Monday, May 30, 2022

Review - - The Best of Me

The Best of Me
by Sharon Sala
Blessings, Georgia - Book 13
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: April 26, 2022
Reviewed by Santa

There's never a dull moment in Blessings, Georgia:

  • An orphaned little girl desperately needs a new home
  • An eager couple is ready to welcome her with open arms
  • Friendly neighbors are always there for each other
  • In this southern small town, good things happen to good people

Ruby Butterman and her husband, Peanut, cannot have children, but they're given a second chance at a family when eight-year-old orphan Carlie is left in their care. It's a challenge for Carlie to adapt to a new town, a new school, and a new family, and when she gets bullied at school, Ruby and Peanut discover how to step up as parents, and how to make a forever family for their beloved little girl.

Santa Says:

The Best of Me by Sharon Sala is a book that helped this reader bid a fond farewell to the warm, embracing town of Blessings, Georgia. Sharon Sala provides a five star finish to the Blessings, Georgia series as two of the town’s favorite couples (in my humble opinion) - Ruby and Peanut Butterman -  welcome an unexpected bundle of joy.  

Shirley Duroy was dying. There was no mistake in this. She barely made it off the Greyhound bus and into the police station before collapsing. Tragically, she dies but not before making sure police chief, Lon Pittman, got a hold of Ruby Butterman. Shirley made sure she legally named Ruby as guardian of her seven year old daughter Carlie and provided monies for her daughter’s future. 

In the true Blessings way, the whole town rallies to help Carlie adjust with Ruby and Peanut giving all the joy and love they can to Carlie. They were truly blessed with the child they never thought they would be able to have. There are some trials that they face as a family. Carlie faces some bullying from a jealous schoolmate but both girls come out better at the end. 

Sharon Sala’s small town romances tell the story of true love. The Best of Me also has a secondary romance of two people who come home to help their aging parents and work their neighboring family farms. Deborah and Ladd were teenage lovers who went their separate ways. They are reunited here and rediscover each other and their love. 

These two storylines are as wonderful and delicious as the amazing biscuits served at Granny’s. I really enjoy Sharon Sala’s books. The Best of Me and all the other books in this series, can easily be read as stand alones. Enjoy a respite that the town and people of Blessings, Georgia provide.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Review - - Beach House Summer

Beach House Summer
by Sarah Morgan
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

When Joanna Whitman's famous ex-husband dies in a car accident, she doesn't know what to feel. Their dysfunctional marriage held more painful secrets than she cares to remember. But when she discovers that the young woman with him in the crash is pregnant, Joanna feels compelled to act, knowing exactly how brutal the media spotlight will be on celebrity chef Cliff Whitman's ex-wife and his mysterious female friend.

Ashley Blake can't believe it when Joanna shows up in her hospital room and suggests they hide away at her beach house on a sleepy stretch of California coast. Joanna should be hating her, not helping her. But alone and pregnant, Ashley can't turn down Joanna's offer. Yet she knows that if Joanna ever found out the real reason Ashley was in that car, their tentative bond would shatter instantly.

Joanna's only goal for the summer is privacy, but her return causes major waves in the local community, especially for the man she left behind years ago. All Ashley wants is space to plan for her and her baby's future, and to avoid causing any trouble for Joanna. But as secrets spill out under the hot summer sun, this unlikely friendship is about to be put to the test.

PJ's Thoughts:

Necessary ingredients for a successful Saturday: warm sunshine, a comfy chair, a cold beverage, and a Sarah Morgan novel. I had all four today and it was glorious.

Morgan is a consummate storyteller, drawing me into her world effortlessly, piquing my interest with compelling plotlines, and creating intriguing, complex characters - with layers and experiences that beg to be explored - who invariably bring a plethora of this reader's emotions to the surface.

Beach House Summer has three main female characters at crossroads in their lives. There's Joanna, a 40-year-old woman with the unexpected opportunity for a do-over. She fled her small coastal hometown twenty years ago, never planning to return. But sometimes, the only way we can chart a new path for ourselves, both internally and externally, is by returning to the place and people we left behind. 

