Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Review: Rancher's Christmas Storm by Maisey Yates

 


Rancher's Christmas Storm by Maisey Yates
Publication Date: September 28th 2021 by Harlequin Desire
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 

My Thoughts:
Honey Cooper has had a crush on Jericho forever, but he’s never treated her like anything but a bratty younger sister. He’s frustrating and arrogant and they do nothing but lock horns. Now Jericho’s gone and bought the family winery out from her.  Honey’s angry and hurt with both her father and Jericho. Her father didn’t even consult her and that smarts, so she’s moving on with a new job and in her personal life. She’s packed and ready to go, but a snowstorm throws a wrench into her plans, stranding her with Jericho in an off-the-grid cabin. Let the fun begin!

Jericho has always noticed Honey, but she’s off limits being the little sister of his best friends and her father, a man who’s treated him like a son. They took him in as family when his mother died. Although, he’s never had brotherly feelings for Honey. It’s a shock that she’s leaving and has plans to carry on with another man. It brings out a strong jealous, possessive streak and the sparks fly!

I just love a forced proximity situation! Being snowed in a winter wonderland sounded dreamy to me. It’s especially useful when a character is being pig-headed and won’t acknowledge what’s right in front of him. Thankfully, Jericho’s stupidity didn’t last for long. Being stuck with Honey brought all his feelings for her to the surface, impossible to ignore. Rancher’s Christmas Storm was a fun combination of unrequited love, enemies-to-lovers, nudged along by a stuck-together-snowed-in situation, and I enjoyed every minute!

4 Stars



Book Description:

Trapped together by a holiday blizzard, a rancher and his rival give in to the heat…in this Gold Valley Vineyards novel by New York Times bestselling author Maisey Yates.

All he wants for Christmas is the one woman he can’t touch…

Rancher Jericho Smith has known Honey Cooper since they were kids—and she’s always been under his skin in ways he doesn’t want to acknowledge. She’s his best friends’ sister…and there’s the not-so-small matter of the inheritance he bought out from under her. Keeping his hands to himself is the smart thing to do.

But then a snowstorm traps them in a rustic mountain retreat with nothing but a fire and each other to keep warm. Now the storm inside has only just begun!


Monday, September 27, 2021

Audio Review: Last Seen Alone by Laura Griffin

 

Last Seen Alone by Laura Griffin
Publication Date: September 28th 2021 by Berkley &  Dreamscape Media, LLC
Pages: 336
Audio Book Length: 9 hrs 19 min
Narrator: Cynthia Farrell
Source: Publisher
Rating: 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Libro.fm | Audible | Goodreads 

My Thoughts:
Vanessa Adams’ car is abandoned by the side of the road; her purse, car keys, and wallet left inside. She’s nowhere to be seen, but there’s blood…

Homicide Detective Brandon Reynolds is called in to investigate, and he’s got a bad feeling. One of the clues left in the car is attorney Leigh Larson’s card and so he tracks her down eager to find some answers.

Leigh, an attorney specializing in cases of sexual harassment, revenge porn, stalkers, and more, had one meeting with Vanessa, but she left an impression. Leigh suspected there was more to her story than Vanessa told her and starts looking into it more closely after Brandon questions her about the case. Brandon is less than thrilled with Leigh’s involvement, but as they’re working toward the same goal: finding Vanessa, they form a reluctant partnership.  

Last Seen Alone was an addictive read! From page one I was sucked into the mystery of Vanessa’s disappearance, following the trail of clues, and interviewing the suspects. Brandon doesn’t completely trust Leigh’s motives at first and doesn’t want her in danger. But as they investigate, they get to know each other, crossing paths as they get down to the bottom of the story, albeit at different angles.

There’s a definite immediate attraction that neither Brandon nor Leigh welcomes, but it’s irresistible anyhow. Even though they were a bit adversarial at first, they had chemistry!  I loved getting to know these two and what made them tick. There was more of a back story for Leigh, the reason she was so passionate fighting for her clients, and I really admired her. The dirtbags she went after deserved some reckoning! I’m sad to say that some of the situations are very true-to-life.

With Last Seen Alone, Laura Griffin combined mystery, police procedural and romance in just the right amounts making for a captivating read!

I alternately read an e-copy and listened to the audio version of Last Seen Alone. Cynthia Farrell is a new-to-me narrator, and it took a bit to get used to her matter-of-fact reading style, but the more I listened, the more I settled in and enjoyed.  I listened at my 1.5x normal speed.

4 Stars



Book Description:

Up-and-coming attorney Leigh Larson fights for victims of sexual extortion, harassment, and online abuse. She is not afraid to go after the sleaziest targets to get payback for her clients. Leigh is laser-focused on her career—to the exclusion of everything else—until a seemingly routine case and a determined cop turn her world upside down.

Austin homicide detective Brandon Reynolds is no stranger to midnight callouts. But when he gets summoned to an abandoned car on a desolate road, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with an unusual crime scene. A pool of blood in the nearby woods suggests a brutal homicide. But where is the victim? The vehicle is registered to twenty-six-year-old Vanessa Adams. Searching the car, all Brandon finds is a smear of blood and a business card for Leigh Larson, attorney-at-law.

Vanessa had hired Leigh just before her disappearance, but Leigh has no leads on who could have wanted her dead. Faced with bewildering evidence and shocking twists, Leigh and Brandon must work against the clock to chase down a ruthless criminal who is out for vengeance.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Sunday Post #137

 

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

This past week has been busy at work and we drove up to our daughter's after work on Wednesday night. I got two days of running in up here which I was happy about. It's been hot during the day, even hotter than at my house one day, but it's been cooling off at night and the leaves are starting to change color already! Fall is my favorite time of year! 

We're packing up right now and should be on our way home shortly. I meant to have my "after" photos of my kitchen up, but we didn't get the grout finished in time. Next week hopefully.

Read:
Click on cover for Goodreads link


Wild Invitation was a collection of Psy-Changeling short stories. I enjoyed some more than others, but overall good. Enjoyed Last Seen Alone more than I thought I would and I'll have my review up this week. The Love Hypothesis was sooo good! 5-star read all the way!

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:



I'm excited for all these books! I'm starting the audio for Barbarian's Lady on my way home, as soon as I close this laptop. 

Instagram:




I'll have to re-read this one for sure!

Watched:

Nothing new. 



How was your week?




Monday, September 20, 2021

Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

 


The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
Publication Date: September 14th 2021 by Berkley
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
Rating: 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
I loved The Love Hypothesis so much! The story opens up with Olive in the most awkward of situations, planting a kiss on the first guy to come along and the fun begins!

Olive doesn’t want to be the reason her best friend doesn’t date her ex, Jeremy. It’s not like she really felt much for him, but Ahn holds herself back because of the girlfriend code. Olive lies to Ahn by saying she’s already moved on and a fake romance is born with the most hated professor in the department: Adam Carlsen. He’s got a reputation of being unapproachable, intimidating, and a straight-up ass, yet he’s anything but with Olive.  Adam has his own reasons for wanting a fake romance, and they agree to keep up the pretense. Of course, they draw closer, and Olive is surprised at his thoughtfulness, how much fun she has with him. They click in a profound way, and she finds herself falling for this moody, broody guy. Is she setting herself up for heartbreak? Olive doesn’t imagine he could feel the same.

The Love Hypothesis had me cracking up with all the awkward situations, rooting for Olive as she digs herself in deeper. It was obvious to me that Adam had it bad for Olive, but of course she’s more than a little obtuse picking up on the clues, and there were many. They had oodles of chemistry and were playfully antagonistic, their relationship was just so much fun! I just wanted to just smoosh these two together! But trust…, they get their time together and it is worth the delay!

I had such a huge smile on my face while reading! The Love Hypothesis was a phenomenal debut! Multi-layered characters, clever, fun dialogue, and romance full of giddiness and longing. Definite re-read material!

 5 Stars



Book Description:

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn't believe in lasting romantic relationships--but her best friend does, and that's what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor--and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford's reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive's career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding...six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Sunday Post #136

 

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

This last week was less hectic than the one before. The week after Labor Day was a week from hell at work and then I went up to my daughter's over the weekend. I always want to see the kiddies, but it's always full of activity and not usually restful. So yes, I welcomed the calmer week. 

We're almost done with the kitchen. My husband is doing the backsplash himself after trying and failing to set up a tile guy several times.  It's the last thing we need to do and be done, and it's turning out really nice! I'm fortunate to have married a very handy man! I should be able to post pictures next Sunday! 

Read:
Click on cover for Goodreads link:



Two weeks worth of reading here and three of them were audio books. I just didn't have a lot of energy to do anything after getting home from work the previous week. Loved Kiss of Snow so much! It's my favorite of the Psy-Changeling (the original) series so far! Neanderthal Seeks Human was so funny! My husband and I loved it! We listened to the audio on our drive back and forth up north. Murder Most Fair was an excellent installment another series stand out. I wished I loved Second Chance at Sunflower Ranch more, but not every book from a favorite author is going to be a win. The Heart Principle was very different from the two previous books, and I think that affected reactions. . I did enjoy it, but it was a difficult read at times and I felt Quan (like many readers) was shortchanged. 

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:


Both are collections of novellas. I borrowed the Psy-Changeling one and hope to start it today or tomorrow and I was excited to get approval for the Jill Shalvis book since requesting has been hit and miss for me. 

Instagram:



Was happy to get this unexpected bookmail! I guess I should've listed this above with the Received. I discovered that Elaine Murphy is a pen name for Julianna Keys and I loved her romances in the past, so I'm excited to see what she does with a thriller!


Watched:

Nothing you haven't seen me list here before: Chicago Med and 48-Hours. 




How was your week?



Friday, September 17, 2021

Review: Second Chance at Sunflower Ranch by Carolyn Brown

 

Second Chance at Sunflower Ranch (Ryan Family #1) by Carolyn Brown
Publication Date: July 27th 2021 by Forever
Pages: 375
Source: Publisher
Rating: 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads | Audible

My Thoughts:
I won’t summarize the plot; the book description below does a better job than I will. I adore Carolyn Brown’s down-to-earth cowboy romances; I’m usually laughing at the antics and enjoying a sweet and sexy romance, but Second Chance at Sunflower Ranch wasn’t my favorite from her. It was entertaining, but didn’t have her usual charm, IMO.

There wasn’t a lot of drama or angst and I appreciate that most of the time with my romances, but finding out you have a nineteen-year-old daughter you didn’t know about would have to be a shock, right? Jesse was understanding and forgiving, but I think in real life it’d be hard to not be angered you didn’t get to share in all the milestones of your child growing up. I did know this information going into the story, and I do think Addie, in her own mind, had a decent reason for withholding the information initially, still I was hoping for more.

The romance was easy going, a little too easy being this was a second chance romance. I was happy with how it all turned out, but I felt it was lacking in passion. The whole story felt a bit superficial, but would be good if you’d like a light read to breeze through. With that said, I am looking forward to Cody and Stevie's romance next. From their interactions it feels like it'll be a good one! 

3 Stars


Book Description:

From the bestselling author of Queen of Cowboy: regrets and old heartbreaks are unearthed in this sweeping love story as hometown sweethearts get a second chance at love—and being a family.

Retired combat medic Jesse Ryan hasn’t been home much since he enlisted twenty years ago. Now he’s headed back to Texas to help take care of his aging foster parents and run Sunflower ranch. But when he gets there, he finds his parents’ live-in nurse is Addison Hall, his high school best friend and the woman he always regretted leaving behind after their one steamy night together before he shipped out. He’s not at all surprised that their chemistry is still sparking, but Jesse is shocked to learn Addy gave birth to a little girl about nine months after he left—his little girl.

​Addy has her hands full as a single mom of a nineteen-year-old daughter who suddenly wants to rebel at everything. The last thing she needs is Jesse Ryan complicating her life even further, especially since she’s always had a crush on the handsome cowboy. But the more time she spends with Jesse, the more she wonders what might happen if they finally let their friendship blossom into something more and became the family she’d always hoped for. 
 
Includes the bonus novella Small Town Charm for the first time in print! 


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

My Favorite Non-Review Books of August 2021

I'm back with My Favorite Non-Review Books!

I've been a little MIA lately because I'm just so tired. Work last week just about killed me and then we drove up to my daughter's house (4 1/2 hours each way) and while I loved seeing the kids there was absolutely no rest. I'm looking forward to Thursday since I only work half-day then I'm off the rest of the week. 

I have mixed feelings on Friday since the root-canal I had scheduled last Friday got pushed to this one coming and I don't relish the idea of spending 3 hours in a dental chair: shots, drilling and other horrors. Can I fast forward to Friday afternoon, please?

I'm a little late as September is halfway over (how is that possible?!), but here are my August picks.
 
As a blogger sometimes writing reviews can feel like a chore so it seems I rarely write reviews for non-review books anymore. I feel bad about that, because it's not that I didn't enjoy them less than the books I review here, just that I don't have the time or energy to write a review for each and every book I read. I thought it would be nice to list my favorite non-review books each month to bring more attention to them.




