Review: Finding Home Again (Catalina Cove #3) by Brenda Jackson



Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (October 29, 2019)

From Goodreads.com:  First love. Second chances. In Catalina Cove, anything can happen…

Bryce Witherspoon’s heart races every time she sees Kaegan Chambray. Everyone in town knows they can’t stand each other, but the truth is, even though the man broke her heart ten years ago, she still feels that irresistible, oh-so-familiar jolt of desire.

When Kaegan returned to Catalina Cove to run the family business, he knew there’d be no avoiding Bryce. The woman he thought he’d one day marry was instead the biggest heartbreak of his life. But when Bryce lets slip a devastating secret, he discovers just how wrong he was to let her go all those years ago.

He knows they both still feel the spark between them, but it’ll take more than attraction to convince her. Kaegan will pull out all the stops to show Bryce he’s the man who can give her the future they once dreamed of—if only they give love a second chance.



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My Rating: 1 star out of 5

This book was unnecessarily long, and frankly, uninteresting. 

I love a good second chance romance. Even more so one where the characters have grown to dislike each other over the intervening years. When I read the blurb for this one, I had such high hopes that it would become a fast favorite. What it became was a huge disappointment. 

Let's begin by talking about the little things that hopefully will be fixed before the book goes live, as I did review an advanced-reader-copy. Things that were distracting, but may have been more easily overlooked if the rest of the novel had been stronger. The formatting for the start of each chapter was... weird. Then there were areas where words weren't spaced apart, "showme" and "oneanddone" being two examples. Again, these are things that could be easily fixed. 

What can not be as easily fixed is the rest of this novel. There was so much that I feel could have been cut out, and so much that I feel could have been added that would have improved this story. 

When it comes to Keagan and Bryce? Their story is so repetitious that it becomes tedious.  They dated. They were stupid. (Although honestly Bryce? Your boyfriend comes to your house at 2am, sees you come out with another guy, embrace said guy and lean in like you're going to kiss him - but leaves, before he sees said kiss - and you REALLY can't see how he might have misinterpreted that? Give me a break). 

Anyway, the majority of this novel is them going back and forth. They have feelings for each other. They have a spark, but OH MY GOD THEY HAVE HURT EACH OTHER SO MUCH WE MUST KEEP BRINGING THIS UP. It took me over a week to finish this novel because I had to keep putting it down. It was great to read before bed, don't get me wrong, but that was only because it kept putting me to sleep. And I'm just throwing it out there - I'm no prude by any means, but when more than one consecutive chapter is dedicated to them finally having sex? That's a bit much.

What might have saved this novel was Bryce's stalker.... if he wasn't added as an afterthought. Seriously. It wasn't until the last few chapters that we were even told she HAD a stalker, with his two dubious attempts at getting to her prior to his reveal being written off as mundane events. 

All in all, I believe that another good round or two of editing could have cut out all this tiresome repetition and still left enough for the reader to not only understand but enjoy this novel. While it definitely was not for me, and I don't see myself reading more from this author, I am sure there are others that will love this story.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                         Finding Home Again is available from Amazon.com

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Review: This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman


Print Length: 336 pages
Publisher: St.Martin's Press (October 29, 2019)

From Goodreads.com:  The first book in a new Regency romance series, an heiress and a rogue accidentally end up in a secret marriage of convenience.

In a desperate bid to keep her fortune out of her cousin's hands, shipping heiress Georgiana Caversteed marries a condemned criminal in Newgate prison. The scoundrel's first kiss is shockingly heated, but Georgie never expects to see her husband again. Until she spots him across a crowded ballroom. Notorious rogue Benedict Wylde never expected a wife. He was in Newgate undercover, working for Bow Street. To keep their marriage of convenience a secret, Wylde courts Georgie in public, but the more time they spend together, the more their attraction sparks. Could an heiress with the world at her feet find happiness with a penniless rake? 



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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

To be honest, I was a little confused, and a little bored with this story. It seemed to drag on in some places, adding unnecessary plot twists, or dialogue that really did nothing to move the story along. Even the characters became somewhat one dimensional towards the end. 