Mel is one of the people who was left behind when Joanna fled all those years ago. She's never understood why Joanna abandoned their friendship but she's living with a faulty explanation of what actually happened that night twenty years earlier. Mel is facing a crossroads of her own in her relationship with her teenage daughter who is close to the age Mel was when her friendship with Joanna ended. She refuses to walk away from the chance to finally understand why Joanna, a girl who was more sister than friend, didn't consider Mel important enough to stay in touch. But maybe she needs to examine a few things about herself too.

Ashley, the youngest of the three, is the wild card in the mix, with more than a few surprises - and unexpected twists - in her journey. Considering her situation, one would expect her to be the recipient of wise counsel from the two older women. One would be wrong.

I loved how Morgan threaded the paths of these three women together, intertwining past and present relationships in guiding them forward. There's so much growth along the way for all three, as well as acceptance, forgiveness, and genuine affection. I so enjoyed getting to know them. And I thoroughly enjoyed the other citizens of Morgan's small California town. I loved how they rallied around one another. This is a town I not only want to visit; I'd love to live there! 

Beach House Summer is women's fiction - the focus is definitely on the women - though there are romantic threads for all three of the featured characters as well, featuring a long-term, happy marriage, a best-friends-to-lovers relationship, and a second chance for Joanna and the childhood sweetheart who broke her heart all those years earlier...but just might be instrumental in creating a new opportunity for happy hearts moving forward.  

Add this one to your summer reading list. I highly recommend it. 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Winner - - Dukes Do it Better


The randomly chosen winner of

Dukes Do it Better by Bethany Bennett is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Review - - Strangers in Paradise

Strangers in Paradise
by Barbara Dunlop
Paradise,  Alaska - Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Hailey Barosse always knew what her wealthy family expected of her: marry an affluent Georgia man, run a charitable organization, and provide her parents with two or three grandchildren. But Hailey rebelled. Instead, she moved far away from that suffocating life, and for six years she’s built her independence by flying bush planes in the tiny town of Paradise, Alaska. Then a suave, handsome businessman arrives, shaking up her world and reminding her of her controlling family. Parker Hall wants to invest in her boss’s airline, but Hailey doesn’t trust him at all. He might be confident and charming, but she knows all about self-centered cutthroat industrialists—and Parker is one of them.

Parker Hall prides himself on being a self-made entrepreneur. He earned his fortune by working day and night, expanding his gold mine and investing in new businesses that support his growing dream. His next opportunity is in Paradise, but his plans are quickly derailed by a fierce, beautiful pilot who both fights and fascinates him. The closer he gets to the feisty Hailey, the more she pushes him away. But Parker’s not giving up, not on Paradise and not on Hailey.  He’s come a long way in life by being laser-focused on his passions, and this time is no different…

PJ's Thoughts:

I am thoroughly enjoying my visits to Barbara Dunlop's Paradise, Alaska and especially the group of friends at the small community's core. In this third book she pairs a bush pilot (Hailey) with a ruthless businessman (Parker) and the sparks fly. As with the first two books, Dunlop once again set the stage for an immersive experience in the rugged Alaskan wilderness. I don't know if she's ever been there but she sure excels at making me feel like I am while reading her books. The scene with the wolves was especially riveting.

I loved the push and pull between Hailey and Parker, adversaries from the start who can't seem to resist the pulse of attraction between them. Given her family background, I certainly understood Hailey's mistrust and, let's face it, Parker's action weren't doing much to allay her fears. Both characters ended up being more complex than I expected, especially Parker. I appreciated their growth - which came mostly in the latter portion of the book - and happily bought into their relationship at the end. 

