Review: You Had Me at Hola

You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria
Publication: Avon
Publication Date: 8/4/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from William Morrow and an advanced listening copy from LibroFM and Harper Audio in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. 
After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez. 

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy. 
After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had. 

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars. 
With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

Review: You Had Me At Hola is the first book I’ve read from Alexis Daria. Based on the premise, I had really high expectations for this book. The beginning started off really strong, but faltered towards the last quarter of the book. First off, I loved that this book showcased heartfelt characters in their 30s and also gave a background on telenovelas and soaps. I really liked Jasmine’s character in the beginning as she came off as endearing and very relatable. One main issue I had with the book was Ashton. Ashton’s emotional unavailability and the way he treated Jasmine didn’t sit well with me. His actions are later explained, however, I didn’t like how they were excused. The writing style of the switching between the behind the scenes and the show seemed to be one of the same which didn’t seem to make a difference. In terms of the narrator for the audiobook, I liked the way that the narrator brought the story life and loved the different voices she used for each character. I felt like I was listening to a telenovela when I was listening to the audiobook. Overall, I thought it was a decent romance read. If you’re a fan of steamy romance novels, then you’ll want to check this one out.

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Truth Hurts

The Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid 
Publication: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 7/28/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Harper Perennial in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Caught up in a whirlwind romance that starts in sunny Ibiza and leads to the cool corridors of a luxurious English country estate, Poppy barely has time to catch her breath, let alone seriously question if all this is too good to be true. Drew is enamored, devoted, and, okay, a little mysterious—but that’s part of the thrill. What’s the harm in letting his past remain private? 

Maybe he’s not the only one…

Fortunately, Drew never seems to wonder why his young wife has so readily agreed to their unusual pact to live only in the here and now and not probe their personal histories. Perhaps he assumes, as others do, that she is simply swept up in the intoxication of infatuation and sudden wealth. What’s the harm in letting them believe that? 

How far will they go to keep the past buried?

Isolated in Drew’s sprawling mansion, Poppy starts to have time to doubt the man she’s married, to wonder what in his past might be so terrible that it can’t be spoken of, to imagine what harm he might be capable of. She doesn’t want this dream to shatter. But Poppy may soon be forced to confront the dark truth that there are sins far more dangerous than the sin of omission…

Review: This domestic thriller has your basic set up of a ditsy, broke, young woman marries a wealthy, older, good-looking guy. Each is hiding a secret, but they make a deal not to discuss about their pasts and get married anyway…what can go wrong?? Have you ever read a book that you were totally feeling, but then when you got to the end, you felt that you got jipped? Yeah, The Truth Hurts was it for me.  I loved the writing style in this book which maintained my interest. To satisfy my thriller and romance mood, this book fit the tab. I was also totally invested in this cliché storyline in the beginning and I was totally okay with the middle dragging for a bit, but the ending is what annoyed me the most. The book had a potential to be a four star read, but I ended up giving it 3 stars. Without giving away any spoilers, there were so many other ways the author could have amplified the ending, but unfortunately, the ending was too rushed and was so lackluster. Overall, it was a decent book. If you decide to read this one, keep your expectations low. 

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Switch

The Switch by Beth O’Leary
Publication: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: 8/18/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book as a giveaway win from Flatiron Books and an audiobook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synposis: When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

Review: I had such high expectations for The Switch since I loved The Flatshare. Unfortunately, this book missed the mark for me. When I initially read the summary, I thought that this would have been a lighthearted book, but there’s underlying sadness throughout the book which is fine, but it kind of threw me off guard. Aside from that, I found the storyline to be a bit too slow and too predictable. In terms of the audiobook, I liked the narrator for Leena, but the narrator for Eileen was unbearable to listen too even though I did like Eileen over Leena in the book. I won’t give up on this author since I loved The Flatshare. Even though The Switch wasn’t right for me, it may be contemporary romance that may work for you. 

Rating: 2/5

Review: The Wife Who Knew Too Much

The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell
Publication: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 7/28/2020

Disclaimer: I received an advanced physical copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press and an advanced listening copy from LibroFM and Macmillan Audio in exchange for my honest opinion. These have no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.

