally the last Shaughnessy sibling gets her story. Darcy is the youngest as well as being the only girl. She's twenty-five and still working on figuring out what it is she wants to do with her life. She knows she's good at organizing and that's what gets her a week-long job helping woodworker Benjamin Tanner figure out his book. And it works well. Until she can't get home. And Ben is conscripted to come rescue her so she doesn't have to sleep at the airport.
Their relationship starts off with a misunderstanding and it just keeps going.
There's a lot of sexual tension in this book but I'm not sure that we get to see much else. Both  are sketched out but there's not an arc for either. An okay book but I was hoping for more for Darcy.

Three stars
This book comes out October 3
Follows A Sky Full of Stars 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Myths of Work by Adrian Furnham, Ian MacRae

Relatively short, this book was a really easy read. Some of the ideas seemed a little common sense to me (not every office should emulate Google) but there are some that I know aren't as common sense for others (listening to music at work? Horrors!). One I hadn't heard this specifically: We only use 10 per cent of our brain at work (I had heard the myth that we only use 10 percent of our brain, but ony at work). The chapters end with references and further reading that looks interesting.

Four stars
This book comes out October 3

Monday, September 25, 2017

Holiday House Call by Jen Doyle

Holiday House Call by Jen  DoyleSix years ago, neurosurgeon Dr. Karen Carmichael acted completely out of character and had a wild one-night stand with a man she met in a bar. She has an incredibly stressful job and is cruising down one of the back roads on a Tuesday night (the night she's allowed to cry) when she encounters that man again.
He may not remember her name, but Tuck sure remembers the encounter. When it turns out the car he pulls over for weaving is the woman he hasn't forgotten, Tuck is ecstatic to have a second chance. He's not thrilled that she's a doctor since he spent a LOT of his childhood in hospitals. He can see forever with this woman, if only she'd give them a chance.
This is the second book I've read in this series and I'm really enjoying it. The characters are somewhat undeveloped (we only get a glossing of why Karen and Tuck dislike each others professions) but the series seems to be a fast, fun, and fluffy series that works beautifully if your looking for an HEA without too much angst.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 1

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Hold Her Again by Shannon Stacey

Hold Her Again by Shannon StaceyFive years ago, Ava Wright and Jace Morrow were in love and trying to make it in the music scene. When Jace got the chance to make it big, but without Ava, he took it. He's regretted it ever since. With his father's death, Jace has a chance to go back to the small town where he and Ava grew up.
Ava is still in town. She's working for her parents in the same cafe she worked in in high school. And the music, for her, is gone. She's not happy that Jace is back in town but she's... fair? or something? Stacey tries to paint her as a caring person who just can't stand Jace's suffering but she comes off a little... door mat-ish. It's not a horrible story but would have been a lot better as a full story.

Three stars
This novella comes out October 1

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Halloween at the Graff by Sinclair Jayne

Halloween at the Graff by Sinclair JayneWalker Wilder has retreated to Marietta, Montana, home of the cousins she's never met, to lick her wounds. Her boyfriend was schtupping an intern and her high-powered job fell apart so she felt lucky to get a job trying to boost the visitation to the historic Montana Graff Hotel. And, when she's spooked by a moving chair in the hotel's attic, she thinks she has the perfect hook.
Calum Quest is visiting his old friend Logan Wilder in Montana when he gets the message that there might be a haunted hotel in the area. He's not super stoked about it because he really would rather not be a ghost chaser any more. But Walker's hot and she has an interesting story. So, what the heck, he'll at least check it out.
The timing of this story was very odd. I couldn't figure out if the search for decorations, the chair, and Calum's arrival were all on one day? Her first day at work?
I also wish that we had gotten to see a little more of the characters' development. Their changes of heart were incredibly sudden. Calum's deep and understanding but then he gets pissed that Walker, who he's known for less than a week?, doesn't share one of her deepest secrets, but then he's okay.
It's a nice story but I wish there had been more.

