Romance Review – HAPPY MEDIUM by Sarah Adler

Romance Review – HAPPY MEDIUM by Sarah AdlerHappy Medium by Sarah Adler
five-stars
Published by Berkley Books, Berkley Romance on April 30, 2024
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 416
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

 

 

I fell in love with Sarah Adler’s style of storytelling last year when I read her debut, Mrs. Nash’s Ashes.  It was just such a fun, unique and heartwarming story and I still think about it to this day.  When a book resonates with me that much, I immediately want to read everything that author writes so of course, I had to get my hands on a review copy of Adler’s new novel, Happy Medium!  It did not disappoint either.  Happy Medium is equally unique and charming, if not more so than Mrs. Nash’s Ashes, and I enjoyed every page of it!

Gretchen Acorn is a con woman.  She pretends to be a psychic medium and is apparently pretty convincing at it because one of her wealthy clients offers to pay her $10,000 to go check out her bridge partner’s goat farm, which is believed to be haunted.  He has been trying to sell it but unexplained phenomena keep happening while potential buyers are there, scaring them off.  Gretchen knows she’s a fraud, but hey, she’s got to pay her bills, right?  And if she can help an old man sell the place and retire, even better.

Gretchen is shocked by two things when she arrives at the farm:  1) Charlie Waybill, the old goat farmer she’s expecting to meet, is actually a gorgeous grump who is actually her age, and 2) there is actually a chatty, goofy ghost named Everett there and she can both see and talk to him.  She has never been able to do that before so her mind is blown to say the least!  Everett fills her in on why he’s there and why he’s trying so hard to keep Charlie from selling the place.  When Everett tried to abandon the family farm and follow his dreams nearly a century ago, a relative cursed him. He died in a tragic accident that same day and has been haunting the farm ever since.  If the farm is sold to someone who isn’t a Waybill, the last Waybill there will suffer the same fate as Everett.  Everett scares off every potential buyer because he wants to save Charlie from his fate. Gretchen finds herself drawn to both Charlie and Everett, and when Charlie proposes that she stick around and help him save the farm if he can’t sell it, she agrees, having no idea what a life changing decision this will be for her.

I don’t know if I can fully express how wonderful this story is! I was a little nervous I wouldn’t like Gretchen since she is so morally gray, but she won me over as soon as it became clear that she really doesn’t like taking advantage of people and makes it her mission to leave them no worse off than when they first came to her.  She also endeared herself to me once she gets to the farm and starts interacting with both Charlie and Everett. She and Everett become besties and some of their banter is truly hilarious, especially some of their battles that revolve around Everett’s television addiction.  I also loved the chemistry that quickly blossoms between Gretchen and Charlie after their initial rocky start.  They’re actually a great team as they work together to save the farm, and I loved how the more Gretchen gets to know Charlie, the more she wants to save him from the curse.  Adler does a fabulous job here using the situation surrounding the curse to create a wonderful redemption arc for Gretchen.  Not only did I like Gretchen, but I ended up actually adoring her by the end of the story.

Happy Medium has a little something for everyone.  The humor is top notch, the paranormal antics of Everett are entertaining, and the personal and romantic journeys of both Gretchen and Charlie are so poignant and heartwarming.  Happy Medium is perfect for fans of enemies to lovers, grumpy sunshine, forced proximity, and of course silly ghosts and adorable goats!

 

Thanks so much to Tina Joell at Berkley for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour!

five-stars

About Sarah Adler

Sarah Adler grew up in rural South Central Pennsylvania, the land of Civil War reenactors and snack food factories. She received both her BA in History and American Studies and MA in History from American University in Washington, DC, where she focused on 19th and early 20th century U.S. culture. She currently lives in Frederick, MD with her husband and daughter. When she isn’t writing or yelling at Noodle, her very mischievous cat, to stop opening the kitchen cabinets, Sarah enjoys crocheting, going for walks, exploring used bookstores, reading, and eating baked goods.

Sarah’s debut novel, Mrs. Nash’s Ashes, was published by Berkley/Penguin Random House on May 23, 2023.

Romance Review – THE BREAKUP TOUR by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka @berkleyromance

Romance Review – THE BREAKUP TOUR by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka @berkleyromanceThe Breakup Tour by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Also by this author: The Roughest Draft
four-stars
Published by Berkley Books, Berkley Romance on January 23, 2024
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

 

 

Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka are one of my favorite author duos.  I really enjoyed the realistic and angsty vibes of their last two adult romances and so was curious to see what they would do with their latest novel, The Breakup Tour, which I’ve seen described several times as being perfect for Swifties. How intriguing is that?

