March 31, 2014

Four Friends by Robyn Carr

I received a review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Gerri can't decide what's more devastating: learning her rock-solid marriage has big cracks, or the anger she feels as she tries to repair the damage. Always the anchor for friends and her three angst-ridden teenagers, it's time to look carefully at herself. The journey for Gerri and her family is more than revealing—it's transforming.

Andy doesn't have a great track record with men, and she's come to believe that for her a lasting love is out of reach. When she finds herself attracted to her down-to-earth, ordinary contractor—a man without any of the qualities that usually appeal to her—she questions everything she thought she wanted in life.

Sonja's lifelong pursuit of balance is shattered when her husband declares he's through with her New Age nonsense and walks out. There's no herbal tonic or cleansing ritual that can restore her serenity—or her sanity. 

Miraculously, it's BJ, the reserved newcomer to Mill Valley, who steps into their circle and changes everything. The woman with dark secrets opens up to her neighbors, and together they get each other back on track, stronger as individuals and unfaltering as friends.

My Review: I've been enjoying the Thunder Point romance series by Robyn Carr, so I wanted to try out something else that she has written. In a Robyn Carr novel I expect to get flawed, realistic characters that I can relate to, and Four Friends definitely delivered. While I normally gravitate toward romantic stories, I did enjoy the focus on female friendship in this novel. Carr fleshed out each character individually but also demonstrated the strength of their bonds as they supported one another through difficult situations. The four women were all very honest with one another and looked out for each other--they didn't just say what they knew their other friends would want to hear.

Four Friends was slow-paced and character driven, which is a type of book I tend to enjoy. If you like contemporary women's fiction about friendship and love, you should give this one a try!

March 14, 2014

Mercy by Pam Dingée

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

Description: Eden has had a tough year and is trying to bounce back from the tragedy of her father passing recently, and she’s also hoping to learn to love and trust again all while going through a sticky divorce with the Dick. 

Dom is Eden’s BFF’s brother, he’s also a bit of a player and a sexy distraction for Eden. He wants to earn Eden's trust, but she's been burned before and is skeptical. Can Dom help by being a good friend to Eden and steer her in the right direction?

My Review: Eden is 22 years old and has recently lost her father. She’s also going through a messy divorce with Richard, aka Dick. They’ve been married for 3 years, but Eden recently discovered Dick was being unfaithful. For the past month, Eden has been staying in her best friend Aly’s guest house as she saves money to get back on her feet. Eden and Aly work side-by-side at the same beauty salon, and they’ve been close ever since they met while earning their cosmetology degrees at the Las Vegas School of Beauty. Aly’s husband, Sloane, and her older brother, Dominic, work with Dick at Vegas Builds. 

Eden can’t help but be attracted to Dom even though she is pretty sure he’s a big player. Soon she finds out that Dom’s feelings for her run much deeper than friendship, but Eden’s not sure if she’s quite ready to cross that friendship line into something more. She’s still nursing a broken heart and doesn’t want to get hurt again. 

I’ve always enjoyed reading stories about people who were friends first before they fell in love. And Dom was definitely a swoonworthy love interest -- he was hardworking, loyal, protective, funny, cheesy at times...and of course, hot! 

Mercy was a quick and easy read, but the conversational writing style took a little getting used to. It was very informal, almost like sitting down to have coffee or a cocktail with a friend and discussing the ups and downs of her love life. There were a few flashbacks which provided a peek into how Dom and Eden’s friendship and attraction grew over the years, and I wish there were more of these. A couple of times the point of view abruptly switched to Dom’s, and that was a bit jarring. Maybe if there had been more chapters included from his point of view it would have been a smoother transition for the reader. At times I felt annoyed with Eden’s immaturity, but then again, 22 is still pretty young and the characters’ actions seemed realistic for someone that age. 

Despite these small issues, I found Mercy to be an entertaining read and would recommend it to fans of new adult romance.

March 7, 2014

Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen

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

**Spoilers for Scarlet included!**

Description: Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.

My Review: Lady Thief is the second book in a trilogy that is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. Scarlet was an unputdownable read that I raced through in just one day (although I’m sure I’ll go back and reread it again more slowly to savor it!). Lady Thief picks up soon after the events of Scarlet. Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed and she has been forced to marry Gisbourne. Her husband is returning to Nottinghamshire, though no one knows why since there is no sheriff to hire him as a thief taker. They soon find out that when he married Scarlet, he assumed her father’s land and title (Lord Leaford), and the contract also gave him the right to petition the prince for the sheriff position. He makes Scarlet a deal--if she agrees to live with him while the prince is there and try to dress, speak, and act like a lady, he’ll grant her an annulment. 

Considering that the only reason she married him was to save Robin Hood’s life, Scarlet decides to comply with Gisbourne’s wishes. But she can’t help but wonder, What’s the catch? Can she really trust that he will be true to his word? And will Gisbourne be named sheriff, or will the people wishes to see Robin Hood made sheriff come true? 

Wow, what an intense and emotional read! My heart just ached for Scarlet and Rob and all the suffering they had to endure. The love and longing between the two of them felt so real and it almost took my breath away. And those kissing scenes! Let’s just say I had to fan myself a little while reading. I never thought I’d find myself swooning over Robin Hood, but I stand corrected. 

I really admired Scarlet as a heroine. She was stubborn and flawed, but she was also incredibly strong, brave, and devoted to those she loved. When Gisbourne abused her both physically and emotionally, she stood up for herself time and time again like a true fighter. 

So often I am disappointed in sequels or second books in trilogies, but I am happy to say that I loved Lady Thief even more than the first book. I am very much looking forward to the next book in the series (which is as yet untitled). Give this series a try if you like action, adventure, and swoonworthy romance.


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