Review: The Look-Alike

Review: The Look-AlikeThe Look-Alike by Erica Spindler
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 28, 2020
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 311

FINAL DECISION: Very creepy, twisty book. This was enjoyable although I found the ending not as dramatic as I would have expected. The journey in this one was better than the destination…but it was a good journey.

THE STORY: Sienna Scott discovers a murdered girl one night at college and knows that it could have been her. Even worse, maybe it was supposed to be her. Ten years later, the murder is still unsolved. Sienna returns home to a mother with psychological problems and a fear that she might be subject to the same paranoid persecution delusions as her mother.  Is Sienna delusional or is someone trying to kill her?

OPINION: This one is certainly better if a reader doesn’t know what will happen. As soon as I had it figured out, I didn’t find the book as compelling. I really did enjoy the twisting and suspense of the story until close to the ending. This was an enjoyable read and even if the ending wasn’t as good as I had expected, I thought the journey was definitely worth the time I took to read it.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is a thriller but there are romantic elements.


STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Fall

Review: FallFall (VIP, #3) by Kristen Callihan
Series: VIP #3
Published by Plain Jane on October 23, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 452

FINAL DECISION: Incredibly satisfying book. These two characters journey was well paced and I especially enjoyed the slow burn aspect of the story. These characters are deeply engaged in their relationship which allows readers to get to know their weaknesses and their strengths. Loved this one.

THE STORY: While shopping for groceries, Stella Grey runs into a handsome guy who is taking the last package of her favorite ice cream from the freezer at the store. Their competition over it is won by Stella who kisses the guy. Of course, it turns out that the guy lives next door to the penthouse where she is working her temporary pet sitting job. He also happens to be Jax Blackwood — one of the famous, and perhaps the most infamous, members of a legendary rock band.

OPINION: In this book, a lot of time is spent on John and Stella learning about one another. The story is sexy because these two have time and space to get to know one another. I really enjoyed this because it allowed depth to their romance. The focus is on the characters and the plot only serves to highlight and raise issues between the characters — which is my favorite kind of romance.

John aka Jax is a man dealing with his mental health issues. I thought that this book depicted his depression in a way that really gave me insight into how this issue can effect ones life. I found his character sympathetic even as he is sometimes a jerk. I found him generally sweet and funny.

Both John and Stella have masks on. The smiles, the confidence, the concern for others hides dark thoughts and deep insecurities and hurt. The unveiling of these characters kept me fascinated by their story.

Stella is a woman who everyone likes, but no one really knows. Her internal life and pain compel her to keep a distance for those who would care for her. She has strength but also is incredibly vulnerable. We know John’s story immediately, but Stella’s story is hidden in the beginning and only begins to reveal itself through John and Stella’s relationship.

I love books where the relationship is allowed time to develop. Two people learning one another, building a relationship based upon friendship and caring. That makes this book really hot because of the delayed gratification and when things progress here, there is definitely caring and emotion involved.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers of the prior books will be aware that Jax has attempted suicide (off page) and this book addresses, among other things, his depression and other emotional and mental challenges he faces.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FALL is the third book in the VIP series. The romance here is self-contained and although there are overlapping characters, this book can be read completely as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Managed

Review: ManagedManaged (VIP, #2) by Kristen Callihan
Series: VIP #2
Published by NLA Digital LLC on November 14, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 344

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book which has a totally buttoned up stuffy hero and the strong woman who just breaks him down. Funny and emotional and a nice slow burn story.

THE STORY: Gabriel Scott aka Scottie who is the manager for a famous rock band ends up flying next to Sophie Darling on a transatlantic flight. The two argue and flirt and talk their way to England where Sophie discovers that her new mysterious job is as a social media manager for the band.

OPINION: I loved this book because there is something adorable about the grumpy stuffy Scottie completely falling for the strong willed spunky Sophie. She doesn’t put up with his grief and that makes him completely undone by her.

Scottie keeps himself apart from those who care about him, and he is reaching a quiet breaking point in his life. He manages to keep his life buttoned up and carefully planned until Sophie comes into it. Sophie is big and open and makes mistakes but owns them. This opposites attract story worked so well for me.

I liked that these two became friends of a sort before the sex began in their relationship. These two talked and argued as a form of foreplay which made this book funny and emotional and incredibly sexy in a different way.

These characters are complicated and felt real in their humanity. They make mistakes and have to deal with the results. I also really loved the relationship between the band members which I felt was more developed than the first book in the series.

Because the book touches on serious themes, I thought it might be dark, but instead it felt funny in a completely human fashion that made me smile and laugh but never feel that the book was slapstick.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is told in alternating first person points of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MANAGED is the second book in the VIP series. The romance is self-contained and although there are overlapping characters in the books, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Chasing Cassandra

Review: Chasing CassandraChasing Cassandra (The Ravenels, #6) by Lisa Kleypas
Published by Avon on February 18, 2020
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION: Fabulous ending for the Ravenels series although I admit to being much more interested in Tom than in Cassandra. Cassandra is a kind person and the way she gentles Tom is wonderful, but Tom is the compelling character in this one.

THE STORY: The first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel is enough for railroad magnate Tom Severin to know that she was exactly what he wanted. But Cassandra wants to marry for love and Tom knows that he cannot love.  There is a compelled by circumstances marriage and Tom and Cassandra try and manage their expectations of one another.

OPINION: Tom is definitely the star in this book. Indeed, this is really Tom’s book. That was perfectly fine with me because he is such an interesting and damaged character that his journey was compelling to me. I really loved how the gentle and kind Cassandra really shakes up Tom’s life and expectations of himself. Tom is a man who doesn’t know how to process feelings. Readers of the series will know that he also has a flexible version of right and wrong. Neither of those characteristics are things that Cassandra can accept. Tom doesn’t know if when he meets Cassandra, but he is going to be completely willing to change for her.

Tom’s character is so compelling that Cassandra seems to be lost. But on my second time through the book, I began to notice her more. To see how she guides the events in this book even if she isn’t as prominent in this book as other Kleypas heroines. This feels like Tom’s journey. I loved that change and loved the relationship between these characters.

WORTH MENTIONING: Content Warning for attempted sexual assault.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CHASING CASSANDRA is the sixth book in the Ravenels series. The romance in this book is self-contained and can be read as a standalone, but since these two characters have appeared in prior books in the series, I think this book is much better after reading the others in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Edelweiss. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.


Review: Idol

Review: IdolIdol (VIP, #1) by Kristen Callihan
Series: VIP #1
Published by Plain Jane on June 7, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 339

FINAL DECISION: The story was uneven and the blurb is mostly the first quarter of the book. There is a development in the story that encompasses the middle third of the book and then a dramatic turn for the ending. I found the middle of this book a bit meandering and it wasn’t the strongest part for me. I still enjoyed the book, but the pacing didn’t work for me as well as I would have liked.

THE STORY: Liberty Bell find a drunk man sprawled out on her lawn. Eventually she finds out he is Killian James, a huge rock star. The two begin a friendship that turns into something more and brings Libby into a world of music that she has avoided for most of her life.

OPINION: I enjoyed the characters in this book. Libby and Kilian are funny and yet deeply emotional. I liked that this book is centered around the emotions on these two people who struggle and make mistakes. I felt that these characters had depth and complexity to them.

I really enjoyed how Callihan writes. The prose and the sentence development was very engaging. The story is told in alternating first person narratives which makes the motivations of the characters clear even if I was frustrated with their struggles. But I enjoyed that part of the story.

I also really enjoyed the secondary characters who also have a complexity that makes me want to read their stories as well.

The negative here was that in the middle of the book, I just felt that the characters were in a holding pattern waiting for the plot to develop around them. I didn’t feel that the characters had a purpose during that portion of the book.

Finally, the characters were popped free by the plot and I felt that things began to move again. I overall enjoyed this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of Nalini Singh’s Rock Kiss series or Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series might enjoy this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  IDOL is the first book in the VIP series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.