Here To Stay by Adriana Herrera

First and foremost, thank you to the Harlequin Publicity Team for sending me a copy of Here To Stay by Adriana Herrera in physical copy and access to the ebook on Netgalley. The expected release date is 25 August 2020.

Here To Stay is the romance between Julia Del Mar Ortiz and Rocco Quinn. These two are both New Yorkers whose paths don’t cross until they both find themselves in Dallas, Texas. Julia moved from NYC to Dallas with a boyfriend who dumped her and left shortly after they arrived and Rocco is there temporarily for a job-this job entailing having to prove to a company that Julia’s job isn’t needed.

There is so much to love about this book. I love when a location feels like an added character to the story and I loved what Adriana did with the city of Dallas in this book. Dallas represented, making it work and starting over. For Julia all I kept thinking was how huge of a city Dallas is, and to be basically left there alone after being dumped how lonely and intimidating that can feel. For Rocco it was this very tempting place of new possibilities but he was holding on very tightly to what was back home in NYC. The workplace drama is always lingering in the background; Adriana never really lets us forget the reason why there is some hesitation on the characters parts but I loved that we spent quite a bit of time seeing them get to know one another and slowly piecing together the reasons why this new city was a good fit.

I will always love found family. The Gotham Exiles is formed in the book; a group of people all from New York City now living in Dallas and it was so fun to see all of them build that support group with one another. The found family aspect was such a joy along with Julia’s family! I love when family members do too much, because that is reality for so many of us. Julia’s conversations and the scenes where her family was actually around were always so fun to read. I like what she did with both Julia’s family and the Gotham Exiles because for Rocco, his family life sucked. His parents are in this constant back and forth of abuse and I really appreciate how Adriana pointed out through Rocco and Julia having a conversation some of the long term effects of being a kid who grew up in a abusive household. His focus was on getting his sister and niece out of NYC, away from his parents. His situation is also one of those where the one whose always taking care of everyone else has to learn to let people be there for him too and in the case of Julia-he has to learn that he no longer has to go at things alone.

We hid in those bushes and kissed and touched until we were both so turned on and disheveled all we could was slink away like thieves in the night. And I guessed we were stealing. We were trying to rob a little of time, as ours was running out.

Domestic abuse and the deportation of immigrants were two very important topics handled amazingly in this book. Here To Stay is one that I will be recommending for a very long time, especially as a book that I think shows what the romance genre is out here doing! Educating you on everyday topics while promising a happy ever after.

“That man looks at you like you’re the answer to every question he’s ever had. Trust that you can be that to someone.”

Review: The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Lizzie Shane

Hello Friends, I am here to chat with you about a 2020 Christmas Romance from Forever Publishing which is expected to release on September 29th. It is The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Lizzie Shane and I was given the opportunity to read and review the book early thanks to the publisher and Netgalley.

Very rarely do I finish a book in a day, but once I got into The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and instantly knew this was a book I would read, read, read until I had it finished!

This is the romance between Ally and Ben. Ally has returned to small town Pine Hollow from New York City to assist her Grandparents with their animal rescue shelter and shortly after arriving, she learns that the town council is cancelling the shelter’s funding to use that money toward the community center after their roof caved in. The deciding factor on that vote, was Ben. Ally and Ben do not get off on the right start so when she learns that he had something to do with the vote which now gives her about four weeks to find homes for all the dogs in the shelter-this doesn’t help her already bad vibes with him. This is a romance though, so brace yourself and watch as Lizzie Shane unravels the romance between these two.

My only ‘con’ with this book is a personal preference thing, specifically something I noticed. You know how when you’re reading a book and you begin to pick up on certain words the author uses a bit too much.. Every time someone spoke to Ben, we’d get, “Ben grimaced,” I was seriously at one point, like Why is Ben grimacing all the time? Again, this is just something I noticed and it’s a really small con.

One of my issues with 2019 Christmas romances is that they didn’t really feel Christmas’ey at all and if the rest of the new releases I read this year give off the same vibes as Twelve Dogs of Christmas, I’ll be happy. Can we please get Hallmark to adapt this into a film? I think it’d be perfect. Small towns are perfect for Christmas romances. Sometimes you have to separate yourself from the hustle and bustle of the big city to figure things out and I liked seeing that with Ally. I loved her selflessness which I think you have to be when you’re rescuing and caring for animals, a lot of which have been completely discarded. I loved that entire premise to the story. Ben realizes how crappy the whole vote is that is effecting the shelter, so he goes to Ally with the idea to help her get all of the dogs adopted before the end of the year by posting photos of them in the town paper and website, as the Twelve Dogs of Christmas. They eventually get some of them on a float during the holiday parade and some get to be part of the Christmas pageant. I’ll never get tired of that close knit, small town feel and seeing people come together to help out. I am a sucker for the close proximity that working together brings and how that factors into the blooming romance so I loved seeing Ben and Ally spend time together and get to know more about one another.

