Audio Review: Daisy’s Back in Town by Rachel Gibson



May Contain Spoilers

I have read enjoyed Rachel Gibson in the past, so when I saw that Daisy’s Back in Town was available to listen to using Audible’s Romance Package, I clicked away. It has one of my favorite tropes, too; I have a soft spot for second chance at love stories.  I even sort of enjoy secret babies, but this pushed the envelope on that. Nathan was 15 years old, so Daisy has been keeping him a secret for a long, long time. Too long, I think, given the circumstances. And she only  manages to drag it out for over 50% of the book, even though that’s the whole reason she has returned to her hometown of Lovett, Texas.

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Review: Kane by Sinclair Jayne

May Contain Spoilers

I have to admit that secret baby stories aren’t my favorite, but that was actually what I enjoyed most about Kane. I have been working my way slowly through the American Extreme Bull Riders series, and since Sinclair Jayne is a new to me author, I decided to request Kane from the publisher. I usually enjoy second chance at love romances, but this one didn’t convince me that Sky and Kane are made for each other. There were so many hard stops in their relationship, I despaired at them ever working out their differences.

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Review: Love Me Again by Jaci Burton

May Contain Spoilers

I admit I borrowed this book because of the dog on the cover.  I was hoping it would like some of the Jill Shalvis titles I have enjoyed, with a lot of interaction with the dog, and how sad is that.  At this particular point in time, I am more interested in the relationships between the animals and people than the characters themselves.  This must be a side-effect of taking care of Poppy since her surgery. 

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Review: Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen

May Contain Spoilers

I was really excited to start reading Pipe Dreams. Beacon wasn’t my favorite player, but I was intrigued by Lauren.  What was the deal with her, anyway?  So cranky and contrary, there had to be a reason for her unpleasantness, especially when it came to hockey.   She was obviously good at her job, or Nate would have ended her employment instead of promoting her.  The girls in the Bruisers organization, however, had nothing good to say about Lauren, and I wanted to know why.

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Review: Act Like You Love Me by Cindi Madsen

 

Title:  Act Like You Love Me

Author: Cindi Madsen

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

What would you do for a second chance with your first crush?
Brynn McAdams isn’t the awkward drama geek she was in high school—she’s grown up and confident, or at least she likes to think so. But when her old crush, the impossibly handsome and impossibly unattainable Sawyer Raines, comes back to town to direct her community play, Brynn finds herself determined to be someone other than the girl he doesn’t even recognize. Good thing she’s an excellent actress.  
After his bad breakup in NYC, the last thing Sawyer wants is to get involved with another actress. But the glamorous and beautiful Brynn draws him in, even though as her director, he knows she’s off-limits. There’s just something about the woman that feels…familiar. Like home.  
As Brynn’s lies start to snowball, she struggles to stop acting and come clean. But what if Sawyer is already falling for the fake Brynn, not the Brynn she truly is?


Review:

Once again, my favorite trope called to me and prompted me to read Act Like You Love Me.  This is actually a tough book for me to rate, because there is a lot about it to like.  I enjoyed the characters, the setting, and, yes, as I already mentioned, the second chance at love trope.  What knocked it down a few pegs?  Not enough physical contact, and that’s the bottom line.  This is a sweet, gentle story about finally embracing who you are, and accepting all of the oddities that make you unique.  After reading so many Brazen titles in the last few weeks, this one fell flat in the chemistry department, and the sexual tension earned only a low rating on the thermometer.  While it’s nice to have the protagonists engage in conversation before ripping their clothes off, the lack of pay-off was disappointing.  Sawyer is the most restrained male I’ve met in romance in a long time, and while I appreciate that he’s a gentleman, I like a little more rough and tumble (or at least a good wrestle on the couch) type of guy.

Brynn is a character I was immediately drawn to.  She was a nerd in school, uncomfortable with herself and awkward, and the target of jokes from her peers.  She has fought long and hard to move beyond her dork persona, and is finally happy with her life and herself.  She works at the family fishing and bait shop, acts in local stage productions, and finally feels comfortable in her own skin.  Sure, she’s still a bit of an oddball, and her unrestrained passion for plays and literature has chased off every guy she’s dated, but big whoop!  She’ll eventually meet the man of her dreams.  She hopes.

Into town strolls Sawyer, the guy she had a crush on in high school.  He is helping out his aunt by agreeing to direct the play that Brynn is acting in.  It’s a nightmare come true for her.  He first sees her while she’s struggling to change her shirt in her car, giving him a flash of skin and bra.  How embarrassing!  It’s like high school all over again.  She’s still trying to get over the most embarrassing moment of her life, when she had an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction in front of the entire school!  More grating, though, is that Sawyer doesn’t even recognize her.  She had a crush on him forever, and he doesn’t even remember her! Talk about a major blow to her ego.  He doesn’t even remember her asking him to the prom!  Jerk!

Sawyer is dealing with two major issues.  First, he is still reeling from his father’s illness and eventual death when he was in high school.  Second, he is still trying to recover from a bad breakup with an actress in NY, and when he sees Brynn, all he can think is that she’s a carbon copy of his ex; self-absorbed, only interested in herself.  He makes so many false assumptions about her that I really wanted to slap him.  He is so self-righteous, he knows that he has to be right.  I guess he is carrying around so much emotional baggage that he can’t see around all of those weighty issues.

When Brynn follows some questionable dating advice from her brother, things get even more out of hand.  Instead of just being herself, she puts her acting skills to work and pretends to be someone else.  Someone less..overwhelming, I guess the word would be.  Then, before she realizes what’s happening, she is spinning so many half truths and outright falsehoods that she doesn’t know how to come clean with Sawyer.  She knows that she’s misjudged him and that she’s falling for him, but she doesn’t know how to explain the misperceptions that she’s allowed to continue and hasn’t bothered to correct because at first she just wanted him gone.  Oops!  There is this sense of dread through most of the book, because you know that Sawyer isn’t going to take it well when he learns that he’s been deceived, whether intentionally or not.

This is a quick read with both angst and humor, and the only thing holding it back for me was the lack of spice.  The heat level is non-existent, even for a Bliss book.  As stated previously, I just prefer a jalapeño or a habanero  to a mild green chili pepper, both in my cooking and in my reading.   Your mileage will vary.

Grade:  B-/C+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: A Risk Worth Taking by Victoria James

 

Title:  A Risk Worth Taking

Author: Victoria James

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Interior designer Holly Carrington worked hard for her success. Then tragedy struck, leaving Holly the sole guardian of her infant niece. Now she’s swapped her designer purse for a diaper bag, and is going ahead with plans to renovate—and sell—her childhood home in Red River. But facing her past also means coming face-to-face with Quinn Manning all over again…Quinn was the object of her girlhood crush—and heartbreak— and is more gorgeous than ever. He’s also the only person qualified to oversee the renovation. Now they’re butting heads every step of the way… and their attraction is more electrifying than ever! But once the house is sold, Holly needs to return to her real life. And falling for Quinn all over again is one risk she can’t take…


Review:

This book had me invested in Holly’s life by the end of the first chapter.  It was heart-breaking.  It’s her big day at work, and she has worked the last ten years for this moment.  Her wardrobe was carefully picked out, and she is glowing with happiness. She is finally going to be made a partner at the prestigious design firm where she’s employed when she gets the call that makes her realize how pointless her achievement really is.  Her sister and brother-in-law have been killed in an accident, and now she’s left reeling, the guardian of her infant niece.  How can she raise a child alone?  How will she recover from yet another loss?  Everyone she has loved has died – her parents,  the grandparents who raised her and her sister, and now her sister’s gone, too.  It’s just too much, and Holly is devastated.

Returning to her rural hometown to renovate and then flip her grandparents’ house, she is confronted with painful memories of her past.  She has loved Quinn for a lifetime, but he rejected her when she was eighteen.  Now she has to put on a brave front and face him, and all of her childhood memories.  All she wants to do is get the house finished and get out of town, and back to her life in the city where she’s so busy she doesn’t have time to dwell on the emptiness of her life.

I enjoyed A Risk Worth Taking very much.  I loved the interactions between Holly and Quinn, and even enjoyed Ella, Holly’s little niece.  I usually am not a big fan of babies in romances, but Ella wasn’t just window-dressing here.  She was central to the storyline, and she helped both Holly and Quinn’s hearts to heal.  Despite her best efforts to not get caught up in her feelings for Quinn, which still burned bright, Holly’s resolve crumbled as he became an important addition to her new family.  And Quinn, though he didn’t feel worthy of Ella’s love or trust, was able to put his painful past behind him with the baby and Holly’s help. 

A Risk Worth Taking is a feel good read.  You’ll get caught up in Quinn and Holly’s romance, and cheer along as they both learn to trust again.   As Holly puts aside her sadness, she begins to remember all of the happiness she has turned her back on. As she remembers what is really important in life, she is willing to face the risks, and the rewards, of loving Quinn. 

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Edited to correct Ella’s name – oops!