Review ~ My Darling Bride by Ilsa Madden-Mills

My Darling BrideMy Darling Bride by Ilsa Madden-Mills
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I have read one of Ilsa Madden-Mills books and My Darling Bride was a good one to get into. It was amusing to watch them meet for the first time, and seeing how Emmy fled when frightened. It was only a matter of time before they crossed paths again. Graham was on a path back to playing football, but he would do anything to help his brother, and he felt Emmy would be the perfect person for the plan.

Things between them moved quickly after that and the chemistry between them was building quickly. Emmy had been through so much in her life and it built her into the sweet and caring person she was. She went above and beyond for her family and friends. Graham had support from his brother and his relationship with his father was strained. But I could see him fitting into Emmy’s world easily.

This book really makes an impact on you. Ilsa Madden-Mills touched on a topic that no one should have to go through, and I thought that she did it well. The characters were easy to like, but at times I felt that the story didn’t flow easily into the next part, but overall it was quite the enjoyable read.

Title: My Darling Bride
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: December 5, 2023

In a sizzling romance that sparkles with wit and depth, two wounded souls meet by chance in the desert and agree to get married, and their lives will never be the same.

On a normal day, Emmaline Darling isn’t a car thief. She’s just a simple girl who runs a bookstore and adores cats. But when she’s stranded in the desert and needs to get away from her dangerous ex-boyfriend, she picks her only option: swiping the keys to a famous football player’s Lamborghini and speeding away.

Football star Graham Harlan is in chaos. First he took a hit on the field that left him with a near-death experience, and now he’s promised his brother he’ll get married to secure the family inheritance. Trouble is he isn’t even seeing anyone.

Then a mystery woman steals his car. With his usual stubbornness, he tracks her all the way to Manhattan and gives her an ultimatum: marry me or I’ll press charges.

Her choice is obvious, only neither of them expect the sparks that ignite between them.

As the end of their arrangement looms, will Graham take a chance on love or let his darling walk away forever?

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Review ~ Rock Bottom Girl by Lucy Score

Rock Bottom GirlRock Bottom Girl by Lucy Score
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Lucy Score’s writing and I was so excited to get into this read. I fell in love with the characters and it was a true romantic comedy - I swooned and laughed my way through this book.

Marley was such a likeable character and a lot of us older readers are able to connect with her. She was bullied a bit through high school, and even twenty years later seemed lost, but coming home seemed to have grounded her. She had some self esteem issues, but genuinely didn’t care what people thought. She was making her own path through life. I liked that Marley was able to address issues from her past and did not back down. She was amazing for her team and they also made an impact on her.

Jake though… I loved him! He was just what she needed. He was the elusive bad boy from her past, but he was such a kind soul. He had cemented himself into the town and was well liked by all.

Honestly, this book was addictive and I enjoyed how I was drawn into the world. I was hooked by all the characters I met, especially one of the secondary characters, Libby. She certainly gave as much to Marley that she gave to her. Their banter cracked me up. The chemistry between Marley and Jake was sizzling, and it was amusing to see them both fall for one another.

Title: Rock Bottom Girl
Author: Lucy Score
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: March 6, 2019

“You may be faking the relationship, but you’re not faking the orgasms.”

Downsized, broke, and dumped, 38-year-old Marley sneaks home to her childhood bedroom in the town she couldn’t wait to escape twenty years ago. Not much has changed in Culpepper. The cool kids are still cool. Now they just own car dealerships and live in McMansions next door. Oh, and the whole town is still talking about that Homecoming she ruined her senior year.

Desperate for a new start, Marley accepts a temporary teaching position. Can the girl banned from all future Culpepper High Homecomings keep the losing-est girls soccer team in school history from killing each other and prevent carpal tunnel in a bunch of phone-clutching gym class students?

Maybe with the help of Jake Weston, high school bad boy turned sexy good guy. When the school rumor mill sends Marley to the principal’s office to sign an ethics contract, the tattooed track coach, dog dad, and teacher of the year becomes her new fake boyfriend and alibi—for a price. The Deal: He’ll teach her how to coach if she teaches him how to be in a relationship.

Who knew a fake boyfriend could deliver such real orgasms? But it’s all temporary. The guy. The job. The team. There’s too much history. Rock bottom can’t turn into a foundation for happily ever after. Can it?

Warning: Story also includes a meet-puke, a bouffanted nemesis, a yard swan and donkey basketball, a teenage-orchestrated makeover, and a fake relationship that gets a little too real between the sheets.

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Review ~ Flirting With Forever by Claire Kingsley

Flirting With Forever (Dirty Martini Running Club, #4)Flirting With Forever by Claire Kingsley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book in this series that I have read and it was quite enjoyable. The gorgeous tattooed artist sure found his match with the column writer who specialised in romance and sex!

