February 28, 2014

Curl Up and Dye by Sharon Sala

I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Originally reviewed for Book Soulmates.

Description: A brand new Southern women's fiction from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sharon Sala who has 1.5 million books sold.

Wally Lamb meets Steel Magnolias in this story of LilyAnn Bronte, the Peachy-Keen Queen, which in Blessings, Georgia, was the epitome of success. After losing her fiance in the war in Iraq, her zest for life went into decline while added weight crept on. When a new guy arrives in town, LilyAnn embarks on a quest to remake herself from start to finish only to discover that love was always just right next-door.

My Review: Back in high school, LilyAnn Bronte was the head cheerleader, the homecoming queen, and the valedictorian. She dated the star quarterback, Randy Joe, and was named the Peachy Keen Queen. She seemed to have everything going for her and her future was bright until Randy Joe joined the Army and went off to war, never to return. Not only did LilyAnn lose her first love, she also lost her way in life. Years later, she is still grieving Randy Joe, and she has let herself go in many ways. She’s stayed out of the dating pool but has only recently started to feel as if she might want to jump back in. When a handsome new man comes to town, it motivates her to start taking better care of herself with a major lifestyle overhaul. She believes that she needs to get her act together and work on her appearance if she wants to attract and impress this newcomer. 

What LilyAnn doesn’t know, however, is that there already is a man who loves her just the way she is. Mike Dalton, her neighbor and childhood friend, has never mustered up the courage to tell LilyAnn how he feels. So he continues to pine for her secretly and give her the space she needs to grieve her loss. He can’t help but wonder, what will it take for LilyAnn to notice him as more than a friend? Or is it too late--will she end up falling for another man instead? 

I enjoyed this sweet love story set in the charming town of Blessings, Georgia. The tone is lighthearted for most of the story (except for a few intense scenes). The secondary characters were all interesting in their own right, especially Ruby Dye, beautician and owner of The Curl Up and Dye hair salon. It was fun to see just how much Ruby knew about everyone’s business since her salon functioned as a sort of town confessional. Gossip moved pretty quickly through this small town, and Ruby always had the scoop. She also helped people work through their problems. My mom is a hairdresser, and I think she’d really like this character, too! 

I’m interested in seeing where this series goes and which characters are featured in the next book. If you like The Curl Up and Dye, you can also check out Color Me Bad, a novella also set in Blessings, Georgia.

February 21, 2014

One Rogue Too Many by Samantha Grace

I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Originally reviewed for Book Soulmates

Description: When two of the ton's most eligible bachelors fall for the same young woman, only one will win her heart...

Anthony Keaton, Earl of Ellis, and Baron Sebastian Thorne have been competing since childhood. Now, they both have their eyes set on Lady Gabrielle. 

Gabby feels like a fool for trusting in Anthony—but she doesn't know the whole truth. Determined to guard her heart this time around, she's looking for a man who is steadfast and eloquent. 

Sebastian knows this is his one chance to steal her heart. He has everything she's looking for. But when Anthony finally reveals his true feelings, how will she choose between the two?

My Review: Lady Gabrielle Forest is secretly betrothed to Anthony Keaton, Earl of Ellis. They grew up together, and he is her brother Drew’s best friend. Gabby has always had feelings for him. Lately, Anthony has been in Wales, but Gabby does not know the true reason for his absence and isn’t quite sure if she can trust him. Anthony isn’t yet ready to reveal all of the secrets of his past, including his first wife’s betrayal and the true father of their child, Annabelle, who is now being raised by an aunt. To make matters worse, Gabby is given false information about Anthony, which makes her question his integrity and trustworthiness.

Baron Sebastian Thorne has been competing with Anthony since childhood. He has set his sights on Gabby and decided that he will win her heart. Lords Corby and Ledbery bet on how long it will take Thorne to woo Gabby and steal her away from Anthony. When Anthony discovers that Gabby has been seen on a carriage ride and dancing with Thorne, he doesn’t believe it. Deep down, Gabby knows her heart belongs to Anthony, but she also feels inexplicably drawn to Thorne, who is keeping secrets of his own. Both men must prove their love to her and try to win her hand in marriage. 

One Rogue Too Many was an entertaining read, but I thought the competition to woo Gabby started off a bit silly (for example, the men were both challenged to write her a sonnet). And some of the events (I won’t spoil them!) seemed kind of far-fetched, and I found it hard to believe that the conflicts that arose would be resolved so easily and without scandal. At times I was frustrated with all of the main characters because their lack of communication led to misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions. Being open and honest would have save them all a lot of heartache and trouble! 

