Falling in love with your best friend is complicated. As much as you know this person, you also know that there is a chance that your friendship may not last.
Maid of Dishonor (the first in the Love Mishaps series), by Gracie Ruth Mitchell, was published in 2021. Samantha Quinn and Carter Ellis have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Neither knows that one is in love with the other. While doing everything they can to prevent Carter’s cousin from marrying for the wrong reasons, their unspoken feelings rise to the surface.
Both Samantha and Carter have emotional scars that are preventing them from revealing their feelings. They can either pretend that nothing has changed or take the plunge, not knowing what their future holds.
I loved this book. It has all of the elements of the genre. But it is neither completely predictable nor boring. The chemistry between Samantha and Carter sizzles. They have a perfect Emma Woodhouse and George Knightly-style relationship that quickly drew me in and held me until the last page.
My only issue is the low point in the story could have been extended a bit more.
Do I recommend it?
Absolutely. Maid of Dishonor is available wherever books are sold.
Cinderella is one of those stories that is part of our culture. Though the bones of the tale can seem archaic, that does not mean that modern writers can try their hand at making it accessible for the present-day audience.
The Duke’s Secret Cinderella, by Eva Devon, is out today. Rafe Dorchester, Duke of Rockford, is told that it is high time to marry. His title and fortune have marked him as one of the most eligible bachelors in the country. But Rafe is not interested in marrying for the sake of producing an heir and a spare. He wants a love match and a true partner.
Charlotte Browne is an orphan. Her stepfather’s version of being a dutiful parent is forcing her to earn her daily bread as a household servant. Cruel and cold, he is not above cutting corners when it suits him. Her only solace is her friendship with her stepsister and the comfort she receives from the other household staff.
Their meet-cute is completely unexpected. He thinks that she is a lady. She cannot tell him the truth. Their first kiss opens a door to passion that cannot be contained. Charlotte accidentally drops a blue ribbon as she leaves, knowing that revealing the truth would endanger her stepsister’s chance of a good match. Despite the mystery that lies before him, Rafe is determined to discover the woman who has conquered his heart.
I don’t read books of this nature very often because it gives false hope and teaches the wrong message about what a woman should look forward to.
That being said, I loved it. Rafe and Charlotte’s chemistry is on fire from the first time they meet. She is intelligent, independent, and caring. She is also a little jaded, which I think has been missing from previous adaptations. Rafe could have been the standard “prince charming“. But he is real, human, and fully aware of the privileges that life has afforded him. In my experience, there are very few male romantic leads in this genre that believe in social justice.
I also appreciated that Charlotte’s stepfather is not just there to be the antagonist. Though his motives and reasoning might be a bit questionable, he stands on his own two feet as a character.
The narrative is a descendant of Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998). I don’t know if the author purposefully chose this path or if it slowly came about as the tale developed. Either way, it is the perfect homage to the only version of Cinderella that I think is worth watching.
I could not stop listening to the book. From the first chapter, I was immediately hooked. There were several points when I had to stop what I was doing and just listen. It is that good.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Duke’s Secret Cinderella is available wherever books are sold.Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy.
P.S. I loved the twist. I did not see it coming at all.
Clifford comes home in a wheelchair. They try to settle into a new normal, but whatever brought them together in the first place is starting to fizzle out. Encouraged by her husband to have an affair in order to extend the family tree, Connie starts sleeping with Oliver Mellors (Jack O’Connell), the estate groundskeeper.
What starts out as a release of pent-up sexual energy turns into something much more. Like all secrets, it eventually comes out. Connie could pretend that it did not happen. The other option is to do what her heart tells her to do and ignore the naysayers.
I’ve never read the book, but I have heard of it. If there was ever a definitive list of banned books, Lady Chatterley’s Lover would surely be at the top. Its frank discussion of sexuality and a woman making her own choices is as relevant now as it was a century ago.
