Reviews: Bad Girl Reputation, Before I Do, & Mistakes Were Made

Another week, another assortment of books to share my thoughts on with you.  I know we’re in the midst of spooky season but most of my ARCs for this month ended up being romances and oddly enough, Christmas books.  I’m holding off on the Christmas books at the moment because my inner mood reader just isn’t quite ready for them, but I imagine I’ll start sharing those reviews either later this week or early next week.  Anyway, on to today’s reviews!


Reviews:  Bad Girl Reputation, Before I Do, & Mistakes Were MadeBad Girl Reputation Goodreads

Author:  Elle Kennedy

Publication Date: October 4, 2022

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

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


Bad Girl Reputation, the second book in Elle Kennedy’s Avalon Bay series, introduces us to Genevieve West and Evan Hartley, two long-time residents of the town.  Genevieve, or Gen, is known for being a wild child, while Evan is the town party boy.  Their reputation together as a couple also precedes them, as they’ve been into one another forever and their passion and chemistry are both off the charts.  After a particularly embarrassing moment involving another woman’s husband, Gen decides it’s time to grow up and she abruptly leaves town and cuts off contact with Evan.  One year later, when her mother dies and her dad asks her to come home and help settle her mom’s affairs, Gen comes face to face with Evan.  The attraction is still there of course but can she possibly rekindle her relationship with Evan without spiraling right back into her bad girl habits?

I really enjoyed everything about this story.  The growth of Gen throughout the book is just tremendous, and I felt so proud of her, especially since she had practically the whole town watching her and expecting the worst of her.  I also loved her chemistry with Evan.  They have not only an intense physical connection, but a strong emotional connection as well.  All Evan wants is Gen and he’s willing to do anything to make her understand that.  When he understands just how important it is to Gen to continue her journey of growth and maturity, he’s 100% on board with it and sets out to make similar changes in his own life.  I just adored the idea of the bad boy and the bad girl both growing up together and was cheering them on every step of the way.

With its charming coastal smalltown setting, its fabulous cast of characters, and a wonderful second chance romance, Bad Girl Reputation is an entertaining read that is sure to please romance fans.  4 STARS


Reviews:  Bad Girl Reputation, Before I Do, & Mistakes Were MadeBefore I Do Goodreads

Author: Sophie Cousens

Publication Date: October 11, 2022

Publisher: Penguin Group Putnam, G P Putnam’s Sons

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


Before I Do by Sophie Cousens is a moving romance that follows one woman’s journey of what happens when “the one who got away” unexpectedly turns up the night before she is set to marry another man. I loved the premise of the story and was immediately hooked as soon as I started reading because the story starts out with a bang and then takes us through the events that led up to the explosive opening scene.

Audrey and Fred meet in the most unexpected and adorable of ways, and after their initial meet cute, they end up spending a truly magical day together. They make plans to go on a real date, but then Fred doesn’t show.  Audrey, convinced that she and Fred were destined to be together, is devastated.  She moves on with her life though, meeting Josh, who is a sweetheart, and six years later, Audrey finds herself about to be married.  A series of bad omens start to plague Audrey right before the wedding, including dead bats in the church and of course Fred suddenly appearing at the rehearsal dinner.  These omens really start to create doubt in Audrey’s mind as to who she is meant to spend the rest of her life with.

Using a dual timeline approach, Before I Do takes us through Audrey’s past, starting with when she and Fred meet, moving on to when she and Josh connect, and then of course, to the present day where the wedding events are unfolding and the pressure is on Audrey to decide what to do.  I really loved how Cousens used the dual timeline here since we got to know Audrey, Fred, and Josh really well and got to see how each of those relationships developed.  I also loved that the way the characters are developed, both Fred and Josh come across as very likeable so it’s not easy to choose one to root for, especially once we learn why Fred was a no show for their date.  It’s easy to see why Audrey is so muddled about what to do.  She really does love Josh, but what if Fred really was her soulmate and this is destiny’s way of giving her a second chance?

Cousens also does a wonderful job exploring the troubled relationship between Audrey and her mom and the impact it has had on her own approach to other relationships.  I loved the added depth this angle added to Audrey’s story since it shed so much light on her own motivations and thought processes when it came to relationships and made me that much more invested in her journey.

I don’t want to give away what Audrey chooses to do, so I’m going to stop now, but I highly recommend Before I Do to anyone who enjoys a multi-layered and unpredictable romance with a cast of well-developed, unforgettable characters that will tug at your heartstrings. 4 STARS


Reviews:  Bad Girl Reputation, Before I Do, & Mistakes Were MadeMistakes Were Made Goodreads

Author: Meryl Wilsner

Publication Date: October 11, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

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


I really enjoyed Meryl Wilsner’s debut romance Something to Talk About so I was eager to get my hands on a copy of her latest book, Mistakes Were Made.  I was a little nervous that the plot, which centers on a college senior accidentally hooking up with her best friend’s mom, wouldn’t come across as believable, but I needn’t have worried. Wilsner does a phenomenal job of not only making it seem like a plausible romance, but it became one that I wholeheartedly found myself cheering on.

The story follows Cassie Klein, a college senior who goes to an off-campus bar in hopes of escaping her school’s Family Weekend activities since her family decided not to attend.  Cassie isn’t looking to hook up with anyone, but when she sees a sexy older woman sitting at the bar, she can’t resist buying her a drink and see what, if anything, develops between them.  What develops is a super steamy one-night stand that leaves both women satisfied, and Cassie ready to return to campus and face the rest of Family Weekend.  Imagine her shock and horror then, when invited by her best friend Parker to come to breakfast and meet her mom, Cassie comes face to face with her one-night stand, who just happens to be Parker’s mother, Erin, who is of course equally horrified.

I really loved how the author developed this relationship and had her characters navigate the many obstacles that face them, the number one obstacle being not wanting to hurt Parker.  Wilsner does a wonderful job portraying the awkwardness and the inner turmoil both Cassie and Erin experience because as much as they both try to hide it and deny it, they are clearly attracted to one another and have wonderful chemistry.  I was right there with them alternating between “No, you absolutely cannot be together. Think about Parker!” to “But you’re so happy together. Maybe Parker would be okay with it?”  As the title implies, mistakes were made and I really appreciated that aspect of it.  It’s definitely a messy situation these women find themselves in, and I don’t think the relationship would have felt realistic if there weren’t mistakes made along the way.

If you’re in the mood for a sexy, steamy forbidden romance with a bit of family drama thrown into the mix, you’ll want to check out Mistakes Were Made4 STARS.



Happy Friday everyone!  I’m back today to share my thoughts on two wonderful romances I read recently. Those who enjoy rom-coms will definitely want to check out the first one, while those who prefer more of a tearjerker read will want to check out the second.


