Review: Love Her or Lose Her (Tessa Bailey)

Love Her or Lose Her
Series: Hot & Hammered, #2
Author: Tessa Bailey
Publication Date: January 14, 2019
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.


Most romance novels are about the beginning of a relationship. Some are second chance romances where a couple is reuniting after years apart. Very few romance novels are set in the middle of a relationship. That’s exactly where Love Her or Lose Her is set. It’s set amidst the chaos of relationship gone bad.

Rosie and Dom are childhood sweethearts whose relationship has fallen apart. The crumbling of their marriage has happened gradually for Rosie, but is a surprise to Dom. Dom didn’t realize Rosie was unhappy. Rosie is ready to walk away, but Dom is willing to do whatever it takes to save his marriage.

What I loved about Love Her or Lose Her was the journey it took me on. It’s a story about remembering why you fell in love with someone, figuring out where things broke down along the way, and learning from your mistakes. Dom and Rosie were unique characters going through a made up situation, and yet I could see the truth in their story. It was eye-opening at times to see what Rosie and Dom were going through. There was blame, lack of communication, poor communication, actions, lack of actions, frustration, longing, anger…and yet there was a whole lot of love. Once they opened themselves up and communicated (with the help of a therapist) there was learning and understanding. It’s easy to blame others for a situation without examining our part in it. I loved how Tessa Bailey was able to show this within a relationship. The fact that she was able to do that while adding humor to a very serious story was amazing.

While I loved this book, I do have to admit there were a few things that could have been done better. One was that Dom’s nickname for Rosie. He uses honey girl a lot. Honey girl is an awkward nickname. It’s like an odd combination of honey and baby girl or something. It made me cringe every time I read it. The second thing was that Dom’s back story could have been explored more in-depth. He shut down when he came back from war and it felt like that was barely touched on. The last thing was the POC representation. It was weak, to be honest — just mostly food that Rosie cooked and the color of her body. It would have been nice to have more or better representation.

Overall, Love Her or Lose Her was a sweet story about two people on the brink of divorce finding their way back to each other.

Review: So Much More by Kim Holden

So Much MoreTitle: So Much More

Author: Kim Holden

Publication Date: March 29, 2016

Publisher: Do Epic LLC

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

Love is strange. It comes out of nowhere. There’s no logic to it. It’s not methodical. It’s not scientific. It’s pure emotion and passion. And emotion and passion can be dangerous because they fuel love…and hate.

I’m now a reluctant connoisseur of both—an expert through immersion. I know them intimately.

When I fell in love with Miranda, it was swift and blind. She was the person I’d elevated to mythical status in my head, in my dreams.

Here’s the thing about dreams, they’re smoke.

They’re spun as thoughts until they become something we think we want. Something we think we need.

That was Miranda. She was smoke.

I thought I wanted her. I thought I needed her.

Over time reality crept in and slowly dissected and disemboweled my dreams like a predator, leaving behind a rotting carcass.

Reality can be a fierce bitch.

So can Miranda.

And I can be a fool…

who believes in dreams.

And people.

And love.

Note from the author: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is recommended for mature audiences only.


★ ★ ★ ★ ★


I feel like I’ve been hit by a semi truck. I don’t think a book has ever taken me through such an array of emotions before. Happy, sad, angry, frustrated, devastated, elated, surprised. Name an emotion, I felt it. I was amazed at the amount of topics Kim Holden was able to cover in this story. It wasn’t the most comfortable story to read the majority of the time, but it was beautiful written.

Most stories begin at the beginning of a relationship. So Much More begins at the end of one. Miranda and Seamus are in the midst of a turbulent divorce. Miranda will do anything to come out on top and be the winner — even if it means destroying the only person who has ever truly loved her. Seamus is taking the divorce hard. He’s putting on a brave face for their children, but it’s taking it’s an emotional and physical toll on him. As they each strive to get what they want from their uncoupling, Miranda and Seamus are forced to confront their pasts together and their futures apart.

So Much More was told in three view points: Miranda, Seamus and Faith. They were well-developed and complex characters. Each had something different and important to bring to the story.

First, let’s talk about Miranda. I absolutely, positively HATED Miranda. I can honestly say I’ve never hated a character so much. She was such a bitch. Every time I read a chapter in her point of view, I would cringe and pray for karma to kick her ass. Reading her chapters made me ill. Did I mention I hate her? I can’t say it enough. Grrr…

Next, there’s Seamus. I loved Seamus. Even at his worst, he couldn’t have been a better person. The love he had for his children was heartwarming. His struggles were real and broke my heart. Seamus’ chapters were hard to read at times because I’ve known several people who have gone through what he was going through on the emotional and physical end of things. I had such admiration for the way he lived his life. He was truly inspirational.

Finally, a ways into the story, there’s Faith. She’s kind of a free spirit who has made the best out of what life has thrown her way. Faith’s positive outlook and loving nature were incredibly beautiful. I loved the perspective she brought to the Seamus and Miranda’s story. She was the light Seamus needed in the storm of his divorce.

