Review: Tempting Lies by Sara Whitney

Title: Tempting Lies
Author: Sara Whitney
Series: Tempt Me #4
Publisher: LoveSpark Press
Publication Date: September 10, 2020
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 5 stars

He’s out to prove he can do more than swing a hammer.

After her widowed mother rushed into a regrettable second marriage, Thea Blackwell vowed never to commit to anything. Not jobs. Not hairstyles. Not men. Yet here she is dreaming about buying a house and having it renovated by the town playboy who never spared her a second glance. Too bad she lacks both the cash and the courage.

Aiden Murdoch put his wild ways behind him to help his ailing father run the family construction business, but he can’t seem to escape his scandalous reputation. Then his childhood friend Thea shows him her money pit of a fixer-upper, and he stumbles on the perfect solution: he’ll provide the labor, and she’ll make him look happily domesticated in front of his father’s nervous clients.

What should be a simple arrangement gets complicated fast when fake kisses lead to real feelings, leaving Aiden aching to prove he’s worth a lifelong commitment and Thea wondering if her pretend boyfriend can truly give up his swipe-right lifestyle. With forever on the line, will they be brave enough to tear down the lies they’ve told each other—and themselves?

Review:

The fake dating trope is by far my favourite trope of all time so when I saw this I knew I had to read it. And I’m so glad that I did. I absolutely loved it!

The reasoning behind Aiden and Thea wanting to fake date made complete sense. They both get something out of it that will truly help them in life. Thea gets her dream princess home that she’s wanted since she was a young girl and Aiden gets his clients to see him as a family man as he prepares to be given his part of the family’s consutrction company.

The romance between Thea and Aiden was too cute. It was clear from the start that they had a connecction and would make a really good couple. Let’s be honest, they put more effort into their fake relationship than I’ve seen other people put into a real relationship. Even their fake relationship was couple goals.

This was my first time reading a novel by Sara Whitney and I adored it. The writing was fantastic. There were some excellent one liners, strong side characters who helped move the plot along, and the romance was just the right amount of steamy.

While Tempting Lies can easily be read as a standalone, I’m looking forward to reading the other novels in the Tempt Me series.

About Sara Whitney:

Sara Whitney writes sassy, sexy contemporary romance novels packed with wit, heat, and heart. A 2019 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award finalist, Sara worked as a newspaper reporter and film critic before she earned her Ph.D. and landed in academia. She’s a good pinball player, a so-so karaoke singer, and an expert TV opinion-haver.

In a funny twist of fate, Sara’s married to a divorce attorney, and she likes to think that her happily-ever-afters help keep their household in balance. She and her husband live in the Midwest surrounded by books, cats, and half-empty coffee cups.  Keep up with Sara by subscribing to her mailing list here.

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Review: Keep Forever by Alexa Kingaard – Blog Tour + Giveaway

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Title: Keep Forever
Author: Alexa Kingaard
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Publication Date: March 28, 2020
Genre: Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 5 stars

Paul O’Brien’s idyllic childhood in Southern California comes to a halt when his mother dies in the summer before his senior year of high school and a very different persona of his father emerges – isolating himself inside the house, turning to alcohol for comfort, and barely noticing his only child. Simultaneously, the war in Vietnam is sending shock waves around the world and young men from one coast to the other are being called upon to serve. Paul enlists in the Marines before receiving his draft notice. 

Elizabeth Sutton is eager to gain some independence from her father’s old fashioned notions and looking forward to her first year in high school.  At fifteen years old, tragedy strikes with the loss of both parents in an auto accident, turning her childhood into one of responsibility and worry overnight.  The four siblings are scattered when her nine-year-old twin sisters are sent to live with their Aunt and Uncle on Nantucket Island, and Elizabeth is left behind in Boston with their grandmother.  Her older brother, Sam, enlists in the Marines, eager to join the conflict a world away as opposed to dealing with the one unfolding at home. 

