Hey everyone! I hope your weekend is off to a great start.  I don’t normally post on Saturdays but after a busy week that involved a few trips to the hospital to run annual neurological tests on my son, I’m once again playing catch up.  I’ve been reading a ton of great books and can’t wait to share my thoughts on them with you. I just need to either do better at scheduling time to sit down at my desk and write and blog, or else I need to figure out a more portable way to do those things.  I hate lugging a laptop around but I’m also not great at typing on smaller devices. Oh well, I’ll figure out something.  In the meantime, I’m here today to share my thoughts on two reads that you’re going to want to consider adding to your beach bag.


Reviews:  UNFORTUNATELY YOURS & SUMMER READINGUnfortunately Yours (A Vine Mess, #2) Goodreads

Author: Tessa Bailey

Publication Date: June 6, 2023

Publisher:  Avon Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


Unfortunately Yours is the second installment in Tessa Bailey’s A Vine Mess series.  I really enjoyed the first book in this series and was immediately curious about this one as soon as I read that it features a marriage of convenience between an ex-Navy Seal and a Napa wine heiress who can’t stand each other.  It sounded like a recipe for a good time and I’m happy to share that that’s exactly what it was.

August Cates is a former Navy Seal who is mourning the loss of his best friend, Sam, who died while on a Seal mission. Sam had always dreamed of opening his own winery, and so to honor his fallen friend, August is attempting to start a winery.  There are just two problems: 1) he’s terrible at making wine, and 2) he needs additional funds if he’s going to get any better at it but no bank will give him a loan.  When we meet August, he’s frustrated and feels guilty because he thinks he’s failing Sam.  Even though he comes across as gruff and tough outside, August is an incredibly likeable character because he obviously has such a big heart.

Natalie Vos may be a wine heiress, but she has her own issues that she is working through.  She was recently fired from a job on Wall Street because she made a bad trade and lost a lot of money.  She has come home to lick her wounds and regroup.  Her trust fund would go a long way to helping her get back on her feet and make a fresh start, but thanks to some archaic thinking by her father, Natalie isn’t allowed access to the trust fund until she is married.  Natalie has the added annoyance that her reputation as a party girl precedes her and she’s tired of being underestimated by everyone she knows.  When Natalie learns that August also needs money, even though all they ever do is insult one another, she proposes that the two of them get married. That way she can secure her trust fund, and the Vos name should make it easier for August to get his business loan.

I think the marriage of convenience is such a fun romance trope since it means the couple will inconveniently catch feelings for one another.  Bailey always writes great dialogue and it was such a fun time watching Natalie and August go from trading hilariously snarky barbs with one another to eventually trading flirty albeit still somewhat snarky barbs.  The snark was definitely a key part of their chemistry and I enjoyed every word of it.

Bailey also excels at bringing the heat, so when these two finally give in to their attraction, you can expect plenty of steam and sizzle. Beyond that physical attraction, I also loved how their relationship progressed to the point where they became each other’s biggest supporter. Mistakes are definitely made along the way because both characters are all too human, but whether they realize it or not, they really are a dream team.

If you’re a fan of the marriage of convenience trope and enemies to lovers romances, Unfortunately Yours is the book for you! 4 STARS


Reviews:  UNFORTUNATELY YOURS & SUMMER READINGSummer Reading Goodreads

Author: Jenn McKinlay

Publication Date: May 16, 2023

Publisher: Berkley Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


I love to read books that feature bookish characters so when I saw that Jenn McKinlay’s latest novel, Summer Reading, features a “swoon-worthy bookworm” who falls for a non-reader, I was excited to dive in and meet these characters.

Set on Martha’s Vineyard, the story follows Samantha “Sam” Gale, a talented chef who was recently passed over for a promotion she should have been a shoe-in for.  Angry and frustrated because she thinks her dyslexia is why she was passed over, Sam quits her job and moves back home and into her dad’s house.  He and Sam’s stepmom are traveling for the summer so this will give her the opportunity to regroup in peace, her only responsibility being to chaperone her 14 year old stepbrother, Tyler, who she hasn’t had much of a relationship with in the past. Sam has no idea how life changing this trip home will be.

I’m going to say up front that while I really did enjoy this book, it wasn’t my favorite Jenn McKinlay book, mainly because the story felt a little uneven for me.  I adored the part where Sam and Tyler really start to bond as brother and sister.  They morph from practically strangers to true siblings throughout the course of the book and it’s a relationship that both of them clearly needed in their lives.  I also loved the bond between Sam and her best friend, Em.  Em is that kind of supportive friend who immediately asks whose butt she needs to kick when she learns someone has hurt Sam, and Sam is the same way for Em.  It was lovely to see them looking out for each other.

The romance was actually the part of the story that I wasn’t completely sold on.  I really liked Sam and Ben together. Ben was definitely a swoon-worthy bookworm as advertised and I was a big fan of the way he didn’t underestimate Sam’s intelligence once he learned of her struggles with reading.  I also very much liked that he didn’t try to “fix” her but instead incorporated reading aloud into their time together so that he could share his love of reading and stories with Sam, just as she used some of their time together to share her love of cooking with him. As much as I enjoyed watching them spend time together, I didn’t quite feel the same level of “sparks flying” chemistry that I’m used to experiencing in romance novels. Since I didn’t experience that, I didn’t completely buy into them taking the relationship to the next level.

There were also a few dramatic side plots, including a big health scare for one of the side characters and a search for a long lost parent for another, and I felt like the story would have been better if those had been a bit more streamlined as I felt the side drama pulled me out of the story. There’s a grand gesture to end all grand gestures though that fully pulled me back in and had me grinning like a fool and finally buying into Sam and Ben as a couple, so all was well in the end.

As I said, Summer Reading was not my favorite Jenn McKinlay novel, but it’s still definitely worthy of going in your beach bag this summer.  3.5 STARS

10 replies
  1. Lark
    Lark says:

    Even though Summer Reading wasn’t your favorite Jenn McKinley novel it still sounds like a fun beach read and one that I think I would like. 😀

  2. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    I am looking forward to the Bailey book. August was a trip in the last book, and I think he will be the perfect partner for Natalie.

  3. Mica - Away From The Blue
    Mica - Away From The Blue says:

    That second one sounds really interesting, it’s a shame it didn’t quite wow you as much as the first, I can see how a story that tries to fit too many things in could get distracting though!

  4. Literary Feline
    Literary Feline says:

    I hope everything is okay with your son, Suzanne. I’ve been away from the computer so long, I feel like I’ve missed a lot.

    I am sorry Jenn McKinlay’s new book wasn’t a complete hit with you, but it sounds like it had some good things going for it even despite that. I’ve enjoyed a couple of her other books (one a romance and the other a cozy mystery), but I haven’t read this one yet. I will definitely have to check out Tessa Bailey’s book.

    Thank you for your great reviews, Suzanne!

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