I enjoyed meeting Dex and to see him settle Nora down. Neither were looking for anything serious, but I could tell these two would be hot together. I liked how they slowly became friends and Nora built a relationship with Dex’s daughter, Riley. Nora helped Riley through some moments that made her become more confident. Dex and Nora had issues in their pasts that deterred them from relationships, but the more time they spent together they slowly fell into one. There were a few sizzling moments, and a couple of hot-headed moments, but these two were perfect for one another.

The heading says that Flirting With Forever is a hot romantic comedy, but I thought it was more a hot romance. It wasn’t really a comedy, more sweet than funny. There wasn’t a time I recall laughing out loud. Overall, it was a fun sweet read.

Title: Flirting With Forever
Author: Claire Kingsley
Series: Dirty Martini Running Club #4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: March 16, 2023

He’ll break all her rules

Nora Lakes is sophisticated, successful, and happily single. Career problems aside, her life is fine the way it is, thank you very much. Sure, her best friends are all moving into a new season of life—full of husbands and babies and white picket fences. But that’s not what Nora wants.

Neither is the gruff, tattooed guy next door.

Tattoo artist Dex St. James has enough trouble on his hands without the distractingly beautiful woman next door. Being a single dad to a teenage girl is no joke. The last thing he needs is a flirtatious new neighbor who makes his blood run hot.

He’ll just avoid her. She’s not his type anyway.

But Nora and Dex can’t seem to stay out of each other’s way. Between a pesky nocturnal visitor, Nora’s blossoming friendship with Dex’s daughter, and their undeniable chemistry, that up-against-the-wall, brain-melting kiss was probably inevitable.

Nora has rules when it comes to men, and she has her reasons. Dex threatens to break every last one of them. She doesn’t want forever. He won’t settle for anything less. But when these two collide, the result is fire.

And maybe even forever.

Author’s Note: opposites attract in this fun, swoony, single dad romcom. A smart, sassy woman meets a rough-around-the-edges tattoo artist with a heart of gold. Daddy/daughter moments, all the banter, neighborly shenanigans, a meddling family, badass lady friendships, and a hero who’s determined to fight the heat between them—until he falls first.

Flirting with Forever can be read as a stand-alone.

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Review ~ Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

Something WilderSomething Wilder by Christina Lauren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read a lot a of Christina Lauren’s books and this read was a little different from what I expected. It had the second chance romance building, but they also threw a suspense element into the story as well. The treasure hunt storyline was a lot of fun and watching Lily and Leo reconnect was sweet, as they both had not really got over what they lost.

Their relationship from ten years ago was intense - it was hard for them to get past it and to forgive one another. Since then, they had both suffered and gone through so much, and moved on as best as they could. Lily was reluctant to let Leo back into her life as she’d been so sad and lost after Leo left. They still had a strong connection, and I could see that Leo was a patient man.

The treasure hunting and suspense kept me on my toes. I didn’t realise the story would take that kind of turn so the surprises kept coming. This duo delivered the story perfectly, ans I was captivated until the very end!

Title: Something Wilder
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: May 17, 2022

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession… or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.

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Review ~ Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy

Good Girl Complex (Avalon Bay, #1)Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This book consumed me! I read two thirds of it one day then could not sleep that night as I wanted to know what was going to happen next between Cooper and Mac. It was fun to watch these two characters who were from different worlds mesh together. Although their initial meeting began as revenge for Coop, it was not long before I saw that he had genuine feelings for Mac. He helped her open up and become her own person, and making decisions herself.

They both had parental issues - both being used by their parents, but I could see that they wanted to thrive without them. Coop had his plans and I liked how focused he was. Mac was agitated with college and I could see a new light in her when she made some changes.
Coop and Mac were so sweet together. It wasn’t always smooth, and Coops secret festered throughout the read. They bonded so well and at times they clashed in big ways, but they were a sizzling couple together.

Title: Good Girl Complex
Author: Elle Kennedy
Series: Avalon Bay #1
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Published: February 1, 2022

She does everything right. So what could go wrong?

Mackenzie "Mac" Cabot is a people pleaser. Her demanding parents. Her prep school friends. Her long-time boyfriend. It's exhausting, really, always following the rules. Unlike most twenty-year-olds, all she really wants to do is focus on growing her internet business, but first she must get a college degree at her parents' insistence. That means moving to the beachside town of Avalon Bay, a community made up of locals and the wealthy students of Garnet College.

Mac's had plenty of practice suppressing her wilder impulses, but when she meets local bad boy Cooper Hartley, that ability is suddenly tested. Cooper is rough around the edges. Raw. Candid. A threat to her ordered existence. Their friendship soon becomes the realest thing in her life.

