Review: Wildflower Season (Michelle Major)

Wildflower Season
Series: Carolina Girls, #1
Author: Michelle Major
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

She always followed the path of least resistance…until it leads her to a small town where she can follow her dreams.

When Emma Cantrell’s marriage imploded, she learned a fast and painful lesson about trusting her heart. Then, on a visit to Magnolia, North Carolina, to see her brother, an elegant, if dilapidated, mansion for sale presents the opportunity to start over. Risking everything on her dream of opening the Wildflower Inn, Emma buys the house…just as the storm of the century hits, severely damaging the structure. But a chance meeting with Holly, a bride-to-be in desperate need of a new venue, gives her hope…and the name of a contractor who’ll work fast and cheap, allowing Emma to repair the inn in time to host the wedding and save her investment.

A furniture builder who hasn’t picked up a tool in the five years since his wife died, Cameron Mitchell has no intention of agreeing to help this beautiful—and, he’d guess, entitled—woman insisting that he fix her inn. Until he learns that Emma was sent by Holly, the little sister of his late wife. Grudgingly, Cameron agrees to do the work, with one condition: that he be left completely alone. But the more time they spend together, the more Emma touches a part of his heart he was sure died long ago, forcing him to try making peace with his past.


The Carolina Girls series is a spin-off of The Magnolia Sisters series. It’s set in the same small town of Magnolia with nods to the original sisters, but can be read as a standalone romance.

Emma is a transplant to Magnolia. She fell in love with a house and wants to turn it into an inn. She’s basically there to reinvent herself, but she quickly makes friends. Cam grew up in Magnolia, but has tried to avoid people since the death of his wife. When Emma approaches Cam to help her with construction at her inn, sparks fly. Cam and Emma’s relationship was sweet. Their start at co-workers helped develop a strong friendship (with benefits). I loved how they influenced each other to accept the past and move on from it.

One of the fun things about this book was the small town setting. It made the connections between all of the characters fun. Everyone knew everyone. The couples from The Magnolia Sisters series popped up here and there. A bunch of new characters were introduced. I liked seeing possible relationships that could pop up in future books. Although, there were times that all these introductions felt like it slowed down Cam and Emma’s story. I guess maybe that’s understandable for a first book in a new series.

Overall, Wildflower Season was a good read. The North Carolina setting was beautiful. Both the main characters and the side characters had depth. I enjoyed that everything wrapped up nicely at the end. It was a good start to the series.

Review: Justified (Jay Crownover)

Justified
Series: Loveless, Texas, #1
Author: Jay Crownover
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series delivers a romance about a rugged Texas sheriff who must protect the woman who was once his sworn enemy…

Case Lawton comes from a family of criminals. So as the sheriff of Loveless, Texas, he’s determined to do everything by the book–until he’s called to Aspen Barlow’s office after a so-called break-in. The last thing he wants to do is help the woman who cost him custody of his son. But Aspen isn’t the heartless lawyer Case remembers, and he starts to question his long-held grudge…

Aspen is scared for her life, and Case is her last hope for protection. But to get him on her side, she’ll have to reveal the painful truth from all those years ago. Now, as they work together to track down a dangerous criminal, Case and Aspen learn to trust each other. And as the threats escalate, it becomes clear there’s a thin line between love and hate… because there’s nothing Case wouldn’t do to keep her safe.


Justified was one of those solid romantic reads. Aspen and Case were enemies at the start and their dramatic interactions were perfect. I loved how Case hated her while Aspen wished he didn’t. They way their walls came down when they were forced to share space and trust each other was fun to read. Things went quickly between them, but it felt natural with all that was going on.

And there was a ton going on! I’m not normally into romantic suspense, but Justified had just the right kind and amount of it. I was very curious to know who had it out for Aspen and why. I have to admit I was shocked who was behind everything. I didn’t see it coming at all!

One of my favorite things about this book was Case’s relationship with his son, Hayes. It really showed what a great man Case was. I liked how he supported his son when it came to his mother and relationships with girls. I also liked how Aspen fit into that relationship.

Justified was another great romance by Jay Crownover. There wasn’t one thing I didn’t like about it. I truly enjoyed every minute I spent with it. I can’t wait to read what’s next in this series!

Review: Hollywood Dirt (Alessandra Torre)

Hollywood Dirt
Author: Alessandra Torre
Publication Date: September 7, 2015
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Cole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Watch out Los Angeles, there’s a new bad boy in town.

Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year.

We were from different worlds. Our lives shouldn’t have collided. But then Cole Masten read a book about my small town. And six months later, his jet landed on our dusty airstrip, and he brought Hollywood with him.

From the start, I knew he was trouble. For our town. And for me.

Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract.


Alessandra Torre is an author I’m slowly discovering. The three books I have now read written by her have all been different. Moonshot was romantic suspense. The Ghostwriter was a psychological thriller. Hollywood Dirt was a contemporary romance. I think I can safely say that Torre’s writing can’t be confined to one box. She’s able to crossover genres and write just about anything. I love her writing style no matter what she’s writing.

As I was saying, Hollywood Dirt is a contemporary romance. It’s set in the small town of Quincy, Georgia where there are a bunch of Coca Cola stock millionaires. The heroine, Summer, is not one of those people. She’s a young woman who hasn’t had the best of luck. Summer is the town outcast until Cole Masten comes to town. Cole is a uber famous actor who is making a movie about the history of the town. Summer and Cole are fireworks from the start. They don’t get off on the right track and quickly become enemies, but there’s that thin line between love and hate…

What I loved about Hollywood Dirt is that I was instantly drawn to Summer and all things Quincy. I loved the small town feel of the book and all the little things went into living in Quincy. I loved slowly discovering Summer’s history with the town. Her inner strength and how she was capable of standing her ground no matter who she was dealing with was awesome. She had spunk and I loved it. Summer wasn’t perfect, though, and her doubts and insecurities were so relatable.

My relationship with Cole Masten was much like Summer’s: it was love-hate. I didn’t particularly like him at first. He had the ego to go along with his celebrity status. I did like how his character grew and reexamined his choices, though. He ended up being a good guy in the end. I think my biggest issue with him (and this book) was the way he approached a part of his (non-)relationship with Summer. His actions were just sketchy and kind of skeezy.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hollywood Dirt. It had a great summery feel that would make it a fun beach read. I can easily see why it was made a movie.

Outspoken

Outspoken by Lora Richardson

Publication Date: Agust 18, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace

Synopsis:

One thing Penny has never been in life is outspoken. She’s always gone with the flow and done what everyone wanted her to do. Others’ opinions have always mattered more than her own. But that’s going to change.

Penny’s going to spend her summer before (maybe) going to college at the beach in South Carolina. She’s going to leave her seven siblings and Montana hometown behind. She’s using checking up on her elderly grandfather as her excuse, but in reality Penny wants to break away from the person she was before. For once in her life, she’s going to be the person she wants to be. Penny’s going to be outspoken.

Just as Penny’s starting to gain her independence, she meets Archer. Everyone tells her to avoid him, but Penny feels drawn to him. While Penny’s trying to be her own person, she can’t help but worry about Archer’s opinion. Will her worrying about what Archer thinks be the end to her new life? Will she continue to be outspoken or will she revert to the girl who simply goes with the flow?


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Outspoken is a coming of age tale. It’s set in that time in life when a young adult is trying to find themselves and their voice. Penny’s no longer a child, but she’s not sure how to be an adult and stand up for herself yet.

Outspoken is one of those books that is harder for me to review. While I loved the story and writing, I disliked the main character Penny. She rubbed me the wrong way. I know she was trying to be truthful, but her delivery was lacking finesse. Everything that came out of her mouth was so negative. I know she was striving to speak her mind, but if she was a new friend of mine, our friendship wouldn’t last long. She never seemed like she even wanted to hang out with her new friends, Gwen and Marissa. She needed to learn giving in to spend time with her friends didn’t always equate to giving up a piece of herself. But that’s part of what this story was about, so I feel bad complaining! Penny was just trying to find her voice.

Despite my dislike for Penny, I did enjoy the storyline. I liked how she set out on her own to discover herself. What she was going through was very relatable. And Penny did have her redeeming moments. I could see a glimpse of the sweet person she was when she went above and beyond to help the people she met through her job at the grocery store. I also loved the way she wanted to take care of her grandfather, Cal. My favorite Penny was the person she was when she was with Archer. She seemed to find a happy medium when she was with him. She wasn’t quite as negative but she also didn’t lose herself in him. I wanted to read more of this Penny.

What I enjoyed most about Outspoken was the cast of supporting characters. I loved them all! Gwen and Marissa were a ton of fun. Archer was the silent, brooding “bad boy” with a lot of depth. All of Penny’s grocery delivery customers were interesting and added a ton of dimension to the story. Penny’s family seemed really fun, too. I would have liked to read more about them and their relationships with each other. I have a feeling they would have been a hilarious bunch.

So while I didn’t always enjoy Penny, I did always enjoy the story. I thought it was a great YA coming of age story about a girl on the path to adulthood trying to find herself. I think this book would be highly beneficial for young adults going through that time in their lives to read.

**I received an electronic copy of Outspoken from the author in exchange for an honest review.