A bond develops between Paul and Sam in Vietnam, and both are injured in a bloody battle that costs Sam his right hand and sets the stage for a lifetime of nightmares and sleepless nights for Paul.  Matched by similar tragedies at a young age, Elizabeth and Paul’s first introduction by Sam upon their return from Vietnam is the beginning of friendship and love that survives five decades. 

After marrying, welcoming their first child, and inheriting a small beach house, the couple adapts to their new surroundings, but distant memories of Vietnam continue to haunt Paul.  In an era when veterans refuse to speak of their pain and the government denies that thousands of soldiers are coming home irreparably damaged, he is left to deal with the challenge of caring for his loved ones amidst his his erratic flashback episodes and moods. As their lives unravel from the lingering effects of PTSD,  Elizabeth learns to accept the burden that Paul brought home, and together they make their own memories to keep forever.

Inspired By A True Story

Review:

Keep Forever was a poignant and gripping novel about the aftermath of the war in Vietnam and the struggles faced by its soldiers and their families. It was insightful and honest and powerful.

I could not put this down. The story of Elizabeth and Paul was so raw and real. The representation of the PTSD Paul had was absolutely heartbreaking. My heart broke for the struggles he faced and the fact that the mentality then was “we’re manly soldiers and we don’t talk about our pain” made it all the more sad to read. About halfway through when Paul had a sort of breaking point with his PTSD/depression, I was on the verge of crying like a baby because it hit so close to home. She could not have painted a better picture of the sadness and the fear from both the person suffering and the family members who love that person with their whole heart.

I wish this book was 600 pages. There was so much life between Elizabeth and Paul to be explored. Some moments were explored more and others were glossed over. But considering this is coming from Alexa Kingaard’s own personal experience, I can accept that. She’s chosen to highlight what she felt was important through the life she experienced with a husband home from Vietnam with PTSD and to me that made the book even better. These emotions were truly felt by her at one point or another in her life and she really hit the nail on the head with how much it can hurt to see the one you love suffer and there’s not really much you can do to help.

I loved this book so much and I really hope you guys will pick this one up.

Giveaway:

  • Enter HERE
  • Prize: $50 Amazon gift card
  • International
  • Ends: May 13, 2020

About Alexa Kingaard:

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Alexa Kingaard was born in San Diego, CA and has lived most of her life in the area. She currently resides in Carlsbad and is the mother of a son and daughter who continue to be her biggest fans and cheerleaders.

Her debut novel, KEEP FOREVER, was inspired by her late ex-husband who batted the residual effects of the Vietnam War for decades after his return. The burden he brought home is shared by combat veterans of all conflicts, and her fictional account highlights the collateral damage encountered by family members and loved ones living with PTSD in their midst.

Her second novel, MY NAME IS ROSE, departs from her personal experiences and focuses on the collective memories of her generation. She loves writing about nostalgia and the human condition, the common denominator of our lives.

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Review: Heartless King by Maya Hughes

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Title: Heartless King
Author: Maya Hughes
Series: Kings of Rittenhouse #5
Publisher: Self-published by Maya Hughes
Publication Date: April 23, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 3 stars

Two blue lines. That means not pregnant, right? Right? Oh, sh*t.

Five years ago, Colm Frost asked me to marry him and I ran. I ran from my painful past too raw and fresh to escape. He was the only one who looked at me like I wasn’t broken and made me believe it. He made me feel it.

Now, he’s the hot, angry, hockey player on the mend. 

I’m the physiotherapist who’s supposed to get him back on his feet. 

I don’t think our night together was what his doctor prescribed, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t dreamt of him every time I close my eyes. I woke up beside him with my body still singing from the way he fanned the flames of my desire, but I couldn’t stay.

His lips on my neck. His hands wrapped around my waist. His impressive…ahem, touch leaving me breathless.

One moment of wild inhibition and it’s come back to bite me in the butt. Kind of like he did that night.

But a baby? Our night was supposed to be a one time thing, closing a door on the future I couldn’t handle. 

Will this new bump in the road be everything we needed to find our forever?

