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.

#Blogmas The Giving Heart by Toni Blake

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The Giving Heart by Toni Blake. Lila Sloan travels to remote Summer Island to house sit for her sister Meg. All is well, until she hears this bull dozer on the property with a driver intended on knocking down the trees on it. Enter in, Beck Grainger and the immediate thoughts Sloan has, that Meg will never forgive her if she allows the trees to be knocked down. Were the plans to cut down the trees a secret? Nope, been in the works for months. Beck however, doesn’t like being at odds with his friend Meg’s sister-especially since he finds her so appealing.

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The Giving Heart was on its way to being a five star read for me. Sure, the premise of the book is a little ridiculous as you’re reading it. I had to remind myself a few times that the beef that Lila really tries to perpetuate with Beck is all over some trees. I for one, completely get sad when I see a bunch of trees knocked down-but I don’t think I could stand in front of a crew of construction workers and they’d just halt their work! That part aside though, there was something about this book that had me sucked in. It had been a while since I’d read something that had me hanging on every word, and I found that experience with this book. This is the second book in the Summer Island trilogy so I am assuming the side characters in this book were in the previous book, but I think a lot of my interest in the story lay with the side characters, Dahlia and Suzanne. Dahlia is an older character who epitomized confidence and comfort in her own skin. Suzanne went through a tough divorce and has guarded herself against relationships since. Apparently, Beck has had a thing for her and she’s constantly turned him down..until now. Perfect timing right, with Meg in the picture?

This book becomes this weird love triangle involving two people who are also attempting to be friends. At the same time though, it is also obvious that Suzanne has had plenty of space and opportunity to have made Beck hers. Lila is only in town for a while though, so we see Beck have to make that decision-he could totally play it safe and choose Suzanne who is there, will be there, and is finally willing to give him a chance, or he can follow his heart and go after Lila.

The book strangely felt like a mixture of enemies to lovers and friends to lovers; the enemies part felt one sided. Lila really tries to hate Beck due to the tree cutting situation and I think as a way of denying her attraction to him. He is never a jerk to her though so it’s hard to maintain that front.

This book gave me the wintry feels I was looking for, which I appreciated. I feel like a lot of the 2019 *Christmas Romances* have suffered a bit of false advertisement, but this one definitely delivered. What kept this from being a five star read was the random addition at the end of the book I wasn’t expecting and just didn’t work for me. It is a personal preference. It may work for some readers, but for me, when the characters have only known each other for 300ish pages, it just doesn’t jazz well with me. You guessed it, the proposal. 

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#Blogmas Cowboy Christmas Homecoming

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Cowboy Christmas Homecoming follows Zach Garrett; a war veteran who recently separated from active duty and is back home in Texas, taking it day by day, haunted by his PTSD. Stephanie Gayle is a local fire fighter who has her life completely under control, until the day she locks eyes with Zach. Stephanie has already been in a bit of danger, but whoa..the danger she finds herself in, now that she can’t get Zach from her mind.

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Cowboy Christmas Homecoming is the fourth book in the Dark Horse series, which I tend to take a leap of faith when jumping into a series out of order; that leap being me, hoping  each book can be read as a standalone. I will say, I do think I should have read the previous three books prior to this one-so if interested in this story for yourself, keep that in mind.

Things do feel a bit rushed between Zach and Stephanie. They meetthere is this instant attraction-and then things are getting steamy (a lot steamier than I’d expected, honestly) followed by them basically moving in together. There is a suspense twist in this story, and the way the author weaves the story together, it is the obvious decision that needed to be made, but it was still a little weirdly fast.

This book also has an addition to the story at the end, that through my holiday romance reading, I noticed is this common *thing* authors like to do, and I honestly can’t wrap my head around why..I get it, it’s a romance and we want our happy ever after, but I just don’t think it always has to end in a certain way. Again, in this story it is kind of the obvious decision with one of the specific story arcs within the pages, but it is also another element that just felt and looks really rushed..*spoils* It’s a proposal. There is a wedding. I am not one to hate on someone’s I-do’s, but I want it to feel right and I think with this story, the author attempts to make it feel right because of other elements to the story, which while you’re reading-this is the thing that needs to happen but relationship between Zach and Stephanie wise-I didn’t feel to my core that these two people were ready for that step. Smitten with each other? Check! Head over heels? Check. I wasn’t sold though, on these two being at that level however.

