Review: Just Like Magic

Just Like Magic was my final festive book of holiday season, and, unfortunately, it wasn’t my favorite. 

I did not like the female main character, Bettie, throughout the majority of the book; however, for how much I disliked Bettie, I liked Hall as much. While he wanted to make Bettie happy, what I liked about him is was that he anted to make everyone happy – he spread holiday cheer like glitter.

On the other hand, the Hughes-Watson family is quite a piece of work themselves. Although grandma Bettie (the main character’s namesake) is the perfect comic relief throughout the book.

I wanted there to be an HEA (and there is in this one), I didn’t love the way the story got there.

Thank you to Putnam and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Review: If We Ever Meet Again

If We Ever Meet Again is definitely a story of opposites attracting. Blake is a former football star from Texas looking to start fresh. Farrah is an aspiring interior designer from LA who is looking to spread her wings. Both decide to spend a year studying abroad in Shanghai.

I absolutely loved the setting, and I wish it had played more of a role in the story. I did find that some of the activities the study abroad student engaged in felt very against typical Chinese culture – especially the amount of drinking the students do.

I was a little surprised that Blake and Farrah get together, I would not have expected those two in a relationship. That said, as their relationship progresses, and they run into relationship hiccups, the non-communication between the two drove me UP. THE. WALL. Seriously, people. Just freaking talk to each other.

I was also totally blindsided by this ending. When I started listening to If We Ever Meet Again as an audiobook, I did not realize it was part of a series. And thank goodness it is, because YOU CANNOT JUST LEAVE THE ENDING LIKE THAT!

Thank you to NetGalley and Tanto Audio for the gifted audio review copy of this book.

Review: Off the Ice (Juniper Fall, #1)

Off the Ice was my first read of 2023, an it was cute, wintry way to start the new year. I always love a sports romance, and hockey is one of my go to favorites. Oh, and set in Minnesota in the winter, I was sold!

I did not expect this to be set in high school, but that said, it is definitely not YA. There is some sex on the page and references to sex off the page as well. I will say, I was upset that the author didn’t give Claire a chance to finish (if you know what I mean), romances like this should seriously be about women’s empowerment in the bedroom!

However, by the end of the book, I realized while this is in both Claire and Tate’s POV, it is really Tate’s story. There was honest discussion about dealing with tough families and familial issues, which I appreciated.

Off the Ice was a cute read, and set over Christmas and New Year’s, which was the perfect way to start my 2023.

Thank you to Entangled Publishing, LLC and NetGalley for the review copy.

Review: Cowboy Christmas Legend

Cowboy Christmas Legend was my first foray into the historical cowboy romance sub-genre, and I have to say, it is definitely not my favorite.

I really enjoyed the mystery in this story – however the romance between Cheyenne and Sam was a little cringey to me.

I really liked Cheyenne in the beginning of the book – strong and independent. However, as the story progressed, she becomes more and more homely. Especially taking care of the kids and baking.

When it came to Sam, I wanted to know more about his backstory earlier. But I also found his transformation from a brooding recluse to a family man who surrounds himself with friends.

This would have been a very sweet romance if it hadn’t been for the very awkward smut scenes. Honestly, while sweet and clean romances aren’t my go to, I would have enjoyed this one far more without the smexy scenes. 

Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca and NetGalley for the gifted review copy!

Synopsis:

Devastated by grief, Texas Ranger Sam Legend II tries to make a new start in the Texas Panhandle. As a bladesmith, all he needs is a bed, a hot fire, and enough solitude to let him heal after the death of his wife. But when fiery Cheyenne Ronan comes blasting into his tent with accusations, he knows he won’t be getting the peace he desires.

From the moment he meets Cheyenne Ronan, Sam’s quiet life is anything but. Now he’s hunting the men responsible for his wife’s murder, tracking down a counterfeiting ring with the Texas Rangers, and caring for a family who finds refuge at her ranch. And with Christmas right around the corner, Sam’s got his hands full. But with Cheyenne by his side, he’s starting to wonder whether a second chance could be the stuff of Legend.

Review: Mistletoe in Juneau

A Christmas romance set in Alaska – you know I was all over this one. Not only did I fall in love with Danni and Declan not to mention, I fell in love with Auke Bay, Juneau and all of the characters in town.

Mistletoe in Juneau is a Christmas romance, and as much as the characters make the book, the town of Auke Bay, which is a neighborhood in the city of Juneau, was also a pretty main character of the book. So much so that I looked up the town (a real town, by the way!) to scope it out for future travel plans.

I always enjoy a good grumpy sunshine trope, and Declan is definitely the stereotypical grump. After losing a leg in the Army, he returns to his hometown to be an Alaskan State Trooper. He’s quiet and keeps to himself and doesn’t make friends outside of his small group.

Danni on the other hand, is in Alaska visiting her long-time friend over Christmas and taking a break from her life as an influencer in New York City.

The slow build of Danni and Declan’s relationship felt so natural – not rushed or forced for the story by any means.

I was shocked, however, by how quickly they went from simply exploring a relationship to fully committed to each other. But then again, I am thankful the story ended the way it did rather than with an epilogue.

Mistletoe in Juneau is by Hallmark Publishing, and as with most of their Christmas romances, I could absolutely see this one being turned into a Hallmark Christmas movie.