Reviews:  WHEN IN ROME and WHERE WE END & BEGINWhen in Rome Goodreads

Author:  Sarah Adams

Publication Date: September 20, 2022

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Dell

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


I’ve been wanting to read something from Sarah Adams ever since her novel, The Cheat Sheet, generated so much hype on social media.  I’m a big Audrey Hepburn fan too, so when I saw Hepburn and Roman Holiday mentioned in the synopsis for Adams’ new book, When in Rome, I couldn’t resist reading it.

Amelia Rose, or Rae Rose as she is known to her legions of fans, is a pop princess on the verge of burn out.  Years of cultivating her onstage persona, obeying her manager’s every command, and following a rigorous tour schedule have taken their toll and Amelia desperately needs to get away from her life for a while.  Inspired by Roman Holiday, her favorite Audrey Hepburn film, Amelia takes off in the middle of the night for a quick vacation before her next tour starts.  Unlike Roman Holiday, however, Italy is not the destination.  Amelia needs somewhere closer and more discrete so she heads to a different Rome…Rome, Kentucky. Luck is not on her side though as her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere just on the outskirts of Rome.  Her rescuer appears in the unlikely form of a grumpy but sexy baker named Noah Wilder.  Amelia has no idea how life changing this little trip to Rome is going to be.

This was such a fun read! I adored both Amelia and Noah and especially loved watching Amelia break through Noah’s gruff exterior to see what a sweet, big-hearted guy he really is under all that grumpiness.  There are some laugh out loud moments, lots of flirty ones too, and so much witty banter that had me chuckling through chapter after chapter.  Amelia and Noah are clearly attracted to one another, but neither is looking for a relationship.  Then there’s the added twist that Amelia is only in town for a couple of weeks anyway and then she’s off on tour again for months.  Neither wants to get into a relationship that is destined not to last, but it gets harder and harder to fight their attraction to one another.  I loved how that tension and conflict contrasted with all the fun, flirty moments and added that extra layer of very realistic depth to the story.

All of the secondary characters in the book were fabulous too. Rome is a small quirky town filled with equally quirky characters. It was clear they all loved Noah and considered him family and equally clear that they were rooting for Noah and Amelia to get together just as much as I was.  Noah also has sisters who live in town and they were also fabulous. I loved how Noah and his sisters have a standing “date” every Saturday night where they all get together, play games, and tease each other mercilessly.  Their close-knit family just gave me warm fuzzies.

Overall, When in Rome was just an all around delightful read for me.  If you’re in the mood for a fun and heart-warming small-town romance filled with lovable quirky characters, this is the book for you!  4 STARS.


Reviews:  WHEN IN ROME and WHERE WE END & BEGINWhere We End & Begin Goodreads

Author: Jane Igharo

Publication Date: September 27, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Books

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


I loved Jane Igharo’s first two books so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her latest one, Where We End & Begin and was especially excited to see it was a second chance romance since that’s one of my favorite tropes.

Set in Nigeria, the story follows Dunni and Obinna, high school sweethearts who are deeply in love but come from very different backgrounds.  Dunni’s parents don’t think Obinna is good enough for their daughter and so, against Dunni’s wishes, they send her away to university in America and they tell Obinna to stay away from their daughter. Twelve years later, Dunni returns to Nigeria for a friend’s wedding and it is there that she and Obinna are finally reunited.  Can they pick up where they left off or has too much happened since then for a second chance to even be possible?

The story is presented through two timelines, one in the past that shows us when Dunni and Obinna first met in school and fell in love, and then one in the present that shows them getting to know each other all over again as adults.  I loved the contrast of the sweet, youthful scenes of a first love in bloom versus the intense and sensual moments of two former lovers rediscovering one another.  Ultimately, both timelines converge in an emotional roller coaster as we learn not only the exact details from the past surrounding the cruel and heartless way Dunni and Obinna were separated, but devastating secrets are revealed that threaten to once again tear Dunni and Obinna apart.  My heart just broke for these two over and over again.

Dunni and Obinna are very easy to root for.  They are both very likeable as individuals, but they definitely shine as a couple.  From the early days of their relationship to the chemistry they still clearly have as adults, there’s no doubt that they are meant to be together if they can overcome the obstacles that threaten them.

I also very much enjoy this author’s writing style. She fleshes out her characters and makes them feel so real, like I truly know them and their history, and I love the way she depicts the heart-wrenching scenes between Dunni and Obinna in such a way that they are intensely moving and realistic, but never melodramatic.

Where We End & Begin is an angsty, heartfelt romance that is perfect for fans of star-crossed lovers and second chance romances.  4 STARS

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Children on the Hill & My Perfect Daughter


Happy Thriller Thursday! It’s me Sharon, here to share a couple of great reads to usher in spooky season. This week I am happy to share my thoughts on The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon and My Perfect Daughter by Sarah A. Denzil. I have had both of these books on my shelf for months but kept putting them off.  Why? I have no idea. LOL I am glad I finally decided to read them though because they were both awesome.


Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Children on the Hill & My Perfect DaughterThe Children on the Hill Goodreads

Author: Jennifer McMahon

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

I am kicking myself for leaving Jennifer McMahon’s newest book The Children on the Hill on my to read list for so long. This book was so good that I devoured it in a couple of days.

The story is told in alternating timelines. The first timeline is in 1978 and is told from the POV of thirteen-year-old Vi. Vi and her brother Eric live with their grandmother, a brilliant psychiatrist who works at the Hillside Inn, a private psychiatric hospital in a small town in Vermont. One day Gran brings home thirteen-year-old Iris to stay with them. Iris is skittish, doesn’t talk and is feral, and Gran has given Vi the job of taking care of Iris. Vi and Eric take an instant liking to Iris and with their help she is soon talking, and they let her into the Monster Club. Vi and Eric are monster hunters, because as Vi says “Monsters are everywhere.” They wrote a book that they call “The Book of Monsters” and list all the monsters they know and how to kill them. Vi has also made it her mission to find out where Iris came from, but she is not going to like the information she finds. Her whole world and the hospital are about to come crashing down.

The second timeline is in 2019 and this timeline is told from the POV of Lizzy Shelly. Lizzy is a monster hunter and has a podcast called Monsters Among Us. Lizzy travels all over the country investigating monster sightings. When she learns that a young girl has gone missing in a small town in Vermont after she came in contact with the town’s monster “Rattling Jane,” Lizzy heads to Vermont because she knows who this monster is and she is determined to stop her.

I enjoyed both timelines equally, which is a rarity for me since I normally have one that is my favorite. I loved getting to know Vi, Eric and Iris and just enjoyed watching them as they hunted monsters and also as they investigated who Iris was and where she came from. I also loved how the nostalgia from 1978 brought back memories of my childhood. I was also equally invested in Lizzy’s timeline and her determination to stop “Rattling Jane”.  Lizzy had a bit of mystery about her as well, and I kept going back and forth on who I thought she was.

