The Retreat by Sherri Smith

Expected Publication: August 13, 2019
Publisher: Forge Books
Rating: ★★★★

Four women.
Four secrets.
A weekend that will change them forever…if they survive.

Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.

Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait “Where Are They Now?” articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother’s too-good-to-be-true fianc�e invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie’s two best friends–one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship–Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.

Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.

Review:

Thank you to Sherri Smith, Forge Books, and NetGalley for a free copy of The Retreat in exchange for an honest review.

This story focuses on four women- Katie, Carmen, Ellie, and Ariel. It goes through describing each of their lives while describing what is currently happening at a “getaway” weekend retreat. From reading this, you see that all four women have starkly different ways of life and the things that they’ve been through. The best part was the secrets that each woman was trying to keep under wraps.

The characters in this book was my favorite part. They were all severely flawed and all had things they wanted kept hidden. They were so easy to hate, but I really enjoyed learning about their stories and why they were at this retreat. I read the end of the book in one straight shot because I needed to know what was going to happen based on the BOMB that is dropped on you in the first chapter.

The unpredictability was out-of-this-world. I loved the twists and turns when they were warranted. The only reason why I didn’t give this book five stars is because it was a lot. It was pretty tiring having something happen every other page.

However, I will say, the ending…PHEW! Totally unexpected and well worth the wait! I actually gasped out loud when I read over the final piece of dialogue. This was one of the endings that I think will stay with me. One word to describe this book: riveting.

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

Publication Date: August 9, 2018
Publisher: HQ Books
Rating: ★★

The Plus One [n] informal a person who accompanies an invited person to a wedding or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none

Polly’s not looking for ‘the one’, just the plus one
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

Review:

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Sophia Money-Coutts for a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I am one that loves romance, fluff, happy-endings and every possible romance plot that a book could have. I’ve read enough of them to know what makes a good one and one that doesn’t fit in my idea of a good one. This, unfortunately, is one of those circumstances.

I will start off by saying that there were some lines in this that were absolute zingers. These one-liners had me laughing out loud sometimes. However, with a lack of pace, this was the only thing I really could enjoy in this novel.

I couldn’t really enjoy Polly, the main character. Every time I thought that I’d make a connection with her, it was squashed by something she said or did. I struggled through her story because there was barely any development and sometimes she was just plain awkward. Also, the writing was a little different as the author is British and has a lot of different terms than I do (which is not always bad, but particularly this book was pretty British).

The word that I would use to describe this book would be forgettable. I don’t like using that word personally, but it’s really ringing true with this book. There was nothing in this book that made a lasting impression on me unfortunately. This was very fluffy, so if you like fluff and British books with a bit of humor, this might be for you!

Lessons in Love by Belinda Missen

Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Publisher: HQ Digital
Rating: ★★★★

Falling in love is never easy…

Eleanor Manning is finally leaving behind her glittering but empty life in the city (and her soon-to-be-ex-husband) to return to the comfort of her childhood home in Apollo Bay.

She’s landed a lovely new job in her old primary school library and a flatshare with her bubbly best friend, Penny. So yes, she’s well and truly learnt her lesson when it comes to love…

But then she meets gorgeous teacher Marcus Blair and Eleanor’s self-imposed rules fly out of the window! Surely she can resist him long enough to keep this fling no strings attached?

Perfect for fans of Carole Mathews, Mhairi McFarlane and Carrie Hope Fletcher.

Review:
Thank you to Belinda Missen, HQ Digital and NetGalley for a copy of Lessons in Love in exchange for an honest review.

“Why don’t you, you know, stand up for yourself?” 

This was my first Belinda Missen novel, but surely not my last! She had a wonderful way of writing that had me swooning and laughing out loud. Also, the drama !!! had !!! me !!! going !!! crazy !!! The thing I liked the most about this book was the empowerment aspect as well as the plot as it is not really heard of.

Eleanor Manning moved after leaving her husband who cheated on her with her best friend. She moved in with her cousin to get a fresh start. She gets a job as a librarian at her childhood school and is ready to get things done. Here is where we cue *man enters and swooning commences*.

