In all Ms Hart's books, I've really enjoyed the British settings and the writing. I think it's the romance and the charact...more**spoiler alert** 3.5/5 (C+)
In all Ms Hart's books, I've really enjoyed the British settings and the writing. I think it's the romance and the characters that just don't do it for me ^_^;
In Juggling Baby & Briefcase, I really didn't mind the secret baby plot, because it was executed quite differently. Basically, Romy had a brief affair, wounded up pregnant and returned to London. She never told the father, because he got back with his ex-girlfriend, now fiancée; however, as Freya is growing, Romy figures her daughter should get to know her father. So basically, the secret baby plot had nothing to do with Lex and that's what I found interesting. I also applauded Ms Hart for taking this direction with the storyline, as it is pretty unusual in my opinion. Instead, the part I found cliché is Lex and Romy having to fake a relationship in order to close the deal... although it did force Lex to spend time with Romy.
I thought Lex was quite an interesting character. I would like to say that I liked him, but it's not really possible, because he was not very likable ^_^; He was too hard-edged and uncompromising in my opinion. I did like the way that Ms Hart developed him, I understood what shaped him and what pushed him to be the man he is. It's quite unfair that he had to spend his whole life trying to prove himself to his father, gain acceptance, while it was so easy for his brother... Being first-born is really a hard job in certain circumstances and really unfair :( Likewise, I think that Ms Hart also did a good job developing Romy's character. Unfortunately, I found her harder to like, which is quite a surprise because I usually love free-spirit characters and from the blurb, that's what Romy seemed to be. My biggest issue was Romy wanting Lex to do the first step - acknowledged her in the company or at Lex' brother's wedding - for them to re-connect, when she's the one who turned him down. She wanted to know that he still cared, that she still meant something to him... and I thought it was quite selfish of her. It was also selfish of her not to want Freya to develop any attachment to father figures. I mean, yes, Romy was hurt when her father left her mother for another woman... and I understand that Romy was trying to protect Freya... and I shouldn't say anything because I've never been in that position, but really...
I enjoyed Lex scenes with Freya and actually wished for more. I think Ms Hart did a great job at portraying the child and how babies behave. As for Lex and Romy, I actually want a little more development. It just felt flat for me, these two who supposedly never got over each other. They just didn't seem to be able to trust each other and I think that's sad in a relationship :(
Overall, I liked the book, but was far from loving it. I guess because there was a baby, I was expecting something a bit cuter. Instead, Juggling Baby & Briefcase was more a fast and brisk read. (less)
After reading Texas Glory, I really wanted to read Texas Splendor. I was hoping that the heroine wouldn't be Austin's sweethe...more**spoiler alert** 4/5 (B)
After reading Texas Glory, I really wanted to read Texas Splendor. I was hoping that the heroine wouldn't be Austin's sweetheart - just because I think it would have been too boring ^_^; So I was really glad to find out that Austin was going to be paired up with a heroine we haven't been introduced to yet :) I think Texas Splendor was a great sequel to Texas Glory and wraps up this trilogy very well :)
I really liked the changes in Austin between Texas Glory where he was young and carefree to Texas Splendor, where he has hardened. It hasn't made him bitter and cynic, but obviously, it has changed him, made him more down-to-earth and wary. It was also sad that his family did not understand. They meant well and they loved him and wanted to support him, but they could not understand what he went through. It was also heart-breaking when Austin found out that Becca had not waited for him :( Everything was really well written and very realistic and I thought Austin had really become a man after all he went through.