Aside from the two timelines, at the end of each chapter we also get excerpts from “The Book of Monsters” and “The Helping Hand of God: The True Story of the Hillside Inn” which is a book that was written in 1980 about all that happened at the Hillside Inn. Having the book unfold with the two timelines and the excerpts just added to the mystery and suspense.

I loved everything about this book. It was not super scary but had that creepy atmosphere that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading. There were twists at the end of the book that literally had me saying “Holy Crap!” If you are looking for a good read for spooky season, I highly recommend The Children on the Hill.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.  4 ½ stars


Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Children on the Hill & My Perfect DaughterMy Perfect Daughter Goodreads

Author: Sarah A. Denzil

Publication Date: January 14, 2022

Publisher: Sarah Dalton

I have read a few books by Sarah A. Denzil and while I liked them, they didn’t have that WOW! factor, so I kept putting off reading her new book My Perfect Daughter.  Well, let me tell you, Sarah A. Denzil outdid herself on this book, and I am sorry that I did not read it sooner.

Zoe was out for a jog one day when she noticed five year-old Maddie alone on the side of a country road. Afraid for the child’s safety, Zoe brings Maddie back to her father unaware that she is about to step into her worst nightmare. Maddie was not on that road by chance, she was actually waiting for Zoe to come by so that she could lure her to her serial killer father. During her captivity Zoe bonded with Maddie and with Maddie’s help they were both able to escape. Zoe ended up adopting Maddie. Now eleven years later, Zoe is married and has another child. They are one big happy family. Or are they? Maddie still has issues from living with her serial killer father and seeing all he had done. She has been diagnosed with callous unemotional traits. Zoe has worked hard to ensure that Maddie knows she is loved and supported. Zoe has never really been afraid of Maddie, until a school bully dies and another girl is missing. Though she does not want to think Maddie could be responsible, a part of Zoe cannot help but wonder, is Maddie more like her father than she wants to admit?

This book is told in alternating timelines. The first timeline centers around when Zoe was being held captive and when she and Maddie escaped. This timeline does contain torture and abuse, though Denzil does not get very vivid in the details. When I was reading these parts, they felt like I was watching a horror movie or an episode of Criminal Minds. I loved Maddie in this timeline, she was this small child that even though she helped lure Zoe in, she wanted to help save her as well. They formed a special bond and I was so glad that Zoe didn’t just dump her once she was free.

The second timeline is present day, Maddie is now sixteen years old and I really felt for her in this timeline. She went through a lot when she was a child and it left emotional scars that will never go away. Due to these emotional scars she was a very unreliable character and I loved that. During this timeline we also have the mystery of what happened to the bully and the missing girl and who was responsible. Aside from Maddie being an unreliable character, there were also other characters in this timeline that were untrustworthy as well. I was all over the place on who I thought was telling the truth and who was lying.

My Perfect Daughter was a dark read, full of twists and turns that kept me guessing until the very end. Sarah A. Denzil does a great job of increasing the tension and suspense throughout the book.  4 stars



Hey everyone! Welcome to today’s episode of life has gotten in the way of my blogging again.  Between trying to make a huge deadline at work this past Friday as well as being obsessed with where Hurricane Ian would go once it made landfall, blogging was the last thing on my mind so I have a lot of catching up to do this week.  Today I’m back to share reviews for two pretty unusual books, considering what a romance kick I’ve been on.  The first is a new favorite from an author I’ve been enjoying for a while now, and the second is a wonderful debut that I was drawn to because it’s inspired by Russian folklore and mythology.


Reviews: SPELLS FOR FORGETTING & THE WITCH AND THE TSARSpells for Forgetting Goodreads

Author:  Adrienne Young

Publication Date: September 27, 2022

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Delacorte Press

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


Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young was truly the perfect book to start off my spooky season reads.  Set on a remote and mysterious island that is steeped in folklore and magic, the story features a mystery surrounding an unsolved murder as well as a second chance at love for two individuals whose lives were deeply impacted by the murder.

Spells for Forgetting follows Emery Blackwood, a young woman whose life was turned upside down when her best friend Lily was murdered and her boyfriend, August Salt, is accused of killing her.  Although August is never formally charged with murder, nearly everyone on the island assumes he is guilty and so he and his mom leave Saoirse Island and attempt to start a new life elsewhere.  Emery is left behind to pick up the pieces of her own life.  For the past fourteen years, she has done so by working at her family’s business, a tea shop that specializes in herbal tonics and tea leaf readings.  Emery senses that something strange is about to happen and her suspicions are confirmed when all of the trees on the island suddenly change color in a single night. A few hours later, Emery learns that August has returned to the island.  He has come home to bury his mother, and from the moment she sees him, Emery knows things will never be the same.

There’s so much to love about this story, but Young’s atmospheric writing is really the star of the show.  She really brings the island of Saoirse to life to the extent that it feels like an actual character in the book.  Surrounded by mist and with tourist life winding down as they head into the colder months, the island has an almost ominous and lonely vibe to it.  The hints of magical realism further bring the island to life as it seems to sense the return of August and the trouble his return will bring.

Speaking of August, I really felt for him and for Emery.  They were each other’s first love and, according to everyone who knew them, their relationship was a special one.  I can’t even imagine how devastating it must have been to have their relationship torn apart like it was.  It’s also clear that they both still have intense feelings for one another and that they won’t be able to stay away from each other even though everyone else on the island wants August gone immediately. I also felt sympathetic toward Emery once she decides it’s time to dig deeper and find out what really happened to Lily.  She wants to clear August’s name once and for all but what if he’s not as innocent as she thinks he is?

I can’t say much about what Emery finds, but oh boy, does she really shake things up.  It quickly becomes apparent that the island of Saoirse is full of secrets, lies, and betrayals.  Pretty much everyone who lives there seems to be hiding something.  I was on the edge of my seat watching Emery slowly unravel all of the secrets and lies until the truth of what happened to Lily is finally revealed.  I also loved that there were enough twists and turns that I didn’t guess the big reveal either.

If you’re in the mood for an atmospheric story about first loves and unsolved murders, be sure to pick up a copy of Spells for Forgetting.  You won’t regret it! 4.5 STARS


Reviews: SPELLS FOR FORGETTING & THE WITCH AND THE TSARThe Witch and the Tsar Goodreads

Author: Olesya Salnikova Gilmore

Publication Date: September 20, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group, Ace

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


The Witch and the Tsar is  Olesya Salnikova Gilmore’s debut novel and it is a wonderful read!  Part historical fiction, part mythological retelling, the story takes us to medieval Russia where Ivan the Terrible rules and the country is on the brink of destruction.  Ivan is of course the Tsar in the novel’s title, and the witch is none other than the legendary Baba Yaga.