Eleanor and Marcus’ connection is unmistakable and the author really made sure of that. Their banter, insults and overall cuteness makes their connection evident. However, when she starts to see her ex-husband in him, she shies away, which is expected.

The only thing I had issues with in this book was how long it took for things to happen. Of course, I love a slow burn and when angsty things happen. However, I felt like I was already closer to the end of the book before things started to resolve itself. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just wish it happened a little bit sooner.

Overall, I definitely will read Belinda’s other books. They are cute, fun, and laugh-out-loud funny. This is for sure a winning novel on my list.

Please Send Help by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin

Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ★★★

In this hilarious follow-up novel to the New York Times bestseller I Hate Everyone But You, long distance best friends Ava and Gen have finally made it to the same time zone (although they’re still over a thousand miles apart).

Through their hilarious, sometimes emotional, but always relatable conversations, Ava and Gen are each other’s support systems through internships, relationship troubles, questionable roommates, undercover reporting, and whether or not it’s a good idea to take in a feral cat. Please Send Help perfectly captures the voice of young adults looking to find their place in the world and how no matter how desperate things seem, you always have your best friend to tell it like it is and pick you back up.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Gaby Dunn, Allison Raskin, and Wednesday Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“Every day IS a day. Wow. Is this my next tattoo?”

Please Send Help is the second book of the I Hate Everyone But You Series by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin. These two ladies sure do know how to make you laugh.

Something that I loved about I Hate Everyone But You was that it was funny. Some of the stuff that was said in this one had me laughing out loud. It was a pretty unfortunate situation, but lead to hilarious quotes like this:

“I’m honestly not sure where to begin here. You know how there are certain moments and experiences that really stay with you forever? I REALLY hope today was not one of them.”

Their wit and sarcasm displayed throughout this book is A+. I feel like Gaby and Allison had to just be actually responding to each other and that’s how they are in real life.

There were a few things that I wasn’t so sure of in this sequel. I feel like in the first book, I was able to connect with the characters because we learned about them over their exchange of emails and instant messages. In this one, some time has passed, but I feel like there were some misleading signs of development.

Also, something in this book that was not shown in the first, there were a lot of manipulative tendencies throughout the characters. I know many people who fancy that in a book, however, I am not one of them. I understand that it’s a young adult novel, and they are …young …adults, but I feel like these problems were for sure older than they were.

I would definitely recommend reading this sequel if you read the first one. I feel like you could also read this book as a standalone, there’s not much that you miss.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★★★★

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Christina Lauren, & Gallery Books for a free copy of The Unhoneymooners in exchange for an honest review!

The Unhoneymooners was my third Christina Lauren book that I have read. After finishing this new release, I can surely say that the dynamic duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings is becoming one of my favorite authors. My favorite things in all of the books I’ve read by them is the fact that they write love so well. Do not wait to read this one.

It doesn’t take me much to connect with a character. Usually, it’s right from the first few sentences whether I know if I am going to enjoy the characters or not. From the first minute, Olive was a character I connected with. Her attitude and her love of food (I really associate with this) is something that I really enjoyed throughout the entire novel. Also, something else I really love throughout a book is character development. I feel like Olive was the queen of character development. Every different thing that happened in this book, she took differently and it was really refreshing to see the maturity come to life.

I read a ton of romance novels, and one of my favorite themes is enemies to lovers. I feel like this might be in my top 5 of enemies to lovers. The resentment and comments between both Olive and Ethan were hilarious and feisty. From calling each other different names to just being overall spunky, these two had a undeniable connection. I’ve read a ton of enemies to lovers novels and it’s true for me to say that Ethan and Olive’s connection was one of the best I’ve ever read.

Something I absolutely adore about enemies to lover novels is I know what is going to happen. Some might find that uninteresting to keep reading the same plot, however, I know that in my heart that every single book with this plot is different. Is there angst? Is it a quick realization? Is it a slow burn? Is it their friends that show them that their good together or do they figure it out on their own? Those are only some of the possibilities. Christina Lauren really hit the nail on the head. I feel like everything I just listed was in The Unhoneymooners. It was the perfect amount of everything rolled into one perfect book.