Despite his disdain for the trust-fund kids he sees coming and going from his town, Cooper soon realizes Mac isn't just another rich clone and falls for her. Hard. But as Mac finally starts feeling accepted by Cooper and his friends, the secret he's been keeping from her threatens the only place she's ever felt at home.

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Review ~ Fractured Freedom by Shain Rose

Fractured FreedomFractured Freedom by Shain Rose
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This read started a bit choppy, jumping over the place for a while, but once the read settled and became more fluent, it was pretty good. My heart ached for Lilah, what she had been through and lost. She was quite withdrawn compared to the happy girl that we first met. But as her story unfolded, it became clear on why she was choosing to change her life - she was determined to carve her own path, despite her family.

Dante certainly was an interesting character. In his younger days he seemed a different person to the Dante in the majority of the book. His real last name held a lot of power. He was quite the dominant male, and tried to get Lilah to bend to his demands, but she was holding strong.

Lilah’s sister Izzy annoyed me numerous times, I thought she was deceptive and selfish, even though I knew she had been through a lot.

Towards the end of the read, it became intense and at times a bit repetitive. Lilah was being stubborn and kept bringing up the same drama despite Dante showing her that she meant everything to him.

Overall, it was a good read and I did like the banter between Izzy and Cade. I hope he can tame her!

Title: Fractured Freedom
Author: Shain Rose
Series: Tarnished Empire
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance
Published: July 21, 2022

A Brother's Best Friend Second Chance Romance

Is it so bad that I tricked my older brother’s best friend into taking my virginity?

In my defense, it was Dante Reid—my crush, my first love, and the one I ended up pushing away.
Our paths split in opposite directions.
I went to college on one coast while he returned to work with the US Army on the other.
The end.
Or so I thought.

After graduating and attempting a bucket list of self-discovery, guess who I find standing outside the jail, bailing me out from a crime I didn’t commit?
Dante freaking Reid—this time with more muscles, more tattoos, and more demands.
One of which is to move in across the hall from him so he can keep me safe. Like I need protection after a little felony mix-up.

I don’t.
Unless it’s from him.
Because Dante has been my downfall before …

And living next to the guy I gave my innocence to a long time ago may actually end in my complete devastation.

Shain Rose is back with another light mafia standalone romance with forced proximity, steam, and bucket list to cross off. This is a standalone romance with 95,000+ words.

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Review ~ Echoes of You by Catherine Cowles

Echoes of You (The Lost & Found, #2)Echoes of You by Catherine Cowles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was excited for Nash and Maddie’s story and it certainly didn’t disappoint. What Maddie had endured not only early in life, but also as of late was heartbreaking. But it was sweet to see that Nash still cared immensely for Maddie. Both of them maintained a strong connection over time and distance. It was only a matter of time before they got a nudge towards one another and feelings were realised.

Drama and suspense followed Maddie and it was scary thinking what was coming. Her ex was certainly a bit messed up and kept everyone on their toes. I felt this was a bit repetitive from the first book, following the same sort of plot type towards the end. The ending certainly had excitement and suspense! I did enjoy how it all turned out and how deep the love hat Nash and Maddie had for one another.

Title: Echoes of You
Author: Catherine Cowles
Series: Lost & Found #2
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published: May 2, 2023

Nash Hartley has always been my everything: Protector. Partner in crime. Best friend. The person who was there for me in my darkest hour.

But my heart wanted so much more. So, when I knew for certain Nash didn’t feel the same about me, I tried to move on. What a mistake that turned out to be.

Now, I’m back in our small town, desperate to escape my living nightmare, and the only person I want to see is him.

As secrets are revealed, and Nash finds out what happened to me, he’ll do anything to keep me safe.

But there are those who will do anything to stop him, and this time neither of us may make out alive…

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Review ~ Whispers of You by Catherine Cowles

Whispers of You (Lost & Found, #1)Whispers of You by Catherine Cowles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was such a great romantic suspense. I was captivated by the opening chapters and kept on the edge of my seat! I was enthralled by Wren’s story, what she had been through, what she’d lost and how she survived and became a stronger version of herself. Holt was a lost soul there for a while, but returning home for a longer period was good for him, to help him heal and rebuild relationships."

I liked the way Holts family stuck together through thick or thin. They took Wren into their family despite her relationship with Holt. They were all fantastic and I want more of these characters. The suspense element kept me on edge, and had me guessing. I had my suspicions, but I’m happy to say I was wrong! So I was shocked when it unfolded. It was such a good read, and hard to put down!

