Thursday, June 30, 2022

Review & Giveaway - - Sea Glass Summer

Sea Glass Summer
by Miranda Liasson
Seashell Harbor - Book 2
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: June 28, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Kit Blakemore is ready to live again. After her husband died while serving in the military, she was in a haze of grief. Now she wants to reclaim her former self—finish her degree and find a better career to provide for their sweet little boy, Oliver. To do that, she’ll need to sell her late husband’s dilapidated Victorian in Seashell Harbor. But first, Kit intends to give Ollie the kind of unforgettable seaside summer she had growing up, making lifelong memories and friendships.

Of course, nothing goes exactly as she planned. Ollie is struggling with his confidence, and frankly, so is Kit. But everything changes when her husband’s best friend, Alex de la Cruz, returns to town, offering to help her renovate. She doesn’t expect Alex to temporarily move in…or for him to bond with Ollie…or for her numb heart to begin thawing. Slowly he’s helping Kit and Ollie heal, and it scares her to death.

Kit swore she wouldn’t leave herself open to the pain of loss again. But if she’s going to teach her son to be brave and move forward, Kit must first face her own fears.

PJ's Thoughts:

Each time I've picked up a Miranda Liasson book, I've been taken to a community I'd like to visit where I've met people I'd like to befriend. Once again, that's the case with the second book in Liasson's Seashell Harbor series: Sea Glass Summer.

One of the things I'm most enjoying about this series is the three women at its core. Kit, Hadley, and Darla are friendship goals. Childhood friends who have returned to their hometown and solidified their bonds as adults, I love how they support one another, challenge each other, and don't hesitate to tell the hard truths when necessary. Their scenes together are some of my favorites in the series.

Then there's the romance. Liasson aims straight for the heart in this book and does not miss. There's so much depth of emotion, so many layers for both Kit and Alex to navigate. I enjoyed the slow burn of their journey, the time that is taken to steer them gradually through the murky waters of grief, and guilt, to understanding, self-forgiveness, and love. I enjoyed the journey each of them took individually as well as the one they took together. These two are so realistic, so relatable, and very endearing. It wasn't difficult to be come emotionally engaged with them both, to be their sideline cheerleader as their hearts slowly heal and the friendship that grows between them deepens into something more. I shed tears with them, laughed with them, and happily celebrated their hard-won love. 

Another highlight for me is Ollie, Kit's young son. Such an adorable character and so very realistic. His evolving relationship with Alex is one of my favorite threads in the book. 

If you're a fan of the Seashell Harbor series, you will undoubtedly enjoy catching up with Hadley and Tony (Coming Home to Seashell Harbor) and will mostly likely be as curious as I about where the tenuous relationship between divorced couple, Darla and Nick is headed next. I don't know when their book will be published but I am already eager to read it. 

Have you read Miranda Liasson?

Do you have childhood girlfriends with whom you are still close?

What books have you read recently that both touched your heart and tickled your funny bone?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, July 2 will receive a print copy of Sea Glass Summer

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Review - - Four Weeks of Scandal

Four Weeks of Scandal
by Megan Frampton
A Hazards of Dukes Novel
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: June 28, 2022
Reviewed by Santa

It only takes one moment to cause a scandal...and four weeks to live it down!

Week one: Lovely, lively Octavia Holton arrives in the village, determined to claim her inheritance—the home she grew up in with her late father. Surely he meant for his daughter to have the property, and owning it means she could fix it up, sell it, and use the money to pay off her debts. But when she arrives, she discovers the house is also claimed—by one Gabriel Fallon.

Week two: Gabriel claims his father won the property in a bet, but he can’t bring himself to toss Octavia out on her very delightful derrière, so he makes her a four-week bargain: Together they’ll pretend to be engaged, all the while seeking out any will, letter, or document that proves who gets the ownership.

