In ‘The pet boutique’ the dog steals the show.

Review of ‘The pet boutique’ by Suzie Carr.

Taylor Henshaw is an accomplished bestselling author suffering from writer’s block. To help her find her writing mojo again, her editor sends her to work in a pet shop that needs serious building renovations. While working on the project, Taylor meets Lexie Tanner, an attractive photographer and pet shop manager. As the refurbishment project progresses, Taylor and Lexie explore their budding attraction, but Taylor is a complicated woman dealing with bereavement and unsolved issues from her past. Will they have a happily ever after?

This is a slow-burn romance with the background of a building renovation and a cute dog as a co-lead. ‘The pet boutique’ refurbishment progresses as Taylor rebuilds her life and heals her old wounds. Both women leads are multi-layered and believable, their chemistry is built slowly but surely with the help of Cashmere, the dog, who acts as a facilitator in their relationship. Ms. Carr knows how to bring a dog character to life, to showcase their bonding with humans, their ability to support their masters in times of need and to understand the heartbreak of losing a pet.Read More »

‘My Lady Lipstick’ by Karin Kallmaker is a glossy & smooth read.

I had not read a Kallmaker book since 2016, so I was excited to get my hands on this one. While I have not read a ton of Kallmaker’s works, every book I have read I have enjoyed. She has been around the lesfic world for a long time and it shows in how well she writes. I’m happy to say this was another enjoyable romance.

Paris is an author who writes bodes rippers under the penname Anita Topaz. Paris suffers from really bad anxiety so she has never made any public appearances. In fact, she is so off the grid that only a few trusted people know her secret. When her publishing house is bought by a new company, Paris is facing pressure to become the face behind her books. Diana is in Massachusetts, undercover, at an acting company. She travels the world looking for items she believes should be returned to their rightful owners or museums. When she finds out Paris’ publishing house is now owned by a man that has such an artifact, she hatches a scheme to recover it. Will Diana go through with her plans even if her feelings for Paris evolve?

This book had a really nice feel to it. A little bit of light humor, warmth, but also tackled the subject of anxiety quite well. I think whenever authors can accurately portray something that is real to us as readers, it always impresses me. I’ve dealt with panic attacks when I was younger and still have to fight anxiety on occasion. I’m content with how she approached this topic. It was realistic, but not heavy; this is a lighthearted romance after all.
I was also really happy with the pace of the book. I would say the book is slightly longer than average, but it never really lagged for me. I never felt bored, and really enjoyed the actual concept of the book. While we may have read similar parts before in other books, the story, on the whole, was different enough that it felt new to me.

When it came to the romance, at first I thought maybe the characters had jumped into bed a little fast. But with how the rest of the story unfolded, I was okay with it. There was no rushing to say “I love you”. I actually really appreciate that as it seems to happen too often lately in lesfic romances. The romance instead felt like it progressed really organically. Not including the one angsty part, I actually felt the romance was one of the more realistic romances I have read in a while. My only one complaint, I just wish there was a tad more chemistry between the main characters. I absolutely believed the attraction; it just needs a tad more spark.

This was absolutely the right romance at the right time for me. I enjoyed this read and I hope others do as much as I did. If you are a Kallmaker fan, I believe you will be happy with this read. Also, I want to mention, Lisa from ‘Warming Trend’ was a secondary character in this book. If you enjoyed that book, it might be another reason to pick this one up.

An ARC was given to me by Bella, for an honest review.

    

Review of ‘Gnarled Hollow’ by Charlotte Greene.

I really enjoyed this. This is the fifth book I have read by Greene and by far my favorite. The best way to describe this would be paranormal/mystery/crime, with a little romance. The paranormal is on the darker side, you could almost put a horror tag on this. I was well and truly creeped out at times. This would be a perfect book to read around Halloween time.

Emily is an English professor, who has just been laid off before reaching tenure. She is feeling bleak and a bit depressed with no new jobs on the horizon. When she gets a letter, inviting her to study the papers of an important deceased author, she hopes this is the break she needed. Little is known about the author’s life since she became a recluse in her estate of Gnarled Hollow until death. Emily and a few other scholars will be spending the summer living and learning about the estate, art, and the author’s diaries. But when Emily gets to Gnarled Hollow she quickly realizes there is something strange going on. Gnarled Hollow is hiding secrets that may put their lives in danger. Can Emily and her fellow scholars figure out the mystery before it is too late?

When I read the blurb for this book I was very excited to read this. This sounded like my kind of book. The book ended up being everything I was hoping for. I have to be honest that Greene felt like a new author to me. Not sure if she was just having fun writing this book, but I felt like it was a big step up from her previous books. I really hope she would consider writing more paranormal or mystery-crime books in the future.

As I mentioned above this book is a little dark, some violence, and touches on some disturbing subjects. I could easily see this as a movie that makes you jump and hold the covers up by your face. But it’s far from all dark. It has a very interesting mystery and a bit of a sweet romance. The main character of Emily was pretty easy to root for and get behind. Her blossoming romance with another scholar was a nice change of pace to have in the book. There are no explicit sex scenes, but with everything going on in the house, it might have felt a little odd to be reading about steamy sexy time in the middle of a haunted house.

