Review: The Southern Side of Paradise

Review: The Southern Side of ParadiseThe Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Series: Peachtree Bluff #3
Published by Gallery Books on May 7, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 387


FINAL DECISION: I really liked the relationship between the mother and her daughters. I thought the flow of the story worked well, and I especially enjoyed Ansley’s story. However, the plot of the book was too predictable. I had figured out Emerson’s storyline from start to finish by page 40. Ultimately, the whole thing was fine, but the obviousness of everything diminished this book for me a bit.

THE STORY: The story of a widow and her three adult daughters. Ansley Murphy’s life has changed as she reunites with an old lover she has never forgotten. Old secrets, however, have the possibility of upsetting what appears to be happiness in the family. Emerson, Ansley’s youngest daughter, has gotten engaged to her high school sweetheart. Yet, her career in Los Angeles conflicts with her romance and again threatens the relationship. This is the story of a family and the complexities and realities of relationships and life.

OPINION: I liked the book’s main storylines with Ansley and Emerson. Both had some complex issues.

Ansley is involved in a relationship with the man she loved years ago. There are secrets that she and Jack have kept from Ansley’s daughters. The romance between them is messy, and I did enjoy how the book turns from easy answers to the mistakes made in the past. My complaint is that some completely unnecessary outside drama bumped up the emotional complexity. Rather than going deeper into the emotions, the book turns to easily anticipated “surprises” that seem out of place in the depth of emotions.

I appreciated Emerson’s story as well, although it took way too long for the obvious ending to work out, and I felt disappointed that it took so long to get there. I liked the interaction with the sisters, and I did enjoy the overlaps between Emerson and Ansley’s stories.

I thought that the final quarter of the book was really well done. The emotion was there. As things wound up I began to think that perhaps I really did need to read the other books in the series to feel as invested in the story as I needed to.

Perhaps ultimately, there was both too much drama and not enough connection and emotional depth in this book. It is the kind of book that I enjoyed reading. The ending was especially a good payoff emotionally.

WORTH MENTIONING: Spoilers! Characters in this book are involved in cheating (although off the page), and relationships don’t last through the end of the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF PARADISE is the third book in the Peachtree Bluff series. This book can be read as a standalone. I have not read the others in the series and did not feel like I missed anything as to what was happening in the story — except by the end, the book began to feel like a wrap-up, and I knew that there were some emotional moments that I was missing because I hadn’t read the other books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



Review: Shipped

Review: ShippedShipped by Angie Hockman
Published by Gallery Books on January 19, 2021
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336

FINAL DECISION: This book couldn’t keep my attention. There were some funny moments, especially the text and email wars between Henley and Graeme, but the characters were flat to me once they met in person. Wanted to like it based on the story synopsis, but I didn’t find it compelling.

THE STORY: Henley Evans has a thorn in her side. It’s Graeme Crawford-Collins, the social media manager for the cruise line she does marketing for. The two of them haven’t met but spend a lot of effort having witty fights via text and email. The two end up competing for a promotion. They each have to prepare a proposal based upon a trip to the Galápagos that they have to take together. Once on the trip, Henley and Graeme find out that there is something between them that is hotter than their previous arguments.

OPINION: This was a book where I loved the blurb more than the execution of the story. Graeme ended up being too bland as a character that I really didn’t care about him or the romance with Henley. At about the fifty percent part of the book, I just started marching to the end. I was disappointed. The story wasn’t terrible and someone else who really loves soft nice guys might love this story. Wasn’t for me though.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is pitched as a romantic comedy and while there are some funny parts, it didn’t seem funny enough for its comedy designation.


STAR RATING: I give this book 1.5 stars.



Review: Her Deadly Secrets

Review: Her Deadly SecretsHer Deadly Secrets (Wolfe Security, #2) by Laura Griffin
Series: Wolfe Security #2
Published by Gallery Books on July 2, 2019
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 355

FINAL DECISION: Intriguing suspense story combined with some romance. I really enjoyed the crisp writing and the story kept me turning pages. I prefer more romance, but I came away interested in this new to me author.

THE STORY: Investigator Kira Vance winds up having her mentor killed in front of her while working on a case for the criminal defendant’s lawyer. With a killer somehow involved in the case, Kira is assigned security — which she doesn’t want. Her assigned security, Jeremy Owen from Wolfe Security. As more dangers and deaths surround the case, Kira needs to find the killer and avoid dying herself.

OPINION: This was a good read, but not the type of book that I would add my my re-read pile. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good. I did enjoy it. I had no idea what would be the resolution until the end.

The romance is a slow burn, but finally heats up at the end. I really liked Kira who was independent and is not a woman looking to be rescued.

The writing of this book was crisp and clean and kept the story moving.