Loree was an interesting character, another very admirable woman. I think she was exactly what Austin needed - someone who did not know Austin before and who made her own mind about him after she's spent time getting to know him. However, I had a little bit of difficulty connecting with her... After a while, I just got a bit impatient because I thought with Austin, she could get over what has happened in her life... but then, everything made sense at the end, since her big secret had yet to be revealed ^_^;
I enjoyed the romance, but at one point, it was tiring the doubts between them. I understand why Loree was so reluctant and hesitant, that she wasn't sure about Austin's love for her. Nothing less romantic than have your lover scream another woman's name and then have him marry you because you're pregnant... Let say, it's pretty hard to overcome. However, you know how it is obvious to readers, to everyone else that the H/H are in love, except for them? Then again, I think Austin had the biggest grand gesture I've ever seen and at the end, there was no doubt for either :)
I also think Ms Heath did a great job with the storyline. There was a lot going on: the romance, finding the killer and Austin discovering himself and I think Ms Heath really handled it well and kept it interesting. I really like the last part of the story where Austin finally finds out what he wants out of life besides Loree and a family. I think it made sense and really fit Austin :) She has did a great job inserting the familiar faces into the story and the characters stayed true to themselves :) I loved reading about Dee and Dallas and their family, loved the scene where Dallas was a jerk - because that's so him, making mistake because he cares so much ^_^; Also, everything was tied up neatly and well... and that might be my only other complaint... About the identity of Boyd's killer - what was the chance? It worked, everything from previous books fell into place to lead to this ending... but I thought it was just such a huge coincidence ^_^; But then, coincidences do happen, so it's probably me just being picky ^_^;
All in all, I really enjoyed Texas Splendor and thought it was a very satisfying ending to this trilogy :) However, Austin and Loree didn't grip me as Dallas and Dee did and then, there's the identity of the killer... so 4/5 :P(less)
Flat-Out Love has been on my radar ever since Ms Heather Webber gave it a 5 stars on Goodreads. Unfortunately, it wasn't only...more**spoiler alert** 4/5 (B)
Flat-Out Love has been on my radar ever since Ms Heather Webber gave it a 5 stars on Goodreads. Unfortunately, it wasn't only available on Kindle. Then, a few months later, I checked it out again and lo and behold, it was now available in epub format! Hurrah! So I was really excited when I started reading the book.
I really liked the feel of the book. In Flat-Out Love, we follow Julie as she navigates through her first year of college and the Watkins dynamics. I really liked that the book spans several months. It gave the readers the opportunity to really get to know Julie as well as understand the dynamics of the Watkins and this was very important. Too often nowadays, plots and romance are rushed because of the timeline of a few days. So this was a definitive plus for Flat-Out Love. I also loved reading about Julie's college life - social such as making new friends, starting new relationships, as well as academic - choosing classes, attending them, midterms, etc. Ms Park definitively did a great job at creating the right feel for the book.
Unfortunately, while I enjoyed reading about Julie's life, I didn't like the character itself as much as I wanted to ^_^; In truth, Julie is really a nice young woman. She's pretty mature, she's smart and enjoys college and the opportunity of learning, she cares about others and wants to help out... Like I said, a pretty nice young woman. What bothered me with her though is that I thought she cared too much about what other people thought and appearances. Not to the extent of high school where she's trying to fit in and be part of the cool crowd, but to the extent I felt she was a conformist. For example, the first impression she gets of Matt is that he's a geek based on his t-shirt... and that impression stayed with her very long. Simply because he'd rather stay home and play video games, hang out on forums, etc. instead of going out and hanging out with people. She took pity on Celeste because she wasn't acting like a regular teenager. Even herself, back in her hometown, she had to hide the fact that she liked school, enjoyed literature. Why? Is it wrong to be different? To enjoy different things? To be your own person? I don't think that Julie thought it was wrong per se, but some of her actions made it seems so. The other issue I had with Julie's character is I thought she was a bit meddlesome. I know she wanted to help and her intentions were sincere, but the fact is she didn't know what was going on and without that crucial information, what she did could have been harmful. Sometimes, helping consists of giving a hand and that's easy. However, as soon as you dwell into something more profound, you have to be careful. I think the part where Matt scolds Julie after Celeste's sleeping-party was correct. You cannot just swoop in and fix what you think is wrong with one fingers snap while there's someone who's been on the sideline the whole time, observing and helping at a slower pace. It was presumptuous on Julie's part and I'm glad Matt called her on it. Oh, I'm not saying that Julie didn't help Celeste out, because she did. I think that without Julie, Celeste would not have healed as fast and as I said, Julie's intentions were sincere... but yeah, I found Julie presumptuous and it bothered me a little. Otherwise though, I had no problem with Julie and I think Ms Park did a good job at making her realistic.