The three main characters weren’t the only important ones in this story, though. All of the supporting characters had a major part. They helped shape Miranda, Seamus and Faith’s lives in many different ways. Most of them I loved, a few I loathed. My favorites were definitely Seamus’ kids. Each of their personalities was so special and I felt like I had met them somewhere before.

So Much More was a hard book to rate. It wasn’t the emotionally uplifting story that Bright Side (one of my favorite books EVER) was. I went back and forth several times on how many stars to give it. So much of it filled me with anger and hate. I didn’t like feeling uncomfortable in that way. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t dislike the book. I disliked a character and her actions. The story was actually rather brilliant. Kim Holden approached the topic of a nasty divorce head on and laid it out for everyone to see. It may have been emotionally brutal to read, but in a time in my life where more of my friends are getting divorced than married, it felt real and honest. So Much More is a book that will stick with me for a long time because of all the things it made me feel and, to me, that’s a mark of a 5 star book.

 

ARC Review: Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis

25712281Title: Nobody But You

Series: Cedar Ridge, #3

Author: Jill Shalvis

Publication Date: March 29, 2016

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

SOMETIMES YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN…

After an overseas mission goes wrong, Army Special Forces officer Jacob Kincaid knows where he must go to make things right: back home to the tiny town of Cedar Ridge, Colorado. All he needs to scrub away his painful past is fresh mountain air, a lakeside cabin, and quiet solitude. But what he discovers is a gorgeous woman living on a boat at his dock.

Sophie Marren has nowhere else to go. She’s broke, intermittently seasick, and fighting a serious attraction to the brooding, dishy, I’m-too-sexy-for-myself guy who’s now claiming her dock. Something about Jacob’s dark intensity makes her want to tease—and tempt—him beyond measure. Neither one wants to give any ground . . . until they realize the only true home they have is with each other.


★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Jill Shalvis has been one of my favorite contemporary romance authors for several years now and books like Nobody But You are the reason why. It was witty, heartwarming, sexy and a whole lot of fun.

I have been interested in getting to know our hero, Jacob Kincaid, since I first heard of his disappearance from the Kincaid family in Second Chance SummerMy curiosity was peaked even more after getting to know his twin in My Kind of Wonderful. Jacob didn’t disappoint. He was ruggedly handsome, a little cocky, loyal and kind of sweet. Jacob wasn’t perfect, though. He had his insecurities where he stood with his family.

Jacob couldn’t have found a better match than he did in Sophie Marren. She was a sexy, redheaded spitfire who had turned her back on love after a failed marriage. Sophie was adrift in life, trying to find out where her path should go. Luckily, it lead her right to Jacob.

While Jacob tried to make up his disappearance from their lives to his family, Sophie was just trying to make it day to day. Sophie didn’t let Jacob hide from his past mistakes and Jacob helped Sophie find her way. They were unbelievably cute together and their sexual chemistry was hotter than hot.

I absolutely adored Nobody But You. I didn’t want to put it down, but I also didn’t want it to end. I loved it that much. I’m really, really hoping we get another Cedar Ridge novel. I would love a book about Kenna.

Nobody But You is a must read for contemporary romance readers and Jill Shalvis fans. It can be read as a standalone, but having the background from the first two books might make some of the family dynamic more clear.

**I received an electronic copy of Nobody But You from NetGalley and the author in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Elastic Hearts by Claire Contreras

elastic heartsTitle: Elastic Hearts

Series: Hearts, #3

Author: Claire Contreras

Publication Date: March 20, 2016

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

Victor Reuben.
Most sought out divorce attorney in LA.

Nicole Alessi.
Soon to be ex-wife of Hollywood’s biggest star, Victor’s latest client and his boss’s daughter.

In such a high profile divorce, they can’t afford any extra drama. Luckily, neither one of them has anything to hide.
Unless you count the mind blowing sex they had…
Once…
Twice…
Three times all those years ago.

As long as they leave the past where it belongs, they’ll be fine. But with her wearing those tight dresses and him giving her those heated glances, keeping their hands to themselves is proving to be more difficult than either one of them realized.

It won’t be long before the paparazzi start to smell smoke, and where there’s smoke…


 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


The first book I ever read by Claire Contreras was Kaleidoscope Hearts. I saw Colleen Hoover recommend it on her Facebook page when it was released and decided to read it because I was just getting into reading the New Adult genre. I loved Kaleidoscope Hearts. It was so emotional and brilliant. It made me fall in love with Claire Contreras’ characters and her writing. I was so excited when I saw Elastic Hearts was being released. I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for Estelle’s brother, Victor.

Elastic Hearts was a different type of second chance love story than the first two books in the series. It wasn’t based on an old, deep connection between the main characters. Victor and Nicole’s connection was based on a couple of hook-ups they had a few year ago. Now, they were being thrown together in a lawyer-client situation without anyone knowing about their connection or attraction. They had to pretend it didn’t exists. I liked this change. The secrecy around their hook-ups relationship made the story more exciting. It also put me on edge a couple of times wondering if they were going to end up in trouble.

