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!

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.

Love on Location by Cassidy Carter

Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

Maybe what they needed most was there all along…

Delaney Phillips, a divorced mom, works for her longtime best friend Wyatt Andrews at Cabins in the Pines. Wyatt inherited the rustic resort from his father, and both he and Delaney have made countless happy memories there. After a highway bypass leaves it a little too off the beaten path, they’ll do just about anything to keep it open.

At Delaney’s urging, Wyatt auditions for a reality TV program that helps businesses in trouble. The show’s glamorous host arrives with her camera crew, turning the place upside down in hilarious and alarming ways.

But Delaney doesn’t like the woman’s new plans for the business…or her designs on Wyatt. Because even though Delaney’s known him since the first grade, she’s slowly but surely falling in love with him. Can she help him see the cabins—and their relationship—in a different light?

Review:

Love on Location was a sweet, clean, friends-to-lovers romance. It was super easy to see from the beginning where it was going to go, but Cassidy Carter did a really great job writing all of the details in so the reader doesn’t lose interest.

I really enjoyed the trope of friends-to-lovers mixed with reality television mixed with a fixer upper narrative. It was pretty different than anything I’ve ever read before in a romance novel. The fact that they were willing to make it work in this small town where the reality show wanted to come in and change everything was a true testament for how things are nowadays. It was an awesome way to show the other side of the small businesses and things of that sort.

I really liked the characters. Delaney and Wyatt for sure had the chemistry that I like to see in a friends-to-lovers novel. I felt it in every word between them which is hard to do! The only reason why I gave this story a four-star rating is because I’m not someone who likes woman/woman jealousy. I don’t like the idea of a woman being so jealous over another woman and holding back because they don’t want to interfere. This book doesn’t really have the room for a jealousy intrusion. I didn’t really see how it fit.

Overall, I really enjoyed Love on Location‘s story. It wasn’t something I’ve read before and I really loved the character development. I will for sure read more of Cassidy Carter’s books when they come out!

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!

 

20 Books to Read While You’re Quarantined

Obviously, we are all SHOOK with what’s going on around the world right now. I’ve found myself inside and staying there unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out! This is giving me the option to catch up on my current reads as well as review some of my recent reads! I decided to make a list of 20 books for you all to read during this self-quarantine time! Feel free to click the pictures to take you to the Goodreads pages! Stay safe everyone!

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Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Published: December 10, 2019

Colleen Hoover is always an easy choice when it comes to one of my favorite authors. She has a way with words and her latest novel, Regretting You, was nothing short of spectacular. You could read any of her books and be happy in your quarantine!

It’s currently available for free on Kindle Unlimited or you can buy it on Kindle for only $1.99! Find that: here. If you’re more of a book-in-hand person, this is still on Amazon Prime for only $7.48! Find that: here.

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The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Publisher: Avon Books
Published: February 4, 2020

I received this book as an advanced reader copy. I got to read it before the publication date and I will say that I really, really enjoyed it. You can read my full review: here. Because it is relatively new, the price of the ebook is $12.99 and the paperback is $12.62 with Prime eligibility. You can find those: here.

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Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton Books
Published: July 2, 2019

I will never get over the mystery that was Lock Every Door. From start to finish, I just adored every twist and turn this novel had to offer me. This was my first Riley Sager novel, but I cannot wait to see where her novels end up. I have her other mystery Final Girls on my to-be-read, but just haven’t gotten to it yet. Soon enough! Lock Every Door is available on Kindle for $13 and in paperback for $17! Find that: here.

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How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Published: May 15, 2018

This was the first Katherine Center novel I read and I wanted more. Her writing was impeccable and I honestly can’t even explain this book without spoiling anything. There was romance, angst, drama, sorrow, very real mental health issues and more. Both the Kindle ebook and the paperback are $9.99 on Amazon right now. Find those: here.

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The Note by Teresa Mummert
Publisher: Self-Published
Published: March 11, 2013

Romance lovers. Military lovers. Mental health lovers. Everyone really. I want you to read this book. It’s a SELF-PUBLISHED novel about a military man that finds love after war. I have never been in war or even really surrounded by anyone that has been in war. I felt like I could personally resonate with the main characters and that’s really hard to do with readers who don’t have that relatable situation. The Note is available on Kindle for $4.99 and on paperback for $14.99! Find those: here.

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18 Hours To Us by Krista Noorman
Published: November 21, 2017

This YA book was really different and that was something I could appreciate. The writing was impeccable and that’s why it had such a high rating for me. Krista Noorman wrote this awesome story and made sure that all of her bases were covered, which was my favorite part about it. You can read this book for free on Kindle Unlimited or free on regular Kindle! You can also order the paperback off Amazon Prime for only $9.99! Find those: here.

