Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Review: The Friendship Pact by Jill Shalvis

The Friendship Pact (Sunrise Cove #2) by Jill Shalvis
Publication Date: June 14th 2022 by William Morrow
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher & Purchased Audiobook
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Tae was raised by her teenage mother and the two of them barely scraped by growing up. They’re so close in age they’re each other’s best friend and rely heavily on each other. A little too heavily, at first. Tae is finally getting some financial stability running her event planning business, and her biggest client’s partner, Riggs Copeland is a fling from high school, one she’s never forgotten.

Working together unearths buried feelings, instant sexual tension brewing between them. They had a playful relationship with Tae throwing barbs, and Riggs catching them flirtatiously. They want to keep things as friends only, thus their “friendship pact” but as this is a romance I knew their resolve wouldn’t last. They get along so well, which is how they ended up together in the past, so when Tae and Riggs face some tough choices and ghosts from the past they’re there for each other for support and a listening ear. Soon, the attraction simmering between them is too much to pass up! They’re passionate together, their romance full of chemistry even before they got physical, however they have to sort out what exactly this means for their future.

I was a little miffed at Tae’s mom, April, for her secrets and for meddling in Tae’s romantic life, but it did come from a place of love, so it was easy to forgive. Especially since April saw the error of her ways.

The secondary characters were quirky and fun, full of heart. I love how Jill Shalvis brought the beautiful mountain setting of Lake Tahoe to life, making me feel like I was visiting right along with the characters!

4 Stars

Book Description:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis returns to Sunrise Cove with a powerful, moving story about a young woman on a quest to find the truth about her father who learns the meaning of true love along the way.

Alone in the world, Tae Holmes and her mother April pretty much raised each other, but as Tae starts asking questions about the father she's never met, April, for the first time in her life, goes silent. To make matters worse, Tae is dangerously close to broke and just manages to avoid financial meltdown when she lands a shiny new contract with an adventure company for athletes with disabilities and wounded warriors.

Her first big fundraiser event falls flat, but what starts out as a terrible, horrible, no-good night turns into something else entirely when Tae finds herself face-to-face with Riggs Copeland. She hasn't seen the former Marine since their brief fling in high school, and while still intensely drawn to him, she likes her past burned and buried, thank you very much. Hence their friendship pact.

But when April oddly refuses to help Tae track down her father, it's Riggs who unexpectedly comes to her aid. On a hunt to unlock the past, the two of them find themselves on a wild ride and learn a shocking truth, while also reluctantly bonding in a way neither had seen coming. Now Tae must decide whether she's going to choose love ... or walk away from her own happiness.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: When It Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee

I've been a fan of Catherine Bybee's romances for a while now so I was excited to be part of the Blog Tour for her newest book When It Falls Apart! I have my review, and interview and awesome giveaway ($50 Amazon Gift Card and copy of When It Falls Apart!) to share so be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom.

When It Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee
Publication Date: June 21st 2022 by Montlake
Pages: 364
Source: Publisher & Audiobook (free with Kindle Unlimited)
Rating: ½

My Thoughts:
Brooke’s life comes apart when her dad is admitted into the hospital close to death. Living in Seattle doesn’t work out when his care requires her to live close-by, and unfortunately her long-term boyfriend isn’t supportive. So, Brooke packs up her life and heads to Southern California. Brooke was instantly likable, and I was hoping she’d get a break and a chance at happiness!

Settling in her father’s town isn’t going to work for Brooke, the city is desert-y, dry and depressing. On a little getaway to gain some peace she visits the seaside town of San Diego and falls in love. I’ve been to both areas, and I had to totally agree with Brooke’s choice! There’s something about living in a place that’s ugly to you that sucks the soul right out of you so I was thrilled Brooke put her foot down about moving out of her father’s city. I loved the sound of Little Italy with its family-oriented community and delicious Italian food! Renting a little apartment above an authentic Italian restaurant, D’Angelo’s, was the perfect situation for Brooke. Even better, it had Luca D’Angelo, a handsome single dad cooking for and managing his family’s restaurant. Luca is all about family so when he hears how Brooke uprooted her life to take care of her father his heart softens towards her. Their attraction is immediate, and he inserts himself into Brooke’s life, offering help and support when Brooke needs it most.

Loved the romance with Luca! He was so sweet and attentive, but also passionate! So wonderful with his young daughter! I love that he just was there to help without Brooke having to ask. And that’s how it is if a man really cares for you. A clear contrast to her ex.  

