Review of A Bittersweet Garden by Caren J. Werlinger

A Bitter Sweet Garden

Caren J. Werlinger is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her books have always shocked me by how well written they are. A Bittersweet Garden is no exception. It is a beautiful written paranormal romance that will suck you in from the very first page.

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Nora McNeill has always dreamed of exploring her Irish roots. When she finally gets the opportunity to spend a summer in the village where her grandparents grew up, the experience promises to live up to her very high expectations. Except for the ghost that is haunting her rented cottage and is soon invading her dreams.

 

Briana Devlin has arranged her life the way she likes it: a good dog, good mates, and work with horses. There’s no room in her life for a relationship. Especially with an annoyingly clumsy—and attractive—American who is only going to be around for a few months.

 

The weeks fly by, and Nora’s ghost becomes more demanding, seeking her help in solving the mystery surrounding her death. Briana watches as Nora becomes more wrapped up in the past, seeming to fade away before her eyes.

 

Past and present are on a collision course, leaving Nora and Briana caught in a ghostly intrigue that could cost them not only their chance of a future together, but their very lives.

 

A Bittersweet Garden is like nothing I have ever read before. It is a mixture of ghost story and romance novel. I was sucked into the history of the cottage and its past inhabitants. The haunting of the cottage is so interesting it really sucked me into the book. I wanted to know what had happened to the past inhabitants. But I don’t want to spoil any of the story so I will stop here.

 

The romance aspect of A Bittersweet Garden is great. Briana is the strong silent type. She might come across as hard and uncaring but that isn’t the case at all. She is just very selective about who she lets in. Nora on the other hand never really thought that she deserved love. She was used to being everyone’s second choice. When they come together their chemistry is amazing.

 

I really loved the side characters in this book. Eve is one of the most interesting characters that I have ever read. I can’t say too much about her because it would spoil the story, but she is my favorite character. As most of you know I love the addition to pets in a story and Shannon, Briana’s wolfhound, is a great addition. The way she reacts to the haunted room and protective nature make Shannon a great addition to the book.

 

The one thing I wish was different about this book is the lack of an epilogue. I think it could have really added to the book. I would have loved to know what happened to everyone at the end of the book.

 

If you are looking for steamy sexy scene this book might not be for you. The sex scenes are all fade to black. But there is some sexy build up to where there would be sex.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves paranormal romance and to anyone who likes a good ghost story.

 

You can purchase a copy of A Bittersweet Garden by clicking here.

Review of Sandman by Tammy Bird

Sandman

As most of you know I’m a huge fan of thrillers. When I was given the opportunity to read Sandman by Tammy Bird I jumped at the chance. I mean who doesn’t love a strong group of lesbians fighting against time to bring a serial killer to justice.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Katia Billings, EMT with the Emergency Medical Services of Buxton Beach, NC, is one of the first to respond after a hurricane rips through the small island community. As she helps search for survivors, she and her fellow responders discover a secret that will haunt Katia the rest of her life.

 

Lurking beneath the sand dunes is an evil that no one suspected.

 

A sandy grave not connected to the storm leads investigators to uncover the tomb of a serial killer, literally beneath their feet, hidden for years from the residents of the tight community.

 

For Katia, it’s personal because she knows one of the killer’s victims. She enlists help from K-9 search expert Paige, and Katia’s on-and-off lover, Zahra, in her determination to find the killer, dubbed Sandman, and stop him from killing again.

 

What small-town secrets will they unearth in their pursuit of the truth? Will the three women survive the physical, emotional, and psychological attack being waged against their small slice of sand? Or will they become the next victims of Sandman?  

 

I was drawn into Sandman from the very start. Katia is everything I love in a main character. She is cool in the face of danger and willing to do anything to help protect the ones she loves. When a hurricane rips through the Outer Banks of North Carolina Katia’s life changes forever. The woman who was like a mother to her growing up was found dead in the dunes with her throat slashed. This gruesome discovery leads the team of investigators to find several more bodies and the discovery that there was a serial killer in their small town.

 

Zahra is an investigator on the case of the Sandman serial killer. She is also Katia love interest. Before the story starts, they had fooled around a little bit but nothing serious. The case brings them closer together. I liked that the romance element didn’t overpower the thriller aspects of the book.

 

The book uses points of view from all of the characters involved. For me, this really made the book interesting. It really transformed the story into something spectacular. Marco was one of my favorite points of view. Marco is Katia’s brother and is non-verbal autistic. Marco knows who the killer is, but he struggles to communicate who the killer is.

 

What really made this book standout is that you never truly know who the Sandman is until the very end of the book. When I found out who the Sandman truly was my jaw dropped. It was such an amazing twist. It is by far my favorite book of the year so far.

 

 

I would recommend Sandman to anyone who likes mysteries and thrillers.

 

You can purchase a copy of Sandman by clicking here.

Review of Shipped by Amanda Kayhart

Shipped

With the cold weather enveloping Arizona, who thought it would snow in Arizona, I thought I would escape with a little reading. Shipped by Amanda Kayhart is the perfect escape into a tropical beach vacation.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

No one understands that more than Leah Ives–a fresh college grad who spent the last several years studying, working hard, and counting pennies. So what did all that hustle earn her? A dismal day job, debt up to her eyeballs, and a Bachelor’s degree in fetching coffee.

 

Leah needs a getaway.

And luckily, she’s taking one.

 

After years of planning, Leah finally saves enough for her dream cruise in the Bahamas. Her bags are packed, and she’s ready to board that ship and sail off on a trip of a lifetime. Except all that organizing doesn’t prepare Leah for Mallory Miller, her bitter ex-girlfriend who threatens to capsize her entire Caribbean vacation.

 

Shipped is a novella that focuses on Lucy’s cruise to the Caribbean. Lucy’s vacation starts with a catastrophe. Somehow the cruise line double booked her room. They ended up moving her into a suite with another woman. The shock truly comes when Lucy finds out her roommate is no one other than her ex-girlfriend Mallory who she ghosted shortly before she started college.

 

Malloy and Lucy were uncertain how to approach their new living arrangement and ended up walking on eggshells around each other for the first part of their stay. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. It kept me wondering if they would ever be able to get over their past. One of my favorite scenes in the book was when Lucy and Malloy spent their final day on the beach.

 

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the inclusion of a gender non-conforming character. It is not often that you see trans character in books and I was pleasantly surprised by Devon’s character. I would love to see more books with trans characters.

 

There was only one thing that I thought detracted from the book. I felt that it could have used an epilog. It seemed like there could have been a more in-depth ending.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good second chance romance or to anyone who likes new adult romances.

 

Shipped is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of Charm City by Monica McCallan

Charm City .jpg

 

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching I thought I would get myself in the spirit by reading a Valentine’s Day novel. The book I chose was Charm City by Monica McCallan. It was so much more than the traditional cutesy romance novel and I couldn’t put it down.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Taylor Tate has one last chance to turn things around. As the owner of Charm City Events, she needs her upcoming week of Valentine’s Day events to go off without a hitch. She’s painstakingly planned every detail down to the last red heart decoration, but what Taylor doesn’t plan on is the less than enthusiastic bar manager she’s paired with stumbling into her life at the worst possible time, making things more difficult every step of the way.

 

Carson Smith is getting by fine. She loves her job as the bar manager at Second Chances, a dive bar staple of the Baltimore landscape, and she doesn’t need anything or anyone disrupting the delicate balance she’s finally created. Especially for a stupid Valentine’s gimmick to take advantage of desperate singles. When the owner of the bar forces her to work with an event planning company to drum up business, she has no choice but to begrudgingly agree. It’s either play along or see the bar close, and she can’t let that happen.

 

It’s only a week, but time passes differently when there’s love in the air and too much on the line, and both women soon find their lives, and hearts, intertwined as they work together to make the week a success.

 

Can opposites attract? Find out in this HEA Valentine’s Day novella.

 

I wouldn’t really call this book a novella. I defiantly saw it as a full-length novel. No matter what you want to call it Charm City sucked me in from the very beginning. The book had more layers than I was expecting. I really enjoyed Carson’s character. She is the type of person who seems tough on the outside but once you get to know them, they turn into a huge softy. Carson’s past has left her broken she finds it hard to trust anyone because in the past she didn’t know what would happen in her life from day to day. Carson is the exact opposite of Taylor who seems to have her life so put together. While Taylor appears to have her life together that is not truly the case. Behind the scenes she is struggling, she is working her butt off in order to save her business and rebuild her brand.

 

I really liked the opposites attract aspect of Charm City. It made me want to keep reading to see how they would push each other buttons. I also liked how Taylor and Carson’s backstories played into their behavior. I could really see why Carson would shy away from relationships and why Taylor had trouble trusting. It really added to the angst keeping me hooked into the story.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good Valentine’s Day read or to anyone who likes opposites attract romances.

 

Charm City is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of Starbound by Magnolia Robbins

Startbound

As most of my readers know I am a huge nerd. I love everything from board game to video games even D&D. When I saw Starbound by Magnolia Robbins on Kindle Unlimited I had to pick it. Lucy sounded like my nerdy dream woman and I was not disappointed.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

World renowned sci-fi television star Reese Simmons looks like she has it all – fame, wealth, a slew of beautiful women who follow her every move. Except Reese’s life is crumbling around her. She hates her job and is constantly accused of being a “reckless party animal.” Reese’s agent decides the one surefire way to get her image back on track. She has to date the worst person in the entire universe, her co-star Justine Turner.

 

Her solution: she needs a fake girlfriend. And fast.

 

Enter Lucy, the BFF. Game store manager, board game geek, the world’s most AMAZING cosplayer, and Reese’s best friend practically since birth. When Lucy finds out Reese’s predicament, there seems like only one solution: pose as fake girlfriends. And Lucy is more than willing to play the part. She’d do anything for Reese – even if it means entirely too romantic tales about their relationship, hearing she’s “incredibly beautiful”, and expert kisses in public.

 

The problem: Reese and Lucy have been in love with each other all their lives—and they’re both completely clueless.

 

This book features two best friends, roleplaying games, and countless ‘fake’ kisses and begs the question:

 

Who wants a real girlfriend when faking is so much fun?

 

Starbound hooked me from the very beginning.  I loved how Reese and Lucy worked together to protect Reese from being forced to date her evil co-worker, Justine, for publicity. I have never really read a fake romance book before, but I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. Seeing how their relationship developed before they even really knew what was happening.

 

Lucy is my favorite character. She is so kind hearted and true to herself. She was even kind enough to try to comfort Justine before she snapped at her. The D&D games with Lucy’s friends is one of my favorite parts of the book. She paired perfectly with Reese whose character is a bit of a lovable mess. Reese can’t seem to get out of her own way. She constantly needs Lucy to help her fix what she has messed up.

 

As always Magnolia Robbins writes amazingly steamy sex scenes that will leave you squirming in your seat.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes friends to lover’s romances, fake romances, and nerdy romances. Hell, I would recommend this book to everyone.

 

Starbound is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of The Hidden One by T.B. Markinson

the hidden one

I was really excited to start The Hidden One by T.B. Markinson. It is the second book in The Chosen One series, and I would recommend reading the first book to fully understand what is happening. The book follows the life of Ainsley during her senior year of college as her class does a mock election.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Mock election. Real world danger. Ainsley’s relationship and reputation may not survive the campaign trail.

 

Still reeling from the targeted attack on her family, Ainsley is determined to keep a low profile during senior year. But a mandatory class project pulls her back into the political fray as the mock Democratic presidential candidate. With the entire campus watching, Ainsley knows it’s only a matter of time before her rival turns the spotlight on her and her secretive girlfriend.

 

Groomed from birth by her politically connected family, Ainsley knows she can handle the abuse. But shielding her girlfriend’s secrets is a matter of life or death. To protect the ones she loves, Ainsley will need to use every shrewd political move in the book.

 

The Hidden One is the captivating second book in a series of lesbian romantic suspense novels that shed light on modern American politics. If you like romance that defies the odds, a satirical take on current events, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love T.B. Markinson’s compelling tale.

 

I really enjoyed the second installment to The Chosen One series. The first book left off at the end of Ainsley’s Freshman year of college and The Hidden One picks up at the beginning of Ainsley’s Senior year and her final project the mock election. I really enjoy the political aspect of this book. I feel like it plays a much bigger role than the first. Suzy is back to her evil ways trying to ruin Ainsley’s live any way she can, and the mock election opens up the ways that Suzy tries to sabotage Ainsley political ambitions.

 

Maya and Ainsley have been dating for three years. Their relationship is much steamier than the first book. You’re going to need a fan to cool down from their sex scenes.

 

All of my favorite characters from the first book have come back including Grover who makes a special appearance in Ainsley’s Presidential campaign. Maya’s backstory is even further explained, and it is mind-blowing.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves political romances and new adult romances.

 

The Hidden One  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

 

 

Review of Holme for the Holidays by Miranda MacLeod

Holme for the Holidays

I recently read Holme for the Holidays by Miranda Macleod for the monthly book club on the Lesfic Readers and Writers Slack channel. I really like the thought of reading a Christmas themed book to get in the mood for the holidays. This book was just the thing to kickstart my holiday spirit.

Here is a short blurb about the book:

An American musician with a broken heart meets a local farmer with a hidden past on a holiday house swap in Yorkshire. A charming romantic comedy that will fill your heart with holiday cheer

A country cottage is the last place Paige expected to spend the holidays, but a year after her girlfriend dumped her, her life is in shambles. A last minute house swap sends her from California to Yorkshire to put her life back on track. She doesn’t believe in forever anymore, but when she meets a raven haired beauty in the local pub, she seizes the chance for a night of fun.

On the brink of fame and fortune, Fiona suffered an unthinkable loss, and a year later she’s given up on singing, and just about everything else. When the brother she relies on too much skips town “for her own good” and loans his cottage to a stranger for the holidays, her life is turned upside down. She knows she can’t make a new relationship work, but when she meets a purple haired American at the local pub, she figures it wouldn’t hurt to blow off some steam.

They never meant to see each other again, yet from the very first morning when the vicar comes to call and Paige gets mowed down by a runaway llama, they just can’t seem to escape their lives becoming increasingly, and hilariously, entwined. And when a series of calamities threatens Christmas in Holme village, the two must work together to save the day, and maybe find true love along the way.

A year ago, their lives fell apart. Can a bit of Christmas magic help them build a new life together?

Holme for the Holidays is the second book in the American’s Abroad series and functions as a standalone. I really enjoyed this book. Paige and Fiona make a really cute couple. While the book happens in a short span of time it doesn’t feel insta lovey. They really get to know each other over the short amount of time that they are together. Fiona’s backstory is really heartbreaking. I don’t know how if I would be able to handle losing someone I loved in the way that Fiona had.

The setting is one of the best parts of this book. There is something magical about Holme. The way the people in the town jumped in to help out when needed. Also, the thought of a white Yorkshire Christmas was so sweet.

The humor really makes this book stand out. The scene with the Vicar was one of the funniest things I have ever read. I also liked the addition of Dolly, the llama, and Maxine, the dog. The animals really brought life to this story.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romantic comedies.

Holme for the Holidays  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.