Review: To Have and To Hold by Lauren Layne

To Have and To Hold
Series:
The Wedding Belles, #1
Author: Lauren Layne
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis: 

USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne is the “queen of witty dialogue and sexy scenes” (Rachel Van Dyken)! Now, Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride’s dream come true… but their own.

 

Discovering her fiance is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

 

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya’s fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiance is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning… is theirs?


  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


Earlier this spring I read From This Day Forward, the prequel novella to Lauren Layne’s The Wedding Belles series. That short taste got me very excited for what was to come in the series. When I saw To Have and To Hold on NetGalley, I had to click request. I’m so happy I did! As always, Lauren Layne’s writing was smart, sharp-witted and fun to read.

In To Have and To Hold, Brooke Baldwin has run from her past in L.A. to join one of the most prestigious New York wedding planning companies. She’s hoping the new start will make everyone forget about the worst day of her life. She needs Maya Tyler’s wedding to go off without a hitch to redeem herself. She’s determined to give Maya the wedding of her dreams — no matter what her rich, grouchy, sexy brother says.

Seth Taylor isn’t about to let his only sister marry someone he knows absolutely nothing about. Someone he doesn’t think is telling the truth. So Seth sets out to discover the truth the only way he can think of  — holding the purse strings and tagging along for all of the wedding planning. Seth’s plan is going smoothly until a certain beautiful wedding planner gets in his way. If Seth wants to stop this wedding, he’s going to have to figure out how to get Brooke on his side.

I knew Seth and Brooke’s love story was going to be entertaining to watch unfold from the minute they met. Their instant attraction was palpable, and their opposite goals could only lead to friction. The fact that neither of them was looking for any sort of relationship added to the fun.

Seth was my favorite character. His sourpuss attitude was amusing. He was such a caring guy, but really had a hard time showing it in an appropriate way. I loved the witty banter his grouchy, controlling disposition created.

Brooke was a very sweet character. She had been hurt badly in the past, but still believed in happily ever after. She was the perfect balance to Seth. I enjoyed the way she wouldn’t let him get away with ruining things for his sister.

I did feel like Brooke’s story was missing something, though. Her relationship with Clay hurt her badly, but even after she moved on to Seth, I never felt like she dealt with what he did to her. I don’t want to give anything away, but I would have liked to have seen her take a more active role in dealing with him.

 

I can’t leave out the supporting characters in this review. Maya made me smile. She was a spoiled little rich girl, but one who was sweet and kind of innocent. Her wedding planning adventures with Brooke were so much fun to read. And then there was Seth’s best buddy, Grant. I really wanted to know more about this guy! He deserves his own book, in my opinion.

To Have and To Hold was charming story about finding love when you least expect it. Fans of LL and her contemporary romances are sure to swoon for this delightful love story. And if you have yet to read one of her books, this would be a great place to start.

WWW Wednesday: July 13, 2016

http---www.pixteller.com-pdata-t-l-435601

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading but is now hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

The Three W’s are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So here we go…


Currently reading:

I am currently reading No Falling Allowed.


Recently finished:

FinalCoverWeb

This was a crazy reading week for me. We spent the entire weekend relaxing at home and that meant reading for me. Plus, they’re all quick contemporary reads. 😉

The Hard Count
How Not to Fall
Cream of the Crop (Hudson Valley, #2)
One Week to Score (Tall, Dark and Texan, #3)
To Have and To Hold (The Wedding Belles, #1)
Goldfish
The Loose Ends List

Click on the book titles to read the reviews that I have already posted.


Reading Next:

Next, I think I’m reading Remi’s Choice. That might change, though!

Review: Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

Cream of the Crop
Series
: Hudson Valley, #2
Author: Alice Clayton
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis:

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is…cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be…love?


  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


I’ve been dying to read Cream of the Crop ever since I read the preview for it at the end of Nuts. I knew it was going to be a fun and sexy romance. I wasn’t wrong. It was witty, sexy and I couldn’t put it down. I had to force myself to stop reading and go to bed after midnight. It was that much fun.