Riley Wynn is a rising star in the music industry, who is catapulted to mega-stardom thanks to her latest album, which chronicles all of her relationships which have ended in breakups, and especially thanks to its unforgettable lead single about the one who got away.  That song was inspired by Max Harcourt, Riley’s college boyfriend and fellow musician.  When Riley’s narcissistic and very toxic ex-husband starts telling everyone that song is about him, Riley approaches Max, even though she hasn’t spoken to him in ten years, and asks if he would be willing to go public as the inspiration behind the song. Max isn’t entirely comfortable with the idea but he eventually agrees to go on tour with her and perform the song at each concert.

I wasn’t entirely convinced that this was a realistic scenario but after watching Riley and Max interact, I decided I didn’t care, haha. I’m a huge fan of second chance romances and it was clear from the moment, Riley and Max first reconnect after a decade apart, that they still have major chemistry.  I enjoyed watching them reconnect against the backdrop of the concert tour, and I especially enjoyed watching them interact as they learned to play together once again.

Now, this was definitely a slow burn romance as both Riley and Max have some personal baggage that they need to work through before they could even begin to consider a future together, but I was definitely invested enough in their journey to wait for them to figure everything out, especially since the authors write those angsty, emotional scenes so well.

When I read this, I alternated between the e-arc and the ALC (thank you Berkley Romance and PRH Audio).  The writing flows smoothly, making the e-arc a read that I breezed right through, while the ALC, which was narrated by Dan Bittner and Brittany Pressley, was a great choice too. Bittner and Pressley beautifully capture both the chemistry between the characters as well as those angsty, emotional moments, really drawing me into the story.

I think whether you’re a Swiftie or not, if you enjoy slow-burn, swoony second chance romances and are interested in a behind-the-scenes look at a concert tour, you’ll definitely want to check out The Breakup Tour.

 

Thanks so much to Kristin Cipolla for the opportunity to take part in the blog tour!

four-stars

About Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka met and fell in love in high school. Austin went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard, while Emily graduated magna cum laude from Princeton. Together, they are the authors of Always Never Yours, If I’m Being Honest, Time of Our Lives, What’s Not to Love, The Roughest Draft, and Do I Know You? Now married, they live in Los Angeles, where they continue to take daily inspiration from their own love story.

Romance Review – LAST CALL AT THE LOCAL by Sarah Grunder Ruiz @berkleyromance

Romance Review – LAST CALL AT THE LOCAL by Sarah Grunder Ruiz @berkleyromanceLast Call at the Local by Sarah Grunder Ruiz
four-half-stars
Series: Love, Lists & Fancy Ships #3
Published by Berkley Romance on January 2, 2024
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 368
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

 

Last Call at the Local is the third installment in Sarah Grunder Ruiz’s Love, Lists & Fancy Ships series and it honestly might be my favorite one yet! What I love about this series is that each book makes me feel so much. Whether I’m laughing at some hilarious banter or shedding tears about a sad turn of events, my heart is just always full the entire time I’m reading. Last Call at the Local was no exception to that and I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience.

Set in Ireland, the story follows Raine, a young American woman who has run into some bad luck that has left her broke and with little more than the clothes on her back. She stops in at a pub called the Local, where she has a very one-sided conversation with the pub’s cat, Sebastian, and meets Jack, who is not only Sebastian’s charming owner but he’s also part owner of the Local.  Jack and Raine hit it off immediately and once he hears about the predicament she is in, he offers her a temporary job at the pub to help her get back on her feet.  Neither Raine nor Jack realize how life changing this chance encounter and temporary job will turn out to be.

I cannot even express how much I adored both Jack and Raine.  They were just so perfect together and it was a joy to watch them interact and explore their growing feelings for one another.  I also admired them as individuals though because they’re both facing some mental health challenges.  Raine initially comes across as a free spirit, and while she is to a degree, she is also living with ADHD, which makes it hard for her to buckle down and focus. That’s why, when we meet her, she has been working as a traveling musician all over Europe. She figured it was the best of both worlds, a way to make money from her passion for music, but also no set schedule, no boss to answer to, and no family to be disappointed in her.  Jack, on the other hand, is dealing with the challenges of living with severe OCD. Ruiz handles the exploration of both ADHD and OCD thoroughly and respectfully, and I felt like I learned so much by having access to Jack’s and Raine’s inner thoughts and experiencing ADHD and OCD from their perspectives.

I loved being back in this world and was absolutely thrilled to bump into Ollie and Nina again and see what they’ve been up to.  Everything about this book was just perfect and I can’t recommend it and the whole series highly enough.  If you’re looking for a book that will leave you with a full heart and a smile on your face, be sure to check out Last Call at the Local.

 

Thanks so much to Kristin Cipolla from Berkley Romance for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.

four-half-stars

About Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Sarah Grunder Ruiz is a writer, educator, and karaoke enthusiast. Originally from South Florida, she now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and two children. She holds an MFA in creative writing from North Carolina State University, where she now teaches First-Year Writing.

Romance Review – HOUSEBROKE by Jaci Burton @berkleyromance

Romance Review – HOUSEBROKE by Jaci Burton @berkleyromanceHousebroke by Jaci Burton
four-stars
Published by BERKLEY, Berkley Romance on December 12, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

 

Jaci Burton’s new novel Housebroke is a sweet and sexy romcom that features a millionaire who likes to buy, renovate, and sell houses, and a temporarily homeless woman with five rescue dogs who ends up living with him.

Hazel is reeling from a messy divorce that has left her broke and homeless. Some friends offer to let her stay at their house for a while, with the understanding that the house is for sale.  When Linc, the new owner, shows up unexpectedly, Hazel nearly clocks him with her cast iron skillet.  Linc wants her out of the house immediately so he can start renovating the property, but once he hears about her desperate situation, he doesn’t want to be the guy who kicks her when she’s already down so he invites her and her dogs to stay in his guesthouse.  Hazel agrees on the condition that he allows her to cook for him while she’s there.

I really enjoyed both of these characters, both individually and as a team. I loved watching the two of them bond, particularly when they were taking care of the dogs.  Linc clearly being a dog guy did a lot to endear him both to Hazel and to me, and I also loved how much he clearly admired Hazel for being so independent and that he also saw all that she had to offer. It was so nice to see, especially after knowing how awful her ex had been to her.

I also enjoyed the way Linc and Hazel’s story evolved. There was also a nice blend of sexy, spicy scenes as Linc and Hazel grow closer, as well as sweeter, more domestic scenes as the two of them, plus the dogs, fall into a comfortable, family-like routine. There’s a bit of tension, as both of them try to deny their feelings for one another, but it’s pretty obvious that fighting it is a losing battle.

And let’s not forget about those dogs.  From Penny the lovable golden retriever to Lillian the feisty chihuahua and Gordon the elderly pug, as well as a few others, the dogs really steal the show and were just a joy to read about. They are the glue that really brings Linc and Hazel together and I just wanted to adopt them all myself, haha!

This was my first time reading anything from Jaci Burton and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  If you’re in the mood for a charming romcom that features lovable big-hearted characters, both human and canine, be sure to check this one out!

 

Thanks so much to Tina Joell from Berkley Romance for the invitation to take part in this blog tour!

 

four-stars

About Jaci Burton

Jaci Burton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Boots and Bouquets series, the Brotherhood by Fire series, the Hope series, and the Play-by-Play novels. Learn more at jaciburton.com.

Blog Tour – IRIS KELLY DOESN’T DATE by Ashley Herring Blake @berkleyromance

Blog Tour – IRIS KELLY DOESN’T DATE by Ashley Herring Blake @berkleyromanceIris Kelly Doesn't Date (Bright Falls, #3) by Ashley Herring Blake
Also by this author: How to Make a Wish, Girl Made of Stars
four-half-stars
Series: Bright Falls #3
Published by BERKLEY, Berkley Romance on October 24, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, LGBTQ, Romance
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

 

Thank you so much to Berkley Romance for the free copy of Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date and to Kristin Cipolla for the invitation to take part in the blog tour for this book!

Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date is the third installment in Ashley Herring Blake’s Bright Falls series. I have loved every book in this series and every wonderful character we’ve met along the way so I couldn’t wait to dive in and finally get to know more about Iris.

When we meet Iris in this new book, she has embarked on a new career as an author of romance novels.  Her debut novel went well, but she is struggling to write her second book and her own lackluster love life might be part of the problem.  While Iris is thrilled that Astrid, Delilah, and everyone else in their friend group has found love, she often finds herself the odd man out, so to speak.  One night, she decides to forget all of her troubles and heads to a bar in Portland.  She meets, and is immediately attracted to, a sexy stranger named Stefania, and the two of them really hit it off.  Instead of the hookup Iris was hoping for, however, the night ends in disaster.  What Iris doesn’t realize at the time, however, is that Stefania is about to become a very important person in her life.

Following her agent’s advice to get out there and do something to take her mind off her writer’s block, Iris decides to try out for a local play that is a gender-bent retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.  When she finds out who is playing the lead, Iris can barely believe it.  It’s Stefania, whose real name turns out to be Stevie, and it becomes apparent that Stevie has told everyone involved with the play that she and Iris are dating.  Stevie begs Iris to go along with it, so as not to embarrass her in front of everyone, and Iris decides to play along, figuring this ought to at least spark some ideas for writing her novel.

I loved this book so much!  In spite of their failed one night stand, it’s obvious that Iris and Stevie have major chemistry.   Iris is a fun and confident bisexual woman, but in this book, we finally get to see a vulnerable side to her that we haven’t seen before.  Stevie is a former actor who has been dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, and the two of them were just so messy and flawed and  honestly just perfect together.  It was wonderful watching their relationship transform from fake to real, and to see how much they grew to care for, respect and support one another. Some of their more in-depth conversations about things they have gone through just really tugged at my heartstrings because it really made their relationship feel so authentic.

It wasn’t just all heartfelt, vulnerable moments between these two characters either. There was of course plenty of steam and humor, plus several fun appearances by the other members of Iris’ friend group.  It also didn’t hurt that Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Shakespearean comedy. Watching Iris and Stevie actually act out scenes from that play was just icing on what was already a fabulous cake for me.

Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date is another immensely satisfying and heartwarming installment in the Bright Falls series.  I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys sapphic romance, fake dating, and stories that feature fabulous friend groups/found families.

 

 

four-half-stars

About Ashley Herring Blake

Ashley Herring Blake is a reader, writer, and mom to two boisterous boys. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching and loves coffee, arranging her books by color, and watching Buffy over and over again on Netflix with her friends. She’s the author of the young adult novels SUFFER LOVE and HOW TO MAKE A WISH.

Blog Tour Review – BETTER HATE THAN NEVER by Chloe Liese @berkleyromance

Blog Tour Review – BETTER HATE THAN NEVER by Chloe Liese @berkleyromanceBetter Hate than Never by Chloe Liese
four-half-stars
Series: The Wilmot Sisters #2
Published by Berkley Romance on October 10, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Retelling
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

Thank you so much to Berkley Romance for the free e-copy of Better Hate Than Never and to Tina Joell from Berkley Romance for the invitation to take part in the blog tour for this book!

Better Hate Than Never is the second book in Chloe Liese’s The Wilmot Sisters series. I adored the first book in the series, which is a modern day retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and was over the moon to learn this latest book is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, which is one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies.  Hearing that this is also Liese’s steamiest book to date only further added to the appeal!

I really enjoyed everything about this book. While the story contains many references to the original play, Liese does a wonderful job creating a fresh and unique enemies-to-lovers story. In her story, the protagonists, Katerina Wilmot and Christopher Petruchio are childhood enemies who have now grown into adults, and if possible, hate each other even more.  Their friends and family know they could actually be pretty great for one another if they could just get past the old flames of hatred, but Katerina and Christopher aren’t having it.  That is, until one drunken moment when Katerina confesses to Christopher that she only really hated him because she thought he hated her first.  After hearing this, Christopher vows to find a way to make peace with Katerina once and for all, but Katerina isn’t sure she buys his new act. Can Christopher win her over?

The banter between Christopher and Katerina was what really stole the show in this story. I found myself outright cackling at them several times as I was reading because they were both just so good at pushing each other’s buttons. Liese’s dialogue is sharp, witty, and just filled with clever barbs.  The romance is a slow burn one, but I was so thoroughly entertained by the banter that the story just flew by.

Not only was I thoroughly invested in the budding romance between Christopher and Katerina, but I also thought Liese did a wonderful job creating such well developed characters.  I was especially a big fan of Liese’s mental health rep in Better Hate Than Never. One character suffers from chronic migraines and panic attacks, while the other is dealing with ADHD, and Liese portrays each of these conditions thoughtfully and accurately.

If you’re a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope and are in the mood for a steamy, slow-burn romance, be sure to pick up a copy of Better Hate Than Never. You won’t regret it!

four-half-stars

About Chloe Liese

Chloe writes romances reflecting her belief that everyone deserves a love story. Her stories pack a punch of heat, heart, and humor, and often feature characters who are neurodivergent like herself. When not dreaming up her next book, Chloe spends her time wandering in nature, playing soccer, and most happily at home with her family and mischievous cats.

Chloe is represented by Samantha Fabien at Root Literary.

Blog Tour – THIS SPELLS DISASTER by Tori Anne Martin

Blog Tour – THIS SPELLS DISASTER by Tori Anne MartinThis Spells Disaster by Tori Anne Martin
four-stars
Published by Berkley Romance on September 12, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, LGBTQ, Paranormal, Romance
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

 

Tori Anne Martin’s debut novel This Spells Disaster is a queer witchy romcom that takes place over the course of a spellcasting festival. Not only does it feature fantastic worldbuilding and lovable characters who are easy to root for, but it also features one of my favorite romance tropes, fake dating.

The story follows Morgan Greenwood, a potion witch who considered herself to be a hot mess.  Morgan has had a crush on Rory Sanders, a badass elemental witch, but is too intimidated by Rory to even approach her.  Instead, Morgan has admired her from afar for ages, that is, until fate puts Rory in her path one night at a bar.  Rory is complaining about the unreasonable expectations her family always puts on her and that she is dreading spending time with them at the biennial New England Witches’ festival.  A drunken Morgan volunteers to fake date Rory and act as a buffer between her and her family.  Morgan can’t believe she did that, but even more unbelievable to her is that Rory decides to take her up on her offer.

I adored both Morgan and Rory.  Morgan is just the most adorable protagonist.  She’s incredibly loyal to those she cares about.  Her heart is always in the right place, but she can definitely be a bit chaotic and impulsive at times.  Rory is equally fabulous but in a much more reserved way than Morgan.  She can be standoffish at first, but once you get to know her, Rory is a sweetheart. She’s also a brilliant spellcaster and both she and Morgan have a competitive streak that makes for some of the most entertaining banter. I just loved watching the two of them get to know each other.

My favorite part of the fake dating trope is when those fake feelings start to become real, and in This Spells Disaster, the author has added a unique complication to this trope.  Morgan crafts a relaxation spell for Rory and after Rory starts taking it, she starts behaving as if she has romantic feelings toward Morgan. Morgan can’t believe that Rory could ever feel that way about her and is soon horrified to realize that her feelings for Rory may have slipped into the potion, accidentally turning it into a love potion.  Love potions are illegal in the witching community because they take away a person’s right to give or refuse consent. I felt so bad for Morgan since it’s clear she didn’t intend for this to happen, but at the same time, it made the story all the more compelling for me, waiting to see how this would all play out, especially once Rory realizes the truth. I was rooting for them to work things out so hard because fake relationship or not, they were perfect for each other.

I don’t want to give anything else away, so I’ll just say this is a delightfully witchy romance.  If you’re a fan of witchy romcoms, adorable characters, and fake dating, This Spells Disaster needs to go on your fall TBR.

Thanks so much to Kristin Cipolla and Berkley Romance for the invitation to take part in this blog tour!

 

 

four-stars

About Tori Anne Martin

Tori Anne Martin lives in New England where she collects pen names, tattoos, and hoodies in shades of gray and black. Previously, she collected degrees, including a doctorate in psychology where she studied interpersonal power, consent, and sexual assault. She much prefers writing romance. If you can’t find her online, it’s because she’s lost in the woods.

Blog Tour – Witch of Wild Things by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Blog Tour – Witch of Wild Things by Raquel Vasquez GillilandWitch of Wild Things by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
four-half-stars
Published by Berkley Romance on September 12, 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

 

 

I started my spooky season reading with vampires and now it’s time to bring some witches into the mix. I chose Witch of Wild Things by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland as my first witchy read of the season, in part because of that gorgeous cover and also because it features elemental magic, which I love. It also features a romance that is complicated by secrets, as well as a family dynamic that is complicated by grief.  If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that all of those elements are like catnip for me!

At the center of this story are the women of the Flores family. Legend has it that many years ago a Flores woman offended the old gods and caused all of her female descendants to be cursed with magical powers.  Sage Flores is the protagonist of the story and her magical abilities are tied to plants. Nicknamed the “Plant Whisperer,” Sage can identify any plant and not only that but she can actually communicate with them.  Sage’s sister, Teal, has powers that tie her emotions to the weather — extreme emotions equal extreme weather conditions. Lastly, younger sister Sky’s magic allowed her to communicate with animals.

When the story opens, we meet Sage as she has just been fired from her job and is headed back to her hometown.  Sage is not looking forward to this because she has been estranged from Teal ever since the death of Sky eight years earlier.  Teal holds Sage responsible for their sister’s death and wants nothing to do with her.  What we also learn about Sage in these opening scenes is that Sky is actually haunting her, following her around and leaving her gifts of coffee.  Sky is trapped here and wants Sage to find a way to mend fences with Teal, in hopes that will allow her spirit to move on.  Needless to say, emotions run high between the two remaining sisters as they come face to face after so many years apart.

Sage isn’t just being haunted by her sister though. She’s also being haunted by her past, in the form of Tennessee Reyes, a boy she had a crush on in high school who broke her heart.  When Sage takes a job with the Cranberry Rose Company to hunt for unique plant specimens, she ends up partnered with Tennessee.  Being with Tennessee brings back so many memories for Sage and as she starts to grow closer to him all over again, she knows she has to tell him a secret that she has kept from him for nearly a decade.  I loved how the author has their relationship unfold, through the use of both present day scenes and through flashbacks from their high school days.

I really loved everything about this book.  The story grabbed my attention from the opening scenes and I flew through it in just a couple of sittings because I was so invested in Sage’s journey.  She’s a messy and flawed character, but she grows so much throughout the course of the book, both in terms of her relationship with her sister and her relationship with Tennessee.  The writing was also just so gorgeous. I loved all of the nature vibes and the descriptions of the magic.  It was truly an enchanting read!

Thanks so much to Kristin Cipolla and Berkley Romance for the opportunity to take part in the blog tour to promote Witch of Wild Things! It’s available now so be sure to pick up a copy!

 

 

 

four-half-stars

About Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican American poet, novelist, and painter. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2017. She’s most inspired by fog and seeds and the lineages of all things. When not writing, Raquel tells stories to her plants and they tell her stories back. She lives in Tennessee with her beloved family and mountains. Raquel has published two books of poetry. Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything is her first novel.

Review: THE FASTEST WAY TO FALL by Denise Williams

Review:  THE FASTEST WAY TO FALL by Denise WilliamsThe Fastest Way To Fall by Denise Williams
Also by this author: How to Fail at Flirting
five-stars
Published by Berkley Romance on November 2, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

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

 

 

Denise Williams’ How to Fail at Flirting was one of my favorite reads from last year so I was excited to get my hands on a copy of her latest novel, The Fastest Way to Fall.  Williams has a knack for creating wonderful protagonists that you just find yourself wanting to be bffs with, and Britta Colby, the protagonist of The Fastest Way to Fall is no exception.

Britta works as an editorial assistant for a popular lifestyle website.  She likes her job well enough, but her passion is actually to write so she would love to be promoted to the writing staff.  At a staff meeting, Britta goes out on a limb and pitches an idea for a story and is thrilled when the bosses actually give her a chance to write it.  Her task is to join a hot new body fitness app that includes a virtual personal coach and to write about her experience with it. Although Britta’s primary reason for joining the app is to secure that promotion, she does like the idea that the program focuses on overall fitness rather than weight loss.  She likes it even more when she starts chatting with Wes, her virtual coach, and they quickly become friends.

I immediately liked Britta. She’s warm and funny, and I also loved her determination to make something happen with her career.  We get to read some of Britta’s posts as she goes through this fitness journey and I loved how authentic and real she comes across and I also loved the focus on body positivity.  Even though she’s clearly the underdog here, she shines like a star and I was excited to see the number of comments on her posts grow as more and more people became invested in her journey.

Wes Lawson is actually the CEO of the Fit Me app Britta is reviewing.  Even though he has enjoyed tremendous success with the app, he’s feeling out of sorts these days and is dealing with a lot of family issues. He decides he needs to clear his head and the best way to do that is to get back to what he really loves, the coaching.  He selects one of the app’s new clients to coach; that client of course turns out to be Britta. Britta’s sense of humor wins him over from the start and he finds himself wanting to interact with her more and more, and not just to talk fitness.