Title: Whispers of You
Author: Catherine Cowles
Series: Lost & Found #1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published: January 31, 2023

One night—a single bullet—cost me everything.

My body, broken beyond repair. The boy I’d thought was my forever. The life I’d always dreamt of.

Now, Holt’s back. And he’s no longer a boy, but a man with shadows in his eyes and demons haunting him.

He says he’s here to make things right. To get back a little bit of all we’ve lost. And he doesn’t show any signs of leaving the small town that has been my refuge.

As stolen moments turn to days, Holt’s around every corner. With his burning stare and lingering touches. Before long, my walls come crashing down and I’m just hoping that taking this second chance isn’t as reckless as it feels.

But not everyone is happy that Holt has returned. As tragedy strikes again, I’m the one left in the crosshairs. And Holt might not be able to save me this time…

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Audiobook Review ~ Rich in Your Love by Pippa Grant

Rich in Your Love (Tickled Pink, #2)Rich in Your Love by Pippa Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Tickled Pink series has been an amusing series to listen to. Savannah Peachwood and Sebastian York delivered Tavi and Dylan’s story with spice and flair! It was such an entertaining and light read that I enjoyed being immersed in. I liked the real side to Tavi, she wasn’t the spaced out girl that she portrayed herself as. She had goals, and was using her contacts to get what she needed to do.

Dylan was such a kind guy, who could see past Tavi and her walls. He could see the good side to her and kept all her secrets. He wanted to do what she asked of him, despite not being comfortable with everything. He opened up to her and I could see that these two were a match. It was lucky that Tavi’s wacky grandmother dragged her family to this small town. All the characters I met have been fun, I hope theres more.

Title: Rich in Your Love
Author: Pippa Grant
Series: Tickled Pink #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: December 13, 2022

A sweet, lighthearted romantic comedy from USA Today bestselling author Pippa Grant about one social media influencer’s dream of going off the grid and the IRL love she finds along the way.

Secrets always catch up with you. The world knows me as Tavi Lightly, sugar-free social media influencer. But my true purpose lies in secretly restoring a cacao farm in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, to save the farm, I need access to the trust fund that my grandmother has frozen. She’s requiring me to do charity work in Tickled Pink, Wisconsin, and until I meet her ultimatum—no trust fund. So to Tickled Pink I go.

My first grandmother-approved charity project? Helping local reformed bad boy Dylan Wright. He has secrets too, like how he’s hung up on his married best friend. Kick-starting his dating life is as easy as making him famous through association with me.

Not so easy is the fact that we’re falling for each other. He belongs in Tickled Pink, and I belong on my farm. We might share our secrets with one another, but can we really share our lives too?

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Audiobook Review ~ The One Who Loves You by Pippa Grant

The One Who Loves You (Tickled Pink, #1)The One Who Loves You by Pippa Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was such a fun and enjoyable read to listen to. Anything that Sebastian York narrates has the tendency to hook me and paired with Savannah Peachwood I was lost into this world. Pippa Grant wove this story perfectly and I was easily lost in her story and you bet that I want more from this world and the quirky family that took over Tickled Pink. This rich family turned the small town on its head!

Teague and Phoebe didn’t hit it off immediately, but I liked watching each interaction, how they changed and grew together. Teague didn’t want his town to change and it appeared that he had his reasons. Phoebe grew as a person and learned there was more to life than her heritage and money. She made mistakes and this small town changed her for the better. It was amusing to see her and her family make mistakes.

Phoebe’s grand mother was amusing, and each of her family members had their own demons and it will be interesting to see what happens to them in future reads. I loved Teague's family, even if a little different from the normal. This was such a great romantic comedy, and I’m looking forward to more!

Title: The One Who Loves You
Author: Pippa Grant
Series: Tickled Pink #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: July 12, 2022

From USA Today bestselling author Pippa Grant comes a fabulously sharp-witted romantic comedy about a socialite’s fall from elitist grace to backcountry purgatory—and her accidental tumble into love.

If the Upper East Side had an evil twin, it would be Tickled Pink, Wisconsin. This run-down, backwoods town isn’t worthy of the footprint of my Louboutins, never mind all of me.

But when my grandmother has a near-death experience and realizes we Lightlys can’t buy our way into heaven, she relocates the family to Tickled Pink to work on improving our souls. And that’s how I trade my heiress existence for gigantic bugs, dishwater coffee, and a cranky single dad named Teague Miller.

Teague spends his days fishing, raising his spunky teenager, and after an unfortunate incident involving cheese curds, living rent-free in my head. The one thing he and I can agree on is that I don’t belong here. He’s willing to help me escape—until the unexpected happens.

I kind of like him. I might even more than like him.

But am I ready to give up the life I adored for a man I love to hate?

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