I also feel it's worth mentioning that there will be some people who dislike this story from the beginning simply because of the number of things that need to be overlooked. One of the main things that really sticks out to me is the fact that despite the fact that this story is set in Regency England - where women aren't even allowed to own property - Georgie not only owns and runs her late father's entire shipping empire - but she also has a stipulation that any man that wishes to marry her must sign the equivalent of a prenup, giving away all rights to her fortune. Things like this just weren't done (nor do I think they would be legal considering the government at the time). 

The characters are not without their own flaws. When we first meet Georgie, she is on her way to Newgate prison to marry a man heading for the gallows. To her, being a widow is better than being married to her cousin. Well, I mean in her defense, she plans to tell everyone her husband is alive and well - for a while anyway - however it doesn't seem to dawn on her that the moment her widow status is announced, her cousin will be right back around trying to trap her into marriage. After all, it's her money he wants, not her. 

I was also a little put off by Wylde's character. Why was he considered to be a rake when we were given no indication of his indiscretions? Also, why was he sharing top secret information with a woman he barely knew, much less allowing her to come along on missions? For all he knew Georgie could have been a spy. Also, it's worth mentioning that Wylde isn't actually an Earl until the very end of the book. He is actually a mere second son until the Prince creates a new Earldom just for him after his services to his country. 

However, there were just enough interesting pieces of this story that it was enjoyable enough. It doesn't stand out among the crowd of other historical romance novels on the market, but I can see where it will appeal to a lot of people more than it did to me. 

All things considered, if the next books in this series manage to catch my attention the way this one did, I would give this series another chance.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                                 This Earl of Mine  is available from Amazon.com

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Review: And Then You Loved Me by Inglath Cooper


Print Length: 350 pages
Publisher: Inglath Cooper (March 22, 2018)

From Goodreads.com:  People say you can't ever go back. That some of the things that happen to us simply cannot be redone. 

But the paths of a life journey are rarely straight. They twist and turn and wind back across those once visited and long thought to have faded from existence.

Becca Miller has lived her life trying to do the right thing, even when its cost has been giving up the boy she loved and wanted to marry. The sacrifice she made for her sister isn't one she regrets because there was no other choice for her to make. And for eighteen years, she lives this choice with full commitment and as little looking back as she can manage.

When Matt Griffith returns to Ballard County for the funeral of his grandmother, the path that had seemed so straight begins to loop back and take her across feelings she thought she had put away for good. As it turns out, those roads we've traveled do not fade at all. They simply wait to be retraveled, leaving us with the decision to follow them exactly as we did before, or make a different choice and find out where it will lead us.
 



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My Rating: 1 star out of 5

Unfortunately, everything about this story (blurb and cover) is presented in a way that is very misleading. To begin with, Becca's family is ... Amish just without being called such? I'm sorry I don't know a better way to describe them. They live a certain way, they expect their children to stay in the life (and although they claim not to shun people who marry outside the faith, throughout the entire book Becca's mother doesn't recognize her son's marriage or her own grandson... although maybe that isn't because Linda wasn't one of them, but because she's black? I don't know it was never specified). 

Then we add to it that both Becca and Matt are MARRIED to other people when he comes back to town? And even though Matt can claim his marriage is falling apart, he sure makes it a point to come around Becca time and again even when she nearly begs him to stop doing so. 

Goodness, this was a trainwreck of a story. 

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE second chance stories. I was utterly drawn in by the synopsis of this one, and maybe that is why I hated it so much. By the blurb, I expected two people who had loved and lost when they were young finding a second chance.

What I got? A married man, unhappy with his wife, comes back to his old hometown and begins pursuing the girl he had once loved who was now also married with a teenage daughter. Sure, they had left things unresolved when they were young, but they had moved on, and it was a definite turn off to watch Becca tell Matt time and time again that he shouldn't be there, that they couldn't do this, whatever - only to have him push his company on her time and time again. 

Then we add in Emmy. 

When I look back, the entire story revolves around her. Something catastrophic happens to her and her intended (although we never really do find out what), something so bad that her sister ends up giving up her own hopes, dreams, and life to protect her, and something that keeps Emmy from .... well ever speaking, dressing, moving, addressing basic hygiene, etc ever again.

