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.

No One Saw by Beverly Long

Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★

Nobody saw a thing. Or so they say…

Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. Neither the grandmother who dropped her off, nor the teacher whose care she was supposed to be in, can account for the missing child. There are no witnesses. No trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena are under extreme pressure as they discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena will have to race to untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma…before it’s too late.

Review:

To see the full A.L. McKittridge series review, click here.

Thank you to Beverly Long, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I read this as a participant of the Harlequin Blog Tour.

This is the second installment of the A.L. McKittridge series. A.L. is a detective with the Baywood Police Department. In the first of this series, Ten Days Gone, there was a serial killer killing women ten days apart from each other. As the story started, I was super interested. In No One Saw, there’s a little girl, Emma, missing and again, I was super interested. However, in both books, even though they started off super strong for me, I found myself never getting as interested again throughout the novel. Things of course pick up, but never as strong as the start of the novel.

I noticed in the first novel that there were a lot of characters that I was introduced to that I felt like I should’ve known already. Again, in No One Saw, there were so many characters introduced in the interviews. I felt as though I was getting confused on keeping track with who was who. I also felt as though I should’ve known them again, and I still had no idea who they were. On the other hand, I did enjoy A.L. and Rena again. There were some development in characters which I appreciated.

There was absolutely a shock factor to this book. In the first novel, I wasn’t too sure about the story. However, in this novel, I was definitely surprised about the reveal. The burn was definitely slow, but I did get a surprise which is good!

Overall, I would keep reading this series. The second book in this series was definitely stronger than the first. If you’re interested in a detective mystery with strong main characters, this is definitely for you!



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.

The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman

Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Rating: ★★★

Their reunion just became a crime scene . . .

June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.

The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.

A Celtic knot of suspense and surprise, this brooding, atmospheric novel will keep you guessing as each twist reveals a new possibility. It will remind you of friendships hidden in the depths of your own past, and make you wonder how well you really know the people you’ve loved the longest.

Review:

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

This book started off pretty interesting. It was the story of women who went to college together, but lost touch over the 20 years since then. June is the main character who we learn most about throughout this novel. There are many different characters, but we see June and her old friend and famous author, Sadie, the most. When the group starts to party at Sadie’s mansion, things get weird. No one can remember things from the night before, Sadie is missing, and there’s a giant blood stain on the wall. No one can seem to remember what happened and there’s suddenly a lot of questions surrounding this story.

A very important part of this story is that Sadie’s husband, Ethan, is June’s old crush. They met in the woods during this little getaway, so it’s very easy and also explained in the synopsis that it could’ve been June that caused Sadie’s disappearance. Jody Gehrman’s writing was good to where you thought it was everyone at one point. However, I was able to guess who it was pretty early on.

I wasn’t really able to connect with the characters. I didn’t feel like there was really any growth or development. I’m someone who really enjoys seeing a difference in a character by the end, and I didn’t feel as though there was any difference.

The thing I liked the most was the fact that the story could’ve actually been real. You hear about these types of stories on the news all of the time. Once you read this book, you’ll understand what I mean by that. I don’t want to give anything away. This book felt real. The characters felt real and so did the story. I could definitely see the way they spoke and the dialogue being real.

Overall, I liked this story, but I wish I was able to connect with the characters more. The writing was well-done and I would definitely give Jody Gehrman another try!