“If I ever developed lactose intolerance, I’d throw myself into the East River.”

Dramatic, much? Natalie was a hoot. I loved and appreciated her self-confidence. She wasn’t afraid to flaunt her plus-size body, and she wasn’t going to put up with people who couldn’t appreciate that great comma big ass. She knew she was beautiful inside and out, and her size had nothing to do with it. Her self-talk made me smile so many times. Plus, she loves cheese. I love cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese?

“You’re the Brie girl with the great big ass.”

Oscar was this gruff, incredibly sexy farmer who didn’t waste words. He was knew what was important to him and didn’t care what anyone else thought. His history was perfect. Deep, but not too deep for this light, steamy romance. His blunt, commanding ways were super sexy. I adored how he turned Natalie into a blubbering mess.

“Look at you, dirty girl,” he murmured, showing me his now-mud-covered-hand.
“You have no idea,” I murmured, tilting my head and gazing up at him.

Natalie and Oscar together…Fireworks! Not only was their sexual chemistry was off the charts, but their banter was so much fun! I liked that their new — possibly long distance — relationship had issues that I could see a real life couple having. I loved Natalie and Oscar so much together that I would read another book about their relationship even if it only involved them churning butter.

Cream of the Crop also brought back so many of the characters from Nuts that I loved. It was fun to see what Roxie and Leo were up to. Plus, Chad Bowman. (I really, really want Chad Bowman’s story!) Even that little cutie Polly made a few humorous appearances. 

Cream of the Crop had everything I love in a contemporary romance. It was fun, light and made me laugh. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes humorous romances…or cheese. Even though it’s the second book in the series with characters who overlap, it can totally be read as a standalone. Cream of the Crop would make the perfect summer read whether you’re at the beach, on vacation or just relaxing at home.

Top Ten Tuesday: The One Where I Tell You All About My Love of Contemporary Romances

http---www.pixteller.com-pdata-t-l-435619

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Ten Facts About Me (bookish or just general about you facts or ten facts about you as a blogger…whatever you want).

As you can tell, I changed that up a bit and went with a title a little more fitting for me. 😉


  1. In case you weren’t aware, my favorite book genre is Contemporary Romance. I like adult, NA and YA. My favorite of the three is NA.
  2. I’m not a huge Fantasy fan. I think it’s because I’m getting old and have a horrible imagination. I will read ones that come highly recommended from reliable sources.
  3. I try to avoid reading Sci-Fi and Horror at all cost. I can’t do aliens and I hate being scared.
  4. I love psychological thrillers, but I usually have to read another fluffy book at the same time. That way I can take breaks from all the mental stress.
  5. When my friends ask me for books recommendations, I give them entire lists. I’ve also had them corner me at the library and ask me to pick up a book for them.
  6. I recommended Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series to my sister. When she was reading one of them, my brother-in-law picked up the book and read the part she was at. He now thinks I read “dirty” books.
  7. I know I’ve said this before, but I picture every book hero (no matter what they’re supposed to look like) as Nick Bateman. And now you can, too! You’re welcome.
  8. My least favorite book relationship trope is the student-teacher one. I have a hard time with that now that my daughter is a student. There’s just a trust you have to have in your child’s teacher. I have found a few I was okay with, but they’re few and far between.
  9. My two favorite relationship tropes are best friends to lovers and enemies to lovers.
  10. If I could tell you to read one book series this summer, it would be Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn. It is amazing. There are so many twists and turns. Every single one of the people I’ve recommended it to that have read it (at least 5) have read it and loved it. Do it, people!

Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

Steadfast
Series:
True North, #2
Author:
Sarina Bowen
Publication Date:
July 12, 2016
Genre:
Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis:

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

 

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

 

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

 

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

 

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.