Three stars
This book comes out September 25

Friday, September 22, 2017

Death Makes a Prophet John Bude

Death Makes a ProphetSome mysteries start with a murder and then build in the backstory of how the murder came to be. In this Inspector Meredith story, the story starts with a buildup of the cult known as the Coo (Children of Osiris). We meet the current leader, his controlling patron, and the man who would take his place. Tensions are built until the middle of the book when the murders (yes, more than one) finally occur.
Though firmly set contemporary to the time it was written (1947), the story could definitely be set in the current day. A fast read, it will delight any classic mystery reader.

Four stars
This book comes out January 3

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Please Don't Do Coke in the Bathroom by Sami Christianson

Please Don't Do Coke in the Bathroom by Sami ChristiansonThis reminded me of Subversive Cross-stitch; taking a craft and then updating (?) it with bad language. In this case, it's with calligraphy. There are suggestions for signs that you can make yourself. They start with words starting with each letter of the alphabet then a few other suggestions. A nice novelty book.

Three stars
This book comes out September 26

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Head over Heels by Jennifer Dawson

Head Over Heels (Something New, #5)Sophie Kincaid is just the PR girl. At least, that's what she tries to tell the FBI when they come to arrest her bosses. But it's too late, her reputation is in tatters. She retreats to Revival, IL where her best friends have helped to get her a job and a rental. A rental that is owned by an uber-hot man. One that is tatted and dangerous. Sophie's catnip. The type of man she is trying to avoid.
Ryder Moore is looking for a woman to settle down with. Someone who will create a home and be a mother. Not a disgraced city girl who is only in his town biding her time. Too bad she's not only hot, but brainy, sassy, and the kind of sexy that calls to Ryder.
I didn't love the angst that was the last quarter of this book. It was just a little too much over the top for me. But I really enjoyed the book and liked that I could jump in without having (remembered reading?; while creating tags for my blog post, I discovered I had read the third book in this series but didn't remember it as the H/H from that book didn't figure prominently in this one) read the previous four books in the series.

Three stars
This book comes out September 26

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bad Boy's Bard by E.J. Russell

Bad Boy's Bard by E.J.   RussellWe've seen Gareth Kendrick in the last two Fae Out of Water books. The last true bard of Faerie, he's had kind of a crappy life. First his brother sent him to be trained by dead bards (since there weren't any live ones around to do the training. Then his human lover was killed by an Unseelie Fae. And not just any Unseelie, it was none other than the new king!
Niall O’Tierney's life hasn't been any better. He's the son of the last king, half-brother of the new king and he's spent the last two hundred years avoiding his one true love so that he wouldn't be forced to kill the man. Well, to kill Gareth. So when he sees Gareth's shock his first instinct is to fake amnesia. Uh huh. But that's not their biggest problem, there's a threat to all of Faerie that only Gareth and Niall can contain.
Probably my least favorite of the three books. Both Gareth and Niall were just a little too much in their own heads. That being said, I enjoyed this whole series overall and look forward to more from Russell.

Three stars
This book comes out September 11
Follows The Druid Next Door

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost

Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline FrostOh. This book started off so well. Holly White is back in her hometown, not because she wants to be there, but because she was dumped by her fiance two weeks before the wedding. Unlike other series, Holly is happy to be home. She loves Mistletoe, Maine, loves the quirky people who live there, and loves being in a place that embraces Christmas so  much. Rather than being resentful that she's forced to return home, it's nice to have a character who is happy to go back to a place that loves her.
Well, except for Margaret Fenwick, the president of the Mistletoe Historical Society. The woman is clearly unhappy and is pretty much trying to drag the rest of the town down to her level of misery. It's just too bad that she's murdered on Holly's family's farm right after a fight with Holly's father.
It's too bad the ending was a) just a little out there and b) so darn cheesy. I'll try the next book in the series but this may not be a series for me.

