That Summer in Maine by Brianna Wolfson

Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★

Years ago, during a certain summer in Maine, two young women, unaware of each other, met a charismatic man at a craft fair and each had a brief affair with him. For Jane it was a chance to bury her recent pain in raw passion and redirect her life. For Sue it was a fling that gave her troubled marriage a way forward.

Now, sixteen years later, the family lives these women have made are suddenly upended when their teenage girls meet as strangers on social media. They concoct a plan to spend the summer in Maine with the man who is their biological father. Their determination puts them on a collision course with their mothers, who must finally meet and acknowledge their shared past and join forces as they risk losing their only daughters to a man they barely know.

Review:

Thank you to Brianna Wolfson, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I read this book as a participant of the 2020 Summer Reads Blog Tour.

That Summer in Maine is a story that alternates between past and present. There are three narrators, Susie, Jane, and Hazel. In the past, two women, Susie and Jane, meet a man named Silas during a trip to Maine. Susie and Jane have two different relationships with Silas. Jane gets caught up in a whirlwind romance until she finds out that Silas slept with another woman. Susie was happy in her marriage, but she ended up sleeping with Silas as a one-night stand. Both of these resulted in unexpected pregnancies.

Sixteen years later, Jane’s daughter, Hazel is contacted online by another sixteen year old, Eve, saying that they are sisters. Of course, to anyone, this would come as a shock, but especially to a sixteen year-old girl. Eve had already met Silas and spent the summer with him the previous year. Eve invites Hazel and with Hazel’s current predicament with her mother having twins and no time for her, she accepts.

This book was a very beautiful telling about something that truly can happen within a family. Hazel feels like she’s being replaced because her mother got married and had twin boys. She is unable to feel heard with her mother and doesn’t feel as though she’s a part of that family. She feels like she’s an outsider. With the age gap between her and the twin boys, she finds it hard to fit in with her mother’s “new family”. I think people with siblings that have an age gap definitely could find this book relatable.

There was a lot about this book that I wanted to love. I had a hard time finding any development within the characters except for Hazel. Eve and Hazel are both supposed to be sixteen and I found myself thinking that their ages were not even close to the same. Hazel portrayed herself as a child almost. Eve seemed like a mean girl, but not like “high-school” mean. I found her seeming older than sixteen while I was reading it. It was hard to relate because they didn’t seem the same age. I really didn’t like the characters either. I did towards the end when I saw why they acted the way that they did. However, it was a little hard reading this not liking the characters until the end.

I did like that this was a story between mothers and daughters. It was almost like it was two stories in one book. I learned about the mother’s stories and what happened and what they would do or wouldn’t do differently. I got to see the outcomes from sixteen years of secrets. That alone was pretty interesting as a premise of the story.

Overall, I think more people should give this book a chance. The characters aren’t that likable until the end, but once you see the background development, you’ll like the ending and how everything plays out. I definitely would read Brianna Wolfson again as this was my first novel by her. If you are looking for a quick, feel-good family story, definitely pick this one up!





Her Homecoming Wish by Jo McNally

I received this novel as a part of the Harlequin Special Edition Blog Tour! Thank you to Jo McNally, Harlequin Special Edition, Harlequin Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Rating: ★★★★

She’s ready to shed her good-girl ways…

“You’re all about following the rules now?

“Pity.”

Mackenzie Wallace hopes there’s still some bad boy lurking beneath single father Danny Adams’s upright exterior. Being the proverbial good girl left her brokenhearted and alone in the past. Now she’s back in town and wants excitement with her high school crush—not love. Dan knows their connection runs deep, despite Mackenzie’s protests. But will their new personas work together—especially when Dan’s secret is exposed?

Review:

Good girl turned bad. Bad boy turned good. This trope was awesome. I loved the fact that they had a role reversal thing going on after Mackenzie, or Mack, returned home after having a really nasty divorce. Coming home to find out that the bad boy growing up was now a Sheriff of their small town? Priceless.

The slow burn was one of my favorite parts about this book. I think that Jo McNally did a phenomenal job creating that curiosity of what was going to happen and when. The romance was extremely realistic and I appreciated that. It could’ve gone the other route where I was rolling my eyes over the way Mack comes back to town, etc. I really didn’t find any flaws with that writing.

As someone who lives in an area where drugs are potent, this book hit too close to home. The small town vibes really showed me that maybe Jo McNally really understands what it’s currently like in today’s society when it comes to drugs and overdoses. On the other hand, the small town vibe did include the closeness and love within it as well. That was definitely something I could appreciate.

Overall, I think that the biggest takeaway that I got from this book was the fact that you can plan your life all you want, but it might not ever come out that way. Jo McNally really wrote an amazing book and if you are a homecoming romance lover, this is definitely a book you should read.

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate

Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Books
Rating: ★★★★

Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but beneath the surface, Sam’s still recovering from a failed business. His coworker—start-up expert Kimberly Foster—is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but her mother’s rejection from a young age till now has left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks are flying.

When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and flies home to Australia to help his family save their struggling farm—much to Kimberly’s chagrin. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. To what lengths will she go to get him back?

Review:

Thank you to Jessica Kate, Thomas Nelson Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

When I received this novel, I didn’t know that it was a sequel. It isn’t listed as so, therefore, I had no clue. I read this book really with no problem, but after reading the first book, Love and Other Mistakes, I really understand the characters more than I did before and can give a true review on A Girl’s Guide to the Outback.

The first thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the humor. Even through this is classified as a “Christian romance”, I thought there were a lot of good moments that I didn’t expect. There are some parts that are genuinely funny, but others that are so awkward that you can’t help but giggle at the weirdness of it.

