Sunday, October 1, 2023

Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Title: Meet Me at the Lake
Author: Carley Fortune
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: May 2, 2023

Fern Brookbanks has wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter. She spent just twenty-four hours in her early twenties with the aggravatingly attractive, idealistic artist, a chance encounter that spiraled into a daylong adventure in Toronto. The timing was wrong, but their connection was undeniable: they shared every secret, every dream, and made a pact to meet one year later. Fern showed up. Will didn't.

At thirty-two, Fern's life doesn't look at all how she once imagined it would. Instead of living in the city, Fern's back home, running her mother's Muskoka lakeside resort--something she vowed never to do. The place is in disarray, her ex-boyfriend's the manager, and Fern doesn't know where to begin.

She needs a plan--a lifeline. To her surprise, it comes in the form of Will, who arrives nine years too late, with a suitcase in tow and an offer to help on his lips. Will may be the only person who understands what Fern's going through. But how could she possibly trust this expensive suit-wearing mirage who seems nothing like the young man she met all those years ago. Will is hiding something, and Fern's not sure she wants to know what it is.

But ten years ago, Will Baxter rescued Fern. Can she do the same for him?

Meet Me at the Lake is a second-chance romance.

Fern Brookbanks is dealing with the loss of her mother after a car accident. Her mother had left the resort she owned to her.  Fern knows she needs help managing the property but she doesn’t know if she wants to do it. Her life is in the big city, of Toronto. She has been living there for the last few years. Then, as if losing her mother was not enough shock, she learns her mother had hired a company to help her stay in the black and the person who shows up is none other than Will Baxter, the man she met ten years before and who broke her heart.

Ten years earlier, Fern had the best day with Will. Will, who is an artist, is painting a mural in the coffee shop where she was working. As soon as they meet, a spark is there. Yet, both have a significant other but they make a pact to see each other a year later at the resort.  A year later, Fern is there but Will never shows up.

In the present, Will is in front of her and she is still furious at him but she knows she needs his help if she wants to keep the business afloat or if she decides to sell.

Meet Me at the Lake had 3 timelines if we count Fern's mom's diary entries and one main POV.

It was easy to like Fern. I understood why she didn’t want to take over the resort after college. She wanted to do her own thing. I like Will except during the conflict. He didn’t act the way I thought he should.

Overall, I did like it and I would read another romance by Carley Fortune.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Viking via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Drowning Woman by Robyn Harding


Title: The Drowning Woman
Author: Robyn Harding
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: June 13, 2023

A deliciously twisted story of friendship, retribution, and betrayal about a homeless woman fleeing a dangerous past—and the wealthy society wife she saves from drowning, who pulls her into a dark web of secrets and lies.

Lee Gulliver never thought she’d find herself living on the streets—no one ever does—but when her restaurant fails, and she falls deeper into debt, she leaves her old life behind with nothing but her clothes and her Toyota Corolla. In Seattle, she parks in a secluded spot by the beach to lay low and plan her next move—until early one morning, she sees a sobbing woman throw herself into the ocean. Lee hauls the woman back to the surface, but instead of appreciation, she is met with fury. The drowning woman, Hazel, tells her that she wanted to die, that she’s trapped in a toxic, abusive marriage, that she’s a prisoner in her own home. Lee has thwarted her one chance to escape her life.

Out of options, Hazel retreats to her gilded cage, and Lee thinks she’s seen the last of her, until her unexpected return the next morning. Bonded by disparate but difficult circumstances, the women soon strike up a close and unlikely friendship. And then one day, Hazel makes a shocking request: she wants Lee to help her disappear. It’ll be easy, Hazel assures her, but Lee soon learns that nothing is as it seems, and that Hazel may not be the friend Lee thought she was.

Lee Gulliver is down on her luck. She runs to Seattle after her business goes under due to the pandemic. She is living in her car and working in a place for illegals. She is in hiding after the man who helped her with the money to start her restaurant wants her to pay him back. She knows if he finds her, she won't live long. He has already shown her that he can hurt her.

One morning, Lee is sleeping near the beach when she hears a woman cry. The woman, Hazel, is trying to drown herself. Lee doesn't think twice and jumps in the water to save her. Hazel is angry with her. She tells her she is a prisoner in her own home due to an abusive husband. However, the next morning Hazel shows up next to Lee's car. She thanks her for saving her life and brings food for Lee. They start meeting every morning. 

Lee starts to believe that things are turning for good. She considers Hazel to be a true friend and she meets a man named Jesse. He is sweet to her and very understanding of her situation.

Then Hazel asks her to cover for her. She is tired of the abuse and she is ready to disappear. She asks Lee to dress like her and to replace her at home in front of all the cameras while she makes her escape. 

Then someone is murdered!

