Review: That Second Chance by Meghan Quinn

That Second Chance by Meghan Quinn
Series: Getting Lucky #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: May 7th 2019
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

USA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn delivers a smart and cheeky romance about love’s power to lift hearts . . . and curses.

It was supposed to be an innocent night, celebrating my brother’s birthday. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. We’d vowed to be on our best behavior after all . . .

But it only took one rowdy night with my brothers to flip my world upside down. One unlucky encounter saddled us with a family curse and the promise of doomed relationships. I laughed it off immediately. “Yeah, right,” I thought. “A love curse. Ha!”

Boy, was I wrong.

Word spreads quickly in a town like mine; rumors about that night soon made us the most eligible yet untouchable bachelors in Port Snow, Maine. As a subject of endless gossip and speculation, I could kiss my dating life goodbye.

It would have stayed that way if Ren Winters, the new girl in town, hadn’t crashed into my life. Brave, beautiful, and smart—her vivacious thirst for a fresh start has given me hope that maybe, just maybe, I can have one too.

Everyone wishes for that second chance . . . but could this really be mine?

I haven’t been THIS delighted in a book in a while! That Second Chance is one of the most charming romances I’ve ever read. It’s set in the small town of Port Snow, Maine, and legit, Meghan Quinn wrote this small town with so much heart that I wanted to move there. This was my first novel from Meghan Quinn as well, but you can be sure that it won’t be my last. I’ve become a huge fan of her writing and storytelling after reading this book. I’m absolutely dying for more of this series already!

I love discovering a series that centers around a group of family members. With the Getting Lucky series, we follow four brothers who’ve had a love curse placed upon them after a rowdy night in New Orleans. Griffin is the eldest, and a widower. He believes in the love curse because only a few days after he and his brothers were ‘cursed,’ his wife passes away. He’s been going through the motions for the past few years now, working at the family fudge shop and volunteering as a firefighter. Everything changes when a new resident moves into their quaint small town, and he’s the first to greet her – by rescuing her after a moose-related car accident.

Ren needs a new change of pace from her former life in Los Angeles. She chooses to move to the opposite side of the country to be a math teacher. It’s scary and overwhelming, but with the help of her first Port Snow friend Griffin Knightly, she easily finds a new home in this small town. I LOVE the fact that Ren and Griffin become friends first. Friends-to-lovers is my kryptonite, and the romantic development (which was paced perfectly slow and steady) felt so much more genuine between these two after they became friends. They are seriously adorable, taking trips around town, camping, setting up her new house together, all the while bantering playfully with each other. I loved every scene they had together and I couldn’t get enough of them. The main source of conflict for their romance is predictable, but I enjoyed the way it played out. The love curse is a little cheesy, but I really had no problem with it!

What makes That Second Chance such a solid small town romance is how real the town and its inhabitants feel. The Knightlys are such a charming family and all their friends are hilarious and sweet. Meghan Quinn has me so invested in this town and characters now – I can’t wait for each of the Knightly boys to get their own books. I only hope I’ll love them as much as I did Ren and Griffin!


lacey


Reading Order: Getting Lucky series

#1 ~ That Second Chance: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ That Forever Girl: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (Aug. 27, 2019)


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Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: April 9th 2019
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life–and heart–to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

Beautiful. Daring. Deadly.

The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez–her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future–but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything–not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart…

What an unforgettable read! Beatriz’s story took my breath away – this novel was one I couldn’t put down. I’ve loved Chanel Cleeton’s writing for years now, but it truly shines when she writes historical fiction (though I still LOVE her romances). When We Left Cuba takes us on the wild, daring, touching story of a woman who seeks to reclaim her home and country from the revolution that’s stolen everything from her and her family.

It is 1960s Florida, Palm Beach, one year after the Perez’s were exiled from Cuba and forced to seek asylum in America. The family has settled, but Beatriz has not. Her heart is restless for her home country, and she’ll do anything to go back, including take down Fidel Castro with the help of the CIA. I absolutely loved Beatriz. She is a proud, brave, and passionate heroine. We witness the ups and downs of her trying to break away from the society girl mold she’s lived her whole life to her involvement with Cuban and American politics, the constant circle of hope, devastation, fear, and love she feels. She falls in love with a forbidden senator, but that doesn’t stop her from continuing on with her quest for revenge and justice.

