Review: Do You Take This Man?

Do You Take This Man by Denise Williams
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 9/6/2022

Thank you to Berkley Romance for the free advanced copy on NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Divorce attorney RJ would never describe herself as romantic. But when she ends up officiating an unplanned wedding for a newly engaged couple in a park, her life is turned upside down. The video of the ceremony goes viral, and she finds herself in the unlikely position of being a sought-after local wedding officiant. Spending her free time overseeing “I dos” isn’t her most strategic career move, but she enjoys it, except for the type A dude-bro wedding planner she’s forced to work with.

Former pro-football event manager Lear is a people person, but after his longtime girlfriend betrayed him, he isn’t looking for love. He knows how to execute events and likes being in control, so working with an opinionated and inflexible officiant who can’t stand him is not high on his list. He’s never had trouble winning people over, but RJ seems immune to his charms.

Surrounded by love at every turn, their physical attraction pulls them together despite their best efforts to stay an arm’s length apart. Lear refuses to get hurt again. RJ refuses to let herself be vulnerable to anyone. But when it comes to happily ever after, their clients might not be the only ones saying “I do.”

Review: Do You Take This Man is romance novel that has an enemies-to-lovers trope and explores wedding planning, vulnerability, friendship, and moving on. This book featured Britta’s best friend, RJ, and her love interest, Lear. The author addresses some heavy subjects: infidelity of a partner (in one of the main characters pasts) and death/abandonment of a parent (both in the past). I really loved the storyline of a wedding planner and wedding officiant going from enemies-to-lovers and working on weddings together while their relationship blossoms. The author did a great job diving into RJ and Lear’s pasts and the alternate perspectives. There were a few times where I was frustrated with each main character, but I understood why they were acting the way they were as the author slowly revealed their pasts. I loved that Britta and Wes made some appearances which was fun! I’d recommend picking up Do You Take This Man if you liked The Fastest Way To Fall and How To Fail At Flirting!

Review: Scandalized

Scandalized by Ivy Owens
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pub Date: 8/23/2022

Thank you to Ivy Owens for the free advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Exhausted and on deadline with a story that could make or break her career, investigative journalist Georgia Ross is on the verge of a meltdown when a cancelled flight leaves her stuck in the airport overnight. But when a familiar face appears—the older brother of her childhood friend—and offers help, Gigi seems to have caught a break.

Alec Kim is handsome, humble, and kind—exactly the sort of man that Gigi has forgotten existed after her own painful heartbreaks. An evening of reconnection followed by a night of no-strings-attached passion with Alec feels like a gift—that is, until Gigi finally realizes that their childhood connection isn’t the only reason he seems so familiar to her.

Alec is determined to prove to Gigi that he is truly the man she thinks he is, even if it means coming clean about his fame—and his family’s connection to the story Gigi’s been working so hard to break. But as their feelings for each other grow deeper, Gigi and Alec must navigate a new reality…one where both of their hard-won careers are put directly in the path of an international scandal.

Review: Scandalized has been one of my most anticipated summer reads! This romance novel contains childhood friends to lovers, insta-love, first crush, secrets, and fame. The author addresses a heavy topic of sexual assault. She addresses the topic in a sensitive way that is pertinent to the storyline. I liked this book! I usually don’t like insta-love in books, but this one worked so well especially within the span that Alec and Gigi are together. I loved the way that the author built the connection between Gigi and Alec. Their chemistry was off the charts! The writing style is fast-paced and kept my interest from the beginning. Definitely recommend fellow romance readers to pick this one up! I’m looking forward to reading more from Ivy Owens.

Review: The House Across the Lake

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton
Pub Date: 6/21/2022

Thank you to PRH Audio for the free audiobook and Dutton for the free advanced copy on NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of liquor, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple who live in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is rich; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage is not as perfect and placid as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey becomes consumed with finding out what happened to her. In the process, she uncovers eerie, darker truths that turn a tale of voyeurism and suspicion into a story of guilt, obsession and how looks can be very deceiving.

With his trademark blend of sharp characters, psychological suspense, and gasp-worthy surprises, Riley Sager’s The House Across the Lake unveils more than one twist that will shock readers until the very last page.