The story centers around Yaga, who is half mortal, half goddess, and has been living alone in the forest for years, with only her animals and those who seek her out for her magical healing powers as companions.  One such person who seeks her out is Anastasia, her long-time friend and the wife of the Tsar. Anastasia has fallen ill and worries that someone in Moscow is trying to hurt her.  She begs Yaga to come out of exile and come to Moscow as her companion and protector.  Yaga can’t refuse her friend but has no idea that she’s about to find herself caught in a struggle to save the people of Russia from Ivan the Terrible, who is apparently being influenced (and driven mad) by the dark influences, specifically the immortal Lady of Death.  The Lady of Death hates Yaga because Yaga’s healing work is at such odds with her own need for the souls of the dead, which sets up a showdown of sorts between the two.

I don’t want to give any details of the plot away, but I just loved how the author has woven together actual events from Russian history alongside the mythological elements and Russian folklore to create an engaging and plausible tale as to why Ivan the Terrible goes mad.  The plot is intricate and well thought out and I found myself very invested in the author’s version of the legendary Baba Yaga and the journey she finds herself on as the underdog in this story, not fitting in with the human world but not fitting in with the Gods either.  As she fights to save the people of Russia, she learns so much about her own history, her magic, and her place in the world.

With The Witch and the Tsar, Gilmore has an impressive debut on her hands and I look forward to reading more from her.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories inspired by Russian folklore and mythology and to anyone who enjoys witchy reads.  If you like witches, you’ll love Baba Yaga.  4 STARS



Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  I had to work for most of this one, hence I’m behind with my blog hopping again.  I hope to get caught up this week though.  In the meantime, here are a couple of good romance books that I’ve read recently.  Both are September releases, so if you like what I have to say, they are both available now!


Romance Reviews: THE MAKE-UP TEST and DRUNK ON LOVEThe Make-Up Test Goodreads

Author:  Jenny L. Howe

Publication Date: September 13, 2022

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin

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


The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe follows what happens when Allison and Colin, two ex college sweethearts, not only find themselves in the same medieval literature Ph.D. program at Claymore University, but also battling for the same mentor, who only has room for one student in her schedule.  Will it be a contentious and awkward battle as each student tries to achieve their academic goals, or will it be a second chance at love?  Or perhaps a bit of both?

Allison is a fantastic heroine. She’s brilliant, plenty of grit and determination, and she’s also messy and flawed, which made her feel all the more real. Allison has a true passion for academia and has achieved most of her dreams without the support of her father, who just tells her that she’s overweight and wasting her time and money going to school.  His lack of support weighs on her, but it makes her more determined than ever to get that Ph.D.  Allison is also carrying around the baggage of what happened with Colin while they were together before.  Allison wanted to win the Rising Star award because she just knew it would open doors to the best Ph.D. programs for her.  She thought she was a shoe in for the award, only to lose out to Colin, who never told her he was even applying for it.  Colin then added insult to injury by breaking up with her the very next week.  Needless to say, Allison is not at all pleased to find out he has somehow ended up in her Ph.D. program and competing for the same coveted mentorship. I had tremendous sympathy for her because of what she was dealing with because of her dad and Colin. I love a good underdog story and Allison really fit the bill for me.

Colin, on the other hand, was a character that I found myself wanting to throttle occasionally.  Hearing how things played out between he and Allison when they were dating really cast him in a negative light for me, and like Allison, I couldn’t fathom how he ended up in the same Ph.D. program. As I got to know Colin, however, he thankfully grew on me, especially as he gradually reveals the reasons behind some of his seemingly suspicious actions and as it becomes clear how much he really does care about Allison and that deep down, she still has feelings for him as well.

The Make-Up Test is an entertaining read from start to finish.  There are frustrating moments, flirty moments, and of course dramatic and tense moments as Allison and Colin try to navigate both this new awkward environment they find themselves in, and as they also try to figure out how to move forward and address those unresolved feelings.  I was fully invested in their story and also loved the message that it is possible for people to learn from past mistakes and to change and grow.  4 STARS


Romance Reviews: THE MAKE-UP TEST and DRUNK ON LOVEDrunk on Love Goodreads

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Publication Date: September 20, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Books

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


Drunk on Love is the latest romance from Jasmine Guillory and it is a delight! It follows Margot Noble, who co-owns a family winery with her brother.  Margot goes out one night, looking to relieve some stress, and she meets a handsome stranger named Luke, who has just arrived in Napa Valley.  Margot and Luke have major chemistry and one thing leads to another, culminating in a very sexy one-night stand between them.  Imagine their surprise, when Margot goes to work the next morning, only to learn that Luke is the winery’s newest employee, hired by her brother.  What could possibly go wrong?

I loved this story so much.  Both Margot and Luke are just such easy characters to like.  Luke had my heart when he immediately offered to quit his job so as not to make things super awkward for Margot. Margot similarly captured my heart when she refuses to let him do that because she thinks it’s unfair to him.  I enjoyed their chemistry so much and all of those awkward moments as they tried to keep things professional between them when all they really wanted to do was jump each other’s bones, haha. I also really enjoyed the evolution of their relationship, both the professional dynamic and the personal one as they really did start to get to know each other.

In addition to enjoying the relationship between Luke and Margot, I also loved the added layers where each of these characters had personal journeys they were also working their way through.  Margot and Elliot, her brother and co-owner, used to be super close when they were younger.  Inheriting their uncle’s winery together, even though it was Elliot who had always worked there, created tension between them.  Margot feels like she always has to prove that she belongs at, and is invested in, the winery, and it weighs on her constantly.  Luke is also dealing with some emotional and professional baggage related to his last job, which was a Silicon Valley tech dream job turned nightmare.  He has come to Napa to hide out for a while and regroup.  I found both of their journeys equally compelling and was very invested in seeing how each of them would play out.

Drunk on Love is steamy and swoony but also filled with heartfelt and tender moments as well.  The workplace romance trope is not typically a favorite of mine, but I really loved what Jasmine Guillory does with it here.  4 STARS



Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Mine was super busy as my son is turning 15 this week and we started the celebration this weekend.  Hard to believe he’s almost old enough to drive, but here we are!  Anyway, I’m back today with a couple of fun romance novels I read and enjoyed recently.


