Review ~ Heartsong Series by Jennifer Hartmann

An Optimist's Guide to Heartbreak (Heartsong, #1)An Optimist's Guide to Heartbreak by Jennifer Hartmann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started An Optimist's Guide to Heartbreak, I could see that it would take me on an emotional ride. Lucy was determined to find closure with her childhood friends; however, she had secrets of her own. Moving into the house next-door to her childhood home unearthed a lot of memories, and I was soon on a journey getting to know Emma, and to see Cal and Lucy in the present day.

Cal tried to keep Lucy at arm’s length, he was determined not to get into any sort of relationship, but I could see the chemistry growing between them. Cal became quite possessive of Lucy, and the will to protect her was strong, even if it was from himself. He was such a closed off guy and tried to have no attachments, friends, family or girlfriends.

Lucy was such a sweet and charismatic young lady, and her personality drew her friends to her. She had such a great support crew, even if some were oblivious to her issues. I enjoyed watching her find her place in the world, but tried to keep Cal at a distance as she didn’t want him to get attached to her either.

This was a great start to the duet. I was pulled into the story and was eager to see what happened in the past. There were a couple of secretive threads that kept me guessing, building the story for that inevitable twist. I am excited to see how things go for Lucy and Cal.



Title: An Optimist's Guide to Heartbreak
Author: Jennifer Hartmann
Series: Heartsong #1
Genre: Jennifer Hartmann
Published: January 17, 2023

Dear Diary,

There once was a girl with fireflies in her eyes and music in her soul.

(Remember her... she's important.)

She's the reason I panic-bought the little brick house on Maple Street; the one I lived next door to for eight magical years. Now that I'm back digging up floorboards and lost journals, I can’t stop thinking about the two people who grew up here.

You see, that girl was my best friend, and this house was once hers. She also had a big brother who was my everything before circumstance turned us into nothing more than memories.

That’s why I applied for a job at his auto shop—unprepared to discover that my new boss, Cal Bishop, is now gruff, built, and covered in tattoos.

I'm the sun to his overcast sky. The smile to his surly solitude.

A reminder of everything he longs to forget.

But my heart has a secret, and we’re running out of time to fix our torn pages.

Maybe the same girl who used to be the glue still holds the key to putting our pieces back together.

(See? I told you she was important.)

Toodles,
Lucy


A Pessimist's Guide to Love (Heartsong, #2)A Pessimist's Guide to Love by Jennifer Hartmann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

The second book in the Heartsong duet started so well! I could see the effect that Lucy’s condition had on Cal and how hard it was for him to process. He constantly worried about Lucy and wanted her close to him.

Lucy continued to be drawn to Cal, however there was a lot of push and pull between them. The more time that these two spent together I could see that they were supposed to be together, but not being 100% truthful to one another was always going to throw a spanner in the works.

The dual point of view was different too, considering that the first book was entirely Lucy’s perspective except for Emma’s entries. It was interesting getting Cal’s perspective to really understand his hesitation and demons as to why he kept Lucy away.

There was something about this book that didn’t quite live up to the first book. It did wrap up nicely though. It just didn’t have the same impact that I had after the first book. I did enjoy the emotions that this whole series drew from me.

Title: A Pessimist's Guide to Love
Author: Jennifer Hartmann
Series: Heartsong #2
Genre: Jennifer Hartmann
Published: January 25, 2023

Within the tangled roots of grief, we stand to lose so much. But no one ever acknowledges what we stand to gain.
Strength. Perspective. Appreciation. Resilience.
And sometimes, every once in a while, if you’re truly lucky…
There is love.

After an emotional cliffhanger, we finally get inside Cal's head and discover his secrets, along with more details of his tragic past, that have been keeping him from Lucy.

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Review ~ When the Stars Fall by Emery Rose

When the Stars Fall (Lost Stars, #1)When the Stars Fall by Emery Rose
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When the Stars Fall was quite the emotional ride. Part 1 of the book was getting to know Jude and Lila as they grew up together - facing challenges, loss and love. It moulded them into strong young people who loved one another fiercely. With Brody they were a tight trio but it was obvious that Jude and Lila only had eyes for one another.

Part 2 was heartbreaking witnessing how life experience can tear people apart. Jude struggled a lot and continued to let Lila down over and over.

Part 3 was seeing them work on the mistakes and issues from the past, learning to forgive and mend hearts. I liked seeing the new Lila and Jude, and the changes in them. Lila wasn’t quick to forgive and really made Jude work to earn her trust again. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and it will be the type of read that will stick with me for a long time.

Title: When the Stars Fall
Author: Emery Rose
Series: Lost Stars #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: October 17, 2020

Growing up, Jude McCallister was the bane of my existence.
My best friend. Fiercest ally. The most annoying boy in the world.
At eighteen, the boy I loved to hate became the man I couldn’t live without.

We were young. Madly in love. Invincible.
Strong enough to weather any storm.
Cocky enough to believe that no amount of time or distance could destroy us.

When Jude finally returned home from overseas, it should have been cause for celebration. But the man I’d fallen in love with was gone, and in his place was someone I no longer recognized.

𝐼 π‘π‘Žπ‘›’𝑑 π‘‘π‘œ π‘‘β„Žπ‘–π‘ , π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘›π‘œπ‘‘π‘’ π‘ π‘Žπ‘–π‘‘. 𝐼’π‘š π‘ π‘œπ‘Ÿπ‘Ÿπ‘¦.

Now, after six long years he’s back. Only my heart ... it doesn’t beat just for him anymore.

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Audiobook Review ~ The Paid Bridesmaid by Sariah Wilson

The Paid BridesmaidThe Paid Bridesmaid by Sariah Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

I listened to this book over a few weeks and I found it to be a nice book to listen too. I enjoyed the narration by Sarah Naughton, and felt she executed this book perfectly.

I enjoyed the relationship growth between Rachel and Camden, even though Rachel was hiding her true self from him. Rachel built a real friendship with the bride she was working for. She was quite the selfless person as she did all she could to ensure the wedding would run smoothly. Camden was a charming guy, and was doing all he could to win Rachel over. Even though she was encouraged to break her own rules, she desperately tried to keep the lines drawn. There were plenty of amusing moments between them and over time Rachel tried to let Camden in.

The Paid Bridesmaid was sweet read that didn’t have any real drama. The book didn’t blow me away, but it was an easy read to get lost in for a while.


Title: The Paid Bridesmaid
Author: Sariah Wilson
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: January 1, 2022

From Sariah Wilson, the bestselling author of Roommaid, comes a captivating romantic comedy about what happens when a wedding party mixes business with romance.

Rachel Vinson is a bridesmaid for hire: part confidante, part wedding planner, and one hundred percent pretend BFF. Discretion guaranteed. Her next gig is a destination wedding—livestreamed and sponsored—for an Instagram influencer. That means a paradise of new contacts, which could be a boon to her already booming business. If Rachel can keep the very handsome and slightly too interested best man at bay, that is.

High-tech entrepreneur Camden Lewis must know: Who is this gorgeous, intelligent, and mysterious woman? Too good to be real. Convinced she’s a corporate spy out to tank his company, Camden’s not letting her out of his sight. But the constant surveillance is also opening his eyes to things about Rachel that he likes. If she’s a spy, she’s certainly the cutest one he’s ever seen.

As the week’s worth of wedding events march along, Rachel and Camden are learning almost everything there is to know about each other. Rachel’s made a career out of always a bridesmaid…but perhaps there’s a chance for her own trip down the aisle?

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Review ~ Royally Not Ready by Meghan Quinn

Royally Not Ready (Royal, #1)Royally Not Ready by Meghan Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Royally Not Ready was a really fun read. I really enjoyed watching Lilly grow into an amazing person. She didn’t know about her heritage, and took it well despite all the challenges she had to overcome. I liked Keller, and the way he took Lilly under his wing to teach her what she needed to learn. It wasn’t always easy, and often boring, so I enjoyed the way that Lilly pushed Keller. The banter between them was hilarious.