The issues Brooke faced taking care of her aging father felt true-to-life and I really had to take off my hat to her being there for him when he wasn’t there for her growing up. I was really happy she set boundaries and didn’t let his dramas take over her life.

I’ve been a fan of Catherine Bybee’s romances and romantic suspense novels, so I’m not surprised that I loved When It Falls Apart. Her writing is so effortlessly readable, I flew through the pages quickly enjoying every minute! I was happy the romantic drama was low, not saying there wasn’t bumps, but they felt like problems you’d face in a real-life relationship instead of manufactured drama. Nothing insurmountable. Their united front when it came to Luca’s ex warmed my heart. That lady was a piece of work!

I look forward to spending more time with the D’Angelos, they’re a tight knit, loving Italian family, and since this is the first in the series my wish will be granted. I look forward to Giovanni and Chloe’s romances to come!

4.5 Stars

Interview with Catherine Bybee


For anyone wondering the plot of your newest release, you give a great sneak peek with the title—When it Falls Apart. What is “falling apart” in this novel?


All the threads that hold my heroine, Brooke, together are crumbling down around her. When it Falls Apart begins with Brooke’s romantic relationship crashing and burning. At the same time, in a different state, her father is circling the drain in the ICU. And for the cherry on the top of her “falling apart life”, Brooke has found herself demoted at work. In short, everything in Brooke’s life is dissolving around her.


Like all of your books, When it Falls Apart has a beautiful romance, however, there is a rawness about Brooke’s story. How was writing this novel different from your others?


If you read my notes both in the front and the back of this novel, you’ll soon realize that the story was very personal to me. Rawness comes from experience. The relationship Brooke has with her father is hauntingly familiar to me and my dad. The emotions that the heroine experienced when taking care of him were easy for me to grasp onto and write about. Sadly, the love story with Luca was completely made up and I didn’t have the support of a strong Italian family to help deal with the struggles, but I digress. 


Relationships with a parent who wasn’t there for you growing up are messy. When that parent ages and needs their child, sometimes that help comes with a bucketload of resentment, even if the child wishes they could stop those ugly feelings from creeping up on them. And THAT is the rawness you speak of.


Books, TV shows, and movies oftentimes glamorize what it means to care for a loved one. However, in When it Falls Apart you don’t sugar-coat anything about caregiving and the toll it takes on a person. How do you think readers who have been in similar situations will be affected by this story?


Justified. Validated. Accepted.


It’s a hard job taking care of an elderly family member. And if there aren’t other siblings to help, or won’t help, it’s made even more difficult. It’s difficult, gritty, dirty work that only has a bad ending…eventually. What I do hope my readers take away is that they’re not alone. That the struggle is very real and that if they don’t find balance (which is almost impossible at times) they will burn out completely and not be fit to help at all. I hope my readers are empowered to set boundaries and balance, so they come out on the other side of caring for an elderly loved one whole themselves.


Brooke gets virtually no support from her significant other, which has her reevaluating their relationship. She realizes she has settled and has to make some hard decisions. Do you think this happens too many times to women in real life?


100% Yes! There is a song by Taylor Swift with a line that says, and I’m paraphrasing here, I can be what you want for the weekend. But often that weekend ends up being a relationship that women hold on to or are convinced they can’t live without. Often it takes a huge shake-up to remove yourself from that situation. But once you’re away from the day to day dysfunctional relationship, the easier it is to see the dysfunction.


After her breakup and move, Brooke is not looking for a relationship. In fact, she tells her best friend: “I haven’t wiped off my smeared mascara from Marshall yet, the last thing I want is to jump into anything else.” Her crying over a man lasts all about two minutes when she meets Luca. Tell us about him.


Hmmm, Luca… he is the kind of man who doesn’t want a place on Brooke’s dance card…he wants to rip it up.


Luca is wired to help the people in his life. Brooke becomes a part of his inner circle simply by moving into the family building where he sees her every day.


Now, if Luca had flat out asked Brooke on a date, she would have run the other way…so no, he doesn’t go about it that way. He simply shows up and does not leave. Not when things get tough, or messy…or when his own past peeks its head in. Luca is a man who is right there at Brooke’s side without question or censor on why she does the things she does. His support and validation of her feelings is the part she was missing. Add in the hunky Italian single father and “Mamma Mia!”


At first, Luca is not thrilled that Brooke is renting a room in his family’s building. What changes his mind about her?