Romance Reviews: LUCY ON THE WILD SIDE & LIZZIE BLAKE’S BEST MISTAKELucy on the Wild Side Goodreads

Author:  Kerry Rea

Publication Date: September 13, 2022

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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


Kerry Rea’s latest novel, Lucy on the Wild Side, follows Lucy Rourke, a primatologist who works closely with a troop of gorillas at the zoo where she works. Lucy is passionate about caring for these gorillas, thinks of them as family, and would love nothing more than to be promoted from junior keeper to a senior keeper position.  She’s well on her way to that promotion until an unexpected obstacle lands in her path in the form of a popular wildlife-themed reality TV show and its sexy and charismatic host, Kai Bridges.

Lucy is heading a program where an infant gorilla who lost its entire troop to disease is now being introduced to Lucy’s gorillas in hopes of finding a surrogate mother and being accepted as a new member of their troop. It’s a difficult and delicate operation and Kai has decided he wants to follow Lucy and document the infant gorilla’s journey.  There are just two problems:  1) Lucy vomits at even the thought of appearing on camera, and 2) after a contentious run-in with Kai as soon as he arrives at the zoo, Lucy decides she hates him and wants nothing to do with him. With her boss dangling that promotion over her head and telling her she needs to step out of her comfort zone, Lucy caves and agrees to work with Kai.

I adored everything about Lucy. I loved her passion and sense of devotion when it came to caring for the gorillas and I admired her determination with respect to achieving her career goals. I also loved how awkward she could be in social situations because it just made her all the more relatable, not to mention that some of the things she blurts out when she’s nervous are laugh out loud hilarious. I also felt tremendous sympathy for her though, especially when we learn that her celebrity mother wasn’t interested in being a parent and left Lucy to live with her grandmother.  Being abandoned like that really did a number on Lucy’s emotions so she’s quite vulnerable and reluctant to let anyone get too close to her.

Even though Lucy hates him from the moment she meets him, Kai is a sweetheart. It’s clear that he is just as passionate about the animals he works with as Lucy is about her gorillas. The more Lucy sees him in action, the more she has to admit to herself that she might have misjudged him. It was so much fun watching Lucy and Kai work together, from those initial super awkward moments to more heartfelt moments as the two of them bond while observing the infant gorilla trying to find her place in this new family. I really loved watching their relationship change and grow, especially as Kai reveals that he has also been dealing with family baggage that has scarred him emotionally. I was rooting for them so hard to find in each other the love, support, and happiness they both deserved so much. And not only did Kai and Lucy have my heart, but so did those gorillas. They made me laugh, they made me cry, and it was easy to see why Lucy loved them so much.

I devoured Kerry Rea’s debut novel The Wedding Ringer in a day when I read it last year and loved every page of it, and I just had the same incredible reading experience with Lucy on the Wild Side. I opened it Saturday morning and by Saturday evening, I was crying happy tears and wishing I had another Rea novel to dive into. What else can I say except that Kerry Rea just flat out writes the kind of books I want to read. 5 STARS


Romance Reviews: LUCY ON THE WILD SIDE & LIZZIE BLAKE’S BEST MISTAKELizzie Blake's Best Mistake (A Brush with Love, #2) Goodreads

Author: Mazey Eddings

Publication Date: September 6, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

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


I adored Mazey Eddings debut novel A Brush with Love so when I heard that Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake was coming out, I couldn’t resist requesting it for review.  Lizzie was a fun secondary character in A Brush with Love so I was excited to learn more about her.

When we first meet Lizzie, her life comes across as a chaotic mess. She’s chronically late for her job at a local bakery and once she finally gets there, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether she’ll make it through the day without setting the kitchen on fire.  What she lacks in organization, however, she makes up for with her big heart. Lizzie has this bubbly personality and you can’t help but fall in love with her.  I adored her from the moment we meet her and I also felt tremendous sympathy for her when she is fired from her job, because it’s clear that her daily struggles are due to ADHD and that she is working to try to control it. The ADHD representation, particularly those day-to-day struggles Lizzie experiences, also felt very realistic and I appreciated how well written it was.  My sympathy and love for Lizzie only continued to grow as we learn that her family has never given her the support she needs and that this has led to her feeling that no one will ever love her because she’s just too chaotic and over the top.

Along comes Rake, the sexy Australian businessman Lizzie meets one night at a bar.  Lizzie is only looking for a one-night stand but can’t deny that she’s attracted to Rake.  Rake, who has also been burned in the love department, is only looking for a good time as well before he heads back to Australia, although he freely admits that he is captivated by Lizzie’s bubbly personality and everything about the way she sees the world around her.  Their one night stand turns into two nights, and then thanks to an expired condom, soon after Rake leaves the country, Lizzie realizes she is pregnant.  Rake is an easy character to love anyway, but my heart fully melted when Lizzie tells him about the pregnancy and he uproots his entire life to move to America and be a part of this baby’s life and help Lizzie in any way he can.  Neither of them wants a relationship but they agree to live together so that they can co-parent.

I just loved everything about Lizzie and Rake together.  Their attempts to keep things platonic were amusing, particularly when a popped air mattress awkwardly leads to them having to share a bed. The more they interact with one another and the more they work together to get things ready for the baby, the more it becomes clear how perfect they are for one another, whether they want to be in a relationship or not.  And for those who like their romances steamy, Eddings definitely knows how to bring the heat so there are some steamy scenes as well.

I highly recommend Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake to anyone who enjoys romance novels that are filled with humor, heart and heat, and that feature lovable characters who will tug at your heartstrings.  4 STARS

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Curfew & Watch Out for Her


Sharon here with another edition of Thriller Thursday. I hope everyone is having a great week. This week I am reviewing The Curfew by T.M. Logan and Watch Out for Her by Samantha M. Bailey. Both were very good reads.


Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Curfew & Watch Out for HerThe Curfew Goodreads

Author: T.M. Logan

Publication Date: March 17, 2022

Publisher: Zaffre

I have enjoyed every book I have read by T.M. Logan and The Curfew was no different. The story follows the Boyd family, Andy, Laura and their children, sixteen-year-old Connor and twelve-year-old Harriet and explores the lengths any parent would go to keep their children safe.

Andy and Laura’s son Connor is a good kid. He gets good grades, has never been in trouble and is always home by curfew, which is why when Connor texted them at midnight on a Saturday night in June that he was home, they didn’t think to check his room and make sure. But Connor was not home. He had gone to the woods to party with four friends. Five teenagers went into the woods, but only four came out. When the police questioned Connor the next day about the missing teen, Connor clammed up and his parents lied and told the police that he was home at midnight. And so sets off the mystery of what happened in the woods and where is the missing teenager.

I loved the mystery of this book. My sleuth brain went right to work trying to figure out what happened. As bits of information were revealed, my suspect pool increased. I did not trust any one and kept flip flopping on what I thought happened and who I thought did it.  The book is told from the POV of Andy as he tries to piece together what happened and help his son Connor, who is at the top of the police suspect list. In addition to Andy’s POV, we also get chapters from each of the teenagers that were in the woods that night. I liked having those chapters thrown in, as they gave more information of what was going on and also added to the mystery of what happened.