Three stars
This book comes out October 12

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Second Chances -- Anthology

Second Chances by J. KennerOne of my favorite tropes for romance short stories and novellas is the second chance. It makes it infinitely more believable for two people to find their HEA. It clears up the need for a first-meet and makes more room for a good story. This is a really nice mix of stories. I didn't love all of them but I didn't need to, this was more an introduction to the authors and I think that most of these stories probably nice captured the author's tone and writing style.
With sixteen stories, I'm not going to review them all but there were some authors that I'm going to explore further. I definitely liked Cassandra Dean's "Scandalous," a historical story of a woman who was  ruined but then traveled the continent and returned to the man who finally realized he might be good enough for her. If this were a longer book, I think I would have liked it quite a bit.
Another one I would have liked the full-length version of (but enjoyed the story) was Lizzie Shane's "Something Old, Something New," the story of a couple who had been lovers, but then the man ghosted. Now they've met again at his best friend's wedding that she is the planner for.
Overall, a nice sprinkling of romance authors. Every romance reader will find at least one story to enjoy.

Four stars
This book comes out September 12

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Final Score by Jaci Burton

The Final Score by Jaci BurtonWe've met both Mia and Nathan in previous series. He was the son of two previous protagonists while she is the sister of one. Since both those books, these two have become close friends and, one crazy night, lovers.
In this book, Mia is concentrating on starting up her business while Nathan is about to step into his father's shoes as the starting quarterback for the Sabers. Both are busy but still make time for each other... even as they're fighting off sexytime feelings for each other.
And most of the first part of the book is "we should have sex" "no we should just be friends," mostly on the part of a very wishy-washy seeming Mia. And it's her actions at the end of the book that knocked it down an entire star. It was great that Nathan called her on it, but based on her actions in most of this book, it made it hard for me to believe these two were going to get their HEA.

Two and a half stars
This book comes out September 2017

Monday, September 4, 2017

Eye Candy -- anthology

Eye Candy by TijanGenerally, I quite enjoy anthologies. Especially ones like this one that take a group of new-to-me authors that might help me expand my reading. I'm also a huge fan of a holiday anthology. 
This anthology, not so much a fan of. Why? Because these were all parts of series that I hadn't read, that I felt I needed to have read, and now won't read. This was not the book for me, neither the stories (which weren't exactly romance more spanning horror and erotica, both of which I enjoy but neither of which I was prepared for). I would recommend it to people who have read and enjoyed at least one of these authors before.

Two stars
This book comes out September 5

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Christmas Peril by J. A. Hennrikus

A Christmas Peril by J.A. HennrikusBefore her current job as general manager for a theater company, Edwina "Sully" Sullivan was a police officer. That's the reason her cousins come to her for help when her .... uncle-ish person (her mother and his wife were first cousins). She doesn't want to help at first but then the police arrest her favorite cousin, Eric. Sully decides to step in, even if that does mean working with her former husband who is working as one of the lawyers for the family.
I was surprised to see that this was a new mystery. This felt more like something written in the 90s. It was still enjoyable but just felt a little dated. It was also surprising to me that this was the first book in the series. There were several points were I felt like there was some backstory that had already been told that we just weren't getting to see. The ending was incredibly convoluted but I would still read the next book in this series.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out September 8

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas

A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry ThomasThe first book in this series introduced the world to Charlotte Holmes, the woman behind the myth of Sherlock Holmes. In this book, her life starts to get more complicated. First, the wife of Charlotte's one-true-love (or at least one of the people she cares most deeply for), comes to Sherlock Holmes for help. She wants to find her childhood crush, a man who supposedly met her every year on the Sunday before his birthday. Never meeting or talking, just a distant nod. This year, he didn't show. And it turns out this man has a mysterious tie to Charlotte.
Charlotte also has to contend with a marriage proposal from a man who courts her with puzzles. She has another mystery of a woman who thinks her father is poisoning her. And she has to figure out how to get back her sisters.
The strength of Thomas in this book is her ability to paint her characters. We get more of the inscrutable Charlotte, seeing that she is not completely unfeeling, just rarely does she feel it deeply enough to express it. We learn more about Inspector Treadles, about how deeply he loves his wife but how much that love may be tested against his notions of how men and women should act. We meet the inspiration for Mycroft: Lord Bancroft, Lord Ingram's brother.
I think I may have rated this book higher except that I was judging it against the first. Three and a half stars is still pretty high.

Follows A Study in Scarlet Women

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Rake's Guide to Seduction by Caroline Linden

A Rake's Guide to Seduction by Caroline LindenI didn't read the first book in this series but I didn't feel like I was missing anything. We learn from the beginning that Anthony Hamilton (he refuses to use his courtesy title) is something of a rake. Well, he's a giant rake. Or so the gossip says. But people have been gossiping about him since his birth (is he really his father's son?) so who knows the truth?
Celia Reece thinks she knows. He's a good man. But can she really tell? She made such a bad marriage the first time, it's hard to tell. But he seems to be different from her first husband in so many important ways. Then, they're caught in a compromising position and (somewhat) forced to pretend to be engaged.
And I didn't think the plot really needed this point. It seemed... out of place in the rest of the book. But it wasn't so jarring that I stopped reading. This was a fast, fun, and fluffy read and I generally enjoyed it.

Three and a half stars
This book came out August 29

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver

Amory Ames and her too-handsome-for-his-own-good husband have been on vacation in Italy but decide to stop in Paris on their way home. Once again, Amory's husband is mysterious. It turns out his former nanny has called him in to help solve the death of her employer, famed perfumier Helios Belanger. As always in the Amory Ames mysteries, there are layers to the story with the Ames' neighbor in Italy being a former fiance of Helios' daughter. She and his two sons all have stories that make each of them suspicious.
The Essence of Malice by Ashley WeaverAlso redundant in the Ames' mysteries are Amory's push-me-pull-me feelings toward her husband and his refusal to tell her anything of use. She's over his partyboy ways and couldn't care less except that they drive her nuts so she really could less. I really hope Ms. Weaver stops hinting around about Milo soon and makes he and Amory true partners.

Three stars
This book comes out September 5

Monday, August 28, 2017

Turned Up by Erin Nicholas

Turned Up by Erin NicholasSince grade school, Dillon Alexander and Kit Derby have been at odds, each fighting with the other, pushing to be the best. But since the big tornado trapped them together in a closet, the emergency room doctor and the psychiatrist have been letting those sparks work for them in a different way. Especially now that another storm has hit, a snowstorm that traps them alone at her grandmother's house resulting in a sexy game of Chutes and Ladders. Eventually it leads them to testing out the possibility of having a real relationship.
And that's where the book starts to fall apart for me a little bit. The road blocks to Twu Lurv seemed artificial and somewhat put up. Then they're resolved ridiculously easily. I don't say this often but this book might have been better as a novella.

Three stars
This book comes out August 29

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Wild Ride Cowboy by Maisey Yates

Wild Ride Cowboy by Maisey YatesClara Campbell has been hard-hit recently. Both her parents are gone, her brother died in combat, and now she finds out she doesn't even own her family's property. At least not for another year. Instead, Alex Donnelly is the person who has been, by dint of her brother's will, put in charge of the property and, effectively, her. All she wants to do is ogle to cute guy at the coffee store and live her life. Instead, she has to deal with a brooding ex-soldier.
Alex is in Copper Ridge for two reasons. One is to help Clara and the other is because he inherited a portion of his grandfather's ranch. He wants to fulfill his friend's wishes, especially since his actions saved Alex's life.
I read the first chapter of this in the previous book in the series and immediately wondered if I would really enjoy this book. One of my pet peeves in books is the alpha male who feels he has to save the "little woman" and then there's the false "problem" of my-best-friend's-sister. But I generally enjoy Ms. Yates' books and thought she might be able to overcome my dislike of these tropes. But, unfortunately, Alex was as much of a "me big man, you little woman" as I thought he would be. And Clara is so young. So young. It's not just an age thing, not just a virginity thing, but an overall life attitude that made it hard for me to connect with her.
I will not give up on this series because Yates really is one of my go-to contemporary authors. This book, for me, was just one of her rare missteps.

Two stars
This book comes out August 29

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Merry Christmas, Mary Christmas! by Laurie Friedman, Kathryn Durst

Merry Christmas, Mary Christmas! by Laurie FriedmanThe title of this book caught me. I just can't imagine being named Mary Christmas. That poor girl. But her issue with Christmas has more to do with the fact that her family just seems to have to overdo everything about it from the biggest tree to lights that make the rest of the block go dark. But can she find her Christmas spirit in time?

The illustrations are charming. I love that when Mary considers everything from "every angle," she's doing yoga.

Four stars
This book comes out September 1

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Missing Mola Lisa by Trisha Speed Shaskan, Stephen Shaskan

A cute story of second graders solving a crime involving the theft of a painting called the Mola Lisa. There's magic, disguises, and a fun mystery that is clued enough that young readers could reasonably solve the mystery and feel pretty good about it. The illustrations are fun as well.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out September 1

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Do Not Take your Dragon to Dinner by Julie Gassman

I am really enjoying Gassman/Elkerton collaborations. The stories are fun, the illustrations brightly colored and engaging. In a previous book, we learned why it was not a good idea to take your dragon to the library. Here, we find out why taking a dragon to dinner might not be a good idea. There is a nice suggestion of starting at home where the dragon can help cook dinner and practice manners before they can go out for dinner.

Five stars
This book come out September 1

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap by Julie Anne Long

Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap by Julie Anne LongThis is my favorite of the Hellcat Canyon books so far. I love that our heroine has her own sense of agency and seems to take life by the proverbial balls.
The book opens with Avalon (really? Really?) finding her boyfriend/co-business owner in bed with the company intern. So she runs back to her parents' in Hellcat Canyon. But not for long. She finds out that the old Coltrane house is up for auction. The house where she spent a LOT of time as a teen. Mostly with Mac Coltrane. But that was before he called her a hick. Then his father was arrested for fraud. So she buys the house intending to flip it. But she doesn't realize that there's a groundskeeper that comes with the house.
Mac is disappointed that Avalon bought the house, mostly because he wanted it for himself. I'm not sure the "why" of that was ever explained. Maybe to win back some family honor or something? He's determined to make Avalon leave, except that he's still attracted to her, even two decades later. The two spend some time working to bring the old house into the 21st century and also figuring out that they're still attracted and clearing up old misunderstandings.
I liked the byplay between these two. They were smart about their needling but it gave the readers a chance to see their true characters. I'm not sure I loved the ending but I did love Avalon's sister (and the unnamed father of her daughter) as sequel bait.

Four stars
This book comes out August 22
Follows Wild at Whiskey Creek

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Big Nate: A Good Old-Fashioned Wedgie by Lincoln Peirce

Big Nate by Lincoln PeirceNate is back in a book that mostly covers the summer. He's playing baseball again but Chester isn't their pitcher this year. Instead, Nate's dad calls one of Nate's old preschool playmates to come in and help out. Nate is crushing on her pretty hard until he finds out that Jenny has moved back to town. There is a storyline with Nate being astonished that Chad is getting so many signatures in his yearbook. Toward the end, we get a few strips with Mrs. Godfrey. Because how could this be a Big Nate book without her?

Four stars
This book comes out August 29

Monday, August 21, 2017

Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan

Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah MorganToward the end of New York, Actually, we learned that Felicity Knight had an ex-husband who had turned up in Manhattan. Felicity had married Seth Carlyle when they were both too young and divorced him soon after. She has tried to face the sexy vet but has been unable to do so. Instead, she grabs the chance to leave town and head to the Hamptons when her grandmother calls for help.
Unfortunately, (at least in Fliss's eyes) Seth was only in Manhattan for a short stint before he returned to the Hamptons where he immediately runs into Fliss who panics and claims to be her twin sister.
Seth still has feelings for Fliss and is delighted to have this chance to get to know her now. If only she'd cooperate...
And, ufda, was Seth a totally bland bulldozer. We know nothing about him except that he seems to be an all-forgiving saint who doesn't want to give up on their love. He's not an alpha-hole because he does give Fliss a little bit of space but other than the fact that he's missing his father, we really don't get to know him. Nor does he have any discernible flaws while Fliss is described as being just riddled with them (and not just in her own head). At the end, I'm really not sure that these two people are getting an HEA.
I am hoping for better in the next book because I know that Morgan can write in-depth characters and fun-to-read books.