Review:

The beginning of the story started off strong for me. I liked the dynamic of slight hostility between Colm and Imogen. Sometimes he was a little much, but he had been through a lot so he had the right to be upset. I liked the start of them together. Imogen didn’t take any of his crap and pushed him to get back on his feet.

However, a word of warning: do yourself a favour and don’t read the synopsis. What is supposed to be the major issue of the book doesn’t happen until 60% of the way through. For a while I thought I was confusing this book with another one because nothing had happened. Maybe it’s just me, but if something that big happens that late in the book, mentioning it in the synopsis kind of feels like a spoiler. Also the whole “five years ago” thing in the synopsis really isn’t as dramatic as it sounds.

Because of how late the big reveal happened, it felt like everything else in the story was rushed. Especially their romance. I don’t know why, but I never felt like Imogen was fully invested the further the relationship went and despite what Colm says, I’m convinced he’s still following the same patterns of every woman he’s been with before Imogen came along. Imogen was spooked as heck and needed way more time to figure things out. I was just never convinced she was on the same page, but made a choice because time was running out.

About Maya Hughes:

Maya Hughes, that’s me!, can often be found sneaking in another chapter while hiding in the bathroom from her kids! 🙂 I’m a romance writer who loves taking inspiration from everyday life, namely my husband and biggest fan. Inspiration also strikes when I hear a song, meet someone new or daydream while at soccer practice.

I love writing stories that capture the possibilities of the paths less travelled and enjoy experiencing life through my characters’ eyes.

I’m the mom of three little ones, the wife to an amazing husband and also work full time. Some of my favorite things are cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, white wine, laughing until I can’t breathe, traveling with my family, and Jeff Goldblum.

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DNF Review: Wicked Liars by Laura Lee

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Title: Wicked Liars
Author: Laura Lee
Series: Windsor Academy #1
Publisher: Lovestruck Publishing
Publication Date: April 3, 2020
Genre: Dark Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: DNF/1 star

Liars.
Every last one of them.
The kings and queens of my new high school.
The father and stepmother I never knew. 
Each has more wealth and privilege than I could’ve ever imagined.
Each has a pile of wicked dirty secrets they’d do anything to protect.
 
These people have grown accustomed to getting what they want, and what they want is to make my life a living hell.
 
Too bad for them, you can’t break someone who’s already broken.
Too bad for them, I won’t give up without a fight.
Too bad for them, I’m going to make them pay…even if  it’s the last thing I do.

Review:

Warning: will contain spoilers because I’ll be explaining why I chose to DNF at 62%

Well. This was so not the book for me.

This book was as if Gossip Girl was rated R instead of 14+. The private school. The insane riches. The spoiled kids who get away with whatever they want. The parents who don’t give two shits about their kids but still want to control their lives anyway so they don’t make a mockery of the family’s name. Just add in a whole bunch of swearing and sexual activities. That’s not the problem though. I loved Gossip Girl. It was totally a guilty pleasure of mine when I was growing up. Give me a book like Gossip Girl with a whole bunch of swearing? Yes please. I swear like a sailor anyway.

I mean, the caricatures of what rich people and mean girls are may have been a little over the top, but I’ll survive that. It won’t get me to abandon a book.

My issue with this was the romance. The goddamn romance.

At around 30% is where shit went down. Jazz was at a party. She was going to get a drink with a guy and decided to ask him to watch her drink while she went to the washroom. First of all. Honey, no. NO. You know disaster is coming. Anyway, she gets back and has her drink and dances with him. He asks her to go somewhere private and in the book she says something along the lines of not remembering if she said yes but he’s leading her there anyway. Then he hands her off to Kingston and Bentley. Like here you go guys, got her all nice and roofied up for ya like you asked me too!!!!

Kingston and Bentley start making out with her and touching her upper body while the third member of their group (I don’t remember his name) films. They keep going until she passes out. Then they take of her pants to make it look like they had sex and take some compromising pictures. And it’s all around school on Monday morning.