Weeks three and four: But that means togetherness...a lot of togetherness, and long days—and evenings—in each other’s company. The pair seems destined to “duke it out,” staking their claims...but it’s all too soon that they realize their rivalry might lead to something much more intimate. And suddenly four weeks seems like a long time. And yet not enough.

Santa Says:

Yet another triumph for Megan Frampton in this infectiously witty, thoroughly enjoyable series! I guarantee you will fall in love with the impetuous Octavia and the cautious Gabriel. Both products of their scandalous, reprobate fathers who thought nothing of gambling their children's lives and legacies away with the turn of a card. Octavia and Gabriel arrive at Octavia's dilapidated home with each claiming it as rightfully theirs. But first, Octavia must find proof that predates Gabriel's voucher that states it is his. They agree to live there together while searching for the proof and cleaning the house up. A fake engagement appeases the local villagers. In the ensuing month, they find themselves holding a gangster at bay, hosting an event to pay back said gangster and falling in love. I fell in love with Octavia, Gabriel and the delightful family of villagers who help them in their quest. I read it in one day - it was that good! 

Friday, June 24, 2022

Winner - - As Seen on TV


The randomly chosen winner of a print copy of

As Seen on TV by Meredith Schorr is:

Anita Yancey

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Winner - - Grace Burrowes: Rogues to Riches Giveaway


The randomly chosen winner of 

the Rogues to Riches series by

Grace Burrowes is:

Robin B


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Review - - Here for the Drama

Here for the Drama
by Kate Bromley
Publisher: Graydon House
Release Date: June 21, 2022
Reviewed by Nancy

It wouldn’t be the theater without a few theatrics…

Becoming a famous playwright is all Winnie ever dreamed about. For now, though, she'll have to settle for assisting the celebrated, sharp-witted feminist playwright Juliette Brassard. When an experimental theater company in London, England, decides to stage Juliette's most renowned play, The Lights of Trafalgar, Winnie and Juliette pack their bags and hop across the pond. 

But the trip goes sideways faster than you can say "tea and crumpets." Juliette stubbornly butts heads with the play's director and Winnie is left stage-managing their relationship. Meanwhile, Winnie's own work seems to have stalled, and though Juliette keeps promising to read it, she always has some vague reason why she can't. Then, Juliette's nephew, Liam, enters stage left. He's handsome, he's smart, he is devastatingly British…and his family ties to Juliette pose a serious problem, forcing Winnie to keep their burgeoning relationship on the down-low. What could go wrong?

Balancing a production seemingly headed for disaster, a secret romance and the sweetest, most rambunctious rescue dog, will Winnie save the play, make her own dreams come true and find love along the way—or will the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune get the best of her?


***This review contains spoilers ***

Nancy says: 

I wanted to love this book. It appeals to my interest in England and my enjoyment of theater, and it has a dog. In the end, I came away with mixed feelings. There were many things I liked about this story but some that just seriously didn’t work for me. 

On the plus side, Winnie is hard-working, loyal, and affectionate. Her insecurity about the play she’s trying to write is explained well, making it believable and sympathetic. Liam is a nice guy who has had a rough time lately despite business success. He’s at loose ends personally but for understandable reasons. 

Juliette generally comes across well despite being a bit self-centered, and Roshni, her other assistant, is a lively, warm, loyal and encouraging friend to Winnie. In fact, I would say she’s Winnie’s closest friend based the way the two interact. That was one of my problems with the ending. 

The other supporting characters, the play’s director, her partner, and the cast have minor roles, but the director really shines. She’s professional, talented, and not intimidated by Juliette’s fame. She’s also helpful to Winnie in a way Juliette hasn’t been. 

Winnie’s first date with Liam is a lovely tour of London with beautifully written banter and more earnest conversation. 

On the downside, the story starts slowly. There’s more than I needed about Juliette’s career and Winnie’s stalled efforts as a playwright in the first two chapters. To me, the story really begins in London. The action picks up once the characters arrive there. 

