Review: A Wedding at Two Love Lane

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: A Wedding at Two Love Lane
Author: Kieran Kramer
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 346 pages
Series?: Two Love Lane #2
Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Greer Jones has made a real name for herself at the elegant matchmaking agency Two Love Lane. For a lot of reasons–including a past engagement she broke off–practical tech expert Greer is more interested in the business of love than the experience of it, but she can’t help but covet a gorgeous wedding gown that’s the prize in an upcoming cocktail-party contest. In a moment of brazen inspiration, Greer asks a handsome Brit she’s only just met to accompany her to the party. He agrees–and Greer believes her date is a starving artist. Little does she know the truth. . .

Ford Smith, as he calls himself, is actually Stanford Elliott Wentworth Smythe, the Eighth Baron of Wickshire. Fresh off a breakup with a money-grubbing siren who deceived him all the way to the altar, Ford has no desire to fall in love–especially with Greer who, like the desired wedding gown, is beautiful but only skin-deep. But soon Ford realizes that there’s more to Greer than meets the eye. Her professionalism is matched only by her passion for life and love. . .and, best of all, she has no idea that he’s to the manor born. Could it be that true love is priceless after all?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

My Thoughts 

I read the first book in the series and was on the fence, but decided to give the sequel a chance. I did really enjoy the setting and descriptions of Charleston from the first book. In that aspect, Kramer excelled and made me feel very much a part of the book. Given that, I went into this with a fresh set of eyes. 

And I was disappointed. This time there wasn’t even the beautiful Charleston descriptions to give it a lift. Right from the beginning I had a hard time connecting with Greer in that she works with her best friends but was keeping a couple major secrets from them. One being she kept these perfect wedding scrapbooks. Nearly two dozen. That secret is revealed when she goes to an auction to purchase the wedding dress of her dreams – which was also another thing she did in secret. It wasn’t even that the dress was so gorgeous to Greer, or that she’d been planning to purchase this exact dress. It just had an interesting royal history, thus called Royal Bliss. I didn’t mesh with Greer going against so many of her own personal stances and beliefs. No, Greer isn’t getting married. She is entirely single, which was also what made it odd to me.

At the auction, Greer meets Ford Smith, who is actually Stanford Elliott Wentworth Smythe, the Eighth Baron of Wickshire. He is an artist who has traveled to the U.S. to dedicate himself to his art after his engagement ended when his fiancé sleeping with a groomsmen. Trying to recover and create pieces for an upcoming Manchester show, Ford is struck by Greer. Later it is revealed that he noticed Greer on the street prior to the auction. Basically he followed her in.

Greer and Ford both have ex drama, and it turns out Greer’s ex and new girlfriend know Ford! They all run into each other, once again on the street. Greer is floored to learn her ex is moving to town. Why her town, of all places?

Greer’s arch nemesis, Pierre, a local women’s shop owner, wins the dress at the auction and is quite ostentatious in rubbing it in Greer’s face. Knowing she desires it, he devises a bridal contest to launch his the bridal department he plans to add to his store. Five couples will wind up competing for Royal Bliss. Greer decides to enter – sans partner. In the face of disqualification, Ford agrees to be her sidekick through the events to ensure she has a fair shot at winning the dress. Meanwhile, he has his own issues to deal with with his ex across the ocean. At first I didn’t believe her news was actually true. I thought it was just a ruse and a ploy to get Ford back, given how nasty she was described. I was wrong, and by the end I was shocked at the sudden about-face that she makes. That was uncharacteristic and too neat to wrap up that sub-plot.

The second half or so of the book was predictable, unplausible, and too neat in general. It didn’t provide the luster I was hoping for or the second chance for me to find a redeeming quality in this series. There was also an upend with Greer’s ex, Wesley, and his fiancé. Something that turned the contest around and changed the outcome, as well as my own beliefs about some of the characters and their motivations. Again, things not aligning with everything we understand about a character and their beliefs. Not to mention Ford lies to Greer at every opportunity about who he really is.

However, there are several supporting characters, including the above mentioned villain (and his own henchman sidekick who is a hooker, for lack of better term), Greer’s ex and his fiancé who are super cute. Then there is another shop worker who turns traitor and helps Greer out in the end. The other ladies in the contest are (mostly) sweet and kind to Greer and they develop some true friendships. Of course, Miss Thing also steals the show every time she shows up. I do love that lady!

I was impressed with the character growth of the villain, and I thought Ford’s assistance (errr, pressure) in the matter really helped him a lot. For a foreigner and virtually a stranger, Ford was uncanny in being able to understand Pierre’s hidden feelings and conceptions about himself and his role in life.