I loved how realistic Logan wrote the teenagers in this book. They were not all goody two shoes; they each were dealing with things that teenagers do. At first, I was so frustrated with Connor because he would not tell the police or his parents anything and would just get closed off and grumpy and retreat to his bedroom when they tried to push him for answers. But then I thought, that is exactly how a teenager would act.

My favorite character in the book was Harriet. She is on the autism spectrum and even though her parents tried to not get her involved in what was going on, she made sure she was. She loves her brother and wants to do whatever she can to keep him out of trouble. She is an IT expert, and she uses that knowledge to gather information to help Connor. I loved her determination.

The Curfew kept me guessing throughout. T.M. Logan did a great job of slowly increasing the tension and suspense, to an ending that I did not see coming and had me on the edge of my seat.  4 Stars


Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Curfew & Watch Out for HerWatch Out for Her Goodreads

Author: Samantha M. Bailey

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Publisher: Simon Schuster

While Samantha M. Bailey’s latest novel, Watch Out for Her, is a great psychological thriller, it is also a story about trust and wanting to belong to a family.

The story follows Sarah Goldman and Holly Monroe. Sarah and her husband Daniel hire twenty two-year old Holly to watch their six-year-old son Jacob for the summer. Jacob adores Holly, so Sarah now has the free time to take up photography again, which she loves but had put on hold when Jacob was born. Holly lost her mother when she was a baby, and in Sarah she has found the mother figure she has always longed for. What starts out as a perfect arrangement soon turns into a nightmare that has Sarah, Daniel and Jacob leaving their home in Vancouver and moving to Toronto. Sarah just wants to put the summer behind her and start new. But as soon as they move into their new home, Sarah finds hidden cameras placed all over the house and then she starts getting threatening text messages from an unknown number. Sarah thinks she knows who is behind all this and she will do whatever she has to to keep her family safe.

This book is told in a dual timeline. We get Sarah’s POV in the present as she and her family are trying to settle into their new home in Toronto. Sarah has never been one to trust easily, and after the incident of the past summer, it is even harder for her to trust anyone. Given her trust issues, it also made me not trust anyone. I was suspicious of her overly friendly next-door neighbor and the creepy neighbor across the street. This timeline had me on the edge of my seat.

The second timeline is from the past summer and is told from Holly’s POV. To me this timeline was more laid back as we get the backstory on Holly and the events that lead up to what happened to force Sarah and her family to flee Vancouver. I really did like Holly and had great sympathy for her. Holly only ever wanted to feel like she belonged to a family.  Her father and stepmother used her to get wealthy men to back her father’s pharmaceutical company.  So when she bonded with Sarah, it felt like the mother she has always wanted and decided she would do anything to keep her found family together.

I liked having the different atmospheres in each timeline. When I was reading Sarah’s timeline I was on high alert and could feel the tension and suspense. And then when I was reading Holly’s timeline, I was able to relax a bit. Yes, there was still suspense but just not as intense.

As the book progressed the tension increased to an ending that had me on the edge of my seat.  I did have one thing figured out, but there were a couple of twists that caught me off guard.   3 ½ stars



Hey everyone!  I know I’m late for Thriller Thursday and that I’m not Sharon, but it would appear that I have finally started to get back to my pre-pandemic eclectic reading preferences so I actually have thriller reviews to share with you this week.  I’m still romance heavy of course, but I am glad that I’m finally at a point where I no longer feel like shying away from some darker reads.  These are good ones too.  If you’re looking for some new thrillers to add to your spooky season TBR, be sure to check these out.


Thriller Reviews:  DAISY DARKER & STAY AWAKEDaisy Darker Goodreads

Author:  Alice Feeney

Publication Date: August 30, 2022

Publisher:  Flatiron Books

FTC Disclosure: None needed. I purchased my own copy of this book.


I love a good locked door mystery and Alice Feeney really delivers with her latest novel Daisy Darker.  As the synopsis hints, Daisy Darker is a nod to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and I was 100% here for revisiting my favorite Agatha Christie thriller.

Daisy Darker was born with a heart problem and told she would not live very long.  By the time she was 13, Daisy had already died and been resuscitated several times.  Because of her delicate health, Daisy was not allowed to go to school and therefore grew up very lonely.  The only time Daisy ever had any freedom was in the summer when she would visit her Nana.  Daisy and her Nana have a wonderful relationship and are very close, so Daisy loves coming to spend time with her at Seaglass, the Gothic mansion Nana calls home.  It is at Seaglass where the bulk of this story unfolds.

Daisy’s family has spent many years avoiding one another but when Nana is about to turn 80, she summons the entire family out to Seaglass for a reunion of sorts.  Seaglass, which is now crumbling and rundown, is situated on a small island and is only accessible at low tide so once the tide comes in, no one can leave until the next low tide eight hours later.  As each member of the family arrives, it becomes pretty clear that they are all uncomfortable to be there and they all also appear to be keeping secrets.  It’s a very awkward situation that becomes even more awkward when Nana decides to share the contents of her will.  Events take a deadly turn when the clock strikes midnight, Nana is found dead, and a strange and super creepy poem about the members of the family is found written on the wall in what appears to be Nana’s handwriting.  Are Daisy and the rest of the Darker family trapped on the island with a murderer in their midst?  Oh boy, it’s going to be a long eight hours!

I don’t want to say anything else about the plot because of spoilers and if you’re familiar with And Then There Were None, you should have a basic idea of how the story will play out.  But, that said, boy does Alice Feeney take her readers on a wild ride of intricate plot twists.  She kept me guessing every step of the way, had me flying through the pages to see what would happen next, and even had me shedding a few tears at one point.  I loved the atmospheric quality of her writing, particularly the whole Gothic vibe of the mansion and the creepy, foreboding, and downright taunting vibe of the graffitied poem.  I did not see the ending coming at all, and for me, that’s the mark of a well crafted mystery.  Daisy Darker is my new favorite book from Alice Feeney, and I can’t wait to read more from her.  4.5 STARS


Thriller Reviews:  DAISY DARKER & STAY AWAKEStay Awake Goodreads

Author: Megan Goldin

Publication Date: August 9, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

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


Wow, what a wild ride this book was!  Megan Goldin is fast becoming one of my favorite authors when it comes to thrillers.  Her books are always an adrenaline rush and just an overall mind-blowing experience and her latest novel Stay Awake may be her best yet!