I liked the film. It was well done and well acted. I felt for all of the characters, especially Connie. It is not that Clifford purposefully excluded her, he was just caught up in his own world and forgot to include her.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover is available for streaming on Netflix.
When they are cast as Lizzie and Darcy in a local dinner theater production of the book, sparks fly. As much as they hate each other, they cannot deny the mutual attraction. When push comes to shove, will they walk into the sunset together or will Eddi and Dave go their separate ways?
The title alone, speaks to how much the author respects Austen. First Impressions was the original title before it was changed to Pride and Prejudice. White Smith perfectly balances the original text with the place and time that her story is set in. It is a challenge that many writers (myself included) have taken on and well, taken their best shot at.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
First Impressions: A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice is available wherever books are sold.
Not everyone is meant to have a happily ever after. While some may mourn the lack of a spouse and children, others accept their fate.
Never Change, by Elizabeth Berg, was published in August. Romance was never in the cards for Myra Lipinski. As a child, she did not socialize with her peers. Now, as a middle-aged adult, she limits her social life to the patients she works with as a visiting nurse.
Her newest assignment is Chip Reardon. Back in the day, Chip was BMOC. Every girl in her high school had a crush on him, Myra included. But he never gave her the time of day. After being given the diagnosis of incurable brain cancer that will take his life, she becomes more than his nurse. They start off as friends and slowly drift into something more.
To say that I was disappointed with this book is an understatement. I connected with Myra from the first page. I understood who she was and why she made the choices she did.
I had two issues: the first was that the proverbial editor’s pen kept appearing in my mind. I hate when I am reading a book and I feel the need to play editor. That is relatively minor compared to the second issue. Whatever romantic chemistry that should exist between Myra and Chip was non-existent. I did not feel it at all. I wanted to, but I couldnt.
Do I recommend it? No.
Never Change is available wherever books are sold.
In an ideal world, breaking up with one’s significant other would be as straightforward and painless as humanely possible. But that is not always possible.
The new romance novel, Heated, was published in July. Written by Naima Simone, it is the story of an unlikely relationship. Zora is the owner of a unique business. Her clients pay her to inform their soon-to-be exes that their romantic partnership has ended.
The newest breakup that Zora is about to facilitate is with Cyrus, a respected entertainment lawyer. It should be all business and nothing more. But there is something about him that makes him irresistible.
After a difficult childhood, Cyrus has a plan in mind for his future. Everything is laid down in his mind. Nothing and no one can change it. Except for Zora. When he starts to fall for her, he has no idea that she was the conduit for the breakup with his ex.
This book is so hot that I almost needed a fan at certain points. The chemistry between Zora and Cyrus is on fire from the moment they meet. Though the slow burn is a little too slow, the pages were burning up when they finally got together. I loved that Zora is a plus-sizedAfrican American woman who is not trying to change who she is to fit in. She owns her identity with a confidence that is refreshing.
I also appreciated that both Cyrus and Zora have emotional baggage that is organic to who they are as people. It’s not forced to create drama for the sake of it. Their damage and the revelation of those scars allow them to heal and find the happiness they both deserve.
The image that often comes to mind of a pinup model is a caucasian size 2 female wearing barely there clothing.
The new romance novel, The Accidental Pinup, by Danielle Jackson, was published last month. Cassie Harris loves being behind the camera. Her photography studio, which specializes in creating a modern version of the classic pinup, is doing well. She is ecstatic and more than eager to help her best friend, Dana to launch her lingerie line.
Cassie knows that this campaign will send her career into orbit. But it crashes to Earth before it can get off the ground. Dana is going through a difficult pregnancy and is ordered by her doctor to be on bed rest. Adding insult to injury, she is asked to be the model, not the photographer. Taking the pictures is Reid Montgomery, a professional rival with whom she has never got along with.
Though Cassie is far from the typical model (being a plus-sized African-American woman), she agrees to take Dana’s place. The problem is not what she is wearing, it is the fact that Reid will be the one taking the pictures.
