Saturday, June 15, 2019

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Title: Miracle Creek
Author: Angie Kim
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Release Date: April 16th, 2019

A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first . . .

In the small town of Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.

Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night—trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges—as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.

Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. An addictive debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng, Miracle Creek is both a twisty page-turner and a deeply moving story about the way inconsequential lies and secrets can add up—with tragic consequences.

It has been a few days since I finished reading Miracle Creek. While I was reading it, I could only imagine how good this book will be as a movie. 

I usually don't like court dramas but I think Angie Kim did her best work by delivering us the lies and the truth through the characters on the stand and in the courtroom.

Miracle Creek tells us the story of the death of an autistic child during a hyperbaric oxygen treatment or "dive" caused by a fire in August of 2008. A year later, Elizabeth, the mother is on trial and if found guilty, she could receive the death penalty. 

Through four days of the trial and the voices of the Yoo's (Young (mother), Pak (father) and Mary (teenage daughter)) Matt Thompson and his wife, Janine Cho, and Teresa Santiago, Angie Kim begins presenting to us the true events that happened the night of the fire. Was Elizabeth the only one with a reason for arson or does anyone else who was there that night have a motive too? The list of suspects starts to elongate as the narrative continues. 

Personally, I've referred patients to be evaluated for hyperbaric oxygen to treat nonhealing wounds or second/third-degree burns but I didn't realize it was being used for autism or infertility. My knowledge of it has always been in a hospital setting, so I was quite surprised that the Yoo's had an HBOT in a regular neighborhood. All kinds of medical error scenarios popped through my mind while I was reading it but the truth was so much worse.

Miracle Creek is not your usual debut novel. The descriptions, character development and suspense were done as masterful as a seasoned writer. Angie Kim's novel inserts pieces of humanity at its worse but we also get -or at least I did- the sense of hope. Some of the characters decisions made me nauseous by their omissions and lies. Some infuriated me. One, I disliked tremendously. 

As a fiction reader, I can't recommend enough Miracle Creek. If you heard the audio which I did for the majority of it, the narrator does an amazing job. At the end of the audio, there is an interview with Angie Kim where she mentions her own experience with immigration, becoming a lawyer and HBOT treatment for one of her children. The music done by her son is perfect for the audio too.

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Title: The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Author: Abby Jimenez
Publisher:  Forever Romance
Release Date:  July 9, 2019 

Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen--especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

I'm amazed by Abby Jimenez's ability to write a romance dealing with the main topic of infertility.

I was pulled into The Friend Zone from the very first chapter. There were some gut-wrenching moments when I couldn't stop myself from spilling tears but also so many moments where the sarcastic humor was freaking awesome.

The first time we meet the main characters Kristen Peterson and Josh Copeland is when they were involved in a fender bender. Their first interaction didn't go that great. Their second one was a little bit better.

Kristen runs her own business. Her company makes products for dogs including ladders to help small dogs climb, she makes cute little shirts too. In regards to her personal life, she's dating a marine Tyler (who's overseas), has a cute little dog (who hates the marine), doesn't have a close relationship with her mother and she's dealing with a medical condition that will end up in infertility.
The moment she meets Josh, she knows she's in trouble. He's handsome, super nice and available as her new carpenter on his days off. She has never cheated and she won't start now. Making Josh believe she has no interest in him is a priority. She will wear unattractive clothes, no makeup, and even rulers to prevent him from getting any ideas.

Josh has recently moved to California to be closer to his best friend Brandon who's getting married soon. He's joining the same firehouse as him but his new status as probie is not a fun one. He's frustrated with some of the calls they get. Some are completely and truly unnecessary. As for his personal life, his last relationship ended on a bad note. He wanted kids and his girlfriend didn't. He let her have everything they had but his credit card balance is still quite high. He needs cash fast to pay his debts and when an offer to be Kristen's new carpenter presents, he has no other choice but to take it. He discovers that he likes Kristen. He likes her sense of humor, her honesty, and her loyalty. He realizes she's not a cheater but he wants her in his life.