I am pretty sure the next book will feature the third employee of Two Love Lane, Ella Mancini. I hope the series doesn’t end there, though. I would love for Jill’s story to be fully featured. We got some insight into that in this book, but it was a glossy sub-plot and I’m not sure why it was even included. I also want to see Miss Thing get her own book, even if she doesn’t find a new love. If it is only about her life now, I’d be happy with that. And now, with the introduction of the La Di Da store, I want to see Henny get her own story as well as see Pierre get his own story. I hope he will now be added to the series, even if it is just as a side-character in the future books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Kieran Kramer currently writes fun contemporary romance with a Southern flair for St. Martin’s Press. She lives where she grew up–in the Lowcountry of South Carolina–with her family.

Find the author: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review: One True Pairing

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: One True Pairing
Author: Cathy Yardley
Publisher: Swerve
Release Date: July 2017
Length: 200 pages
Series?: Fandom Hearts #2
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

They couldn’t be more opposite, the Hollywood actor and the hometown girl, but all they need is a little convention magic to become the perfect ship in Cathy Yardley’s One True Pairing.

Jake Reese needs a decoy girlfriend. Fast. The lead actor of the popular TV show, Mystics, is tired of losing his shirt to overeager fans. Literally. Which is why a chance meeting with gothabilly bookworm-slash-barista Hailey Frost seems almost too perfect to be true. Hailey is not impressed with his TV fame and is desperate to save her family’s bookstore. It’s a match made in Hollywood, but as the two pretend to date, fan fiction becomes reality. Can this OTP become canon?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

My Thoughts 

Jake Reese is the (illegitimate) son of  Hollywood (Lothario) legend. Unlike his famous father staring on the big screen, Jake plays Rick on the cable TV sci-fi show Mystics, featuring Knights Templar. The contract negotiations are upcoming, and Jake is attending his first convention with his costars Simon and Miles. To boost his Q Score and have his contract renewed, he agrees to a VIP event. Just him and a gaggle of grown women fangirling like no tomorrow. Unfortunately, Jake went in solo. No costars, no bodyguards, and ends up running for his life after the group of women turn into an attack pack and begin ripping clothes. On the run, Jake detours into a coffee shop and dives behind the counter.

A startled Hailey Frost isn’t given any time to react when the pack runs into the shop. Playing along, she covers for Jake and sends the crazies on their way. Working two jobs at the shop and casino to support her sisters and the family’s struggling bookstore, Hailey isn’t a nondescript barista to forget easily. She’s an ex-grifter with the pinup body decked out in rockabilly goth.

The attraction is instantaneous, and Jake is in another bind. There are no hotel rooms available anywhere nearby. Working at the casino, Hailey gets a room every so often for her own pleasurable escapades. Strictly against relationships, connections, and feelings, she only invests in white-hot nights. About to have one with the famous star, they are interrupted when Hailey’s sister Cressida has an episode.

Suffering from acute agoraphobia, Cressida needs the family’s bookstore to feel secure and support herself. In the red consistently, the Frost sisters are in danger of being kicked out of their beloved home if the bookstore doesn’t get a major influx soon. With this in mind and the convention in town, Hailey proposes a fake relationship between a hot star and a fan. It will boost his Q Score and garner media attention, putting pressure on producers to renew his contract, and in exchange Hailey’s bookstore gets a Jake Reese appearance while the convention fans are still in town. The promo works for the both of them…until issues crop up.

The bookstore’s success rides on Jake’s appearance, and their hallway tete-a-tete doesn’t make the splash they had hoped. With a rocking body, Hailey’s hallway make-out session isn’t seen as a sweet couple. Jake’s agent and his dad both have other plans for his career. Things start to go south quickly, except for the mutual attraction.

Jake’s costars, Simon and Miles, are a humorous pair. They are great friends to Jake, whom they want to keep around on the show. Even as side characters, they were genuine and real. I enjoyed the characters and the ending, bringing more depth and breadth to Jake’s character.

The pacing was well-timed and kept the plot moving along. The classic trope of star and nobody was the central driving force that propelled both Jake and Hailey to obtain their goals, even with other issues that cropped up. There is a surprising double-crossing was the only unpredictable element to the novel. Overall, the story was enjoyable but I was expecting something a little more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cathy Yardley needs to get out more. When not writing, she is probably cruising the Internet, sleeping or watching D-list movies and adding to her unnatural mental store of character-actor trivia. She is a closet fangirl for Supernatural, Sherlock, Doctor Who, and too many others to name. Her family is considering performing an intervention for her addiction to pop culture. Want to read more of her writing? Sign up for her notification list, and get a free novella, Hooked, from the Fandom Hearts series!

