Category Archives: Books

Advance Review- The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

The Escape Room

Title: The Escape Room

Genre: General Fiction/Thriller

Author: Megan Goldin

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, July 30, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 361

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.
In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style—but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost.
Invited to participate in an escape room as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high rise building, eager to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival.
Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free. But as the game begins to reveal the team’s darkest secrets, they realize there’s a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder. As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?

**
What a great premise; four despicable people, Jules, Sylvie, Sam and Vincent trapped in an elevator with a gun. That premise alone kept me turning pages. Introduce Sara Hall, their other work team member, in alternating chapters and this is a compelling read. But I became very frustrated with two characters seeming change in personality. I won’t go into detail because of spoilers. I also thought that the ending was too abrupt. There are some unanswered questions. I really feel that this could have been a great thriller but because of some missteps it turned out to be just “okay”.

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Recent Release Review- Contracted As His Cinderella Bride

Contracted as his cinderella bride

Title: Contracted As His Cinderella Bride ( Conveniently Wed)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author: Heidi Rice

Source: Free for Review from the publisher

Publisher: Harlequin, July 16, 2019

Pages: 225

Rating: 3.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon:

From penniless delivery girl…

To billionaire’s bride?

The perfect summer Ally Jones spent with gorgeous French billionaire Dominic LeGrand was unforgettable, despite her unrequited feelings. Now Ally’s a struggling courier and is stunned when her latest delivery brings her to Dominic’s door. Yet what’s even more shocking is his proposal! Dominic needs a temporary wife, but with the enticing promise of his expert seduction teasing Ally to her limits, can she really just play the role?

**
Heidi Rice is a new to me author and she delivers a very good read. Ally is trying to finish her fashion designing course and working as a courier. She is overwhelmed and tired when she finds herself at Dominic’s door. So when he offers her a marriage of convenience along with picking up her tuition and giving her a million pounds she finds it hard to refuse so she jumps all-in. But Heidi loved him once a long time ago and she finds herself falling again. The big question is will Dominic ever be able to love.

If you are looking for a well written, quick, escapist read then this might be in your wheelhouse. It didn’t quite push all the right buttons for me but I think that is just because my taste doesn’t run to these billionaire stories. I can recommend this one to CR readers who don’t have billionaire prejudices.

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Advance Review- The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews

The work of Art

itle: The Work of Art

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Mimi Matthews

Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press, July 23, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 358

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

An Uncommon Beauty…

Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it’s caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland–a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the duke’s clutches, she’s going to need a little help.

An Unlikely Hero…

Captain Arthur Heywood’s days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name.

Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her–and her heart–in more danger than ever?

**
You will not be able to put this book down. It is totally engrossing, romantic, beautifully written and full of intrigue. Arthur and Philly hardly know each other when they are thrust into a marriage of convenience. They have angered a powerful Duke with a wicked reputation. I turned pages to see how our H & h would stay safe and fall in love. There are thriller aspects to this plot that make for rapid page turning. I highly recommend this one to all HR readers. It will go on my Best Reads of 2019 list.

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Coming to Netflix- Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series

Bridgerton Series

Our friends over at Willow and Thatch have all the latest ondit on the Bridgerton series coming to Netflix.  Now we don’t know just when, but if Julie Andrews is going to be Lady Whistledown and the narrator…well, I just can’t wait! How about you? There are other cast announcements too.  Sign up for the Willow and Thatch newsletter and I’m sure they will keep us up to date on all Bridgerton happenings.

https://www.willowandthatch.com/cast-announcement-bridgertons-netflix/

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Advance Review- The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

The Book charmer

Title: The Book Charmer

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Magical Realism/Romantic Elements

Author: Karen Hawkins

Publisher: Gallery books, July 30, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 368

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:

Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

**

I loved this book! It is not usually my go-to genre so I’m happily surprised that it was such a good read. It is very heartwarming as the protagonists have a very troubled background and for, Grace, also a very troubled present day that at times the troubles seem insurmountable. The magic of the Dove family is just delightful. I wish I had a Sarah to hand me some books,  a Mama G. to give me some wisdom and a quaint town like Dove Pond to visit. I truly liked the people of Dove Pond, even the ones that were not so likable. This felt like the first book in a series and I’m hoping for more books about the Dove Family and Dove Pond.

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What Turns me on…

What turns me on….