I really liked Matt. He could be considered as a beta hero. He's silent and a bit geeky, but he's there for you and has your back. He was also a very, very good brother and I liked that. I really felt for him at the end when he tells Julie the truth. It must have been such a weight on his shoulders and it says a lot that he could hold it together. I understand why Julie was hurt by Matt's actions and he admitted he knew it was wrong... However, given the circumstances, it was hard to be mad at him and begrudge him those moments where he could be himself.
I also really liked Celeste. She was an interesting character and crucial to the book. I liked her maturity and her mannerism :) I figured out quite early in Flat-Out Love what was the reason that Celeste was carrying a life-sized cardboard cutout of Finn... and I have to say I'm surprised Julie didn't.
There was a touch of romance in Flat-Out Love. Not the focus of the book, but one that was still quite satisfying and I think it's because of the timeline in the book. Since they knew each other, it was just more believable :)
I wasn't sure when I started Flat-Out Love what kind of book it was. For some reasons, I thought it'd be a funny book ^_^; What I got was a solid, well-written book with well-developed and flawed characters and a story with a lot more depth than I expected. Based on the storyline, I'm not sure I would go back and re-read, but I would definitively read more by this author :) (less)
I'm a bit torn with Yours to Keep. The Kowalski series is very popular and Yours to Keep has been getting a great buzz around blogland and w...more4.5/5 (B+)
I'm a bit torn with Yours to Keep. The Kowalski series is very popular and Yours to Keep has been getting a great buzz around blogland and while I want to love it as much as everyone else... I don't. Oh, don't get me wrong, the book was good and I enjoyed it... but it wasn't a wowzer to me. It simply doesn't reach me as it seems to reach everyone else and I find that overall, the book and the series is missing a bit of omphf.
Similarly to previous books, Yours to Keep is a character-centric/relationship-focus book and I'm really happy about that. I think that there's not enough of these in contemporary romance nowadays... and it's even better when all the elements - the writing, the characters, the relationship development - are handled by an author as skilled as Ms Stacey. I thought Emma and Sean were great characters because they were so real. I understood Emma's motives and was glad that Sean helped her. I don't think they had great chemistry, but their relationship and interactions were real as well. For me, what set Yours to Keep apart from most of the books with similar plots is that their scheme definitively had flaws and Emma's grandmother saw through them right away. An engaged couple has this aura, this intimacy that even if there's attraction between the two persons, it cannot be faked...
While I enjoyed Emma and Sean, what I preferred were the dynamics between all characters. How well Emma's grandmother knew Emma, the ribbing between the Kowalski cousins, the bet they had going, the jealousy between brothers... LOL, the fact that Sean had to bribe his nephews and niece LOL. Also, Ms Stacey did a great job at balancing everything - Emma and Sean had just the right amount of time, readers were able to catch up with the previous characters without them stealing the show and the grandmother's romance.
Oh and can I say I loved Sean's grand gesture at the end? Awwww. Also, the post-it relationship was pretty cute :)
All in all, there is a lot to like about this book. In fact, objectively, Yours to Keep is excellent and I have no issue with it at all... Except that it just didn't grab me, reach me ^_^; I guess that's on me and not on the book.(less)
What I liked? Surprisingly, I ended up liking Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have). When I first start the book...more**spoiler alert** 3.5/5 (B-)
What I liked? Surprisingly, I ended up liking Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have). When I first start the book, I felt that April was not responsible... mainly because she lied to her father and that made me uncomfortable. See, the book opens with the end and the story is basically a long flashback of what happened to get there. So the beginning makes April looks quite bad... However, after you've read her journey, it all makes sense and it's no longer that bad :P Actually, you realize those months she lived on her own with Vi, she did her best... Yes, there were some errors of judgement, but overall, she didn't do badly and definitively gained in maturity :)
What I liked the most about Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) was the realistic feel of the book. Okay, some parts were a bit unrealistic like April and Vi's subterfuge of setting up two email accounts and pretending to be each other's parents to reassure them that everything was okay... And buying the hot tub - really? However, April's feelings and the stuff she goes through during this time - that felt really real. I also liked that Ms Mlynowski addressed April and her boyfriend's first time. How she got on the pill, etc. And how later on, there was talk about the pressure of the first time and how it caused him to cheat.