But the drugging and sexual assault isn’t even what got me the most riled up. IT’S THAT SHE STARTS A ROMANCE WITH KINGSTON. THE GUY WHO DRUGGED HER AND ASSAULTED HER AND THEN SPREAD THE VIDEOS AND PICS TO THE WHOLE DAMN SCHOOL. AND SHE KNOWS IT WAS HIM. The same day after school he comes over and she kisses him. And then they start kind of dating because he needs to control her and get her to trust him in his big plan to take his dad and her dad down for some shit they’re doing that’s illegal or whatever. GIRL WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK. Get your shit together. You don’t date the man who drugged you. Who assaulted you. My god.

Not even the fact that the prologue started with Jazz sounding like she was ready to die after being killed was enough to make me continue. She’s surrounded by 800 psychos. Clearly one of them killed her or put out a hit or something equally as insane, but I really couldn’t even be bothered to keep reading to find out. Everything about this was one big hell no for me.

 

 

 

Review: Rules of Engagement by J.T. Geissinger

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Title: Rules of Engagement
Author: J.T. Geissinger
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-published by J.T. Geissinger
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 5 stars

As the owner of Perfect Pairings matchmaking service, Maddie McRae earns her living helping others fall in love. Dubbed the Wedding Whisperer due to her success getting couples down the aisle, the sweet Southern belle knows that the foundation of wedded bliss is built on similarities: opposites might attract, but they don’t stay together.  

Which is why she’s holding out for her own Prince Charming, a perfect gentleman who will arrive one day and sweep her off her feet with his devotion, kindness, and charm. 

Enter Mason Spark. 

Rude, arrogant, and notoriously allergic to monogamy, the hottest quarterback in the NFL is Maddie’s polar opposite. He’s also her new client. Her gorgeous, infuriating new client who’s paying her an outrageous sum of money to find him a wife. With his multi-million dollar contract on the line due to his behavior on and off the field, bad boy Mason is willing to pretend to settle down.  

But when he starts to fall for the adorkable matchmaker who can’t stand him, the playboy finds himself in the game of his life to keep something he never thought he’d lose—his heart.

Review:

This book is everything I wanted in a rom-com. Everything. I want to shout it from the rooftops that you all need to pick this up and read it immediately.

Rules of Engagement gave me R.S. Grey vibes in terms of the heroine of the novel (which is a high compliment because in my eyes she is the rom-com queen). Maddie was sassy and sarcastic without ever actually being mean. Her sense of humour was her shining point. She could dish it and take it and that is the best kind of heroine you could ask for in a rom-com. She was also a little bit clueless about Mason, but in the way you would come to expect in a romance. That little bit of back and forth that makes things more interesting.

The romance between Maddie and Mason was the cutest. I can’t remember the last time I’ve rooted for a couple so hard despite knowing that they are obviously going to end up together. They were the perfect match. Opposites who complimented one another so well. They had also each gone through some familial trauma when they were younger and I think that allowed them to understand the other better in terms of how they react and adapt to more difficult situations.

Each of the side characters added their own flair to the story. They all had their place that added to Maddie and Mason’s romance. I love that Aunt Waldine and Dick each had a chapter or two from their perspective. It made the story that much more authentic and really added to the comedy aspect of rom-com.

I really really loved this book. I had high expectations going in, and it smashed them all out of the park. This is a rom-com you need to add your TBRs.

About J.T. Geissinger:

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J.T. Geissinger is a bestselling author of emotionally charged romance and women’s fiction. Ranging from funny, feisty rom coms to intense, edgy suspense, her books have sold more than one million copies and been translated into several languages.

She is the recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book, the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, and is a two-time finalist for the RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America®. She has also been a finalist in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.

Her first novel was published in 2012. Since then she’s written eighteen more novels. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, drinking wine, surfing the internet, and daydreaming about all the things she’s going to be when she grows up. She lives near the beach in Los Angeles with her husband and deaf/demented rescue kitty, Ginger.

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