Emma's involved in an accident and wakes from a coma to find her BFF and fiancĂ© together while trying to put her life back together again. I love these triumph over extreme adversity type of stories, and the romance was oh-so-good! 




It was hard to stop listening to this one, but I do think it would've benefited by some editing down. Great audio with a full-cast of characters.




Book #9 in the Psy-Changeling series. One of my favorites. I'm already almost done with the next book. 


I only read three non-review books in August, but I think I've already exceeded that in September. I'm too tired to look right now. 




How about you? What were your favorite non-review books recently?


Friday, September 10, 2021

Audio Review: The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

 


The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Publication Date: August 31st 2021 by Berkley & September 2nd 2021 Dreamscape Media, LLC
Pages: 320
Audio Book Length: 9 hrs 30 min
Narrator: Brian Nishii and Natalie Naudus
Source: Publisher & Libro.fm
Rating: 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Libro.fm | Audible | Goodreads 

My Thoughts:
I’m having a hard time writing a review, so sorry in advance for this messiness. 

While we get Quan’s POV, I think The Heart Principle focused more on Anna’s journey to self-acceptance. Just realizing that it was okay to be different was a tough road. It was difficult at times to read Anna’s interactions with Julian (her asshole BF) and her family.  Anna’s sister, Priscilla was especially horrible. It was heartbreaking and frustrating to see Anna take so much crap! I welcomed Anna’s meltdown because I knew that would be the only way she’d stop pretending to be the perfect daughter, sister, girlfriend.

I also I think a lot of can relate to Anna’s feelings of guilt over her thoughts on taking care of her father. It wouldn’t be easy, and I can imagine feeling the same way if I were in her situation.

The Heart Principle wasn’t a light and fluffy romance, although I did really love Anna and Quan together. Finding each other didn’t automatically fix the issues each were dealing with. Both struggled with feelings of inadequacy. I appreciated that Quan and Anna supported and accepted each other just as they were. Quan was an absolute sweetheart, and I adored Anna.

I alternated reading an e-copy and listening to the audio. I’ve listened to and enjoyed Natalie Naudas’ narration in the past and she did a wonderful job performing Anna’s chapters. Brian Nishii was excellent as well. I listened at my normal speed of 1.5x. 

4 Stars



Book Description:

When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She's going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That's where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex: he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand herself. However, when tragedy strikes Anna's family, she takes on a role she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Review: Murder Most Fair by Anna Lee Huber

 

Murder Most Fair (Verity Kent Mysteries #5) by Anna Lee Huber
Publication Date: August 31st 2021 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
Rating: ½
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads 

My Thoughts:
Verity Kent and her dashing husband, Sidney, find themselves in another tricky situation with the surprise arrival of Verity’s German Aunt Ilse. Germans aren’t treated very kindly by the English in 1919 so close after the end of WWI, so they decide to get out of London and visit Verity’s parents in the English countryside of Yorkshire. However, Yorkshire isn’t all that welcoming to Great Aunt Ilse or her maid either.

Although, Verity had planned on visiting her parents for the holidays, the trip brings mixed emotions. It’s been five years since she’s visited and while Verity misses her family, being home brings the loss of her brother into sharp focus. It isn’t something Verity wants to deal with.  Also, her relationship with her mother is strained at best. I was not a big fan of Verity’s mother! The whole family has felt the effects of the war and loss and so it’s not all easy going.

On top of that, their neighbors in Yorkshire aren’t at all happy to have two Germans in their midst. There’s a lot of animosity and blame.  Aunt Ilse’s German maid, Bauer, is reviled by the staff and is said to be asking odd questions about Verity. Is Bauer just the target of animosity because her heritage or is she privy to Verity’s covert missions during the war? When Bauer is murdered Verity must get to the bottom of it to find out.  

Murder Most Fair is the fifth installment, and the books are best read in order to appreciate all the relationships and the ongoing story arc. While little progress was made in the investigation of the nefarious Lord Ardmore, I loved Murder Most Fair!   I was so happy to see Verity and Sidney draw closer as a couple, and work through some of the hurdles brought about by their experiences in the war. They’ve always presented a united front as they faced the troubles and danger from an adversary, but they’ve had some tough times.  It was heartening to see them open up to each other in ways they hadn’t previously. 

Anna Lee Huber expertly brings the post-WWI era to life and makes it relatable by highlighting the individual struggles and their journey back to a new normal.  It turned this time I learned about as an abstract in history class into a real-life emotional situation. With the added excitement of a murder mystery to solve!  I eagerly await the next book!