Review: I’m always a sucker for a good domestic thriller about wealth, affairs, and betrayals! This was my first Michele Campbell novel and certainly won’t be my last. She certainly knows how to write an intriguing thriller. The writing style in this book captured my attention from page one and it was hard to put the book down! There were a few twists I saw coming, but there were others I didn’t see coming which was enjoyable. Overall, I would highly recommend this book if you love domestic thrillers!

Rating: 4/5

Review: What You Wish For

What You Wish For by Katherine Center
Publication: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 7/14/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.

When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

Review: What You Wish For is a heartwarming and uplifting novel that reminds us to choose joy through the most difficult times we experience. Overall, I had mixed feelings about this book. I really loved the timely message that this book showcases and it provides a great escape. The storyline was intriguing as well, but I felt like the writing was more reflective than present. There were a few instances where I wish we could have seen flashbacks to see the differences in Duncan’s personality from the present rather than being told of the memory from Sam. I found Sam’s character to be a bit too naive and childish for someone who should be in her late 20s. However, I did like how we got to see how Duncan’s character developed through the story. The one thing I was expecting to see was the slow build of chemistry and emotion connection between the main characters. It seemed to be there, but felt like it was too rushed at the end to be savored. Though I had mixed feelings about this book, I’d still recommend checking this out if you’re a fan of Katherine Center.

Rating: 3/5

Review: One To Watch

One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London
Publication: Random House
Publication Date: 7/8/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers–and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?

Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition–under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful anti-fat beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.

But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, razor-sharp debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men–and herself–for a chance to live happily ever after.

Review: One To Watch is Kate Stayman-London’s debut novel. Overall, I thought this was a cute read! I loved the writing style of this – slacks, articles, blog posts, texts, and regular writhing in between it all. The story definitely felt like I was binge watching a reality dating show. The author touched upon topics such as body image and social expectations in such way that tied into story effectively. There were a few times where I felt Bea was a bit too whiny, but I was able to overlook that. If you love binging on romance reads and watching reality dating shows, then I definitely recommend picking this one up!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Home Before Dark

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Publication: Dutton Books
Publication Date: 6/30/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Dutton Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

Review: Riley Sager is one of my favorite thriller writers and I was excited to receive an advanced copy of his latest thriller releasing this summer! Overall, I thought this was a good read! It’s not my favorite of his four, but it was a solid story. I liked the alternating perspectives of Maggie and her father’s, Ewan, book. It definitely gave a wholistic view. I’m not into supernatural elements in stories, however, I felt that Riley Sager executed this well and I loved the unexpected twists and turns. I enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first part. The beginning is a slow burn trying to set up the story. If you loved The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell and The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James or if you’re already a Riley Sager fan, this is a must read!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Take A Hint, Dani Brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: 6/23/2020

Disclaimer: I won an advanced reader copy of this book from GoodReads courtesy by Avon Books. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

Review: This is the second book in The Brown Sisters series and could be read as a stand alone book. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and definitely loved this one more than Get a Life, Chloe Brown. Not only is there a diverse set of characters, but I really liked that each of the characters in this book stand their own ground. Talia Hibbert incorporates the importance of mental health and work life balance in such a relatable yet funny way way in her book. I highly recommend picking this one up if you love contemporary romance! I can’t wait for Eve’s story next!

Rating: 4/5

Review: The Last Flight

The Last Flight by Julie Clark 
Publication: SourceBooks Landmark
Publication Date: 6/23/2020

GoodReads Synopsis: Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of ten, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he’s not above using his staff to track Claire’s every move, making sure she’s living up to his impossible standards. But what he doesn’t know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.

A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets ― Claire taking Eva’s flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. They believe the swap will give each of them the head start they need to begin again somewhere far away. But when the flight to Puerto Rico goes down, Claire realizes it’s no longer a head start but a new life. Cut off, out of options, with the news of her death about to explode in the media, Claire will assume Eva’s identity, and along with it, the secrets Eva fought so hard to keep hidden.

The Last Flight is the story of two women ― both alone, both scared ― and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives. 

Review: I loved that this story portrayed strong female protagonists and the importance of female friendship. Julie’s writing style captured my interest from page one. The character development in this one is really well written. I loved that the author was able to capture the strength and yet the vulnerability of each main character and what she was going through. Also there were a few twists I didn’t see coming and I liked how the story ended. Overall, I enjoyed this thriller and highly recommend you read it!

Rating: 4/5