Juliette gives her assistants the occasional great perk, such as tickets to a sold-out show, but doesn’t take much interest in them personally. She promises to help Winnie with her play but never follows through. That’s not bad in itself, especially since she’s not the heroine, but it’s part of my problem with the ending. 

Juliette more or less orders Winnie to go out blind dates via an app so Juliette can get stories that might break her out of whatever is stalling her playwriting efforts. Winnie agrees to go, although reluctantly. At one of these dates, Liam appears at the café that’s the designated meeting place. When he finds out about the planned meeting, he sticks around and crashes it. Or he would’ve if Winnie hadn’t agreed to see him later. 

The banter between Winnie and Liam is generally great, but every once in a while, Winnie says something harsh that throws him off his stride. Yet this doesn’t lead her to moderate her approach. At one point, he drops by the flat where Winnie is working with Juliette, and Winnie thinks of him as a gigolo. This was not depicted as humorous and threw me off. He isn’t dating anyone else, she isn’t paying him to date her, and I saw no reason for applying that label to this nice guy. 

A neighbor offers to watch the stray dog Winnie rescued. Since Juliette knows his family, Winnie agrees. He seems like a nice guy until he mentions his fluffy pajamas and his bedroom slippers to her during their first conversation. Then she takes an interest in the slippers, tries them on and even borrows them. From this guy she just met. For me, this crosses a line on both their parts, and I found it off-putting. 

Juliette and her sister are estranged. When her sister, Isabelle, drops by in hopes of seeing Juliette, who isn’t home, she and Winnie talk some about the sisters’ shared history. At one point, Isabelle mentions her husband, and Winnie asks her whether Juliette liked him. That also crosses a line for me. If Winnie wants to know how Juliette once felt about her brother-in-law, she should ask Juliette. 

Winnie’s intrusive behavior grows worse. She learns Juliette had a serious relationship when she lived in England years before. When she and Juliette discuss it, Juliette seems to have nostalgic feelings about it. So Winnie decides to track down Juliette’s former love and lies to Liam to get him to help her.  She then asks the man questions about his history with Juliette.




Undercurrents between Winnie and Juliette erupt eventually, severing their relationship. Winnie goes on to success as a playwright, and Liam sets up a meeting between the two. Winnie and Juliette talk through their differences. Several years later, they’re on a more equal footing. All that is well done—until the moment Winnie says Juliette was her dearest friend. This didn’t work for me because Juliette hadn’t behaved like a good friend and had done some manipulative and underhanded things. 

No hint of their being good friends appears in the early part of the book, though a good relationship implicitly happens between the epilogs. If anyone in the book is Winnie’s closest friend, it’s her fellow assistant, Roshni. They support, encourage, and trust each other throughout. They keep each other’s secrets while Winnie is keeping secrets from Juliette. 



The romantic ending is handled beautifully and is satisfying. The conflict between Winnie and Juliette, for the reasons noted above, is not. 

Near the end of the book, there is a lovely scene between Winnie and her stepmother, but it didn’t seem necessary to the overall story. While the book contains some references to Winnie liking her stepmother but regretting that they aren’t close, this isn’t a major element of the plot. 

Overall, there is much to like about these characters and the story. The relationship between Winnie and Liam develops nicely despite the occasional stumble. I had some serious issues, though, with the bits I didn’t feel worked well. Despite that, I do recommend the book, especially for Anglophiles and theater fans. 

3.5 Stars 


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Review - - Fake it Till You Bake it

Fake it Till You Bake it: A Novel
by Jamie Wesley
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: June 21, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego's newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada's image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

PJ's Thoughts:

What a thoroughly charming story! I read it in one day. Will probably read it again. It made me smile, laugh out loud, sigh with delight, and crave cupcakes. So. Many. Cupcakes.