Vincent Eduardo Verastegui

No, no, not him…well…maybe him, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.  (BTW his name is Edwardo Verestiqui) Here I’m talking about what I swoon about with my fave authors

I know there are a ton of books that have been released over the years that I haven’t read and I assume you might have missed them also. That’s why I review some older books from time to time along with current ones.
It seems, when I find a new-to-me author, which I like, I want to read their entire back catalog. Linda Howard was one of those for me, also Lisa Kleypas and Stella Riley, Lucinda Brandt, Harlan Cobin, Julia Quinn, Courtney Milan, Sarah MacLean and Sherry Thomas. All have a way with prose that bespeaks an inventive intelligence and I’m surely (if nothing else) an intellectual snob. There you have it, another confession. I’m not proud of being that kind of a snob, or any kind actually. It’s just that I don’t tolerate idiots well at all. I’m a bottom-line, drama-free, give-me-some-common-sense kinda woman. Come to me crying that you just bought a Prada purse but now don’t know how you will buy groceries and I about go ballistic at your stupidity. (my husband considers this a gross personality flaw, the ballistic thing, not the practical thing) I’m just practical beyond reason. I’m certainly not the academic-intellectual type of snob but all of this is off topic….
I simply love “smart” writing.
1. When characters are brought to life and I can feel them breathing I am delighted.
2. When plotting is intricate and a novel has twists that I never saw coming, I will probably give it an automatic five.
3. When romance is slow built and I can see the protagonists falling in love even before they do, I’m swooning.
4. Make me laugh with wit and intelligence and you are on my all time fave list.
5. Give me action and adventure that is heart pounding and page turning, well let’s just say you had me at the first run through the forest to escape the baddies.

And, if you give me all of those wrapped in one paperback cover…. I’m gonna bake you a pie and read your entire back list.

P.S. Click on a mentioned author’s name in “tags” to see my reviews.

(portions of this post have been edited from an earlier post.)

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Release Day Review- Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald

Time after Time

Title: Time After Time

Genre: Historical Fantasy Love Story

Author: Lisa Grunwald

Publisher: Random House, June 11, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 416

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 3

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:

On a clear December morning in 1937, at the famous gold clock in Grand Central Terminal, Joe Reynolds, a hardworking railroad man from Queens, meets a vibrant young woman who seems mysteriously out of place. Nora Lansing is a Manhattan socialite whose flapper clothing, pearl earrings, and talk of the Roaring Twenties don’t seem to match the bleak mood of Depression-era New York. Captivated by Nora from her first electric touch, Joe despairs when he tries to walk her home and she disappears. Finding her again—and again—will become the focus of his love and his life.

Nora, a fiercely independent aspiring artist, is shocked to find she’s somehow been trapped, her presence in the terminal governed by rules she cannot fathom. It isn’t until she meets Joe that she begins to understand the effect that time is having on her, and the possible connections to the workings of Grand Central and the solar phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge, when the sun rises or sets between the city’s skyscrapers, aligned perfectly with the streets below.

As thousands of visitors pass under the famous celestial blue ceiling each day, Joe and Nora create a life unlike any they could have imagined. With infinite love in a finite space, they take full advantage of the “Terminal City” within a city, dining at the Oyster Bar, visiting the Whispering Gallery, and making a home at the Biltmore Hotel. But when the construction of another landmark threatens their future, Nora and Joe are forced to test the limits of freedom and love.

Delving into Grand Central Terminal’s rich past, Lisa Grunwald crafts a masterful historical novel about a love affair that defies age, class, place, and even time.

**
A tremendous amount of research went into this novel. Ms. Grunwald
makes the reader feel the pulse and rhythm of the daily city within a city that is Grand Central Terminal. I was so impressed with the story of the terminal that I immediately upon finishing the book went to look up the history and photos of the terminal.

I originally thought this to be a time travel book but it is more of a fantasy. Nora died in a train crash at the terminal in 1925 but on a certain Manhattan solstice day she comes back to the terminal. She meets Joe who falls in love with her and the major plot of the book is how they can remain together. The reader must suspend disbelief in order to accept that a ghost can have a physical body and that the Biltmore Hotel doesn’t know who is sleeping in their rooms. Somehow Ms. Grunwald makes us believe all sorts of impossibilities.

I did enjoy this book, especially the history of the Terminal. The heroine/ghost was a bit flighty at times and I didn’t like her actions at the end. I couldn’t help but feel that Joe would have been so much better off without her. The fact that the author created such feelings in the reader is revealing that she is a true master of her craft.