With all of that aside though, this book does do something really wonderful. I tend to avoid military romances. It is a goal of mine to do better, especially now that I am no longer in the military. What June Faver does in this book with Zach and his PTSD is wonderful. More than that however, she really captures what it’s like to be a veteran or a military member who is home. I don’t think people understand the feeling of out place, we feel when we return home. Family is family, and they are happy to have you home, but it is this sad, weird realization for us, that life has continued on while we were gone and no matter the amount of phone calls, you have missed out on so much. While you’re still part of something, at the same time, you feel so out of touch. The author did an amazing job of depicting this with Zach.

What you’ll get with Cowboy Christmas Homecoming is a bit of a fish out of water, war hero who is getting acclimated to civilian life and trying to figure out where in the picture he fits in. A heroine who rescued two kids from a terrible situation and is being hunted by those who are ticked off about it all and the love story between the two. Don’t be fooled by the cute cowboy on the cover with the snow scene in the back; this book is steamier than you’d expect and while I’m not the biggest suspense fan, the suspense element had me on the edge of my seat.

I rated it 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

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#Blogmas This Christmas by Sarah Spade

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This Christmas by Sarah Spade. Let’s set the scene: a guy and a girl meet in a bar, Hi, I’m Nick, Hi, I’m Mary..they’re both lying about who they are, and although they spend a hot, sizzling night together, one of them wakes up alone. Fast forward about a year, Zach has flown out to Salem, Massachusetts to visit his sister Dani, and in walks her friend, Allison. This, my friends, is how Nick and Mary learn they  lied to each other and it’s their first time seeing each other since one of them walked out on the other as they slept.

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This Christmas was a lot of fun. It is book 2 in Sarah Spade’s Holiday Hunk series and I feel like the entire series is going to be a lot of fun. So far, both Halloween Boo and This Christmas have been novellas, so I’m assuming that is what we can expect from the next books in the series.

I feel like with This Christmas, Spade tried to do a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, it was still fun and very sexy, but she attempted to weave a few things into a short amount of time. It can be done. There are authors who accomplish, a lot in novellas, but in This Christmas, it didn’t work for me. We have the story line of Zach and Allison having met and lied to each other. Then we have second chance with them meeting on the other side of the country. Allison’s parents are also in town and they are those annoying parents who bug her about not being married, so enter in fake boyfriend trope. We have my best friend’s brother, because Allison and Dani are besties, oh and let me not forget the fact that Max and his buddy own the company Dani and Allison work at..so Max is essentially her boss. It is a lot and not very many pages. I feel like with what Sarah Spade wanted to do with this book, it could have totally been a full length novel. This is a personal preference. I felt like with Halloween Boo, we got so much development and back story in such a short amount of pages and with This Christmas it felt like a bunch of things happening but not many things being 100% fleshed out.

Still though, if in need of a quick read to help you reach that Goodreads goal, I think it’s worth a read. Like I stated before, I feel like my issues are more of a personal preference, these things may 100% work for you.

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#Blogmas Christmas In Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas

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Christmas In Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas was such a joy to read. At the core of this book is Cooper and his brother Elliott. Cooper is headed off to a rustic cabin in the Winter Valley woods to care for a herd of wild mustangs while Elliott stays back at their ranch, Maverick Ranch, trying to keep things running smoothly. With family visiting at the ranch, things are a bit crazy for him.

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While on his way to the cabin, Cooper discovers a surprise who truly made the story for me! It was a little heartbreaking, but such a delight to see incorporated into the story.

