Category Archives: Contemporary

Review: Delivered Fast by Annabeth Albert

delivered fastTitle: Delivered Fast by Annabeth Albert
Portland Heat Series Book Three
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance
Length: 134 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Portland, Oregon, aka Hotlandia, where the coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries are ready to serve everything piping hot, fresh, and ready to go—like the hard-working, hard-bodied men behind the counters—with no reservations…

Sure, Chris O’Neal has problems. His restaurant is still co-owned by his ex. His flannel-and-tattoos style is making him accidentally trendy. He can’t remember the last time he went out and had fun. But he’s not lonely, he’s driven. And the hot bakery delivery boy is not his problem, no matter how sweet his buns.

Chris is old enough to know Lance Degrassi’s sculpted good looks and clever double entendres spell nothing but trouble. Lance is still in college—he should be hitting the clubs and the books, chasing guys his own age, not pursuing some gruff motorcycle-riding workaholic. Especially when he’ll be leaving for grad school in a few months. But Lance keeps hanging around, lending a hand, charming Chris to distraction. Maybe some steaming hot no-strings indulgence won’t hurt.

Then again, maybe it will…

Review:

The final installment in Annabeth Albert’s delightful Portland Heat series, Delivered Fast is a very charming older/younger man romance. This fast paced story is sweet yet steamy and blissfully angst free despite a minor obstacle on the road to happily ever after.

Chris O’Neal is taken off guard by his attraction to the very attractive and much younger Lance Degrassi. Chris is in his mid thirties and he has always gone for older men but he just cannot resist the energetic and effervescent young man. The age gap is only about twelve years, but since Lance still has so much of his future ahead of him, Chris cannot commit to a long term relationship with him. After Chris discovers Lance will be moving once he is accepted to grad school, the two agree to a friends-with-benefits arrangement.

Chris is incredibly reluctant to become emotionally involved with anyone but he is immediately charmed by Lance. The two spend a great deal of quality time together but Chris is careful to keep things light and casual between them. Everything is going along just as he wants until Lance considers altering his plans for his future which plays into Chris’s fears that Lance will regret eventually regret his (possible) decision.

Lance is very mature for his age and he has his future all mapped out. He is close to his family and he has a large circle of friends. He is instantly attracted to Chris and Lance never gives Chris’s age a second thought. He agrees to Chris’s suggestion for a no strings relationship, but it is always obvious that Lance cares very deeply for him. Although Lance is willing to make compromises to make their relationship work, Chris’s fears (and lack of communication) might derail their chance for lasting happiness.

Delivered Fast is an engaging, light-hearted romance between two very likable characters. Chris and Lance’s friendship is easygoing and believable. The sex scenes are scorching hot but there is also an underlying tenderness that shows the (unspoken) emotional connection between them. The issues between them are resolved fairly quickly and a lovely epilogue wraps up the remaining loose ends. Another fantastic installment in Annabeth Albert’s marvelous Portland Heat series that old and new fans are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under Annabeth Albert, Contemporary, Delivered Fast, Erotic, Lyrical Press, M/M, Portland Heat Series, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

souls nightTitle: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Publisher: Knopf
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 192 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

Their brave adventures—their pleasures and their difficulties—are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.

Review:

In Our Souls at Night, Kent Haruf once again takes readers back to Holt, CO where two widowed neighbors’ unorthodox arrangement is met with resistance by their children and some of the townspeople. Quite moving, this lovely novel is also heartwarming and poignant and it is one that will stay with readers long after the story ends.

Louis Waters and Addie Moore are both long widowed and although they have been neighbors for decades, they do not know one another very well. So Louis is rather surprised when Addie approaches him with an unusual request that she believes would help relieve her loneliness. She asks Louis if he would come to her house nightly and sleep with her-for companionship, not sex. After careful consideration, Louis agrees to give her suggestion a try and what follows is a beautiful relationship that defies convention but makes them happier than either of them could have imagined.

Before falling asleep, Louis and Addie take turns discussing the different events that have made up their lives. They confide in one another about their marriages, their mistakes and their losses. Nothing is off limits as they discuss their failings, their regrets and the disappointments they endured over the years. Both share their concerns for their respective children and their sense of responsibility for the missteps and mistakes they feel have contributed to their kids inability to find happiness as adults.

It is not until Addie’s young grandson, Jamie, comes to stay with her that their relationship deepens but it also becomes much more complicated. Addie and Louis enjoy introducing Jamie to outdoor activities that are missing from his life and the three spend a great deal of time enjoying the natural beauty of the surrounding area. However, Addie’s son is not happy about Louis spending time with his mother or his son, and Addie is soon torn between her son’s demands and her relationship with Louis.

Our Souls at Night is a heartfelt novel that is beautifully written. Published posthumously, this sweet, gentle and emotional story is a little sad, yet also uplifting. Kent Haruf is a longtime favorite author of mine and he will be greatly missed.

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Filed under Contemporary, Kent Haruf, Knopf, Our Souls at Night, Rated B+, Review

Review: The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller

marriage seasonTitle: The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller
Brides of Bliss County Series Book Three
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Will the marriage pact be fulfilled? Return to Mustang Creek, Wyoming, with #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller for more Brides of Bliss County!

Since Hadleigh, Melody and Bex—the best of best friends—entered into a marriage pact, two of them have found (and married) the men of their hearts. But Bex doesn’t think she’ll be as fortunate as the others. Her own first love died years ago in a faraway war, and Bex has lost hope for a happy marriage of her own. She concentrates on her business, a successful chain of fitness clubs, instead.

Then, when single father Tate Calder comes to Mustang Creek with his two sons in tow, who befriend Bex’s eight-year-old nephew, she and the handsome, aloof newcomer are constantly thrown together. But is the marriage season over? Or can a man with doubts about love be the right husband for a woman who wants it all?

Review:

The Marriage Season is the final charming installment in Linda Lael Miller’s The Brides of Bliss County series. In this outing, it is Bex Stuart’s turn to find love, but will she be able to let go of her fears and fulfill the marriage pact she made with her best friends Hadleigh and Melody?

Bex has not had a serious relationship since her fiancé died in Afghanistan ten years earlier. So when single dad Tate Calder moves to town, Hadleigh and Melody decide to do a little matchmaking for their friends. The only problem? Tate is interested in a relationship but he does not plan to re-marry while Bex thinks she is too busy for a relationship. Bex’s life becomes even more complicated when her sister Tara and six year old nephew Josh move in with her but neither she nor Tate can resist their attraction to each other. When Tate offers to include Josh in a weekend fishing trip with him and his two sons, he extends an invitation to Bex to join them. Their feelings for one another quickly deepen, but will Bex and Tate’s respective baggage prevent them from taking their relationship to the next level?

Bex is a successful business woman with a big heart. She is very loyal to her friends and family and she will do anything to help her loved ones. Bex has never recovered from losing her fiancé and although she knows her fears are unrealistic, she is terrified of making a permanent commitment.

Tate is devoted to his sons and he is willing to make any sacrifice for them. He left a lucrative career so he could spend as much time with them as possible and despite losing their mother, his kids are happy and well-adjusted. He moved to Mustang Creek to begin a horse breeding program and the construction on his home and ranch is nearing completion. Tate is taken off guard by his attraction to Bex but it does not take long for him to becomes serious about her.

Despite their baggage and reservations, neither Tate nor Bex fight their attraction. They quickly settle into their new relationship and for the most part, there is very little conflict between them.  Bex is a bit skittish about their romance and she does need a little space to think things through. But once she works through her hesitation, she is fully committed to Tate. They are both honest about not wanting to marry, but as their relationship changes so do their expectations. Will the wounds from the past stand in the way of their future?

The Marriage Season is an absolutely enchanting addition to The Brides of Bliss County series. The plot is realistic and delightfully free of unnecessary drama or angst. The characters are beautifully developed with true to life problems to overcome. Linda Lael Miller concludes this terrific series with another heartwarming romance that old and new fans are going to love.

Read my reviews of the other novels in The Brides of Bliss County series HERE.

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Filed under Contemporary, HQN Books, Linda Lael Miller, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Brides of Bliss County Series, The Marriage Season

Review: Letting Go by Jessica Ruddick

letting goTitle: Letting Go by Jessica Ruddick
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Length:
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

How long do you hold on?

Cori Elliott likes order. Her schedule, her social life…even her GPA is perfect. Then she finds out her high school boyfriend’s death wasn’t an accident—it was suicide. The devastating revelation is enough to fracture her perfectly structured life, sending Cori in a downward spiral of self-doubt and impulsive decisions.

And right into the arms of Luke Evans.

But Cori’s life isn’t perfect anymore. In fact, it’s all coming apart. The only way she can save herself is to let go of everything—including the girl she used to be. Even if it means losing the one guy who might just be perfect for her in the process..

Review:

Letting Go is a very charming new adult romance by Jessica Ruddick. This debut novel is a sweet, fun read with minimal angst or drama. The characters are endearing and the plot is refreshingly unique.

Cori Elliott is a type A personality whose second year of college is not beginning under the best of circumstances. She is scrambling to cover her tuition after her financial aid falls through and she is devastated to learn her boyfriend Tyler’s death the previous spring has been ruled a suicide. Cori makes an impetus decision to go to a frat party where she acts even more out of character when she gets drunk and makes out with a hot stranger, Luke Evans. Luckily for Cori, Luke is actually a really great guy, but her inability to be honest about her past becomes a huge stumbling block for their burgeoning relationship.

Cori is a likable, but frustrating, character. She has very high standards for herself and she works hard to maintain her perfect GPA. Cori is quickly overwhelmed trying to balance her classes, a new relationship and finding last minute financial aid. She is also struggling to make sense of Tyler’s suicide and she is caught in an endless loop of blaming herself while at the same time playing the “what if” game.

Luke is a couple years older than Cori and he, too, is very serious about college. While he devotes plenty of time to studying, he also knows how to have a good time. Contrary to Cori’s assertions he is perfect, Luke made his share of mistakes in his previous relationship and he is completely honest about his role in its eventual demise. The only thing he asks in return is that Cori also come clean about her past as well.  Although she has numerous opportunities to explain her relationship with Tyler, Cori tells a bunch of half truths and tries to convince herself that lying by omission isn’t really lying. However, it is only a matter of time before Tyler discovers her secrets but will he be as understanding as she thinks he will be?

Letting Go is a very engaging novel and Jessica Ruddick does a wonderful job keeping the story moving forward despite Cori’s inability to completely let go of her past. The characters are beautifully developed with realistic issues to overcome. The romance between Cori and Luke is absolutely delightful and although their love scenes are not explicit, there is no denying the chemistry between them. It is an all around terrific read that fans of new adult romances are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Entangled: Embrace, Jessica Ruddick, Letting Go, New Adult, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler

absolutely trueTitle: Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler
Publisher: Touchstone
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

A fledgling entertainment writer stumbles into the gig of a lifetime writing a teenage pop star’s memoir and soon realizes that the young celebrity’s squeaky-clean image is purely a work of fiction.

Struggling writer Holly Gracin is on the verge of moving back home to upstate New York when she gets hired to write the memoirs of eighteen-year-old Daisy Mae Dixson, a former Nickelodeon child star who has moved seamlessly into both blockbuster movies and pop music.

Holly quickly realizes that Daisy’s wholesome public image is purely a work of fiction, as Holly finds herself trailing the star as she travels around the world on yachts, gets stalked by paparazzi, and sneaks out of five-star hotels in the dead of night.

As Holly struggles to write a flattering portrait of a teenage millionaire who only eats “nightshades” and treats her employees like slaves, Daisy has a public meltdown—and suddenly, her book is the cornerstone of resurrecting her image. But working at all hours trailing a pop star has taken its toll, and Holly must decide if becoming the ultimate insider is worth losing a starring role in her own life.

Fun, juicy, and inspired by Rachel Stuhler’s own stranger-than-fiction experiences as a celebrity ghost writer, Absolutely True Lies is an entertaining look at how the lifestyles of the rich and famous aren’t always what they seem.

Review:

Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler is a highly entertaining behind the scenes look into the life of a popular teen actress. When out of work Holly Gracin is hired to ghostwrite teen star Daisy Mae Dixson’s memoir, she is ill-prepared for the utter craziness that lies ahead.

For someone who has been living and working in L.A. since she graduated from college, Holly is somewhat naive and completely lack in guile. She also has NO idea what she is getting herself into when she signs on to write Daisy’s biography. Holly is in full blown panic mode for about the first half of the novel as she tries to navigate the unfamiliar waters of both her job and Daisy’s over the top lifestyle. Things go from bad to worse when she refuses to stand up for herself after Daisy’s manager begins to take advantage of her. Holly is also struggling to get the information she needs to write the novel and when she does finally hit her stride, Daisy’s outrageous antics result in a very public scandal that could destroy her wildly successful career.

At first, Daisy appears to be just as presented: wholesome, vapid and superficial. But then Holly gets a few glimpses of the spoiled and demanding starlet who cannot be bothered to remember the crew member’s names or show up on time to the set. Daisy lets everyone else make decisions for her and she is woefully out of touch with the real world. When Holly travels to Italy with Daisy and her entourage to film an episode of her TV show, Daisy completely falls apart and she quickly goes from media darling to tabloid fodder.

Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler is mostly a light-hearted, fun read but there is also a surprising amount of depth to the storyline. It is a well-written book with an interesting cast of characters, a charming plot and an unexpected romance. A delightfully unique novel that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend.

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Filed under Absolutely True Lies, Contemporary, Rachel Stuhler, Rated B+, Review, Touchstone

Review: Remember Me This Way by Sabine Durrant

remember wayTitle: Remember Me This Way by Sabine Durrant
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

With an unforgettable cast of characters and exhilarating twists and turns, this brilliant psychological thriller from the author of Under Your Skin is sure to please fans of Gone Girl.

Everyone keeps telling me I have to move on. And so here I am, walking down the road where he died, trying to remember him the right way.

A year after her husband Zach’s death, Lizzie goes to lay flowers where his fatal accident took place.

As she makes her way along the road, she thinks about their life together. She wonders whether she has changed since Zach died. She wonders if she will ever feel whole again.

At last she reaches the spot. And there, tied to a tree, is a bunch of lilies. The flowers are addressed to her husband. Someone has been there before her.

Lizzie loved Zach. She really did. But she’s starting to realize she didn’t really know him. Or what he was capable of…

Review:

Remember Me This Way is a spine-tingling, suspense-laden psychological thriller. The novel is full of clever twists and turns and Sabine Durrant makes it virtually impossible to guess the mystery’s final outcome right up until the very end.

On the one year anniversary of her husband Zack’s death, Lizzie Carter is finally ready to visit the site of his accident and finish settling his estate. She is surprised to see that someone has left a bouquet of memorial flowers at the accident scene, but it is the attached message that rouses a few suspicions. When she reaches his cottage, she is further unsettled by some missing items that lead her to believe that Zack might have faked his own death. After she returns home, Lizzie becomes certain that is Zack alive and he is stalking her. When no one takes her fears seriously, she begins her own investigation and Lizzie quickly discovers that she really did not know Zack at all.

Lizzie is a somewhat unreliable narrator because she is rather fuzzy on the day to day details of her life. She feels guilty for some of the events that occurred in the days leading up Zack’s death and her lingering grief further clouds her judgment. There are also some very strange occurrences that bolster her belief that he is still alive but why would Zack fake his death? The answer to that question is revealed bit by bit through the lies that Lizzie uncovers and her memories of her relationship with Zach.

The most chilling revelations are divulged through passages from Zack’s point of view. As he reflects on his previous relationships and his marriage, a frightening picture become to emerge. In the days and months leading up to his death, he becomes increasingly controlling of Lizzie and his behavior grows more volatile and erratic.  But does this mean that Zach deliberately faked his death only to return to stalk and terrorize Lizzie?

Remember Me This Way is a riveting mystery that is fast paced and quite engrossing. The storyline is well written with numerous plot twists and Sabine Durrant brings the novel to a very unexpected conclusion. A positively brilliant psychological thriller that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B, Remember Me This Way, Review, Sabine Durrant, suspense, Thriller