Love on Location by Cassidy Carter

Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

Maybe what they needed most was there all along…

Delaney Phillips, a divorced mom, works for her longtime best friend Wyatt Andrews at Cabins in the Pines. Wyatt inherited the rustic resort from his father, and both he and Delaney have made countless happy memories there. After a highway bypass leaves it a little too off the beaten path, they’ll do just about anything to keep it open.

At Delaney’s urging, Wyatt auditions for a reality TV program that helps businesses in trouble. The show’s glamorous host arrives with her camera crew, turning the place upside down in hilarious and alarming ways.

But Delaney doesn’t like the woman’s new plans for the business…or her designs on Wyatt. Because even though Delaney’s known him since the first grade, she’s slowly but surely falling in love with him. Can she help him see the cabins—and their relationship—in a different light?

Review:

Love on Location was a sweet, clean, friends-to-lovers romance. It was super easy to see from the beginning where it was going to go, but Cassidy Carter did a really great job writing all of the details in so the reader doesn’t lose interest.

I really enjoyed the trope of friends-to-lovers mixed with reality television mixed with a fixer upper narrative. It was pretty different than anything I’ve ever read before in a romance novel. The fact that they were willing to make it work in this small town where the reality show wanted to come in and change everything was a true testament for how things are nowadays. It was an awesome way to show the other side of the small businesses and things of that sort.

I really liked the characters. Delaney and Wyatt for sure had the chemistry that I like to see in a friends-to-lovers novel. I felt it in every word between them which is hard to do! The only reason why I gave this story a four-star rating is because I’m not someone who likes woman/woman jealousy. I don’t like the idea of a woman being so jealous over another woman and holding back because they don’t want to interfere. This book doesn’t really have the room for a jealousy intrusion. I didn’t really see how it fit.

Overall, I really enjoyed Love on Location‘s story. It wasn’t something I’ve read before and I really loved the character development. I will for sure read more of Cassidy Carter’s books when they come out!

The Modern Love Series by Alisha Rai

39863092. sy475 Book #1: The Right Swipe
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Rating:

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

– Nude pics are by invitation only

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

– Protect your heart

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

Review:

I absolutely knew from the bottom of my heart that even before I was a quarter of the way through this book that it would receive a five-star rating from me. The writing, the heat, the characters..everything was perfect from start to finish.

The first thing I loved about this book was the representation of diversity. There were so many different races represented in this book and this needs to happen more in novels. It was so refreshing and inspirational to see all different types of people working together and having a fun time together in this novel that it gives you the best kind of vibes.

Next, I loved that all characters were represented in The Modern Swipe. In most books, the side characters are usually just here-and-there. They pop up from time-to-time and it’s never really more than that. However, Alisha Rai did such a phenomenal job showing every and all characters. I’m not usually a fan of too many characters because it’s hard for me to keep track, but this was written so well that I could see everyone and make sure that all of their stories were represented.

Finally, the romance was AMAZING. The heat of it all. The story of it all. The chemistry of it all. It’s truly one of my favorite romance novels ever. I am a contemporary romance reader. In reality, a lot of the books I read are that genre. That’s really big to say if that’s all I read! Alisha Rai’s writing was spectacular and I can’t wait to read her next books!

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44148565Book #2: Girl Gone Viral
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Rating: ★.5

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings [eyes emoji]

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a hot guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire episode with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae is the new hashtag-du-jour. The problem? Katrina craves a low-profile life, and going viral threatens the peaceful world she’s painstakingly built. Besides, #CafeBae isn’t the man she’s hungry for…

He’s got a [peach emoji] to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard, friend, and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to his family’s home. Alone in a remote setting with the object of her affections? It’s a recipe for romance. But after a long dating dry spell, Katrina isn’t sure she can trust her instincts when it comes to love—even if Jas’ every look says he wants to be more than just her bodyguard…

Review:

Thank you Alisha Rai, Avon Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

After a frightening childhood where she was abused by her father-turned-manager, Kat grows up with PTSD and has panic attacks. There’s only a few people that Kat trusts. In her life, she trusts her two roommates and her bodyguard, Jas. After being photographed at a café and makes her anxiety jump, Jas takes Kat away from all of the madness. It’s here where their story begins. If you like slow burn novels, this is one you should read.

One of the main reasons why this wasn’t my favorite novel was the fact that the slow burn was one of the slowest I ever read.  I wished things would’ve happened a little sooner writing wise.

I loved these characters. I loved Kat & Jas and their backgrounds. Kat has a good amount of wealth, but I always felt as though she was humble throughout the entire novel. I wish this book focused a little less about their backgrounds though. Unfortunately, I feel as though now I’m loving Alisha Rai’s writing style, I was expecting more romance and more heat. The backgrounds, the fighting with families, etc., really just took away from the whole romance of it all. I wish there was more cute scenes like the snow fight.

Overall, I think that this book was good. There were a lot of great qualities, but a lot of qualities that missed the mark for me as well. I don’t want to compare her books, but this book was more mental health based and the first in this series was more romance based. There’s nothing wrong with differing books by the same author, but I expected Girl Gone Viral to be romance as well.

