The Hero of Hope Springs by Maisey Yates

Publication Date: July 21, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Rating: ★★★★

For as long as brooding cowboy Ryder Daniels has known Sammy Marshall, she has been his sunshine. Her free spirit and bright smile saved him after the devastating loss of his parents and gave him the strength to care for his orphaned family. Only Ryder knows how vulnerable Sammy is, so he’s kept his attraction for his best friend under wraps for years. But what Sammy’s asking for now might be a step too far…

Something has been missing from Sammy’s life, and she thinks she knows what it is. Deciding she wants a baby is easy; realizing she wants her best friend to be the father is…complicated. Especially when a new heat between them sparks to life! When Sammy discovers she’s pregnant, Ryder makes it clear he wants it all. But having suffered the fallout of her parents’ disastrous relationship, Sammy is wary of letting Ryder too close. This cowboy will have to prove he’s proposing out of more than just honor…

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Maisey Yates, & Harlequin Books for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve read Maisey Yates before and I absolutely adored the story. I read the Copper Ridge series and I quickly became obsessed with all of the characters and I was so glad that it lasted over 10 books. I received an opportunity to read her newest book, The Hero of Hope Springs, and I knew I couldn’t pass it up. I never read any part of the Gold Valley series, but I didn’t have any trouble following along!

I really like Maisey Yates’ writing because as much as it does have sultry and sexy vibes, it doesn’t take the front of the story like it does in some romance novels. The angst, the friendships, the drama, the comedy, the full-on relationship between the characters make each and every one of her stories. The characters are always well developed and they make this stories as well-written as they are.

May I just say…this friends-to-lovers trope is perfection. I loved Sammy and Ryder! Their characters are great, and the fact that they were friends from the start, makes it all that more believable and real in my eyes. The brooding character of Ryder and the happy-go-lucky character of Sammy made these two a very unusual mash-up, but I think they really showed chemistry and connected well.

Overall, the story of love and acceptance is what takes first place in this book. The complexity of the characters and showing them make their own serious life choices makes this story really come to life. The Gold Valley series is definitely something I want to read now so I can get to know everyone! However, if you don’t choose to, it appears as though you can read these as a standalone. I’d really recommend this book to cowboy-loving romance readers!

July 2020 Reads

Number of Books Read: 13
Avg. Rating of the books: 3.3/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 0/13

Not one book got a five star rating from me this month! I hope August is full of five-star reads for me!

  • She’s Faking It by Kristin Rockaway
  • A Cowboy State of Mind by Jennie Marts (Creedence Horse Rescue #1)
  • No One Saw by Beverly Long (A.L. McKittridge #2)
  • Hurry Home by Roz Nay
  • Never Too Late by Robyn Carr
  • The Sound of Love by Kyle Shoop (Senses of Love #1)
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson
  • Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
  • Come Again by Robert Webb
  • What You Wish For by Katherine Center
  • The Hero of Hope Springs by Maisey Yates (Gold Valley #10)
  • The Life We Share by Colleen Young

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.

But she wasn’t always that way.

Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.

But he wasn’t always that way.

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before―at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him―but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school―and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love―which is the riskiest move of all.

Review:

Thank you Katherine Center, St. Martin’s Press & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This is my third Katherine Center novel and she is definitely an auto buy / request author for me. Her writing is always very good for me, and I’m always able to connect to her characters instantly.

However, this one wasn’t a home run for me as much as her other books. I struggled to read this story as well as connecting with the characters. I didn’t necessarily mind Sam but I had a hard time with Duncan which isn’t good since he was a main character.

I read How to Walk Away and Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. In these two books, the characters correlate, but are not listed in a series. As I’ve read from other reviews, apparently Duncan is the brother of Sam from Happiness For Beginners. I didn’t have any issues in her previous novels with reading them “out of order” but I’m not entirely sure if the circumstances are different with this one.

I will say that this story is truly about seeking happiness and joy in life. There is a lot going on in the world right now and this message about finding joy in the small things in life was actually very needed. I could appreciate that message coming from this book.

Overall, I love Katherine Center and I love her writing. I go to her when I need a good, heart-felt story with laughs and smiles. I did like the message behind this book, but it wasn’t my favorite book in the world with the characters and story. I will give Happiness for Beginners a try as well hopefully to learn more about who these characters are.

Hurry Home by Roz Nay

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Rating: ★★★

From the bestselling author of Our Little Secret comes a suspenseful new thriller featuring two estranged sisters desperate to keep their deepest and darkest secret where it belongs–in the past.

Close to my heart you’ll be, sisters forever you and me...

Alexandra Van Ness has the perfect life. She lives in an idyllic resort town tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, shares a designer loft with her handsome boyfriend, Chase, and has her dream job working in child protection. Every day, Alex goes above and beyond to save children at risk. 

