Review: Gifted by Ainsley St Claire

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Title: Gifted
Author: Ainsley St Claire
Series: Clear Security Holiday #1
Publisher: Loisir Publishing
Publication Date: November 18, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Holiday Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 3 stars

How do things fall apart so easily?

Kate:

As a former teacher, my mission is to keep the disadvantaged youth of our city engaged with school. My non-profit has been wildly successful with the kids, but now I’m forty mentors short for the Christmas season. It didn’t look like we would be able to find enough help, until Jim Adelson got involved. He may have solved my mentor problem, but he’s created another: I can’t concentrate with this panty melting God around.

Jim:

The community has been good to me. I’d built my successful security business with hard work and determination, and when I got approached to help Kate Monroe’s non-profit, it seemed a fitting way to give back. I’d offer to spend time with some kids, but it’s Kate that I find myself wanting to spend time with. With beauty obvious to everyone, and a compassionate heart she wears on her sleeve, she has me reevaluating my priorities.

When the children’s Christmas gifts go missing, Jim and Kate are forced together in the hunt.

Can true love fight through the drama to find a happy ending?

Review:

Gifted was cute for what it was. A short, holiday romance with a good message. It demonstrates the importance of giving back to our community and all that can be done to aide those in need and how our good actions can truly have a positive impact on those around us.

I know this book was incredibly short and a holiday romance, so I walked right into this, but I wasn’t expecting the insta-love to be that quick or sweet. I blinked and suddenly Jim and Kate were head-over-heels, I’d-take-a-bullet-for-you in love with each other.

With the story itself, everything was a little to perfect. The friends were all over the top kind and everything worked itself out without much of an issue. Even the ending was abrupt.

Overall, if you’re looking for a quick holiday romance read (under 175 pages) to get you in the Christmas spirit, you could pick this one up and easily read it in a day.

About Ainsley St Claire:

Ainsley St Claire is a Romantic Suspense Author and Adventurer on a lifelong mission to craft sultry storylines and steamy love scenes that captivate her readers. To date, she is best known for her series Venture Capitalists.

An avid reader since the age of four, Ainsley’s love of books knew no genre. After reading, came her love of writing, fully immersing herself in the colorful, impassioned world of contemporary romance.

Ainsley’s passion immediately shifted to a vocation when during a night of terrible insomnia, her first book came to her. Ultimately, this is what inspired her to take that next big stop. The moment she wrote her first story, the rest was history.

Currently, Ainsley is in the midst of writing a nine-book series called “Venture Capitalist.”

When she isn’t being a bookworm or typing away her next story on her computer, Ainsley enjoys spending quality time with her loved ones. She is happily married to her amazing soulmate and is a proud mother of two rambunctious boys. She is also a scotch aficionada and lover of good food (especially melt-in-your-mouth, velvety chocolate). Outside of books, family, and food, Ainsley is a professional sports spectator and an equally as terrible golfer and tennis player.

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Review: The Reluctant Boyfriend by Erika Kelly – Blog Tour

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Title: The Reluctant Boyfriend
Author: Erika Kelly
Series: Bad Boyfriend #4
Publisher: EK Publishing
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

Goodreads
Amazon

Rating: 3 stars

Princess Gone Wild!

When Princess Rosalina discovers her fiancé cheating on her, she’s done being dutiful. Jumping on a plane, she lands five thousand miles away in a world of hot cowboys, jean skirts, and tequila. Grabbing her chance to fly under the radar, she plans on acting out every single fantasy she’s denied herself while trying to meet the expectations of her family and country.

Brodie Bowie doesn’t know what happened. One minute he’s wreaking havoc and tearing up the slopes with his brothers, and the next he’s an outsider. All of them are in serious relationships. He just can’t figure out why they’d put a ring on it when there’s so much fun to be had as a single man.

Brodie’s not the settling down type, but then he’s never met anyone like the woman who jumps in front of his bulldozer, refusing to let him dig up his meadow. The feisty chemist and perfumer is everything he never knew he wanted.

Except she only wants a summer fling before she goes back to her real life . . . as a princess.

He doesn’t fit in her world, and there’s no way she can live in his.

But a love like theirs doesn’t play by the rules.

