The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne

Thank you Harlequin Books for allowing me to participate in The Sea Glass Cottage Blog Tour! I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Rating: ★★★★

The life Olivia Harper always dreamed of isn’t so dreamy these days. The 16-hour work days are unfulfilling and so are things with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when she hears that her estranged mother, Juliet, has been seriously injured in a car accident, Liv has no choice but to pack up her life and head home to beautiful Cape Sanctuary on the Northern California coast.

It’s just for a few months—that’s what Liv keeps telling herself. But the closer she gets to Cape Sanctuary, the painful memories start flooding back: Natalie, her vibrant, passionate older sister who downward-spiraled into addiction. The fights with her mother who enabled her sister at every turn. The overdose that took Natalie, leaving her now-teenaged daughter, Caitlin, an orphan.

As Liv tries to balance her own needs with those of her injured mother and an obstinate, resentful fifteen-year-old, it becomes clear that all three Harper women have been keeping heartbreaking secrets from one another. And as those secrets are revealed, Liv, Juliet, and Caitlin will see that it’s never too late—or too early—to heal family wounds and find forgiveness.

Review:

This was my first RaeAnne Thayne novel but definitely not my last!

This book was all female, mostly all of the time. There were many female characters, Liv, her niece and her mother, with whom she has a stressed relationship with. Sometimes, I would think this would be too much drama going on, but I think RaeAnne Thayne did a phenomenal job with the writing to keep the reader interested.

Like I said, there was a lot going on. If this was separated by character and chapters, it would’ve for sure been way too confusing. However, it was just an overall story about these characters and it was like watching a soap opera in my head. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. It was as they say, “like a train crash, you want to look away, but you can’t.”

There are a lot of emotions in this book. It’s crushing and heartwarming all in the same book. RaeAnne Thayne did a wonderful job making sure all of the characters were heard in the same way. I didn’t feel as though I knew more about one character than I did another. Also, the story is a lot about overcoming obstacles whether they are physical or mental. I really enjoyed that aspect of this novel.

Lastly, RaeAnne Thayne did a great job with the talk of drug abuse in this novel. This is a really sensitive topic with the society we are in. As someone who has lost individuals to this epidemic, I felt as though RaeAnne Thayne handled this with care. She really did make this feel as though we were looking at this story through Caitlin’s eyes. Losing someone to this is soul-crushing and I really felt that with Liv’s niece.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Sea Glass Cottage. There was a lot going on, but I think it was really good. I will for sure be giving RaeAnne Thayne another read!

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See below for an excerpt of The Sea Glass Cottage!

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Moonlight in Vermont by Kacy Cross

Publication Date: February 18, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

Some of the best things in life are worth the wait…

Fiona Rangely loves her fast-paced life as a high-end real estate broker in New York City. Or at least, she does until her boyfriend dumps her, claiming that he doesn’t get enough of her time.

She retreats to her family’s quaint Vermont Inn to evaluate her life…but her ex-boyfriend soon shows up with a brand new girlfriend. Fiona quickly devises a plan to win him back: pretend the handsome and laid-back head chef Derek is her new boyfriend!

Will her ex realize what he’s missing? And will Fiona herself start seeing life–and love—in a new light?

Review:

Fake relationships/marriages is one of my favorite tropes. I just adore the thought of two people starting a fake relationship to fool parents or to make exes jealous…and then  falling for each other themselves for real? Swoon! This story was crazy from start to finish. For Hallmark, I felt like this was extra dramatic! But I loved it!

The characters were everything I needed and more. Fiona’s character was the best. I loved her development and the realization that she didn’t even want her ex anymore was perfection. I think out of all of them, Kacy Cross wrote Fiona the best. She wrote Fiona like she had personally experienced something like this before and it made the story that much more real for me.

My favorite part of this novel was the sweetness of the romance. It wasn’t too strong but it wasn’t too much either. It was really a wonderful moment to see how the story of Fiona and Derek was going to play out. As the head chef, he knows he’s too busy and it’s almost like a forbidden love story at some parts.

The only reason why I didn’t give this book five-stars is because I wish it was a little longer! It was only 182 pages and I wish it would just keep going and going. I think ultimately it was wrapped up well and the story was great, but I would’ve liked a little more.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone. This was a good story for any age. Moonlight in Vermonwas the perfect book to get me excited for the rest of Kacy Cross’ books!

The Story of Us by Teri Wilson

Publication Date: January 6, 2020
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★

A bookstore owner…
her former high school sweetheart…
And a box of old love letters
that could change everything.

Jamie always adored True Love Bookstore and Café, and now she’s the owner. But businesses are struggling in her small town, and her beloved store is threatened by a new retail development scheme.

Sawyer, Jamie’s former high school sweetheart, startles her when he comes to town for the first time in fifteen years. She soon learns he’s the architect of the proposed development and he’s there to sell local business owners on his plan. Sawyer had no idea that Jamie had bought the bookstore and poured everything she had into it. If he takes it over, he’ll break her heart a second time.

Jamie’s discovery of a box of old love letters and valentines might hold the key to saving her shop. And after all this time, could love be in the cards for Jamie and Sawyer, too?

Review:

This was a very cute book to read for Valentine’s Day which is why Hallmark released it January 6. It’s very cute to read at anytime during the year, but if you’re feeling especially lovey-dovey, save this one for the next holiday/Valentine’s Day season.

A romance in a bookstore is always a book for me. As I used to work in a library, the thought of two people falling in love surrounded by books just makes my heart flutter.  I’m just a sucker for it. Teri Wilson didn’t disappoint when it came to this. The romance was definitely on point.

There were a few things that I did struggle with within this story, though. I think ultimately for me, this story was drug out a little too long. It definitely could’ve finished multiple times before it actually did and it made it a little hard to get through.

The story was a little underdeveloped for me in the beginning. I was just waiting for it to get to the entire story and when it did, it was good. Then, the story started to drag for me like I said before. I just wish it would’ve taken a little quicker to get started, but finish in that timely manner after everything came full circle.

I really did like the outsiders in this story. The two main characters were good, but I loved seeing everyone conspire against them to get them together. It was awesome to see all of the budding relationships and friendships that this novel had to offer.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I didn’t hate it. Hallmark recently made this into a movie on their channel and I would definitely watch it!

 

The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes

Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ★★

Willa Parker, 646th and least-popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life. Did she choose this life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and Willa has no intention of fitting in. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit in. When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel Remy spinning right out of her grasp.

Review:

When I read the synopsis and first started this book, I thought it had a lot of promising qualities that really could have me interested. The cover is what really got me. Harper Teen really put out a beautiful cover on this one. As I got in to it, I really had issues with a lot of things going on and I frankly feel like this book failed to deliver. I will say I read this book all the way through to see where it was going to go. I did find that there was a story, but it was in the beginning and then about 60% in and then it fell off again. This one was a struggle.

The main thing I had an issue with about this novel was the writing. The writing was short and to the point, and while that’s not always bad, I felt like I was reading a book that had been transcribed from a reading or audio. There wasn’t much detail, I feel like I was thrown back and forth a little, and I had to restart pages because I was just plain confused. I don’t think that the trope was bad or even that the story was bad, but I think the way that it was explained was a little confusing to me.

On the other hand, I will say that Remy was the most exciting part of this book. I loved every part of her. I was very interested to see where her story was going to lead which is where the book finally started to pick up for me.

I gave this book two stars because Andrea Portes does have some underlying dark tones in her book. I really think she handled them with care. I am someone who really can’t do substance abuse or drug abuse in books, but she did well with this and really took care of her readers when it came to that.

Overall, this wasn’t my favorite YA. I did struggle a lot with the writing and wish it was a little more in-depth instead of short and choppy. I would definitely give Andrea Portes another chance and hopes that the writing is a little different in the next one.

 

 

 

This Train is Being Held by Ismée Amiel Williams

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

When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most.

Review:

It’s been a really long time where I’ve enjoyed a young adult novel as much as I did with This Train is Being Held. This is a moving story about a young man named Alex and a young lady named Isabelle (Isa as she’s called in the book). It’s a love-trumps-all type of trope which overcomes a lot of unhappy topics surrounding today’s society. I’ve never read anything like this, where a train of all things brings two people together when they need it the most.

The best part of this book is the romance. Like I said, there is an important message surrounding their relationship, but Ismée Amiel Williams did such a phenomenal job with making sure that love is still a very prominent part of this book. The angst is so tough on your heart that you want to reach into the book and hug them both. You truly have no idea what’s going on in their heads at that moment, but it’s written so vividly right in front of us. The writing of the romance was spectacular and I commend Ismée Amiel Williams for making sure that it was still there where it was supposed to be in a book with a variety of things going on.

Alex is my favorite character that I’ve read in a book in a long time. You can’t help but feel everything he’s feeling. You feel so guilty and so upset for what he’s going through. He’s a Latino male that wants to write poetry instead of play baseball like his dad wants him to. It is such a terrible situation and you just want to be his friend. You want to reach out to him and say, “I’m here for you”. It’s been a long time where a book has made me feel like that about a character.

The location of This Train is Being Held is so wonderful. As someone who lives near a city, it’s so easy to picture the subway. You can close your eyes and picture what their train car would look like, the sounds that are going on around you and more.

Finally, I love that this book was dual language at some parts. I’m not someone who understands Spanish as a second language, but Ismée Amiel Williams made it easy for  me to understand. I was able to see what was going on between characters and it showed the Latino side of Alex’s family as well. It was interesting to see the two sides between Alex’s family and Isa’s family.

Overall, this is a perfect young adult novel. I’d recommend it to those in high school or I’d recommend it to any adult that likes a good, romantic novel that ties into today’s society. I cannot wait for Ismée Amiel Williams’ future novels.

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★

You probably know someone like Shay Miller.
She wants to find love, but it eludes her.
She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.
She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.
They have an unbreakable circle of friends.
They live the most glamorous life.
They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.
But what they really want is hers.

Review:

Thank you Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen, St. Martin’s Press & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

These two authors are truly a dynamic duo to the book loving world. I’ve read their previous collaborations are thought they were pretty good. I don’t like to compare, but this one was my least favorite.

The characters were definitely interesting, but I felt like I had a hard time keeping track of them all. There were sisters, Cassandra and Jane, and Shay who were the main parts of this story, but I found myself wanting to know more about the background characters than the main. I could really keep the stories of Cassandra and Jane straight, while the other details and information got lost somewhere in the back of my brain.

I think that the thing about this novel is that it has a really good idea and story, but it took too long to get out there. By the time I reached half way through the book, I was still questioning some things and had to stop and think about whether or not if I should even bother going the next twenty-or-so percent if I didn’t get anything by then.

My favorite part of this novel was Shay’s data. Now, I’m not someone who is really interested in statistics or statistical data, but Shay made it really interesting. I really appreciated learning some cool things throughout this novel even though I didn’t get much out of the story. Like…what?!

The average person will walk past 16 killers in the person’s lifetime.”

Again, I love these two writers when the collaborate. I think they have amazing imaginations and I think that their books make for amazing movies if they are made in to them. This novel just didn’t have that WOW factor for me this time, but I won’t hesitate to pick up another one of their collabs in the future!

Ten Days Gone by Beverly Long

Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books

Rating: ★★★

They know exactly when he’ll strike… They just have to find him first.

In all their years working for the Baywood police department, detectives A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan have never seen anything like it. Four women dead in forty days, each killed ten days apart. With nothing connecting the victims and very little evidence, the clock is already counting down to when the next body drops. A.L. and Rena will have to act fast if they’re going to find the killer’s next victim before he does.

But identifying the killer’s next likely target is only half the battle. With pressure pushing in from all sides, a promising breakthrough leads the detectives to Tess Lyons, a woman whose past trauma has left her too damaged to appreciate the danger she’s in. Unwilling to let another woman die, A.L. and Rena will put everything on the line to keep Tess safe and end the killer’s deadly spree once and for all–before time runs out again.

Review:

Thank you to Beverly Long, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first installment of the A.L. McKittridge series by Beverly Long. The beginning of this story introduces the fact that there is a serial killer that has murdered four women in the last thirty days. They were all killed ten days apart. The premise is pretty interesting as someone who enjoys thrillers.

The characters were good enough. I liked A.L. and Rena, but the background characters in addition to the two main were a little confusing. There wasn’t much development and the romances were too much going on in my opinion. When starting this book, I did feel like I should’ve known them already which I was kind of confused about since this is the first in the series.

The story was just alright. I didn’t find it THAT boring, but I didn’t find it to be that intriguing either. The story did grab my attention, anything about murder and what happened is interesting, especially in the eyes of the police/detectives who are trying to figure out the case. The first half did drag a little, but it did pick up around halfway through.

I really wish the ending was a little more detailed and drug out. I feel like the ending was thrown in very quickly and it ended so abruptly. I understand that this is going to be a continuous series, but this story should’ve been a little bit longer in order to really wrap up this installment.

Overall, it wasn’t phenomenal, but it wasn’t bad either. I appreciate the A.L. McKittridge series so far, and I will definitely read the next installment. I do like the way that Beverly Long writes, and it makes me want to read her other books!

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!

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Publisher: Avon Books
Rating: ★★★★★

A wedding planner left at the altar. Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s managed to make other people’s dreams come true as a top-tier wedding coordinator in DC. After impressing an influential guest, she’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.

Tired of living in his older brother’s shadow, marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning—absolutely off-limits—ex-fiancée. And she loathes him.

If they can survive the next few weeks and nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.

But even the best laid plans can go awry, and soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again…

Review:

Thank you to Mia Sosa, Avon Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This will be one of my favorite reads of 2020. I just know it. The story, the characters, the romance, the drama, everything about this book had me swooning. This is my first Mia Sosa novel, but after reading this beauty, I definitely want to give more of her books a try.

Enemies-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes. I love the angst and animosity, but when they figure it out? Phewwww. One of the best feelings as a reader. This story was different. Lina is a wedding planner and was left at the altar. She had to move on and silence all of her issues when it came to the romance of weddings. It was starting to affect her performance as a wedding planner. When she has an opportunity to get a higher paying job that could change her struggle-filled life. When she finds out that she has to work with a top marketing expert, it all goes south from there. It turns out to be the brother-of-the-groom who left her at the altar. On the day of the wedding, Max, the brother’s groom, received a text basically thanking him for stopping him from marrying Lina. Max doesn’t remember the night before at all after a wild party. What. A. Story.

Mia Sosa wrote the characters so well, I wanted to be friends with them. I wanted to insert myself into their lives and help them figure out what was going on. I feel almost honored that I got to watch this story unfold. I loved the development of Lina and who she was in the beginning to end of this book. She truly went through her stages and it proved to be one of the best characters I’ve read about. I loved her attitude and knowing what she was thinking throughout each word.

Max. Max. Max. What a guy. I really loved his character through every attempt of romance that he gave. He was such a refreshing character to read about because there’s usually a bad guy at some point, but he didn’t give me that vibe once. His brother is the one that gives you that vibe from the very beginning and it shows.

Overall, Mia Sosa really caught my attention with this one. Lina and Max are two of my favorite characters in the 300+ books I’ve read in my lifetime (so far). I am curious about her other books now as this one really gave me a fantastic feeling. If you’re a romance lover, put this one on your list for 2020.