Kristen and Josh are both very creative characters. I love both. Kristen was funny, sarcastic and a true friend to Sloan. Yes, I got annoyed at Kristen more than once for pushing Josh away but I understood why she did it.
Josh was perfect. He had my heart. He was understanding and dedicated to Kristen and his best friend Brandon. He fell for Kristen's dog too (which is a bonus in my book).

The last third of The Friend Zone was hard to read. Plenty of sadness. I was devastated for Josh but even though the ending had some bittersweetness to it, the sweet overcame the bitter.

I was excited to see that Abby Jimenez is writing a second book with a secondary character. I'd love to see where she takes her story.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

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

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Wolfhunter River by Rachel Caine

Title: Wolfhunter River
Series: Stillhouse Lake
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: Published April 23, 2019 

A Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller.

She can’t ignore a cry for help. But in this remote hunting town, it’s open season.

Gwen Proctor escaped her serial-killer husband and saved her family. What she can’t seem to outrun is his notoriety. Or the sick internet vigilantes still seeking to avenge his crimes. For Gwen, hiding isn’t an option. Not when her only mission is to create a normal life for her kids.

But now, a threatened woman has reached out. Marlene Crockett, from the remote town of Wolfhunter, is panicked for herself and her daughter. When Gwen arrives in the small, isolated rural community, Marlene is already dead—her own daughter blamed for the murder. Except that’s not the person Marlene feared at all. And Gwen isn’t leaving until she finds out who that was.

But it may already be too late. A trap has been set. And it’s poised to snap shut on everyone Gwen loves. Her stalkers are closing in. And in a town as dark as Wolfhunter, it’s so easy for them to hide…

When I began reading Wolfhunter River, I wasn't sure which way Rachel Caine was going to be taking Gwen Proctor's character. Yet, a couple of chapters into it, I was sure the ride had to be a good one. If you read the first two books in this series, you know a big baddie is no longer a threat to her or her family.  

In case, you're not reading them in order, Gwen Proctor is the ex-wife of the famous serial killer, Melvin Royal. She changed her name and the name of her kids after Melvin was convicted. She moved many times and lately, Stillhouse Lake, is what she calls home. Her kids, Lanie and Connor have confronted many ugly things since learning about their father and they had to grow up sooner than they should have. 

Wolfhunter River begins with Gwen agreeing to do a live interview on a TV show, but getting ambushed in the process. The only thing productive that surfaces from the interview was discovering that a new enemy is out to get her and her family. A woman's from Sam's past is making it clear that this is war. 

When Gwen receives a call for help from the town of Wolfhunter, at first she doesn't want to do much. The second time someone calls her from the same town, she knows she has to go and maybe it's time for the whole family to leave Stillhouse Lake for a while.

In Wolfhunter, nothing goes the way it should. The town reeks of deceit, abuse of power, and endangered lives. It's up to Gwen and her family to uncover the evil. 

Kudos to Rachel Caine for writing another entertaining book in this series. I like Gwen, she's not a doormat. She's strong and she will fight for her kids until her last breath. The kids are also becoming more involved in the process. Connor is smart and handy with a computer. Lanie is protective of her younger sibling. She tries to keep him safe.

I'm excited to see what is going to happen in the next one, now that I know how this one ended. Gwen is going to open so many can of worms! I'm sure I don't want to miss it.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Title: Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
Series: Hannah Swensen #1
Author: Joanne Fluke
Release Date: April 1, 2000

Discover the delicious mystery that started it all!

No one cooks up a delectable, suspense-filled mystery quite like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke's dessert-baking, red-haired heroine whose gingersnaps are as tart as her comebacks, and whose penchant for solving crimes one delicious clue at a time has made her a bestselling favorite. And it all began on these pages, with a bakery, a murder, and some suddenly scandalous chocolate-chip crunchies. Featuring a bonus short story and brand new, mouthwatering recipes, this limited edition of the very first Hannah Swensen mystery is sure to have readers coming back for seconds.