4.5 Stars


Book Description:

All is far from quiet on the home front in national bestselling author Anna Lee Huber's captivating mystery series, in which former Secret Service agent Verity Kent receives a visitor—who is being trailed by a killer...

November 1919. A relaxing few weeks by the seaside with her husband, Sidney, could almost convince Verity Kent that life has returned to the pleasant rhythm of pre-war days. Then Verity's beloved Great Aunt Ilse lands on their doorstep. After years in war-ravaged Germany, Ilse has returned to England to repair her fragile health—and to escape trouble. Someone has been sending her anonymous threats, and Verity's Secret Service contacts can only provide unsettling answers.

Even deep in the Yorkshire Dales, where she joins Verity's family for the holidays, Ilse encounters difficulties. Normally peaceful neighbors are hostile, seeking someone to blame for the losses they've endured. When Ilse's maid is found dead, Verity must uncover whether this is anti-German sentiment taken to murderous lengths, or whether there is a more personal motive at work. Could Verity's shadowy nemesis, Lord Ardmore, be involved? And if so, how much closer to home will the blow land when he inevitably strikes again?

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Sunday Post #135

 

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

It's been beautiful here in Cambria, sunny and warm. My husband and I decided to stay two nights instead of just one. We went wine tasting (outside) and did some hiking by the shore today. There were so many pelicans! They were flying and diving into the sea, and it was entertaining to watch. We also saw a bunch of zebras. They're descended from the ones William Randolph Hearst originally brought up here for his zoo at Hearst Castle and they've multiplied. We're traveling back home tomorrow morning.




Read:
Click on cover for Goodreads link

Only had time to read two books, Blind Tiger and Uncharted, but I loved both!

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:


I got an e-copy through Kindle Unlimited and added the audio narration. Hopefully I'll be listening soon. 

Instagram:





Watched:



Still working my way through episodes of both. 




How was your week?


Friday, September 3, 2021

Review: Blind Tiger by Sandra Brown

 

Blind Tiger by Sandra Brown
Publication Date: August 3rd 2021 by Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 512
Source: Publisher
Rating: 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads | Audible

My Thoughts:
Blind Tiger takes us back to 1920’s when the country is just recovering from the Great War and Prohibition is law. Running moonshine has become a lucrative and dangerous fact of life and the little Texas town of Foley is full of moonshiners vying for market share.

Thatcher Hutton a soldier on his way home but ends up in Foley. He just wants to make enough money to get back home but is caught up in the disappearance of a woman, bootlegging and intrigued by a headstrong widow, Laurel Plummer. The minute he lays eyes her he’s drawn in even though she’s completely prickly with him.

Young widow Laurel wants to never be completely reliant on a man again. She’s determined to find a way to provide for herself and falls into a dangerous opportunity. Suspicious of Thatcher and yet drawn to him it’s a push and pull of desire between them. They had great chemistry and I knew it just a matter of time before they gave into their attraction.

This was an interesting and volatile period in history, and even though the story was a little slow going at first, I was immediately engrossed. Sandra Brown’s short chapters that usually end with a bit of a cliffhanger sucked me right in, and as usual there were a few surprising twists and turns, a feature I love about her writing!  I didn’t want to put it down and ended up putting off another book I planned to read so I finish!

4 Stars



Book Description:

The year 1920 comes in with a roar in this rousing and suspenseful novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown. Prohibition is the new law of the land, but murder, mayhem, lust, and greed are already institutions in the Moonshine Capitol of Texas.

Thatcher Hutton, a war-weary soldier on the way back to his cowboy life, jumps from a moving freight train to avoid trouble . . . and lands in more than he bargained for. On the day he arrives in Foley, Texas, a local woman goes missing. Thatcher, the only stranger in town, is suspected of her abduction, and worse. Standing between him and exoneration are a corrupt mayor, a crooked sheriff, a notorious cathouse madam, a sly bootlegger, feuding moonshiners . . . and a young widow whose soft features conceal an iron will.

What was supposed to be a fresh start for Laurel Plummer turns to tragedy. Left destitute but determined to dictate her own future, Laurel plunges into the lucrative regional industry, much to the dislike of the good ol’ boys, who have ruled supreme. Her success quickly makes her a target for cutthroat competitors, whose only code of law is reprisal. As violence erupts, Laurel and—now deputy—Thatcher find themselves on opposite sides of a moonshine war, where blood flows as freely as whiskey.