The story follows a young woman named Liv Reese, who has just woken up in the back of a cab, with no memory of how she got there or where she was heading.  Disoriented, Liv heads to the apartment in Brooklyn that she shares with her best friend Amy, only to get there and learn that there are two strangers living there instead.  Liv is even more confused when the woman who now lives there yells at Liv and tells her that she needs to stop showing up at their place.  Apparently, she has done this before.  Liv then reaches into her pocket for her cell phone to try to find help, and, instead of her phone, she finds a bloody knife and notices that her hands are covered in black ink, scribbled messages everywhere telling her to STAY AWAKE.  Liv has no idea what is going on, but she knows she needs to figure it out.

In addition to following Liv, the story also follows Detective Darcy Halliday.  Darcy and her partner Jack Lavelle are called to the scene of a homicide.  When they arrive on the scene and begin to investigate, it’s clear that the killer has not left behind many clues for them.  The biggest and most unusual clue is that the message STAY AWAKE has been written in the victim’s blood backwards on the windows so that it can be read by anyone standing outside the building.  Undeterred by the lack of evidence, Darcy and Jack set out to catch a killer.  When they release key information about the murder, including the STAY AWAKE message, to the public, Liv sees it and realizes that she is somehow connected to this murder even though she remembers nothing about it.

I really enjoyed the way the author has the story unfold. We alternate between Liv’s perspective and Darcy’s so we get clues about how Liv has ended up in the predicament she is in, and then we start to get clues about the murder as Darcy and Jack start to piece together what has happened.  I liked that I felt like I was piecing everything together right alongside the characters.

Liv’s whole situation fascinated me because it is such an original use of the amnesia trope.  Earlier on in the book, it becomes clear that every time Liv falls asleep, she forgets all her memories going back two years, including several tragic events that probably led to her amnesia in the first place.  Every day Liv is stuck in the worst kind of Groundhog’s Day imaginable, and it makes her incredibly vulnerable, especially since she has no idea how she is connected to this murder. She has no idea who she can trust, if anyone, and because of the amnesia, she also has no idea that the real murderer is out there looking for her too. It becomes a game of cat and mouse where every time the mouse falls asleep, she forgets about the cat. It makes for a wild and twisty ride and I was afraid for Liv every time I turned the page and praying the detectives would figure out who the killer was in time to save Liv.

Stay Awake is an intense thriller filled with tension and suspense that kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.  I kept trying to guess who the murderer was and I was wrong every time. I love it when a thriller is so well plotted and unpredictable that it keeps me guessing until the reveal, and Megan Goldin’s Stay Awake was a winner for me.  4 STARS



Happy Monday to all and Happy Labor Day to those who are celebrating today!  I have today off but don’t really have any special plans for the day, mainly just hoping to get caught up on reviews I need to write and to get some reading done.  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two fun reads. The Denise Williams book was one of my most anticipated romance reads of the year, and the Roselle Lim book is one I was really looking forward to after enjoying her last book so much.  Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club is already out in the world, and Do You Take This Man is available starting tomorrow, 9/6.


Reviews:  SOPHIE GO’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB & DO YOU TAKE THIS MANSophie Go's Lonely Hearts Club Goodreads

Author:  Roselle Lim

Publication Date: August 16, 2022

Publisher:  Berkley

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


Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club is a whimsical and heartwarming story about overcoming loneliness and finding your place in this world.  While it does contain a bit of romance, it is secondary to the main character’s journey to become who she was meant to be.

Sophie is a Chinese Canadian woman who has recently returned home to Toronto after studying to become a matchmaker in Shanghai.  She is trying to establish herself as a professional matchmaker in her community but is carrying around a secret – due to circumstances beyond her control, she didn’t actually graduate from the matchmaker program.  When Sophie attends a community event in hope of introducing herself and handing out her card to drum up business, her mother of all people outs Sophie as a fraud and seriously impairs her ability to secure clients.  Sophie fears that all hope of becoming a matchmaker is lost until she stumbles upon a secret group called the Old Ducks.  This group of elderly gentlemen has all but given up on love and have formed this group so they won’t be alone.  After talking to Sophie, the Old Ducks agree to be her first clients.

Sophie’s growing bond with these Old Ducks are what really made this book a special read for me.  One of the author’s biggest strengths is her ability to write vibrant and realistic characters and that strength really shines through in this book with Sophie and with the Old Ducks.  As she gets to know each one of them, she becomes so invested in finding them a perfect match.  I loved Sophie for her big heart and was touched by how much she wanted these men to find love again.  On the flip side, I also adored the old men for the same reason because as they each got to know her, they began to treat her like family and became invested in her success and in her happiness.  I loved this for Sophie, especially since her own family was not only lacking in support but her mother actually bordered on being verbally abusive.

While the characters are definitely the highlight of this story, I also loved the touch of magical realism the author gives us with respect to the matchmaking.  As a matchmaker, Sophie is able to see red threads attached to people’s hearts.  Matchmakers like Sophie read the movement of those threads in order to gauge whether or not her potential matches are meant to be together or not.  I just loved this added touch of whimsy.

Lastly, I cannot leave off without mentioning the author’s ability to write the most delicious descriptions of food.  Lim’s books always make me so hungry and this book was no exception, especially because Sophie has a major sweet tooth and is always looking for delicious sweet treats to satisfy her cravings.

Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club is an all around delight. Highly recommend to fans of women’s fiction, found families, and the healing power of friendship and love.  4 STARS.



Author: Denise Williams

Publication Date: September 6, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

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


I loved Denise Williams’ first two books, How to Fail at Flirting and The Fastest Way to Fall because Williams writes such smart, vibrant, and relatable characters.  She also excels at writing snappy dialogue and at bringing the heat during those steamy scenes when her characters finally connect.  I’m thrilled to report that Williams has another winner on her hands with her latest novel, Do You Take This Man.

The story follows RJ, an up and coming divorce attorney who also, oddly enough, officiates weddings in her spare time.  When we meet RJ, she is running late for a wedding, and in her haste to get there, she accidentally crashes into a handsome stranger and ends up in a heap on the pavement.  What could have been a meet-cute instead becomes a hostile encounter as RJ gives this guy a piece of her mind.  Their conversation ends with him telling her she should smile more.  Instead of murdering him like she would love to, she hurries to get to her wedding.  Things take a turn for the awkward when it turns out this guy, whose name is Lear, is the cousin of the event planner RJ always works with and Lear is filling in for his cousin for the foreseeable future.  So RJ finds herself stuck working with this “dude bro”, as she has dubbed him.

I love a good enemies to lovers romance and was totally on board with this story from the moment I knew RJ and Lear were going to have to work together so closely.  The tension was pouring off them in those opening scenes so I knew I was in for one heck of a ride!

