Review: Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: April 13th 2021
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine comes the clever, funny, and unforgettable story of a muscular, tattooed man hired as an assistant to two old women—under the watchful eye of a beautiful retirement home manager.

Dazzle (n): Brightness that blinds someone temporarily.

Position Vacant: Two ancient old women residing at Providence Retirement Villa seek male assistant for casual exploitation and good-natured humiliation. Duties include boutique shopping, fast-food fetching, and sincerely rendered flattery. Good looks a bonus—but we aren’t picky.

An advertisement has been placed (again!) by the wealthy and eccentric Parloni Sisters. The salary is generous and the employers are 90 years old, so how hard could the job be? Well, none have lasted longer than a week. Most boys leave in tears.

Ruthie Midona will work in Providence’s front office, and be at the Parloni’s beck and call, forever. That’s sort of her life plan. If Ruthie can run the place in her almost-retired bosses’ absence, with no hijinks/hiccups, she has a shot at becoming the new manager. She might also be able to defend her safe little world from Prescott Development, the new buyer of the prime site. Maybe after all that, she can find a cute guy to date. All she needs to do is stay serious—and that’s what she does best.

Until, one day, someone dazzling blows into town.

Teddy Prescott devotes his life to sleeping, tattooing, and avoiding seriousness. When Teddy needs a place to crash, he makes a deal with his developer dad. Teddy can stay in one of Providence’s on-site maintenance cottages—right next door to an unimpressed Ruthie—but only if he works there and starts to grow up.

Ruthie knows how this sweetly selfish rich boy can earn his keep—and be out of her hair in under a week. After all, there is a position vacant…

This was so perfectly charming, quirky, and adorable. Basically, everything I wanted in a Sally Thorne romance. I went into this with high expectations after loving The Hating Game and actually enjoying 99 Percent Mine, and I’m happy to say Sally Thorne didn’t let me down! My heart was just so HAPPY reading this lovely story. I’m already putting Second First Impressions on my ‘best of 2021’ list!

The thing I loved most about SFI was how unique it was. It’s set in a retirement home, the heroine works there as a manager (she’s 25 going on 80, which, relatable), there are two 90-year-old residents/menaces in need of an assistant to torture, and the hero is a dorky, tattoo-artist airhead in need of some lessons in responsibility, so he takes the position.

Ruthie is like a grandma in a 25-year-old’s body who’s trying to come out of her shell of anxiety and monotony. She’s sweet but shy and doesn’t know her full potential. I loved seeing her learn more about what she wants out of life and seeing her grow to love herself. Teddy is a precious sweetheart (dare I say teddy bear) who, even though he has some growing up to do, worships the ground Ruthie walks on. And honestly, what more could I ask for from a hero? There are all these little moments and little things that Teddy does that show how hard he falls for Ruthie, how much he respects and cherishes her. Even though this book is told only from the heroine’s POV, we get to see all of that so clearly and I LOVE when an author is capable of illustrating a hero this way.

This romance is just so wholesome, funny, and precious – it was exactly the heartfelt and feel-good romance I was looking for from Sally Thorne. I know it’s hard not to compare this to THG or even 99% Mine, but I truly feel like a lot of people would enjoy SFI whether or not they loved her previous books. I literally finished it with a smile on my face. I loved it!


lacey


Other Books by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
99 Percent Mine: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads


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Review: If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: March 24th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…

I’ve been wanting to read Mhairi McFarlane ever since her last release, Don’t You Forget About Me, came out last year. I heard such high praise for it so when I had the chance to read this new women’s fiction book of hers, I grabbed it! If I Never Met You turned out to be a charming, entertaining, and very British romance (but still on the WF side) between two co-workers to pretend to date for their own selfish reasons and end up falling for each other instead. I’m a sucker for the fake relationship trope and I was so happy with the way Laurie and Jamie’s turned out!

Laurie has been dumped by her long-time boyfriend, who she imagined creating a family and future with, and now she has to deal with the office gossip about her ex moving very quickly with another woman… and getting her pregnant. She wants to stick it in her ex’s face, so when she gets stuck in an elevator with Jamie and he offers to pretend to be her new loving boyfriend to the rest of the office, how can she refuse?