I really enjoyed watching their friendship grow. I loved how Wes gently challenges Britta to up her fitness game, and I loved that Britta helps him escape everything that is weighing him down. My heart truly broke for Wes when it’s revealed exactly what kind of family issues he is dealing with, so I was all the more glad he had someone like Britta to talk to.  Their chemistry is so intense that when an accident leads to them meeting in person, I was immediately rooting for them to get together even though it would clearly lead to some sticky situations at work for them both.  Britta dating the CEO of the app she’s reviewing is not a good look for either of them even if the relationship started innocently enough.  Each of them has some tough decisions to make, both personally and professionally, and I thought Williams did a wonderful job realistically portraying how such a situation would play out.

The Fastest Way to Fall is the perfect read for anyone who enjoys warm and engaging characters with personal journeys you can’t help but become invested in, along with a healthy serving of both romance and family drama.

five-stars

About Denise Williams

Denise Williams wrote her first book in the 2nd grade. I Hate You and its sequel, I Still Hate You, featured a tough, funny heroine, a quirky hero, witty banter, and a dragon. Minus the dragons, these are still the books she likes to write. After penning those early works, she finished second grade and eventually earned a PhD.

A diversity trainer and co-creator of a women’s empowerment group, she is dedicated to developing flawed, multidimensional characters who struggle with those issues impacting real women. After growing up a military brat around the world and across the country, Denise now lives in Iowa with her husband, son, and two ornery shih-tzus who think they own the house.

Denise was a 2019 Romance Writers of America ® Golden Heart Finalist and How to Fail at Flirting is her debut novel.

Review: YOU LUCKY DOG by Julia London

Review:  YOU LUCKY DOG by Julia LondonYou Lucky Dog by Julia London
four-stars
Published by Berkley Romance on August 25, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Chick Lit
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

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

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks so much to Brittanie from Berkley for inviting me to take part in Berkley’s 2020 Romance blog tour.  Today I’m excited to share my thoughts with you on You Lucky Dog by Julia London.

*****

Julia London’s latest novel, You Lucky Dog, is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a light read filled with dogs, a little romance (including the sweetest meet-cute), and some hilarious dysfunctional family fun.  The story follows Carly and Max, who meet when their beloved basset hounds are accidentally swapped in an incident involving a pot-selling dog walker and an ill-timed encounter with the police.  Although their initial meeting is somewhat awkward because of the circumstances, two things become clear right away:  1) Their dogs, Baxter and Hazel, clearly adore each other, and 2) Carly and Max are attracted to one another as well.

The timing couldn’t be worse for either of them though. Carly is an up and coming publicist who is desperately trying to build her brand and grow her clientele, while Max is a professor of neurology at the local university who is working hard in hopes of achieving tenure this year.  Carly is also dealing with her dysfunctional divorced parents, while Max has his hands full helping his dad care for his brother, Jamie, who has autism.  Even with all of those obstacles in their path, however, after a couple of doggie play dates, Max and Carly can’t deny their attraction any longer and hope they can figure out a way to make things work even though it feels like the deck is stacked against them.

*****

I really loved both main characters in You Lucky Dog.  Carly definitely has her hands full with some pretty quirky and moody clients, but I admired her persistence and determination as she continued to push to make things happen for herself.  Max is literally the sweetest guy and in addition to loving the way he cares for his dog (and for Carly’s), I also adored the scenes with Max and his brother.  Max is such a good brother to Jamie and it just warmed my heart to watch the two of them together. I also, of course, adored Carly and Max together.  At first I was hesitant because it felt a little like insta-love but seriously how can you not bond while watching your adorable basset hounds frolic in the park together?  Scenes like that sold me on their growing chemistry pretty quickly and I was rooting for them to get together, in part because I wanted Baxter and Hazel to have their own happily ever after.

In addition to the cute factor, there’s also a healthy dose of family drama to balance out the reading experience.  Carly’s mother is having a sexual reawakening, which is downright hilarious at times until her awakening actually threatens Carly and Max’s relationship and lends an almost star-crossed lovers vibe to the story.  Don’t let that scare you off if you need a happy ending though. The story is meant to be a rom-com so you know what that means. 😊

If you’re into dogs, meet cutes, and romance, with a side of family drama to keep things interesting, You Lucky Dog is a perfect fit for you.

four-stars

About Julia London

Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of more than thirty romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular Cabot Sisters historical series, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch and The Perfect Homecoming.

Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction.

She lives in Austin, Texas.