Her strength and vulnerability. I know that sounds contradicting, but some of the strongest women I know have a big vulnerable spot in their life that if you know them well enough, you see. The biggest smiles often hide the deepest pain. Luca sees her struggle and dedication to helping her elderly father and since family is first on Luca’s list, she passes his unconscious test.


Luca’s family, the D’Angelo’s, are incredibly close and share everything from ownership of the family restaurant to helping care for Luca’s daughter Franny. How is this different from Brooke’s relationship with her family?


Brooke doesn’t have that family. She has a father who abandoned her as a little girl that she carved out a relationship as an adult, and now she’s charged with caring for. Even her previous romantic relationship didn’t support her unconditionally the way the D’Angelo’s do for each other. She’s rather dumbfounded when they start treating her like family. It’s a wonderful thing to watch happen.


San Diego’s Little Italy plays a huge part in the story. The community, language, and food are in full display. Tell us about your own experiences in your adopted city.


I love Little Italy, the food, the pace... the people. There are many places in San Diego that are overrun with the college scene, San Diego is a college town. But Little Italy is more family friendly. Very touristy, but there isn’t a day you don’t see locals hanging out. I go to the farmer’s market often. Pick up authentic Italian ingredients for my own home cooking. I try new restaurants and take all my friends there when they are visiting from out of town. Not to mention it was the closest thing to the “real Italy” that I could go during the travel restrictions. So why not write about it and tell the world of this small island within San Diego that shouldn’t be missed?


There are two more siblings in the D’Angelo family. Where will you be taking readers next with the series?


Chloe is a yogi. Think Bali!


And Giovanni loves wine… think Tuscany, Italy.


I cannot wait to show you what I have in store for these two!

Book Description:

Brooke Turner has always had a complicated relationship with her father. But when his health takes a turn for the worse, she drops everything to care for him. He’s her dad, after all, and he needs her. What Brooke doesn’t anticipate is the unraveling of her long-term relationship and a cross-country move to San Diego’s Little Italy.

Luca D’Angelo is the oldest of three children and a single father to a young daughter. When his mother rents the top floor of their house to Brooke, he’s angry. Who is this beautiful stranger with no ties to the neighborhood? Can she be trusted in such close proximity to his family?

As Luca learns of Brooke’s difficult journey with her ailing father, his heart softens. And Brooke, who witnesses Luca’s struggle as a single parent, develops feelings for him, too. But when it all falls apart, will love heal their wounded hearts?

About the author:
New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than five million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series.

Connect with Catherine Bybee:

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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Sunday Post #166


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 a week of unpacking and settling in. I did a lot of deep cleaning and attended two days of orientation for my new job even though I'm working for the same hospital network in the same position. Oh well, I'm getting paid so at least there's that. We had my sister, BIL and a couple of friends over for dinner tonight and it was nice having company for the first time. 

We bought a generator and my husband is working on getting it all connected. It should power most of the house and well when the power goes out here, which apparently happens often during the summer because of the wildfire threats. It's been hot, in the 90s but it feels hotter here, maybe we have higher humidity here. At any rate, it cools way down and I've been enjoying time outside either on the front porch or back patio in the evening. 

(Click for Goodreads link)

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:

Nothing new which is a good thing considering all I grabbed up last week!


Such a great read!

How was your week?

Friday, June 24, 2022

Blog Tour Audio Review: Hidden Waters by Catherine Cowles


Hidden Waters (Torn & Tattered #3) by Catherie Cowles
Publication Date: June 21st 2022 by Pagesmith LLC
Audio Book Length: 9 hrs 13 min
Narrator: Ava Erickson and Sebastian York
Pages: 324
Source: Publicist

My Thoughts:
Addie is out on her own after being under the harsh authority of her father and trying to live a normal life. However, living in the same town means she’s bumping into him or his friends whenever she’s in town and it put me on edge for her!

Beckett has just come back to his hometown, serving as the new town doctor, and needs a place to stay while his house is being built. Addie is staying at his brother's old house, but as the house is huge, they suggest he stay with Addie. At first Addie isn’t happy, but soon they’re friends and she can’t imagine not having him in her space. They get close and protective of each other, feeling of attraction growing deeper every day.

Hidden Waters was harrowing at times with an undercurrent of suspense through the story because of the constant threat of her father and his workers lurking about. I hated him and the ideas they had towards women, and it seemed like their way of living off the grid, shunning government and community made it easier to get away with their appalling behavior!