But when her long-lost sister, Ruth, unexpectedly shows up at her door, Alex’s perfect life is upended. Growing up, Ruth was always the troublemaker, pulling Alex into her messes, and this time will be no different. Still, Alex will help Ruth under one condition: we will never, ever, talk about the past. But when trouble befalls a local child, both women are forced to confront the secrets they’ve promised to keep buried.

Utterly engrossing and claustrophobic, Hurry Home is a tantalizing reflection of the chain-and-shackles relationship between sisters that asks: what lines wouldn’t you cross for your own?

Review:

Thank you to Roz Nay, Crooked Lane Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I love sister stories. Whether its drama, long distance, good relationships, bad relationships, mysteries, any kind of story. I think it’s because I have a sister myself so that I’m able to relate a lot.

This sister story was not my favorite unfortunately. I believe it’s because this is classified as a thriller and I didn’t really get that from this book. This was more about the sister relationship and how you could just feel the drama between them.

I thought this story was interesting, but it didn’t really give me the surprise or mystery that I was looking for. The interest from this story comes from the fact that you are curious on why these two ladies have the relationship that they do.

The thing I liked about this novel was the slow burn aspect. You do find yourself sitting there wondering when something will happen or when the other shoe is going to drop. I was able to guess the ending, but I will say it was pretty interesting getting there.

Overall, it wasn’t my favorite book in the world, but it wasn’t the worst either. I think that if it was more of a thriller like it was classified, I would’ve enjoyed it more. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this book, I just went in with a different expectation!

She’s Faking It by Kristin Rockaway

Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Publisher: Graydon House
Rating: ★★★★

You can’t put a filter on reality.

Bree Bozeman isn’t exactly pursuing the life of her dreams. Then again, she isn’t too sure what those dreams are. After dropping out of college, she’s living a pretty chill life in the surf community of Pacific Beach, San Diego…if “chill” means delivering food as a GrubGetter, and if it means “uneventful”.

But when Bree starts a new Instagram account — @breebythesea — one of her posts gets a signal boost from none other than wildly popular self-help guru Demi DiPalma, owner of a lifestyle brand empire. Suddenly, Bree just might be a rising star in the world of Instagram influencing. Is this the direction her life has been lacking? It’s not a career choice she’d ever seriously considered, but maybe it’s a sign from the universe. After all, Demi’s the real deal… right?

Everything is lining up for Bree: life goals, career, and even a blossoming romance with the chiseled guy next door, surf star Trey Cantu. But things are about to go sideways fast, and even the perfect filter’s not gonna fix it. Instagram might be free, but when your life looks flawless on camera, what’s the cost?

Review:

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

I read Kristin Rockaway’s How to Hack a Heartbreak last summer and I absolutely adored it. Kristin Rockaway is becoming an auto-buy/request author for me! Her writing is spectacular in She’s Faking It! If you’re looking for a quick, fun summer read, definitely pick this one up.

Bree, a 25-year old college drop out, is completely over delivering food to people’s houses through a service called GrubGetter. After a run in with an old professor who made her feel insecure in her choices in life, Bree decides it’s time for a change. Bree decides that she is going to become an influencer on social media to make a living after reading a book about “faking it until she makes it”. She finds out that faking it is unfortunately not that easy.

This story is a testament to today’s society. It’s about how the world sees people on Instagram with the Photoshopped backgrounds and beautiful scenery. It shows that even though things online might be happy and cheery on their page, you have zero idea what their life is truly like behind the pictures. Kristin Rockaway did such a fantastic job writing this because I was able to relate to it so much with how technologically the world is running today.

Next, I loved the fact that this was a very feel-good story. It was motivational, watching this woman try to turn her life around after going through what she did with dropping out of school. It really is like that nowadays where there’s the question of what you’re going to do with your life if you don’t have a direction or degree. I love that Kristin Rockaway turned this into a “you can do whatever you want” story instead of making it seem like people can’t make it unless they have some sort of certification or degree. I especially loved the sisterly bond in this story. Sisters fight and sometimes have a hard time with relationships, but at the end of the day, there’s a protective feeling that I was able to share with Bree and Natasha. It was easy to see the love that they shared.

Finally, I loved the fact that this was a romance novel, but it didn’t take over the entire story. This was more of a feel-good/fiction/self-help story over being a romance. I am a romance fanatic, but I loved that it wasn’t overbearing and didn’t take away from the original message.

Overall, I will always pick up a Kristin Rockaway novel. Her stories are fantastic and her writing is impeccable. I’m always able to relate and her characters are always developed in the best kind of way. Definitely pick this one up this summer! Put it next on your TBR!


Posted on my Instagram.

Mid-2020 Wrap-Up

So far, as of June 30, 2020, I’ve read 71 books! My goal for 2020 is 115, so hopefully I’ll double my current number and beat my goal! Here are the books I’ve read so far in 2020!

