REVIEW: Babycakes by Donna Kauffman

Kit Bellamy is going through a rough time.  She’s just had her family business taken away from her…by her sister’s husband.  And the family home she loved so much, has been lost to the bank.  With no job, no home, and now no family, Kit is looking to get out of Atlanta as fast as possible.  And re-build her life in Sugarberry Island.  In this third installment of the Cupcake Club by Donna Kauffman, the ladies are at it again.  Working hard to fix each others’ lives AND make the best cupcakes this side of the Mississippi Delta.  And yes, Alva is back, bossier than ever!  Kit moves to Sugarberry and promptly starts work at Lani’s bakery.  And finds herself hard at work, building up Lani’s brand new Online business.  But just as Kit starts to settle in, she realizes that she’s not the only new resident in town.  Morgan Westlake and his orphaned niece have moved in to escape the claws of his family in Atlanta.  Morgan is a compassionate environmental lawyer who is now raising his niece after his brother and sister-in-law died in a car crash.  And he’s damn good-looking too. But unfortunately for Kit, he is also a Westlake.  The powerful family that helped to take Kit’s business away from her.  As you can imagine, Kit and Morgan spend the whole time trying to negotiate that awful incident with their burgeoning love affair.  For this installment, Donna Kauffman gives us a more somber story than previous books.  Between the deaths of little Lilly’s parents, and Kit losing her family, it feels like a book that belongs in a different series.  Despite the oh-so-familiar characters sprinkled throughout.  But don’t let that turn you off.  Kauffman still weaves an interesting tale.  That encourages the reader to really root for Kit and Morgan.  It did take me awhile to get into the rhythm of reading such a dialogue heavy novel.  That was something I wasn’t used to.  But I was still able to enjoy Kit and Morgan’s unlikely love story.  And I got some really great recipes out of the book as well.  This is chick lit worth reading.

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REVIEW: Harbinger by Peta Crake

I hate running errands.  Really, I do.  I hate having to leave the comfort of my home, with my tub full of Baskin Robbins and my ridiculously large television set.  Just to travel to the dreaded Post office, or crowded grocery store, or some other place that insists on taking my money against my will.  So the idea of running errands for a living makes me want to lay down and sleep for a very, very long time.  But that is exactly what our heroine does every day of her life.  Harbinger from first time novelist Peta Crake tells the story of Ophelia Lind, an Olympic messenger, working for the gorgeous and reprehensible Hermes.  Yes kids.  This is yet another fantasy series that pulls from Greek mythology.  Don’t groan.  Just wait.  Anyhoo, Ophelia’s going about her normal, busy life.  When the godly Aden moves into her neighborhood, and turns her life upside down.  And, of course, hijinks ensue (no, not really).  What really ensues is a dark tale of pain and deception that Ophelia must endure to find a missing friend.  Since this is Peta Crake’s first novel, there are a few holes in the mythology that play out here.  But that is to be expected from a new novelist.  Even JK Rowling screwed up with her Flint character.  You shouldn’t read this book for the mythology of it anyway.  You should read this book for the main character.  Ophelia Lind is not quite Lisbeth Salandar, but she’s damn close.  Like Lisbeth, Ophelia takes abuse heaped upon her from all sides, but manages to come out swinging.  It takes a particularly strong character to take the best punches from gods and goddesses.  And survive to tell the tale.   I also like the fact that this was set in Australia.  It’s not the usual location for these kinds of stories.  So it added a refreshing element to the book.  I can’t wait to see where Crake takes us in the next installment of Ophelia’s story.  This is chick lit worth reading.

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REVIEW: Reflected In You by Sylvia Day

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I am exhausted.  After reading the highly anticipated 2nd installment of Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series, I feel like I’ve been through three brutal divorces, and one spousal death.  That’s how emotionally turbulent this book is.   In this latest chapter of Gideon and Eva’s love story, Gideon and Eva stumble to further their relationship, while dealing with a myriad of outside obstacles.  As readers will remember, both characters were at some point in their lives physically abused.  And because of that shared trauma, Sylvia Day takes us through an honest portrait of how hard it is for 2 abused people to sustain a healthy relationship.  And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.  Gideon and Eva would take 1 step forward only to take 2 huge steps back.  But they kept trying… and trying… and trying.  Until they AND the audience were just too tired.  But despite Day’s focus on their relationship, Reflected In You is really Eva’s story.  Day examines the depth of her insecurities.  And how it manifests itself in jealousy, low self-esteem, and self-sabotage.  To say that she is a complicated heroine is an understatement.  I was really rooting for Eva.  And although Sylvia Day did not resolve all of Eva’s issues, I did feel that she managed to move Eva forward in reclaiming part of herself lost to her childhood trauma.  My only complaint is that with the focus on Eva, there just wasn’t enough Gideon for me.  I get why the author made that choice.  I just didn’t like it.  I need my Gideon Cross fix.  He is rich.  He is sexy.  And he is a helluva lover.  My other critique is the lack of any real D/s elements.  I get Sylvia Day’s restraint in not including those elements in the book.  Since Gideon and Eva just aren’t at a place they can be to safely explore that kind of relationship.  But Day is the one that presented Gideon as a Dominant, and revealed his desire to have Eva as his submissive.  Hopefully, we will see more oh-so-sexy Gideon, and the D/s relationship he really wants with Eva.  Since this is definitely chick lit worth reading, I can’t wait until the 3rd installment, Entwined With You, comes out at the end of the year.