Seriously, I have to give credit to Ms Mlynowski because it's her writing and style that made the book. She doesn't beat around the bush and doesn't sugarcoat reality: her characters have sex, they drink, they stay out late and hang out... They act as normal teenagers do and it's something that I feel a lot of adults don't acknowledge. Oh you always hear about parents complaining about the adolescent years, but that has more to do with their moodiness and rebellious attitude towards authority. When it comes to sex, alcohol and swearing, they prefer to idealize their teens. The reality is that a lot of teenagers - not all of them, but a lot - have heard and use swear words such as damn, shit and the f-bomb. A lot of them become sexually active during those years and they might not be able to buy their own booze, but it doesn't stop them from finding ways to get some. So I really appreciated Ms Mlynowski's candor and in my opinion, it made Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) refreshing and a nice change of pace for a contemporary YA.
Any Issues? I don't know have any real big issues with the book itself... However, I simply didn't enjoy the story as much as I did Gimme a Call. I liked that Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) was very realistic, but I find I didn't connect as much with April and what happened to her.
My Grade? 3.5/5 (B-). Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) is a good contemporary YA, but probably better suited to a more matured audience. I'm glad that I have found another YA author to look out for :)(less)
I'm going to start this review by a confession... I don't like self-published books ^_^; I know most of my reasons is all...more**spoiler alert** 4.5/5 (A-)
I'm going to start this review by a confession... I don't like self-published books ^_^; I know most of my reasons is all about prejudices, but I can't help it. So while I did enjoy Ms Mayberry's books in the past, when I found out that she self-published Her Best Worst Mistake, I was a bit wary. Then, good reviews started popping up and after reading Hilcia's, I knew I had to give this book a try. Especially since the story trope was opposites attract and the hero was a stuffy shirt!
In the end, I'm soooo glad I read Her Best Worst Mistake because I have only one word to describe it: wow! I can with assurance that it is my favorite Sarah Mayberry book to date! Yep, that's how much I looooove Her Best Worst Mistake and it's all thanks to Violet and Martin, because they made the book for me :) The characters were likable, well developed and the chemistry - so hot that it burned the pages! I thought it was clever from Ms Mayberry to have the two characters not really understand each other. Yes, they've been interacting for years, but always kept their distance... so they had misconceptions about each other. And those cleared up as time passed in their relationship. That way, the readers really got to know the characters :) I also really liked how Martin and Violet came together and how their relationship progressed. Yes, it was lust and sex at first, but it quickly deepened into something more. I think the turning point was when they both admitted they wanted each other... and I liked that they precised that if Martin and Elizabeth had married, neither would have made a move. Also, Ms Mayberry proved that you don't need that much conflict in your romance to be interesting. Instead, I like how honest and upfront Martin and Violet were. Of course, my favorite part in all this was how Martin was supportive of Violet, especially after he learned about her estrangement with her family.
Interestingly enough, once Martin and Violet became a couple, the focus of the story shifted away from the "opposites attract" trope. In fact, it turns out that Martin wasn't boring at all. Perhaps a little bit of a stuffy shirt, but not as much as the readers were made to believe. I think that when Martin and Violet finally hooked up, the real Martin surfaced. It seems that while he was with Elizabeth, Martin didn't only stifle her, but himself as well in his quest of betterment and respectability. With Violet, he was able to be more himself and I liked that. I also found it refreshing that Her Best Worst Mistake was not about changing either characters. Yes, Martin was able to let loose, but it wasn't because Violet suddenly showed him how to relax and have fun. I mean, Martin didn't change his work habits or clothing habits... He was just less stuffy because Violet made him more comfortable. Instead, the conflict shifted towards Violet's insecurity and emotions about the relationship and her friendship with Elizabeth. I thought it was extremely well-executed by Ms Mayberry and way more interesting and refreshing.