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Heat It Up

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Heat It Up
Author: Stina Lindenblatt
Publisher: Diversion Books
Release Date: June 2016
Length: 276 pages
Series?: Off the Ice #1
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult, Sports 

Some games are hotter off the ice.

Sofia Phillips feels cursed. Her father cheated on her mother, her boyfriend cheated on her she’s done with dating. A summer work-exchange program in Finland is the perfect escape. But instead of gaining experience as an athletic trainer, she’s cleaning toilets. Awesome. The trip is a disaster, and even better, she meets Kyle Bennett. In the sauna. Naked.

Sexy hockey player Kyle was the star right wing for an NHL team. But after an accident killed his wife and left him injured, Kyle has appreciated the therapeutic benefits of booze and puck bunnies. Now in Finland for the summer, he’s coaching in an elite hockey-training camp for teens. When Sofia’s grandmother decides to set her up with a nice Finnish man, Sofia recruits Kyle as her make-believe boyfriend. Neither expects their first kiss to sizzle. And neither expects, while stranded on an island during a storm, to have a scorching night of passion.

But as their charade, and then their attraction, develops into something deeper, the past comes back, threatening to destroy them. They must decide if their feelings for each other are strong enough to survive or it will be game over.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

I think this is my first New Adult book??? I don’t even know. What technically is the distinction between contemporary and new adult? I don’t know, but this book is both! 🙂

The perspective of the story is told in a dual narrative, with Sofia and Kyle each narrating alternating chapters. The book opens with Sofia’s narration and ends with Kyle’s narration. I loved both of their inner voices. Sofia’s was at times strong and confident, like in the beginning, and wavered and was doubting during times of turmoil. Kyle was very laid back and quite characteristic of a typical bachelor. A few hundred years earlier he would be called a rake.

Sofia is working hard toward her dream of working with sports teams by beefing up her resumé while also running from her own haunting memories, so she takes up the ad offer for an overseas work-swap program from her university in Minnesota. She just didn’t think she would wind up scrubbing toilets in Finland.

Most of the book is set in Hilinski, Finland. Sofia’s maternal grandmother resides there, and Sofia hasn’t visited in a few years, so it winds up being a great opportunity for them to spend some time together again. Many times Sofia makes it clear she cannot speak the language and is Finnish illiterate. I didn’t quite understand how that could be the case if she had visited every year as a child until she was in her late teens. She should at least know some basic phrases. That struck me as odd, but it was a plot-driven movement. While summering in Finland, Sofia’s grandmother hatches a plan with the woman upstairs in her building. They plan to set up Sofia with her grandmother’s friend’s grandson, Joni.

Joni looks exactly like a Finnish actor and is handsome. He buys into the grandmothers’ scheming while Sofia does not. She has sworn off any relationships after her first and only. One heartbreak and she claims she is cursed. Puh-lease. *insert eyeroll*

However, the guy from the sauna she nearly sprays in the junk keeps coming back to her mind. His body and his geekiness. Kyle is quite the physics nerd and a former NHL player. One of his former teammates is coaching a hockey program in Finland, so Kyle takes up an open position. Coaching is as close as he is ever going to get to his former hockey life after his injury that took his career and his wife. Since he has found a fleeting solace in alcohol and puck bunnies, although he suddenly skeptical of puck bunnies.

Kyle was clearly searching for his next everything from personal growth to job security to personal relationships. When his and Sofia’s worlds collide – again, unbeknownst to either of them – Sofia convinces Kyle to play her fake boyfriend so she doesn’t have to “date” Joni. Although she still goes places with Joni alone that he believes are dates, as do both their grandmothers…

Eventually, Sofia and Kyle elevate their relationship, but not entirely. Kyle purposefully keeps his identity a secret from unsuspecting Sofia, which I thought was deceitful and was made into a big deal that when it does come to light, Sofia just glosses over it.

Joni isn’t ready to be thrown out of the ring for the boyfriend crown, so he plays his own masterfully manipulated role and wreaks havoc with Sofia. Even as friends, I thought this was so underhanded and I did not understand why Sofia continued to hang out with him and allow him into her life. She let him be all sweet and then sour on her. But on the flip side, he was nice to Sofia. The slippery slope of sneaky snakes.

I feel like the only reason Joni was kept around was to act as a translator. The plot could have continued almost entirely without him…except for the ill-fated wedding that is masterminded. Joni doesn’t stop after the first incident. He artfully crafts this wedding guest trip that ends with more than Kyle freaking out in the sauna.