Review:

I have a lot of mixed feeling about this novel. There were some things that I enjoyed and other things that really didn’t do it for me. Unfortunately one of the main things that bothered me was the main female character. And that’s a big part of the story considering how character driven romance novels are.

It isn’t often I feel this way about characters, but I had such an issue with Rosalina. She did not have a single flaw. She was too perfect. She was incredibly smart (a chemist and perfumer), a total athletic badass, fiercely loyal to her family but also looking out for herself, had the perfect body, and was a total freak in bed. And of course, she was a princess.

I prefer for characters to have a flaw somewhere. It makes them human and real. It makes you cheer from them. At least Brodie had some kind of flaw that made him seem normal. Rosie had aspects of perfection from every “category” of person and in the end it made her boring to me.

On a more positive note though, I did enjoy the writing and the plot line of the story. Erika Kelly is a wonderful writer and because of that, I do plan on picking up the first three novels and the next novel about Sky and Jinx. From their brief moments in this story, I think I would enjoy the other books and their characters.

Another positive is that I though the setting was fantastic and if I could, I would move to Calamity in a heartbeat. Sounds like my kind of place.

Overall the book was good, but the main character, which is usually a huge part of romance novels, wasn’t my cup of tea.

About Erika Kelly:

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Award-winning author Erika Kelly has been spinning romantic tales all her life—she just didn’t know it. Raised on the classics, she didn’t discover romantic fiction until later in life. From that moment on, she’s been devouring the genre and has found her true voice as an author. Over three decades she’s written poems, screenplays, plays, short stories, and all kinds of women’s fiction novels. Married to the love of her life and raising four children, she lives in the northeast, drinks a lot of tea, and is always waiting for her cats to get off her keyboard.

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Review: How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman – Blog Tour + Giveaway

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Title: How the Light Gets In
Author: Katy Upperman
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

Goodreads
Indigo | Amazon |Barnes & Noble

Rating: 3 stars

Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents have become.

When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.

But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?

Review:

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting going into this, but I know it wasn’t what I read.

Throughout the novel I never connected to Callie or any of the other characters. It doesn’t take a lot for me to get emotionally invested, but for some reason that never occurred with this book. No one seemed captivating enough to gather my attention long enough for me to care about what would happen to them.

I wasn’t expecting the ghost aspect of the story to be as prominent as it was. Of course because of the synopsis, it was going to be present, but it was a lot and didn’t really do much for me as a reader. Maybe that is one of the reasons I never seemed to care for any of the characters, especially Callie.

The one thing I did find intriguing was the mystery surrounding Stewart house and the old, hidden away items that Callie found while working on the house. That story captured my attention instantly and I was looking forward to the moments when we would be able to learn more about the past inhabitants of Stewart House and Bell Cove.

Overall this book was just ok for me. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either. I was never invested with any of the characters or their stories and come my end of the year wrap up, I probably won’t remember much.

Giveaway:

Prize: Win (1) copy of HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN by Katy Upperman and some swag (INT)

Starts: August 12th 2019
Finishes: August 26th 2019

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Check out the other lovely people participating in the tour here

About Katy Upperman:

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Katy’s debut novel, Kissing Max Holden, was published August 1, 2017, and her sophomore effort, The Impossibility of Us, released July 31, 2018. Her third novel, How the Light Gets In, will be out August 6, 2019. All three books are with Swoon Reads/Macmillan. She’s represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Agency.

 

 

 

 

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Review: Sunkissed Days by Samantha Chase – Blog Tour

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Title: Sunkissed Days
Author: Samantha Chase
Series: Magnolia Sound #0.5
Publisher: Chasing Romance Inc.
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received an advanced copy from InkSlinger PR/the author in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

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Rating: 3 stars

Mallory Westbrook is ready to make her move on Jake Summerford, the boy—now man—she’s been crushing on for years. Coming back to Magnolia Sound to celebrate her great-grandfather’s birthday provides the perfect opportunity to show Jake that she’s no longer a child.

The last thing Jake expected to do at his mentor’s birthday party was to find himself kissing Mallory under the moonlight. Though he’s known her for years, the thought of kissing her never crossed his mind. But the shy tomboy he once knew is gone, and in her place is a woman he can’t resist.