Review: I’m huge Riley Sager fan so so was excited to hear his latest novel, The House Across the Lake, is releasing this summer! The House Across the Lake is a psychological thriller that explores stalking, former actor life, toxic relationships, and secrets. I had mixed feelings about this book. When I was first reading, I was a bit concerned about not liking the book because it had the overhyped trope of an unreliable female narrator. I like that Riley Sager’s writing style always keeps me engaged even if I feel unsure about the story. This is a definitely a slow build and character-driven story. I found the last third of the story to be the most interesting even though I’m not a fan of paranormal thrillers. I loved the twists and turns he provided and they were ones I wouldn’t have guessed. I ended up rating this 3.5 stars and rounded up to 4 stars. One thing to note is that I would definitely recommend reading the physical or the ebook. I wasn’t a fan of the audiobook narrator that was chosen as I felt the voice felt older than the narrator in the book. If you loved Riley Sager’s previous books or are a fan of psychological thrillers, you may want to check this one out.

Review: The Winners

The Winners by Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Atria books
Pub Date: 9/27/2022

Thank you to Atria Books for the free advanced copy on NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The residents continue to grapple with life’s big questions: What is a family? What is a community? And what, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice in order to protect them?

As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, great change is on the horizon. Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest. Someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. Someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.

So what are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?

Everything.

Review: The Winners is the third book in the Beartown series. I’d recommend reading the other two books and then read this one as there are several points that refer back to the other two books. The Winners explores social class, community, politics, and family. The book is a little under 700 pages and it took me almost a month to finish. I loved this book and it was a five star read. However, read this book with care. The author discusses a lot of heavy subjects: rape, alcoholism, abuse, suicide, gun violence, death, and so many other subjects. There were quite a few times I had to stop reading because it spurred all sorts of emotions. In terms of the writing style, this is a very character driven book. Sometimes it will feel like a slow build or it will feel repetitive in writing, but this all serves a purpose in the story flow. I really liked the multiple subplots going in within the community and the introduction to new characters interacting with beloved characters from the previous books. For those who love the Beartown series will really enjoy The Winners.

Review: Mother Ocean Father Nation

Mother Ocean Father Nation by Nishant Batsha
Publisher: Ecco Books
Pub Date: 6/7/2022

Thank you to Ecco Books for the free advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: A riveting, tender debut novel, following a brother and sister whose paths diverge–one forced to leave, one left behind–in the wake of a nationalist coup in the South Pacific

On a small Pacific island, a brother and sister tune in to a breaking news radio bulletin. It is 1985, and an Indian grocer has just been attacked by nativists aligned with the recent military coup. Now, fear and shock are rippling through the island’s deeply-rooted Indian community as racial tensions rise to the brink.

Bhumi hears this news from her locked-down dorm room in the capital city. She is the ambitious, intellectual standout of the family–the one destined for success. But when her friendship with the daughter of a prominent government official becomes a liability, she must flee her unstable home for California.

Jaipal feels like the unnoticed, unremarkable sibling, always left to fend for himself. He is stuck working in the family store, avoiding their father’s wrath, with nothing but his hidden desires to distract him. Desperate for money and connection, he seizes a sudden opportunity to take his life into his own hands for the first time. But his decision may leave him vulnerable to the island’s escalating volatility.

Spanning from the lush terrain of the South Pacific to the golden hills of San Francisco, Mother Ocean Father Nation is an entrancing debut about how one family, at the mercy of a nation broken by legacies of power and oppression, forges a path to find a home once again.

Review: Mother Ocean Father Nation is a literary, historical fiction, LBTQ+ debut novel from Nishant Batsha. Mother Ocean Father Nation explores themes of strained relationships, power, oppression, self discovery, and the meaning of home. The author alternates perspectives from sister and brother, Bhumi and Jaipal. I loved that their perspectives were different and their stories were separate yet interwoven. I also liked how the author touched suppression, immigration, and the feeling of belonging. The plot is intriguing, but the pacing of the story felt either way too show or everything happens at once. The author touches upon some heavy themes in here, but I felt there was too much to dive into and some things were unexplained. It was a good start to a debut that was heartbreaking yet filled with hope. I’d recommend reading this one if you love character/driven stories.

Review: Book Lovers

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
Publisher: Berkley Pub
Pub Date: 3/15/2022

Thank you to Berkley Pub for the free advanced copy on NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry is the third adult romance I’ve read from Emily, but overall fourth book I’ve read from her. This romcom explores sister love, small town life, and taking risks.I l enjoyed this one. The author addresses heavy subjects in the story: death of a parent, grief, pregnancy, and panic attacks/disorders to name a few. I love that Emily’s writing style is pretty consistent in all her books. In Book Lovers, I found it surprising that the story is told only through Nora’s perspective which works well. All the characters are fleshed out and have such great chemistry with one another. Each of the main characters have their flaws, but I love that we get to see main characters’ chemistry heighten, the slow build of their relationship, and the witty banter works so well. The only character annoyed me at the beginning was Nora’s sister, Libby, but I understand why she was written the way she was and liked how we got to see her character grow. Highly recommend picking h toys up if  you’re a  romance reader and/or if you’re a fan of Emily Henry.