And yet, as a reader, I am expected to believe that after all of this, Emmy is not only capable of writing two well-worded letters to both Becca and Abby, but she is capable of doing what else she did. After not even so much as walking to the window or dressing in years? 

This book, unfortunately, was just one unbelievable thing after another. Making me sorry I ever wasted my time with it.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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This novel is available from Amazon.com

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Review: Darkest Sinner (The Dark Ones #5) by Rachel Van Dyken


Print Length: 350 pages
Publisher: Rachel van Dyken (September 24, 2019)

From Goodreads.com:  I've always known pain. Existence. Night.
Made a sinner.
Without a soul to keep me tethered to the world I so desperately want to be a part of but am damned to rule…
Life isn't living.
Not when everyone sees you as enemy number one, King of the demon race and yet something much more… powerful and sinister pulses beneath the surface of my skin.
It started when I met her, the power surging under my fingertips like the cruel universe was finally answering my screams at night for something more.
And just like that, the memories come, only I don't know if they're mine or someone else's entirely.

Long ago, I made a bargain with a god.
A soul for a soul. 
I spent thousands of years without this awareness and now?
Everything I touch turns to ash. 
Even my own immortal friends fear what I am.
Everyone but her. The day to my night. 

Part of me doesn't want to know what I am.
But it's too late, too all-consuming.
Darkness is coming.

That darkness, I'm afraid. Is me.



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My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Let me begin by saying that although this one is billed as "the next stand-alone novel" in her Dark Ones series, it is not. In fact, I have read each previous book in this series, and I was still horribly lost with this one. 

I think I know where the author was trying to go with this. And honestly? I am IN LOVE with the idea of soulmates. Of two people destined, or cursed, to roam the earth forever searching for their missing half. I am also down for having one of those people be "reborn" time and again until the link is completed. 

I remember the first book in this series. It was intriguing. It was page-turning. It was AMAZING. And then somewhere, the lines became blurred. And instead of it being a pretty straight forward story, we started getting mixed blood. Now this person wasn't what we thought they were, they were really this spoiler. And this person was a spoiler mixed with another spoiler.

What started as one of the best paranormal series' I had EVER read.. became something unrecognizable. It became so confusing that I oftentimes found myself utterly lost. Forgetting who was what.  

This, unfortunately for me, was the case when it came to Timber's novel. He was freaking fantastic as a demon. There was the potential for redemption. 

And then

***SPOILER ALERT***

SERIOUSLY DO NOT READ ANY FARTHER UNLESS YOU WANT IT SPOILED FOR YOU.

THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING. 

What in the hell was up with the whole he's really the Egyptian God Anubis story-line? Honestly. This book especially became so far fetched that while it was definitely a page-turner (mostly me trying to figure out what the heck was going on in between pages of good story-line), by the time I finished I still felt lost, confused, and as though the author completely lost sight of what she wanted this series to be when she published the first book. 

I miss the olden days of story-telling. When maybe there was a plot twist here or there, but not when the entire cast of characters has been seemingly re-written on a whim. 


Last, but not least, and probably my BIGGEST peeve with this story is the inaccuracies. If you want to make your characters Egyptian Gods that's awesome. But for the love of God, at least get that much right. 

Horus and Anubis were half brothers. But neither one of them was fathered by Set. Their father was Osiris. Also, fun fact, depending on which Horus she meant. Set was a brother to Osiris, Isis, and Horus the Elder, and uncle to Horus the Younger. Now I know some people will consider this to be merely nitpicking, but honestly? If you're going to use the names of Gods that were once worshipped, please at least get it right. Some people do study old Gods.





***END SPOILERS***

It's obvious that I am going to be in the minority here, and that's fine. What didn't work for me will no doubt work for someone else. And on the whole, I don't think this was a badly written novel by any means. For me, it was just entirely way too confusing and too out there for me to fully enjoy. 



DISCLAIMER 1: There seems to be some confusion as to why the low rating. It wasn't just because of what I mentioned in the spoiler section. It was because there was so much going on, and so many characters that were crossed with this or that, that I honestly didn't know who was who or what the heck was going on some of the time. It isn't that the author is a bad one - not in the least. It was just this story (as with the last couple in this series) has created entirely new species, but so many of them that it's impossible to keep track of them. Instead of a cohesive story, I'm left trying to decipher who, or maybe more accurately what, this character is, and how they relate to the story being told.