Overall, I am ecstatic that I read this quickly and within the first month of the publication date. I love the fact that I can tell everyone about this book and to read it as soon as possible. I felt every part of this book from start to finish, and I believe that each part was so perfectly detailed to where I felt every emotion. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up right away.

Every Dog Has His Day by Jenn McKinlay

Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Berkley Books

A stray kitten and a rambunctious poodle bring together a small-town bachelor and a single mother in the latest romance set in Bluff Point, Maine.

Bluff Point brewery owner Zachary Caine wants nothing to do with commitment. His wild bachelor lifestyle suits him perfectly—until a foster kitten named Chaos makes him a reluctant hero. Now he’s BFFs with the kitten’s two little girls and finds himself falling for their gorgeous mother, who couldn’t think less of him.

Divorced mother Jessie Connelly wants nothing to do with men like Zach. He’s sexy and charismatic and bad news, just like her ex. But her girls adore him, and he’s doing a good job filling in for their deadbeat dad. Then a snowstorm brings out the best in both neighbors, who, it turns out, have more in common than their mutual attraction…

So when Jessie’s past threatens her and her girls, Zach is determined to do whatever it takes to protect them—and live happily ever after with this family he has made his own.”

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing, and Jenn McKinlay for allowing me to read a copy before the publication date in exchange for an honest review. 

This book is listed as #3 in the Bluff Point series, but I read it as a standalone and understood everything.

This was an adorable contemporary romance. If you are a lover of a cutesy romance and animals, I would absolutely recommend this book to you! The chemistry in this book was enough to make me swoon, so as an avid contemporary romance reader, read this book!!

The first thing that I really enjoyed about this book were the characters. I loved the two little girls in the beginning. They were so cute and innocent. When I got further into this book, I realized that I had fallen in love with Zach’s character. He was adorable and capturing from the beginning. There were a few times where his character pulled on my heart strings. His home life was interesting to learn about. I’ve rarely read a book with a foster child, so it was great to learn about the experience.

The chemistry between Zach and Jessie was very hard not to notice. Jenn McKinlay did a great job with showing just how well these two worked together. From the beginning, I was rooting for them. I liked how just like in every relationship, there were points of angst and it shows that even in romance novels, not every relationship is perfect.

Again, contemporary romance lovers,  read this!! I couldn’t say it enough that you will fall in love with this story. As an animal lover and romance reader, this was easily a great book. It’s short, sweet, and has a great narrative. I would love to give Jenn McKinlay’s other books in the Bluff Point series a read!

The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas

Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Publisher: Berkley Publishing

One woman’s journey home gets derailed by her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law in a novel filled with humor, small-town charm, rekindled love, and the resilient ties of family.

Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art.

But Shirley Pratt–master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn’s terror of a live-in monster-in-law–has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn’s trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams.”

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing, and Marin Thomas for allowing to me have an arc before the publication date. 

This book was adorable! I didn’t know how I would feel after reading the synopsis, but I fell in love with the way Marin Thomas wrote this story.

After being served divorce papers from her husband who is away on business, Katelyn is forced to take her mother-in-law back to Little Springs. Shirley, Katelyn’s mother-in-law, always berates her and makes her feel like she wasn’t ever worth her son. After finding out the reasons why Katelyn and Don’s marriage ended, Shirley and Katelyn started to bond while in Katelyn’s hometown.

The stories that each individual character had were loving, sad, motivational, heartbreaking and more. There was a lot in this book that were extremely realistic. The ending of relationships, returning home to your parents, finding love whether you’re older or starting over, etc. Marin Thomas did a very good job on making it seem realistic.

There were some things in this book that pleasantly surprised me. There were some things that I just weren’t expecting and I think that it made the book better for me.

The characters didn’t shine for me all too much. I really enjoyed Katelyn, but they weren’t all like she was. There were things with the characters that I would change, but not too much that it would change the book drastically.

I think that this book definitely has great potential and I loved the story. I wasn’t really sure in the beginning what to think, but I’m glad I gave this one a try!

Rating: ★★★★