Her Inconvenient Christmas Reunion

“He was the man he had left her to become.”

Her Inconvenient Christmas Reunion by Nina Singh is the childhood sweethearts second chance Christmas romance with a dash of travel and the ONE BED trope sprinkled on top..one bed in a romantically decorated Parisian hotel-between Izadora and Zayne. These two were a thing once upon a time..until they weren’t. One day Zayne just left with no explanation. Well, he’s returned to his small Napa Valley town after his aunt has passed away and left him her winery, but only half of it. The other 50% belongs to Izadora aka Izzy. She leaves them both the message that they “need each other.”

I don’t really have any cons with this one. It’s less than 200 pages, a Harlequin romance, so I went in knowing what I was going to get. We get straight to the point to make everything come together in a short amount of time. For so long, Izadora has harbored the hurt and disappointment of the love of her life just leaving with no explanation. As the reader you are privy to why Zayne left and this secret looms for basically the entire book; Izzy doesn’t learn the reason why until the end–I’ll give you a hint; small town bad boy falls in love with the driven, determined smart girl and could totally be a distraction. Zayne goes away and gets his shit together to become the kind of man Izzy deserves but because of the LIES about himself he has grown to believe based off how he was raised; absent father, mother who took off to travel the world leaving him to be bounced around from family member to family member-even though he has his crap together there is this fear of still not being good enough for her.

For Izzy, she’s this character who has been living her life with the cards being dealt to her without really knowing the cards were even being dealt. Decisions that affected her, were made for her without her even knowing it.

“her insides were shaking. He was really here, standing before her. Her first love, the one who’d crushed her heart when he’d just up and left town on a sudden whim. She hadn’t been enough to keep him nearby.”

This is what this book tackles and so much more in less than 200 pages. It’s a story with a lot of threads to it and everything comes together nicely in the end. I really have come to adore second chance romances especially when it has that childhood sweetheart spin to it. I’m definitely looking forward to more from Nina Singh.

Rated: 4/5 Stars on Goodreads

Cowboy to the Core by Maisey Yates

Cowboy to the Core

by Maisey Yates

Published June 18, 2019 by HQN Books

Goodreads Rating: 4.17 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Plot:

Jamie Dodge is confident she knows everything there is to know about cowboys. She grew up surrounded by them, after all. But somehow her new boss, champion saddle bronc rider Gabe Dalton, and his brand of cowboy charm have her interested in all kinds of things she never has been before.

There are a million reasons Gabe should ignore his attraction to Jamie. He needs her horse-training skills on his family’s ranch…and the Dodge brothers would happily hurt him for touching her. Forget kissing her. He’d be a dead man. But Jamie’s tough-talking attitude masks an innocence that tempts him past the breaking point…and soothes the restlessness that’s dogged Gabe his whole life. Has this cowboy finally found a place he wants to call home?

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Review:

Maisey Yates flawlessly creates what we believe to be a stable foundation in the beginning of Cowboy to the Core. This is book six in the Gold Valley series, following Jamie Dodge who is the sister to the Dodge brothers and Gabe Dalton. We see Gabe back when Mckenna entered the picture in book 4 but it was only a small glimpse. Oh boy, am I glad Gabe got his own book.

By six books in, I went in under the assumption that I had things figured out. I thought I knew all the characters and by this point, it’s just time to see the single siblings left, find romances of their own. Well, Ms. Maisey Yates quickly showed me how wrong I was. Cowboy to the Core follows two very complicated people. Gabe and Jamie both all throughout this romance are grappling with their individual identity issues. Gabe has this fear of becoming his father who he has been angry at for years, before we gradually see him recognize how he was totally wrong about which parent he identified with the most and why. While Jamie was the sister raised by a widowed father and her brothers. She loves her life, but now that everyone is getting older and she sees her brothers settling down, her Dad has remarried and moved on..she no longer has to be the tough sister, ‘one of the boys,’ chick she has always been. Jamie for a big part of the book is trying to figure out who she is, how to occupy the space she’s in and who she’s becoming.

“They all knew something that she didn’t.”

Jamie begins working for Gabe helping on his ranch with the animals which is obviously where the two get to spend a lot of time together and get to know one another. Which leads to one night at a local bar when Jamie sees Gabe chatting it up with this ‘buckle bunny,’ and realizes she doesn’t want him chatting it up with this chick! This is where things begin to shift.

Gabe becomes the first for a few things for Jamie. It was a very frustrating ride, but we see Jamie knock the walls down that she had built around herself for so long, as her relationship with Gabe began to change and flourish. Gabe however, hits this point where he armors himself and Jamie calls him out on it:

“Don’t kiss me. Don’t kiss me if you don’t love me. Don’t touch me if you don’t love me.” She was shaking, rage pouring through her like a river. “Because I deserve better than that. Because I had to figure out what everything meant. And then once I did I offered it to you. I changed. And I dug deep. And I found a pieces of myself I didn’t even know were there for you. And you want to stand there and tell me everything I don’t know. Want to tell me what I want, and how you have less growing to do. That’s bullshit, and I’m not here for it.”