DISCLAIMER 2: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                               Darkest Sinner is available from Amazon.com

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Review: One Wicked Night by Mary Jo Putney


Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Kensington Books (September 24, 2019)

From Goodreads.com:  Dressed as a veiled princess, Lady Diana Lawrence is shocked to discover that the mysterious corsair who tempts her away from the costume ball is the duke she once loved and lost. Now ensconced with Castleton at a remote lodge, will she surrender to the passion still burning hotly between them?


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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

DISCLAIMER 1: At this time, this novella is only available as part of the Seduction on a Snowy Night anthology. However, I felt it would only be fair to give each story their own post on my blog in order to highlight them individually. 


This one for me, was the best of the three, even if the synopsis is a bit misleading. To begin with, she wasn't a veiled princess tempted away from a costume ball. She had performed a traditional Indian dance in Indian garb and then kissed a man after their dance at a masked ball. Also, t
hey don't exactly become ensconced until near the end of the story, and before that, they had already discovered that passion still burned brightly between them. 

Those are things that are fairly easy to overlook, and honestly had this been a full-length novel instead of a novella, I feel like it would have been even better. The potential was definitely there. As for the rest of these characters? I definitely enjoyed reading about his sisters and their husbands, and the made-up species they gave their cats was nothing short of golden. From now on I will be calling my own East Pinelands Devil Chasers. 

Overall, I would definitely read more from this author. And I feel like this novella is a perfect addition to the stories already out there about this family. 

DISCLAIMER 2: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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This novel is available in the Seduction on a Snowy Night anthology  available from Amazon.com

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Review: Deceiving an Earl by Sharon Cullen


Print Length: 330 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (September 23, 2019)

From Goodreads.com:  Oliver McCaron, Earl of Armbruster, is an influential, self-made man who lives life by his own rules. Though he’s never lacking for female attention, there’s only one woman he wants. And she’s the one woman who won’t have him…again.

Widow Lady Fieldhurst has spent the last seventeen years avoiding Oliver, after one glorious night together. Her parents had already planned out her life - she was never to become Oliver’s wife, despite their plans to run away. To protect their secret, she had to follow their wishes and marry the elderly earl they had chosen.

Now Ellen’s world is threatened by a blackmailer who threatens to expose everything. Now she’ll have to face the only man she’s ever loved and ask for help. Because if the truth comes to light, it could ruin more than one life...
 



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My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

This book was such a bitter disappointment to me, that I had trouble believing that it was done by an author that I have read, and enjoyed, in the past. The sad thing is that it had a solid concept. I love a good reunited lovers story, and even if the "big secret" was a bit obvious (and overdone in these types of novels), but Ellen just killed it for me. 

I could understand and even sympathize to an extent with the seventeen-year-old girl that she had been. I may even have been able to understand her reluctant willingness to marry Needham in order to protect her secret. But the fact that she allowed her son to be abused in front of her eyes? The mother in me cannot abide by such behavior, no matter how damning the secret. 

While we are on the subject of her son. I found it hard to believe that he was supposed to be only sixteen years old the way he ran the streets by himself. Even being the "hellion" he was supposed to be, where was he at and what was he doing? Surely he wasn't cavorting with men in the clubs at his age? Unfortunately, its never really clarified. Nor is the fact that the secret is so obvious that Needham catches on with just one look, and yet no one else had figured it out? Not even Oliver? And what happened to the man Oliver had originally been sent to spy on? And that man's daughter? We get just one random line partway into the book that it had been determined that the man was no threat - what did he do so they could determine this? What became of his daughter and her friendship with Oliver's sister Josie?

Unfortunately, it was these plot holes, coupled with Ellen's behavior, that kept me from enjoying this book. However, keeping in mind that I have seen from other works what this author is capable of, I would read more from this author.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                               Deceiving an Earl is available from Amazon.com
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Review: A Perfect Match by Sabrina Jeffries


Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Kensington Books (September 24, 2019)

From Goodreads.com:  Whisked away from a wintry ball by a commanding colonel, Cassandra Isles struggles with her feelings for Lord Heywood. For he is a man sworn to marry only for money—and Cass is an heiress who will accept nothing less than love.


