Wednesday, July 04, 2018

REVIEW: Trapped At The Altar by Jane Feather

Title: Trapped At The Altar (Trapped #1)
Author: Jane Feather
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: July, 2014
Genre: Historical Romance
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: New York Times bestselling author Jane Feather introduces a sizzling new series that moves from the remote wilds of southwest England to the turbulent royal court, when a lovely young woman is forced into marriage to unite two families—and discovers a most unexpected desire...

Headstrong Ariadne Daunt is convinced she loves handsome Gabriel Fawcett, but her grandfather has other plans for her. He decrees that she marry Ivor Chalfont, thus forging a powerful alliance between the two warring families who share ownership of their valley. Given no time to plot an escape, Ari finds herself standing reluctantly at the altar, swearing to honor and obey a man who is not her choice.

Ivor has treasured Ari as a friend ever since he was brought to the valley as a child, but now he feels a man's desires. He longs to take the beautiful young woman to his bed and make their marriage more than an empty vow. Ari may believe she loves another man, but Ivor believes otherwise—and he will not rest until he gains her heart, her trust . . . and her passion.

My Thoughts: Ari and Ivor have been friends since they were children but Ari is not happy when she is ordered by her family to marry Ivor to secure her family’s security and standing with the King. Ari believes she is in love with another man and has no qualms about telling Ivor her heart belongs to another. Ivor accepts his responsibility to the family and marries Ari but believes her feelings will change and he will win her heart.

I found this story very interesting in that Ari is not a virginal maiden. She has given her body and heart to another man; a man she is not married to. Very taboo in this historical setting, as marriages are contracts and the bride’s purity is an important part of the arrangement. I found it interesting that Ivor goes through with the marriage despite knowing Ari has given herself to another and he keeps that secret between them. I really admired that as this story could have had a completely different outcome.

The only real problem I had with this story is with Ari. She is self-centered and selfish in the beginning. She appears to be a little fickle in how quickly she gets over Gabriel and realizes she loves Ivor. I enjoyed watching her squirm a little bit when Gabriel appears in London and she is filled with anxiety how she will address the situation. It is resolved not how I thought it would, but, again, Ivor deserves the credit for doing the right thing. I liked Ari, but she needed to do a lot of growing up and with Ivor, she is well on her way.

My Final Verdict: Though Ari starts off as very immature and headstrong, she develops into a proper noblewoman doing what her family expects of her. I thought Ivor was an excellent character and I liked that he accepts the challenge of marriage to Ari and winning her love and doesn’t look back. Fans of historical romances will enjoy the backdrop of the court of King Charles II.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Trapped At The Altar from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

REVIEW: The Beginner's Guide To The Birds And The Bees by Sophie Hart

Title: The Beginners Guide to the Birds and the Bees
Author: Sophie Hart
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: September, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN

Description: What happens in the bedroom doesn’t have to stay in the bedroom…

A refreshingly open and uplifting romantic comedy about friendship, love and sex. Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone in order to give a relationship a good dose of TLC…

Sex therapist Annie Hall helps couples put the fizz back into their relationships. It’s a shame her own love life is non-existent. When Jamie who works next door catches her eye, she can’t ignore the spark of chemistry.

Most men would jump at the chance to skive off work for an afternoon quickie with their gorgeous wife, but Nick knows Julia is after only one thing – a baby. Sex shouldn’t be a chore. Can Annie help Julia see that?

Newly engaged Zoe and Simon can’t keep their hands off each other. They’ve decided to take a vow of celibacy until their wedding night. Will Annie help them stick to it?

Roy and Linda have been married for over thirty years but she’s more interested in the family business than getting intimate with him. Can Annie convince Linda to rediscover her passion for Roy after all this time?

While Annie begins to work her magic with the three couples, she soon discovers that she’ll need to take some of her own advice if she’s going to let a new man into her life.

My Thoughts: Loved, loved, loved this story! New to me author Sophie Hart pens a story of the ups and downs of love for three very different couples who all seek the advice of a sex therapist for very different and interesting reasons. The best thing about this story is the sex therapist, Annie Hall. She isn’t there to help them get better in the sack, she actually helps them rebuild the emotional intimacy that makes relationships grow and thrive. On a side-note, Annie’s love life is a zero, though she puts on a brave face and goes out on the occasional date. True love has not found Annie and she has nearly convinced herself that it’s for the best. I loved the chemistry between her and Jamie and you will too.

