06 July 2017

Whatever After


From Goodreads:

"Chloe’s got it all: a happy marriage to Hollywood A-lister, Jason Vanderholt, her first child on the way, and the chance to be the maid-of-honor in her best friend, Lori’s, upcoming wedding. The stresses of the past year are behind her… almost.

Chris Winters, Chloe’s half-brother, still isn’t in jail, even though he’s the main suspect in a double homicide. The police don’t have enough hard evidence to charge him with the crime, but Chloe is certain it was him. After all, he tried to kill her when she was a child.

When Chris begins to stalk Lori, Chloe is furious and decides it is past time he was locked up for good. She has the best security team money can buy, yet she knows they’re missing something, and mistakes in this business can be deadly. The deeper she digs, though, the less the facts add up.

Chloe’s got mere weeks to figure out how to keep her best friend safe, save the wedding from disaster, and get Chris back in jail where he belongs. That is, if she can gather enough evidence before he strikes again."

***

My goodness, I love the cover to this book. It perfectly captures the personalities of calm and stoic Chloe and bubbly Lori. The story itself is an excellent entry into the Someone Else's Fairytale series, providing layers to the mystery surrounding Chris and wrapping it up fairly well, with a villain who was unexpected, but absolutely made sense in the context of the story. And that villain was downright freaky.

As with the last couple of books, most especially My Wicked Half-Sister, the story relies heavily on dialogue to move forward. Personally, I don't find this appealing--I want action!--but it doesn't take away from the plot.

I really enjoyed Lori's musings on "happily ever after" versus "whatever after"--basically, the difference between movie endings and real life. In real life, the happy couple has to recommit to choosing to love each other all the time. Movies are one-and-done. But I digress. The book made me hungry for a good chili and wrapped up well. I really enjoyed it.

Gentle Reader Alert: I found nothing of concern.

23 June 2017

Southern Spirits



From Goodreads:

"When out of work graphic designer Verity Long accidentally traps a ghost on her property, she’s saddled with more than a supernatural sidekick—she gains the ability to see spirits. It leads to an offer she can’t refuse from the town’s bad boy, the brother of her ex and the last man she should ever partner with.

Ellis Wydell is in possession of a stunning historic property haunted by some of Sugarland Tennessee’s finest former citizens. Only some of them are growing restless—and destructive. He hires Verity put an end to the disturbances. But soon Verity learns there’s more to the mysterious estate than floating specters, secret passageways, and hidden rooms.

There’s a modern day mystery afoot, one that hinges on a decades-old murder. Verity isn't above questioning the living, or the dead. But can she discover the truth before the killer finds her?"

***

This story gripped me from the very beginning. I really loved that Verity wasn't some mystic or new age believer, but a woman with a normal life who got sucked into events beyond her ken. The supernatural elements weren't cartoon-ish, either, which made the story even better. Verity's connection to Frankie, the 1920s-era gangster, was fun and charming.

The romance wasn't neglected, either, and it's of the slow-burning kind, which makes me happy beyond words. This is a great coming-together story for Verity and Ellis and I'm very intrigued to see what happens next. I was also surprised by the villain, but said villain wasn't unrealistic.

The whole book was sweet and well-written. I really enjoyed it.

Gentle Reader Alert: There were a few swears, including one f-bomb.

Her Imaginary Husband



From Goodreads:


"In an effort to ward off the unwanted advances of the womanizing football coach, Nikki Fallon comes up with the perfect plan. She pretends she's already married. There's only one problem. When she meets the honorable campus cop, she wishes she hadn't started the lie. How can she get rid of an imaginary husband?"

***
I love it when I take a chance on a book and it pays off! This one had a lot of laugh out loud moments. It was fun and absolutely delightful. Nikki balanced well between Coach Carlin and Officer Ross and it was sweet to watch her try to figure out how to relate to the two of them. Her best friend, Janna, was a great friend and well written. These characters were very REAL and the plot was very well done. It was an enjoyable read--great for curling up with on a day when you don't want to go anywhere else.

Gentle Reader Alert: I found nothing of concern.

Kpop Romance Series by Jennie Bennett




(Click the cover to be taken to the synopses on Goodreads.) I was very fortunate to win these three novellas in a Facebook contest. Having been recently converted to kpop myself, it's interesting to see what other fans do with their obsession.