Review: The Younger Wife

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 4/5/2022

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the free advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis:

THE HUSBAND: A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself.

THE DAUGHTERS: Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancée, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money.

THE FORMER WIFE: With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is.

THE YOUNGER WIFE: Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses in all of them?

Review: The Younger Wife is the third book I’ve read from Sally Hepworth. Sally’s books seem to be a mixed bag for me. The Younger Wife explores strained familial relationships, social class, gaslighting, and finding the truth. Overall, this was an entertaining read. I liked the various POVs and the writing style. The middle dragged a bit, but it was interesting to see how the ending came together. Also the author connected a scene in the book to something that happened to her in real life which was pretty cool. I’d recommend reading this if you loved her other books. This was 3.5 stars for me.

Review: The Book of Cold Cases

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
Publisher: Berkley Pub
Pub Date: 3/15/2022

Thank you to Berkley Pub for the free advanced copy on NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect–a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases–a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?

Review: The Book of Cold Cases has been one of my most anticipated thrillers this year. I’m not really a fan of paranormal thrillers, but I absolutely loved Simone’s previous two books so I was curious about this one. The Book of Cold Cases involves crime blogging, unsolved serial killer mystery, small town living, and paranormal vibes. Overall, this was a decent read. The building up to the mystery was a bit too slow burn for me. I really enjoyed Beth’s POV more than Shea, but I understood why Shea’s POV was there. It took me a while to get invested in the story as I felt that there was a lack of twists and it’s easy to figure out who was culprit from the beginning. Even though I figured it out early, I enjoyed the journey of getting to that point through the author’s writing style. This was a solid 3 stars for me. If you enjoyed the author’s previous work or love paranormal thrillers, you may enjoy this one.

Review: The Paris Apartment

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Publisher: William Morrow
Pub Date: 2/22/2022

Thank you to William Morrow for the free ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.

Review: The Paris Apartment is the third book I’ve read from Lucy Foley and this was one of my most anticipated reads this year! This locked room mystery sets place in Paris and explores troubled pasts, secrets, and disappearances. I came into this book not really knowing much of the plot and ended up enjoying it! The Paris Apartment is more of a character driven story. There are a quite a few characters and I enjoyed reading the different perspectives. I really liked the short digestible chapters. Though I was only able to read the book, I have a feeling this would be great on audio. Even though all the characters were unlikable, I was intrigued by the storyline. The story starts off a bit slow at first, but the pacing makes sense. There were twists in here that I wasn’t anticipating which made this locked room mystery fun to solve. The only part I didn’t like was how neatly wrapped up it was at the end, but overall, I liked the writing style. If you enjoyed Lucy Foley’s other books, then you’re definitely in for a treat to read The Paris Apartment.

Review: Dating Dr. Dil

Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma
Publisher: Avon
Pub Date: 3/15/2022

Thank you to Avon Books for the free advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Kareena Mann dreams of having a love story like her parents, but she prefers restoring her classic car to swiping right on dating apps. When her father announces he’s selling her mother’s home, Kareena makes a deal with him: he’ll gift her the house if she can get engaged in four months. Her search for her soulmate becomes impossible when her argument with Dr. Prem Verma, host of The Dr. Dil Show, goes viral. Now the only man in her life is the one she doesn’t want.

Dr. Prem Verma is dedicated to building a local community health center, but he needs to get donors with deep pockets. The Dr. Dil Show was doing just that, until his argument with Kareena went viral, and he’s left short changed. That’s when Kareena’s meddling aunties presented him with a solution: convince Kareena he’s her soulmate and they’ll fund his clinic.  

Even though they have conflicting views on love-matches and arranged-matches, the more time Prem spends with Kareena, the more he begins to believe she’s the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. But for Prem and Kareena to find their happily ever after, they must admit that hate has turned into fate. 

Review: Dating Dr. Dil is a romcom inspired by Taming of the Shrew and dives into themes of familial expectations, community, love vs arranged matches, and being true to yourself. Overall, this was a fun read, but it wasn’t for me. I haven’t read Taming of the Shrew so I wasn’t really sure if it lived up to the inspiration of it. I really loved Kareena, but I was not a fan of Prem at all which kind of turned me off from the story. I enjoyed the storyline and there were some laughable moments. I also loved the Taylor Swift references and inspired playlist in the back which was a nice touch. I liked how the author was able to capture the cultural expectations and family dynamics in the South Asian community in the storyline. If you like the fake dating trope in romcoms, I’d recommend picking this up.