After three books, I'm fully invested in this small Alaska town and her residents. Looking forward to discovering who is next on Dunlop's Paradise center stage. 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Review - - Desperately Seeking a Duchess

Desperately Seeking a Duchess
by Christi Caldwell
All the Duke's Sins - Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Cailin Audley doesn’t fit in with Polite Society. A life spent among the working class taught her to value her independence in a way no newfound fortune or glittering ballroom could ever erase. When a major misstep sees the new heiress whisked away to the English countryside, Cailin soon realizes the vexing lengths her family will go to see her settled.  But having risked her heart once before, Cailin has no interest in the men of the ton—especially not the frustratingly charming Duke of St. James.
Courtland Balfour, the Duke of St. James, devoted brother and notorious rogue, despises what he must become—a fortune hunter. But with the ducal coffers drained by his late, spendthrift of a father, Courtland knows his duty lies at the altar and he will do anything to ensure a future for his siblings. Just his luck that the one lady who could make this new fate bearable, who enflames him like no other, is the one woman who wants nothing to do with him or his title.
But when an act of desperation inadvertently lands he and Cailin at the heart of another scandal, Courtland knows better than to waste his chance. Surely he can convince Cailin to love him?

PJ's Thoughts:

This second book in Caldwell's All the Duke's Sins series is another page-turner that kept me entertained from beginning to end. Caldwell is so skilled at creating complex, fully-developed characters and that ability is once again on full display here, with both primary and secondary characters leaping from the pages. 

Cailin and Courtland are intriguing, multi-layered characters with whom I felt an immediate affinity. I loved that they began as adversaries who then moved into friendship that gradually deepened into unexpected love. Caldwell has gifted them with snappy banter, a fair number of chuckles and a modicum of angst, along with some steamy attraction. She's also given them complex family relationships that threaten to derail their budding relationship at several turns along with outside obstacles looming over them like a stormy cloud. I enjoyed the evolution of both main characters, especially Courtland's as he comes to realize (with help) that working together is much more beneficial than trying to carry family burdens alone and Cailin's, as she learns she can embrace her true self and still find a place within her new family. 

There's a solid secondary cast in the book with the potential for future stories among them. I know Cailin's remaining brothers are on deck but I'm already hoping that Courtland's youngest sister will be a future heroine of her own story. She's only 14 now but she's a firecracker and glimmers of the adult she will grow to be are already strong.  

You can read Desperately Seeking a Duchess as a standalone but I think you'll have a deeper understanding of the Audley family dynamics as well as Cailin herself if you begin with Along Came a Lady. If you're interested in the Duke of Bentley's back story as well as his romance with Lady Lydia, check out the series prequel, It Had to Be the Duke

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Review - - The Honeymoon Cottage

The Honeymoon Cottage
by Lori Foster
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Reviewed by Hellie

When it comes to creating the perfect happily-ever-after, Yardley Belanger is a bona fide miracle worker. From bridal bouquets to matching cowboy boots, the quirky wedding planner’s country-chic affairs have caused quite a stir in the small town of Cemetery. But when it comes to her own love life? She’s clueless.

Completely clueless. 

Perhaps it’s for the best. The thirty-one-year-old has poured her heart and soul into her business and doesn’t have time for anything—or anyone—else. And that’s something not even the gorgeous older brother of her newest client can change…right? 

All Travis Long wanted was to give his little sister, Sheena, the wedding of her dreams. Ever since the tragic death of their parents, he’s done everything he can to make her feel loved and give her everything she needs. Still…a country wedding? In a place called Cemetery? But Yardley seems to know exactly what to do and how to do it—and Travis finds himself falling for her a little more each day. 

Soon Yardley and Travis find themselves being nudged together by well-meaning locals who want to see the town’s favorite wedding planner get her own happy ending.


Hellie’s Heeds 

I think this may be my first Lori Foster book but it definitely won’t be my last. Honestly I’m rather shocked; my book diet is almost exclusively romance and bad boys (which Lori excels in), but when I looked at her book list, nothing looked familiar that I might have read. Clearly Lori has a knack for small town settings with quirky characters that remind me of my small town (283), and Cemetery, which has a whopping 827 residents, takes the cake in quirky.  