  ★ ★ ★ ★ 


I’ve been a big fan of Sarina Bowen’s books since I stumbled upon The Ivy Years series a couple of years ago. I admire the way she takes on complex social issues within her sexy romances. It gives them a realistic feel and something deeper for the reader to think about. Plus, her writing is captivating. I’m always consumed by her books from the very first page.

I went into Steadfast expecting another fun, sexy farm romance like I found in Bittersweet (True North, #1). What I got was something completely different, maybe even better. It was a grittier story, filled with the hope of second chances and redemption.

“My name is Jude Nickel, and I am an addict. Also, I’m a big fucking idiot.”

I loved the care with which Sarina Bowen tackled Jude’s substance abuse. She stripped addiction down and made it both understandable and relatable. I have to admit, Jude’s perspective has made me look differently at the lives of those I know who struggle with drug addiction. I really respected Jude and the choices he made in this story. He accepted his past, dealt with it and made the changes he needed to move forward. There was such strength in his character. He might not have thought he was one of the good guys, but underneath it all he truly was. Jude just needed to know someone loved and believed in him.

“Of all the things I’d lost – my good name, the chance to get a decent job, my carefully restored care – none of them mattered as much as Sophie.”

Luckily, that person was Sophie. Her support of Jude was admirable. She went above and beyond what I would have expected from an ex-girlfriend whose life was destroyed by his actions. Although, I do have to admit I did question Sophie’s thoughts on the accident that ripped their relationship apart at times. She never seemed to hold a grudge against Jude for what happened or even fault him. She was angry with him for breaking her heart, but not for causing the accident. It surprised me a little. Anyways. It didn’t detract from my love of this story, so it didn’t take any stars away from my rating.

Jude and Sophie’s clandestine affair was sexy as hell and they shared such a beautiful connection, and this is normally where I would go on and on about it, but it wasn’t what kept my attention. For me, this book was all about Jude and his recovery. Their relationship was part of that, but it wasn’t what I fell in love with. That’s kind of weird since this is a romance novel.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Steadfast really touched me and I want to thank Sarina Bowen for writing such a profound second chance love story. It was so beautifully written, amazing and should be on every romance fan’s to-read list.

Seriously. Get your copy as soon as it comes out tomorrow.

 

 

 

Review: How Not to Fall by Emily Foster

How Not to Fall
Author: Emily Foster
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis:

In her witty and breathtakingly sexy novel, Emily Foster introduces a story of lust, friendship, and other unpredictable experiments. . .

Data, research, scientific formulae–Annabelle Coffey is completely at ease with all of them. Men, not so much. But that’s all going to change after she asks Dr. Charles Douglas, the postdoctoral fellow in her lab, to have sex with her. Charles is not only beautiful, he is also adorably awkward, British, brilliant, and nice. What are the odds he’d turn her down?

Very high, as it happens. Something to do with that whole student/teacher/ethics thing. But in a few weeks, Annie will graduate. As soon as she does, the unlikely friendship that’s developing between them can turn physical–just until Annie leaves for graduate school. Yet nothing could have prepared either Annie or Charles for chemistry like this, or for what happens when a simple exercise in mutual pleasure turns into something as exhilarating and infernally complicated as love.


★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


The first thing I noticed about How Not to Fall was the wonderful writing. I really enjoyed the author’s style. It was fun and fresh. I loved Annie’s point of view. Her thoughts were hilarious. It kind of reminded me of the narration Mindy Lahiri gives on The Mindy Project. Annie was witty, a lot nerdy and kind of crazy. Her awkwardness was endearing. I liked it a lot.

Charles was hunky and super smart. I liked how he wanted to do right by himself, his position and by Annie. His beginning approach to their sexual relationship was mature and responsible. So mature that I found myself wondering if super intelligent people actually conduct themselves and talk the way these two did before getting it on? And while getting it on? And after getting it on?