Moonlight in Vermont by Kacy Cross

Publication Date: February 18, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

Some of the best things in life are worth the wait…

Fiona Rangely loves her fast-paced life as a high-end real estate broker in New York City. Or at least, she does until her boyfriend dumps her, claiming that he doesn’t get enough of her time.

She retreats to her family’s quaint Vermont Inn to evaluate her life…but her ex-boyfriend soon shows up with a brand new girlfriend. Fiona quickly devises a plan to win him back: pretend the handsome and laid-back head chef Derek is her new boyfriend!

Will her ex realize what he’s missing? And will Fiona herself start seeing life–and love—in a new light?

Review:

Fake relationships/marriages is one of my favorite tropes. I just adore the thought of two people starting a fake relationship to fool parents or to make exes jealous…and then  falling for each other themselves for real? Swoon! This story was crazy from start to finish. For Hallmark, I felt like this was extra dramatic! But I loved it!

The characters were everything I needed and more. Fiona’s character was the best. I loved her development and the realization that she didn’t even want her ex anymore was perfection. I think out of all of them, Kacy Cross wrote Fiona the best. She wrote Fiona like she had personally experienced something like this before and it made the story that much more real for me.

My favorite part of this novel was the sweetness of the romance. It wasn’t too strong but it wasn’t too much either. It was really a wonderful moment to see how the story of Fiona and Derek was going to play out. As the head chef, he knows he’s too busy and it’s almost like a forbidden love story at some parts.

The only reason why I didn’t give this book five-stars is because I wish it was a little longer! It was only 182 pages and I wish it would just keep going and going. I think ultimately it was wrapped up well and the story was great, but I would’ve liked a little more.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone. This was a good story for any age. Moonlight in Vermonwas the perfect book to get me excited for the rest of Kacy Cross’ books!

Country Hearts by Cindi Madsen

Publication Date: December 26, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Rating: ★★★

She shouldn’t get involved with the cowboy next door…

After she’s laid off from her teaching job in the city, Jemma Monroe finds a position in a tiny town and rents a house on the outskirts. A visitor soon shows up at her door — a horse. His owner, a handsome neighbor in boots and a cowboy hat, comes by to collect him.

When single dad Wyatt Langford meets Jemma, it’s the first time he feels interest in a woman since his wife left. But she’s his daughter’s new teacher, so they both know they should keep their distance.

Nonetheless, Wyatt keeps finding excuses to be with Jemma, and Wyatt’s daughter becomes more and more attached to her. With them, Jemma discovers the good things about country living, from starry skies to s’mores cooked over a fire. But she still misses her past life in the city. Is there any reason for them to dream of a future together?

Review:

This was my first Hallmark Publishing novel that I read, and I was not disappointed. I am not someone who watches Hallmark movies normally, but after reading from their publishing company, I just might do so.

Jemma has a lot going on in her life. She’s laid off in the middle of the school  year and has to figure out what to do in order to pay her debt. This is unfortunately super realistic nowadays and I appreciated that it was so relatable.

Another thing that was relatable about this story was Wyatt’s character. He’s a single dad and Jemma and Wyatt meet when Jemma becomes Wyatt’s daughter’s substitute teacher. I completely expected this book to be a “city-girl having a lot of trouble and her country neighbor helping her adapt to the country life” type of book, but I didn’t really get that from this. I think that the story was very cute and had the perfect amount of romance.

Wyatt’s daughter Bailey was one of the best characters in this book. Cindi Madsen did a phenomenal job with her, showing what it’s like to have a single father, and what it’s like when that child realizes that there’s a new woman in his life. It was very interesting and really pulled at my heart strings a couple times.

The only reason why I gave this novel a three-star rating was because the writing was a little slow at points. I enjoyed the trope and the characters, but I wish it picked up more at points than what it did.

I love the recipes at the end of Hallmark books, and hopefully, after reading them all, you could make a whole dinner party worth of things! Overall, Country Hearts was a good one and I’m excited to see the rest of Hallmark Publishing’s books!

The Secret Ingredient by Nancy Naigle

Publication Date: December 26, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★★★

Love is like a perfect recipe… You never want to lose it.

Years ago, Kelly McIntyre and Andrew York were engaged and dreaming of opening a restaurant together. Then he chose an opportunity to study in Paris over the small-town life they’d planned, and their romance came to a bittersweet end.

But Kelly’s doing fine. She’s not only the owner of a potbellied pig named Gray, but also of her own bakery. Business is good—so good that she’s invited to compete in a Valentine’s Day bake-off. As she prepares for the contest, she tries not to get distracted by Andrew’s visit to town.

When Andrew sees Kelly, it stirs up his old feelings. Little does he know that soon, in New York, he’ll compete against her in the bake-off…and they’ll both realize how much their past is a part of them still.

Review:

I’m obsessed. I’m obsessed. I’m obsessed. I’m obsessed.

Kelly and Andrew…Kelly. and. Andrew.