The characters were straight up damaged. I loved learning about Sam and Kimberly. I read their stories and I found it really interesting. They developed so well through this novel that by the end, I was really rooting for whatever outcome I was bound to get.

Learning about Australia was such an amazing part of this story. I’ve never traveled outside of the United States and I feel like I had been to Australia after reading this book. It was very detailed and I got to really see how Australians act and talk. I didn’t think it was too over-the-top like some books with a foreign setting.

Overall, I think that Jessica Kate did a fantastic job with this one. I loved learning about the characters and how they work, by themselves and together. I am definitely giving her other novels a try!

Witness Protection Widow by Debra Webb

I received this novel as a part of the Harlequin’s Carina Press Blog Tour Program. Thank you to Debra Webb, Harlequin Intrigue, Carina Press & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Rating: ★★★

Can the witness protection program keep her identity secret?

After Allison James finally escapes her marriage to a monster, she becomes the star witness in the case against her deceased husband’s powerful crime family. Now it’s up to US Marshal Jaxson Stevens, Ali’s ex-boyfriend, to keep the WITSEC widow safe. But as the danger escalates and sparks fly, will Jax be able to help Ali escape her ruthless in-laws?

Discover more spine-tingling suspense in the Winchester, Tennessee Thriller series:
In Self Defense
The Dark Woods
The Stranger Next Door
The Safest Lies
Witness Protection Widow

From Harlequin Intrigue: Seek thrills. Solve crimes. Justice served.

Review:

This was my first and only Debra Webb that I’ve read. I don’t think it will be my last! Witness Protection Widow was the fifth installment of the Winchester, Tennessee series, but I had no problems following along.

I really enjoyed Allison (Ali) James. Her character was so interesting and really had me intrigued of where this story would end up because of her. I’ve never read a book about someone in the witness protection program so this type of story was new to me. It did not disappoint!

I loved the romance aspect. I think that making Jax, Ali’s ex-fiancee, her marshal was something that a lot of people would swoon over. There’s a few tropes that you could fit in there, enemies-to-lovers, men in uniform…Debra Webb did a great job with that.

There was a lot of detail and interest in her testimony and that’s what helps you get to the end of this book. I felt like the ending came so quick where I couldn’t even enjoy the build-up that I experienced throughout the entire book. Making the ending a little more detailed or even a little bit longer would’ve made this story for me.

Overall, I think that this was definitely a storyline that I could get into. I will definitely give more of Debra Webb a chance if all of her books are as intriguing and detailed as this one was. After reading Witness Protection Widow, I am definitely interested in the other books in this series!

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith

I received this book as a part of the Winter 2020 Harlequin Trade Publishing Blog Tour for Inkyard Press! Thank you to Eric Smith, Harlequin Books, Inkyard Press & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Rating: ★★★

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.

Review:

I think this book was written very well. I’m not sure if the genre was for me particularly. However, I think that the young-adult gaming lover is going to find a new love in this book. I don’t have a lot of knowledge about the gaming community, but I don’t think that it affected my review in any way.

First, I really enjoyed the characters. They were very much themselves and did not really care about how people felt about it. They were funny and nerdy which made the book as good as it was. They were unapologetically themselves and that was something that Eric Smith wrote really well. Divya was really one of my favorites in this book. She was so determined to make sure people saw that she wasn’t going to succumb to any pressures that were put onto her online. I loved the fact that she was able to be read just as she was in the synopsis. It’s one of the main reasons why I picked this book up.

Also, I really like that this book tackled a lot of serious topics like gender inequality and racism. It was very interesting to see Smith’s point-of-view and how he interpreted it through his words. I liked how the characters developed through these topics as well. There was a good amount of development which I always love.

There wasn’t a lot wrong with this book. It just didn’t wow me. It was slow for me at times. It could be the fact that I’m not a gamer and couldn’t really keep up with the references, but the book was written very well. I didn’t fall in love with this book, but I think there are going to be plenty of people that will.

 

 

A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison

I received this book as a part of the Winter 2020 Harlequin Trade Publishing Blog Tour for Inkyard Press! Thank you to Kelly deVos, Harlequin Books, Inkyard Press & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Rating: ★★★

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

Review:

There was a lot about A Love Hate Thing that I enjoyed and a lot that I was just so/so about.

To start, Trice was a character that I was very much able to feel emotions for. His story was extreme and tough to hear, and I’m glad that I was able to see his development throughout the story. On the so/so side, I could not get into Nandy’s character at all. Her development wasn’t enough for me and even by  the end of the book, I still could not see her as a character I would like to know. By the time we started to see any type of interest between Nandy and Trice, I was over her and her attitude, so I couldn’t get into that aspect in the slightest.

I think that the story was definitely believable and could’ve been authentic. The differences between Nandy’s world in Pacific Hills and Trice’s world in Lindenwood were shown perfectly and I really could understand where they came from in both zip codes. I think Whitney Grandison did a fantastic job blending the people and both cities to show what was good and bad about both.

The thing that I wished we had more of was a background. We got a lot of background regarding Trice’s story and why he is the way he is. However, I look at Nandy’s character and since there is no background about why she is this way, it makes her almost automatically unlikable.

Lastly, I think that the writing could’ve been a little better. I understand that this is a debut novel, and I’m not knocking it for that. I’m just saying that in this book, there should’ve been a little bit more of an editing process or something like that. There was a point where it skipped a month I believe and I feel like there was this big chunk of storyline that I missed because of that.

Overall, I think that there were things that A Love Hate Thing that were good, but things that could’ve been a lot better. I think that this was a good debut novel to start with and it’ll only get better from here!