Remember how I said their worlds had collided before? The entire end of the book revolves around this revelation that was mind-blowing. It sets Sofia’s world spinning on its axis and leaves Kyle wondering why her non-part in the past matters. I could not wrap my head around why the revelation and Sofia’s non-part in it – she was just connected to the person who did it – had her literally running across Finland to get away from Kyle and ignoring him.

Overall, both characters need some therapy. They are still not done dealing with their ex’s. For Kyle, I totally understand. For Sofia, though…I don’t get it. I don’t get her motivations. Maybe it’s because I’m at a more mature stage in my life?

The best part of the book was each character’s inner dialogue and their growth. Kyle came to Finland looking to work a hockey camp when in reality he was looking for a way to heal. Sofia finds the footing she needs to move forward with her dream and her shuttered heart is given a stutter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stina Lindenblatt lives in Western Canada, where she loves to dream up New Adult and Young Adult stories, especially those with romance. She loves to travel, and has lived in England, the US, Canada, and Finland. She has a Master’s of Science degree in exercise physiology and has worked with elite athletes. In her free time, Stina enjoys photography, especially the close-up variety.

Find the author: GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review + Giveaway: If We Were a Movie

28181098Title: If We Were a Movie
Author: Kelly Oram
Publisher: Bluefields
Release Date: March 2016
Length: 269 pages
Series?: Power of the Matchmaker #3
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Music meets Movies in this sweet college romance from the bestselling author of Cinder & Ella.

NYU freshman Nate Anderson is a triplet who is desperate to escape his wild and crazy brothers. After they screw things up for him one too many times, Nate flees his housing situation and takes the first available room for rent as far from his brothers as he can get.

Enter his new roommate Jordan–a quirky LA girl who believes that everything in life has already been done in the movies. In this heartfelt tale of love, friendship and family, Nate learns how to deal with his new adult life using Hollywood films as a guide.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Nate is the middle triplet in the Anderson family, and his brothers have teased, tortured, and tormented him his entire life. Now they have invaded his college plans and intruded into his passion. Sure, they have the band Triple Threat together, but his brothers only want to party and hook up with girls. Nate has a girlfriend – even if his brothers refer to her as Psycho Sophie – and it’s hard when he is stuck between a rock and a hard place with his brothers about Sophie and with Sophie about his brothers.

One disastrous moment leads Nate to find other living arrangements, landing him rooming with Jordan. Although she comes in a package deal with humorous Colin, Nate takes it on and starts enjoying a bit of freedom and breathing room. But it doesn’t last long.

The Players

Nate – the middle Anderson triplet who has strong musical talent

Chris and Tyler – the other Anderson triplets who are interested in earning a degree in party-ology

Sophie – Nate’s high school girlfriend on the straight and narrow

Jordan – Nate’s new movie buff roommate

Colin – Jordan’s barista friend

The Quote

My song had come together even better than I’d imagined, and I was confident that I was going to shock the life out of the judges I’d failed to truly impress back at the beginning of the semester.

The Highs and Lows

  • Plot. For the longest I wasn’t sure where things were going as it was not following Pearl’s interference. She came and went, and things were slow to follow. The ending also really threw me. It is not a traditional storyline that is characteristic of the first two books in the Power of the Matchmaker series. There is so much at the ending I want to talk about but I can’t because it’s major spoilers.
  • Nate. He is literally stuck in the middle. He’s the middle triplet and the odd man out. He wants to start his adult life and break free from his brothers, who are always ruining things for him. He wants to do the right thing and pursue his passion, but he can’t with his brothers holding him back. He’s a really good friend, and I loved that aspect of him – seeing his friendship with his brothers, with Jordan, and with Colin.
  • + Jordan. She is awesome! She also has the worst selection of boyfriends and dates, and her hurt is what drives her the way she acts. She is somewhat insecure and hides it, but she knows who she is as a person.
  • + Colin. He is in love with Nate. He even kisses him on the cheek when he sees him! Colin is lighthearted and good for those fun moments. Jordan and Nate definitely need him in their lives.
  • – Sophie. She is a primo bitch hardcore. Those clingy, jerk girlfriends? Yeah, that’s her. Girl is off her rocker crazy. UGH. I just wanted to smack her out of the story.

The Take-Away

The snowball scene was pretty great. I think the scene I liked the best was when Sophie showed up shortly after the snowball scene, and Chris and Tyler actually took the bull by the horns and stood up for Nate, who they have spent their entire lives teasing and torturing.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

BUY. The ending! Oh, the ending. Things get so convoluted I didn’t see anything working out and didn’t think Pearl’s matchmaking would work out.