And getting it on they did. On and on…and on…and on. Seriously. I think more than half the book was Charlie and Annie getting freaky. And by freaky, I mean freaky. It was pretty much erotica at this point. I’m not complaining. Well, maybe a little because I loved the scenes were they were actually talking and getting to know each other. The sex kind of took away from those moments at times. I was kind of shocked at Annie’s sexual experimentation and her willingness to trust Charles unconditionally, though. They knew each other, but they didn’t know each other well enough for me to understand her trust in his control. She was so new to it all. It just didn’t feel natural to me. That was my one complaint about this book.

Besides all of the super steamy sex, I also enjoyed Charlie and Annie’s relationship friendship. Their connection was very cool. I loved how they got each other, even when they didn’t like what they were getting. Their understanding of each other led to a really great ending — or cliffhanger to be exact.

I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series, How Not to Let Go. I read the first couple of chapters at the end of this book and it already has me hooked. I’m looking forward to the inclusion of Charles’ point of view and getting to know what’s going on inside that smart head of his.

Would I recommend this book? Yes and no. If you like surprisingly funny, emotional, sexy reads, this one is for you. If you can’t handle reading a lot of explicit sex, skip this one.

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review: Seared on My Soul by Cole Gibson

Seared On My Soul Tour BannerSeared on My Soul
By: Cole Gibsen
Publication Date: June 27, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Entangled Embrace, Contemporary Romance

Seared on My Soul CoverPurchase: Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Synopsis:

She’s so young, so full of life…

I couldn’t let her die…

Even if she made the world’s worst coffee.

Emily Garret never asked to be rescued, let alone by a walking JCrew ad whose idea of fun is probably managing his stock portfolio and watching the nightly news. Then again, she never thought she would wind upside-down in a ditch after a night having a little too much fun.

Reece Montgomery never planned on being anyone’s hero, especially the foul-mouthed, bleach-blonde barista from the local coffee shop. He thinks there’s more to Emily than her tattoos, and lip ring, but getting close means letting her into his past and meeting his ghosts.

And he’s not sure she’s ready for that battlefield.

goodreads-badge-add-38pxReview:

  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Emily may be a strong woman who looks like she doesn’t care what people think on the outside, but on the inside she’s a little lost. While her friends have found their loves and paths in life, Emily is stuck with one night stands and a dead-end barista job. She’s completely happy with her lifestyle until one drunken hookup leads to almost losing her life.

Reece is barely keeping himself together after suffering the loss of his friend and fellow soldier. He may have a teaching job, a place to live and an amazing motorcycle, but he’s constantly on the brink of his next anxiety attack.

After Reece saves the barista from his local coffee shop from a fiery car crash, he can’t stop thinking about her. Even though he’s never really talked to Emily, he feels a connection with her. As he gets to know Emily, he realizes she’s rough around the edges, but she gets him in a way no one else has.

Seared on My Soul started out a little rough for me. It’s told in dual point of view and starts with Emily’s perspective. That first chapter just didn’t pull me in like I hoped it would. I can’t put my finger on what exactly I didn’t care for, but there was just something a little off-putting about Emily’s point of view in that initial introduction. I didn’t think I was going to like her character at all.

Luckily, it was just that first chapter that I didn’t connect with because the I really enjoyed the rest of the book! I immediately felt a connection with Reece’s character. He was a war veteran dealing with the loss of his friend. He felt responsible and was dealing with PTSD symptoms. He was fighting so hard to make it through each day. It was actually the way Emily connected with Reece that helped me connect with her.

Emily was a very mixed up character. Her brash personality helped hide her insecurities. It made her appear stronger than she really was. Emily used alcohol to numb her pain and it was slowly consuming her. But even though she had her own issues, she easily identified Reece’s and was able to give him the safety he needed. Emily was actually a very sweet person once you got past what she was trying to portray to everyone.

Emily and Reece were pretty darn perfect together. They heated up the sheets spectacularly, but more importantly, they were a support system for each other. Their relationship had bumps along the way, but those bumps lead them to better themselves and grow a stronger connection to each other.

Seared on My Sole was a great romance filled with friendship, love and healing.

