Book Review: Her Wicked Stepbrother

cover-her wicked stepbrotherTitle: Her Wicked Stepbrother [Nolan Bastards 0.5]

Author: Amy Olle

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Novella

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

My stepbrother hates me.

That’s fine, because I hate him too.

I hate his crooked smile and the way he looks at me, like he’s a sugar addict and I’m the last cupcake on earth. I hate that he makes me feel like I’m more than that lost little girl whose mom didn’t want her, then leaves and doesn’t come home again for days.

And I really, really hate that he flirts with other girls.

A lot of other girls.

But it’s fine. Really, it is. Soon, he’ll be leaving to attend university on the other side of the world, and I’ll only have to see him on holidays and at the rare family get-together. It’ll all be just fine.

As long as I don’t fall in love with him.

WARNING

I don’t usually read novellas, and had I realized this book was so short, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up — but I’m glad that I did. Despite being short, this book didn’t read like the usually rushed novella – it felt like a full-length novel up until it ended.

Despite the title, it wasn’t thinly veiled erotica either. I am intrigued to read on in the series and continue the character’s stories further. The romance and tension between the main characters were well executed and the family dynamics between the teens and the parents was handled realistically. The characters felt real – which is an amazing accomplishment for a novella.

I look forward to more!

– SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Book Review: Caught Up In You

cover-review-caught up in youTitle: Caught Up In You

Author: Kim Boykin

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

After attending her baby sister’s destination wedding, Shelby Worthington decides she’s ready to do some husband hunting of her own. The only problem? She’s still insanely attracted to Declan Enright, her high school and college crush. He’s now a wildly successful painter who’s temporarily back in Magnolia Bay, but Declan should be Shelby’s last choice for possible husband material. He didn’t earn the reputation of runaway groom for nothing…

Declan has worked hard to make his mark on the New York art scene and has succeeded at everything he’s ever done…except love. But Declan has come back to the Bay to change that and care for his dying father, even if he’s still never forgiven Declan for leaving the family business. Shelby is determined to steer clear, but while her lips keep saying no, her heart is pounding out yes each time she and Declan are together. While she can’t deny her attraction, Shelby’s convinced that Declan’s track record means he will break her heart. Or has Declan changed for good, and made love worth the risk?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was close to being a 3 star for me, but I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt because I did enjoy reading it. For the most part, the writing was excellent. There were a few places in the very beginning of the book where the dialogue stuck out as a little verbose and the narrative was awkward, but after the first few pages, that died down. For the remainder of the book, the narrative was easy-to-follow, believable, and fast paced.

The story itself was engaging, and I loved the characters. Declan was charming in a way that bordered on being pushy, but it didn’t come across as too high-handed. It was clear that he drawn to Shelby, and I was rooting for him to succeed. Shelby was pleasant—if a little too obsessed with shoes for my taste. She obviously cared about her friends and family, and she was head over heels in love with Declan—though she tried very hard to pretend she wasn’t. My only point of contention with the characters is that I wish they’d been a little more fleshed out. The book starts off making a big deal out of this friendship between seven women, and they rarely show up in the book. The past relationship between Declan and Shelby comes up numerous times but isn’t wrapped up except in passing in the epilogue.

My biggest complaint, however, is about the end. This book wrapped up quickly—too quickly. It felt like Shelby and Declan’s relationship had barely started when all the sudden it was the end of the book. I had a moment where I literally second guessed myself and wondered if I’d somehow skipped a few chapters—it was that abrupt. It was clearly rushed, and I wish more time had been taken to wrap up their relationship.

All of that aside, I genuinely liked the book. There were some laugh out loud moments between the characters that had me grinning from ear to ear. There were warm, endearing moments that made me squeal with glee. Though there weren’t a lot of hot sizzling moments (read absolutely zero), the romance felt real between the characters—if a little rushed. If you’re looking for a cozy, adorable romance, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

Book Review: Sweet Salt Air

review-cover-sweet salt air

Title: Sweet Salt Air

Author: Barbara Delinsky

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Chick Lit

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole’s family’s island house, but they have since grown apart. A successful travel writer, Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, lives in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole returns to the island house in order to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte for both sentimental and practical reasons. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole would like her help interviewing locals for her book. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees. But what both women don’t know is that they are each holding a secret that may change their relationship forever. Are the bonds of friendship strong enough to weather past indiscretions and betrayals? Can love survive an honest mistake? Filled with real, gut-wrenching emotion as well as a strong romantic storyline, Sweet Salt Air is a new offering from a beloved storyteller guaranteed to make you laugh and cry.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wish I had read this book sooner. I received a copy of Barbara Delinsky’s Sweet Salt Air from a giveaway nearly a year ago, and never having read the author, and not particularly taken in by the cover (which, by the way is gorgeous… just not the usual bodice-ripper cover I’m used to seeing on a romance themed novel), I set the book aside and didn’t take a second glance. I’m kind of face palming about it now.

I almost cannot put into words how deliciously well written this book was. The writing was clear, fluid, and easy to follow. I felt engaged right off the bat, and before I knew it, I was more than halfway through the book before I happened to look up from the narrative. There were a few typos involved, but let me make it clear that my copy of Sweet Salt Air was an ARC, and chances are that the typos (which were few and far between) were probably cleaned up for the final version.

Though this was indeed a romance, I think the main theme of this story was friendship. Charlotte and Nicole, though having spent more than a decade apart, were true friends in every sense of the words. They made mistakes—big mistakes—but in the end it didn’t matter. through betrayal, distance, time, and the stress of their lives, they continued to try and make peace with one another, and in the end I think their bond was stronger than ever. Their relationship was the type of relationship I think we all secretly want: forgiving, strong, and thankful. I loved every minute of the dynamics between the two friends.

Ms. Delinsky has a magical way of bringing her characters to life that is hard to come by in this day and age. Each voice was unique, and I fell in love with each character (though Leo was by far my favorite). They felt like real people to me, leading real lives, and combined with the rich setting of the island and small town atmosphere, I felt like I was in Quinnipeague along side them.

I absolutely refuse to spoil this book for anyone, so let me end it with this:  Would I read this book again? Hell yes. Would I recommend it? No question. I think anyone who loves a richly spun drama full of romance, betrayal and small town charm will love Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky. I highly recommend you give it a read.