There was a point that I felt Keller changed and dropped his beliefs. He was a strong alpha male that had precise requirements in the bedroom, and he basically submitted. I would’ve liked him to remain the strong and broody character that he started out as.

Overall it was a good read and I enjoy the way Meghan Quinn combines the wittiness into her romances. I enjoyed the laughs, the chemistry and the intersting characters. I hope to read more from this world!!
Title: Royally Not Ready
Author: Meghan Quinn
Series: Royal #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: August 9, 2022

From USA Today and Amazon Charts bestselling author Meghan Quinn, comes a fresh take on a royal romance with a twist. Laugh out loud funny and full of some of her steamiest scenes yet, Quinn takes you on an unexpected, sizzling fairytale journey.

So there I was selling bikinis out of my truck in South Beach Miami, getting ready to kick off a wet t-shirt contest when the world’s biggest grouch approached me - Keller Fitzwilliam.

The man had the sultriest British accent I've ever heard. And he looked like he just walked off a Viking boat and into a suit tailored specifically for his impressively muscular frame. Only problem is, he had the warmth of an ice pick and he kept telling me he was here to take me back to his home country.

Of course, I didn't follow him. I might be up for a good time, but I'm also educated enough to know leaving with a stranger isn't smart. Well, that's until he mentioned my mom's name. My mom who passed away several years ago.

So after some serious fact-checking, my bikini-clad bum went with him to a sub-arctic country I had never heard of just north of the British Isles, where I found out my grandpa was the king of said freezing country, and I was the one and only heir.

Desperate to learn more about my mom, I decided to give this princess thing a chance.

Good idea, right? Wrong.

Because Mr. Ice Pick was put to the task of training me and he’s not just cold as ice, he’s pompous, aggravating, and possessive. And did I mention we have to share a bathroom in a tiny castle?

We are oil and water every single day and even though he’s training me to be queen, I have this simmering desire to kneel before him.

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Review ~ Chasing Love by Kat T. Masen

Chasing Love (Dark Love, #1)Chasing Love by Kat T. Masen
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

After 25 chapters, I’ve decided that I can’t read this one anymore. I don’t mind alternating points of view, but this read will recap parts of the previous chapter from the other perspective. The repetitiveness was driving me crazy. I found Alex/Lex to be quite the selfish jerk. I get that he wasn’t happy in his relationship, but it doesn’t give him the right to act on his feelings.

Charlie was young when things developed between her and Alex/Lex, and it truly broke her when he made his decision that broke her heart. 9 years later she was finally settling down, only for Alex/Lex to come back and stir up old feelings. I was frustrated with her too, making poor decisions, being a 27 year old woman. Alex/Lex is now 34 and a selfish rude jerk.

Title: Chasing Love
Author: Kat T. Masen
Series: Dark Love #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: July 5, 2020

He was my first love.
Shattered me, then left without a goodbye.
Eight years have passed, and now he's back.
But, I'm engaged.
And he will do anything to make sure I'm his...again.

I've fought hard to rebuild my life. So when the ever-so-perfect Julian Baker proposes marriage, I'm ready to forget the past and move on with my new love.

In a cruel twist of fate, my past and future collide. I'm forced to face the man who destroyed my heart back in high school.

Lex Edwards, turned billionaire tycoon, is ruthless, cunning, and will not stop until I'm his.

A complicated love triangle was never something I imagined when Julian proposed to me. Especially not involving Lex.
Hearts and egos are bound to be broken.
But whose heart will capture mine when the darkness fades?

**This title was previously published as Into the Darkness. It has been extensively rewritten, re-edited, and has a steamy new cover**

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Review ~ Deadly Illusion by Kathy Lockheart

Deadly Illusion (Secrets and the City Book 1)Deadly Illusion by Kathy Lockheart
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 Stars

I wanted to love Deadly Illusion - the blurb was promising, I wanted to get to know Damien the fighter and I was excited for Jenna to find the right guy. A lot of these elements were done ok, but I felt some areas were overdramatised. I liked the connection between Jenna and Damian, but Jenna was quick to push her friend Zoey away.