They have one summer before they go their separate ways. Insecurity wars with the possibility of a future together, but it could all come to an end before it even has a chance to start.

Review:

Sunkissed Days is the prequel to a brand new series by Samantha Chase. It gives us a look into the things that happened between Mallory and Jack six years before the start of the first official novel, Remind Me, in the Magnolia Sound series.

My main issue with the prequel was how it read as a young adult novel to me. I love young adult novels to bits, so that’s not a shot at YA, don’t worry. It’s more that if I’m reading a book marketed as your average adult contemporary romance about a 20 year old and 24 year old, I’m not expecting them to act 15.

Mallory was playing games like a high schooler trying to get Jake’s attention and it kind of bothered me. Also her reaction at the end of the novel. You cannot convince me that girl is 20 and not 15.

The story line was interesting as a whole, and I’m looking forward to reading Remind Me when it comes out. I do want to know how their lives have progressed. And let’s be real, I want to read more about Zeke because that man is the wisest old guy you’ll ever read about.

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About Samantha Chase:

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Samantha Chase is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of contemporary romance. She released her debut novel in 2011 and currently has more than forty titles under her belt! When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook, wearing a tiara while playing with her sassy pug Maylene…oh, and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

 

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Review: Looker by Laura Sims

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Title: Looker
Author: Laura Sims
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Genre: Fiction
Source: Received an advanced copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 3 stars

A dazzling, razor-sharp debut novel about a woman whose obsession with the beautiful actress on her block drives her to the edge.

I’ve never crossed their little fenced-in garden, of course. I stand on the sidewalk in front of the fern-and-ivy-filled planter that hangs from the fence—placed there as a sort of screen, I’m sure—and have a direct line of view into the kitchen at night. I’m grateful they’ve never thought to install blinds. That’s how confident they are. No one would dare stand in front of our house and watch us, they think. And they’re probably right: except for me.

In this taut and thrilling debut, an unraveling woman, unhappily childless and recently separated, becomes fixated on her neighbor—the actress. The unnamed narrator can’t help noticing with wry irony that, though she and the actress live just a few doors apart, a chasm of professional success and personal fulfillment lies between them. The actress, a celebrity with her face on the side of every bus, shares a gleaming brownstone with her handsome husband and their three adorable children, while the narrator, working in a dead-end job, lives in a run-down, three-story walk-up with her ex-husband’s cat.

When an interaction with the actress at the annual block party takes a disastrous turn, what began as an innocent preoccupation spirals quickly, and lethally, into a frightening and irretrievable madness. Searing and darkly witty, Looker is enormously entertaining—at once a propulsive Hitchcockian thriller and a fearlessly original portrait of the perils of envy.

Review:

“Alone with a bottle of wine, how luxurious. I’ll be alone with one, too, in a few minutes, but the quality of her aloneness differs from mine. Hers is fuller: surrounded, swaddled even – an island on whose shores laps a vibrant, busy sea. Her aloneness is temporary; mine is infinite. Mine spreads out from the center like a puddle, muddying everything it touches.”

When I first heard about Looker, I was intrigued. The synopsis was giving me some slight The Woman in the Window vibes, which was one of my favourite books of 2018. I decided to request it and was fortunate enough to receive a copy via NetGalley.

The problem was, it seemed like it was going to be a mystery or a thriller. It’s not that. Sure, the ending is intense (literally the last 10% at most), but otherwise this story fell a little flat for me. While it started of interesting enough, it seemed overly repetitive and I never felt for the narrator in a way that I probably should have considering the struggles she had to endure with her infertility and her husband leaving her along with her crappy job.

The one thing I thought was nice was that because the narrator was so unreliable, I wasn’t entirely sure what was real and what was conjured up in her mind. Were her negative interactions with people as bad as she thought they were? Were her positive interactions only in her mind because she needed them to be positive in order to not lose her mind?

All in all, I would say that Looker is a fascinating character study about one’s obsession with another caused by a string of terrible events in her life. But because it sounded more like a thriller than anything else, I was a little disappointed. However, I think if you go into it knowing it isn’t a thriller and there is no big mystery to solve, it would be an enjoyable book.