I like that Robyn Harding provided us with both female POVs.  Lee and Hazel had in common that both wanted to disappear and escape their situations. Their ordeals sounded quite plausible. The Drowning Woman had a good couple of twists that kept the story moving forward and made it engaging from the very beginning.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Grand Central Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

You, with a View by Jessica Joyce
July 11, 2023 by Berkley

Title: You, with a View
Author: Jessica Joyce
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 11, 2023

Two weeks on the road... stuck in a car with your high-school enemy.

Noelle Shepard is grieving the loss of her beloved grandmother when she discovers decades-old photos and letters that hint to a forbidden love in her gram's past. Needing to know the full story, she creates a TikTok video appealing for information - and it goes viral.

Through her video, she manages to track down her grandmother's secret love, Paul, who offers to take her on the honeymoon road-trip he and Gram planned but never got to go on.

Noelle jumps at the chance to make this one last connection with her grandmother. There's just one problem - Paul's grandson is Noelle's frustratingly handsome high-school rival Theo.

And Theo has to come, too.

It's only two weeks. Surely Noelle can survive that long? But with one car between them - and often only one bed - it doesn't take long for things to heat up...

I’ve always been a sucker for frenemies to lovers trope. You, with a View, is just that.

Noelle Shepard is grieving the loss of her grandmother. She feels lost. She is back living with her parents after being let go of a job she didn’t enjoy five months ago. Then she discovers love letters written by her grandmother to a man who was not her grandfather. Noelle thought her grandmother told her everything during their Tell Me A Secret sessions but she never shared this one.

Noelle decides to do a TikTok video with all the info she has available trying to find out the identity of the man her grandma loved. The next morning, to her shock someone answered "That’s my grandfather".

When she meets Paul (the man her grandmother loved) she also sees her high school classmate, Theo Spencer. It turns out that Paul is Theo's grandfather. In high school, Noelle and Theo used to compete constantly for first place. They tried to surpass each other every chance they got.  Now, Theo is a very successful businessman and she has nothing to show for all the time they have not seen each other. She feels like a failure.

When Noelle learns that her grandmother had planned to marry Paul and they already had their honeymoon sketched, she decides she should do the trip her grandmother never got a chance to do. Paul asks to join her and Theo won't let Paul go alone so of course he decides to come too.

You, With A View, was so freaking cute. Great debut romance with likable characters all around. The MC connection felt real. They had a past together so it was easy to believe they were falling for each other in the present. Paul was so adorable. Such a great grandfather and constant supporter of Theo.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Berkley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Book Proposal by K.J. Micciche


Title: The Book Proposal
Author: K.J. Micciche
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: May 16, 2023


Broke up with, broke, and with a vicious case of writer's block, romance writer Gracie Landing is a hot mess. She can hardly be blamed for drinking one (or a few) too many cocktails when out with her besties in an attempt to cheer herself up. Sometime in the foggy wee hours, she recklessly emails her unrequited high-school crush, Colin Yarmouth, who is now a successful attorney harboring regrets of his own. When she receives an intriguingly friendly (not to say flirty) response, her acute embarrassment is overcome only by her fervent curiosity―what would a hottie like Colin be like as a grown up? The two forge an unlikely friendship that's unmistakably headed for more. Colin's tales of his own woeful break-up become fodder for Gracie's fertile imagination and her current work-in-progress takes off. With the deadline looming and her checking account dwindling, Gracie has no idea that borrowing Colin's story could wreak havoc on her life, her career, and her own chance at happily-ever-after...

A rom-com that some might enjoy.

When Gracie Landing was in high school, she had a huge crush on her classmate, Colin Yarmouth who gave her nickname, Elvis, which stayed with her through the school years. 

Years later, Gracie is a romance novel writer but she is suffering from writer's block and can't seem to finish her next novel after her fiancée left her for their impregnated wedding planner. A late night with her girlfriends and after having too much to drink, she contacts Connor via email which she doesn't remember doing until the next morning.

Connor, an estate attorney, is shocked to receive an email from Gracie. He remembers her from high school. Lately, his life has not been the greatest. He is recently divorced and this has impacted his life in more ways than one.

After exchanging multiple emails with Gracie, Connor feels happier than he has been in a while. When he learns she is an author, he offers to read her latest manuscript. Later on, he spills the beans about his failed marriage and encourages Gracie to use it in her book. 

What starts as emails, leads to phone calls, which turn into in-person meetings and dates. The pair seem very happy with each other until an unlikely development.

I had fun reading this one. Both of the characters were entertaining and having both POVs helped with their romance growth. However, I did feel that both, and especially Gracie acted immature for their age group which created unnecessary drama.

3/5 Fangs

Cliffhanger: No

A complimentary copy was provided by Sourcebooks Casablanca via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lover Unveiled by J.R. Ward
Black Dagger Brotherhood #19

Title: Lover Unveiled
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #19
Author: J.R. Ward
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: April 20, 2021

Meet Sahvage: a powerful MMA fighter with a buried secret that could change the world of Caldwell forever...

Sahvage has been living under the radar for centuries-and he has every intention of staying 'dead and buried.' But when a civilian female sucks him into her dangerous battle with an evil as ancient as time, his protective side overrides his common sense.