Burned by her ex, RJ has no interest at all in a romance for herself and instead buries herself in her work.  I really loved RJ.  She’s smart, independent, headstrong, and she knows what she wants and what she doesn’t.  Well, at least she did before Lear came into her life.  His presence shakes her up in ways she did not anticipate and really throws her off kilter to the point where she can’t decide what she wants from one moment to the next.  It’s frustrating for Lear, but I just loved how realistic and messy RJ was in this situation.  I was also tickled that RJ turns out to be the best friend of Britta from The Fastest Way to Fall and it was so much fun to watch RJ go to Britta for advice.

Like RJ, I’ll admit that I wanted to smack Lear upside the head the first couple of times he and RJ interact.  He kept interrupting her, overstepping when it came to overseeing the wedding ceremony, and even tried to mansplain her at one point.  RJ puts him in his place, and thankfully Lear is a man that learns from his mistakes so I quickly grew to like him, especially as we learn more about him and the heartbreaking circumstances that have led him to leave his life in L.A. and come all the way home to NC.

I very much enjoyed the progression of RJ and Lear’s relationship, both their working one and their personal one.  There’s of course lots of cute and flirty banter and some sexy, steamy scenes, but what I especially loved about this relationship is how real it felt.  RJ and Lear’s journey to that coveted happily ever after ending is a rocky one.  They are both dealing with baggage from previous relationships, and RJ has such a tough outer shell, but it’s clear that underneath, she’s pretty vulnerable as well. It takes a lot of work to break down her walls and really get to know her, as Lear finds out.  RJ thinks that she is hard to love, so I was thrilled that Lear seemed determined to try to prove her wrong.

Denise Williams just never disappoints.  I love her dynamic characters and their relatable journeys, and Do You Take This Man is no exception.  I highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys enemies to lovers romances, headstrong female protagonists, witty banter, and sexy, steamy love scenes.  4.5 STARS



Happy Friday! How in the world is it September already?  I have to admit I’m ready for fall though.  Bring on the sweater weather! Anyway, I’m back today with reviews for two brand-new releases that share a common theme – found families.  I’m a sucker for a good found family story so I’m thrilled to share my thoughts on both of these with you.


Reviews:  THE VERY SECRET SOCIETY OF IRREGULAR WITCHES & THE LOST TICKETThe Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches Goodreads

Author:  Sangu Mandanna

Publication Date: August 23, 2022

Publisher:  Berkley

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


If there was a literary genre called cozy fantasy, that’s where The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna would be.  This book is pure magic in every sense of the word –  it’s whimsical, full of heart, and it has a found family vibe that reminds me of TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea.

The story follows Mika Moon, a young orphaned witch who has been raised to hide her magic from others and to stay away from other witches so as not to draw the attention of non-witches.  Mika therefore is used to living a lonely life, but when an opportunity arises for her to move to a place called Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic, Mika jumps at the chance, having no idea how much her life is about to change.

Mika is an easy character to fall in love with.  I felt tremendous sympathy for her knowing what an isolated life she had been living for so many years.  Mika also has a huge heart, as we quickly see once she arrives at Nowhere House and starts working with the children.  There’s an almost Mary Poppins-like quality to her that I especially enjoyed.  It was fun to watch her interact with the children and to watch her get under the skin of Jamie, the grumpy but sexy librarian who happens to be the children’s guardian.

Mika’s scenes with the children, Rosette, Altimira, and Terracotta were my favorites from the book.  Rosette is the quintessential good girl, polite, sweet-natured, and eager to please.  Altimira is hilarious. She says whatever comes to mind, no matter how inappropriate, no filter whatsoever, and provides many laugh out loud moments.  Terracota is the most challenging of the group, basically introducing herself to Mika by asking her how she would prefer to die.  Such a lovely child, haha.  I adored each of the children in their own way and loved watching Mika bond with each of them.

The found family vibe I mentioned earlier is truly what makes this book such a special read because at Nowhere House, Mika finds the family she never had but has always wanted.  The characters who live at Nowhere House, from the retired stage actor and his spouse who are the house’s caretakers, to the grumpy librarian and his three witchy charges, are quite the quirky bunch, yet they have somehow managed to form a close-knit group and are eager to welcome Mika in with open arms.  Jamie and Terracotta obviously take some work but it’s fun watching Mika win them over.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is a magical story about love, family, and about becoming the person you were meant to be.  If you’re in the mood for a cozy, uplifting witchy read, this is definitely the book for you. 4.5 STARS



Author: Freya Sampson

Publication Date: August 30, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

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


The Lost Ticket by Freya Sampson is the most heartwarming, feel good book I’ve read all year.  The story follows what happens when strangers on a bus come together to try to help an elderly man find the love of his life.  Reading it felt like I was being given a warm hug and I just loved every page of it.

Libby Nichols moves to London after being dumped by her boyfriend.  Her heart is broken and her life is a mess, and she could really use a distraction from her misery.  While riding the number 88 bus one day, she meets a friendly elderly gentleman named Frank.  Frank tells Libby that back in 1962, he met a young red haired woman on the same bus.  He and this young woman really connected during the journey and made plans to go out together.  The woman wrote her number on a bus ticket and gave it to Frank, but by the time he got home, Frank realized he had lost the ticket.  Frank confides to Libby that he is still riding the number 88 all these years later in hopes of finding her. Libby is so moved by Frank’s story that she feels compelled to help him try to find the mystery woman.

I absolutely adored Frank. He’s such a sweet old man, and as soon as you hear his story, you can’t help but cheer him on and hope that he finds this woman.  It’s especially poignant because Frank is in the early stages of dementia and is well aware that he could very easily forget all about her before he has ever had a chance to see her again.  I also loved that even though this quest starts out as a distraction for Libby, she quickly becomes very invested in Frank and thinks of him as practically family.  It was really sweet to watch the two of them bond.

Libby is just as likable as Frank is.  I felt so much sympathy for her after her break up.  Her ex made her feel so bad about herself, and then her own family doesn’t do much to make her feel any better. Instead, they just pile on and make her feel worse.  I loved that she found Frank because he was just such a breath of fresh air and exactly what Libby needed to start feeling better about herself and her life.

While the friendship between Libby and Frank is a highlight, it becomes even more special when their connection expands to include Dylan, who is Frank’s caregiver, and Esme, who is Dylan’s friend.  Dylan and Esme, as well as another passenger from the bus, all join in the efforts to find Frank’s mystery woman. There are some bumps in the road between Libby and Dylan, who are clearly attracted to one another, but  they all end up very close, the found family that Libby needs since her own family isn’t being overly supportive.  I just love the idea that a chance meeting has the potential to be such a life-changing experience for so many people.

I don’t feel like I’m doing The Lost Ticket justice with anything I’m writing because it just has this special quality that is hard to explain and it was the ultimate comfort read for me.   If you’re in the mood for an uplifting and poignant read, this is the book you’re looking for.  5 STARS