The couples that Annie takes on as clients are vibrant and come alive on the page. The reader will get an excellent sense of the emotions all six of these people feel; feelings about their relationships, their partners and even themselves. I had a lot of compassion and empathy for them and was rooting for all of them to be successful. The exercises Annie puts them through as couples and as a group were a lot of fun to witness. The author takes this story further by delving deeper into the characters on a personal level, so the reader gets to know them better as individuals as they all get to know each other and form friendships. The story moves at a very good pace. I wanted to savor it but I just couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

My Final Verdict: The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees by Sophie Hart is a must-read for fans of the romance genre, but fans who seek more comedy than romance in their reading will enjoy this as well. This was a keeper-shelf book for me and I think it will be for you too.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Beginners Guide to the Birds and the Bees from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

REVIEW: Wonderment In Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Wonderment In Death (In Death #41.5)
Author: J.D. Robb
Publisher: Jove
Publication Date: September, 2015
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: Someone is hosting dangerous tea parties in 2061 New York...

Thing aren't what they seem when Lieutenant Eve Dallas investigates what appears to be a routine murder/suicide. When friends of Darlene and Marcus Fitzwilliams insist Darlene would never hurt her brother, Eve digs deeper.

Eve learns that Darlene sought help from sensitivities, psychics, and doctors of paranormal studies in an attempt to contact her dead parents. After clues mimicking Alice in Wonderland repeatedly turns up, the case gets curiouser and curiouser...

Racing against the clock, Eve must travel down the rabbit hole to stop a madman's murderous tea party.

My Thoughts: To be honest, I only read the Eve Dallas story, though it’s part of an anthology featuring stories with variations of an Alice in Wonderland theme. Wonderment In Death brings Eve and the Scooby gang together to investigate an apparent murder/suicide committed by Darlene Fitzwilliams when she stabs her brother in the heart and then throws herself off his balcony. As the investigation progresses, Eve discovers that Darlene has been seeking the services of a medium who promises her contact with her dead parents...for a bunch of money in cash withdrawals. Eve’s spidey sense goes into high gear as she meticulously narrows her search to find the culprit.

My Final Verdict: I loved the story and enjoyed the Alice in Wonderland theme. The villain’s identity wasn’t a deep mystery, but the enjoyment was more with the way the author creates the world in which Eve lives. The mini novellas satisfy the craving the reader has for more interaction with Eve and the gang while waiting for the next full-length novel. Unlike other novellas that are part of a series, these stay true to the previous storylines and character development and flow seamlessly towards the next story.

My craving wasn’t satisfied after finishing Wonderment, so I had to immediately start the next story in the series. That is the downside to the novella…less everything, but it is easily remedied by jumping into the next story. In fact, I highly recommend doing just that…you know, just to make sure you get your fill of Eve and the gang. This is such an enjoyable series and I get such enjoyment from seeing these characters develop and grow and live. They feel like friends and family as time goes on and what more could a reader ask for?


Monday, April 30, 2018

REVIEW: Party Girl by Rachel Hollis

Title: Party Girl
Author: Rachel Hollis
Publisher: Chic Publishing
Publication Date: February, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: Landon Brinkley is making her dreams come true. After years of poring over glossy photos of celebrity parties in People and US Weekly, she’s landed her Holy Grail: an internship with the fabulous Selah Smith, event planner to the Hollywood elite.

Moving from small town Texas to Los Angeles, Landon finds herself in a world in which spending a million dollars on an event – even for kids’ birthdays – is de rigueur. The thrill of working on A-list parties and celeb weddings is enough to get her through the 75-hour workweeks, the nightmare of a multi-day film festival, and abuse at the hands of a mercurial boss. LA is full of opportunity for fame, fortune and even love. But confronted with the seamy realities of the business, she is forced to make a choice: do whatever it takes to get ahead, or stay true to herself.

A roman a clef in the vein of The Devil Wears Prada, PARTY GIRL draws on the author’s real life experience for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the celebrity-obsessed world of event planning. From the party habits of America’s favorite underage singer to the worst Bridezilla of all (the kind that graces the cover of your favorite magazine), PARTY GIRL reveals the ugly side of Hollywood’s prettiest parties.

My Thoughts: First time reading this author’s work and I really enjoyed her voice and writing style. I immediately felt a connection to Landon and empathized with her as she realized that her dream job was turning into a complete nightmare. From day one, Landon is treated with disdain, sarcasm and outright dislike by those around her. I admired her tenacity and courage to stick it out and show the haters she is made of stronger stuff. I also liked the supporting characters. Happily, Max and Jin get their own stories so I am excited to see what happens with them down the road.

An excellent sign of talent is when an author creates characters that draw a huge emotional response from the reader. I had such a reaction with Selah Smith. Everything about this character made me want to gouge out her eyes, pull her hair and then slap her into next Tuesday. She is truly despicable and pathetic. She treats her employees abominably and the level of schmooze she displays to her clients was nauseating. There are a few moments in this story that I was worried that Landon would not be able to hold her own against Selah. I loved that Landon is a fighter and isn’t willing to compromise her principles and values to play the game.

My Final Verdict: What The Devil Wears Prada does for publishing and fashion, Party Girl does for party and event planning. It looks really glittery and glamorous on the outside, but the inside can surprise you with the level of brutality and hostility that goes on behind the scenes. Readers of books that enjoy an interesting backdrop in their story that breathes so much life into the book, it’s almost like it’s a character, will enjoy Party Girl.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Party Girl from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

REVIEW: What Might Have Been by Matt Dunn

Title: What Might Have Been
Author: Matt Dunn
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August, 2014
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN.com | Audible

Description: A year ago, Evan and Sarah shared one incredible night. Then Evan's music—the thing that brought them together—suddenly tore them apart.

Since then, Evan's not been able to forget about her. And try as she might, Sarah can't seem to get over him either.

With time running out, Evan's got one last chance to convince her that the two of them were meant to be. But is one night enough for Sarah to make a decision about the rest of her life— even if it was the best night of her life? And if she doesn't believe in love at first sight, how can Evan persuade her that what they had will last?

My Thoughts: Good story about two people coming together by chance and finding their way back together by fate. When Evan and Sarah first meet, they feel an immediate connection and attraction. Sarah has a lot of insecurity about relationships because of her past so when she finds out about a once in a lifetime opportunity for Evan and his musical career, she pushes him to take the opportunity which splits them apart.

Fast forward one year later and Evan is back with just days left before Sarah marries another man. He is convinced she is the one for him, but he doesn’t have much time to convince her of the same. Most of this story seems to be Evan following Sarah around like a lost puppy trying to talk to her and Sarah being upset that he’s there.

I felt more empathy for Evan than I did for Sarah. I thought she was running away from her feelings and hiding from the past. In her determination to protect herself from being hurt, she was actually putting herself into situations that would cause her the most pain. I also didn’t like that she seemed angry at Evan for leaving, though she was the one who pushed him to go. After certain events are revealed, it made sense why she was so angry but I couldn’t understand why she blamed Evan. Sometimes things happen without rhyme or reason and we just have to muddle through them and make the best of the situation.

My Final Verdict: Though the story was enjoyable, I just didn’t feel as connected to Sarah as I wanted to and was frustrated often with her behavior. I thought Evan was well written and very likable. Sarah’s roommate, Grace, was also a character I liked. Fans of women’s fiction will find the story entertaining. I like the author’s writing style and voice and am curious about his other works.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of What Might Have Been from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, February 05, 2018

REVIEW: Bad Bridesmaid by Portia MacIntosh

Title: Bad Bridesmaid
Author: Portia MacIntosh
Publisher: Carina (Harlequin UK)
Publication Date: August, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN.com

Description: “My wedding is ruined and my marriage is going to fail. And it’s all your fault!”

LA rom-com writer Mia Valentina has it all; money, success, a tanned and toned body, golden blonde hair and a string of sexy lovers. She’s almost forgotten her previous self: plain old Mia Harrison. Until a wedding invitation arrives requesting (demanding!) her presence as chief bridesmaid at her younger sister Belle’s upcoming nuptials.

Mia’s barely been back in England before she’s accidentally injured the groom, unintentionally ‘cursed’ the wedding and been caught in a compromising position with her sister’s soon to be brother-in-law!