Jamie wants to have Laurie, the golden girl of the office, as his pretend girlfriend to better his image to the higher-ups for a promotion. They go on romantic dates, post cute photos on Instagram, and genuinely become friends. I loved this new friendship of theirs, how they grow to care for each other and just have fantastic banter anytime they have a conversation. The writing is witty and fun, and even though I did get a little bored during the first hundred pages (in which Laurie is constantly thinking about her ex), the rest of the book is engaging.

I’d say if you love Talia Hibbert’s romances, you should give this book a try. The characters in this book are fun and quirky, and of course there are a ton of British-isms sprinkled throughout. Laurie and Jamie make a wonderful fake and real couple, and I really loved that they built their romance over the foundation of friendship. The humor, snark, and charm all worked together and I already can’t wait to read more from this author.


lacey


Also by Mhairi McFarlane

 

Don’t You Forget About Me: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads


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Blog Tour // Review: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: January 29th 2019
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Crush (n.): a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

Buy Links:
Ebook • PaperbackHardcoverAudible
HarperCollinsBarnes & Noble

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The Hating Game is one of my all time favorite books, so to say I was excited for Sally Thorne’s next release would be an understatement. Even though I didn’t quite obsess over 99 Percent Mine like I did THG, I still adored Darcy and Tom. The beginning was a little rough for me to get into, but once I hit my stride, I absolutely didn’t want to stop reading.

I adore a good brother’s best friend romance, and this one has everything I like about the trope: chemistry, forbidden elements, childhood crushes, angst. It’s also funny, witty, and quirky. Darcy is just so different from any other heroine I’ve read, and I appreciated her for that. Tom is an absolute SWEETHEART – the shy to Darcy’s aggressive. Big, shy heroes are my favorite. If you like opposites attract, I think you’ll fall for Tom and Darcy.

We’re all shareholders in Tom Valeska: Jamie, Megan, and me. His mom and my parents. Loretta and Patty. Everyone who’s ever met him wants a piece of him, because he’s the best person there is. I quickly count up all of those people. I include his dentist and doctor. Maybe he’s 1 percent mine. That has to be enough. I have to share.

Darcy Barrett has had a life-long crush on childhood friend Tom Valeska, but him being taken as her brother’s best friend put a stop on anything romantic developing between them growing up. But when there’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be near and around him for long periods of time – a chance to flip a house with him – Darcy seizes it. And what ensues is a romance story that is awkward, charming, funny, and endearing.

Darcy is beautifully flawed and complicated. Her insecurities sometimes get the best of her, which she hides behind her snark and sass. She’s a very hot and cold character, which was off-putting in the beginning, but she grew on me by the end. She believes that she’s not good enough for Tom, but Tom is just so loving and supportive of her. He’s a big, gentled, kind-hearted man who blushes around Darcy but isn’t afraid to be protective and possessive of her. I couldn’t help but swoon for him.

“If you were mine, I’d be careful with you. I bet that’s something you haven’t had much of.”…
“What else would you do?” I’ve got that husky voice he likes.
The animal in him is honest with me. “Everything. If you were mine, I’d do everything.”

I really appreciated that Sally Thorne didn’t write a The Hating Game 2.0. 99 Percent Mine is very different from THG, but Sally’s wit and charm comes across well in her writing. If you enjoyed THG, I highly recommend you try this second novel of hers. ALSO! For all you Josh and Lucy fans, there’s the sweetest little epilogue to THG at the end of 99 Percent Mine and it. is. glorious!


lacey

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

Be sure to check out Sally’s previous novel, The Hating Game!

EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads

about the author button

Sally Thorne is the USA Today-bestselling author of The Hating Game. She spends her days climbing into fictional worlds of her own creation. She lives in Canberra, Australia with her husband in a house filled with vintage toys, too many cushions, a haunted dollhouse and the world’s sweetest pug.

Website • Twitter • FacebookInstagram • Goodreads


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Early Review: To the Stars by Molly McAdams

To the Stars by Molly McAdams

To the Stars by Molly McAdams
Series: Thatch #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 9th 2016
Links: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

In the second standalone book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Molly McAdams’ Thatch series, Knox Alexander must convince his long-time love Harlow Evans that they’re meant to be together.

He promised to wait for her.
She told him he was wasting his time.
Not waiting for him ended up being the biggest mistake of her life.

When they were younger, Knox Alexander swore to Harlow Evans that he would wait for her to turn eighteen so they could be together. But that was two and a half years away, and Harlow couldn’t ask him to give up all the fun and thrills of going away to college for her. As the years passed, Knox remained a constant in her life but when her eighteenth birthday came around, Harlow’s heart belonged to someone else.

Every day for the last four years, Harlow has been haunted by that fateful choice. And though he may appear unaffected by what happened in their past, Knox has always tried to fill the void Harlow left. But when he comes stumbling back into her life and refuses to leave, will Harlow finally let him into her heart…?

“One day, Harlow Evans, you will be mine. I will wait for you.”

What a heart-wrenching, emotionally-charged story. I honestly did not expect to read what I did in To the Stars, but it definitely took me on an emotional journey. I started reading this one morning and finished in a few hours, that’s how glued to the pages I was. If you’re expecting this book to be light-hearted and fluffy, which you might think from the cover… well, it’s not. To the Stars is an intense, at times painful read that will have you holding your breath and biting your nails. It’s about domestic abuse – about how one woman experiences it, survives it, and eventually overcomes it.

To the Stars is the standalone sequel to Letting Go, so you don’t need to read the previous book to read this one. To the Stars is Harlow and Knox’s story – these two met and fell in love seven years ago, but Harlow was underage at the time, so Knox promised to wait to be with her until she turned eighteen. But when Harlow became of age, she chose to be with another man, a man she had no idea would bring such pain, fear, and sorrow into her life. She is now married to a man who abuses her, who threatens her and her family if she ever tries to leave him. It seems like there’s no hope for her at all, until she’s reunited with Knox, her one and only love, who has never stopped loving her back and wants to help her.

“How much do you love me?”
That perfect, crooked smile flashed at me before he dropped his forehead to mine and whispered, “To the stars, Harlow. Always to the stars.”

My heart absolutely broke for Harlow and her situation. It hurt to read the abuse she goes through, and Molly McAdams certainly doesn’t hold back with the violence. Add in the devastation of Harlow and Knox’s lost relationship, I just wanted to shrivel up within the pages. But as much pain as there is in the book, there’s also so much hope that Knox and his love give to Harlow. Their love for each other is a once-in-a-lifetime thing – I could really feel the intense connection between them that has never weakened after so many years. Knox is the absolute SWOONIEST with Harlow – he’s not perfect, but he’s sweet, loving, supporting, patient, and just a GOOD man. Molly McAdams writes the BEST heroes who are just so romantic and head-over-heels in love with their women.

“No matter what happens in our lives, I will love you with everything that I am for the rest of mine, and I will make sure you know every day what it’s like to be loved to the stars.”

To the Stars is a beautiful love story, but in a broader sense, it’s also eye-opening to an issue many women face. Reading this book is like going through an emotional journey, and though I didn’t particularly connect with Knox or Harlow, but I enjoyed their story nonetheless, all the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is not an easy read, but the author handles the portrayal of abuse perfectly, all the while weaving a heart-melting romance around it. I highly recommend it!

4 hearts
lacey

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


Reading Order: Thatch series

Letting Go by Molly McAdams To the Stars by Molly McAdams

#1 ~ Letting Go: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ To the Stars: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads


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Early Review: Remembrance by Meg Cabot

Remembrance by Meg Cabot

Remembrance by Meg Cabot
Series: The Mediator #7 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 2nd 2016
Links: Ebook • HardcoverPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Fifteen years after the release of the first Mediator novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot returns with a deliciously sexy new entry to a fan-favorite series. Suze Simon—all grown up and engaged to her once-ghostly soulmate—faces a vengeful spirit and an old enemy bent on ending Suze’s wedded bliss before it begins.

You can take the boy out of the darkness.

But you can’t take the darkness out of the boy.

All Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and since becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva).

But when she’s hired as a guidance counselor at her alma mater, she stumbles across a decade-old murder, and soon ancient history isn’t all that’s coming back to haunt her. Old ghosts as well as new ones are coming out of the woodwork, some to test her, some to vex her, and it isn’t only because she’s a mediator, gifted with second sight.

From a sophomore haunted by the murderous specter of a child, to ghosts of a very different kind—including Paul Slater, Suze’s ex, who shows up to make a bargain Suze is certain must have come from the Devil himself—Suze isn’t sure she’ll make it through the semester, let alone to her wedding night.

Suze is used to striking first and asking questions later. But what happens when ghosts from her past—including one she found nearly impossible to resist—strike first?

What happens when old ghosts come back to haunt you?

If you’re a mediator, you might have to kick a little ass.

I honestly want to cry right now!!! I was up until 3 AM finishing this… I can’t believe it’s over! Reading Remembrance was literally a dream come true for middle-school me – Suze and Jesse as adults, about to get married, was absolute perfection. It was amazing catching up with them and the rest of the gang (yes, even Paul). Meg Cabot is that one author who got me into reading, and I will be forever grateful to her for it. I remember reading the Mediator series as a young teen, so getting to experience this new chapter in the lives some of my favorite beloved characters was beyond anything I could’ve imagined. To say I had high expectations for Remembrance is an understatement, but Meg Cabot has blown me away. I couldn’t imagine a better and more perfect ending for the series!

So what has the Mediator gang been up to? Well, it’s been six years since Suze has graduated high school, but the only job she’s been able to find is one that doesn’t pay… and is a position at that same high school. Jesse is a doctor now, doing his residency. Oh, and the two of them are engaged – YAY!! Paul is, surprisingly, a successful businessman, but still as manipulative as ever. Suze’s stepbrothers lives have also changed considerably – Jake sells medical marijuana, Brad is a father, and David is in Harvard. Everything is so DIFFERENT and yet exactly the same. When I picked up Remembrance, it felt as if I never left this world, it was so easy to jump back into.

Suze is, of course, always involved in some ghost case or another, and this time is no different. There’s a ghost following around one of the students at her school, and she is determined to get to the bottom of it. Suze is seriously one of my favorite heroines of all time – she’s so funny, sarcastic, stubborn, resilient… she’s just a fantastic character to read about. And her narrative had me in stitches, I was laughing so hard. And, of course, Jesse is as wonderful as ever. Ever patient with Suze and her antics, and always there for her, Jesse is the perfect fiancé and soon-to-be husband. Except for the fact that he’s ingrained in his Catholic ways and wants to wait until marriage for sex. Suze gets frustrated, but then again, how can she complain when she’s about to marry the love of her life?

“I believe in facts. And the fact is, I want to be with Jesse because he makes me feel like a better person than I suspect I actually am.”

Paul gets a lot of screen time in Remembrance. I hate Paul as much as I love him. I don’t know… he’s just a GREAT character. He’s always stirring up drama that Suze falls for, and this time, Paul is threatening her with the one thing she cares for most: Jesse. There is a ton of suspense and action in this book that totally had me on the edge of my seat. I seriously couldn’t put Remembrance down, it was so good.

I loved this book so hard. There’s never a dull moment for Suze, from ghosts, to Paul, to keeping Jesse safe. Remembrance might be my new favorite of the series, that’s how much I loved this book. There really isn’t anything I can complain about in this book – so if you’re a fan of the series, you absolutely don’t want to miss this brilliant new installment!

“Susannah, Susannah, Susannah,” he whispered after a little while. “Te amo.”
“Me, too,” I whispered back, slipping my arms around his neck. … “Back at you.”

5 hearts
lacey

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


Reading Order: The Mediator series

   
  Proposal by Meg Cabot Remembrance by Meg Cabot

#1 ~ Shadowland: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Ninth Key: Ebook • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Reunion: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Darkest Hour: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ Haunted: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#6 ~ Twilight: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#6.5 ~ Proposal: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#7 ~ Remembrance: Ebook • HardcoverPaperback • Audible • Goodreads


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