I enjoyed seeing Addie take back her life one experience at a time, empower herself against the vile men who had far too much control over her. Beckett helping along the way. I did wish Addie would’ve taken Beckett up on his offers of protection and rides more, because the threat against her was real and constant. I do get she wanted to be independent and that there was no way someone could be with her 24/7 but still, why not take all the precautions when and where you can?  I loved the relationship between Beckett and Addie. They both had past demons to deal with. They were solid friends before anything more happened and it felt like a natural progression when they became everything to each other.

This is my first experience reading Catherine Cowles but won’t be my last! I would love to go back and read the previous couples’ stories too and I look forward to Laiken’s story next!

I listened to the audio version of Hidden Waters narrated by Ava Erickson and Sebastian York. Their performance was excellent and enhanced an already lovely romance! I highly recommend!

 4 Stars

Keep reading for a look inside Hidden Waters!

“You deserved so much better.”

“I’m getting it. I’m making that beautiful life now. And I’ll appreciate it so much more

because of what I’ve been through.”

It wasn’t enough for me. It never would be. But I admired how Addie could view her
past. I struggled not to hold her too tightly. The urge to burn the world down around me
was too strong. I wasn’t good the way Addie was. I still wanted to start with Allen.
“Beckett,” she whispered against my ear. “I’m okay. It doesn’t hurt. The skin is ugly


I reared back. “Nothing about you is ugly.”

Her cheeks flamed. “It is. It’s just facts. I don’t care. There are so many more important


“Show me.” I was already climbing to my feet.

“Show me.”

Addie stood shakily. “I don’t want you to see it.”

My gaze locked with hers. I poured everything I was feeling into that one look. “Please.”
She didn’t say anything for a moment, searching my face for something. Then she
nodded and turned around. Slowly, so painfully slowly, she unbuttoned her blouse.
When she was done, she simply stood there, not lowering the shirt. Her ribs expanded
and contracted in ragged breaths. Then she let the fabric fall to the floor.
Angry slashes crisscrossed her back. They were varying tones, shapes, and depths. In
that moment, I knew Allen had done this to her over and over. My hands fisted so tightly

I was in danger of breaking a knuckle.

I moved closer and then sank to my knees again. “It’s just me.” My hands went to
Addie’s hips. She gave a slight jolt. I stilled. “You okay?” She nodded, the movement

jerky, her breaths ragged. I slowly swept my thumb across a patch of raised skin. Then I
bent forward, my lips going to the worst of the scars. I ghosted them over the flesh that
had been torn apart but had come back together stronger than it had been before.
“Beauty in the strength that carried you through. Beauty in how you refused to be
broken. Beauty that you never let yourself become cruel like him. Addie, there isn’t a

thing about you that isn’t beautiful.”
Book Description:
My family tried to break me. But, somehow, I made it out alive, even though the wounds from that survival are forever carved into my bones. Now, my only wish is for…normal. To know what it’s like to have friends, a job, a home.

The last thing I want is for my new roommate to see the scars I’m so desperate to keep hidden, especially not the ruggedly handsome man who steals my breath and sends my heart into overdrive.

But something tells me that Beckett has demons, too. I see it in the shadows haunting his gorgeous eyes and the way he looks at me with gentle understanding.

As our unlikely friendship becomes so much more, forces from my life slink out of the shadows. And we could both lose everything we’ve fought so hard for—down to our very last breaths…

About Catherine Cowles:

Writer of words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially her
dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and finally
decided to write down some of her own stories. When she's not writing she can be
found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true crime podcasts, or searching
for her next book boyfriend.

Connect with Catherine Cowles:

Sign up for her mailing list HERE

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Review: Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins


Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins
Publication Date: June 7th 2022 by Berkley & Recorded Books
Pages: 480
Source: Publisher & Purchased Audiobook
Rating: ½
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Lillie Silva is both happy and sad her son will be heading off for college shortly.  She’s coming to terms with this new chapter in her life only to have her whole world turned upside down when her husband of twenty years announces that he’s leaving her for a younger woman to “find joy.”  

I wanted to kick Bradley in the teeth every time he said “no offense, but I need to find my joy”! What a self-centered jerk! I laughed with glee over the ways Lillie stealthily (and not so stealthily) got her revenge against Brad and Melissa, some of the ways were quite clever! I was outraged for her (yes, I realize she’s a fictional character, lol), I guess I get a little vindictive over a woman scorned so the little retributions were satisfying!