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My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

DISCLAIMER 1: At this time, this novella is only available as part of the Seduction on a Snowy Night anthology. However, I felt it would only be fair to give each story their own post on my blog in order to highlight them individually. 

This started off as such an enjoyable read. Sure, the fact that Lord Heywood absconded with two unmarried women was a surefire way to ruin their reputations regardless of his well-meaning intentions, however for this story it worked. I enjoyed watching Cass and Kitty as they interacted with Heywood's family as they prepared to enjoy the Christmas season. 

However, this story started to fall apart as the ending neared. First, there was Kitty and her "surprise". I find it nearly impossible to believe that not only did no one see it coming, but that she was also able to do what she did without anyone seeing ger. I could have overlooked that. After all, with all the preparations happening around them, perhaps it was possible. 

Where I lost all respect for Heywood is when he turned into a raging asshole for no reason. After deciding that he loved Cass enough to marry her, even if it meant not having the funds needed to fix his crumbling estate. He takes her to bed, telling her of his decision. Unbeknownst to him,  Cass is an heiress in her own right, however, no one knows of her circumstances as she will only marry for love. Bolstered by the fact that Heywood has just admitted to loving her enough that he wants to marry her, she tells him the truth. They can be married AND he will have the funds he needs. 

Instead of being overjoyed, he turns on her. Accusing her of keeping things from him. Of pretending. Of not being who he thought she was. Excuse me? This seemed like just a bunch of unneeded and unnecessary drama to up the word count before the happily ever after was allowed to happen. 

Aside from that, this was a cute and enjoyable read. I would read more from this author! 

DISCLAIMER 2: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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This novel is available in the Seduction on a Snowy Night anthology  available from Amazon.com

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Review: What Happened That Night by Deanna Cameron


Print Length: 328 pages
Publisher: Wattpad Books (September 17, 2019)

From Goodreads.com:Griffin Tomlin is dead. And Clara’s sister killed him . . . 

Four months after the murder, the entire town of Shiloh is still in shock. For Clara Porterfield, the normal world has crumbled around her in a million chaotic pieces. Now Clara lives in a new reality, where her sister awaits trial for murder, her mother obsessively digs in a dead, frozen garden, and her father lives and breathes denial. At school, Clara is haunted by her classmates' morbid curiosity—and all of the unspoken questions they won’t ask.

But none of them knows what she knows . . .
Now Clara's sister wants something from her—the one thing in all of this that Clara isn't ready to face: the truth about what really happened that night. Because this story didn't die with Griffin Tomlin. There's another story that needs to be told. And sometimes, the lies we're told are nowhere near as deadly as the lies we tell ourselves . . .
 


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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This was one of those stories that with a few more rounds of editing could easily be four or five stars. The story was interesting enough, although I believe the synopsis should come with a trigger warning and not just the forward once you begin reading. 

Part of the problem with this story is that it jumps not only from place to place but also between what is happening and what happened before. While the "now" and "before" passages are clearly marked, it's the going from place to place that got to me. One minute they are in school, and the next they are somewhere else entirely. 

Then you get into characters. None of them felt as fleshed out as they could be. Clara understandably has issues. There were parts of her that felt real. And then there were parts that had me going REALLY? She seemed to want people to believe her without question when she finally told the truth, but couldn't give them the same courtesy. 

I wanted to like Aniston. Her over the top personality coupled with the fact that she was like a dog with a bone was intriguing. However, the fact that she somehow managed to solve a crime that didn't even happen near where she lived? It was a bit out there. The same could be said for the fact that Kolby. Griffin's BEST FRIEND, couldn't when it counted, recognize not only that is wasn't Gryffin's brother he saw, but that the girl he was with was the girl that Kolby claimed to have been in love with? 

Overall, there is a lot of potential in this story. And I do think that it will appeal to people who enjoy novels that don't pull any punches when it comes to describing things most people find unappealing, however, for me, this one just fell short of where I think the author was trying to go.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                What Happened That Night is available from Amazon.com



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