I listened to this book as an audiobook and the narrator was fantastic – I was always engaged in the plot and there was enough differentiation in voices that it was easy to follow along with the dialogue.

Thank you to Hallmark Publishing and NetGalley for the gifted audiobook copy!

Review: Bride For a Day

I had high hopes for Bride for a Day, and while this was a cute read, it wasn’t everything I was expecting.

Cassie was quiet and meek around Ted and his family, which frustrated me for her as a character. Ted’s family on the other hand was warm and comforting, and a family that anyone would love to be a part of.

I did feel like the main conflict was too easily resolved, and the relationship between Cassie and Ted felt very contrived and the marriage of convenience – well, seemed too convenient.

While this is cute, it definitely fell flat for me.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca and NetGalley for the review copy.

Review: The Wicked City

I picked up The Wicked City based on the author Beatriz Williams. The description on NetGalley (see below) had me expecting a dual timeline POV with a little mystery connected to the historical fiction.

While I enjoyed reading this book, and absolutely enjoyed following Ginger as a character, I wished there had been more flipping back and forth between timelines.

Ginger (“Gin”) was a unique character to be the main character. She is an independent woman and very strong willed. I would get so sucked into the Jazz Age, Prohibition era with Ginger that I would have that hangover when I was back int the real world. However, when the POV would change to the current time line, it felt shocking. Especially since such a long time spent in the 20s with Ginger, then by the time the timeline switched, I had forgotten what had happened.

I really appreciated the  author’s note at the end, that she tried to replicate an Appalachian accent when writing Ginger and her family. And, although the dialect has evolved and changed since the 1920s, she tried to capture the basic ways of speaking.

While this book left me wanting more, I really did enjoy spending in the Jazz Era with Ginger, and thought that storyline could have stood alone.

Thank you to William Morrow and NetGalley for the digital copy in exchange for my review.

Synopsis:

Two generations of women are brought together inside a Greenwich Village apartment —a flapper hiding an extraordinary past, and a modern-day Manattanite forced to start her life anew.

When she discovers her banker husband has been harboring a secret life, Ella Gilbert escapes her SoHo loft for a studio in Greenwich Village. Her charismatic musician neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement after midnight, when a symphony of mysterious noise strikes up—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano, the occasional bloodcurdling scream—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the basement was home to one of the city’s most notorious speakeasies.

In 1924, Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a quick-witted flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway. Caught up in a raid, Gin lands in the office of Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather, Duke Kelly, one of the biggest bootleggers in Appalachia.

But Gin is nobody’s fool. She strikes a risky bargain with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent, and their alliance rattles Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead.

As Ella unravels the strange history of her new building—and the family thread that connects her to Geneva Kelly—she senses the Jazz Age spirit of her exuberant predecessor invading her own shy nature, in ways that will transform her existence in the wicked city.

Audiobook Review: Did Not Finish

I have been listening to audiobooks on my commute to and from work, because I cannot handle anymore of the election coverage on NPR (my usual radio station) or political commercials (on my alternative music channel).

Did Not Finish was cute, but definitely had a predictable plot and ending. Which is okay with me – sometimes I want and enjoy the predictability of the romcom storyline.

While there was some steam, the smuttiest scenes were “fade to black.”

I loved the descriptions of Axel’s home are so cozy – I would love to find an actual resort or Airbnb like this to stay in, curl up by the fireplace.

As for the audio, the narrators weren’t my favorite. The book was narrated by Kendra Murray and Connor Brown. I found Murray to be slightly robotic in the beginning, but smoothed out (or maybe I got used to her voice?) by the middle of the book. Brown, on the other hand, was very difficult for me to understand, and sometimes I would miss entire words or phrases because I couldn’t make out what he said.

Thank you to Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for the advanced audio copy of Did Not Finish.

Review: When Life Gives You Vampires

When Life Gives You Vampires had me laughing from the get go. I listened to this as an audiobook and the narrator, Meg Sylvan was absolutely perfect for this book.

I really adored Lily – she was such a spitfire, and her thoughts (when not focused on her body) were witty and sassy. Every time I hit play on this book, I felt like I was getting back together with a friend.

There were also some fantastic Buffy and Twilight references throughout the book that made me smile.

My biggest complaint, though, is how often Lily’s weight is brought up. I am all for a a plus sized main character, and even a plus sized main character that questions and worries about her weight. However, Lily mentions or thinks about her weight A LOT. It almost became a third character in the story.

Thank you to Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for the audio review copy of When Life Gives Your Vampires.

Review: Never Fall for Your Fiancee

Regency romances have always been my guilty pleasure – I am so glad to see that more authors are starting to write regencies ad this subgenere is becoming more mainstream.

Never Fall for Your Fiancee sucked me in from the beginning, and the witty banter kept me engaged. This is classic fake-dating trope with a dash the mis-communication trope. The mis-communication, or in this case, lack of communication, always drives me crazy.

I did love some of the side characters – Minerva’s sister Diana and Hugh’s friend Giles are the perfect witty comedic relief from the tension between the fake relationship.

I cannot wait for the next book in this series as Diana and Giles are the stars of the next book!

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a digital review copy of Never Fall for Your Fiancee.