***** About the Author *****

Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** Giveaway *****

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Review + Giveaway: Striking Out

STRIKING_OUT_BannerToday I have a review of Striking Out by Australian author Scarlet Bennett. Check out the tour page all the rest of the goings-on for the tour.

Title: Striking Out
Author: Scarlet Bennett
Publisher: Firefield Press
Release Date: July 2015
Length: 272 pages
Series?: Sharon Jackson #1
Genre: NA

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Sharon Jackson is a small-town girl with big-city dreams. Forced out of her home in regional Western Australia with her singing career in ruins, she hits the big smoke in search of stardom. After signing with a sleazy agent who wants more than a ten percent cut of her earnings, she struggles to earn a place in the macho world of rock-‘n-roll, encountering a series of colourful characters along the way – like Todd, the sexy, brooding muso with a dragon tattoo and Kevin, the whip-smart fighter with some hidden demons of his own.

But when her troubled past follows her to the city, Shazza’s dreams begin to unravel. With no home to go back to and a past that won’t stay buried, everything she has worked for is on the line. Shazza must make a decision that will define the course of her future, and time is running out.

 

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Shazza has left town under a black cloud. She wants nothing more than to be a rock-n-roll star, so she signs on with a seedy agent but struggles to make her way. Shazza meets some fascinating friends along the way, including a music teacher and a dojo owner. Shazza thinks she’s making progress with her music when a blast from the past appears in Perth. Shazza has some serious thinking to do and choices to make for herself and her future.

The Players

Shazza – a young rock-n-roll musician

Des – a very egotistical musical/talent agent; Shazza and Todd’s agent

Todd – frontman for Des’ best band; helps Shazza with her career

Jillian – Des’ girlfriend; befriends Shazza

Kevin – dojo owner; offers Shazza a teaching position

First Impressions

The cover is pink with a rocker girl on it. I was pretty sure I knew what to expect with a more adult coming-of-age and self-discovery type of storyline.

Second Thoughts

At first I wasn’t sure I would finish this book, but I still have a personal stigma about DNFing books. As I started reading I quickly found that my initial dislike of the book was misplaced. I don’t know if it was the cover or the synopsis.

The cover is very appealing to young girls, but this is definitely an adult read. The first thing I noticed was the language. Right from the start and throughout there is quite a bit of language. As the plot progresses, there is also some sexual content to the book. It is sparse and sprinkled in at just the right moments.

From the very beginning, with everything in the world against Shazza, I couldn’t help but be on her side. She wanted so desperately to make her way, and I couldn’t help but want all the pieces to fall into place perfectly for her.

I liked the fact that Shazza was exactly what she presented herself to be. She didn’t put on a front of who she was for readers or for other characters, even though she was the small fish in a big pond. That scored big points with me because she was a genuine character in a world of not so genuine characters.

Shazza has many talents. She is musically inclined with both instruments and voice, and she discovers she has a range of vocal talent with the help of her vocal teacher, Roderick. Shazza also has quite a talent with her body – as a taekwondo guru. Her musical talents score her Des as an agent, although he doesn’t seem to be up to snuff, and her taekwondo experience earns her a teaching position at Kevin’s dojo for some extra money that she desperately needs.

Roderick and Bobby, the duo whom are responsible for the broadening of Shazza’s vocal range and abilities, are a hilarious and comforting pair of friends for Shazza. In the rocky world of a new town, they are a safe place for her to land, as is Kevin’s dojo.

I wasn’t sure where Shazza’s story was going, and I wasn’t so sure she knew either, until things just kind of fell into her lap. She reaches a point where she must make several choices about her future and how she wants to continue in life.

The book is relatively fast-paced and the situations Shazza finds herself in kept me turning pages. I would definitely recommend this as a great read!

***** About the Author *****

 Scarlet Bennett spent her formative years in regional Western Australia, and it shows. Years of city living have softened her broad accent, but the slang she’s stuck with. After earning a Masters degree in Psychology, the colourful characters of her childhood – and that irrepressible Aussie spirit – found their way onto the page. She is a graduate of Allaboutwriting’s mentoring program, and lives in Canberra with her husband, kids, and far more animals than can reasonably fit on a suburban plot.

 

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** Giveaway *****

StrikingOut_GiveawayBanner

10 sets of earrings handmade by the author (INT)

Ends September 2nd

All earrings are made with sterling silver and semi-precious gemstones. The gemstones included are turquoise, rose quartz, red agate, freshwater pearls and amethyst.

Prizing provided by the author, hosts are in no way responsible.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.
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