Jada is lying low, trying to get her life back on track after the social media sh*tstorm that followed her refusal of the final proposal on a reality dating show when she's upended again by a surprise family ultimatum. Donovan, a pro football player, along with two teammates, has just realized his dream of opening a cupcake shop but business is falling off rather than picking up steam. Fate sets them up as adversaries, her grandmother (his boss), sets them up as co-workers, and an unexpected twist has them fake dating. Did I mention that they also have off the charts chemistry and his (meddling) friends think they'd make a perfect match? Reality dating shows, football, enemies-to-lovers, and cupcakes. It's like Jamie Wesley wrote this book just for me! 

I adored this couple with their snappy banter, simmering chemistry, and surprising work partnership. I loved that Wesley gave them the necessary time to work through personal issues and find their footing before leading them into a romantic relationship. I loved Jada's evolution, how she slowly began to discover her strengths, how Donovan's perception of her shifted in the process, and his defense and support of her against naysayers. I enjoyed their layers, their teasing humor, and the emotional baggage that had to be sorted. It was just enough to give complexity and texture to the lighthearted, humorous parts of the story. And I loved the secondary cast! There's so much potential there for future stories and I, for one, cannot wait to read them.

I enthusiastically recommend adding this one to your summer reading list but a word of advice: you might want to make a batch of cupcakes to nibble on before you turn that first page. Just sayin'.


Monday, June 20, 2022

Review & Giveaway - - As Seen on TV

As Seen on TV
by Meredith Schorr
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: June 7, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Emerging journalist Adina Gellar is done with dating in New York City. If she’s learned anything from made-for-TV romance movies, it’s that she’ll find love in a small town—the kind with harvest festivals, delightful but quirky characters, and scores of delectable single dudes. So when a big-city real estate magnate targets tiny Pleasant Hollow for development, Adi knows she’s found the perfect story—one that will earn her a position at a coveted online magazine, so she can finally start adulting for real . . . and maybe even find her dream man in the process. 

Only Pleasant Hollow isn’t exactly “pleasant.” There’s no charming bakery, no quaint seasonal festivals, and the residents are more ambivalent than welcoming. The only upside is Finn Adams, who’s more mouthwatering than the homemade cherry pie Adi can’t seem to find—even if he does work for the company she’d hoped to bring down. Suddenly Adi has to wonder if maybe TV got it all wrong after all. But will following her heart mean losing her chance to break into the big time?

PJ's Thoughts:

As a self-admitted Hallmark movie addict (and fan of Gilmore Girls), this book immediately piqued my interest. It's like visiting a quintessential Hallmark small town with "big business" pitted against the good-hearted citizens and a newly-arrived, big-city journalist leading the charge to save their town...only in an alternate universe where everything is turned upside down and nobody acts according to Hallmark "rules" and the journalist is the one in danger of being run out of town. And then there's the cute guy who becomes a good friend, with steamy attraction, and potential for more. And did I mention he also works for that big business? So many fun tropes and quirky plot flips to play with!

I chuckled plenty while reading this story but you should know that although it's a rom-com, and there are many amusing scenes, it's not all laughter and light. There are some deeply traumatic issues dealt with in the book and some very emotional scenes. Also, some of the humor is a bit on the caustic side and some of Adi's behavior in the first half of the book leaves ethics hanging on the edge. However, nothing went far enough to turn me off and the story kept my interest intact throughout.  

The characters are very well developed, multi-layered, flawed, and interesting. I was invested in their happiness and enjoyed their evolution, especially Adi's. Her character had some significant growing to do and Schorr guided her through it with impressive skill. Without going into details (spoilers), I'll just say that her character encounters more than a few potholes, and some significant self-reflection, on the path to her long-wished-for happy ending and, never fear, she does achieve it in the end. Finn also has some growing to do and a closely held secret that impacts his life and any relationships he attempts to form, but I liked him and rooted for him. Content note: there is a confrontation scene in this story involving a disruptive person in Finn's life that may be difficult for some readers. 

Over all, this was a book I enjoyed reading and characters I became invested in, with a heart-tugging Gilmore Girls vibe, and a quirky homage to those feel-good movies I rarely miss. It's also a reminder that the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence and that sometimes the happiness you're looking for just might be in your own back yard. 

