Come on in, explore and, hopefully, discover something new.

Here you'll find reviews for what I'm reading. As a note, my Romance reviews are featured in author Pax Sinclair's romance e-newsletter, which you can learn more about and subscribe to here. This month, I reviewed Neon Gods by Katee Robert, Not So Fake by Emma Lyon, and The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen. Read this month's reviews below and see past reviews here.



5 Stars = My kind of perfect    4 Stars = Liked it A LOT     3 Stars = It's okay     2 Stars = Struggled     1 Star = Ugh
 

October 2021 Reviews
51IgQHARPIL.jpg
Romancing the Gravestone (Cozy Mystery Romance)
by Gena Showalter and Jill Monroe
Summary

She suspects everyone of everything. Sometimes she gets it right.

Jane Ladling is the sole proprietor of her family’s landlocked cemetery, Garden of Memories. She’s responsible for the, er, guests, but there’s a slight problem. Well, besides her moody cat, Rolex, and her sixty-two-year-old best friend’s unrequited crush on the sheriff. An extra body now rests in Plot #39.

Enter Special Agent Conrad Ryan. He’s gruff, he’s gorgeous, and oh, yes, he kind of suspects her of murder. What’s an innocent—and very single, not that it matters—girl to do? Solve the crime herself. Even if she must turn the small town of Aurelian Hills, Georgia upside down.

The only line she won’t cross? Falling for the first man to make her heart flutter. Nope, not happening. Not even a little.

My Review

Romancing the Gravestone is the epitome of a cozy mystery, romance. The tone is lighthearted with somewhat silly circumstances, a frilly MC, sugar-coated visuals, charming banter over sweet tea, and an elusive blueberry pancake recipe. As long as you don't go in expecting anything too deep and are able to simply enjoy the, oftentimes, ridiculous plot and antics of Jane Ladling, the amateur sleuth, then this should be an entertaining read. 

 

Jane Ladling is naive and fanciful. There was something about her humor, views, and jump-first approach to life that reminded me of leading ladies from the 40s and 50s. The characters are almost caricature-esque in a stereotypical setting. The townsfolk are busy-bodies, as to be expected, which adds a nice layer to the 'who-done-it' threads that Jane pursues to clear her name and identify the real murderer. Her four main relationships: one with her cat, one with her best friend, one with a newly-returned friend who sparks subtle questions around romance possibilities, and then the main love interest, are fun and interesting and easy to read. 

 

The general mystery is presented with high-level information, leaving a trail that is convenient and easy for Jane to follow. There aren't enough clues given that allows readers to participate in the guessing of suspects, so we're left to follow along Jane's path of investigation. Despite this being a mystery, there isn't a ton of tension or drama. 

 

One plotline that is used to create minor conflict is the Ladling Curse. I was hoping that the story would go more into this. I think it could have been built out to be more present and really heighten the tension, instead it seemed to be a footnote and included minimally. It may be more relevant in book 2 as her relationship progresses. 

 

Upon finishing, I don't feel the urge to immediately grab book 2, but I did enjoy it, so am sure I will read it at some point. 

518aK0FSliL.jpg
Wildfire, Hellfire Series, Book 1
(Paranormal Demon Romance)
by Ella Moore
Summary

What do you do when your love kills?

Wielding her legendary power comes at a price Erisi isn’t willing to pay. Hell-bent on keeping her demonic side locked up, she fights for survival in human form. When Lucifer offers her a place by his side, safety is finally within her reach.

All she needs to do is conquer one demonic family. Killing their leader is easy enough, but staying in power? Unless she wants to keep hundreds of demons on a tight leash, she needs to work with the one demon who sways them all, second-in-command Torag.

This time, she can’t win through sheer power. If only she could get under his skin like the gorgeous male gets under hers. If only she truly understood the male who puts everything on the line for his family.

If only he didn’t make her wish he’d fight for her too.

When their family comes under siege, they need to pull together. But what if her demon is the only one who can keep them safe? What if her demon is the one who ends them all?

•••••••••••••••••••••••

 

Demons tend to know very little restraint, especially those living in ancient times. This book contains graphic fight scenes, steamy scenes that do NOT fade to black, and some explicit references to violence.

This is an enemies-to-lovers story with a HEA, suitable for 18+. It's the first of a longer series, but all books feature a different couple and can be read stand-alone. NO cliffhangers for their love stories!