Victor Reuben is going to be many ladies’ new book boyfriend. (I call dibs!) He was just right parts cocky and sweet. Victor knew what he wanted from life and went for it. When his wants changed, he wasn’t afraid to admit it and go for it — even if he did it cautiously. Nicole was a fun surprise. I expected her to be more confident than she was having been married to a movie star. Her little insecurities made her very relatable. I loved watching Victor and Nicole trying to keep things professional. I’m so happy the story was told in dual points of view, so I could see what was going on in each of their heads.

Elastic Hearts is one of my favorite New Adult releases of 2016 so far. It put a smile on my face the entire time I was reading it. It was witty, smart and sweet. I didn’t want to put it down and I’m sad it’s over. (Although, I can’t wait to see what’s going to come next from Claire Contreras!)  I would highly recommend Elastic Hearts and the entire Hearts series to New Adult readers who enjoy emotional stories filled with amazing characters.

 

Before the Blog: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

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Before the Blog is a weekly blog meme hosted by Karis Jacobstein over @ YA Litwit. It’s an opportunity to showcase books a blogger read and loved prior to starting their blog .  I love this idea because there are so many amazing books I haven’t reviewed on A Novel Glimpse because I read them a long time ago. The only rules to this meme are to answer the following questions about the book chosen to review:

  • Why did you choose this book? 
  • When did you read this book? 
  • Who would you recommend this book to? 

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Publication Date: August 6, 2009

Publisher: Orion

Goodreads Synopsis:

The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family—including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister—have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.

Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it’s a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd’s father died: She’s pregnant.

This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper’s most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind—whether we like it or not.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Why did you choose this book? 

I remember thinking it was pretty hilarious when I read it. I thought they did a pretty good job on the movie version released last year, but (of course) the book was better.

 When did you read this book? 

2009 or 2010. I’m not sure exactly. I picked it up at Borders Books when it was on the new(er) releases shelf.

Who would you recommend this book to?

Adults that enjoy a good, comical book.

If You Only Knew

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

Publication Date: August 25, 2015

Publisher: HQN Books

Synopsis:

Wedding dress designer Jenny Tate had what she thought was going to be her happily ever after. She had the perfect job, the perfect husband and (hopefully) soon the perfect children. But Jenny’s happily ever after imploded when her husband Owen surprised her by asking for a divorce. Now, a couple of years later, Jenny’s stuck with the perfect ex-husband and a new best friend (Owen’s new wife). Her goal of having a family like her sister Rachel’s is down the drain.

Jenny still wants a happily ever after. Putting some distance between her past life in New York, Jenny moves back to her hometown. She’s starting a new boutique and hoping to find love.

Rachel has the perfect life Jenny’s always dreamed of. Her husband, Adam, is a handsome and successful lawyer. She’s the perfect housewife and stay-at-home mother to three beautiful little girls.

Her life is exactly as she wants it…until one text ruins it all. Rachel no longer knows what to believe. Is her husband having an affair or is it a wrong number? Rachel’s always said she would never stay with a cheater, but will she change her mind if her husband isn’t as perfect as she thought he was? Is she willing to walk away from the perfect life they have created together?

During this time of transition, Jenny and Rachel find themselves leaning on each other more than they ever thought they would. Their strengths will help each other make the tough decisions they never thought they would have to make.


My rating: 5 stars


I was kind of scared to read If You Only Knew. That probably sounds lame, but I had a feeling Kristan Higgins’ journey into Women’s Fiction (That’s actually a genre? Is there a Men’s Fiction, too?) was going to tug at my emotions. I wasn’t ready to (maybe) feel sad.

Now that I’ve read it, I’m glad I let If You Only Knew sit on my Kindle a month before reading it. Not because it wasn’t a good book. It was great. It had the sad stuff I was worried about, but it also had the humorous dialogue I’ve appreciated in Ms. Higgins’ past novels. It’s more a case of perfect timing.

The reason I’m glad I waited to read it is more personal. I’ve hit the time in my life when I have several friends going through marriage problems. There has been adultery, emotional affairs, conflict and loss. It’s been hard to watch friends deal with the emotional ups and downs, as well as the fall out. I ache for my friends.

I also ached for Rachel in this book. Her thoughts captivated me. For her, there was no decision that wasn’t going to hurt. Nothing would ever be perfect again. Not that things would never get better. They would never be the same. And that’s okay. The message of If You Only Knew hit home with me and my feelings this week. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Rachel is not the only POV in this book, though. There’s also Jenny. I found her POV, while sometimes sad, to be the humor I needed to round out this novel and keep it from being totally depressing. I could totally see her as a character in one of Higgins’ hilarious Blue Heron novels.

So, who would I recommend If You Only Knew to? This book is geared toward adult women. The characters are in their mid-thirties to forties. I think women in that age range or higher will probably be able to relate to If You Only Knew best. Or anyone who has gone through or is going through a crisis in their marriage.