Yardley is a kind sympathetic heroine who looks after everyone around her–and after herself least. Her heart and soul belong to her career as a wedding planner and to her town where she works to make the small businesses there thrive as much as her own. Townsfolk adore her. There’s a businessman in town who had a bit of a crush on her–but she never noticed. She’s Cinderella without the helpful mice. She’s so busy looking after her mother and aunt–who you’d get the impression they were a bit doddering since she’s looking after them so much–she doesn’t have time for a life. Ah, here is our conflict. These relatives are both actually under 55. There’s nothing doddering about them. Yardley, the poor soul, is trying to earn their approval, even after all this time, and the Disney villainesque mother and aunt are as malcontent as Maleficent and Ursula on steroids.  

Meanwhile she is working with a new client for her wedding, that is being paid for by the bride’s brother. Travis is beautiful, but a bit off putting. He wants to provide the very best wedding for his sister–and he’s just not sure a town like Cemetery can provide the kind of wedding his sister deserves. But soon he is charmed by Yardley (as everyone is) and soon Yardley is planning a wedding that she hopes will give her the kind of business she needs to win town council approval…poor Yardley, always seeking approval.  

What Yardley is most savvy and brilliant at is managing difficult people. After all, she’s lived with the Disney Malcontents her entire life and thrived despite them. So with each new challenge Yardley faces, whether in adopting a stray dog or convincing the president of the town council to allow people to name their businesses without having to use the town “Cemetery” in the title, Yardley grows even more confident and charming. Travis adores her, and his treatment of her, treating her with generosity and sweetness, is a testament to “Yes, this is what we all deserve. Find a man who treats you like this.” Travis is a hero worth swooning for. 

If I had any complaints, it would be that the Disney Malcontents did not suffer any real changes of heart or behavior. I suppose Lori’s lesson here is that you can’t change difficult people. You can only change how you react to them or how you allow them to be in your life. So perhaps fiction is more truth than reality because that is a hard lesson for most of us to learn. Still…if one of them had fallen off a pier into a pig sty, I wouldn’t have lost any sleep over it. Maybe next time. That said, I have to say: my favorite transformation was the town council president, Betty. There’s a wonderful lesson in her character as well: never be too old to adapt…so Lori did throw us readers a bone with one major transformation.  

Do add this to your summer reading list. It’s light, it’s full of heart, and you will laugh, which makes it a perfect summer reading book.


Monday, May 23, 2022

Review and Giveaway - - Dukes Do it Better

Dukes Do it Better
by Bethany Bennett
Misfits of Mayfair - - Book 3
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

She can keep her secrets or risk her heart

Lady Emma Hardwick has been living a lie—one that allowed her to keep her son and give him the loving home she’d never had. But now her journal, the one place she’d indulged in the truth, has been stolen. Whoever has it holds the power to bring the life she’s carefully built crumbling to the ground. With her past threatening everything she holds dear, the only person she can trust is the dangerously handsome, tattooed navy captain with whom she dared to spend one carefree night.

Captain Malachi Harlow, Duke of Trenton, would rather throw himself overboard than return to society. But when the Admiralty calls him back home, there is no room for refusal. Crossing paths with the delectable Lady Emma is a welcome distraction that takes a more serious turn when they discover they have a common enemy. Working together could help them both—but will it also bring a temptation neither can resist?

PJ's Thoughts:

Bethany Bennett captured my attention in 2020 with her debut novel, Any Rogue Will Do (read my review), a historical romance brimming with sparkling banter, heart-tugging emotion, sizzling passion, action-packed danger, and swoony romance. She followed that up in 2021 with book two of the trilogy, West End Earl (read my review), a spellbinding tale with more twists than a mountain road, that cemented Bennett's place on my auto buy list and left me eagerly anticipating the third book of the trilogy, Dukes Do it Better. I'm happy to say that Emma's and Mal's journey more than lived up to my expectations.