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I felt on a whole other level the beauty behind how finding love can help you grow as a woman, and help in the process of figuring out who you are and who you’re becoming. I loved seeing the growth in Jamie.

“In life, the only thing we can control is our own choices.”

So much of this romance is about choices, and I think Maisey Yates did a fantastic job of weaving such a complex story together with this theme at the center of it all. It was so damn beautiful and a true love story.

Gabe, oh Gabe. I have already come to accept the fact that cowboys are my thing. I love a hard working man who doesn’t mind getting a little dirty and is totally okay with spending most of his day outside. Gabe just melted my heart, especially with how alpha male he comes across, yet Jamie is totally able to hold her own around him. And until we get into the weeds and seeds of how much of himself he needs to work on.

I am a total sucker for the guy having to go get his girl, so of course I swooned as high as swoons can go at the end of this book. I adored it. I’m so thankful I received the next book from Harlequin. I need to know whose story is next. There were some new characters kind of/sort of introduced in this one, so I’m antsy to see if their presence is shown in the next one.

I can’t recommend this series enough. If you don’t want to go back and read al the previous books, I think you’ll be fine starting off with Cowboy to the Core, but there may be some confusion on certain back stories, like McKenna and the Dalton brothers.

Thanks for reading yet another Maisey Yates fangirl post.

Until next time, take care of yourselves.

xo.

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Review: Heron’s Landing

Heron’s Landing by Joann Ross

Book 1 in the Honeymoon Harbor series

Published June 1, 2018

HQN Books

5/5 Stars

 

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Plot Summary:

There’s no place to fall in love like the place you left your heart

Welcome to Honeymoon Harbor, the brand-new, long-awaited series by beloved New York Times bestselling author JoAnn Ross, where unforgettable characters come face-to-face with the kind of love that grabs your heart and never lets go.

Working as a Las Vegas concierge, Brianna Mannion is an expert at making other people’s wishes come true. It’s satisfying work, but a visit home to scenic Honeymoon Harbor turns into a permanent stay when she’s reminded of everything she’s missing: the idyllic small-town charm; the old Victorian house she’d always coveted; and Seth Harper, her best friend’s widower and the neighborhood boy she once crushed on—hard. After years spent serving others, maybe Brianna’s finally ready to chase dreams of her own.

Since losing his wife, Seth has kept busy running the Harper family’s renovation business and flying way under the social radar. But when Brianna hires him to convert her aging dream home into a romantic B and B, working together presents a heart-stopping temptation Seth never saw coming. With guilt and grief his only companions for so long, he’ll have to step out of the past long enough to recognize the beautiful life Brianna and he could build together.

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My Thoughts:

I loved this book so much. I’ve been reading some really good stuff over the past few months, yet at the same time, it started to feel like although I’m reading some good stuff, there wasn’t anything special. Then I read Heron’s Landing by Joann Ross which I literally bought on a whim after seeing it out of the corner of my eye in the grocery store check out aisle.

Dammit, what is my deal with people grieving? I don’t know why, but I love a character who is grieving the loss of someone. I think it just makes them so relatable and if written well you find yourself truly rooting for them. In Heron’s Landing, that character is Seth.

Seth’s wife was killed while serving in Afghanistan. First, I have to give Joann Ross props for this: usually if there is a military love interest or spouse, it’s always the guy, as if women don’t serve. I was very happy to see in this case, although she has passed away, the service member was the wife.

Growing up, Brianna always had a crush on Seth. He was a friend of her older brothers so he was always around. Everyone had an idea that the two were perfect for each other and then one day, a new girl shows up at school, Zoe, and Seth is in love with her from the moment he sees her.

I am a sucker for stories involving Bed and Breakfasts. I loved that Brianna moves home to open one, and damn I love a good returning home story. A good breaking out, leaving home story is wonderful, but there is something cozy and realistic about having to go back to where it all started.

I loved the romance not only between Seth and Bri, but also Seth’s parents. His Mom has served his Dad with divorce papers and he’s so stubborn there for a while until he realizes how serious she is. He realizes he could truly lose her if he doesn’t get his crap in gear.

What I loved about Seth and Brianna’s romance is that it is so apparent the two have feelings for each other, but there is always this “ghost,” in the room. Seth really feels guilty at even just the thought of moving on from his wife. He really has to come to the understanding that his love for Zoe will never go away and never be replaced but that it’s okay to love someone else. He isn’t the one who died. He still has a life to live.

I liked that Brianna didn’t pressure him. She loved Zoe too. I also thought it was very big of her as a woman to have this love for Seth, and the moment she realized his heart was in Zoe’ hands when they were younger, she was totally okay with it because she saw how happy he was.

The setting was a definite plus too. I am completely falling in love with a place I have never been, with a lot  of my favorite romances thus far, taking place in the Pacific Northwest. The small towns in this region of the United States created by these authors really add the perfect icing to the cake in my opinion. Falling in love in a wonderful setting, I love it.

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