**I received this book from IndieSage PR via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Excerpt:

My world becomes nothing but pain.
Every breath is a mixture of blood, smoke, and gasoline.

From far away, I hear sirens and muf ed voices that can’t quite penetrate the darkness I’ve fallen into. Blood, tasting of copper, trickles down my throat. A searing ache, like barbed wire, rips into every inch of my body.

Am I dying?

Terror coils around my gut and I ail in the darkness inside my mind, desperate for anything to hold onto, an object to keep me grounded so I won’t fall away. My ngers brush against something soft and I grab hold, twisting the fabric into my st.

It doesn’t take me long to realize the fabric is attached to something—or rather someone—because seconds later a pair of muscular arms snake around my shoulders and press

me against an equally rm chest.
It doesn’t make sense. I haven’t been held this way since

Daddy died nearly a decade ago.
“Can you hear me?” The unfamiliar voice sounds

distant, echoing inside my head like a cavern.
I try to answer, but my throat is tight and blood coats my

tongue. Instead, I hold tighter, pressing my knotted ngers against his chest. His warmth bleeds into my skin, loosening the fear twisted around my ribs just enough for me to breathe— only it comes as a gasp. “I don’t want to die.” The words are a surprise, but I realize they’re the truest words I’ve ever spoken.

Unconsciousness tugs at me with velvety ngers, pulling me deeper inside myself. I clutch the fabric in my hands, suddenly terri ed that if I’m pulled away, I might not be able to nd my way back.

The darkness presses against me, smashing me beneath a wall of endless satin. My ngers lose their grip on the man’s shirt, and I can feel myself slipping. Fear rises inside my throat, a jagged lump I can barely breathe around. “Don’t,” I manage to choke. My voice sounds far away—almost as if it were coming from outside my body. Or maybe I’m the one outside my body.

The thought sends an icy wave of terror crashing over me.

“Don’t what?” the man asks, sounding farther away than before. Even so, the panic in his voice is unmistakable.

The darkness grows heavier, and I am too weak to ght. Even my fear ebbs under the crushing weight of exhaustion. It takes all my remaining strength, but I manage to breathe life into the words tangled on my tongue before

unconsciousness consumes me.

“Don’t let me go.”

ABOUT COLE GIBSEN

Cole Gibsen

At seventeen Cole found herself homeless with only a beat-up Volkswagen Jetta and a bag of Goodwill clothing to her name. The only things that got her through the nights she spent parked in truck stops and cornfields were the stacks of books she checked out from the library along with her trusty flashlight. Because of the reprieve these books gave her from her troubles, Cole vowed to become a writer so she could provide the same escape to readers who needed a break the reality of their own lives.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile

GIVEAWAY

Seared on My Soul Giveaway Graphic

a Rafflecopter giveaway

IndieSageBlogger

Review: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

The Bird and the Sword
Author:
Amy Harmon
Publication Date: May 11, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Synopsis:

Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?


  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Beautiful.

That’s the word the comes to mind whenever I read an Amy Harmon novel. It doesn’t matter what genre it is or what the story is about, the writing is always flawlessly beautiful. The words she weaves bring emotions to life in a way that’s hard to describe.

If you know me or my blog you’re probably tired of hearing me say this, but I am not a Fantasy reader. I have a harder time getting into and staying interested in them. That was not the case with The Bird and the Sword. I was immediately pulled into the story by the words and the imagery they created. I was fascinated with the characters and found myself not wanting to put the book down.

I loved Lark. She may have seemed timid and weak, but there was way more to her than meets the eye. Her inability to speak played such a special role in the story. I enjoyed seeing her character grow and change throughout the book.

Tiras surprised me in several different ways. I didn’t expect to love his character as much as I did. Or maybe I just expected it to take longer to fall for him. His relationship with Lark was complex and multifaceted. They need each other in so many different ways. I loved how their relationship drove the story.

The world Amy Harmon created was filled with all sorts of amazing characters. I could easily imagine a sequel or spin-off to this story revolving around any one of them. I would especially love to read about Kjell. There was so much potential in his character!