As they begin to work together, their working relationship turns into something more. But a secret on Reid’s part may end both the romantic and professional relationship may end before it has a chance to begin.
This book is so good. The fact that this is Jackson’s debut novel just blows me away. I loved Cassie as a heroine. She is everything I want in a romantic comedy leading lady. I love her brain, I love her heart, and I love that she looks like many of the readers.
Though the narrative is typical, it was not super predictable. It is in fact, one of my favorite books that I have read so far this year.
It is spicy, sexy, romantic, and the perfect summer read.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Accidental Pinup is available wherever books are sold.
Prophecy is a funny thing. Though it may appear that our fate is set in stone, there is hopefully an opportunity to take control of our destiny.
Meant to Be Mine: A Novel, by Hannah Orenstein, was published last month. Edie Meyer is a twenty-something New Yorker whose grandmother has predicted the romantic future of her family for decades. Upon reaching a certain age, Grandma Gloria has informed each individual as to when they will meet their significant other.
Edie’s date is coming up fast. That morning, she is scheduled to be on a flight for her twin sister’s surprise engagement. It seems that Grandma was right when a handsome musician sits down next to her. Though it seems that he is her person, there are some questions that Edie cannot get out of her head. When a revelation shakes her to her core, she must choose between fate taking control or opening the door to someone completely unexpected.
I enjoyed this book. Edie is the type of protagonist we can all fall in love with. Though she does want love, it is not the defining characteristic of her narrative. I love her humanity, I loved her very unique family, and I wish that everyone would have a grandparent like Grandma Gloria. At the age of 90, she has more energy and chutzpah than others who are decades younger.
What clinched me was the pride in Edie’s Jewish identity. Though her family is far from Orthodox, they do not hide who they are or put up a false front in the name of fitting in.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Meant to be Mine: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Sometimes, it takes a dramatic event to shake us out of that rut.
Sara Downing‘s new supernatural romance novel, I Let You Fall: A Romantic Drama was published on June 20th. Eve Chapman has it all: a supportive family, a loving boyfriend, and a job that makes her going into work worth the agita. Everything changes when she wakes up on a hot London night in the hospital. Watching as the doctors remove the bandages from a woman who has had a head injury, Eve is shocked to learn that she is the woman on the operating table.
While she is physically immobilized by the coma, her soul is stuck between life and death. Eve discovers that she is not alone. Luca Diaz is also frozen in this realm. He becomes her guide, instructing her on how to support those who are still alive. As time passes and they spend more time together, Eve begins to reassess her life choices.
I loved this book. Eve’s story is powerful. It reminded me that life is short, we never know when our turn will come. It is also a reminder that second chances are possible, it is merely a question of taking them or walking away. Though the romance is threaded into the narrative, what made the book for me was Eve’s journey of discovering what (and who) was important to her.
It is an amazing read. Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
I Let You Fall: A Romantic Drama wherever books are sold.
I hope and believe that anyone’s greatest wish is to love and be loved in return, regardless of who they are.
Alexis Hall‘s new regencyromance novel, A Lady for a Duke, was published last month. Up until Waterloo, Viola Caroll hid her true self. When it appeared that she did not survive, she took the opportunity to become the woman she knew she was inside. But there was a price to pay for being herself.
Among her losses is her best friend Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood. When they reunite years later, Gracewood is a shadow of his former self. Relying on alcohol and other substances to dull the pain, he has become a recluse who is living in the past.
Doing everything she can to bring back the man she knew, new feelings of both the physical and emotional kind bubble to the surface. Viola wants to tell Justin the truth, but doing so may cost her everything she has fought for.
I love that the cover is giving me Beauty and the Beast vibes. I also love that the heroine is transgender. It was a lovely change to a genre and a narrative that many of us know all too well. The problem is that the spark between the main characters is missing. While the author does a great job of keeping us in Viola and Justin’s heads, the all-important “will they or won’t they?” question is missing. I badly wanted to root for them. But the chemistry that should have pulled me in was simply not there.
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