Mae has lost everything, and desperation sets her on a collision course with fate. Determined to reverse a tragedy, she goes where mortals should fear to tread- and comes face to face with the Brotherhood's new enemy. She also discovers a love she never expected to find with Sahvage, but there can be no future for them.

Knowing they will part, the two band together to fight against what Mae unknowingly unleashed- as the Brotherhood closes in to reclaim one of their damned, and the evil vows to destroy them all...

This novel is about Sahvage and Mae.

In the beginning, we meet Mae. She is searching for Rhev in an underground fighting club to ask for his help. Instead, she is confronted with meeting Sahvage, a vampire about to start fighting a human. Mae is in desperate need to find The Book. She needs a spell from it or she will lose everything. When Sahvage is harmed, she can't stay away and decides to help.

Savage knows the Book and it's spells are a no-go. It can only bring more problems to the race. He knows  The Book needs to be destroyed but he also can’t let this female fight alone the evil that she has attracted and is near her.

Another great couple has been added to the BDB series. I liked both main characters and the seeds planted for the next book involving Balthazar and Erika. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A Warm Heart in Winter by J.R. Ward
Black Dagger Brotherhood #18.5

Title: A Warm Heart in Winter
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #18.5
Author: J.R. Ward
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: December 1, 2020

#1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward is heating things up this winter with a holiday novel featuring some of her most iconic Black Dagger Brothers.

In this romantic and sexy addition to the #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series, a beloved couple has everything arranged... until it all goes horribly wrong.

Blay and Qhuinn always intended to do a proper mating ceremony, but life has a way of getting in the way. With a pair of young, responsibilities to the King, and a grueling fighting schedule, the two are exhausted and overwhelmed. When Qhuinn gives his male the proposal of a lifetime, however, they are excited for their special night and more in love than ever.

Everyone in the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s mansion gets into the preparations, and the after party takes on epic- and immortal- proportions when Lassiter forms the Party Planning Committee. The celebrations promise to be all that the couple deserves... until a Nor’easter land locks Caldwell in a fierce storm, and things go from lighthearted to deadly dangerous.

Battling nature and responding to emergencies, Blay and Qhuinn get separated, and when a catastrophic chain of events puts one of their lives in jeopardy, the night they had so looked forward could mean the end of everything...

This novella is about Blay and Quinn. There is a personal tragedy but with the help of Zsadist and Lassiter, it ends up hopeful instead of heartbreaking.

It is Christmas time and a blizzard is coming. The brothers all have to stay in and protect their homes from the elements. After the storm, despite close calls, they are all okay except for one.

Besides the main storyline, we also meet two human girls. Their father’s BMW is stuck in the snow and the only way to get it out will be with the help of a tow guy in the form of Quinn. Yet things don’t go the way they should.

I found A Warm Heart in Winter to be quite a tear-jerker in parts. Yet, as I mentioned earlier, it's hopeful too.  J. R. Ward is doing a great job at making me love Lassiter more with every book.

I do have one request and it's that I would like to see these two young human girls show up in later books.  

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

The Sinner by J.R. Ward
Black Dagger Brotherhood #18

Title: The Sinner
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #18
Author: J.R. Ward
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: March 24, 2020

A sinner’s only hope is true love in this passionate new novel in J.R. Ward’s #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Syn has kept his side hustle as a mercenary a secret from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. When he takes another hit job, he not only crosses the path of the vampire race’s new enemy, but also that of a half-breed in danger of dying during her transition. Jo Early has no idea what her true nature is, and when a mysterious man appears out of the darkness, she is torn between their erotic connection and the sense that something is very wrong.

Fate anointed Butch O’Neal as the Dhestroyer, the fulfiller of the prophecy that foresees the end of the Omega. As the war with the Lessening Society comes to a head, Butch gets an unexpected ally in Syn. But can he trust the male—or is the warrior with the bad past a deadly complication?

With time running out, Jo gets swept up in the fighting and must join with Syn and the Brotherhood against true evil. In the end, will love true prevail...or was the prophecy wrong all along?

This is the story of Syn and Jo but also of Butch O’Neal as the Destroyer and the end of the war with the Omega.

Syn has enjoyed killing evil people for centuries. He enjoys it until he is asked to kill a news reporter by the name of Jo Every.

When Syn meets Jo, he immediately can sense she is a half-vampire. He feels a connection with Jo and he will fight anyone in order to prevent anything bad from happening to her.

Jo knows something is going on in Caldwell but the more she investigates the supernatural the more she develops memory losses. Something is going on with her health too. When she meets Syn she wants to trust him but she knows he is hiding something.

The Sinner was a success! I liked the main characters and wanted them to survive the battle with the Omega. It warms my heart to see the Brotherhood and the Band of Bastards fighting together and the way their families keep on expanding. 

I sense the addition of a demon will cause trouble to the gang one way or the other.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs