#Blogmas Low Country Christmas by Lee Tobin McClain

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Low Country Christmas by Lee Tobin McClain. Holly Gibson has found herself with custody of her young niece Penny. She travels to the town Safe Have, Georgia where according to documents left behind by her sister, is where she would have raised her and is the town baby Penny’s father, Cash O’Dwyer is from.

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Hello, not so surprise baby! This book is essentially the romance between two people who never would have thought of themselves as parents. Holly, because of how she grew up with a negligent mother and the armor she wears around herself for protection. Cash, because he’s just very business minded and while he loves his nieces and nephews, he just never had any interest in being a father himself. The two take the appropriate steps to prove Cash’s fatherhood of baby Penny and this romance is everything you’d expect in a romance after that proof of paternity with a twist of suspense included.

Both Holly and Cash have Mommy issues they are still grappling with. Holly’s Mom was one of those ‘she’s there but not really there’ types, so Holly trusts no one and prefers to be a loner. Cash’s Mom was beat to near death and lost a lot of her memory.

I was a bit frustrated with Holly because even after paternity is proven, and she is in this small town surrounded by Cash’s family which is baby Penny’s family, she is so hesitant to allow them to help her. She tries to do everything by herself. Understandable given what she’s been through, but I thought it a bit selfish. This is baby Penny’s family!

What you get when you pick up Low Country Christmas is a romance between two people whose lives have been completely shaken up by a baby. There are secrets discovered throughout the book that add a spin which lead to the big twist in the book. Does this book in with the addition that has been irking me whilst I make my way through holiday romances? Absolutely, it does. In this one it was totally hard to believe because seriously, the whole read there wasn’t really anything remotely romantic that happened. I felt Cash wanted to budge with Holly but she kept shooting him down and friend zoning him/I’m just here for support zoning him, so he’d retreat back into his shell. Then the twist happens, then it’s the end of the book. So the ending felt off for me. There could have been chemistry but that’s just not how the story was written. Spark! I would have loved more spark between Cash and Holly, and seriously, after having finished this book, it felt like the lack of spark was because of Holly. Well written, guarded character, but it just threw me off when the ending came and all of a sudden there all these feels! It was a bit unbelievable and felt rushed.

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#Blogmas Christmas In Vermont by Anita Hughes

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Christmas In Vermont by Anita Hughes. I spotted this out of the corner of my eye on a evening trip to Barnes and Noble. Mom trip, just wanted to get out of the house. The cover is stunning and although I knew I didn’t need anymore holiday romances, I couldn’t leave the store without it.

Emma is our heroine in Christmas in Vermont. It is just days before Christmas, and she surprisingly finds a jewelry store open in Manhattan. She goes in, wanting to get some cash for a bracelet her now ex boyfriend gave her. Once in the store though, she sees a watch that she gave to her boyfriend from college, Fletcher. She trades the bracelet for the watch and goes straight to her best friend Brownyn.  Brownyn believes in synchronicity, does some digging and learns that Fletcher is visiting a bed and breakfast in Vermont. She handles all the logistics for Emma and off she goes for Vermont!

signature5da8e3b9ed56dOkay, I didn’t hate this book, but I had more issues with it than I expected. Is it cozy? Yes. It is a good read to cozy up with, warm drink in hand and your favorite winter blanket? Yes. One of the biggest issues I had with this book, is one that I have had with a few other books I’ve read during this holiday romance binge I’m on. The issue is this: I don’t mind a romance where the hero is engaged to another person when the story initially kicks off, but I feel like this can be a tough story line to deliver well on. This is the second book I read, where our hero, Fletcher, is engaged and he’s engaged more than halfway through the book. Obviously, the author has to create some issue that arises that ends the engagement and now creates the part of the story where he and our heroine, Emma, can now pursue their relationship. In their case though, this is a second chance romance because the two dated in college, and I feel the author tried to make it work by giving us flashbacks between then and now. In my opinion though, it just didn’t work.

Was Fletcher’s fiancé just the worst person ever? Not really. She is a young actress trying to make a come up and Fletcher is a Broadway producer. It is obvious she has motives behind being with him, but the reasons why the two parted ways felt she obvious, like obviously this is where the story would go. It was so obvious, it didn’t feel believable.

So, now Fletcher is without a fiancé and realizes what he wants is Emma. By this time, the story feels rushed because there are like 50ish pages left in it. Maybe the author felt like, by giving us the time hopping, it would be enough, but for me it wasn’t.