I love a book that immerses me so completely into a story that I read it in one sitting, eagerly flipping pages as quickly as I can to discover what will happen next, then go back to page one and read it again, slowly savoring each word, detail, and nuance of the story. That is the reading experience Bethany Bennett gave me with Dukes Do it Better. First, she hooked me with the passages from Emma's journal, in Mal's possession during his lonely days - and nights - on duty in the Baltic. Then she factored in the mystery of Mal not knowing the identity of the journal writer but forging an emotional bond with that person through her written thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams. So much emotion. So much yearning. I was hooked. By the time Mal and Emma met in person I was already completely invested in them as a couple. And then, of course, we discover there's more to their story. Could I turn those pages any faster? Why yes, I could. 

One of the things I most enjoyed about this series was the growth of the characters. Emma was a pivotal secondary character in book two and I did not like her. At all. She was, as she acknowledges in her book, a spoiled, selfish brat. But there were tendrils of growth in the latter stages of that second book that fully actualized in the five years between the end of book two and the beginning of book three. I found, much to my surprise, that she had become one of my favorite characters of the series. And then there's Mal with his roguish charm, his piratical appearance, his tattoos, his kindness (his interactions with Emma's son were so sweet), his horrible family, and his (well hidden) vulnerable heart. Needless to say, I fell hard. I loved the passion between these two, the banter, the partnership, the respect, and the genuine feelings that grew deep and true, taking them both by surprise. 

This is a trilogy where I strongly recommend reading the books in order. Not only do the main couples from books one and two play significant roles in book three but there is also an underlying story thread that runs through all three books and a major twist that will be spoiled if you read book three first. Book one, Any Rogue Will Do, is available today in e-book for only $1.99. Start there and enjoy the ride! 

Have you read Bethany Bennett yet?

What fictional romance couple is currently making your reader's heart sing?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, May 25 will receive a print copy of Dukes Do it Better.

*Must be 18
*U.S. only
*Void where prohibited

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Review - - A Duke for Diana

A Duke for Diana
by Sabrina Jeffries
Designing Debutantes - Book 1
Publisher: Zebra Books
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Self-made civil engineer Geoffrey Brookhouse has unexpectedly inherited the dukedom of Grenwood. But he has a secret that could ruin his family. Hoping to save his timid sister from that fate, he seeks to marry her off to a respectable, protective gentleman. With the London Season imminent, Geoffrey hires Elegant Occasions to orchestrate her debut. Yet Lady Diana Harper, spirited fashion expert, proves more than he bargained for. Suddenly, Geoffrey’s sister is emerging from her shell, and he is beleaguered with social invitations and gossip! Worse, Diana is attempting to transform him into a presentable duke—when all he really wants is to make her his own . . .

Diana doesn’t know what to make of the handsome, disheveled duke. The man bristles at the very idea that his fashion faux pas might spoil his sister’s chances. Yet Geoffrey’s stubbornness simply inspires Diana to ruffle his feathers—by setting him on a course of self-improvement. Although there’s something endearing, even irresistible about his flaws, can a man who hates the ton tolerate a woman who makes her living catering to them? Little does either know that they have more in common than they suspect—and that two can create a society all their own . . .

PJ's Thoughts:

This book was an absolute delight, one of my favorites by Jeffries in quite some time. While I enjoyed her last series, the tone in A Duke for Diana is different. Lighter. More effervescent, if you will. First of all, I loved the sisterly dynamic among Diana, Eliza, and Verity. While each is uniquely original (I enjoyed getting to know them a bit in this book), they're tightly bonded by their family circumstances and how they've worked together to overcome them. I genuinely liked all three of them and am excited to cheer them on in the next two books.