Having Melissa’s POV, being that she was the other woman was kind of different, and I didn’t like her at all at first. She plotted to get Bradley, (which wasn’t as hard as it should’ve been had he been a better man), and she had no prick of conscience stealing another woman’s man. However, I do have to say I understood Melissa better by the end, I could see with her upbringing why she was so mercenary.  Life did serve up some well-deserved education and a bit of payback, as is often the case, and I liked Melissa a smidge more by the end.

I loved Lillie, getting to know her and her family, friends, experiencing her journey to finding happiness again was emotional and touching! Romance wasn’t at the center of the story, but thankfully Lillie did get one, too. Out of the Clear Blue Sky was lovely journey!

4.5 Stars

Book Description:

From New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins comes a funny and surprising new novel about losing it all--and getting back more than you ever expected.

Lillie Silva knew life as an empty nester would be hard after her only child left for college, but when her husband abruptly dumps her for another woman just as her son leaves, her world comes crashing down. Besides the fact that this announcement is a complete surprise (to say the least), what shocks Lillie most is that she isn't heartbroken. She's furious.

Lillie has loved her life on Cape Cod, but as a mother, wife, and nurse-midwife, she's used to caring for other people . . . not taking care of herself. Now, alone for the first time in her life, she finds herself going a little rogue. Is it over the top to crash her ex-husband's wedding dressed like the angel of death? Sure! Should she release a skunk into his perfect new home? Probably not! But it beats staying home and moping.

She finds an unexpected ally in her glamorous sister, with whom she's had a tense relationship all these years. And an unexpected babysitter in, of all people, Ben Hallowell, the driver in a car accident that nearly killed Lillie twenty years ago. And then there's Ophelia, her ex-husband's oddly lost niece, who could really use a friend.

It's the end of Lillie's life as she knew it. But sometimes the perfect next chapter surprises you . . . out of the clear blue sky.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Sunday Post #165


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.

Another busy week. If you read my post on Wednesday you know I finally moved into our new house. No more back and forth from Southern California to Northern California! We were without internet for almost a week and had spotty cell service. I lost my cat and was under a cloud of grief until he showed up four days later!! I feel like I've been packing or unpacking for the last 3 months. Got a lot done. 

In all of this we had to watch our grandkids for our daughter and I had planned a "glamping" trip on the coast of Mendocino before I knew we'd be in the middle of chaos. 

I start my new job Monday. 

Some glamping photos. I would've included inside the tent, but I didn't have any photos without the kids:

(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

I'm so behind so I've purchased a couple of audios so I can try and catch up while working here at the house.

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:

All are review copies except for Heroic Hearts. What was I thinking?! One thing, I don't have a TV right now so I'm hoping that means I read all the time, lol! I'm most excited for Soul Taken!!!!


Peanut safe and sound!

How was your week?

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Update and Mini Review of Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

 So I'm finally moved up to Northern California with no more going back and forth down South! Thank goodness!! It's been a long two weeks with packing up two locations (apartment down South and up North) to move into our new *to us* house. In between all of this our cat (Peanut) went missing from our apartment up North and I had to leave to do my last day of work down South without knowing where he was. I was a wreck to say the least and cried the whole drive down South and every day he was missing.  He was gone for four days and showed up the day we drove back up with the moving van. I can't even tell you how happy I was!! 

Also, I've had no Internet and spotty cell service here since we moved. It was supposed to be up and running on Friday, but the company forgot to do one thing and of course they couldn't come back until Tuesday. Thank goodness we finally have Internet! I can blog again! I'm behind on reviews and a several comments back (sorry!). I will be catching up!

My  mini-review for Something Wilder:

Something Wilder by Christina Lauren
Publication Date: May 17th 2022 by Gallery Books
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Something Wilder was a little departure from the usual Christina Lauren romance, because there was adventure and more than a little danger involved, and I enjoyed every minute! Several characters to hate: Todd and Lily’s dad, although I did have mixed feelings about the dad by the end, and a few to love like Lily’s bestie Nicole. She was tough and loyal, the kind of friend that would help you bury the body if you needed it! I love that CL usually incorporates a strong female friendship (kind of like their own, I guess) in each story they write.

The romance between Leo and Lily was of the second chance variety, one of my favorite tropes.  The hurt and longing between them were palpable, which made their romance all the more sweet when they cleared things up and boy did they steam up the pages! Definite recommend! 

4 Stars

Book Description:

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession… or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.