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!

The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman

Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★★

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to illness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind the towering fence surrounding her home, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to a garden filled with the heirloom starts that keep the memories of her loved ones alive.

When Abby Peterson moves next door with her family—a husband traumatized by his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability—Iris is reluctantly yet inevitably drawn into her boisterous neighbor’s life, where, united by loss and a love of flowers, she and Abby tentatively unearth their secrets, and help each other discover how much life they have yet to live.

Review:

Thank you to Viola Shipman, MIRA Books and NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I read this as a part of the 2020 Spring Reads Blog Tour.

There was a lot about this novel that I was unsure about when I read the synopsis. This isn’t my usual book, but I figured I’d give it a try. I’m not someone who usually likes war stories or time pieces. However, this wasn’t really anything like that. It was back-and-forth, but in a good way!

This was my first Viola Shipman novel. I never would’ve thought to read her before, but I’m really glad I did. This intrigues me for future novels by her as the writing was extraordinary. I really enjoyed her point-of-views between characters and that made me enjoy them even more. Iris lost her husband in WWII and her daughter to polio. This is where she built herself inside of her garden and didn’t want to talk to anyone. She did this for a long time before she meets Abby. Abby’s husband comes back from the Iraq war and is no longer than man he was before he left. Now living next door to each other, these two women have something in common even if Abby didn’t lose her husband physically. These two women bond and find a relationship unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

I loved this story. It was the epitome of a feel-good novel. It was very heartwarming and makes you feel hope that things are actually like that. Abby, Iris, and Abby’s daughter, Lily, truly stole my heart. It was special to see that the relationship and friendship between Abby and Iris that bloomed despite their age gap.

The gardening point-of-view in this story is impeccable. I have a “black thumb”, but I absolutely loved learning about all of the different types of flowers and plants that Iris and Abby talk about was spectacular.

The reasons why I didn’t give this novel a five-star rating were two different things. First, there were some parts of this book that was very righteous and almost “holier-than-thou”. I can see why it would be like that, but sometimes it seemed to be too much. Second, this book seemed longer than it should’ve been. I really enjoyed this story, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like it was drug out at some parts.

Overall, Viola Shipman has definitely caught my interest. I would be open to reading her other books as this one had very “feel-good” energy. This could absolutely be one of the top “general fiction” novels of 2020.



Introducing the Tactical Crime Division by Harlequin Books

Perfect for fans of Criminal Minds and Blacklist

Uncover the lives and loves of the FBI elite as they take on the toughest assignments. This is a new four-book miniseries featuring an ensemble cast of characters spread across 4 books, featuring 4 urgent cases, with one stellar team of crime solving experts. 

The Tactical Crime Division—TCD—is a specialized unit of the FBI. Because of the growing concerns and need for ever increasing response time to criminal events, the FBI created a specialized tech and tactical team combing specialists from several active divisions that include: weapons, crime scene investigation, protection, negotiation and IT. 

Each title can be read as a standalone novel, featuring a unique hard to solve crime case.

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGQTOGlXW-c.

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Book 1_48 Hour Lockdown_Carla Cassidy

Book #1: 48 Hour Lockdown by Carla Cassidy (on-sale March 17, 2020)

Book description: The Tactical Crime Division—TCD—is a specialized unit of the FBI.They handle the toughest cases in the most remote locations. When TCD learns of a school invasion turned lockdown, every agent is ready to engage. With children in jeopardy, the stakes couldn’t be higher. But it becomes personal for hostage negotiator agent Evan Duran when he learns Annalise Taylor is one of the captives holed up with the students in a school for the gifted. He’ll need every resource available at TCD and every ounce of his expertise to turn this disastrous situation into a rescue mission—and if he succeeds, maybe reunite with the woman he never stopped loving.

About Carla Cassidy: Carla Cassidy is a New York Times bestselling author who has written more than 125 novels for Harlequin Books. She is listed on the Romance Writer’s of America Honor Roll and has won numerous awards. Carla believes the only thing better than curling up with a good book to read is sitting down at the computer with a good story to write.

Purchase links:

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Book 2_Secret Investigation_Elizabeth Heiter

Book #2: Secret Investigation by Elizabeth Heiter (on-sale April 21, 2020)

Book description: In the wake of a tragedy, the Tactical Crime Division is the first call. When ironclad body armor inexplicably fails and soldiers perish, the Tactical Crime Division jumps into action. Agent and former ranger Davis Rogers asks to go undercover to find the traitor responsible for the death of one of his friends, and Petrov Armor CEO Leila Petrov is happy to provide access to her company…especially once she discovers she’s being framed. But will their joint efforts be enough to uncover the truth?

About Elizabeth Heiter: Publishers Weekly bestselling and award-winning author ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists and a little romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages. Visit her at www.elizabethheiter.com

Purchase links:

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Book 3_Midnight Abduction_Nichole Severn

Book #3: Midnight Abduction by Nichole Severn (on-sale May 19, 2020)

Book description: For the Tactical Crime Division, no case is left cold. When Benning Reeves’s twins are kidnapped, the frantic father knows who can help: the Tactical Crime Division and Ana Ramirez. Even though Ana once shattered Benning’s heart, the special agent is the only one he can trust. But Ana is still tormented by the unresolved case that brought them together years before—a case somehow entangled with Benning’s children. It’s up to the TCD and Ana to discover why…before it’s too late.

About Nichole Severn: Nichole Severn writes romantic suspense with strong heroines, heroes who dare challenge them, and a hell of a lot of guns. When she’s not writing, she’s injuring herself running and practicing yoga.

Purchase links:

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Book 4_Running Out of Time_Cindi Myers

Book #4: Running Out of Time by Cindi Myers (on-sale June 16, 2020)

Book description: When a terrorist is on the loose, the Tactical Crime Division is on the case. To find out who poisoned medications, two of TCD’s agents are tapped to go undercover posing as a married couple and infiltrate the company. But as soon as Jace Cantrell and Laura Smith arrive at Stroud Pharmaceuticals, someone ups the ante by planting explosives in their midst. Turns out that the small-town family business is hiding a million secrets. Could they unknowingly be protecting a vengeful killer?

About Cindi Myers: Cindy Myers became one of the most popular people in eighth grade when she and her best friend wrote a torrid historical romance and passed the manuscript around among friends. Fame was short-lived, alas; the English teacher confiscated the manuscript. Since then, Cindy has written more than 50 published novels. Her historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction have garnered praise from reviewers and readers alike.

Purchase links:

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ★★★★

Summer love…gone so fast.

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling―he’s fun, affectionate, kind―but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairytale ending, and to complicate the fairytale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to…except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted―and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.

Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts “coincidentally” popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.
The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.

Right? Right.

Review:

Thank you Sophie Gonzales, Wednesday Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets CLUELESS in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease.

Right from this description alone, I was hooked. Simon, Clueless and Grease??? Three things I love? I knew that this book was going to be a good one.

I was so invested in the beginning that I could not stop reading. Every word was being permanently written into my brain because the description that I read was spot on. It was so diverse, so interesting and so entertaining that I didn’t want to put it down.

When I hit the halfway mark, I had no idea what happened. I was sitting there thinking..am I going to have to put this book down? It slowed down to the point of confusion. I was so hoping that the book was going to pick back up to the speed it was when I first picked it up.

After I hit that little patch of slow, it did (thank god) pick up and I was able to fly to the end with enjoyment. After finishing and reflecting, this book was a solid four star read for me. I was so thankful to give it a higher rating because it did pick back up after starting so strong.

I just loved the characters. Ollie and Will were such good characters that I wanted to really dive deep into their lives. This story is told in first person through Ollie and at some points, I wish that we had a duel narration in Will’s head as well. Maybe for another time or book!

I loved the romance in this book as well. For a young adult novel, sometimes it’s either too sweet or not sweet enough, but this one was really good in that sense. The angst and the romance were a perfect ratio throughout the novel, especially towards the end.

“It’ll get easier. That’s the beautiful thing about the universe. It puts you through trials, but it never gives you anything you can’t handle. We grow from these things.”

Sophie Gonzales did a wonderful job with this book and I’m excited to see her books in the future. If they’re anything like Only Mostly Devastated, which is EXACTLY how this book will leave you, then I’m very ready to drop every other book I’m reading in this moment to read hers.

Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls

Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: ★★

A film-obsessed romantic rewrites the script to understand why his “picture-perfect” love story crashed and burned in this wonderfully clever debut.

Ellie had the quizzical eyebrows of Broadcast News-era Holly Hunter and the neon-red hair of Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. At least, that’s what caught Nick’s attention when he met her on the night of 2008’s historic election. A cinema devotee and lover of great love stories, Nick always fancied himself the Tom Hanks of his own romantic comedy, and when sparks flew with Ellie that night, he swiftly cast her as the Meg Ryan of his story. For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job as a film projectionist: wholly, earnestly, cinematically.

But now Ellie has moved out, convinced “the fire’s gone,” and Nick is forced to sift through his memories to figure out where it all went wrong. The fallout from Ellie’s declaration that she “doesn’t love Nick the way she used to” throws him back into recollections of their first night together. Their shared jokes, her wry smile, the “hope” that filled the night air–his memories are as rose-colored as the Hollywood love stories he idealizes.

That night was a perfect meet-cute, yes, but was their romance as destined for a “happily ever after” as he’d thought? Is he really the rom-com hero he believes he’s been? Or did this Harry let his Sally down? Peppered with references to beloved movies, Love, Unscripted explores how even a hopeless romantic can learn that in real life, love isn’t, and shouldn’t be, like what we see in the movies.

Review:

Thank you to Owen Nicholls, Ballantine Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

There are three timelines that Love, Unscripted feature. The first timeline is the presidential election night in 2008. This is where Nick and Ellie meet for the first time. Then, the second timeline is current time where Ellie and Nick are broken up and Nick is trying to figure out what went wrong. The third and final timeline is the in-between, like what happened during their relationship throughout the years.

This book had a lot of promising qualities, but I really struggled throughout.  The timelines really threw me off and I think I would’ve had a better time with it if there were only two. I understand the concept of having different timelines so we can grasp every detail and really learn their story. However, I found the three timelines to be confusing and it could’ve been done better.

The drag of this book is what made me give the rating I did. I’m not someone who usually has that hard of a time getting into a book, but this time was different. I think half of it has to do with the fact that I’m not interested in politics at all and the other half was that I could not get into the characters. It was very slow and the characters didn’t have that much of a development. There were moments of “maybe I can get into Nick” and then I was thrown back to the night of the election or somewhere in the past.

There were honest parts of this book where you see Nick’s down spiral, but I struggled a lot with his character. Like I said, there were quick, fleeting moments of possibly liking Nick’s character, but I had a hard time with him because he becomes very jerk-ish to everyone and it just makes him very unlikable.

Overall, as someone that loves movies and read the synopsis of this book, I thought that this book was going to be very different. I loved the idea of it and it had a lot of promising qualities, but it just was not for me. It was a good start for Owen Nicholls in fiction, I’ll definitely check his books in the future.