Review: 180 Seconds by Jessica Park

When will I learn to read JP books with a box of tissues nearby? I mean seriously, these books reek havoc on my heart.

Allison is a very closed off person. She’s been tossed around in foster care and has learned it’s better to keep to herself than to put herself out there and be rejected or left behind. She had my heart all twisty. She struggles with letting people in. I wanted to reach in and hug her.

After a social media experiment she was pulled into, she realizes that she needs to let people in and to open up her heart a little. There are so many people around her that would love to get close, if only she’d let them. Anxiety is hard to face and even more difficult to let go.

I loved Esben. He’s bigger than life, with a heart of gold. Really, he’s perfect in all the ways that matter. It was wild to see his reaction to the 180 Seconds experiment and to watch him chip away at Allison’s wall until it falls at her feet. It will not be easy. There will be tears. LOTS of tears. But they’ll be worth it.

“I don’t need protection from your past. I need protection from mine.”

Jessica’s books have a way of stringing you along, then tearing your heart out and forcing you to take a deep breath before continuing. Angst must be her middle name. If you loved Flat Out Celeste and Left Drowning/Restless Waters, then this book is right up your alley. This story made me take a good long look at my own life and others around me. You never know who might need a little extra patience and love.

Be brave.

~Melpomene

Buy 180 Seconds here: http://amzn.to/2pTVpo4

Review: White Sand, Blue Sea by Anita Hughes 

Anita Hughes does it again – takes me on a luxurious vacation where ladies drip with diamonds, succulent dinners abound, and you can almost taste the salt of the sea. 

Olivia and Finn vacation in St. Bart’s with Olivia’s mom and step dad… and Olivia hopes Finn will finally propose. But the love story is just part of the plot. There’s Sebastian, the long-absent father making an insincere attempt at redeeming himself, Felix the stepdad, trying to be perfect for everyone, and Hadley the mom, a little bit jaded and disappointed about the way her golden years are turning out. 

Hughes did a great job with the characters of Olivia, Hadley and Sebastian. It was harder to get to know the others, but I don’t know that character development mattered too much in this story. I like to read Hughes because she whisks me away from real life — April showers, bills to pay, and a house to clean – into the luxury of a fancy vacation. Reading Hughes, I get to virtually stay in the best villas, go to the best beaches, wear the most expensive cocktail dresses, and eat the fanciest food. 

I’ll take that escape any day. 

-calliope

Buy WHITE SAND, BLUE SEA

The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton

Sara loves her grandmother Maggie, but her eccentricity created some distance between them. Now that Sara has a flourishing business in New Orleans, she doesn’t get back to Mobile, Alabama as often as she should… until Maggie dies, leaves a ramshackle inn to Sara in her will, and has her attorney convey a request for Sara to renovate the place while allowing Maggie’s old friends to remain living there for a while. 

That’s the plot set-up. But the vibe is even better. Sara’s shop assistant Allyn was a BRILLIANT character- vibrant, grab-life-by-the-horns, supportive without being smothering, and so, so intuitive. Denton did a remarkable job juxtaposing Allyn with Sara, who was reserved, all-business, and pretty much living a superficial life while coping with a whole bunch of emotional baggage. Well, until she goes to Mobile and unravels her baggage along with Maggie’s past. *dunt dunt dunt*

Enter stage left: a panel of senior citizens who loved Maggie and want to love Sara, a local contractor – sensitive yet manly – who wants to help rebuild the inn… and build a relationship, and a slimy land developer who wants to ruin it all. 

This story is beautifully written, deeper than standard chick lit but light enough for a beach read. You’ll root for Sara every step of the way, and in the (very well done) flashbacks, you might find yourself rooting for Maggie, too. 

-calliope

Buy THE HIDEAWAY

Review: The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart 

I’m so glad I started this series! Allie and Des find out they have a half-sister… and the trio is required to cooperatively restore an old theatre in order to get their inheritance after their dad’s death. Restoring a theatre – what fun!

Watching the three characters learn about each other and grow in themselves was great. Steward develops the characters evenly, even though the story is told through Cara’s eyes. The introduction of Allie’s daughter shows Allie’s heart – at a point in the story I had just about had it up to here with her! And Stewart’s illustration of Des’s flair for fashion gives positive personality to this third sister – and adds another light, fun aspect to the story. 

I love how open Cara is to new friendships with her sisters and the small-town neighbors watching them restore the theatre. Reading the story from Cara’s viewpoint was an exercise in optimism, hopefulness and adventure. And as I sit here writing this, I’m thinking I really can’t wait for the next book … so I’m signing off and checking the internet for Book Two’s pub date. 🙂

-calliope 

Buy THE LAST CHANCE MATINEE

Review: Red Clover Inn by Carla Neggers

Carla Neggers writes strong and unique main characters in Red Clover Inn. Charlotte is a tough marine archaeologist who is taking some time off to attend her cousin’s wedding … and mentally recover from a diving scare. Greg is a diplomatic security agent attending the same wedding and recovering from a gunshot wound. 

I was pleasantly surprised that these two took time to develop a sturdy friendship before having a physical relationship. I enjoyed watching them maintain their cool facades – what they’re used to in their jobs – while intuitively seeing what’s really underneath in the other person. Neggers managed to write the push and pull without being annoying or cliche – outstanding!

While Charlotte and Greg leave the wedding in London and fo their separate ways, they coincidentally end up in the same inn in Massachusetts. They fall in to solving a couple of little mysteries and meeting some of the many locals who are related in convoluted ways. Neggers could have done without trying to explain how everyone was related – I skipped over those parts because they weren’t necessary to the plot, and they held me up. 

I do think the writing is classic Carla Neggers – a really good plot but technically uneven. The creative storyline and intriguing characters made up for it, and I couldn’t put down my kindle because I needed to know what was happening next! 

-calliope

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Review: My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch

01-a1 This book was so much fun!! The banter. The sexy times. The very sense of family. I loved it all.

I’m glad I read book one immediately beforehand, so it was fresh in my mind what was happening. This pretty much takes place right after Hero in the Highlands ends.

Right from the start, I loved all the brothers. Each had their own quirks and very loud personalities. Not having a woman’s influence on them in eight years makes them a bit rougher and I think that’s why I like them.

The romance was a slow burn. Obviously. Being kidnapped has a way of making that happen. But once Marjorie realizes why the young boys did what they, she knows she must help them, or she risks her life and theirs as well. Their love was a bit of a shock to them. I enjoyed watching it grow. She’s this proper young woman who’s been thrusted into the highlands with a four pack of wild boys.

This is where things get tricky. Graeme saw what happens when your true love is lost. It destroys you. He wants no part of that. But fate has a way giving you exactly what you need before you know you need it.

“I didnae want to meet a lass who could twist me up inside. I didnae want my heart to pound or my breath to catch when a particular lass entered a room.”

This is my first experience with Suzanne Enoch’s books, I know it won’t be my last.

~Melpomene

Buy My One True Highlander HERE

Review: The Vicar’s Daughter by Josi S. Kilpack

Oh, my swooning heart! This book was so sweet and romantic. I swear there were butterflies in my belly the entire time. The Vicar’s Daughter had a very “Emma” feel to it, but with a twist.

Cassie hated the rules her parent’s instilled that only one daughter at a time would be put in society. So in order to speed things along she tries to help her very anxious sister in making a match. But as things began to progress, she starts to get feelings for the man she wanted for her sister. She tried to put her them aside but when push comes to shove, her heart can’t take the pain.

Mr. Glenside is new to society so he’s learning the ins and outs and soon finds himself caught up in a situation that had only one outcome. But in order to be true to his heart he must make the unfortunate decision and cause himself lots of trouble and gossip to be flung his way. Not exactly how he wanted to come out in society, but some things can’t be helped.

I loved Cassie. Her heart was in the right place, but her execution was flawed. Royally flawed It’s was very hard to see her suffer. But as a vicar’s daughter there was no escaping it. SHe was well known,therefore people were going to know what happened. She had me in tears towards the end. Gah!! My heart was invested and was wishing for no more suffering.

As I’ve said before, I love this Proper Romance series. This one had more religious tones than the many of them. Since it was about a vicar’s family, I’m not surprised. If you love historical romances with all feels, then I recommend you grab this one.

~Melpomene

Buy The Vicar’s Daughter HERE