Hannah Swenson already has her hands full trying to dodge her mother's attempts to marry her off while running The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden, Minnesota's most popular bakery. But once Ron LaSalle, the beloved delivery man from the Cozy Cow Dairy, is found murdered behind her bakery with Hannah's famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, her life just can't get any worse. Determined not to let her cookies get a bad reputation, she sets out to track down a killer. 

Who would have the sheer audacity and the motive to kill the most punctual delivery man Hannah ever had? Topping the list is the high school football coach. What exactly was his wife doing, making the rounds with the milkman? Could Max Turner, owner of Cozy Cow Dairy, have had a secret he didn't want to share with his top employee? The more Hannah snoops, the more suspects turn up. Why has Lake Eden's most prominent prodigal son, Benton Woodley, just resurfaced? And what about the mysterious Mr. Harris who seemed interested in buying the property next to the dairy, but then disappeared? This is one murder that's starting to leave a very bad taste in Hannah's mouth. And if she doesn't watch her back, Hannah's sweet life may get burned to a crisp.

Filled with a healthy sprinkling of humor and a delightful assortment of nuts, CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE MURDER serves up a great new mystery series and introduces a delicious, down-home sleuth that mystery readers will surely savor for years to come.

Why did I decide to read Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder? A simple answer. As a book lover, I like to read the book before I watch the movie. This book was made into a movie and Alison Sweeney is the protagonist. 

Hannah Swensen lives in a small town. She moved back home after her father passed away to help out. She doesn't have a great relationship with her mother (her mom is always trying to set her up with any unmarried guy). She has a better relationship with her sister, Andrea, her niece and her brother in law, Bill.  Hannah doesn't have a man in her life but she does have a beloved cat, Moishe.

Hannah owns The Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minnesota. Her shop specializes in selling different type of cookies. Her cookies are the best in town and her business is always quite busy. One morning, as she's about to start her day, she finds the dead body of a man she used to know from high school. The town is shaken by the news of the murder.  

Hannah's brother in law, Bill is a policeman and a promotion is in the works if he can solve this case. With the help of Hannah,  Bill might be able to achieve it.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is my first Cozy Mystery but I'm not sure this one was the right one for me to start with. I had to place it in the unbelievable category. I had issues with Hannah doing all the work and Bill letting her do it. She followed no police procedure and her questions were too direct when she was approaching the suspects. Anyway, I didn't love it.

If you have any good recommendations about a Cozy Mystery or if this series gets better, please don't hesitate to let me know in the comments.

Cliffhanger: No

2.5/5 Fangs

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Title: Life and Other Inconveniences
Author: Kristan Higgins
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: August 6, 2019

From the New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck with That comes a new novel about a blue-blood grandmother and her black-sheep granddaughter who discover they are truly two sides of the same coin.

Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley. 

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?

Kristan Higgins is my favorite author. I own all of her books in digital, paperback and hardcover forms. I think she's an amazing writer and she seems to be an awesome human being too. 

When I received a copy of Life and Other Inconveniences, I was ecstatic! As a book lover, nothing feels as great as getting a book by your favorite author. Then, something happened. I didn't want to read it. Why? because she writes a book a year and if I started it too soon, I was going to have to wait a long time for her next one. Finally, this weekend, I couldn't postpone it any longer. So I prepared for my weekend. I asked my husband to take care of the puppies, breakfast and household chores while I took the morning off to read. No interruptions, no breaks.

Life and Other Inconveniences is narrated in multiple points of views. The main three characters are: 

Emma, a single mother who has abandonment issues. When she was very little, her mother committed suicide and her father Clark, left her with her grandmother and never looked back. When Emma meets the first boy/man who shows her some love, she dates him for three years and just before she graduates high school, she learns she's pregnant. Her grandmother, Genevieve is not happy and pretty much kicks her out. Emma goes to live with her maternal grandfather. Years later, she's starting her career as a psychologist and her daughter, Riley is a teenager.

Genevieve had a perfect marriage. She loved her husband, Garrison with all of her heart. She also had two boys, Sheppard and Clark. She loved Sheppard, her oldest and when he goes missing at a very young age, she loses part of her heart. Then, Garrison dies too and when he dies, Genevieve loses the ability to love. She's never the mother that she should be to Clark (her youngest son) and when years later, he delivers his daughter, Emma to her doorstep, she thinks this is her chance to make amends. Yet, When Emma gets pregnant, she can't be flexible.

Last, we have Riley. Emma's daughter and Genevieve's granddaughter. A smart young woman with a good heart. Riley's having problems at school and when Genevieve's invitation to spend the summer with her is given, Emma and Riley agree it could be a good time to leave town.

Life and Other Inconveniences felt different than her prior novels. I had a hard time concentrating on the story. I felt there was too much inner dialogue by Emma and Genevieve. I missed the humor I've come to expect from KH. I missed the embarrassing moments, I've come to feel for the characters. I missed the romance, I've come to adore

I like to clarify that ANY time there was a dialogue, I was 100% immersed in it. Even though, the dialogue was so scattered, when it was there, I craved it.

These are my opinions but I hope this doesn't deter you from reading this book. 

Cliffhanger: No


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

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White

Title: The Dark Bones
Series: Dark Lure #2
Author: Loreth Anne White
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release date: May 21, 2019

She’s come back to solve the mystery of her father’s death and confront her own dark past.
When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.
To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.
And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.

"Can you pinpoint the exact instant your life starts on a collision course with someone else’s? Can you trace back to the moment those lives did finally intersect, and from where they spiraled outward again, yet from that point they remained forever entwined, two lives locked one with another?"

Loreth Anne White is one of my favorite authors. I love all of her books. Her characters are memorable and the suspense is always outstanding!

The Dark Bones is the second book in the Dark Lure series (The Dark Lure was FANTASTIC). The main character is Rebecca North. She's a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detective who moved out of her rural hometown of Clinton, Canada as soon as she could after her boyfriend Ash Haugen broke her heart.

Rebecca's dad is a retired detective. He's an alcoholic and he lives by himself. Out of nowhere, he calls Rebecca and tells her that he believes someone is following him and he wants to see her. He has been reviewing a cold case and he wants to know why she and Ash lied to him so many years ago. Rebecca knows this has to be about Whitney Gagnon who had slept with Ash and had left town with her boyfriend Trevor Beauchamp. Rebecca tells her dad she will call him back. Next thing she knows, she gets a call. Her dad has killed himself. Rebecca can't believe it. She comes home to investigate. She believes her father has found something about the disappearance of Whitney Gagnon and Trevor Beauchamp and someone killed him for it.

"He lied
You both lied."

On her first night back home, she bumps into the last person she wants to see, Ash. All her past feelings for him resurface. She remembers how hurt she was when he cheated and when she found out he had lied to her. She also remembers he was her first love and she has never forgotten him. As the days and the investigation progresses she realizes she still feels something for him.

Besides Rebecca and Ash, two teenagers are also important. One is Olivia's daughter Tori Burton (Liv is the main character on The Dark Lure) and the other one is Ricky Simon, a kid Ash promised to take care of. Both of their lives are in danger. They know too much.

Soon, Ash becomes the main suspect and Rebecca knows she needs to figure out who's at fault or none of them are going to be safe.

The Dark Bones was gritty, dark and full of suspense. Loreth Anne White painted a perfect small town ambiance full of secrets and lies. She gave us a great resolution while still leaving an opening for another book to answer the remaining questions.

"Quiet descended with a sense of menace."

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Shadow Prey by John Sandford

Title: Shadow Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport #2
Author: John Sandford

The #1 New York Times bestselling series. Lucas Davenport goes on a city-to-city search for a bizarre ritualistic killer.

A slumlord and a welfare supervisor butchered in Minneapolis . . . a rising political star executed in Manhattan . . . an influential judge taken in Oklahoma City . . . All the homicides have the same grisly method — the victim's throat is slashed with an Indian ceremonial knife – and in every case the twisted trail leads back through the Minnesota Native American community to an embodiment of primal evil known as Shadow Love. Once unleashed, Shadow Love's need to kill cannot be checked, even by those who think they control him. Soon he will be stalking Lucas Davenport — and the woman he loves...

Never get involved with a cop: Lieutenant Lucas Davenport has been warning women for years, but now he finds himself on dangerous ground with a policewoman named Lily Rothenburg, on assignment from New York to help investigate the murders. Both have previous commitments, but neither can stop, and as their affair grows more intense, so too does the mayhem surrounding them, until the combined passion and violence threaten to spin out of control and engulf them both. Together, Lucas and Lily must stalk the drugged-out, desperate world of the city's meanest streets to flush out Shadow Love — not knowing they are now the objects of his deadliest desires....

Well, Shadow Prey was underwhelming. There wasn't as much action as with Rules of Prey. The last third had a faster pace and it kept my attention.

In Shadow Prey, we have Lucas Davenport investigating a series of murders done by Native Americans. The attacks seem to be coordinated by a pair of brothers, Sam and Aaron Crow and committed by different individuals including Shadow Love. Once the media and the FBI get involved, everything becomes much more dangerous. 

Lucas' personal life seems to be stable. He's with Jennifer Carey and they have a daughter together. Yet, we know this won't last. Lucas is a womanizer. He "loves" women and can't live without them. He's unable to be faithful.

When one of the slayings involves the city of NYC, a NY cop is sent to assist with the investigation. This is how Lily Rothenberg becomes Lucas' sidekick. 

The first time Lucas sees Lily, he knows she's his next conquest. 

I had some issues with the plot. I wish John Sanford would've explained more about why the Crows had taken the time to plan and coordinate the attacks. I felt like it was glossed over which is a shame because the slayings were done with purpose and the readers should be clear on why.

I liked Lucas much less in this one. He didn't care about Jennifer's feelings. He just looks at a woman and he decides he's going to convince her to be with him. He doesn't care if she's married. He doesn't care about the consequences. He didn't even care about the case while he was trying to get into Lily's pants. Quite a disappointment. I do wonder if he will learn from his mistakes in later books.

My recommendation for any reader is to wear their 90's hat when they read this series. It will avoid a lot of irritation.

I'm committed to the Lucas Davenport books, so Eyes of Prey is next for me. 

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

Title: Killman Creek
Series: Stillhouse Lake #2
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: December 12, 2017
Release Date: Thomas & Mercer

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

The last third of Killman Creek was a pounding frenzy!

In the beginning, I wasn't sure where Rachel Caine was going with her story. The end of the first book finishes in a cliffhanger. Gwen, ex-husband, the well-known serial killer, Melvin Royal is on the loose. He has escaped prison and he's targetting Gwen and her children.

Gwen has to make a decision. Does she wait like a sitting duck or does she go on the offense and tries to find Melvin first. She decides on the later. She and Sam embarked in a trip to find Melvin. She leaves her children, Lanny and Connor behind in the care of her trusted friends.

Regretfully, Gwen's plan is always getting interrupted by Absalom and his croonies. Her enemies seem to always be one step ahead of her and Sam.

While Gwen is looking for Melvin, at home, her children are not safe despite good people trying to protect them. Gwen knows she must go back home but then a video surfaces that changes everything.

Killman Creek is written in multiple POV's. We have Gwen, Sam, Lanny and Connor narrating the book. It was a really good second installment. Like I said earlier, the last third of the book was incredible. Everything was moving in fast motion. I was scared for Gwen, Sam and the children. Melvin was nothing but an evil man. An evil man who didn't care if her children were collateral damage.

I was pleased with the end but I know there has to be more evil people lurking around for Gwen and her family.

The question is going to be who's going to try next to get to her.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

The Slow Burn by Kristen Ashley

Title: The Slow Burn  
Series: Moonlight and Motor Oil #2
Author: Kristen Ashley 

Tobias Gamble knew from a young age precisely the kind of woman he was going to make his. She was not going to be like his mother. She was going to be like the mother he claimed. 

In other words, she was going to be just right. 

And when Toby returns to his hometown of Matlock, Kentucky and claps eyes on Adeline Forrester, he knows she’s the one. 

The problem is, his brother Johnny has a new girlfriend. And Addie is her sister. Last, Toby would do nothing to hurt Johnny’s chance at happiness. 

Toby hangs around town to get to know the woman Johnny fell in love with. He also hangs around to get to know Addie. 

But he’s fallen hard, and he knows the best thing for him—and Addie—is for him to leave. 

Addie Forrester is thrilled her sister Eliza found a good, solid man. Johnny Gamble is the salt of the earth. The best guy in the world. 

The best except for his brother, Toby. 

Toby doesn’t know it, but Addie’s fallen hard too. He’s perfect, except for the fact that he’s hands off and it’s torture, being friends with Toby when she wants so much more. 

Addie also has a lot on her mind. She’s got bills to pay, her young son needs food, Christmas is coming and her job at the grocery store just isn’t cutting it. 

Toby is steering clear of Addie. Addie is steering clear of Toby. But everyone around them knows this is the slow burn. 

Because just like Eliza and Johnny, Addie and Toby were made for each other.

I didn't read Eliza and Johnny's novel, The Hookup, but I had a chance to read The Slow Burn in between my ARCS. The end result: I'm disappointed.

The title of this novel has the perfect name. I found the narrative to be slow, rambling and repetitive. I lost count of how many "Babes", "Honey" and "Let-me-tell-you-how-things-are-going-to-go-because-I'm-the-alpha-here" there were. I just don't see the conversations coming from a guy's mouth to go the way KA writes them in this book. 

There was absolutely no major drama or obstacle for this couple. The first time they meet, they are already half in love with each other. So kind of an insta-love situation. 

For me, The Slow Burn was saved by some specific scenes. Toby with Addie's child, Brooks. Toby with Johnny talking about the "mother" they had growing up. Eliza and Addie's interactions as sisters, the Gamble brothers listening to their women talking over the phone with their estranged dad and the Epilogue.

I just can't believe this is the same writer who wrote FOUR of my favorite series, Rock Chick, Dream Man, Chaos, and Colorado Mountain. 

What happened to KA? Or is it me who just can't connect with her writing anymore? I have to tell you, for a book lover, there's nothing worse than disliking one of your favorite writer's novels.

Cliffhanger: No

2/5 Fangs

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: May 14, 2019

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancĂ© is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky. 

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What a fun book to read! It had a hate-to-love relationship, twins sisters and Hawaii. What’s not to like?

When the book begins, we meet Olive Torres. A young woman who believes she’s unlucky in everything. She has so many stories where she has had bad luck and she has convinced herself that she's the complete opposite of her twin sister Ami. 

Ami is lucky in everything. She wins contest after contest. When her boyfriend proposed, Ami made sure she applied to as many contests as she could to be able to win an almost free wedding. On the other hand, Olive has recently lost her job and she’s attending her twin sister’s wedding wearing the ugly green bridesmaid's dress and worse, she has to be civil to the groom’s brother, Ethan.

A couple of years ago when Ami introduced her to Ethan, she thought he was a good looking guy but then he acted mean when he saw her eating cheese curds and since then, animosity is their only line of communication. 

After the wedding and due to a strong case of food poisoning, the newlyweds are unable to attend their honeymoon in Hawaii. Ami offers her non-refundable honeymoon trip to Olive and Ami's fiancee, Dane offers his to Ethan. 

A paid vacation to Hawaii, who wouldn't want to go there? But what could go wrong with this plan? 

Well maybe encountering her new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend was not part of their plan. Now in order to survive these meetings, they will need to call a truce and work together.

Christina Lauren is an unstoppable duo. Their romcoms are one of my favorites. Their main characters are so memorable and fun to read. 

Gosh, it was so easy to fall in love with Olive and Ethan. Together, they were gold! They had a fantastic banter but also an insane chemistry. I was rooting for them to open up and reveal their true feelings.

I'm a sucker for a hate-to-love novel and The Unhoneymooners is the epitome of one. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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