  • The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown
  • We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding
  • The Hotel Where We Met by Belinda Jones
  • I Wanna Text You Up by Teagan Hunter (Texting #2)
  • The Upside to Being Single by Emma Hart
  • No, We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald
  • Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey (Hot & Hammered #2)
  • The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
  • Good Guy by Kate Meader (Rookie Rebels #1)
  • Instacrush by Kate Meader (Rookie Rebels #2)
  • Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
  • Caught Up in a Cowboy by Jennie Marts (Cowboys of Creedence #1)
  • You Had Me at Cowboy by Jennie Marts (Cowboys of Creedence #2)
  • Playboy Pilot by Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland
  • Love, Sincerely, Yours by Sara Ney
  • Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith
  • The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
  • Country Hearts by Cindi Madsen
  • The Billionaire Boss Next Door by Max Monroe
  • Witness Protection Widow by Debra Webb (Winchester, Tennessee #5)
  • A Girl’s Guide to the Outback  by Jessica Kate
  • The Secret Ingredient by Nancy Naigle
  • The Roommate Agreement by Emma Hart
  • I’m With Cupid by Dawn Blair
  • Love and Other Mistakes by Jessica Kate
  • Her Homecoming Wish by Jo McNally
  • Work in Progress by Staci Hart
  • The Story of Us by Teri Wilson
  • Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee (The Heirs of Hansol #1)
  • The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes
  • Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls
  • The Game Changer by Jennifer Brown
  • This Train is Being Held by Ismée Amiel Williams
  • Love on Location by Cassidy Carter
  • Confessions of a Naughty Nanny by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #6)
  • Operation Bailey Babies by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #6.5)
  • Kiss Me Not by Emma Hart (Kiss Me #1)
  • Kiss Me Tonight  by Emma Hart (Kiss Me #2)
  • Kiss Me Again by Emma Hart (Kiss Me #3)
  • Moonlight in Vermont by Kacy Cross
  • Ten Days Gone by Beverly Long (A.L. McKittridge #1)
  • A Country Wedding by Leigh Duncan
  • You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks
  • Love Locks by Cory Martin
  • Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
  • Beach Wedding Weekend by Rachel Magee
  • Love by Chance by Kacy Cross
  • Sunrise Cabin by Stacey Donovan
  • Nothing But Trouble by Amy Andrews (Credence, Colorado #1)
  • The Trouble With Christmas by Amy Andrews (Credence, Colorado #2)
  • Asking For Trouble by Amy Andrews (Credence, Colorado #3)
  • A Forgotten Murder by Jude Deveraux
  • The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne
  • Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth
  • The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren
  • A Simple Wedding by Leigh Duncan
  • Royal Savage by Victoria Ashley (Savage & Ink #1)
  • Beautiful Savage by  Victoria Ashley (Savage & Ink #2)
  • Game On by Britney Bell
  • Hot Mess by Emma Hart
  • Incomparable by Nikki Bella, Brie Bella
  • Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai (Modern Love #2)
  • Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
  • The Summer Villa by Melissa Hill
  • The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman
  • Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan
  • Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr
  • The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman
  • That Summer in Maine by Brianna Wolfson
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
  • Kind of Cursed by Stephanie Fournet

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Pubilication Date: June 30, 2020
Publisher: Dutton Books
Rating: ★★★★★

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

Review:

This was my second Riley Sager book and I was definitely not disappointed in this new release! This mystery was definitely that and it gave me all of the spooky vibes in the summertime. The main thing that this book gave me was the Haunting of Hill House vibes and I loved that.

Maggie’s father wrote a book called House of Horrors about the experience that him and his family had at Baneberry Hall. It took only three weeks before Ewan and Jess, Maggie’s mother, ran away from there for good. Or so Maggie thought. Maggie never believed anything from House of Horrors as she couldn’t ever remember what happened during those three weeks. Maggie finds that her father never got rid of the house or sold it and it is now hers to do what she wants with it. In the time that Maggie decides to fix it up to sell it, many things happen to make Maggie believe that her father’s book might have not been made up at all.

First, Riley Sager’s writing had me on the edge of my seat the entire novel. I was curious and had suspicions of what was going on, but by the next chapter, there was something else going on in my head. I found this to be exceptional writing as I had really no idea what was going on until the end of the book where the twist is. Some might say it was clear to see, but I didn’t see it coming at all. The fact that I couldn’t tell if this was going to end paranormal or not was actually quite fun.

I loved the fact that the book went back and forth between Maggie’s point-of-view and her father’s book. It was interesting to see the similarities between her and her father’s experiences. It was looking at current day versus back when Maggie was just a little girl. It was clear to see that she wasn’t even close to the same person.

Finally, I don’t think I could’ve found a flaw in this book if I tried. The characters developed in an amazing way, the story kept me interested the entire time, it was just overall an amazing book. I could relate to the characters as well, which is always good.

I need to read the rest of Riley Sager’s books. Both of his books that I read were five-star ratings for me and I will always continue to read what he puts out in the future. His writing alone is enough for me to want to read one of his books.

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!