I love a fish out of water and that is definitely Geoffrey at the start of his story. It was fun to watch him evolve with Diana's guidance without losing the essence of the humble, pragmatic, hard-working man he's always been and to watch Diana, a woman certain of herself in business, blossom romantically in the process. These two together were so much fun to watch. I enjoyed their banter, the sizzle, and the deep feelings that gradually, almost reluctantly at times, continued to grow between them. I liked that Jeffries made them a team in the face of Geoffrey's troubles and that Diana was instrumental in helping him solve them (but not doing it for him). It gives me confidence in a couple's longevity when I see them working together to solve a problem. 

The secondary cast in this book is richly depicted, with Geoffrey's sister, Rosy taking the lead but also including their mother, Diana's butler, and others. All lend humor, conflict, and emotion to the story without detracting from our hero and heroine. I'm hoping we'll see at least some of them in the next two books as well.

A Duke for Diana is a promising start to what looks to be a fun new series from Sabrina Jeffries. I recommend adding it to your summer reading list. 

Content Note: Mention of suicide and depression

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Review - - Boss Witch

Boss Witch
by Ann Aguirre
Fix-It Witches - Book 2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: April 5, 2022
Reviewed by Nancy

Clementine Waterhouse is a perfectly logical witch. She doesn't tumble headlong into love. Rather she weighs the pros and cons and decides if a relationship is worth pursuing. At least that's always been her modus operandi before. Clem prefers being the one in charge, always the first to walk away when the time is right. Attraction has never struck her like lightning.

Until the witch hunter comes to town.

Gavin Rhys hates being a witch hunter, but his family honor is on the line, and he needs to prove he's nothing like his grandfather, a traitor who let everyone down. But things in St. Claire aren't what they seem, and Gavin is distracted from the job immediately by a bewitching brunette with a sexy smile and haunting secrets in her eyes.

Can the bossiest witch in town find a happy ending with the last person she should ever love?

Nancy Says:

Ann Aguirre is well known for her science fiction and fantasy action-adventure series, which include strong romantic elements. In Boss Witch (and presumably in the rest of the Fix-It Witches series), the romance comes to the fore. Unlike Aguirre’s other series, these contemporary paranormal romances are set in a small Midwestern town of St. Claire with no journeys to other worlds or exotic locations.


The heroine of Boss Witch, Clementine (but please call her Clem!) Waterhouse, and her cousin operate an appliance repair shop known as Fix-It Witches. Since the public doesn’t know about magic and witches, they conceal their use of their magic, known as technomancy, in making the speedy repairs that are their hallmark. They also belong to a close-knit, all-female coven.


The story opens with the coven discussing the arrival in town of a man they believe to be a witch hunter, someone who finds witches by tracing their magic. The hunter reports them to enforcers, who then sever their magic and turn them in to mundane humans—incidentally seizing some of their property as “compensation.”  Clem’s cousin, Danica, has had magical spikes in the local bakery because of her attraction to the baker, and these spikes have drawn the hunter to their town.


Clem resolves to distract the hunter from his quest. At the same time, she and the other local witches take steps to conceal their magic via wearing charms, raising wards, and drinking suppressive potions. They hope the hunter will be unable to locate any witches, lose interest, and move on. Matters don’t develop quite that way, of course.


The hunter, Englishman Gavin Rhys, doesn’t enjoy being a witch hunter. He persists in the job because he longs for his father’s approval and because, having been raised in this order of witch hunters and enforcers, he knows no other life. But his dissatisfaction is growing.


He and Clem meet in a bar, where she pretends to have been stood up, and lures him into protecting her from other patrons. Once they’ve met, she uses that as a springboard to a flirtation they both believe to be temporary. 

Under pressure from his father and unable to locate the witch who caused the magic spikes that had him sent here, Gavin rents an apartment and plans to stay for a month. His attraction to Clem is also an incentive, but he plans to use his time to question other residents about any odd events that might point him toward his quarry. 