I’m unbelievably impressed with the way Chanel Cleeton was able to weave Beatriz’s fictional story with real life historical events. It felt seamless and genuine, and Chanel’s writing easily transported me to this tumultuous time period. The political intrigue, the history, the passion, it all blended so well and kept me hooked onto the pages. When We Left Cuba is a beautifully-written, unputdownable historical novel that I can’t recommend enough.


lacey


Also by Chanel Cleeton

Next Year in Havana is a standalone companion to When We Left Cuba

Next Year in Havana: Ebook • PaperbackAudibleGoodreads

Reading Order: Wild Aces series

  

#1 ~ Fly With Me: My Review • EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ Into the Blue: My Review • EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#3 ~ On Broken Wings: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads


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Release Day Review: Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins

Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: February 12th 2019
Links: Ebook • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

People travel from afar to the small isle in the Aegean Sea hoping for a single glimpse of Princess Psyche. Their adoration for the mortal woman is so all-consuming that citizens begin to shower her with the very gifts and offerings they once left at the alter of Venus, goddess of love and beauty.

But gods are known for their jealousy.

Cupid, the god of love, takes pleasure in causing strife and mischief in the lives of humans. He uses love as a weapon, humoring in the weakness of people at the whims of their feelings. When his mother Venus approaches him about punishing the human girl who dares to steal her offerings and affections from the people, Cupid gladly accepts.

Psyche’s punishment is to be given to a mysterious creature who only comes to her in the dark of night under the pact that she will never lay eyes on him. She is terrified of this stranger, who the oracle described as a serpent. Her mate, however, is masterful in his dealings with his bride. He takes his time, morphing her fears into different sensations completely.

Based on the Roman/Greek mythology of Cupid and Psyche from Lucius Apuleius, New York Times bestseller Wendy Higgins brings the tale to life, weaving layers that show exactly how a sacrificial lamb can be enchanted by an unseen monster.

Y’all, I loved this book something fierce. It is SO, so good, and definitely up there as one of my favorite reads of the year. I love mythology retellings, especially Greek/Roman ones, and this Cupid/Psyche retelling was brilliant and beautifully written. I fell so hard for the story and felt for the struggle Psyche faces with her unknown husband. It’s a pure, romantic read I highly recommend!

“It has been decided. Hers will be a funeral wedding to a dar-deeded winged serpent. Many call him a monster. Your dear Psyche will call him Husband.”

Psyche is the princess of her small island and is considered to be the most beautiful woman to exist. Unfortunately, this angers Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, as her worshippers have turned to worship Psyche instead. To appease Venus and to save her people, Psyche is forced to marry a monster. The rules are simple: the monster will be her husband, she will spend her nights with him, and she must never lay eyes on him or touch him.

“You can have my body, creature of the night, but you will never have my soul.”

I knew the basics of Psyche and Cupid going into this book, so I appreciated even more the author’s unique take on that story. Wendy transports you to this wondrous, ethereal world of gods and monsters, and she makes you fall in love with Psyche and her mysterious husband. Psyche may have been forced into her marriage, but she doesn’t take it lying down. She uses the little power she has to make a life for herself in the new house she lives in with her husband, and takes any bit of independence he gives her. The husband is not so much a monster after all. He is kind, thoughtful, generous – the kind of husband Psyche never dreamed he would be. But who exactly is he? And why was she chosen to be his bride? There’s more at play than what she knows, and slowly, as she starts to fall for her mysterious husband, the truth starts to unravel.

The chemistry between Psyche and Cupid is intense. I was afraid going in that it would lie more on the YA side of steam, with fade-to-black moments, but rest assured this is not the case in Soul in Darkness! I lived for the sexy moments between these two fascinating characters. They both are placed in impossible situations but manage to make something beautiful and lasting out of it.

“Your beauty will never fade in my eyes, Psyche.” His words and voice rolled over me, sweet and heady. “My wife. My princess. The one who shot me with her love.”

I’m incredibly happy with this retelling and I hope Wendy Higgins decides to do more in the future. Her writing captivates you and makes you believe in the love between her characters. I swooned for Cupid and cheered for Psyche – my heart ached at how romantic their love story was. If you love any type of retelling, you absolutely must read Soul in Darkness!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


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Review: The Reigning and the Rule by Calia Read

The Reigning and the Rule by Calia Read
Series: Surviving Time #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: November 18th 2018
Links: Ebook • PaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Étienne Lacroix and I had a fire I thought would never die.
Our love was timeless.
An irreversible decision sent me back to the present day with a family I barely recognize, but I am determined to find a way back to Étienne.
I can survive time. But I can’t survive life without him.
Time bends to no one’s demands, so I must fight with everything I have to return to the past. However, I am terrified that the past I once knew might not look the same, and the man who once called me his surviving trace will no longer be waiting for me.

Time bends to no one’s demands but sometimes love does…

One of my FAVORITE new-to-me authors I discovered in 2018 is Calia Read. I saw the synopsis for The Surviving Trace – a time travel romance – and knew I had to read it. A heroine who somehow travels back to the early 1900s in the Southern U.S. and takes over the life of a woman who looked exactly like her and had the same name? I had to so many high expectations, and I was absolutely blown away by this phenomenal book. The writing, the characters, and the story all sucked me in and I couldn’t get enough of Serene and Etienne. By the time I got to the end, I was DYING for their next book. Thankfully, Calia Read didn’t let me down!

The Reigning and the Rule is the direct sequel, so you need to read The Surviving Trace beforehand. I honestly won’t say much about the plot, since it continues on from book one. All you need to know is that it’s just as good as book one, maybe with even more twists and turns. As soon as I picked this book up, I couldn’t put it down. I was easily sucked back into Serene’s baffling journey, the love she found with Etienne, and how she’ll do anything to keep it. She is such a strong, determined heroine, and I loved her for it. Etienne is as swoony as EVER. God, I love that man.

SO many emotions ran through me while reading this sequel. There’s a constant question of “What’s going to happen next?” and a heaping dose of angst to go with. The Surviving Time series is a must-read, whether you like time travel romances or not. It’ll transport you to another world that you never want to leave! Just a fair warning though, the ending will make you scream!!! I couldn’t believe Calia Read left us there, and I’d give my soul up to read the third, and maybe final?, book.


lacey


Reading Order: Surviving Time series

#1 ~ The Surviving Trace: Ebook • PaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ The Reigning and the Rule: Ebook • PaperbackGoodreads
#3 ~ Echoes of Time: Goodreads (May 26, 2019)


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Early Review: Stripped by Zoey Castile

Stripped by Zoey Castile
Series: Happy Endings #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: August 28th 2018
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Skilled, sculpted, and sexy, the men of adult entertainment are the kind of guys a woman reserves for her fantasies, not her reality. But is there more to these professional hotties than meets the eye? . . .

The day Robyn Flores meets Zac Fallon is one of those days. You know, when you’re already late for work. Mostly because you haven’t really slept since your best friend abandoned you for her fiancé and her exponentially better life. The kind of day you drag yourself to the cleaners to pick up your laundry, only to discover you’ve got the wrong bag—Star Spangled sequined thong, anyone? So Robyn is definitely not ready for the ridiculously gorgeous guy at her front door, except that they have each other’s clothes. But then, is any woman ever ready to meet the love of her life?

There’s just one problem: Zac Fallon is not the love of Robyn’s life. Zac knows, despite the all-too-intimate dinner they share, he doesn’t have a shot at her. Because the next time Zac sees Robyn, he’s front and center of the male revue headlining her best friend’s bachelorette party. So much for wooing the pretty schoolteacher, much less impressing her old-fashioned family, with his upstanding lifestyle. Now he’s only got one way to win his dream girl. It’s gonna be the steamiest, most irresistible seduction she’s ever seen. And this time it will be no act . . .

I had such high hopes for Stripped – I mean, a stripper and a fifth-grade teacher? To say I was intrigued would be an understatement, and I ended up adoring Fallon and Robyn. Their romance was surprisingly so much sweeter than I expected, but just as dirty and sexy as I was hoping a stripper romance would be. It was so easy to fall into the story, the writing, the characters. Zoey Castile is a new author you don’t want to miss. And if you’re a fan of Magic Mike, you absolutely need to read Stripped!

Robyn Flores’ life is a bit of a mess. She’s an elementary school teacher who is perpetually late getting to work. She used to have plans growing up on how exactly her life would turn out, and it’s all spiraled out from under her. But things start to change when she finds a sequined thong in her laundry… a thong that belongs to her next door neighbor, who is also one of the strippers who shows up at her best friend’s bachelorette party.

Fallon is not ashamed of being a stripper, and why should he be? He embraces his job that has led him to become successful and comfortable in life, a change from his childhood. He sees no shame in what he does, though he hates that people disrespect him and look down on him when they find out what he does for a living. He and Robyn feel an instant connection the moment they meet and the chemistry between them is on fire. I loved every moment they were together, as they banter with each other and form a closer bond. Fallon is absolutely perfect for Robyn, with the way he treats her so preciously. The way he embraces his job helps Robyn discover and embrace her own true passion in life. Robyn frustrated me a bit with her back and forth – in both life and with Fallon – but that was balanced out by how kindhearted Fallon was. Stripped was surprisingly low on drama, but it worked for their story.

As far as first books in a series go, Stripped was fantastic. It was entertaining, funny, but also had its meaningful moments. Also, Zoey Castile is way too talented at writing stripper scenes, because they just come to life right out of the pages. And they are HOT. I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for her readers with the rest of the series, and I’m so excited to see more strippers fall in love!


lacey


Reading Order: Happy Endings series

  

#1 ~ Stripped: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads (Aug. 28, 2018)
#2 ~ Hired: Ebook • PaperbackGoodreads (Feb. 26, 2019)
#3 ~ Flashed: Goodreads (2019)


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