My only complaint about Her Best Worst Mistake is I think Violet kept the truth from Elizabeth a bit too long... and I have to say, I didn't care much about Elizabeth ^_^; It always seemed to be Violet listening and being there for Elizabeth and not vice-versa. True, Violet withhold the truth, but for two best friends, Elizabeth didn't even seem to realize something was going with Violet, that she wasn't acting differently. Also, it didn't seem to me like Elizabeth inquired about Violet's life. I know Elizabeth was going through a lot at the same time, but she seemed a bit like a crappy friend ^_^; However, I did like Elizabeth's reaction when she finally found out :)
All in all, I loved Her Best Worst Mistake :) If this is the quality level of Ms Mayberry's self-published books, well please, write more LOL. Obviously, there were great characters, good story and good writing, but in my opinion, it also worked because Ms Mayberry was able to crank up the sexiness level :) And amazingly, while Her Best Worst Mistake was a short book, it didn't feel short... so kudos to Ms Mayberry for an excellent book :) (less)
I read and enjoyed previous installments in this series, but I didn't love them like the majority from whom I read reviews...more**spoiler alert** 2.5/5 (C-)
I read and enjoyed previous installments in this series, but I didn't love them like the majority from whom I read reviews. And once again, I'm most probably going to be in the minority where it concerns All He Ever Needed.
Overall, the story was okay. I mean, when it came to the romance, there wasn't much we haven't seen. The hero wants a fling, the heroine succumbs, they have a good time but eventually realize what they have is more. As a secondary storyline, you have the Northern Star Lodge that is not really doing well financially which brings back another of their brother, Ryan, to check it out. While in truth, Josh is just tired of taking care of it, being the youngest, he was kind of stuck with the lodge while his older siblings got to spread their wings and do what they wanted. In that sense, I do think the older siblings were a bit selfish, just assuming Josh liked taking care of the lodge. Then again, Josh is old enough to express his opinions and could have voiced his displeasure earlier. There were a few more storylines such as the part-time lodge housekeeper's 26 years feud with a friend of her late husband... but the most interesting one involved Mitch's best friend, Drew Miller who is the sheriff. He and his wife are going through a rough patch, because Drew wants to have children and his wife doesn't. As I said, the situation is quite interesting and the arguments on both sides make sense. The problem though is what the wife doesn't understand is that Drew is not choosing hypothetical kids over their years of marriage, what he can't get past is having been lied to for his entire marriage. Definitively not a clear cut, but I can still take side :)
So what was my issue with All He Ever Needed? Basically, Mitch's behavior. There's something about his attitude that just rubbed me wrong... and I know I'm in the minority here, but please, just hear me out. I was fine with the fact that Mitch wanted to have a fling, six weeks of pure fun and something temporary. My problem was he saw Paige, was attracted and wanted to have the fling with her. He was warned very early that Paige haven't been out with any guy for two years, and still, he set his cap on her... and when she turned him down, he still pursued her. Ultimately, it felt to me like he was forcing his agenda on her. It's one thing if she had jumped in on the fling, but she didn't. She didn't want to get involved and he still pursued her. Why not respect her decision, her choice? Sure, they found each other attractive, but that didn't mean they had to act on it. They wanted different things... So why did he keep pursuing her? As I said, it'd be different if he wanted something more than just sex, but that was his motive. It just felt disrespectful to me. From the beginning, it felt like he's been after a conquest. He came into town knowing he'd be there for 6 weeks and decided he wanted someone warming his bed and Paige would be it. It just didn't work for me.
I know All He Ever Needed is a contemporary romance novel, so yes, the H/H have to get together for this book to work out, but deep down, I really wanted Paige to stick to her gun, turn him down and not succumb. Why do heroines, when they know full well they're not made for flings, still go for them? Does this really reflect reality? Something else that really bothered me was everyone in Paige's surroundings having an opinion about whether or not she should get with Mitch. I know this is a small town and there's no privacy and people are noisy, but still... This was taking it a bit too far for my taste.
Otherwise, Mitch and Paige's characters were okay. They liked and wanted different things, but could compromise. But really, this book just didn't do it for me and when Paige and Mitch got their HEA ending... I didn't feel like cheering. For now, I also doubt I'll be picking the subsequent books.
My Grade: 2.5/5 (C-). As I said, this book didn't work for me, but that's really because from the start, Mitch's behavior rubbed me the wrong way. However, from all the favorable reviews for All He Ever Needed I've read on blogland, I seem the only one who had this reaction. So if you had enjoyed Ms Stacey's books previously, you should give this one a try :)(less)