I read the books with two filters in place--I ignored the insta-love and the lack of depth--because these are novellas and there just isn't room to develop more here. With those in place, I thoroughly enjoyed them all! They are fun, fluffy beach reads, with a good plot hook to keep me drawn in and characters that felt realistic. Undercover Fan is definitely the strongest of the three and my favorite, but they are all a good way to pass the time and indulge in a little kpop wish fulfillment.

Gentle Reader Alert: I found nothing of concern.

07 June 2017

The Ghost of You and Me


From Goodreads:

"The tragic death of Spencer Schott unravels the lives of the two people he loved most—his girlfriend Bailey and his best friend Wes. Secrets and guilt from that fateful night keep both Bailey and Wes from overcoming Spencer’s loss and moving on with their lives.

Now, nearly a year later, both Bailey and Wes are still so broken over what happened that Spencer can’t find peace in the afterlife. In order to put his soul to rest, he’s given one chance to come back and set things right...even if that means setting up his girlfriend with his best friend.

With the emotional resonance of Jellicoe Road and the magical realism of The Lovely Bones, The Ghost of You and Me is a story about overcoming grief, finding redemption for past mistakes, and the healing power of friendship and love."

***

This is newest book from one of my favorite authors! It's very serious, which is to be expected, given the subject matter, but still light-hearted in all the right places, demonstrating Kelly's talent with balancing tone. It's really a great story about grief and love and understanding and the power of true friends. The voice is excellent and drew me in. The compelling emotions of everyone involved made me cheer Spencer on and root for his success as he tried to help the loved ones he'd left behind. The Ghost of You and Me was an emotional journey and COMPLETELY worth it.

Gentle Reader Alert:  A few PG-level swears.

Stage Kissed


From Goodreads:

"Sixteen-year-old Kate knows how to juggle. From basketball practices to her shifts at Jamba Juice, Kate flies through her days wondering if she got a decent meal. When she lands a role in the school play, adding yet another task to her already full schedule, Kate starts fumbling through her routine, resorting to desperate measures to get the grades expected of her.

Co-worker and classmate Seth isn’t much of a juggler. Crowds and attention? Not his thing. So witnessing Kate’s ability to handle it all leaves Seth in awe. He could never do it. But then one of the leading actors in the play gets tonsillitis days before opening night, and Kate volunteers Seth to replace him. With his eidetic memory and killer dance moves, Seth’s the obvious choice—if it weren’t for his social anxiety.

With Seth’s growing—and unwanted—popularity and Kate spreading herself too thin, they start to wonder if their friendship will even last through the performances. But putting these two into a romance on stage has an effect neither of them could predict."

***
This was such a charming and wonderful book. TOTALLY worth the sleep I sacrificed for it. I loved Kate's bluntness and fresh voice. I saw the effect of her flaws, but she made realizations and determined to fix them on her own. SO. SPLENDID. She didn't have anyone beating her over the head to make better life choices, which was very in line with her character.

Seth was a fantastic character--he didn't need to change, but got out of his comfort zone nonetheless for Kate. I loved the balance of his highly analytical side with his ability to laugh with Kate and finding ways to teach her.

The relationship built slowly and was beautifully done--the groundwork was laid subtly and well. Kate and Seth complement each other and don't try to change each other--they work with the other person's limitations instead of against them.

This was a really, REALLY well-written story. I read it in one sitting because I loved the characters so much. I highly recommend it.

Gentle Reader Alert: A few PG-level swears.

Blissfully Married


From Goodreads:


"Sidney’s matchmaking business is suffering. When her best friend convinces her to put on a fake engagement ring to boost customer confidence in her, she reluctantly agrees. Couldn’t hurt to try, right? And when her childhood crush comes walking in, she’s glad to have her fake engagement as an excuse not to get involved with him. He shattered her heart ten years ago, and she can’t take another painful Blake incident.

Blake can’t believe it when he sees Sidney, all grown up. She looks amazing. But she’s also off limits, or so he thinks. When he finds out she’s not really engaged, he’s confused as to why Sidney would lie to him. He makes it his goal to coax the truth out of her, even if he has to go to great lengths to do it."

****
Blissfully Married has a good, solid plot, likable characters, and resolves neatly. There's nothing gripping, make you stay up all night and sacrifice your sleep to get to the end, or exciting--it's a perfectly lovely fluffy read, with just enough resistance to Blake by Sidney to keep the reader hooked. There's a certain reliance on telling instead of showing, which will always stick out to me because it drives me nuts, but it doesn't detract from the delightful push-and-pull between our leading guy and gal. Definitely give it a shot when you're in the mood for something light.

Gentle Reader Alert: I found nothing of concern.