**

Some Grand central Terminal photos of light beams that  play an important part in Nora’s travels between worlds  :

Grand Central Station light beam

Grand Central Station sunbeams

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Filed under Book review, Books, Books Historical Romance, Fantasy, General Fiction & Literature, Historical Fiction, Time Travel Novel

Release Day Review- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The unhoneymooners

Title: The Unhoneymooners

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author: Christina Lauren

Publisher: Gallery Books, May 14, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 416

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

**
This book had me alternating between giggles and guffaws. This enemies to lovers story is full of mishaps and hilarity throughout except, of course, when it is breaking your heart. But this is a romance so hearts do get mended.

Arising early and not wanting to awaken my spouse, I started reading this book at 6am and did not stop reading until I had finished the book. Luckily it was Sunday and hubby didn’t mind bringing me coffee and getting take-out food. There was no way I was going to stop reading until I knew how Olive and Ethen managed the disasters.

I loved this book, it put a smile on my face that refuses to go away. Highly recommended.

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Release Day Review- Lachlan by D. B. Reynolds

Lachlan

Title: Lachlan: Vampires In Europe (Vampires In America Series #13)

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

Author: D.B. Reynolds

Publisher: ImaJinn, April 26, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 276

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5+

Description from Amazon.com:

Scotland—sweeping forests, tumbling waterfalls. . .and towering highlands where vampire warriors have ruled for centuries.
Lethal and charismatic, vampire Lachlan McRae woke on his first night to death and devastation—his clan slaughtered, his fortress destroyed. One hundred and fifty years later, driven to avenge the murder of everyone he loved, he’s ready to hunt down and kill the one vampire who was behind it all—Erskine Ross, the Vampire Lord of Scotland.
Beautiful, smart, and cool under pressure, Julia Harper is determined to prove she’s more than a child of wealth and privilege. When a lifelong friend is murdered by vampires, she steps out of her role as an analyst for the CIA, and sets out to take down one of the most powerful men in Scotland—the deadly Erskine Ross.
Recruited by a friend to arrange contact between Lachlan and her best friend Cyn’s mate, the powerful Vampire Lord Raphael, Julia soon discovers that she and Lachlan want the same thing . . . Erskine’s death. But when Erskine sets out to kill Julia instead, she and Lachlan find themselves fighting for her life, and for a love that neither one of them can trust.
**
No, Julia and Lachlin do not fall in love at first site:

Lachlan leaned across the table to shake, careful of the woman’s slender hand as he wrapped his thick fingers around hers. A tingling heat warmed his palm when their hands touched, and his eyes shot up to meet hers, seeing her pupils widen in surprise as if she felt the same heat. She managed to confine her reaction to her eyes, keeping the rest of her face cooly polite, which was fine with him. Keeping his tone the same, he said, “Ms. Harper.”
“Julia “, she supplied as she slid her fingers out of his grasp. (Lachlan by D.B. Reynolds)

Now what is so important to know about that meeting? It is that we know they are going to fall in love but it takes about 8 delicious, sexual tension chapters to get there. Yes, I love the build up!!!! Almost as much as the capitulation to lust. Lachlan is my new book-boyfriend and yes I’ve said that before. I think the last time was Vincent but don’t hold me to that. It might have been …. Oh you know by now that I’m gaga over all of Ms. Reynolds Alpha vamps. (We shall rename her “Mother of Vampires”)
In this book we are gifted with that slow, delicious sexual chemistry but also Ms. Reynolds’ signature heart pounding action. We are introduced to clever dialog and vivid atmosphere. Don’t let that slow build-up fool you, this is a fiercely erotic book delivered by the hands of an accomplished author. Some vampires are evil but all vampires can be violent even the ones that heroines fall in love with. And when circumstances allow, some heroines can step up and be just as violent.
So whatcha looking for ?? Action? Adventure? Raphael? Cyn? Hot sex? Vampire Alphas? It’ s all right here. And a true kickass heroine.

NOTE: Did you catch that super quote on the front of the book?

Vampires In America Series –start with RAPHAEL if you are a newbie.

 

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Filed under Book review, Books, Highlands of Scotland, Paranormal Romance, Vampire

Release Day Review- Run Away by Harlan Coben

Run Away

Title: Run Away

Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Author: Harlan Coben

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 384

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.
***
Harlan Coben gives us, once again, a well plotted, suspenseful thriller. Simon, a financial analyst, doesn’t know how his life has fallen apart all he knows is that he must save his oldest daughter, but he can’t find her. There is his beautiful wife, Ingrid, a pediatrician and his three children; the two younger kids are on the right path but the oldest went off to college and ended up drowning in drugs. Simon takes many paths to find Paige, most very dangerous. Coben gives us some seeming unrelated events that all coalesce into a heart pounding surprising ending. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves a can’t-put-it-down read.

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