If you could spend a week in a Hallmark town, who would you choose to be? The plucky heroine? Wise, advice-dispensing senior citizen? Or, maybe, you'd like the chance to play the role of devious, money-grubbing villain. Wouldn't that be fun! 

One person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, June 22 will receive a print copy of As Seen on TV.

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

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Review - - Flirting with Fifty

Flirting with Fifty
by Jane Porter
Modern Love - Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

A sexy and sparkling later-in-life contemporary romance about a woman who leaps out of her comfort zone and takes a chance on love by 
New York Times bestselling author Jane Porter.

Paige Newsom is finally at a place in her life where she’s comfortable. She loves her job as a college professor in Southern California, lives close enough to her mother to visit her regularly, and has three daughters who are flourishing in their own careers. Paige has no plans to upend her life again after her divorce eight years ago, but she’s about to embark on a new adventure: co-teaching a course that includes a three-week international field study.
Paige can think of a dozen reasons why she shouldn’t go, one being a dazzling Australian biologist who will be teaching alongside her. Professor Jack King is charismatic, a world traveler, and more like Indiana Jones than Indiana Jones, all of which unsettles Paige, who prides herself on being immune to any man’s charms. She isn’t looking for love, and it turns out, neither is he. But as the two co-professors lead the rigorous program together, first on campus, then in beautiful Tanzania, their biggest challenge will be working closely together while resisting the undeniable chemistry they feel when they’re with each other.

PJ's Thoughts:

Are you, like me, a reader of "a certain age" aching for romances featuring characters with some life experience? Characters who think they've reached the age where new love is a closed door rather than an exciting rainbow of possibilities? Characters so firmly entrenched in their comfort zone that the thought of trying something new sends their anxieties into a tailspin, if it even occurs to them? Characters who discover it's never too late to open your mind - and heart - to the joys of new beginnings? If any of these pique your interest, do I have a book for you!

Flirting with Fifty is a gem of a story that I didn't want to put down. These characters were so well developed and relatable. I wanted to be friends with Paige...and Jack! I was immediately invested in them, their relationship, and their futures...hopefully, together. Porter used a deft hand in creating them, balancing hopes and fears, old regrets and new possibilities. She didn't shy away from the emotional baggage both carried and how that affected their abilities to move forward, how it impacted the way they viewed relationships. Their journey was a slow burn that felt realistic and appropriate for where they were in their lives, especially for Paige. I loved the friendship that developed between them, the mutual respect, the caring. I especially appreciated Jack's responses to Paige's insecurities and doubts. I also enjoyed how their family relationships and friendships were interwoven into their romantic journey. Again, so realistic and relatable for a couple in their fifties, with adult children, and complicated relationships in their past. 

The scenes in Tanzania were some of my favorites in the book. Porter's descriptions brought the scenery, culture, animals, and people of that country to life for me. And the unexpected impact the trip had on Paige had me reading, and rereading, passages as my heart twisted, then bloomed, with the incredible depth of emotion. So many feelings.

Porter will be returning with another "mature" romance this fall when secondary character, Andi, widowed for five years, has a chance for a second love with grumpy military vet, Wolf. The excerpt at the back of Flirting with Fifty has me drooling in anticipation and the cover? Yes, please! Flirting with the Beast is scheduled to be released November 29, just in time for some snowed-in-forced-proximity Christmas reading fun. 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Review - - Jock Wanted

Jock Wanted
by Kate Meader
Rookie Rebels - Book 7
Publisher: Kate Meader LLC
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

She has her heart set on a hockey player.

Any hockey player.

When the new general manager of the Chicago Rebels tasks Tara Becker with faking it with one of his players to help clean up the naughty jock's act, she's all over it. She'll make that misbehaving hunk of muscle look good and get her dream guy into the bargain.

Only the path from fake to real is riddled with thorns . . .