As Gavin meets the townspeople, their warmth and friendliness draw him. They also give Aguirre a chance to showcase one of the upsides of small-town life, the close relationships of residents who’ve known each other a long time. Her characters are likeable and varied in personality and age. Similarly, Clem’s coven members include a range of ages and sexual orientations. Clem is bisexual though that’s mentioned only in passing. 

Clem is her family’s fixer, and tensions in her family generate a lot of stress for her. Danica, her cousin and partner in the fix-it shop, is so distracted by her budding romance that she isn’t carrying her share of the workload. This apparently isn’t unusual, but Clem is reaching her limit with it. Their grandmother has stepped up her meddling, trying to force a rapprochement between Clem’s mother and her ex, Clem’s dad, who’s famous for his philandering. The dad also wants to renew ties, though Clem is fed up with him. 

The family tensions swirling around Clem and the issues Gavin has with his father are developed well and present Clem and Gavin sympathetically. Even Danica isn’t purely annoying. She and Clem have layers in their relationship that prevent her from being a one-note character. 

One of my favorite scenes in the book occurs at the finale of the Lugnasadh festival, where witches from all around the region gather to celebrate. At the end, they join their magic in a rainbow whirlwind of energy. This big display of magic has a downside, though, and it propels the book toward its conclusion. 

The magic system is simple, not requiring explanation that would draw attention from the main plot. Technomancers are especially adept with gadgets, vivimancers with living creatures, and neuromancers with illusions. 

The relationship develops with unusual, creative dates Clem and Gavin devise and with a lot of humor. The downside for me is that they’re in lust with each other from their first meeting and sprinkle innuendo through their conversation. I tend to prefer a slower build and fewer lust references in the beginning. I realize that isn’t the case for everyone, of course, so I didn’t let my preference affect my rating. 

My one quibble with the book, which did affect my rating, is the spell the coven works near the end of the book. It has an important effect, so I was left wondering why they don’t just do that immediately. 

That one issue aside, Boss Witch is well written with sympathetic, layered characters and an intriguing setting. The loves scenes are explicit, tender and emotional. 

Highly recommended.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Review - - Book Lovers

Book Lovers
by Emily Henry
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Reviewed by Santa

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn't see coming...

Nora Stephens' life is books—she’s read them all—and she is 
not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

Santa Says:

Book Lovers by Emily Henry is the first book I have read from this author and I say with the utmost confidence that this five star read will not be my last. It is not your every day rom-com even though the author liberally peppered with all the elements you would typically find in both the written and screen throughout the book. All that is missing are snowball fights and hot chocolate which makes sense since it takes place in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina! Great name - right! 

Nora Stephans and her sister, Libby, agree to go on a girl’s trip for a whole month. Nora is the Type A older sibling who is driven to work hard at her job as a literary agent. She is always on. Libby is more the care free dreamer who is happily married with 2 kids and another one on the way. It takes alot for Nora to just get up and leave her clients but this means an opportunity for the sisters to reconnect. 

Armed with a list of small town activities, Libby is determined to get Nora to have some fun and, in true rom com fashion, have Nora fall in love with a lumberjack working to save the family Christmas tree farm. We don’t get the lumberjack right away. 

What we do get is Charlie Lastra, a transplanted editor Nora met two years earlier. He hated her client’s book and so ended their association. They meet again and again while she is in Sunshine Falls. He is there to help his parent’s struggling bookstore as his father recovers from an illness. Charlie has a way of getting Nora to shed her layers. He opens up to her in equal measure. Like any great editor it’s not about changing the work as much as helping peel away unnecessary verbiage that bogs down the piece. Charlie’s openness and acceptance of what makes Nora who she is really makes his character and this book so wonderful. He really sees her.  

To say this is a typical rom com would be an understatement. It’s not just Nora and Charlie’s story. It’s Libby and her family. It’s Sunshine Falls and the little bookstore we all love. Book Lovers has all those elements that make a rom com sing with witty banter, laugh out loud moments and sigh worthy tender ones. I think you are going to love this book. I know I did and can’t wait to read more books by Emily Henry.