Honestly, two of my favorite characters that I’ve ever read about. Kelly is a woman that opened up her own bakery in her small town. Andrew and her were engaged, but when the opportunity arose for him to stay in Paris after training in cooking, it ends. When Andrew comes back to town and they see each other for the first time, you can just FEEL the electricity through every single page turn.

There were times in this novel where I thought I knew what was going to happen, but then I was thrown for a loop! Most slow burn, come back to small town, meet again after a long time usually have similar stories, but I’m so glad that this was different. It made me like it THAT much more.

Also, this story is something I’ve never really read before. I loved the fact that things were out there, but also secretive. Nancy Naigle did such a good job of keeping the reader on their toes.

This is my first Hallmark Publishing novel as well as my first Nancy Naigle novel. I am so happy that I loved it as much as I did. Nancy Naigle will definitely be put on my list to read ALL of her books.

Lastly, when reading this, you get sucked in to all of the wonderful recipes. Nancy Naigle did a wonderful job giving so much detail about the cakes and desserts that I could close my eyes and picture them being made right in front of me. I can’t wait to read more!

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

Publication Date: December 30, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Rating: ★★★★

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.

What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.

You’ll have to grab a copy to find out why.

Review:

Tarryn Fisher wrote a truly impeccable thriller with The Wives. There were twists and turns and everything really did not seem to be as it was. I like a good thriller, but this was super dark and I enjoyed it so much.

The synopsis was enough for me to pick up this book. Seth is married to two other woman other than Thursday. Her name is Thursday because that’s the day of the week she gets with Seth. It was a concept that was so interesting and nothing I had heard of before.

Tarryn Fisher’s writing was what got a high rating from me. It was a little slow to start, but once I hit a certain point, I was so engrossed that I could not stop reading until I found out what happened. The writing was so back-and-forth and I wanted to love the main character even though I was unsure of who she was actually. I wanted to be on her side even if things were going so out of control that I didn’t know how they would end up.

The ending was a little too crazy in my opinion but I don’t think it took away from the story. I think it was getting a little into uncharted territory where it became almost unrealistic, but I think it was wrapped up really well.

Overall, I loved learning about Thursday and what was going on in her head. Tarryn Fisher’s imagination truly shined in this novel. This was my first novel by her, but definitely not my last.

Hot & Hammered Series by Tessa Bailey

 

39854434Book #1: Fix Her Up

Publication Date: June 14, 2019
Publisher: Avon Books
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)

Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…

Review:

Let me just say, this is one of the filthiest books I’ve ever read. Tessa Bailey literally has you feel the chemistry between Georgie and Travis. If you are not someone that likes smutty romance novels, I’d recommend not reading this one. On the other hand, if you are someone that likes steam in a book, this might just be one of the best romances of 2019 because of it.

Everything about Fix Her Up was perfect in my eyes. The characters, the development, the love, the romance, the steam, everything. Georgie & Travis were two of my favorite characters that I’ve read in a romance novel. She was just so sweet and had her unexpected moments where I was like “woah, what?!”. I never read a book with a story like this either. Georgie was such a family girl and her dream was to keep kids happy at birthday parties, which I’ve never really heard of as a career in a book like this before.

Travis was an absolute dream. You really feel for him after an injury ends his baseball career (sports romances are so great already, hello), but you find yourself rooting for him from the very beginning. I wanted him to figure out his life and was cheering him on at some points.

The angst in this book was *kisses fingertips*, one of the best I’ve read. My heart hurt multiple times throughout this book to the point where I wanted to jump through and fix everything myself.

Overall, I’d read this book again and again. I think it was one of the best romances of 2019. Tessa Bailey really got a good one here. Having a series called Hot & Hammered, I’m curious to see where this is going to go.

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44148563Book #2: Love Her or Lose Her 

Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Publisher: Avon Books
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.

Review:

Thank you to Tessa Bailey, Avon Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to love this book as much as I loved Fix Her Up, but there was something just different in this book. It was not bad in the slightest bit, but something just felt off in this one.

I wholeheartedly believe that the ending had a pretty big influence on my review. I loved this whole book. I loved Dom and Rosie. I loved Dom’s secrets, I loved Rosie’s angst, I loved it all. However, I felt like the end seemed a little rushed and that’s why I gave this a four-star rating instead of five. I waited the whole novel and rooted for these two and the ending just seemed like…BAM.

Tessa Bailey knows how to write angst. It really makes me feel for the characters and I can appreciate the writing when that happens. The pain between Dom and Rosie was truly, truly felt throughout the entire book. I could see the story-line as realistic with what they were going through.

The connection and steam between Rosie and Dom was felt for sure. You could see that they loved each other, but this story was very different from what I’ve read before. The story of “we don’t love each other, but our bodies need each other” was very interesting and I think Tessa Bailey wrote it beautifully.

Overall, I can’t wait for more Tessa Bailey books. She’s a fantastic writer that knows how to include all aspects of a perfect romance (love, angst, trust, etc.). She’s definitely becoming one of my favorite authors.

Books Read in 2019

In 2019, I read 168 books! My goal was 75 books this year, and it’s safe to say that I crushed that goal. Below is a list of books that I read in 2019 with their ratings!