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Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
Publisher: Avery Books

Published: September 11, 2012

There’s a lot of scary moments going on around the world and it’s easy for someone with anxiety or depression to fall into a scary moment within themselves. As someone who has deals with that and read this book, Brené Brown has a way with her words to really get through to you. She really helps and not only does Brené have this as a self-help, but she shares her own personal experiences within life to really show you that you’re not alone. If you want to pick a self-help author, Brené Brown is IT. Daring Greatly is available on Kindle for $12.99 and paperback for $9.39 on Prime. Find that: here.

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All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: June 28, 2016

All the Missing Girls was Megan Miranda’s breakout novel. This story is was wild from start to finish. It was different than anything I really read before as it is told backwards. It had me on the edge of my seat and to this day is one of my favorite mysteries. You can find this book on Kindle for $11.99 and paperback for $10.34 on Prime! Find those: here.

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The Game Changer by Jennifer Brown
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Published: January 7, 2020

I recently read this one and I really, really enjoyed it. I have been trying to read all of the Hallmark Publishing novels as they’re usually a cute-sy romance type. This one, however, really caught my eye. It’s a romance for sure, but this is a mystery as well. If you’re someone who likes the romantic suspense genre, this is DEFINITELY for you. You can find this on Kindle for $7.89 or paperback for $10.89 on Amazon Prime! Find those options: here.

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Love and Other Mistakes by Jessica Kate
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: July 30, 2019

Love and Other Mistakes is classified as a Christian Romance novel. I am not really religious in the slightest bit, but Jessica Kate has the writing ability to sneak in little hints of religion here and there. I read her other book, A Girl’s Guide to the Outback, recently and I found myself really enjoying her writing style. She writes about heavy topics with romance and little bit of self-love! Find Love and Other Mistakes: here.

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The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Published: March 17, 2020

Newly published, I was lucky enough to receive The Sea Glass Cottage before its publication date. It was a really interesting story of family, drama and all that happens in between. RaeAnne Thayne writes as if these are her family members and you really get attached to them in this book. This was a quick read for me as I enjoyed it so much and I think you will too! To find it on Amazon, click here.

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Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey
Publisher: Avon Books
Published: January 14, 2020

Calling all steamy romance lovers. Tessa Bailey has a way of writing that you will question every steamy romance novel you’ve ever read before. This trope, Tessa’s writing, everything about this book was amazing! She really pulls at your heart strings as well as showing you that old-school romance still is a thing! If you’re looking for a new romance author, Tessa Bailey is it! To find this book on Amazon, click here.

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The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
Publisher: Graydon House
Published: December 30, 2019

I read this story not too long ago and it’s really unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The story of this one will have you questioning if these type of things go on in real life. This book grips you from the very beginning and the ending…PHEW. It will definitely keep you interested when you need your brain stimulated! Find it on Amazon here.

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Sunrise Cabin by Stacey Donovan
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Published: September 16, 2018

I had to pick another Hallmark book…didn’t I? I fell in love with Sunrise Cabin as soon as I started reading it. The story captured me as something I’ve never really read in a romance novel before. The angst and drama make this book, not even going to lie. The romance is such a big part of this book, but the drama and angst is an even bigger part. Who doesn’t love some good drama?! Find it on Amazon here.

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The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper
Publisher: Ebury Press
Published: March 7, 2019

The Day We Met is about two people that meet at a younger age and know they’re right for each other, but never make it back to each other after meeting all those years ago. They see each other throughout the years, knowing that they’re soulmates, but as their lives take them in two different directions, they both move along with their lives as well. It’s absolutely heartwrenching, romantic, and it’s so real that it can actually happen in life. Find that on Amazon here.

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American Fire by Monica Hesse
Publisher: Liveright Publishing
Published: July 11, 2017

Where are my true crime lovers? This non-fiction novel about an arsonist is from the perspective of Washington Post reporter, Monica Hesse. It is so amazing and so twisty-turny to see from her perspective that we have no idea what is even going on. This happened in Virginia in the early 2010s and I feel like it never even made national news (from what I remember). Reading this story was so interesting and I know you’ll love it too. Find it here.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Published: May 9, 2017

I think that everyone should have to read this in their lifetime. Eleanor Oliphant to this day is one of my favorite characters in a book. She is quirky, social awkward, and just hard to understand sometimes. Gail Honeyman did a phenomenal job writing this book, and it is one of my favorites. i’d recommend it to anyone. Find this book on Amazon: here.

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The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: May 17, 2016

Mary Kay Andrews is my favorite author. Her writing style is impeccable and I love it in every book she writes. Normally, she’s just a romance writer with little to no steam, but a hell of a story. This one was a little different and it’s one of my favorite books. This is a romantic suspense and the story captures you from the beginning literally until the last page. I recommend this book to everyone! Find it here.