Ben was so complex. He is the guardian of his niece Astrid, after her parents died. He is so consumed with getting everything right on his own, he’s one of those guys who refuses to ask for help and unintentionally pushes people away. His journey and his growth could be frustrating at times but it got to a point where Ally had to stick up for herself and put her own feelings first which leaves Ben to either get his crap together or lose the girl. Sometimes we truly do get in our own way.

As a girl living in South Texas where a beautiful white Christmas is nonexistent, I loved the descriptions of the snow and all of the holiday festivities. This was really a fun holiday romance and I am excited for more from Lizzie Shane.

One of the pups mentioned is a Bulldog, so I had to find a cute Bulldog Christmas picture. hah!

Cock & Bull by Laura Barnard

Happy Friday Babes, I had the opportunity to read Cock & Bull by Laura Barnard and am excited to chat with you about it.

Cock & Bull

By Laura Barnard

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Goodreads Summary:

Who knew that owning a pub would come with so many extras?
When Phoebe and Ella Bellerose left England behind to run the Irish pub they’d inherited, it sounded like a great adventure… until they saw for themselves what a wreck they’d been left.
With no experience, a severe lack of money, and a rival pub owner threatening to ruin them, the two girls aren’t convinced they can actually make this work.
Not until they meet Clooney Breen, who just so happens to be packed with charm, charisma, and barman skills that could help them all survive. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s the son of Cock & Bull’s biggest rival, and he’s desperate to help Ella and Phoebe teach his father a lesson.
But can mysterious Clooney, with his obvious secrets and desire to be their saviour, really be trusted? Or are they being played by this handsome lothario who seems too good to be true? Their problems only seem to grow and grow, until Phoebe discovers a ‘gift’ of her own that changes everything for all of them…

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I love a ROMANTIC COMEDY BABY! Cock & Bull is laugh out loud, hilarious. It’s so refreshing and just what I needed during such a dirty trash bag of a year we’ve had. I will never get tired of reading the story line where the heroine in the story inherits something. Ever. It is one of my favorite plots to read. In Cock & Bull, the heroine inherits a pub which is something totally different from what I’ve seen. I see a lot of bed and breakfasts and restaurants but this was my first pub which was super cool to see. Cock & Bull is the name of the pub in Ireland that Phoebe and her sister Ella, inherit from their Aunt Breda who passed away.

Who wouldn’t want to move from London to Ireland? I mean both sound like amazing options, but Ireland sounds like a dream. I would love to live in one and have the unexpected opportunity to move to the other.  It totally transported me from the realms of self-isolation life.

Once in Ireland we meet Clooney and the chemistry between him and Phoebe was off the charts. Their back and forth banter had me hooked on every word and I love some witty dialogue.

I loved that everything with the pub isn’t all perfect; it’s a complete dump and needs as much attention and clean up as it can get. I expected the girls to arrive to a warm welcoming too and that was a nice surprise; Phoebe and Ella don’t arrive to the sweet welcome to town you’d think.

This is an amazing, fun story of Phoebe trying to turn the pub around, bring it back to life and trying to not fall for Clooney..while falling for Clooney.

 

Paris Is Always A Good Idea

Hello Friends! I’m back! Like I think, a lot of readers, I went through a crazy long reading slump. Really, it was about two weeks, but it felt like forever for me. It put such a damper on things but I am back reading, closing up loose ends and ready to binge write some reviews. A book I am excited to chat about today is Paris Is Always A Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay.

Paris Is Always A Good Idea

By Jenn McKinlay

Released July 21, 2020

Published by Berkley

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Goodreads Summary:

It’s been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong post-college European adventure. Since then, she’s lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea’s thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most talented fundraiser is unquestioned.

When her introverted mathematician father announces he’s getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died, and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her gap year. Inspired to retrace her steps–to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy–Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago, can help her find it again.

From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected.

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This was my first experience of being familiar with an author but due to their writing in another genre. I was super excited when I saw Paris Is Always A Good Idea was authored by Jenn McKinlay because I am a total fan of her cozy mysteries.

I tend to forget to mention trigger warnings: death of a parent; death of a sibling; cancer; brief mention of self harm

I really liked Chelsea though it does take some time to warm up to her a little, but before I knew it, I was completely invested in her and her story. Now, more than ever when everyone is in self-isolation, Chelsea’s story is the kind of story we need. I will never get tired of self-discovery and I think regardless of age or where you are in life, Chelsea’s story is a reminder that we are constantly discovering and becoming who we are meant to be. I love the travel aspect to this book. We tag along with Chelsea as she travels to a small town in Ireland, the big city of Paris in France and a dreamy vineyard in Italy to reconnect with the three men she fell in love with seven years ago before the death of her mother. There is also a rivalry with a handsome co-worker of hers. All tropes I am a huge fan of! The different locations were so fun and the will they-won’t they had me on the edge of my seat in regards to will she link up with these old flames?

I thought the familial aspect was done really well. Chelsea’s father comes to her one day with the news that he is getting remarried to a woman he only met two weeks ago and Chelsea is, understandably upset.

2020 has been ridiculously stressful, a complete dumpster fire. Paris Is Always A Good Idea is a well written, amazingly structured story of self-discovery, finding love along the way and honoring those we’ve loved and lost while moving on with life with them always in our hearts. Jenn McKinlay did a phenomenal job at capturing Chelsea’s loss and grief and determination to find herself again. I am so excited for more than just her cozy mysteries now, she can do no wrong at this point!

 

Wild Wedding Hookup

Wild Wedding Hookup

By Jamie K. Schmidt

Expected to release July 1st 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

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Plot: Mikelina Presley lives in South Beach, Florida where she works for a luxurious resort club. One of the resort’s most expensive villas lands a two week bachelor party. Enter in Bastian Ainsworth, the best man in the wedding party. When the groom goes missing, Bastian and Mikelina work together to track him down. The groom is engaged to Bastian’s little sister, so Hello High Stakes! They have got to find him. In the case of Mikelina, if they can’t find the groom, she loses out on this expensive booking and it could do damage to her career.

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I really love how this book is set up. I loved how in the beginning we meet Mikelina basically at work. I feel like you don’t see a lot of actual ‘work’ happening in romances. I liked that the author kicks the story off with our heroine doing her job, especially when so much of the story is about a crazy situation that could in the end, have an impact on her job situation. The author also weaves in details about Mikelina’s background and the damage that was done by her father. I liked seeing that someone took a chance on her. We love you Kirk, and we’re so grateful! Mikelina lives in a world where everyone else holds the wrongs committed by her father against her, so Kirk was a really sweet character.

The meeting between Bastian and Mikelina was great and had me super excited to see where the rest of the story was going to go. The chemistry between these two is hot! It is so sexy. Wild Wedding Hookup is my first Harlequin Dare romance so I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but the chemistry and hotness between these two didn’t disappoint.

I have only been to Florida once, so exploring South Beach with these two was so much fun, perfect for the times of self-isolation; vicariously traveling through the eyes of fictional characters.  I also think the author did a fantastic job of balancing the sexy chemistry between Bastian and Mikelina with the emotional aspect. She truly had me rooting for them, on the edge of my seat, anxious to see how things would turn out.

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Goals For Summer

Let’s chat about my summer goals.

summer goals

I eventually want to get back into running. I haven’t ran in over a year now; basically since I learned my time to leave the military was coming to a close. I miss it so much. It was my Mom time; no phone answering, no responding to emails-just me, my headphones & sneakers and the road ahead of me.

Stay hydrated; no brainer. It is hot as heck here in Texas.

Complete the 20 Books of Summer Challenge, which you can see my tbr for here. I am a mood reader so some of the books may change, but my main goal is to complete 20 books.

Mind my Business. Hah! I recently had my Mom change my Facebook password. It became too much and for my mental sanity I needed a break. Those who need me to know what’s going on in their lives and vice versa know how to reach me. I don’t want to be so connected to what everyone’s thoughts and opinions and what they have going on in their lives is. I hope that doesn’t sound bad; it just became one of those spaces that I felt did more harm than good and for the time being isn’t worth it.

Reconnect with my Faith. This is a journey I need to do for myself. It has been years. Entirely way too long and its been heavy on my heart to reconnect and reestablish. I need it.

Give the time I have more life. It is so easy for me to wake up in a bad mood, reflecting on the fact that what lies ahead is yet another day of self-isolation. Being stuck in the house. Can’t even really go outside for fresh air because of the heat. I am determined to still find ways to make the most of it. I don’t want to look back on this time and it feel like a blur.

 

I’d love to hear from you. Share with me some of your goals for this summer. Stay safe.

 

 

 

The Trouble With Hating You

The Trouble With Hating You

by Sajni Patel

Published 12 May 2020 from Forever Publishing

5/5 Stars on my Goodreads

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The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel is the romance between Liya Thakkar and Jay Shah set in Houston, Texas. Liya is a successful biochemical engineer who was recently given a promotion within her company, she’s a hard worker and has her own. She goes to her parents house for dinner one night and in walks Jay and his mother. Liya learns that her parents have invited them to dinner as a setup because this is the man they hope she will marry. She hightails it out of there and at work the next day, she runs into Jay again! Her company isn’t doing so good and Jay is the lawyer they have hired to come in and try and help things stay afloat. These two get off to a rough start obviously; Jay and his mother were under the assumption that Liya set up the dinner so Jay thinks the way she ran out of it was disrespectful to his Mom so there is just tons of tension between these two in their now close proximity situation.

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Nostalgia was the past. The present held a different meaning, as was apparent when I parked on the street, providing plenty of room to escape.” The familial aspect to this story hauntingly looms throughout, breaks my heart but put so many pieces to the puzzle that is Liya together and into context. Liya and Jay are both of Indian descent and this story is heavily rooted in the Indian community. The author’s note mentions this, so it isn’t a spoiler but there is a sexual assault storyline in this story and I think Sajni Patel flawlessly depicts a woman who has had a history of assault and due to the strong religious influence in both her family life and community has had to deal with the victim blaming that tends to come from that. I have seen reviews of this book with people saying Liya is ‘rude,’ or ‘unlikeable,’ which I absolutely disagree with.

“I stepped into a position of power with boys, and then men. Things never went further than my realm of control, and most times, they never went far at all. I required full control. At all times. In all things.”

Liya maintains control of her situations at all times which plays into her romance with Jay. Jay comes in, they aren’t the best of friends initially but the more they work with one another she begins to realize he’s a good guy. This is hard for her because it would be so much easier for her if he were a bad guy.

“I hate you.”- “No you don’t.” – “I wish you were a Mike. This would be easier.” – “I will never be a Mike. And what we have between us isn’t going away.” 

Very slowly we see the walls come down bit by bit as Jay gives her no reasons to not give him a chance.  He knows some things, but only so much out of that insecure feeling Liya has of not being believed.

I feel like this review isn’t making any sense but Babes, I freaking loved this book. It is a brutal glimpse into a culture and how victims in society can be treated after a sexual assault ESPECIALLY if the other person is a person of power and add in the religious power this person holds! This situation made Liya the woman she is, she’s tough because she has to be. She’s opinionated because her opinions are her own and she refuses to be silenced anymore or allow people to take them from her. So much of this book lies in Jay, once learning, having to decide how he fits into her life. I like that other than the opening up aspect, and falling for him, Liya, as a person doesn’t change. I liked that, I loved this book.

The cover is beautiful but don’t be fooled. While it is fun and has some funny moments, it deals with some important topics and has some very heavy moments.

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Sunday Coffee

It has been forever since I posted a Sunday Coffee. They were my favorite posts to do once upon a time and I’ve missed them, so here we are.

Sunday Coffee

I finished three books this week; The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jiminez which you can see my thoughts on in my most recent reading vlog, here and I rated a 4/5. Then I read The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel which I rated 5/5 stars and most recently I finished Cowboy Come Home by Carly Bloom which I rated 4/5 stars.

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to moderate my Second ever author panel which was a total blast! IMG_1688

All three of these beautiful ladies have new releases out so it was fun to chat about their writing processes and their lives as readers. The event was presented by BookPeople which is my all time favorite Indie bookstore, located in Austin, Texas. All three books are absolutely wonderful and The Boyfriend Project is a Book Of the Month pick which makes me happy! I am always geeked to see romance as a pick. You can check out the BookPeople’s website here and support an independent book store. They have copies of these ladies’ books in store.

2020

Last night I put Playing for Keeps by Jill Shalvis and The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan on my nightstand. I have both checked out from my library on audio and need to get to them before they are due back. I also checked out my first ever Mary Kay Andrews novel. I hear she is Queen of Beach Reads and she has a new release that I can’t wait to get my hands on titled Hello, Summer. It sounds amazing. I have been in an unexplainable reading mood but it mostly consists of just going with my gut. I predominantly read women writers but now more than ever, women’s stories are getting me through the $hitShow that is 2020. So I’m just continuing to go with the flow because so far it’s working and the reading has been a lot of fun.

Today I plan to squeeze in some movie watching time, but it is currently Weekend Contemporary-a-thon and I’m low key participating in that so I also would like to read some. I have Hallmark movies recorded that I’ve neglected and would like to get watched. I have also before bed, been watching Frasier on Hulu. I will never get tired of 90s sitcoms and this is my first watch of Frasier. It is hilarious, I love it so much. I’ve also gotten back into my first ever watch through of The Twilight Zone (the original) and it is so damn good. The crafting of the stories is so good and I love the lessons that come with each episode. If I watch anything during the day it is usually one of my paranormal ghost hunting shows (I am addicted to them!) I try to keep at least one or two episodes recorded for when the mood hits me but even if not, there is typically at least one on tv.

Cooking life here in the Hill House has consisted of big pots of spaghetti that we can eat off of for a few days, taco nights (my Hubs makes delicious tacos) and the occasional last minute BBQ. Oh, and wine! Lots of wine. Stella Rose Black Reserve is my new favorite sweet red wine and that is a hill I will absolutely die on with no problems.

I’ve been journaling, doing group therapy every Monday at 11 and trying to stay sane like I think everyone is at the moment. I have some days that are extremely overwhelming because I crave that sense of normalcy so bad but I am determined to find the silver lining, and find the vacation in everyday. That’s why today I am plopping on the couch and treating myself to a movie day. So excited.

Sending you my best. If you need to chat, I’m only a message away.

 

First Line Fridays

first line fridays

Happy Friday Friends! I am here with another First Line Fridays, which is hosted by Hoarding Books. I participated for the first time last week and really enjoyed it.

Today’s first line comes from The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez.

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“Do you want me to meet you at the cemetery, Sloan?”

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Let me know what you’re reading today! I’d love to know. Have you read The Happy Ever After Playlist? If so, what did you think of it?

 

The Honey Don’t List

Here’s the Plot:

Carey has been the assistant to Melissa and Rusty for ten years. Melissa and Rusty are this big time, famous, HGTV couple who have recently published a bestselling book all about their happy marriage and working together. What only Carey and a few others know is this: Melissa and Rusty can’t stand one another. James is the disgruntled assistant to Rusty. Carey and Rusty are given orders to tag along with Melissa and Rusty on their upcoming book tour to ensure things don’t blow up and the media never learns of their troubled marriage.

 

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First and foremost, if you go, like me, into The Honey Don’t List expecting a good time you will be highly disappointed. No my friends, don’t be fooled by the romcom vibes you get when you look at the cover or read the synopsis! There is nothing comedic about this book. I am holding myself and my reader expectations accountable; it is no one’s fault but my own.. but this book was kind of a downer and low key sucked that I didn’t enjoy it.

This book has one of the best set ups I’ve read in a long time. I read through the set up and thought, Oh this is going to be good! We learn of the trouble between Melissa and Rusty pretty quickly into the story and we are front row centered when Carey and James catch Rusty in a pretty bad situation. We see what happens when doing the right thing backfires. The amazing set up to this book does a disservice to the main premise of the book though; I was way more invested in Melissa and Rusty’s situation than Carey and James’s. Looking back, I don’t think there was ever a moment where I really cared what happened between those two. Melissa and Rusty’ situation, their unhappy marriage was written so strongly right off the bat, that the romance between Carey and James never really stood a chance for me.

Carey is the main character in this book and for ten years she has been the brains hiding in the shadows. I don’t know if the author duo intentionally wrote her In a way that even in the starring role she took a backseat or if that wasn’t their intentions. That’s how she read for me though. The book flip flops between Carey’s POV and James’s and I highkey preferred James’s chapters. Even in the storytelling, Melissa  overshadowed Carey.

Both Carey and James have their motivations for having their current jobs; Carey’s being her need for insurance. I think this aspect was one of the two elements in this story I really clung to. The author due via the relationship between Carey and Melissa were able to explore workplace abuse and manipulation. It’s hard to have a good time when the entire book you’re basically reading from the perspective of someone being manipulated and taken advantage of.  The other element I thought was done well, again, was the dynamic between Melissa and Rusty. We get a glimpse into a famous married couple. Their marriage has become their brand and while one is ready to just relax, the other wants to keep up the hustle because of all their fame has done for them so far.

I’d never tell you not to read a book, but don’t go into this one for the romance. The premise is amazing, so if you’re into troubled marriage stories and more women’s fiction type stories, absolutely pick it up. Sadly though, if it’s a knockout romance you’re looking for, I don’t think this is it.