If you’re curious about this book, a Fantasy lover or just someone who enjoy brilliant writing, I would highly suggest The Bird and the Sword. I was truly fascinated by the story and the characters.

 

WWW Wednesday: July 6, 2016

http---www.pixteller.com-pdata-t-l-435601

Welcome to the first WWW Wednesday of July! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading but is now hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

The Three W’s are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So here we go…


Currently reading:

FinalCoverWeb

I am currently reading an ARC of The Hard Count by Ginger Scott. So far, I’m really impressed with this book!


Recently finished:

Last week was pretty busy. I only finished two books. I blame that on the fact that I was camping in Cannon Beach, Oregon from Thursday to Tuesday. The only reading I did during that time was on the long car ride.

The Bird and the Sword
Steadfast (True North, #2)


Reading Next:

My plan is to read Goldfish next.

Review: His Darling Bride by Anna DeStefano

His Darling Bride
Series: Echoes of the Heart, #3
Author: Anna DeStefano
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received this book from Amazon Publishing via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis:

Bethany Darling doesn’t kiss men at first sight…until she falls into the arms of a handsome cowboy bartender.

A mysterious stranger, Mike helps scare off Bethany’s obnoxious ex-boyfriend. Mike’s touch feels like coming home. But Bethany’s so not interested. Between stalled-out dreams of becoming a painter, troubles reconnecting with her sprawling foster family, and the happy chaos of her sister’s upcoming wedding, Bethany’s already in over her head. But each time she and Mike stumble across each other in small-town Chandlerville…sparks fly.

A famous photographer hiding under a Stetson, Mike Taylor recognizes Bethany as a kindred artistic spirit. Together they rekindle her passion for painting—and she inspires him in unexpected, undeniable ways. Then when Mike’s own past threatens to tear apart his present, Bethany becomes his safe place to turn.

Can these two wandering souls finally trust their hearts? Or will they run from the forever love they never expected to find?


★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


His Darling Bride is a story of healing, of letting go of the past and accepting love.

Bethany Darling has spent years running from her mistakes. Now, she’s returned to her hometown to reunite with her foster family and show them how much she loves them. She’s also hoping the spark she’s been missing in her painting will return.

Mike Taylor likes to fly under the radar when he moves to a new town. Most people would think he’s just an aimless drifter. They would be partially right. The famous photographer out runs his past by doing good in the communities he visits. Mike’s sure Chandlerville, Georgia will be just another stop on his journey until he meets Bethany.

Mike immediately recognizes a shared artistic passion in Bethany. That’s not all he notices, though. When an innocent kiss to ward off her ex ignites a need for her, Mike’s tempted to give up his rambling ways.

But all too soon, his past is calling him back. Mike and Bethany will have to decide whether they want to keep running from love or trust in it.

His Darling Bride was a well-rounded romance. It had a little bit of everything. The story started out mysteriously with Mike’s perspective. Then it switched to hilarious with the addition of Bethany’s perspective. Once I got my initial impressions of the characters, it turned into a sweet, slow-burn romance.

I loved Bethany and Mike. They were a mess on their own, but together they found the strength they needed to become who they wanted to be. Bethany’s relationship with Mike gave her the courage to accept herself and an extra spark for her creativity. In Bethany, Mike found the family and home he didn’t know he was searching for.

There were also a bunch of supporting characters to this story who were very interesting. I haven’t read any of the previous books in the series, but I would like to now. I want to know their stories — especially Oliver and Selena’s!

The only small complaint I had with the story was the ending. Things wrapped up a lot quicker than I expected. Readers who enjoy a HEA probably won’t mind it, but I found it to be a little shocking and almost unbelievable due to the amount of time Bethany and Mike knew each other. Otherwise, the way the story was laid out was perfect.

I would recommend His Darling Bride to contemporary romance readers who enjoy slow-burn romances with a lot of character growth.