Two stars
This book comes out August 29

Thursday, August 17, 2017

You Say It First by Susan Mallery

You Say It First by Susan MalleryThis was a charming offshoot of the Fool's Gold series. I didn't have the frustration from that series that SO MANY people recurred in the stories. Don't get me wrong, there is a LOT of sequel-bait in this book but they were woven in well, and there is a nice, built-in explanation for why we'd see some of these people again.
It seems in the 1960s, our heroine's grandfather, wanting to help the town's economy, made up a story about a stagecoach breaking down and the load of women falling in love with the men in town and opting to build the town now known as Happily Inc. Pallas Saunders knows it's a load bull but she still enjoys her role in town providing weddings in a box (or, at least I think she does. All her friends tell her so but she doesn't seem convinced). She needs help though. She's just barely breaking even and she's trying to figure out how to change that. One way is to restore the exquisite wooden panels that divide some of her rooms.
That's where Nick Mitchell comes in. We saw two of his brothers get married in the Fool's Gold series but he's not going to fall into the same trap. He's seen the marriage between his father and mother and seen how much passion can lead you to pain. So, though he's interested in Pallas (and in restoring her panels), he's not going to fall in love.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out August 22
Followed by Second Chance Girl

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thief's Mark by Carla Neggers

We've learned a lot about Oliver York in the previous 6 books in this series. In this book, he comes into even more focus when one of the man who kidnapped him as a boy, returns. And then dies in Oliver's arms. Oliver is the easy person to pick as prime suspect. But there is, of course, more to the story.
Thief's Mark by Carla NeggersEmma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are on the last day of their honeymoon when the call comes in that Oliver is once again embroiled in a mystery. Also on the scene, Oliver's gardener, Henrietta, (a former British secret service agent) and a man who has been with him since childhood, Martin.
 Weaving together the characters that Ms. Neggers has created in the Sharpe and Donovan universe, the dead man visited Father Finian the day before he died. I like that there is a concrete reason for previous characters to be woven in, they're not just plugged in willy-nilly to remind you that this is a series.
Books can always be read out of order in a series but I definitely wouldn't recommend it for this one. I think regular Neggers readers are going to be pleased with this addition to the series.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out August 29
Follows Liar's Key

A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase

A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta ChaseI am so excited to read the rest of the books in this series. Loretta Chase, for me lately, has not been the writer I so enjoyed when reading Lord of Scoundrels. This book gets quite close. And it's mainly, again, because of the characters.
The Duke of Ripley is back from the continent for the wedding of one of his two best friends, the Duke of Ashmont. Along with the Duke of Blackwood (Ripley's brother-in-law) the men are known as Their Dis-Graces. Unfortunately, Ripley is the one that finds Ashmont's bride-to-be, Lady Olivia Hightower, climbing out the window of her own wedding. Rather than carting her back and forcing her to wed his best friend, Ripley decides to make sure she makes it to... someplace... safely so that they can regroup. And I appreciated that about him, that he seemed to understand Olivia even from the beginning. As they travel, eventually ending up with Ripley's aunt, we get to see them falling in love.
The ending, I didn't love. I also wish we had seen more of how Blackwood and Ripley came to be rehabilitated. They seem to have played all of these pranks but then there seems to be a gap in the story as to why they stopped. I also really hope that the next book in this series is the one between Alice and Blackwood. I'd love to know why she seems to be avoiding her husband and it will give Ashmont some time to grow. I'm really hoping we get either a B story or a novella featuring Uncle Fred and Julia.

Four stars
This book comes out August 22