With the wedding of the year going dangerously off the rails, Mia has no time to waste – especially with sexy fireman and best man Leo on hand to help… Will she use all of her expert romance knowledge to save the day or will she just walk away? No one ever said a bad girl had to turn good…

My Thoughts: With Bad Bridesmaid, new to me author Portia MacIntosh introduces a character that inspires such dislike and contempt from her family, I couldn’t help but empathize with her. I asked myself several times why she didn’t tell the entire lot to bugger off and go back to the States. Everyone from her sister, to her mother, to her Aunt seems less than pleased with Mia’s presence. It’s a complete mystery why they wanted her at the wedding in the first place!

Mia is a woman who has pulled herself out of her own rut of obesity and obscurity. The ugly duckling who transformed into the swan. She now has a successful business writing rom-com films, though she, herself, is very cynical about love and romance.

Now, that being said, she is not completely blameless in some of the shenanigans that occur. She even orchestrates a few of them, but she lives her life without malice or deliberate intent to hurt anyone, so I found myself quick to forgive her and laugh out loud at some of the antics she gets herself into.

My Final Verdict: All in all, this was a really good story about family, second chances, forgiveness and fun. The story flowed at a good pace. I felt the characters were easy to relate to, though I didn’t care for all of them, they were well-written. I hope to read more from this author as she has a wonderful sense of humor that translates well in her stories.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Bad Bridesmaid from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, January 15, 2018

REVIEW: The Christmas Cake Cafe by Sue Watson

Title: The Christmas Cake Cafe
Author: Sue Watson
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: October, 2016
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Description: Heart-warming and hilarious, a story that will make you laugh, cry and bring a smile to your face. Get ready for another deliciously amazing Christmas treat from Sue Watson….

As the Prosecco chills and Bing Crosby croons, Jen Barker just knows that her long-term boyfriend is about to propose. But instead of a diamond ring nestled in her champagne flute, Jen finds cold flat rejection. Her once perfect life and dreams of a husband and family seem even further from reach.

A working holiday to the Swiss Alps with her younger sister Jody might not be the Christmas Jen had it mind, but it offers her the chance to recharge her batteries and recover from heartbreak.

When Jen meets handsome ski instructor Jon Zutter her hopes for a happy-ever-after seem within her grasp again. Jon is kind and gorgeous and as they bond over Sachetorte at the picturesque Cake Café, Jen thinks he might just be her perfect man. But a relationship with him comes with a catch – and there are some things even cake can’t fix.

As the snow falls and Christmas approaches, could this be the place that restores Jen Barker’s faith in love?

My Thoughts: I really enjoy this author’s voice, especially the Christmas-themed stories. Sue Watson has a wonderful way of capturing the spirit of the holiday season within the pages of her books so vividly, as a reader, I feel transported into the story. I can almost feel the icy sting on my cheeks of the swirling snow, the melting chocolate on my tongue and the scent of apples and cinnamon baking in a cozy bakery. I want to live in Sue Watson’s books.

The Christmas Cake Café introduces us to Jen Barker, a middle-aged woman who has spent too much time and energy on her loser boyfriend who breaks her heart just when she thought he would propose. Thank God for Jen’s sister, Jody, who practically forces Jen to come to the Swiss Alps with her and some friends for a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas working holiday. Here in the perfect Christmas backdrop, Jen can find herself again and begin to dream of a happily-ever-after.

Jen meets Jon, a local ski instructor, who seems to show up during some of Jen’s less than appealing moments, especially when forced to wear clothing she had to borrow because her own luggage has gone MIA. I liked Jon, though. He is kind, sweet and attentive and manages to keep his surprise and bewilderment about Jen to himself. I especially liked that he has his own relationship baggage of his own to carry but doesn’t let it derail him from his own path.

Likable characters and a smooth flowing storyline are essential to me as a reader. The characters are easy to relate to and bond with. I really liked them all and cared about what happens to them. The story flows from moment to moment in a leisurely and smooth pattern. It was very easy to lose myself in the story and forget where I was.

My Final Verdict: I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the scenery and highly recommend it for anyone looking to add some Christmas cheer to their reading pile.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Christmas Cake Café from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at sharalsbooks@yahoo.com Happy Reading! :o)