New Rebels GM Hale Fitzpatrick thinks ditzy blonde and wannabe WAG Tara is the perfect solution to his PR problem - until she isn't. Soon Fitz realizes that maybe he doesn't have control of the strings after all . . . especially when he starts to fall for his pretty little puppet.

A fake relationship hockey romance - with a twist!

PJ's Thoughts:

There's a reason Kate Meader is an auto-buy for me. It doesn't matter how many times she returns to a place (Chicago), an organization (the Rebels), or a group of characters (hockey playing teammates), each story in the original Rebels series as well as the subsequent Rookie Rebels series is fresh, engaging, and addictive as all get out.

I'm fascinated by those one-dimension, (seemingly) throwaway secondary characters who change the rules when they hit the page. That's the impression Tara made on me when first introduced in Foreplayer (Rookie Rebels - Book 4). But gradually, over time, she has shown glimpses of being more than a one-note gold digger and made me begin to wonder if, possibly, there could be more to her than we know? It all comes full circle in Jock Wanted as Meader skillfully begins to unveil the layers and secrets that give this intriguing character the depths that no one imagined. From scorned girlfriend to gold-digging hockey groupie to solid friend, savvy businesswoman, and fully-dimensional character I was happy to root for, Tara is the highlight of this series that I wasn't expecting...but am oh, so happy Ms. Meader gave us!

Then there's Fitz, or Hale, as only Tara calls him. ::deep sigh:: Could the author have created a more perfect counterpart for Tara? I don't think so! What a kind, considerate, sexy man he is at his core. These two gave me so much joy during their up-and-down, push-and-pull journey. The chemistry, the friction, the snappy banter, the confusing attraction, the yearning, the caring, the steam. Oh yes, the steam. So good!

Of course, other Rebels and their partners weave in and out of the story, supporting, meddling, gently nudging, and otherwise helping the story progress. It's always fun when these characters get together. I love catching up with them and there's always plenty of humor but I also appreciate that while Meader allows them to enhance the story, she doesn't allow them to distract from the main couple. This is most definitely Fitz's and Tara's story. I loved it. 

Jock Wanted is the seventh book in Kate Meader's Rookie Rebels series. It can be enjoyed as a standalone but I feel readers will have a better understanding of Tara, her relationships with others, and her growth as a character if they have at least read Foreplayer (book 4).   

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Review & Giveaway - - Never a Duke

Never a Duke
by Grace Burrowes
Rogues to Riches - Book 7
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: April 26, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Ned Wentworth will be forever grateful to the family that plucked him from the streets and gave him a home, even though polite society still whispers years later about his questionable past. Precisely because of Ned’s connections in low places, Lady Rosalind Kinwood approaches him to help her find a lady’s maid who has disappeared.

Rosalind is too opinionated—and too intelligent—and has frequently suffered judgment at the hands of polite society. Despite her family’s disdain for Ned, Rosalind finds he 
listens to her and respects her. Then too, his kisses are exquisite. As the investigation of the missing maids becomes more dangerous, both Ned and Rosalind will have to risk everything—including their hearts—if they are to share the happily ever after that Mayfair’s matchmakers have begrudged them both.

PJ's Thoughts:

Ned Wentworth has to be one of the most endearing heroes I've ever read. I adored him. And that's without experiencing his back story in the first six books of the series. I can only imagine how much deeper my affection for this character will be once I've read those other books. And I will be reading them! Meeting the couples from the earlier books in Never a Duke has guaranteed that. 

It was going to take a strong, special heroine to convince Ned that he deserved a happy ending and Rosalind was just that. I loved how her values lined up with his. I loved the chemistry and banter between them. Burrowes' dialogue simply sparkled and there was plenty of it. These two talked, often, and about a variety of topics from the lighthearted to the deeply emotional. It was a wonderful way for them to get to know one another while working to find the missing maids, unveiling hidden depths - and surprises - about each of them. I loved the respect between them, the genuine affection (they liked each other), Ned's determination to protect Rosalind, and the way she supported and defended him. I loved how she defended him! 