What I admire about Jodi Thomas after having read Christmas In Winter Valley, and her holiday romance released in 2018, is her ability to weave multiple story lines together without things being confusing and each story leaving my fulfilled in the end. There was a lot going on in this book, but each story felt significantly special and wrapped up nicely.

In this book, all of the main characters have a romance and a happy ever after. Elliott has a second chance romance when a blast from his past shows up unannounced to make sure she no longer has feelings for him before she gets married. Cooper has a blooming romance with the town veterinarian who helps save his life when he suffers an injury, and the ranch’s cook has a romance with a ranch hand whose been known to ‘float’ from place to place.

I think when writing different storylines, there tends to be times when certain plot lines overshadow others. Jodi Thomas definitely does not fall into that category. I don’t know how she is able to write an entire cast of characters whom you grow to care for and show just the right amount of attention to them all, but she does. It worked really well.

xx.

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#Blogmas A Coldwater Christmas by Delores Fossen

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A Coldwater Christmas by Delores Fossen is book four in Fossen’s Coldwater Texas series. I read last year’s holiday romance in this series and had every intention on backtracking through the series in 2019, but failed to do so. *cringe* In my attempt at holding myself accountable however, I will make it a priority in 2020.

What this books is about: Recently separated from her husband Janna, returns to her hometown of Coldwater, Texas to speak to her previous ex-husband and first love Kace about the fact that his father and her mother are engaged. This is sour subject being that Kace and his brother’s cannot stand their father due to him walking out on the family and the boys ending up in some really crappy foster care situations. Twist to the story? Janna has recently left her jerk of a husband Dominick and he is out to drain her bank accounts.

A Coldwater Christmas is hilarious! I adore Delores Fossen’s sense of humor, it truly shines through in this story with roaming Texas longhorns throughout the town streets, flying pink penis’s with smiley faces on them and vibrators sent in the mail. As I read the book it felt like a solid five star read. I was convinced I was going to love it..

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My issues with the book lie with a few things at the end of the book and the second chance romance between Janna and Kace.  When reading a second chance romance, I tend to pick sides. You read from a specific character’s perspective (in this case, Kase’s) and it’s usually the character who has blasted in from the past who I feel like has to earn my trust and help me feel that the connection is genuine (in this case Janna!). I didn’t feel a connection between Janna and Kace, especially with the way the ending happened. I felt like if the road we took was the road we were going to take, I should’ve felt more than just these two old lovers have linked back up and are again having amazing sex. The way the book ended felt like a let down because I was loving the book so much in the beginning and middle half.

I have also been pondering on, if a romance is a Christmas romance, how much of the Christmas aspect do I need? The mention of Christmas in this one is very brief, so if that is something you need more of in your books..just throwing it out there, you don’t get much!

xx.

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Friday Reads: 15 November 2019

FRIDAY READS

Happy Friday friends! Let’s chat about what I’m reading this weekend, and I’d love to know what you’re reading too! It has been a nice, chilly past few days here in South Texas; perfect weather for staying inside and relaxing as I make my way through my stack of holiday romances! I’ve been thriving!

Really, I have my heart set on two reads this weekend! I have a midterm exam to study for and take this weekend, so I don’t want to overdo it much.

First up, I want to read Christmas In Vermont by Anita Hughes which follows a woman named Emma who just days before Christmas finds a jewelry shop open to trade in a bracelet given her by her ex. While in the shop, she recognizes the watch she gave her college boyfriend Fletcher. She trades the bracelet for the watch, wondering at the timing. Her friend believes in signs and synchronicity, tracks Fletcher down and finds that he is at a romantic inn in Vermont. Off Emma Goes to Vermont! Only, when she gets there, Fletcher isn’t there alone. He is there with his fiancé and daughter. oops!

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My second read is one I’ve been reading  on my phone in bed early in the morning, This Christmas by Sarah Spade, which is book two in her Holiday Hunk series. Back in October I read the first book, Halloween Boo and loved it, and so far I’m really enjoying The Christmas Hunk as well! fingers crossed, I love it!

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Let me know what you’re reading this weekend friends, I’d love to know! We will chat again soon.

xx

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