My Review

Wildfire is a refreshingly unique story and a debut novel for indie author Ella Moore. The characters have good depth and the background and circumstances sucked me right into their world—one ruled by a very intriguing Lucifer. From the start, the characters show a range of both human and demon strength, power, pain, and vulnerability. Torag and Erisi fight so hard for peace and any lasting semblance of joy that it's easy to instantly root for them to overcome all of their demons, so to speak ;) and triumph over their enemies.

The chemistry between Erisi and Torag is smoking hot. From scene one of Torag’s introduction, I was hooked. Their personalities melded so well together and provided a constant push and pull of emotions. They are solid gold!

I also appreciate Torag’s relationships with the other demons. He and Yerle have a great bond that provided needed levity to the story and great moments of banter. His relationship with Sura is also really well done with their shared loyalty and his pride at her rise to leadership. His connection with the souls was a nice touch which showed a softer side to him though it also made him strong in his convictions and purpose - he needed to protect them at any length and that was a great motivator for him throughout the story and initial tension point with Erisi. All of the layers here were so rich. I felt drawn to this family and all the dynamics at play.

There were plenty of twists and turns in this, and I often felt like I was on the edge of my seat. The pacing was nice and created a smooth flow where I would be lulled into a safe place and then hit with something dire - an attack, an injury, sex, some intense extreme that had me riveted! Such great plot surprises with an expert weaving of characters, action, romance, and suspense.

This is a fun, well-developed story, tightly written, fast paced, and able to pull out every emotion. ​I’m so sad that it is over​ and cannot wait to see what happens next and in the future with Lucifer!!! 

41m3MbHOQaL.jpg
The Highland Fling (Contemporary Romance)
by Meghan Quinn
Summary

In this steamy tale by USA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn, an American searching for her purpose escapes to a Scottish town but finds more questions than answers when she meets a brooding yet handsome handyman.

Freshly fired from her third job in a row, Bonnie St. James has lost her way. So when she and her best friend stumble upon a “help wanted” post to run a coffee shop in the Scottish Highlands, they apply on a whim. Who knows? Maybe traveling to a new place is just what she needs to figure out her next move.

When the friends arrive in the tiny idyllic town of Corsekelly, they instantly fall for the gorgeous Highland landscape and friendly townspeople. But Bonnie finds a less-than-warm welcome in Rowan MacGregor, the rugged local handyman. Busy wrestling his own demons, Rowan’s in no mood to deal with the quirky American—even if she is a bonny lass.

As Bonnie and Rowan’s paths inevitably cross, insults—and sparks—fly. Can the pair build on their similarities to help each other find purpose and direction…and maybe romance too? Or will their passionate tempers fling them apart?

My Review

This book was surprising and took me on an unexpected ride. At first, I wasn't fully invested in the MC. She read similarly to all of the other sarcastic, hot-mess MCs out there and I questioned even finishing the book because I was really wanting something that I could connect with. I'm so glad I hung in there. I really liked seeing both MCs confront hard truths that are common for that age, but also are just good life lessons. And they both got the wake up call that they needed.

 

The high arc of the story reminds me a bit of Under the Tuscan Sun, except in Scotland. I absolutely LOVE the premise of this story. The bucolic setting was well described and played an active role in the story, amplifying emotions and experiences. It was easy to envision the village and the coffee shop Bonnie managed, which allowed me to settle into the story and connect to this place and the characters that live there. 

 

One aspect of the writing that stood out for me was the dialogue. I thought it was well done. Conversations flowed naturally and I liked how it was used to reveal personality. It showed depth and a distinct tone for each character, which made each interaction come to life and help to progress the plot. As for tone, there were moments I rolled my eyes, but there were also moments when I laughed out loud. There were emotional scenes nicely balanced with clever verbal sparring. All in all, this was really enjoyable.

 

The relationships for both MCs begin and develop quickly. There were times that felt rushed, but I think that the slower-paced environment can account for some of that and make it believable. There was good character depth that highlighted unique complexities to the main cast and nicely set up the dramatic unraveling toward the end and lead toward necessary personal growth and a satisfying ending. 

This is pretty low on steam, but the chemistry is palpable and their relationship makes me happy. I'm fully on team Bonnie and Rowan!