Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Title: The Proposal
Author: Jasmine Guillory
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: October 30, 2018

The author of The Wedding Date serves up a novel about what happens when a public proposal doesn't turn into a happy ending, thanks to a woman who knows exactly how to make one on her own...

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn't come as a surprise--or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn't the hard part--they've only been dating for five months, and he can't even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans...

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik's rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He's even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik's social media blows up--in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can't be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes...

Let me start by saying, I didn't read The Wedding Date (but I wanted too). The Proposal should be counted as a novel written within the same world. I will call it book #2. The couple from the first story is mentioned or appeared quite a few times through it.

The Proposal begins with an embarrassing situation.  Nikole Paterson is at the Dodgers game when her boyfriend, a guy whom she has only dated five months, proposes to her using the scoreboard. To her dismay, everyone is watching her as she tells him no in the most subtle way. He storms out, leaving her behind. 

Carlos Ibarra and her sister are a few rows behind watching the events unfold. They decide to help Nikole by taking her away from the stadium and dropping her to meet her friends. When asked to join them, they agree. Carlos and Nikole share a spark and they will start communicating through texts and phone calls in the days to come. 

Nikole thinks that Carlos will be a nice rebound hookup since she doesn't want anything serious. Carlos feels the same way. Yet, the more time they are around each other, the more difficult this arrangement becomes. 

The Proposal is a fast and easy story. I liked that the author was inclusive of different races and body types but I had a hard time relating to Nikole. She said she was hurt before and that's why she didn't want to be in a relationship but we never get to experience her past. It's only mentioned. I would've liked to see more of what the other boyfriend did to make her skittish of relationships.

Carlos was very likable and so was his family. He was devoted to them. He was a good friend too. The only time I didn't approve of him was when he felt rejected. He was quite mean then. Otherwise, he was a good guy. 

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

Thank you Berkley Romance and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary copy of The Proposal in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

Title: The Matchmaker
Author: Elin Hilderbrand 
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release date: June 24, 2014

A touching new novel from bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand in which a woman sets out to find love for those closest to her - before it's too late.

48-year-old Nantucketer Dabney Kimball Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. Some call her ability mystical, while others - like her husband, celebrated economist John Boxmiller Beech, and her daughter, Agnes, who is clearly engaged to the wrong man - call it meddlesome, but there's no arguing with her results: With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Dabney has never been wrong about romance.

Never, that is, except in the case of herself and Clendenin Hughes, the green-eyed boy who took her heart with him long ago when he left the island to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Now, after spending 27 years on the other side of the world, Clen is back on Nantucket, and Dabney has never felt so confused, or so alive.

But when tragedy threatens her own second chance, Dabney must face the choices she's made and share painful secrets with her family. Determined to make use of her gift before it's too late, she sets out to find perfect matches for those she loves most. The Matchmaker is a heartbreaking story about losing and finding love, even as you're running out of time.

This will teach me to read the synopsis before starting a book. Elin Hilderbrand clearly hints about the outcome of this book but sadly, I  didn't read it and I just thought: "What a cute name for a book". I will say it was a very deceiving title and it left me completely unprepared for my feelings as I started approaching the end of The Matchmaker. It was, to say the least, a bittersweet story.

As with her prior books, Elin Hilderbrand takes you back to the Island of Nantucket with its charming people, beautiful sceneries and the unraveling of a specific family or character's life.

Dabney Kimball Beech has always loved only one man, Clendenin Hughes. When he left the island twenty-seven years ago in the pursuit of his dream as a journalist, he took her heart with him. She did marry a man that she has come to care for, John Boxmiller Beech. 

Box is a famous economist whom even the President of the United States likes to consult from time to time. When Clendenin left he didn't know Dabney was pregnant with their daughter, Agnes. Box took the role of a father as Agnes starting growing up. Now as a young woman, Agnes is dating an older man. Someone Dabney doesn't approve of. 

To make her life even more interesting, Dabney receives an email from Clendenin. In it, he tells her that he's coming back to Nantucket and he wants to reconnect with her. This piece of news will mark the beginning of a new chapter in Dabney's life.

Dabney was a very nice woman. She was a huge believer in love and she tried to help everyone around her. For this reason, everyone liked her. She was friendly, sweet and she had a stellar reputation as a matchmaker. A total of Forty-two couples were together because of Dabney. The only one she never got right was her own love story. She was in love with Clendenin from the first moment he joined her school. His return to the island brings chaos into her life. Too many things are happening too fast for Dabney. She will need to learn to deal with all of her new emotions and decide if it's too late for her and Clendenin or if she continues living comfortably with Box.

I thought the last third of the book was a tear jerker. It was unexpected but it gave the story a tone of truthfulness.

The Matchmaker proves to me once again that Elin Hilderbrand can bring a phenomenal gamma of emotions to her stories.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand

Title: Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
Author: Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release date: July 2, 2007

Visiting Nantucket for the summer, three women seek peace and comfort as they cope with the challenges in their lives--from marriage, infidelity, and the mayhem of motherhood to scandal, tragedy, and illness. 

Three women--burdened with small children, unwieldy straw hats, and some obvious emotional issues--tumble onto the Nantucket airport tarmac one hot June day. Vicki is trying to sort through the news that she has a serious illness. Her sister, Brenda, has just left her job after being caught in an affair with a student. And their friend Melanie, after seven failed in-vitro attempts, is pregnant at last--but only after learning that her husband is having an affair. They have come to escape, enjoy the sun, and relax in Nantucket's calming air. But into the house, into their world, steps twenty-two-year-old Josh Flynn.

Barefoot weaves these four lives together in a story with enthralling sweep and scope--a novel that is as fun and memorable and bittersweet as that one perfect day of summer.

*My review will contain some spoilers*

I could say that Barefoot is my least favorite book by Elin so far. Even the epilogue didn't answer all my questions about the characters' future. Yet, I still enjoyed the story about these three women spending their summer in Nantucket. 

The first woman is Victoria Lyndon Stowe. Vicki has been recently diagnosed with lung cancer despite never smoking. She decides to leave her life in Connecticut and take her two young kids, Blaine and Porter, to spend the summer in Nantucket. She plans to get her chemotherapy there. Chemo is never easy and Vicki will have to deal with her feelings about her own mortality. 

The second woman is Brenda Lyndon. She's Vicki's younger sister. She had the perfect job in Academia until she met her new Australian student, John Walsh. He's one year older than her but a relationship with him will cost Brenda her beloved job and plenty of legal issues.

The third woman is Melanie Patchen, Vicki's best friend who's escaping with them in order to avoid her own problems. Melanie has tried seven rounds of in-vitro treatments in hopes of getting pregnant without any success. Then, she discovers she's pregnant but she also learns that her husband, Peter, is cheating with a woman at work. 

Last but not least, we meet Joshua "Josh" Flynn. A twenty-two-year-old man who crosses paths with them as they get off the plane. By serendipity, they meet a few more times and Josh ends up becoming their nanny for the summer. 

As you can see there's enough material for plenty of drama in the making. 

So why didn't I love it? Well, a few reasons. 

It was hard to like Melanie. She behaved childishly and never really helped Vicki throughout the summer. I also thought she took advantage of Josh's feelings and young age.  Worse, her decision at the end made me lose all respect for her. I hated Peter. He had it too easy and I didn't believe his apology. He will cheat again.

In the beginning, I wasn't crazy about Brenda. She could be selfish but she did help her sister. She was there for her. I wished there had been more info about Walsh. Where was he during all those weeks? Why didn't he call her more times? Why didn't he show up to look for her?

Vicki's storyline was the saddest. I felt sorry for her. She was dealing with the unthinkable. Cancer is a scary word and she wasn't sure if she would be there for her two small kids. She had many bad days ahead of her. I love her two kids.

I thought Josh had a rotten deal. He was indispensable to them while they needed him but I thought they didn't tell him how much he meant to them and when it was time to let him go, neither women batted their eyelashes. No offer to stay connected either.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

The Idea Of You by Robinne Lee

When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.

Wow! Just...wow! To say that I loved this book would be putting it lightly, very lightly. I devoured this book like it was my salvation and it would be yanked from me at any moment! I loved this book so much that it's hard to formulate the right words to express how I feel, but I'll give it a shot.

I read this book at the recommendation of a friend, a very dear friend who I will adore forever! I went into it without knowing much, only that it involved a band. I liked it instantly because being the fangirl that I am I love boy bands (don't judge me). Then I soon realized it wasn't going to be the normal type of relationship because of the older woman/younger man dynamic, which I loved by the way. Solène is divorced, she's a single mother of a preteen daughter, she co-owns an art gallery so to say the least I really liked her. She meets August Moon when she takes said daughter to a meet-and-greet with the band, and that's where she meets Hayes. Hayes and Solène have an instant attraction and even though Solène plays it off Hayes isn't willing to let it go so easily. 

This story is so well written in so many ways! It is so perfectly descriptive and the characters are honestly very easy to fall in love with. The relationship between Hayes and Solène is so utterly fascinating and stirred so many emotions. I loved reading the push-and-pull between two people who are falling in love with each other, but also knowing that it's hopeless had me feeling all kinds of heartache. I honestly had a real physical reaction to the love between these two! I couldn't read fast enough, I could't read slow enough, I couldn't form coherent thoughts. I just needed more! In the end I was left with a hole in my heart, a hole that I'm hoping can be healed with more of Hayes and Solène, I can only hope. This book deserves all of the stars in the world! 

5/5 Fangs

ROBINNE LEE is an actor, writer and producer. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, Robinne was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. Robinne has numerous acting credits in both television and film, most notably opposite Will Smith in both "Hitch" and "Seven Pounds." Her recent credits include "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed," playing Ros Bailey. 

Robinne currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Title: The Witch of Willow Hall
Author: Hester Fox 
Publisher: Harlequin and Graydon House
Release date:  October 2, 2018

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821 

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia, and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall. The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

This was the perfect book to get me into the Halloween spirit!

Lydia Montrose and her family are moving from Boston to New Oldbury. They have been pretty much run out of the city after certain rumors spread surrounding the oldest sister, Catherine. 

Lydia is the middle sister. She loves to read, likes to garden and loves her little sister, Emeline. Lydia has taken over Emeline's schooling and also her discipline. Lydia's mother is not the same since they left Boston and Lydia likes to help where she can. Their brother Charles is not with them. He's in London. There's a mystery surrounding his absence.

“Charlie did a bad thing”

Lydia's father, Samuel Montrose has started a new mill's business. The business is thriving but life at Willow Hall is strange. From the noises Lydia hears at night to the ghost-like forms she observes.

"There are stories around here that the place is haunted. All manners of ghosties and goblins." 

Samuel's partner, John Barrett is a young man who used to own Willow Hall. Lydia fancies him but she has to compete for his affections with Catherine, who everyone believes to be prettier than Lydia. Lydia doesn't think she can win his affections but when he gives her his attention, she is full of hope. 

Then tragedy strikes the family.


The Witch of Willow Hall had a good story filled with gothic components, interesting characters, enough mystery and, a good romance to make it a winner.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about The Witch of Willow Hall was the way the author gave us small tidbits of what had happened back in Boston. It kept my interest piqued. It was a slow burn but with a purpose. 

Lydia was a unique character. She was dealing with learning something about herself that was changing her life. The best part about Lydia was that she was a bookie!

Catherine was a great villain. She was a character you love to hate. She enjoyed belittling Lydia. Cyrus and August Pierce were also unlikable characters but I still think Catherine is the worst.

Emeline was a sweet girl. I love how Snip, her dog was always with her.

John Barrett had an air of mystery that enticed me to learn more about him. He could also be quite swoony.

“I expect that the next time I see you it will be in the library, or the parlor, or the garden—anywhere else but your room—and that you will have a new book recommendation for me. Hopefully something with a happy ending this time.”

Thank you, Harlequin and Graydon House for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Collectors by David Baldacci

Title: The Collectors  
Series: Camel Club #2
Author: David Baldacci 
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

In Washington, D.C, where power is everything and too few have too much of it, four highly eccentric men with mysterious pasts call themselves the Camel Club. Their mission: find out what's really going on behind the closed doors of America's leaders.

The assassination of the U.S. Speaker of the House has shaken the nation. And the outrageous iconoclasts of the Camel Club have found a chilling connection with another death: the demise of the director of the Library of Congress's rare books room, whose body has been found in a locked vault where seemingly nothing could have harmed him. 

A man who calls himself Oliver Stone is the groups unofficial leader. Staying one step ahead of his violent past and headquartered in a caretaker's cottage in Mt. Zion Cemetery, Stone, drawing on his vast experience and acute deductive powers, discovers that someone is selling America to its enemies one classified secret at a time. When Annabelle Conroy, the greatest con artist of her generation, struts onto the scene in high-heeled boots, the Camel Club gets a sexy new edge. And they'll need it, because the two murders are hurtling them into a world of high-stakes espionage that threatens to bring America to its knees.

From an ingenious con in Atlantic City tho the possible forgery of one of the rarest and most valuable books in America history, to a showdown of epic proportions in the very heart of the capitol, David Baldacci weaves a brilliant, white-knuckle tale of suspense in which every collector is searching for one missing prize: the one to die for... 

The whole first half of The Collectors, I was thinking how are these two storylines going to connect? I was loving both of them on their own but wasn't sure where David Baldacci was going with it. When it finally happened I was like, wow I didn't see that coming. 

The book begins with the murder of the Speaker of the House and then Caleb Shaw's boss, Jonathan DeHaven is also found dead in the Library of Congress's Rare Books room. When Caleb sees his boss's body, Caleb passes out. His three friends, Oliver Stone, Ruben Rhodes, and Milton Farb will go in search of the connection between these two very different set of deaths. 

While the Camel Club is going in one direction, another plot emerges. We're introduced to sexy, smart, independent con artist, Annabelle Conroy who is recruiting a group of men for a con involving an Atlantic City casino owner by the name of Jerry Bagget. Jerry is well known for his lack of compassion and if it is up to him, anyone messing with his casino will pay with their own lives.

When the two stories collided,  I couldn't put the book down. Annabelle was a fantastic asset to the story- and to the Camel Club. I loved her. She created mystery, humor, intrigue, and suspense in every page she appeared. I wasn't a fan of the first book but with the addition of Annabelle and I'm all in. Good job Mr. Baldacci for launching this unforgettable character!

Even though one of the plot lines closes by the end of The Collectors, another one is left wide open, making it impossible for me not to grab the next one in this series.

Cliffhanger: Yes

4/5 Fangs

Play Dirty by Sandra Brown

Title: Play Dirty 
Author: Sandra Brown
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

After five long years in federal prison, Griff Burkett is a free man. But the disgraced Cowboys quarterback can never return to life as he knew it before he was caught cheating. 

Foster Speakman and his wife Laura lived a charmed life before fate denied them the one thing they wanted most -- a child. Fresh out of prison and out of prospects, Griff agrees to do a job for the Speakmans that demands secrecy. But he soon finds himself once again in the spotlight of suspicion when an unsolved murder comes back to haunt him. While safeguarding his new enterprise, Griff must also protect those around him, especially Laura Speakman. Griff stands to gain the highest payoff he could ever imagine, but cashing in on it will require him to forfeit his only chance for redemption...and love.

It's always a thrill when I embark into another Sandra Brown novel. She writes compelling characters, thoughtful plotlines and has plenty of good twists to keep this suspense reader happy.

Griff Burkett is fresh out of prison when he's asked to meet Foster Speakman and his wife Laura. Griff went to prison for five years after being found guilty for taking payment by his bookies in exchange for forfeiting a game while he was the Dallas Cowboy's quarterback. Everyone in Texas despises him for doing it and despite five years gone by, everyone still remembers what he did. 

As Enemy #1 and without any of his football money (which he lost before going to prison) it's hard to find a new job offer. When Speakman offers him money in exchange for performing a special service, first he thinks Foster is crazy but by the end of the night, he's agreeing to do what they want from him. 

Laura Speakman loves her husband. She will do anything he asks of her. She will even do the crazy thing he's requesting from her. At first, she doesn't trust or likes Griff but when she gets to know him, she's conflicted. She realizes she has developed feelings for him. She tries to severe her connection with him but then a murder brings them closer together.

I had fun reading/listening to Play Dirty. It had plenty of suspense, an evil character to hate and two good twists. 

As for the characters, I liked how Griff was not cookie-cutter perfect. He was down on his luck and he had to start over from scratch. I loved that Laura was a cut-throat businesswoman. She worked as hard as her husband or maybe even more. I'm not sure how she could have fallen for Foster who was manipulative and deceitful. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Claiming the Enemy: Dustin by Jamie Begley

Title: Claiming the Enemy: Dustin
Series: Porter Brothers Trilogy
Author: Jamie Begley
Publisher: Young Ink Press 
Release date: September 30, 2018  

The Porter brothers were raised to live and die by Three Rules.

One, a Porter always keeps what’s his.

Two, a Porter stands his ground.
Three …
Dustin never had to search for his true love. They used to play and get in trouble together, shared a playpen, and their mothers used to be best friends. But that was before their fathers made them enemies and changed the course of their lives. Now the Porters stayed on their side of the mountain while the Hayes stayed on theirs.
Believing it was easier to coexist as frenemies with Jessie Hayes rather than changing the Porter stubborn ways, Dustin was content with booty calls, raising his son, and growing weed as a side business … until he heard her screams. Now he was going to show a murderer just how much they had underestimated this Porter brother. And he was going to have to break his father’s last rule: Leave no enemy standing … to claim the enemy that held his heart.

Excellent addition to the Porter trilogy!

I laughed and I cried reading it. Yet, again another book that made me cry while on a plane. My poor husband kept on asking me if I was alright. Thankfully, I was in the window seat, so no one else was privy to my madness. 

Dustin is the youngest Porter brother. He has a son that he loves and a respectable business despite the reputation his family inherited. His dad was tough on him and his only friend growing up was Jessie Hayes. Jessie's dad and Dustin's dad hated each other and after a nasty event, Dustin broke off his relationship with Jessie for good.

Dustin, like his siblings, has something to hide. Something that only family and I guess the Last Riders know about him. Or maybe I should say that he has three secrets but I won't tell you those. What I can tell you, is that Dustin takes charge when Jessie goes missing after being brutally attacked and left for dead. I can tell you that he's extremely patient and careful with her and when the time comes, he will tell her exactly what he wants from her.

Jessie has always loved Dustin. She has followed his life, his happy and sad moments from afar and I felt sorry for her for not moving forward. I'm not sure I like the idea that a woman is pinning her life on a man and will wait forever for him despite not knowing if he cares for her. The only time I saw Jessie shine was at work or when she was firm with her brothers. I think those situations saved her from being a doormat. 

One of the reasons why I continue reading the work of Jamie Begley is because of the huge character pool she has created. There are so many characters that I love and that I enjoy seeing them reappear even if it is a tiny cameo. 

The one character who shined in this book was Greer. He has become one of my favorite characters in the series. I hope to see more of him in the Last Riders.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs