Monday, August 13, 2018

A Second Chance at Love by L.K. Shaw ~ Review

Title: A Second Chance at Love
Author: L.K. Shaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Length: 90 pages
Publisher: Independent
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

An abusive ex-boyfriend had broken Callie Foster down, but she’d rebuilt herself. When she started a flirtation during the beginning of her three-week vacation, she felt a connection she hadn’t felt in five long years. She knew her feelings were reciprocated, but he had pushed her away. Imagine her surprise when, over a week later in Myrtle Beach, she runs into him again.

Kyle Harper, a Veteran amputee, has lost everyone he’s ever cared about. When he began to feel something for Callie, he pushed her away before she could leave him like everyone else in his life had. When he heads to Myrtle Beach for a yearly get together with his military buddies, he stumbles upon Callie. 

Can Callie show him that she’s not the kind of woman to leave her man behind? Can Kyle open his heart to her, leaving himself vulnerable?

A Second Chance at Love is a really quick novella, I think I read in one night. So, being a novella, I didn't expect tons of depth because there just aren't enough pages. But somehow, L.K. Shaw managed to cram some wonderful character development into about 90 pages or so (per Amazon). 

The first part of the story left me a little confused. When Kyle and Callie first meet it just seemed a little weird, but the meeting was necessary (if a bit awkward) to set up their second chance in Myrtle Beach. This was really where the story seemed to start for me. As they mostly danced around their attraction - each wanting to avoid it for different reasons at first - they ended up coming closer together. They built up a trust and got to know each other a bit before jumping in the sheets.

I wish there could have been more - a comment I often make with novellas - but only because I loved the characters so much that I wanted to see them more. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The New Dark by Lorraine Thomson ~ Review

Title: The New Dark (The Dark Times Trilogy #1)
Author: Lorraine Thomson
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Length: 221 pages
Publisher: Bastei Entertainment
Release Date: November 1, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

"She thought she knew who she was and where she came from. Then her home was destroyed. Her brother lost amongst the ashes. And the boy she loves vanished. She owed her own survival to a mutant — the very forces behind the destruction. Now Sorrel will never be the same again."

There is no "Before", there is only "Now". Because now there’s no internet, no TV, no power grid. Food is scarce, and the world’s a hostile place. But Sorrel lives a quiet life in the tiny settlement of Amat. It’s all she’s ever known ...

Until a gang of marauding mutants destroys the village, snatching her brother Eli, and David, her boyfriend. Sorrel sets out after them, embarking on a journey fraught with danger. Can she survive? The only thing that keeps her going is Eli and David. They are out there somewhere. They must be alive. And if she has her way, she will find them.

The New Dark introduces an interesting, if confusing, world. A world where there is no technology and humans live in small villages working to survive. When a group of mutants attack Sorrel's village and kidnap those they don't kill, Sorrel follows them trying to rescue her little brother and David. This is a physical journey as well as a symbolic one. Sorrel will have to leave behind not just her innocent life in the village, but her prejudices and fears as well. When she arrives at the largest city she's ever seen, she will discover that not all humans are good and not all mutants are bad. The trick is trying to tell which is which.

This story was a bit of a mixed bag for me. At times very exciting and I couldn't get enough, others it began to drag and I feel like the pacing could have been spaced more effectively. While I enjoyed Sorrel's journeys, I feel as if she never actually accomplished anything in the first book. Every step forward, every ally made, meant one step back and an ally lost. I didn't have a sense of hope at the end of the first book to make me look forward to the second.

*I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of this book*

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A Snowbound Scandal by Jessica Lemmon ~ Review

Title: A Snowbound Scandal
Author: Jessica Lemmon
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Length: 224 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

As the snow falls, her touch sets him aflame... "I don't want you to leave." Texas billionaire Chase Ferguson has one regret: leaving Miriam Andrix to protect her from his public life. When a snowstorm strands her in his mountain mansion, their passion reignites, and it's too hot to resist! But reality--and scandal--arrives with the thaw. Chase turned his back on happiness once. Will he fight for what he truly wants this time?

A Snowbound Scandal is a second-chance (we think we're) opposites attract story. Mimi Andrix is an environmentalist that loves the outdoors and teaching kids about what they can do to protect the environment. On the other hand, Chase Ferguson is the son of an oil family and is now deep into politics - but he's one of the good ones.

With a little bit of holiday spirit and a little bit of "I'm going to give you a piece of my mind," Mimi heads to Chase's vacation mansion with a Thanksgiving dinner so he won't be alone eating frozen food for the holiday. Stranded at his house by a snowstorm, Mimi and Chase decide to make the best of the circumstances and, well, this is a romance - so one thing leads to another - but eventually they part ways again. At least for a little while

There were only a few points of the story that I had a hard time with - possibly because I did not read the rest of the series and one of the side stories seemed to carry over from another book. Outside of this one small thing, the story does very well as a standalone holiday romance. I loved Mimi, her desire to do the right thing, and her ability to not really care what anyone else thought. Chase was a bit of a stick in the mud, but in the end I enjoyed seeing a more spontaneous and softer side.

I love that A Snowbound Scandal is more of a winter-theme than a true Christmas theme.  While the holidays (mostly Thanksgiving) are mentioned, it's more about the snowstorm and being snowed in with the one that got away.

*I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of this book*

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Designer by Marius Gabriel ~ Review

Title: The Designer
Author: Marius Gabriel
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Length: 338 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: October 1, 2017
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

In 1944, newly married Copper Reilly arrives in Paris soon after the liberation. While the city celebrates its freedom, she’s stuck in the prison of an unhappy marriage. When her husband commits one betrayal too many, Copper demands a separation.
Alone in Paris, she finds an unlikely new friend: an obscure, middle-aged designer from the back rooms of a decaying fashion house whose timid nature and reluctance for fame clash with the bold brilliance of his designs. His name is Christian Dior.
Realising his genius, Copper urges Dior to strike out on his own, helping to pull him away from his insecurities and towards stardom. With just a camera and a typewriter, she takes her own advice and ventures into the wild and colourful world of fashion journalism.
Soon Copper finds herself torn between two very different suitors, questioning who she is and what she truly wants. As the city rebuilds and opulence returns, can Copper make a new, love-filled life for herself?
The Designer shows a side of the Paris fashion world that isn't often seen - a side of Paris after the liberation that isn't often seen. American Copper Reilly remains in Paris after separating from her husband and finds herself collecting a rather odd group of friends, beginning with an obscure fashion designer named Christian Dior.

We may all know the name of Christian Dior now, but when the story begins he's just another designer at a fashion house. Copper and Christian's stories of finding their way run somewhat parallel as they both give independence a try with varying degrees of success. Copper's life is filled with eccentric people, and she soon learns that everyone has a secret.

While this book isn't a wild and crazy adventure or a romance for the ages, it drew me in and held me there. I wanted to walk alongside with Copper as she explored the city around her, made friends, learned life lessons, and experienced real love.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Secrets of Betrayal by L.K. Shaw ~ Review

Title: Secrets of Betrayal (Secrets #4)
Author: L.K. Shaw
Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense
Length: 348 pages
Publisher: Independent
Release Date: October 11, 2017
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

*this book contains dark elements that may be difficult for some readers*

Betray (verb): to deliver to an enemy by treachery

Sold to a sex trafficker by her drug-dealing boyfriend, Phebe Lawson possessed first-hand knowledge of the secrets of betrayal. She’d given up all hope. Her life no longer held any meaning. She would have wished for death to come and take her away, except, she knew wishes were wasted on people like her. Until the day he entered her life. He was a beacon of light in the bleakness she called existence. His arrival sparked a longing inside her that, maybe, hope wasn’t a useless emotion after all. 

Heal (verb): to make sound or whole

Donovan Jeffries was the charming one. The flirty, social Dom of the local BDSM club, Eden. He thought he’d found the perfect submissive. Until she betrayed him with another. He closed himself off, vowing to never give his heart to another woman. Until the day she entered his life. Her despair touched a part of his soul he’d thought forever lost, and he would move heaven and earth to piece all her broken parts back together.

Holy cow. L.K. Shaw takes her Secrets series to a new level in Secrets of Betrayal. When Phebe is rescued from sex traffickers, it isn't the beginning of everything being OK. It's the beginning of an incredibly difficult journey back to something that might eventually resemble normal. She's withdrawn and doesn't really think much of life anymore. Even though she is free, she keeps herself locked away in her mind, in a house, in a garden.

Donovan wants to see Phebe shine again, to see her come out of her withdrawal and rejoin the living. He doesn't expect her to work her way into her heart and soul. As the two of them connect and begin to heal we see something really special happening. A relationship. This book is so character-driven it gave me tingles. I really became a part of their lives and wanted to anything to help them figure out that they needed to be together.

