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!

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.

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!