The negative for me is that this is definitely a plot focused book and there is a lot I never find out about these characters. For me, that means that I felt less long term connection to the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’d like to see several other characters introduced here get their own stories.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HER DEADLY SECRETS is the second book in the Wolfe Security series. This book can be read as a standalone. I haven’t read the first book and didn’t feel like I had missed anything.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: MacRieve

Review: MacRieveMacRieve (Immortals After Dark, #14) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #14
Published by Gallery Books on July 2, 2013
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 384

Twisted and Painful and Dark But The Lykae is Also Cute

“You need to rebreak that bone. It didn’t set right.”

FINAL DECISION: The sad and painful journey of MacRieve to recover from his past where he discovers the mate he needs, treats her poorly and then realizes that she can help him heal. Chloe’s kickass personality was my favorite in this book.

THE STORY: Uilleam (“Will”) MacRieve is messed up. Tortured by his enemies, MacRieve has lost his Lykae instinct and he wants to die. The one thing that keeps him alive is the possibility of revenge. At this critical moment of his life, he meets his mate, Chloe Todd. Chloe is the mortal daughter of MacRieve’s enemy and is being auctioned off by the House of Witches. MacRieve’s instinct revives and tells him that he has to protect her. Things are complicated, however, because Chloe has secrets that even she doesn’t know that might send MacRieve from her forever.

OPINION: This is a journey through MacRieve’s past. As Nix tells him, he hasn’t healed from his past where he believes he caused the death of most of his family by his actions. His torture at the hands of the mortals has revived that pain and increased it. It’s sad that he meets Chloe and she seems to be able to help him heal, but then things go wrong.

MacRieve is brooding, dark, damaged and often times a serious jerk. He has some serious baggage that has haunted him for over nine hundred years. When he is charming, he is adorable. I also really liked the reversal of the normal Lykae story in this book. Here, MacRieve’s beast is often close to the surface and he learns to harness it through the book.

Chloe is one of my favorite heroines. MacRieve treats her poorly, but she doesn’t cower and whimper. She fights him. Her strength and determination allows her to survive MacRieve’s treatment of her. She also has to deal with some real surprises.

For fans of the series, Nix’s plans are revealed more here.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is the best epilogue but be prepared to be frustrated by having to wait.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MACRIEVE is the fourteenth book in the Immortals After Dark series. It can be read as a standalone although there is an overarching storyline for the series for which the reader needs to follow the various books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Prisoner of Night

Review: Prisoner of NightPrisoner of Night (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #16.5) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #16.5
Published by Gallery Books on January 7, 2019
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 176

FINAL DECISION: I really enjoyed this story. Damaged hero, strong independent heroine, lots of action and an engrossing love story makes for a really good story set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.

THE STORY: Ahmare will do anything to get her brother returned to her — even kill. When she is forced to recover the beloved of the man who is holding her brother hostage, Ahmare is paired with another of the man’s prisoners in her quest. Duran has been imprisoned for decades after being betrayed by his father. It is now time for Duran’s vengeance so while he is on Ahmare’s quest, he has his own agenda.

OPINION: This was an enjoyable foray into the Black Dagger World where the familiar characters exist, but are not present in this story. I really enjoyed this story which is primarily focused on the relationship between Ahmare and Duran. This more intense focus on the two characters and the situation made the story more intense.

Duran is a very broken vampire as the story begins. Held and tortured for decades, he only has one mission on his mind. I loved his character because he is so damaged and yet manages to find the way to be kind and gentle with Ahmare.

Ahmare is a good person who has dipped her toe in the dark side in order to save her brother. Now she wonders whether things will ever be good again. She is incredibly strong and does what is necessary.

These are two characters where the darkness of life challenges them. In one another, they find some of the good and lightness in life.

The plot works well and had action and excitement. This is a nicely focused story. Everything and everyone is nicely wrapped up by the end.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a much shorter story than the usual BDB book, but is full and complete in itself.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PRISONER OF NIGHT is book 16.5 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. While this book takes place in the BDB world, it is not necessary to read the prior books to enjoy this one and it can be read as a standalone.

It is a nice introduction into the BDB universe for those who haven’t had the pleasure of reading the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.



Review: My Favorite Half-Night Stand

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: My Favorite Half-Night StandMy Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on December 4, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400


FINAL DECISION: This was okay. Not great but not terrible. I enjoyed a once through reading, but never really connected with the heroine, and the hero was way too accommodating of her.

THE STORY: Millie Morris is one of the guys, the only woman hanging out with a group of male friends. But one night, she and her “best friend” Reid Campbell end up having sex. Millie doesn’t want to ruin her friendship so she insists that the two date. Along with their friends Millie and Reid sign up for an online dating service. But when Millie doesn’t like her profile, she decides to sign up for a new one under a different name and is surprised when she and Reid are matched. So while Millie and Reid are dancing around one another in real life, Millie’s alter ego and Reid are hitting it off online.

OPINION: This book was okay, but all the interesting parts in the blurb really felt like insignificant to the actual story. First, there is little with Millie’s interest in serial killers. She might have been interested in polar bears and it would have made no difference to the story. It’s only a tiny part of this book even though it was part of what peaked my interest in this book. Second, I didn’t find the online connection as compelling as I expected. There didn’t seem much to it and the two only communicated for a short period. I have read other stories with online dating and this one didn’t work as well.

I really loved Reid and honestly, I spent most of the book thinking that he was much too good for Millie. She didn’t feel closed up, she felt like a jerk for most of the book. Unfortunately, while that gets resolved, her dogged determination to not share even basic facts — her middle name? — with her “friends” made her seemed like she needs a whole lot of therapy rather than a relationship.

On the plus side, I really enjoyed the relationship between all the friends. That felt fun and lighthearted. I thought that the complications that arise as Millie and Reid’s relationship developed were funny and I enjoyed seeing the difficulties that arose. I also really liked the good parts of Millie and Reid’s relationship as the two moved from friends to lovers. Their interactions in real life made me smile.

Overall the book was okay, but not as good as I wanted it to be. Readers who just want a fun romcom would probably enjoy this more.

WORTH MENTIONING: I wish that the other friends hadn’t had their stories resolved, it might have been an interesting series.


STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in helping to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.



Review: Beautiful

Review: BeautifulBeautiful (Beautiful Bastard, #5) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #5
Published by Gallery Books on October 4, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416

FINAL DECISION: A satisfying conclusion to the Beautiful series with a new couple who made me laugh and smile. Jensen and Pippa are perfect together despite their differences but Jensen and Hanna definitely have similar work obsession problems!

THE STORY: Times are changing for the Beautiful crew with the addition of a number of children and a group have decided to take a wine tasting tour. Included is one of Ruby’s friends, Pippa and Hanna’s brother, Jensen. As the unmarried couple in the group, the two are naturally matched together. Both are recovering from failed relationships and the lure of a holiday romance is irresistible. But what happens when the holiday is over.

OPINION: This book is elevated by the appearances of the Beautiful crew. The story is good, but it doesn’t compare to the first three couples in the series. On the other hand, I enjoyed this story more than Niall and Ruby’s.

Pippa and Jensen made me laugh. The two are such opposites and it was wonderful to see how these two end up melding so well together. There was something really beautiful about how Pippa expects Jensen to be judgmental about her, but he truly falls for her for herself.

I also really liked the symmetry of this story (won’t give spoilers here). Even if the events are a bit unlikely, there was something in how it came together that made my heart warm.

What I didn’t like as much is how these two are a bit stupid with miscommunication, or more accurately, lack of communication. The troubles between Jensen and Pippa is all about not talking to one another. I’m not a person that hates that plot device, but the excuses here made me roll my eyes at times.

But ultimately, the strength of the connection between Jensen and Pippa made up for the plot device keeping them apart.

And the ending of this book was simply wonderful and a great treat for anyone who has followed the entire series.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are appearances here from Bennett and Chloe, Max and Sara, Will and Hanna, and Niall and Ruby. I love the relationship between these characters and this book feels like a big homecoming for everyone.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL is the fifth and final book in the Beautiful series. The romance here is self-contained and can be read as a standalone, but this book is filled with the other couples in the series and serves as a conclusion for the series so it is better after reading the other books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Wicked Sexy Liar

Review: Wicked Sexy LiarWicked Sexy Liar (Wild Seasons, #4) by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #4
Published by Gallery Books on February 2, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this story, but I ultimately needed more to accept Luke’s quick transformation. (I believed he would be faithful, but I needed as a reader more time to pass before this couple felt right to me).

THE STORY: London Hughes knows better than to get involved with the men who come into the bar where she works. But feeling knocked off her game, she decides “why not” and takes up the offer with the serious player Luke Sutter. But London is determined to keep it sex only. Luke, however, can’t stop thinking about this woman who breaks through his endless parade of women and makes him question himself.

OPINION: I liked a lot about this book, but the central part of the book which is Luke turning away from his years of having sex with numerous women and not having any relationships with them just didn’t work for me as well as I needed it to.

Luke was devastated by the end of his relationship with the girl he expected to always be with (Mia from SWEET FILTHY BOY). He has spent the years since keeping his distance from any serious relationship with a variety of women.

London is a woman who doesn’t trust the words of a man who can slip from one woman’s bed to another. But London also sees something more in Luke. And Luke begins to see something in himself as well.

There was so much that I liked about this book. London and Luke have a really good relationship and connection. I enjoyed seeing both London and Luke challenged in their personal viewpoints. Their relationship was smart and modern and funny and sexy hot.

My complaint is that Luke’s endless sexual partners are a big problem for London and is in fact the central issue in the story. As such, I needed something more dramatic in his transformation or more time to elapse to see his transformation. This was especially true for me because Luke violates one of my big romance no-nos. He has sex with another woman after he and London first start up their relationship. No, it’s not cheating, but it really bothered me. So, he needed to do something more to prove that he will be faithful to her. Maybe this book needed an longer view epilogue, but for whatever reason, I finished this book not yet convinced.

WORTH MENTIONING: My book included the short story A NOT-JOE NOT-SO-SHORT SHORT. I really, really liked this story and I wanted more. There was a sweetness and a reality to the story. Not-Joe takes a liking to Ansel’s ex, Perry. I could have read a whole book about these two and I had a thought that this would be a great start to a serial series about Not-Joe and Perry. A good addition.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED SEXY LIAR is the fourth book in the Wild Seasons series. The romance here is self-contained and thus can be read on its own. There are overlapping characters, however, and the relationships are more significant after reading all the books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.


Review: Dark Wild Night

Review: Dark Wild NightDark Wild Night (Wild Seasons, #3) by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #3
Published by Gallery Books on September 15, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 341

FINAL DECISION: My favorite of this series by far. I loved Lola and Oliver. Their friends to lovers story was complicated and emotional and difficult. These two are perfect for one another but have to find a way to be together.

THE STORY: Lola and Oliver are the final couple of the three that met and married impulsively in Las Vegas. But Lola and Oliver see themselves as the wise couple. Instead of engaging in sex, the two spent the evening walking Las Vegas and talking before their quickie divorce the next day. In the months since the two have become good friends. But there are deep undercurrents to their friendship as each is intensely attracted to the other but fear destroying their friendship by reaching for more.

OPINION: This is the first book that I really loved in this series. Lola and Oliver felt much more relatable to me. They are proud nerds, Oliver owns a comic book store and Lola writes graphic novels. Both have issues arising from parental abandonment when they were children. But each has a different sensitivity because of their past — and that causes complications.

Lola and Oliver have built a special friendship with one another. I loved their relationship which felt real and connected. When so often romance books concern couples meeting and falling in love in days, I really enjoyed this story where Lola and Oliver have an obvious rapport with one another. By the time their relationship becomes something more, there is a deep emotional significance. And that made the sex scenes hotter and more emotional.

I adored Oliver who is much more understanding and tolerant than many would be of Lola’s quirks, insecurities and naivete. I might have believed him too tolerant until he finally took a stand. I loved that he retains all his strength but loves Lola and wants her to be her best self as well. I also really love a hero with glasses.

Lola is the more difficult character in this book. She was sometimes hard for me to feel sympathy for, but I loved how this book unravels her fears and shows her development. Things are messy with her and imperfect and I enjoyed seeing how she grows as an individual.

I was really into these characters. I truly felt that these two had a basis for which to love one another. Their issues are many, but I think this is one couple I can see making it long term.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book sets up the couple for the next book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DARK WILD NIGHT is the third book in the Wild Seasons series. This story can be read as a standalone although there are overlapping characters and their relationships span the entirety of the series so far.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Dirty Rowdy Thing

Review: Dirty Rowdy ThingDirty Rowdy Thing (Wild Seasons, #2) by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #2
Published by Gallery Books on November 4, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352

FINAL DECISION: Better than the first in the series, I really enjoyed how these two traveled in their relationship. Getting both characters points of view helped with understanding when they acted like jerks to one another. Fun and really hot.

THE STORY: Harlow Vega and Finn Roberts can’t get along except their hot sexual escapades. Married for less than a day in Vegas (after a drunken wedding and a quickie divorce), the two seem like oil and water and yet they keep circling back to one another. Both hard headed and fiercely independent, perhaps they are both too alike for their own good.

OPINION: This antagonistic relationship to something completely different was much better than the first book in the series to me. Perhaps because we get the thoughts of both characters, I understood them both even when they were pretty much jerks to one another.

Both characters are at crossroads in their lives and only slowly reveal themselves to one another. The sex in this book is definitely scorching and as the two draw closer, readers can see their fears of true intimacy. Their sexual encounters become more intimate emotionally and they both have fears.

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

CONNECTED BOOKS: DIRTY ROWDY THING is the second book in the Wild Seasons series. The book can be read as a standalone although the characters from this book appear in the prior book and the events where the two have a Vegas wedding are in the first book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.