Another issue I had with the book was in regards to Fletcher’s daughter. When Emma arrives in Vermont, she learns that Fletcher is not only engaged but he has a 9 year old daughter. Emma and his daughter grow very close, because Fletcher and his fiancé are constantly leaving her at the bed and breakfast. As a parent, I was just a tad uncomfortable with this. It felt irresponsible and regardless of your relationship status, the welfare of your 9 year old daughter should be number 1, and I’d think any woman who isn’t on board with that, shouldn’t be your fiancé. Personal opinion, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.

If you can get past all of that however, it is a nice look at the belief that things happen for a reason. A series of events can be happening because they are leading up to something big. It was really interesting.

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#Blogmas It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

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Let’s just preface this with saying that initially when I finished It Started With Christmas, I felt like the ending redeemed the rest of the book. As days go by though, I think my mind is changing..

It Started With Christmas follows Holly. Holly and her Nana go to their families cabin in the hills outside of Nashville, Tennessee expecting a girls getaway. Once they arrive though, there is a visitor already in the cabin who’d been renting it out and due to the crazy Tennessee snow storm, had to extend his stay. Joseph and Holly hit it off pretty quickly, and Holly’s Nana is a tad suspicious and isn’t really feeling him.

Okay, so after this initial meeting is when things get a little weird and remain weird basically the rest of the book. Joe is engaged. He is planning the wedding because his lawyer fiance is super busy with this big case she’s working on. It gets somewhat obvious throughout the book that Joe has feelings for Holly and vice versa, but..Joe is engaged. ENTER IN, blast from Holly’s past, Rhett, her childhood best friend, first love and things get even more crazy.

It Started With Christmas is kind of a mess.  On one hand I look at it like, what if the person you’re destined to be with, is currently with someone else? In a romance though, if cheating is not your thing, this book feels a lot like cheating. No, nothing happens, but meeting Holly definitely has Joe changing his mind about his relationship. Which, maybe they weren’t meant to be in the first place, but all we are able to go off is, he begins to change his mind, the more time he spends with Holly.

I got the point of Rhett being in the story and then I didn’t. He definitely threw in a nice wrench in the story..just when Holly and Joe’s friendship starts getting a little weird, the Tennessee winds blow in Rhett! His character had the potential to really add value to the story, but that didn’t happen. I feel like if you’re going to throw a wrench in the story, come harder and make the wrench meaningful.

I think this story would’ve worked for me had the focus solely been on Holly going and finding herself. I didn’t feel chemistry between Holly and Joe or Holly and Rhett. Maybe that was the point..? Sadly, this one was a disappointment. Initially after finishing it, it felt like a four star read or high three star, but as time continues to pass, I am rethinking my rating.

xx

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#Blogmas Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

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Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale should absolutely be on your holiday tbr. This is the romance between single Mom, nurse Abbey who is trying to hold it all together and Nick. Nick is a millionaire, divorcee, who is hosting family Christmas at his place this year and is suggested to hire Abbey to come decorate and get things nice and festive for everyone.

Jenny Hale does an amazing job at creating and capturing conflict. Nick, who has always wanted to make his father proud, was handed down his dad’s business. He’s very business minded and his dedication to work and not wanting a family is a big reason behind his failed marriage. He wants none of that business again which obviously causes some issues as feelings between he and Abbey begin to grow.

It’s like these feelings are there, but can only go so far because Abbey knows Nick’s stance on certain things. She tries really hard to guard herself and her son but it eventually gets way too hard to.

I loved this book so much and can totally understand why Hallmark wanted to adapt it into a film. It is sweet and cozy. It is a reminder to slow down and that there are more important things out there than working all the time. Don’t miss out on those moments you won’t get to experience again.

Obviously, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s amazing.

xx

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Only Him (One & Only #2) by Melanie Harlow

Only Him

by Melanie Harlow

book #2 in the One and Only trilogy

Goodreads Rating: 4.15 Stars

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Plot:

Sometimes your first love deserves a second chance.

He was my first crush, my first kiss, my first everything.
But I’m not a lovesick teenager anymore, and I’d never let that cocky troublemaker break my heart again.
So when he shows up out of the blue asking me to have dinner with him “for old time’s sake,” I say I will. After all, it’s been twelve years, and I’m stronger and smarter than I was back then.
Except…he still does something to me. He’s got those eyes that make me weak, those hands that drive me wild, and a body I can’t resist—especially once I see the tattoos. It doesn’t take long for our trip down memory lane to go from sweet to sizzling.
We’re just as good together as we were back then—better, even—and I’m willing to give the only man I’ve ever loved another chance.
But he’s got to tell me the truth.