I really like when romances develop between people who were friends first, so that was a fun aspect of this book. There was a flashback at the beginning to when Gabby and Anthony were younger. I wish there had been a few more of those included to get a glimpse into their past and why Gabby fell in love with Anthony in the first place! Despite the complaints, I did enjoy reading this fast-paced story, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a light, fun read with not one, but two handsome love interests competing to win the heroine’s heart. 

February 14, 2014

Big Sky Secrets by Linda Lael Miller

I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Originally reviewed for Book Soulmates

Description: Self-made tycoon Landry Sutton heads to Hangman Bend's Ranch to sell his land to his brother Zane. Though he's got cowboy in his blood, Landry plans to return to city life before the dust even settles on his boots. Of course, he didn't count on falling for Big Sky Country…or Ria Manning. 

Ria's starting to settle into country life herself…until she has a close encounter of the terrifying kind with a buffalo. Turns out the peeping monster belongs to the cowboy next door—and he has her running even more scared than his bison. She wants a home where the buffalo don't roam, and the men don't either. Could Landry's homecoming be her heart's undoing?

My Review:  Landry Sutton and his older brother Zane each own half of Hangman’s Bend, a ranch outside Three Trees, Montana which they bought sight unseen a few years ago. Previously, Landry had been living in Chicago and working his way up the ranks of Ingersoll Investments. After his failed marriage to the boss’s daughter, Susan, he moved out to Montana.

Ria Manning, a widow, bought a flower farm and moved to Montana around the same time as Landry. She has disliked him from the start, thinking him arrogant and a little too full of himself. Yet she can’t deny her strong physical attraction to him any time he comes around. She just has to be careful not to let anyone get too close to her. In addition to dealing with the loss of her husband, she’s struggling with the fact that he betrayed her trust by cheating on her. She isn’t sure she’ll ever love again.

One day Landry’s buffalo herd tramples Ria’s flowers, and when he comes over to assess the damage, he kisses her out of the blue. He convinces her to go out with him, despite her hesitations. There actually wasn’t much else going on plot-wise between Landry and Ria. They went on one date and Ria got drunk, which caused a bit of a scandal and gossip, but that was all cleared up quickly. Most of the plot seemed to revolve around issues with each of their families. Ria’s 16-year-old niece, Quinn, shows up unexpectedly and stays for the summer due to problems at home with her mom. Landry’s father shows up asking for money after getting into trouble while gambling. So when Landry and Ria are suddenly declaring their love for one another, I wasn’t sure what had happened to make them fall in love. It was clear that they were magnetically attracted to one another, and I loved their playful banter, but I just didn’t believe that they were in love so quickly.

I’ll admit that I have not read the previous books in the Parable, Montana series, but I think this one, the series finale, actually stands alone pretty well for new readers. I wasn’t confused at all while reading, and while characters from previous books made cameos, this book was focused on Landry and Ria plus their families. The secondary characters were interesting, and I may go back and read some of the earlier books in the Parable, Montana series to get their stories.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the lush descriptions of the landscape. Right away, I was swept up in the descriptions of the beautiful Montana setting, and I could picture it very well despite never having travelled there myself.

February 4, 2014

Week in Review (5)

Here's what I read last week:

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
I own this one in print, but I saw the audiobook at the library and decided to check it out. The author narrates it and does a fantastic job. I was drawn into the story immediately and couldn't stop listening. I saw recently that the title has been changed to What We Lost. I actually prefer the original title because I think it fits really well with the theme of the story and the main character's struggles with faith. But the newly updated cover image looks nice and reminds me of a scene in the book. So if it were up to me, I'd pair the old title with the new cover!

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
I've had this on my TBR list for a while, so I finally checked it out from the library. It's a well-written true story about the author's mother who is dying of cancer and the books they discuss when he takes her to doctor appointments and chemotherapy treatments. Yes, as you would expect, there are some sad parts, but overall this book is a moving and inspiring tribute to the author's mother and the power of reading.

The Curl Up and Dye by Sharon Sala
This is one that I'm reviewing for the Book Soulmates blog. I was interested in it because I enjoy books set in the South, and my mom is a hairdresser so the title and cover looked interesting to me. It was a quick, fun read with colorful characters and plenty of southern charm. Watch for my full review over at Book Soulmates!

February 1, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (14)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
 It's all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual.

For Review



What did you add to your shelves this week? 


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