This book does contain some dark parts, but I hope you don't let that stop you from reading this amazing series. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Love for Leah by Amy Lillard ~ Review

Title: A Love for Leah (Amish of Pontotoc #2)
Author: Amy Lillard
Genre: Adult, Inspirational Romance, Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Source: Amazon Vine
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

For the Amish of Pontotoc, Mississippi, faith can open minds—and hearts—to create surprising bonds for a lifetime . . .

Independent-minded Leah Gingerich has always been outspoken. And even though she is now a progressive Mennonite, she's rediscovering the joys of family traditions back in her Amish hometown. Yet she can't help but clash with her handsome new Amish neighbor, Jamie Stoltzfus. He's too hard-headed and old-line to see that his traumatized young nephew, Peter, needs faith and help—or that a woman who stands up to him may be what he needs to heal . . .

After a devastating tragedy, Jamie moved to Pontotoc with his nephew for a fresh start. Holding fast to his beliefs is the only way he feels he can aid Peter—and himself. But somehow, Leah's freethinking ways and feisty challenges are sparking a happiness he's never felt before. Soon, Jamie can't imagine his life without her. But are their differences ultimately too great to overcome—or can love bridge their way to a future together?

A Love for Leah was very different than what I expected when I first started reading. Many of the characters in the book were not what I have come to associate with the traditional Amish romance themes. Leah lad left the Amish community many years ago to follow her twin sister Hannah in her life among the English. However, now that her sister has returned to the Amish community, she has instead chosen to join the Mennonite church nearby.

Their lives seem to be going along just fine when Jamie moves to the Amish community with his young nephew Peter. Peter is a special boy that is dealing with a horrible tragedy that has led him to stop speaking. At first, Leah and Jamie seem destined to be enemies, but soon everyone realizes that there's more under the surface.

The part that stood out the most in this book was the way all the characters found their own path to the same God. While their lifestyles may be quite different, their core beliefs were so similar and the author was able to show them in a way that really highlighted the similarities. It also showed how a difference of faith and way of life shouldn't stand in the way of friendship and helping each other. Leah had to remind Jamie of that a few times, and I love how he was able to take her words to heart. Then when it came time for Jamie to share a lesson with Leah, she opened her heart to hear his words and wonderful things happened.

With a bit of a twist at the end that I didn't quite see coming, A Love for Leah was an amazing book. This may be a series that I need to pick up and read through so I can read more about the family and their community.

*I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of this book*

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Under Lock and Key by Sam Short ~ Review

Title: Under Lock & Key (Water Witch Cozy Mystery #1)
Author: Sam Short
Genre: Adult, Cozy Mystery
Length: 286 pages
Publisher: Sam Short Books
Release Date: January 13, 2017
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Penelope Weaver’s back in Wickford, hoping to relax after a four-month trip aboard her boat. Relaxation is not something she should really have expected though – after all, she is a member of the only witch family in town.

It’s no ordinary witch family either. Granny’s developed witch dementia, and Boris the goat is getting used to his new life of brandy and biscuits whenever he demands it. He’s starting a blog too, but that’s a whole different story.

Penelope’s mother is still visiting the magical haven on a regular basis, and continuing her conquest to get Penny off her boat and back onto dry land. All things considered, everything’s relatively normal in town.

When a murder occurs in Wickford, Penny, her best friend, and her sister, are drawn into the mystery, helping their oversized and under skilled policeman friend to solve it.

There’s also a rumour going around that Barney may have the hots for Penelope, but Penelope’s mother disagrees. She thinks Barney may be Scottish. Penelope’s mother is a complicated woman.

There’s a barking goose too. Come to think about it - the only normal animal in Penny’s life is her cat, Rosie.

Join the residents of Wickford for some light-hearted fun in this 60,000 word cozy mystery novel, which contains no blood and gore, and only very minimal use of the tamest of bad language.

Under Lock & Key was a book club pick (thank you book club). Penelope's witchy family isn't very traditional, and we can tell right from the start that she isn't either. When she returns from selling potions in her houseboat, she stumbles right back into her crazy family life, but this time there's also a murder involved.

When she decides to help the police solve the crime, she begins a crazy journey with her Granny, a talking goat, and her best friend. Their story is hilarious, and I loved all the unique characters with such fun personalities and quirks. The mystery wasn't a doozy by any means, but the author was careful not to give it all away too soon. This book is perfect for escaping reality for an evening.