Review: Happily Letter After by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

Happily Letter After by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: December 1st 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From New York Times bestselling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward comes a love story about taking chances and the surprises that come with them.

My love story all started with a letter.

Only it wasn’t from the man I’d eventually fall in love with. It was from his daughter. A sweet little girl named Birdie Maxwell who’d written to the magazine that I worked for.

You see, once a year my employer fulfilled a few wishes for readers. Only that column didn’t start up again for months.

So I fulfilled some of her wishes myself. It was harmless…so I thought. Until one day I took things too far.

While anonymously granting yet another of Birdie’s wishes, I got a look at her father. Her devastatingly handsome, single dad father.

I should have stopped playing fairy godmother then. I should have left well enough alone. But I just couldn’t help myself. I had a connection to this girl. One that had me acting irrationally.

Like when I showed up on their doorstep.

Happy Letter After was SUCH an adorable read! It’s endearing, sweet, feel-good; it’s exactly what I’m looking for in a single parent romance. It’s got a unique meet cute: the heroine, Sadie, comes across a letter from Birdie, Sebastian’s daughter, at her workplace. They write back and forth until Sadie decides to leave a present for Sadie, accidentally is seen by Sebastian, who thinks she’s the dog-sitter he’s hired, and starts training their new pet. It’s a little bit ridiculous but totally works in this story. I had so much fun reading about Sadie, Sebastian, and Birdie. I adored their family and this romance!

Sebastian is a widower and single father. I’m always a sucker for single parent romances and this one was such an enjoyable read. I thought it was hilarious that Sebastian thought Sadie was his new dog trainer – but luckily the lie doesn’t hold up for too long until the truth comes out. This is when our main characters start to slowly fall for each other, albeit reluctantly at first. Sebastian has Birdie to think of first, always, but he soon realizes that he can’t live without Sadie in his life and does everything he can to woo and romance her.

Your heart will melt when you read this book. Not just because of the romance, but also the sweet relationship between Sadie and Birdie, who both have lost their mothers and connect over this. Sebastian is also so swoony when he’s with his daughter too – he’s a fantastic father. I just adored this romance so much and if you love single parent romances like I do, you need to read this one!


lacey


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Review: The Wreckage of Us by Brittainy Cherry

The Wreckage of Us by Brittainy Cherry
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: October 20th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Never in a million years did I think it would be Ian Parker who saved me…

I know I should stay away from Ian Parker.

But when my drug-dealing stepdad kicks me out, I have nowhere to go. Squatting in an abandoned shed on Ian’s grandpa’s farm seems like as good a plan as any.

Ian finds me there, of course, and he insists on me moving into his spare room. I should say no, but the appeal of a roof and a warm bed is too much. Not to mention Ian’s brown eyes and strong arms.

We’re nothing alike, but the spark between us is undeniable. My life is finally looking up.

Until I call the cops on my stepdad and unintentionally get my pregnant mom arrested.

Now I have to sacrifice my dreams to take care of my mom’s baby. She’s the only family I have left. Meanwhile, Ian’s band is taking off; his dreams are coming true.

Ian is my one chance at love. I just hope he doesn’t become the one chance that got away.

When I went into The Wreckage of Us, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even read the blurb, just dove right in. But I knew, since it was a Brittainy C. Cherry book, I would get an angsty romance, and that’s exactly what I got! It’s a new adult romance set in a small town, with a heroine down on her luck and a hero who wants to chase his dreams of stardom. It’s kind of a rock star romance too, with Ian becoming a musician. If you’re a fan of Brittainy Cherry’s books, I highly recommend this one. It’s got her signature jerk hero, plenty of drama/angst, all wrapped up in a great, entertaining package. I enjoyed this romance so much!

At eighteen, Hazel has just been kicked out of her home, leaving her homeless and jobless. Her luck turns though when she’s hired on the town’s ranch, owned by Ian’s grandfather. This puts Hazel and Ian in close proximity, though to say they don’t get along would be an understatement. They get off on the wrong foot from the get-go, especially with Ian acting like the ass that he is. But slowly, as they work on the ranch each day and get to know each other better, Ian falls for Hazel and shows her he’s not quite the jerk he seems to be.

While their romance is growing and steaming up, Hazel is given responsibility of her newborn sister. This forces her to stay in their small town all the while Ian’s music is taking him around the world and onto the stage. I loved the angst and tension during these parts, mainly because I knew how devoted Ian and Hazel were to each other. Their love is fierce and powerful, and not even thousands of miles that separate them can break the bond they have with each other.

If you’re looking for an emotional read, Brittainy Cherry delivers in The Wreckage of Us. I was aching for Hazel and Ian as they go about their long distance troubles, but also swooning over Ian’s adoration for Hazel. Hazel is a tough, strong heroine who doesn’t give up easily, which was my favorite thing about her character. This was a solid romance with a young but everlasting love, and I would love to see the rest of Ian’s band get their stories!


lacey


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Review: Loverboy by Sarina Bowen

Loverboy by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Company #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: December 1st 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Secrets, desires, and exquisite pie. It’s all in a day’s work at The Company.

Growing up, I was the rough guy from the wrong neighborhood who couldn’t catch a break. Posy was the pampered girl I tried to impress. But I managed to steal only a single kiss before I had to skip town.

Now I’m back, and the tables are turned. Posy runs a struggling pie shop. I’m the VP of a secretive billion dollar security company.

Not that I can tell her.

There’s a murderer on the loose in New York, and he seems to spend a lot of time at Posy’s shop. I can’t let on that I’m here to bring him down before he can harm a hair on her pretty head.

Going undercover as Posy’s new barista wasn’t my idea. I don’t even drink coffee. But now I have to call her “boss,” and do everything the curvy perfectionist asks of me. I’d forgotten how much we infuriate each other, and that she somehow fills me with both irritation and desire in the same breath.

There’s nobody more skilled at stealth ops than me. I can bring this killer down. Right after I take a cold shower. And just as soon as I figure out how to make a skinny peppermint latte with milk poured in the shape of a kitten…

I could not be happier we’re getting more books in this series! Sarina Bowen did romantic suspense so well in book one, Moonlighter. Loverboy is a great addition to the series, though I’m still dying to get Max’s book. Here, we’ve got a hero going undercover at a bakery, owned by none other than the girl he used to have a massive crush on. Gunnar is such a charmer and I loved his second chance with Posy! The intrigue was great, the romance was swoony – it’s another hit from Sarina Bowen.

Gunnar works for The Company and his latest assignment is to go undercover at Posy’s Pie Shop. Little does he know that THAT Posy is none other than the Posy he used to work with at the bar her family owned, the same Posy he crushed on and kissed, and the same Posy who took the higher paying role he was working for. But since he’s good at his job, he sweeps this all under the rug to get hired as a barista, never mind that he has no barista experience. But Posy herself is desperate and is willing to take on Gunnar to show him the ropes. She has no idea he’s being hired to watch for a security threat using her bakery’s wifi.

I had so much fun reading Loverboy! The romance was great – I enjoyed Gunnar and Posy’s characters so much. Gunnar is a sweet-talker and Posy is trying to be a good but strict boss, and failing to keep her feelings in check. There’s some intrigue and action just like there was in book one, but there’s not too much that it overtakes the romance. I loved the foodie aspect of this story, since most of the book takes place in Posy’s bakery. I honestly don’t have much to complain about. It’s a feel-good romance and if you’re a fan of Sarina Bowen, I’m sure you’ll love Loverboy.


lacey


Reading Order: The Company series

#1 ~ Moonlighter: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Loverboy: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads


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Early Review: Layla by Colleen Hoover

Layla by Colleen Hoover
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: December 8th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

Colleen Hoover wrote a paranormal book. About ghosts!

This isn’t actually the first time I’ve read something non-contemporary from her. I’ve read her Never Never series (that she co-wrote with Tarryn Fisher), which I enjoyed. But with Layla, I really had no idea what I would be getting into. I had no idea what kind of paranormal it would be, no idea if it would be a ROMANCE, like a PNR. But as usual with all of CoHo’s books, it’s best to go in blind. And while I wish I could’ve loved this one more, the story was one that had me hooked to its pages with its suspense and mystery.

Leeds and Layla fall head over heels in love from the moment they meet. It is very much instalove between two people who feel an intensely strong connection right from the start. But a few months into their whirlwind of a romance, Layla gets shot by Leeds’ ex and almost dies. He spends weeks helping Layla recover, but ever since the attack, Layla has been different. Leeds can’t explain why or how, but he hopes bringing her to the place they first met and fell in love will wake her back up.

This book is essentially Paranormal Activity, Colleen Hoover style. Which means it’s less scary and more romance. There’s a mysterious ghost haunting the bed and breakfast that Leeds takes Layla to recover. The ghost starts to communicate with him and he thinks he’s going insane (like anyone would, right?). There’s kind of a romance but I wouldn’t call this PNR, where the romance is the focus – just a paranormal, ghost book with a little bit of romance. I sadly never connected with Leeds or Layla, never grew invested in their characters or love story, which is why I can only give this a three star rating. They fall in love so fast, and maybe if we’d gotten more time with them during the beginning of their relationship, I’d feel differently. It was a strange read but I did really enjoy the twist at the end. The mystery/suspense was what kept me reading, though at times I really wanted the story to hurry up so I could find out WHAT was happening. I liked the way the author set up the story, with alternating past and present chapters. Layla is told entirely in Leeds’ POV, which makes sense when you find out the truth at the end.

This wasn’t a bad read, but I did expect a bit more from one of my favorite authors. I wouldn’t be opposed to reading another paranormal book from CoHo – she always knows how to write a story full of twists and turns. I do wish we’d gotten a bit more at the end of this book, maybe an epilogue or something. It ends on a good note, but it did feel abrupt. If you’re curious to see how CoHo tackles a ghost story, I would say give this a try! Especially if you love a good mystery/suspense.


lacey


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Review: How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole

How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole
Series: Runaway Royals #1
Publication Date: December 1st 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

An arranged marriage leads to unexpected desire, in the first book of Alyssa Cole’s Runaway Royals series…

When Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, her dream of becoming a queen finally comes true. But it’s nothing like she imagined. Shanti and her husband may share an immediate and powerful attraction, but her subjects see her as an outsider, and everything she was taught about being the perfect wife goes disastrously wrong.

A king must rule with an iron fist, and newly crowned King Sanyu was born perfectly fitted for the gauntlet, even if he wishes he weren’t. He agrees to take a wife as is required of him, though he doesn’t expect to actually fall in love. Even more vexing? His beguiling new queen seems to have the answers to his country’s problems—except no one will listen to her.

By day, they lead separate lives. By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion. When turmoil erupts in their kingdom and their marriage, Shanti goes on the run, and Sanyu must learn whether he has what it takes both to lead his people and to catch his queen.

I have been SO excited to read this book ever since I 1) saw the cover, 2) read the blurb, and 3) saw that it was a marriage of convenience! I especially loved reading the line that says “By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion.” I sadly didn’t quite love this new Alyssa Cole as much as I was hoping to – it’s a sloooow burn romance and very heavy on the royal politics. I wanted the story to focus more on our main couple, which was why How to Catch a Queen was a bit of a struggle for me to read.

Shanti and Sanyu enter a marriage of convenience when Shanti is chosen to be Sanyu’s queen. Shanti gets to live out her dream of being a queen so she can help others and Sanyu fulfills his father’s final request to marry, despite never wanting to inherit the throne. Love is not involved in the least, and it takes quite a long time for it to develop in this romance. We focus more on Shanti’s struggles with her awful treatment from Sanyu and his subjects and Sanyu torn between tradition and what he wants for his and his country’s future.

Alyssa Cole did a fantastic job bringing this fictional country of Njaza to life, with its rich, nuanced history. But after a while, the story did feel like it was dragging, especially the romance. There wasn’t enough of the romance between Shanti and Sanyu to satisfy me, which is why I have to give this 3.5 stars instead of the 4 it easily could’ve been. Still, it was a good start to this spinoff series of the Reluctant Royals, and I can’t wait to see where Alyssa Cole takes us next!


lacey


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