The domestic abuse element started well, but took a weird turn, which was a bit unrealistic. I skipped through the last 30% of the book as I was getting annoyed with how the book was unfolding, and I just wanted to see how it ended. I think that the drama was well over the top and I would’ve like to see more of Damian’s world.

Title: Deadly Illusion
Author: Kathy Lockheart
Series: Secrets and the City #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: December 10, 2021

FAIRY TALES AREN'T SUPPOSED TO END IN MURDER

A sexy fighter saw her bruises. Now he’ll die to protect her. Maybe even kill…

Jenna was determined to leave her dark past behind her and build the life she’d always wanted, but just when she thought all her dreams were finally coming true, a shocking incident shattered her fairy-tale life, and now she’s hiding a terrible secret—a secret that could cost her everything.

Damian is as gorgeous as he is mysterious, keeping his own dark secrets from everyone he meets. He never thought he’d care about anything again…until he meets Jenna. He knows letting her get close to him will put her in danger, but when he suspects Jenna’s in trouble, there’s only one thing that matters: protecting her at all costs.

Thrust into a terrifying nightmare where a threat looms in every shadow, Jenna and Damian find themselves in a race for survival. Soon, everyone Jenna loves is in peril, and only the ultimate sacrifice can save them…

This book contains sensitive subject matter.
An emotional, tension-filled forbidden romance that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page…
Deadly Illusion is Book 1 in The Secrets and the City series, which is made up of full-length standalone romantic suspense novels with no cliffhangers.

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Review ~ Indigo Ridge by Devney Perry

Indigo Ridge (The Edens, #1)Indigo Ridge by Devney Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Indigo Ridge was a really enjoyable read. Winslow and Griffin had chemistry right from the start and despite them trying to keep it uncomplicated and just about sex, I knew it was only a matter of time before those lines were blurred. They weren't looking for a relationship but it wasn't long until they realised the depth of their feelings.

It was nice to see Winslow settle into a new town and develop new relationships. It wasn't easy for her, especially pursuing a case that appeared to be suicide. She ruffled a few feathers but wanted to get to the bottom of it all. I enjoyed meeting all the characters, Griffin's family were awesome and Winnie's Pop was a good man too. I really enjoyed the suspense element of this story as well, and I look forward to more stories from this world and this new to me author.

Title: Indigo Ridge
Author: Devney Perry
Series: The Edens #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: October 26, 2021

From USA Today Bestselling Author Devney Perry comes a small town, enemies-to-lovers contemporary romance.

Winslow Covington believes in life, liberty and the letter of the law. As Quincy, Montana’s new chief of police, she’s determined to prove herself to the community and show them she didn’t earn her position because her grandfather is the mayor.

According to her pops, all she has to do is earn favor with the Edens. But winning over the town’s founding family might have been easier if not for her one-night stand with their oldest son. In her defense, it was her first night in town and she didn’t realize that the rugged and charming man who wooed her into bed was Quincy royalty.

Sleeping with Griffin Eden was a huge mistake, one she’s trying to forget. He’s insufferable, arrogant and keeps reminding everyone that she’s an outsider. Winslow does her best to avoid Griffin, but when a woman is found dead on Eden property, the two of them have no choice but to cross paths.

As clues to the murderer lead to one of Quincy’s own, Griffin realizes Winslow is more than he gave her credit for. Beautiful and intelligent, she proves hard to resist. For him. And the killer.

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Review ~ Because You're Mine by Claire Contreras

Because You're Mine (Because, #1)Because You're Mine by Claire Contreras
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

It has been a while since I have read a book by Claire Contreras, so I was excited to try Because You’re Mine. It was quite a good read as I was immersed into a new world and got to know Cat and Loren. Cat was from a mafia family, so understood what the world was about, and we working hard to stay out of the world. Loren had secrets and I caught on quickly that he was more than what he portrayed. Cat didnt see what secrets he has, although it was quite obvious to me.