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No Exit
No Exit by Taylor Adams
Publisher: Joffe Books
Published: June 25, 2017

You want to hear about an underrated mystery novel? This book was INSANE. Whenever I talk mysteries with someone, I always tell them about this book and most of the time, they’ve never even heard of it. I want that to change!! From the first few sentences until the final words, you are gripped into this crazy moment. This book is all about moments! Find it on Amazon here.

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This Train is Being Held by Ismée Amiel Williams
Publisher: Amulet Books

Published: February 11, 2020

Last but certainly not least, a book that touched my heart in more ways than one. This book was recently just published in February 2020, but I’m hoping that this book explodes and becomes one of the top YA books of the year. This story gripped my heart and squeezed it into oblivion. This story is so so real, and it really relates to today’s society. You can read my full review here. You can find this book on Amazon here.

 

Country Hearts by Cindi Madsen

Publication Date: December 26, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Rating: ★★★

She shouldn’t get involved with the cowboy next door…

After she’s laid off from her teaching job in the city, Jemma Monroe finds a position in a tiny town and rents a house on the outskirts. A visitor soon shows up at her door — a horse. His owner, a handsome neighbor in boots and a cowboy hat, comes by to collect him.

When single dad Wyatt Langford meets Jemma, it’s the first time he feels interest in a woman since his wife left. But she’s his daughter’s new teacher, so they both know they should keep their distance.

Nonetheless, Wyatt keeps finding excuses to be with Jemma, and Wyatt’s daughter becomes more and more attached to her. With them, Jemma discovers the good things about country living, from starry skies to s’mores cooked over a fire. But she still misses her past life in the city. Is there any reason for them to dream of a future together?

Review:

This was my first Hallmark Publishing novel that I read, and I was not disappointed. I am not someone who watches Hallmark movies normally, but after reading from their publishing company, I just might do so.

Jemma has a lot going on in her life. She’s laid off in the middle of the school  year and has to figure out what to do in order to pay her debt. This is unfortunately super realistic nowadays and I appreciated that it was so relatable.

Another thing that was relatable about this story was Wyatt’s character. He’s a single dad and Jemma and Wyatt meet when Jemma becomes Wyatt’s daughter’s substitute teacher. I completely expected this book to be a “city-girl having a lot of trouble and her country neighbor helping her adapt to the country life” type of book, but I didn’t really get that from this. I think that the story was very cute and had the perfect amount of romance.

Wyatt’s daughter Bailey was one of the best characters in this book. Cindi Madsen did a phenomenal job with her, showing what it’s like to have a single father, and what it’s like when that child realizes that there’s a new woman in his life. It was very interesting and really pulled at my heart strings a couple times.

The only reason why I gave this novel a three-star rating was because the writing was a little slow at points. I enjoyed the trope and the characters, but I wish it picked up more at points than what it did.

I love the recipes at the end of Hallmark books, and hopefully, after reading them all, you could make a whole dinner party worth of things! Overall, Country Hearts was a good one and I’m excited to see the rest of Hallmark Publishing’s books!

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.

Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee

I received this novel as part of the Harlequin Desire book tour! Thank you to Harlequin Desire, Harlequin Books, Jayci Lee & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
Rating: ★★★★

Much more than he bargained for…

“You want me to find you a wife?”

“No. I want you to be my wife.”

Garrett Song is this close to taking the reins of his family’s LA fashion empire…until the Song matriarch insists he marry her handpicked bride first. To block her matchmaking, he recruits Natalie Sobol to pose as his wife. She needs a fake spouse as badly as he does. But when passion burns down their chaste agreement, the flames could destroy them all…

Review:

From the beginning, you feel the chemistry between the two main characters, Natalie and Garrett. There is a proposition of fake marriage between the two because they both need it. It was a very realistic and passionate read!

My favorite thing about this book was how you could see that Natalie and Garrett were perfect for each other right from the start, but it was funny to see them move towards this moment together. It was awkward and I laughed a few times just from them fumbling around this “aha!” moment.

I am a huge fan of the fake marriage trope and this story does it so well. It was amazing to see how they both needed a fake marriage and how hard they were fighting their feelings throughout the novel. I wanted them to just figure it out so bad, but the burn that Jayci Lee wrote was phenomenal.

I think the only issue that I had with this book was that I felt almost… unfulfilled. This book had me wanting and wanting and I wanted more at the end. I waited the entire book for the obviously predictable ending, but I felt that there could’ve definitely had an epilogue. I understand that the next installment will be out this year, but I wish it was wrapped up a little better.

This definitely won’t be the last Jayci Lee novel for me.