* * *

All I wanted was to see her again. Tell her I’m sorry. Make her smile.
Okay, that’s a lie. I wanted to do more than that—a lot more. But I know she’s better off without me, and I promised myself I’d behave.
Except I’ve never been much good at keeping promises…or my hands to myself when I’m around her.
I can make her laugh, I can make her cry, I can make her body surrender to mine in ways that neither of us could have imagined back then. I can—and I do—love her more than she’ll ever know.
But I can’t tell her the real reason why I’m here.
And I can’t stay.

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My Thoughts:

Per usual, I read this trilogy completely out of order but if you were considering reading it, just putting this into the universe: that is totally fine, each book can be read as a standalone.

Only Him was such an emotional second chance romance following Dallas and Maren. There is something about rekindling flames with your first love type stories that I yearn for. It’s like this slight hold on innocence, but now we’re adults and it’s interesting to see if we love each other the same now that we have time and life experiences on our side. With Maren you instantly get the sense that she needs some sort of closure with her and Dallas’s situation.  Same with him, which is basically how the story kicks off. Dallas has some medical issues and makes the decision to go see her after all these years to apologize for how things ended.

I think what’s going to stick with me most about this story is Dallas. He has some family drama. He was the screw up kid, always compared to his older brother who got the good grades, stayed out of trouble. Dallas was always in trouble, dropped out of college and does tattoos for a living. The author really wrote the growth of Dallas as a character well. We see him choosing to be miserable and he gets called out on it. We see how things aren’t always what they appear. We see Dallas and his brother work towards mending their relationship, and Mister Perfect Big Brother shares with Dallas a situation that humbled him.  It really opened the conversation on, as a man, being okay with being vulnerable.

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The relationship between Dallas and Maren kicks off kind of fast, I mean the two already have so much love for each other, so I didn’t mind. They definitely make up for lost time, but Dallas’s medical issue is a big part of the conflict and he takes the opportunity for Maren to be there for him, away from her. You have two people who obviously love each other, yet it’s so complicated.

Minus the medical issues and family drama, this book felt like a love letter to first loves we don’t get closure on. I think everyone remembers their first love, but if you found yourself in a situation like Maren’s, it makes total sense how, regardless of how much Time has passed, that you’d still be fixated on them.  I thought Melanie Harlow captured that so well.

If you are already a fan of Melanie Harlow’s I think this back list title is definitely a must read. I have chatted with a few friends who admitted this was their least favorite book in the trilogy..and I will say, book three remains my favorite, but Only Him is still very good. Very sexy, and very emotional, but so worth it.

xo.

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The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Published by Avon, August 6, 2019

Book 1 in the Modern Love series

Goodreads Rating: 4.05 Stars

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

 

Plot:

Alisha Rai returns with the first book in her sizzling new Modern Love series, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

– Nude pics are by invitation only

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

– Protect your heart

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

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Review:

The excitement when I learned we were getting a new romance from Alisha Rai, was off the charts. I’ve read the first two book in her Forbidden Hearts trilogy and both of those I really enjoyed. There isn’t anything fun about them, so I have be in the right mood to pick them up, but I’ve come to expect that with that particular trilogy. Maybe I was a tad guilty of judging a book by it’s cover with The Right Swipe. The summer romances we’ve been seeing released have been, or appeared to be, fun, summer reads. The Right Swipe comes packaged in this gorgeous hot pink illustrated cover, so I braced myself for a good time.

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The premise had promise. Second’ish chance romance between Rhiannon and Samson who hooked up once. The pair made plans to link up again but Samson never showed, which lead to Rhi moving on and believing he deliberately ghosted her.

Rhi owns an online dating site called Crush and wants to purchase a site called Matchmaker. Enter, Samson. Samson is the nephew of Matchmaker’s current owner. The two end up working together on a side project. Start sleeping together again. I’m trying to not get irritated by writing this review so I’m going to just cut to the point.

I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars. The premise was there and it could’ve been amazing but where it went wrong was: to me it was pretty boring and I didn’t like Rhiannon. There. I said it. What Alisha Rai tries to do is really get you as the reader to understand how difficult it has been for Rhi, a black woman in her tech career. I got it. She has this tough exterior. She sticks to the script. She keeps it professional at all times. I got it. What didn’t work for me, was that it felt like I never got anything from Rhi but that tough exterior. She remained so hardcore throughout so much of the book that even during scenes where I felt the author was attempting to soften her up a bit, it didn’t feel believable. Her tough exterior made the happy ever after in the ending extremely hard to believe. I read it. I know it happened, but it felt kind of mediocre. There was nothing exciting about it which makes me sad, because although I would’ve enjoyed to see more from Samson, what I could see was that he was totally smitten with Rhi.

