Never Change Book Review

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.

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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.

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Heated Book Review

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-sized African 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.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Heated is available wherever books are sold.

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The Accidental Pinup Book Review

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.

Meant to Be Mine: A Novel Book Review

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.

I Let You Fall: A Romantic Drama Book Review

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.

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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.

Thank you to TCK Publishing for the ARC.

A Lady for a Duke Book Review

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 regency romance 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.

Do I recommend it? A highly disappointed no.

If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series) Book Review

At its heart, Cinderella is the story of finding the good in life and rising about the shit that fate has sent our way.

If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series), by Julie Murphy, was published last year. Cindy Woods is a plus-sized recent college graduate. After spending the last four years in New York City, her career path is stuck in first gear. With no other options, she returns to Los Angeles and her childhood home. She is welcomed with open arms by her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, and her stepsisters.

Cindy is a fashion fanatic. Due to her size, finding the latest and greatest clothing that fits her has always been a problem. When Erica’s Cinderella‘s themed reality dating show, Before Midnight (a la The Bachelor), is down a contestant, Cindy agrees to step in. It was supposed to be a way of getting her designs noticed. It also doesn’t hurt that the guy at the center of the program is good-looking.

Instead of quietly staying in the background, Cindy becomes a fan favorite. She also starts to fall for the guy. She will have to take a jump into the unknown, not knowing if it will end in heartbreak or a happy ending.

I loved this book. Murphy pays homage to the 1950 animated Disney film while writing her own story. In another narrative, Cindy would either have to lose weight to achieve her goals or be forced into the fat and funny sister/best friend role. The cherry on top for me is that Cindy is not looking for a man, her priority is her professional future.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Made in Manhattan Book Review

Love can come sometimes come from the most unexpected places. The question is, are we willing to give it a chance, especially when it does not fit into our worldview?

Made in Manhattan, by Lauren Layne, was published earlier this year. Violet Townsend is an heiress/socialite who has spent her entire life within the borders of the Upper East Side. She has known since she was young how to dress, who the right people are, and how to please them. Working for a family friend, her newest task is to ensure that her boss’s newly found grandson and heir fit into their world.

Cain Stone has, up to this point, spent his entire life in Lousiana. Having been uprooted from his home and re-planted in New York City, he is only in it for the money. Cain is not interested in either his grandmother or Violet’s attempt to remake him into a man that fits into the city’s elite.

Once they get to know one another, Violet and Cain discover that they are not so different. They could even be more than begrudging friends. But before that can happen, both have to be willing to put aside their emotional baggage and open up.

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The best way to describe the narrative is Pygmalion/My Fair Lady meets Sex and the City/Gossip Girl. It’s a cute romance novel that is predictable without being too predictable. It is a well-written story that is entertaining, charming, and romantic.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Made in Manhattan is available wherever books are sold.

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy: A Reluctant Royals Novella Book Review

Love lost and found ( a la Jane Austen‘s Persuasion), is a common narrative within the romance genre.

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy: A Reluctant Royals Novella, by Alyssa Cole, is a novella within the world of the Reluctant Royals series. While on a brief and very needed vacation, Likotsi had the good fortune to meet Fabiola, the potential love of her life via a dating app. But it ended before it could really begin.

A few months later, they meet up randomly on a stalled subway train car in New York City. Fabiola asks for just a few minutes of Likotsi’s time, to explain why she walked away. Needing an answer, Likotski agrees. That opens the door to getting to know one another once more and a second chance for love.

I really liked this book. The narrative was well-written and intriguing. I loved that the main characters are LGBTQ. It added new flavors to the story while keeping up the hallmarks of the romance novel that fans expect. I just would have loved it if the author would have expanded into a full novel instead of a shorter novella. There was so much potential that was there, but not used as it could have been.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy: A Reluctant Royals Novella is available wherever books are sold.

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