In mentioning words like almost horror and violence, I hope I’m not putting people off. While yes this book is dark, but it wasn’t really graphic if that makes sense. While I was jumpy and creeped out at times, I was never really scared. The book was more intense and hooked you in, not a stomach-turning too hard to read kind of book. It had some good twists and kept me in suspense until the end. In fact, I was a little sad when it ended. While this is longer than the average Bold Strokes’ book, I would have loved even a little more.

I would absolutely recommend this to paranormal-crime/mystery fans. Because it is a bit dark and creepy, I know it might not appeal to everyone, but this was definitely my kind of book. I really hope Greene takes the opportunity to write more books in similar genres. I would love to read them if she does. 5 stars.

An ARC was given to me by BSB for an honest review.

Review of ‘Write your own script’ by A.L. Brooks.

3.75 Stars. I have read all of Brooks’ books except for ‘The Club‘ and found this book to be my favorite of hers. This is actually the second Hollywood romance I have read in a row and I’m happy to say this was much more up my alley. I think this will be widely enjoyed by romance fans.

There are quite a few great reviews out that give a good summary so I’m going to skip that. I want to go right into what I enjoyed about the book. The romantic relationship between the two mains, a writer and actress, is what makes this book shine. While the character might have jumped into bed quickly, the connection and intimacy are so well done it doesn’t matter. These two characters built a relationship from sex and it actually worked. The more their walls went down and the intimacy went up, their connection grew stronger. This is what I look for in good sex scenes, to see that connection strengthened and Brooks did a great job writing it.

I do have to admit I felt the book slowed a little for me during times when the mains were not together. Their connection is the star of the book so when it’s not front and certain I didn’t care for those parts as much. I also wanted to see a little more about what happened at the end. I wish a few filler middle parts were cut and the story extended, but this is a mild complaint.

If you like Hollywood romances, don’t pass this one up. If you like romance with a strong intimate connection, this one is for you. This one is worth the read and I’m excited to see where Brooks goes next.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.

     

Review of ‘As the crow flies’ by Karen F. Williams.

4.5 Stars. This book was wonderfully written. I have never read Williams before. I realized I have an old paperback copy of her book ‘Nightshade’. After reading this book and realizing the quality writer she is, I’m really intrigued to finally read it. This a wlw romance with a light paranormal flare.

An interesting twist, this book actually includes two romances; a younger potential couple and an older potential couple. This book is a nice long length so there is plenty of time for all four characters and their potential romances to shine. While all four characters are completely different, they are all likeable and you end up rooting for both pairs. I also have to mention, one of the characters is a writer. This felt like one of the truer author characters I have ever read before. The characters are really crafted and very realistic.

I do want to mention this book is a little more cerebral. It’s the kind of book you might learn a few things. There is some talk about philosophy, art, life after death, and even car racing. The really nice thing is the book never felt preachy. The topics were also explained on a level that didn’t talk down to us as readers, but it doesn’t go over your head either. It was a really nice balance. This is the kind of book that won’t get a lot of attention, but it really should because the quality or writing is that good.

I mentioned this does have some light paranormal aspects. There is a ghost in this story. It is not the kind of ghost you might normally expect and it’s only one part of the book. There are some of us who believe in ghosts, some who don’t, this was a take on a ghost that one could actually believe might be true. Besides the paranormal aspects there is even a little excitement so the story kept me turning the pages.

This was an excellent quality story that was really well written. I see paranormal anything, and I grab it. However, I honestly didn’t expect this to be so good. I’m very happy that I read it.

An ARC was given to me by BSB, for a honest review.

Review of ‘Hungry hearts’ by Saxon Bennett and Layce Gardner.

Claudia Montgomery, a best selling author of mystery novels, is suffering from writer’s block. Her agent sends her to ‘Hungry Hearts’ a Bed & Breakfast in a small seaside town to find inspiration for her next novel. Kate Ferguson was a successful archaeologist who had to quit her career to care for her twin nieces in her mother’s B&B. When Claudia and Kate meet, their attraction is undeniable but could they find love in each other?

This is a very slow-burn romance between main characters in their mid forties. The story is set in a small seaside town with the typical meddling of its inhabitants. Most of the time, the tone of the story is whimsical and humorous, similar to Robin Alexander’s style, so I’m not sure if it’ll appeal to all romance fans. For me, this read would have been better if the chemistry between the main characters was stronger.

The novel is generally well written though sometimes the balance between showing and telling is off. In my opinion, the most enjoyable parts of the story is when the authors give an insight into the writing process through Claudia’s creative struggles.

There are a good number of secondary characters, mostly town residents, but the ones that steal the show are Kate’s nieces. The 10 year-old twins are as much main characters as the leading couple. They are very precocious for their age and their use of language and social skills are similar to an adult’s. I personally didn’t find them completely believable but they were definitely likeable.

Overall, a good slow-burn romance with a cast of unconventional characters. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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