I enjoyed watching their relationship grow and that Loren would do anything to protect Cat. He didn’t mean to fall for her, but he was soon obsessed by her. I enjoyed the suspense elements, however they seemed a bit light, considering it’s a mafia world. I would’ve liked a bit more ruthlessness. The end wrapped up nicely and we were able to see how good these two would be together.

Title: Because You're Mine
Author: Claire Contreras
Series: Sins & Deceit #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: July 12, 2018

From New York Times best-seller Claire Contreras comes a new, sexy stand-alone novel . . .

When you grow up in the most feared mafia family, it's easy to identify the kind of men that are bad news.

They're the ones with experience.

The ones with secrets.

The ones that exude sex just by saying your name.

From the moment I laid eyes on Lorenzo, I knew he wasn't just bad news.

He was the headline.
But my head and my heart are at war.
He’s too mysterious, too gorgeous, too wild, and now, he wants me.
I should run far away. So why am I racing toward him?
I’m totally going to get burned. I know it. A man like Lorenzo won’t leave me unscathed.
He'll make ashes of me.

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Review ~ Corrupted Chaos by Shain Rose

Corrupted ChaosCorrupted Chaos by Shain Rose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shain Rose is another new-to-me author and I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I liked that the characters both had dark pasts, but they were both a bit nerdy too. Cade was quite dominant and liked to control Izzy, with both work and in the bedroom. They were quite the compatible pair and tried hard not to fall for one another. Izzy had worked hard to get her life back on track and to earn the respect of her family and work mates.

Cade was consumed by Izzy and despite not trusting her to begin with, he always worried about her. He was patient with Izzy as she tried to work through her feelings for him and was willing to do anything for her or to protect her. Cade and his family were part of the mafia and was a well known business man. This part seemed a bit unrealistic, but I enjoyed the read regardless. It did get me curious about other couples that have their own books in this series.

Title: Corrupted Chaos
Author: Shain Rose
Series: Tarnished Empire
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: October 27, 2022

My enemy doesn’t make the rules behind closed doors…
Even if he’s my boss.

Cade Armanelli might be an infamous hacker with billionaire status who operates better alone, but I earned my spot working alongside him...
Whether he likes it or not.

It’s precisely why I’m on the first plane to an undisclosed location for our cybersecurity team retreat. I’m ready to prove to our company that I can handle anything…
Except sharing a cabin and a bed with my meticulous, elusive boss.

He’s antisocial.
Ruthless.
Enemy number one.
Unfortunately, he’s also number one in tatted, dark, and dangerous. I quickly come to find that not only are his hacking skills perfection, but so is his performance in the bedroom.

Not that it matters. I have a job to keep, a heart to protect, and our nation’s data to secure.
Cade can’t help me with any of that.
He’s a distraction. One I have to avoid…
Even if it means I’m spray painting a red line down our bed and keeping my boss on his side.

Corrupted Chaos is a light mafia standalone romance with forced proximity, steam, and a tech mogul that will fight and grovel for a HEA with his spitfire woman.

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Review ~ The Wrong Bride by Catharina Maura

The Wrong Bride (The Windsors, #1)The Wrong Bride by Catharina Maura
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 Stars

I was hoping to enjoy The Wrong Bride, but unfortunately it fell short for me. I found it hard to connect with the characters, how they were forced into a marriage due to family influence and how crappy one family treated their own flesh and blood. I found some of the story was repetitive and that the same issues with the same people continued to come up. It really was a hard book to get lost in. I ended up skipping through the last third of the book, as it didn't hold my interest.

Title: The Wrong Bride
Author: Catharina Maura
Series: The Windsors #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: October 15, 2022

She’s his fiancΓ©e’s younger sister. He’s the man she’s always loved.

When her sister doesn’t show up on her wedding day, Raven has no choice but to take her place — but marriage to Ares Windsor is nothing short of torture.

The elusive billionaire media mogul is the man she’s always loved… yet he’s only ever had eyes for her sister.

Married to him at last, Raven is determined to win him over.

After all, everything is fair in love and war.

And this?

This is war.

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