Secondary characters were plentiful in this book with Ned's adopted family members (meddling but good people) sharing the spotlight with Rosalind's greedy, cold-hearted ones. I do love a well-developed villain and Burrowes gave readers one in particular who was easy to despise. 

Never a Duke is the final book in a seven-book series with many characters from the earlier books having significant page time in this last story. Kudos to the author for creating a story that never left me confused or out of the loop. Instead of feeling like I was missing something, meeting the earlier couples so important to Ned's life only made them more intriguing, and me more eager to read their stories. Speaking of which...

Do I have an incredible giveaway for you! Grand Central Publishing (Forever) has generously offered print copies of all seven books in this series to one person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, June 22. If the first six books are even half as good as the seventh, they will be incredible. 

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

So, tell me...

Have you read any Grace Burrowes books yet?

Do you read a series in order or jump in wherever is most convenient?

Who is the last hero who captured your affections or the last heroine who had you cheering?

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Review - - The Friendship Pact

The Friendship Pact
by Jill Shalvis
Sunrise Cove -  Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Alone in the world, Tae Holmes and her mother April pretty much raised each other, but as Tae starts asking questions about the father she’s never met, April, for the first time in her life, goes silent. To make matters worse, Tae is dangerously close to broke and just manages to avoid financial meltdown when she lands a shiny new contract with an adventure company for athletes with disabilities and wounded warriors.

Her first big fundraiser event falls flat, but what starts out as a terrible, horrible, no-good night turns into something else entirely when Tae finds herself face-to-face with Riggs Copeland. She hasn’t seen the former Marine since their brief fling in high school, and while still intensely drawn to him, she likes her past burned and buried, thank you very much. Hence their friendship pact.

But when April oddly refuses to help Tae track down her father, it’s Riggs who unexpectedly comes to her aid. On a hunt to unlock the past, the two of them find themselves on a wild ride and learn a shocking truth, while also reluctantly bonding in a way neither had seen coming. Now Tae must decide whether she’s going to choose love … or walk away from her own happiness.

PJ's Thoughts:

So many layers. So many feels. This is a romance, yes, but also much more. Shalvis seamlessly weaves together multiple relationships and plot threads into a story that pulled me in and kept me eagerly turning pages. I loved the slow-burn, second-chance romance between Riggs and Tae but the various family relationships were just as impactful. 
I enjoy couples who share a significant moment as teens then go their separate ways, only to be unexpectedly reunited years later, especially when weighty baggage is being carried by both. I enjoyed the fact that both Tae and Riggs were complex, flawed characters. The chemistry that had ignited between them was still there but the road forward was filled with emotional potholes. Shalvis made them work hard for their happily ever after. I loved it.
The family relationships in this book were a vital part of the makeup of Tae and Riggs. Tae's co-dependent relationship with her mother, a woman only 15 years older and still searching for her identity, was a critical piece of Tae's evolution as well as April's (her mother). April's journey, decisions she made as a teen, and the fallout when an unexpected character enters the picture, were important parts of the story that impact April, Tae, and even Riggs. 
Then there's the relationship between Riggs and his brother, a landmine of emotions with a troubled history but love at its core. Shalvis nailed the dynamic between the brothers, the antagonism, the guilt, the tenuous unspoken hope, and the love that won't be denied.
Some of my favorite parts of the story were scenes involving the company co-owned by Riggs and his brother, an organization that offered recreational opportunities and hope to injured veterans and at risk youth. Shalvis brought each of the characters in those scenes to vibrant life, engaging my emotions and making me want to sign up to volunteer today. I love how she makes me care deeply about even secondary characters. 
The Friendship Pact is the second book in the Sunrise Cove series but, really, the only connection between the two is the setting of Lake Tahoe. The books stand completely on their own and can be read in any order. Add this one to your summer reading list. I highly recommend it.