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The book brings up some very important issues though; relationship violence, workplace sexual assault, the me-too movement, feminism, being a woman in a male dominated industry..add in that the woman is a woman of color. I liked that Alisha Rai was able to weave such important issues flawlessly into the story. None of these topics felt forced or out of place, but even the scenes depicting these topics felt more believable than the romance between Rhi and Samson. The romance is what I was there for and it was a let down.

I would love to chat with anyone who has read this book. I feel like I am in the small minority of readers who weren’t fans but it also has some 5 star ratings, so I would never say Don’t read it. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me. I will definitely keep a look out though for whatever else is to come from the series. Rai introduces us to a cast of characters I’m really interested in. I want to see whose story is next!

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The Ultimate Romance Hero: Jakob King

This is honestly going to be part review, part dedication post to the fictional man I am now head over heels for: Jakob King. So bear with me as I attempt to make all of this make sense whilst trying to persuade you to read Returning His Favor by Jacqueline Francis.

Returning His Favor

Written and Published by Jacqueline Francis

Published February 14, 2019

Goodreads Rating: 4.63 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

Plot:

Curvy bombshell Melissa Danzer spends her days working on her photography business in Willow Falls, Wisconsin. Alone in the world except for her sister, Melissa is running away from her traumatic past.

A brooding and bearded giant, Jakob King is a successful business owner with secrets of his own. As an ex-Amish, he struggles to cling to something real in his new life. When he sets his sights on Melissa, he’ll stop at nothing to have her, to protect her, and to claim her as his own.

As danger lurks and their worlds collide, will Melissa and Jakob be able to overcome what life throws at them, or will the be driven apart?

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Melissa is the quintessential 2019 romance heroine. Finding heroines in 2019 who don’t come with some sort of baggage, some ghosts we want locked in our closet and a laundry list of why we meet with a therapist bi-weekly is few and far between. She has her reasons why she is out on dating websites, meeting guys but not totally upset when it doesn’t work, because the more fun it stays, the better. Then she runs into Jakob. Well, more like his dog runs into her.

I feel like what Jackie *I call her that, because that’s what she goes by on Instagram* does in this book is basically give us the hero we need and deserve in 2019. We have met some great ones along the way and they have all prepped us for the force that is Jakob King.

Jakob has left the Amish community although with the passing of his father, he still goes back to help with the yearly harvest and Keeps in touch with his mother and siblings. There is a sort of loneliness to him which is totally understandable being that he is on kind of the other side of the fence from his family.

I remember being in a class back in 2011. Class was over one day and we were outside getting ready to leave for the day.  I was chatting with one of my classmates and she told me, “Don’t waste your time on anyone who isn’t absolutely crazy about you.” Jakob King was totally crazy for our heroine, Melissa and I think that’s what I loved most about this story.  Reading through the passages and being overwhelmed with the feeling that “she has him.”

“Nothing you could tell me about your past would make me change my feelings for you.”

“The thought of trusting someone the way she trusted Jakob made her want to vomit. And yet, here she was, sitting in front of a man who, regardless of all her faults and imperfections, loved her.”

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Jakob is the guy who will politely threaten your creepy stalker from online to leave you alone, basically putting your mind at ease because the creep never randomly shows up again.

I love a gruff man’s man. Jakob is the guy getting down under your car to figure out why it keeps giving you problems. He’s up on time without having to be reminded that it’s time to go to work. He prides himself on a hard day’s work.

He loves, respects and adores his Mother. He keeps himself physically fit, taking care of his body.

Even during the dark moments, he was supportive. He’s the right amount of protective without being overly protective.

“I think I fall in love with you a little bit more every minute.” Not allowing her a chance to answer, he kissed her once more, assertively claiming Melissa’s mouth, capturing it and making it his. She leaned into the kiss, wanting everything he was offering.”

Our heroine had herself convinced that she didn’t need a man and although I don’t doubt that at all, it was a wild ride witnessing the armor and walls she’d built around herself begin to tumble thanks to Jakob. Women nowadays have to have a thick skin. Not everyone always has your best intentions in mind, so it was a rollercoaster sitting back and seeing Melissa come to the realization that Jakob intentions were genuine. That can sadly be so hard for us as women..to trust the right guy when he comes along.

I can’t recommend this romance enough.  It will have you on the edge of your seat for a few chapters. It’s sexy as hell. It has a wonderful sister relationships and about halfway through the book, a friendship I grew to love. It has quite a few layers to it, but I thought everything came together perfectly.

 

xo.

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