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REVIEW: The Angel by Tiffany Reisz

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Tiffany Reisz is messing with my mind.  She is.  I swear she is.  She’s sitting somewhere with her fingers steepled under her chin, grinning like a cheshire cat, and wondering just how confused and frustrated I will be after reading the most recent installment of her Sinners erotica series.  Well, Tiffany, I’m very confused.  I’m very frustrated.  And I am very, very happy about it.  In this wonderfully annoying novel, Nora and all her kinky cronies are back.  Including the enigmatic and super-sexy Søren, the beautifully shy Michael, and the über wealthy Kingsley Edge.   The story picks up with Nora and Søren resuming their D/s relationship.  But before we can fully appreciate what that is, an attractive reporter comes digging for dirt in the midst of a possible promotion for Søren.  And Nora and Michael must go into hiding to protect Søren and all of their dark and twisty secrets.  Now I can’t go in to all the twists and turns that Reisz lays out in the book.  Because there are simply too many, and she’s too good of a writer to give anything away.  But I can tell you my head was spinning with all the different turns each character took in this book, especially Søren.  I hated Søren. I couldn’t stand him in the first book.  I didn’t understand his power. I couldn’t understand the appeal for Nora.  Or why she went back to him in the end.  But then Reisz pulled back the layers to Søren.  And I was forced to rethink everything I’d assumed about him.  I’m still not convinced that Nora should end up with Søren.  But I appreciate her attraction much better after reading this.  And if that wasn’t enough, Tiffany Reiz throws another curveball with the character of Michael.  Even though he was introduced in The Siren, readers didn’t get any real sense of who he was or how he would fit into this world.  But Reiz lays out an extremely compelling story for Michael and his journey of self-discovery.  One that I found a joy to read.  Of course, by the end of the book, I still had more questions than answers.  But I assume that’s exactly what Tiffany wanted.  And I am happy with whatever she wants to give me. This is certainly what you would call chick lit worth reading.

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REVIEW: Heiress Behind The Headlines by Caitlin Crews

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I have to confess. I’ve never read a Harlequin Presents romance before.  I know that sounds like sacrilege.  And I honestly don’t know how that happened.  But once I realized it, I wanted to correct that over site as quickly as possible.  I found them to be fun reads, with heroines I willingly rooted for.  The romances were wonderfully rom-com like in their dealings with the 2 leads.  And when I saw this title on Netgalley, I expected the same kind of experience.  I was wrong. I was very wrong.  Heiress Behind The Headlines tells the story of Larissa Whitley.  A screwed-up, at-the-end-of-her-rope heiress, who escapes her family and New York City.  And unwittingly runs smack dab in to the one who got away.  Jack Sutton is everything his family expects him to be; responsible.  And when he sees Larissa Whitley invade his small town life, he does everything he can to kick her out.  And obviously, sparks ensue.  Less obvious was the character of Larissa Whitley.  Based on the short blurb, I thought this would be a Paris Hilton type learns to be a good person story.  But Larissa was much more fully realized than that.  She was damaged, physically broken, and utterly irreverent.  Just when you thought her crushed spirit couldn’t take anymore, she’d come out swinging…hard.  I loved her.  She was all twisted up inside, and your heart went out to her.  Jack Sutton was less interesting than Larissa, but still big and bold enough to be worthy of her.  I would have liked a bit more plot.  But the character study of Larissa Whitley was good enough to keep me interested all the way through.  And it kept me thinking about all that had happened to her, long after I put the book down.  This was a good, solid read.

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REVIEW: Risking It All by Jennifer Schmidt

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I love this book.  I really love this book.  I love the characters.  I love the story.  I love the conflict.  But in the interest of full disclosure,  I have to admit I’ve always been a sucker for the bestfriends-turned-lovers romance.  And that had me smiling from page 1. Jennifer Schmidt crafts an exciting love story between two best friends since college, Kennedy Monroe and Memphis Adams.  Kennedy is the typical American chick lit heroine.  She’s smart, talented, and gorgeous.  And doesn’t realize any of it.  Memphis is the typical chick lit hero.  He initially appears as Mr. Casanova, but as the story progresses we realize there’s more to him than meets the eye.   And as you can guess, a lot of sex, love, and fighting ensues.  Schmidt does a very good job in keeping us interested and invested in Kennedy and Memphis’s love story.  And by the end of the book, I felt like I knew these characters.  And I was genuinely interested in how they ended up.  But there are a few problems with the book.  Some of Kennedy’s self-doubt goes on a bit longer than necessary.  There’s a conflict implied between two businessmen in Alaska that never really pays off.  And the book could have been a tiny bit shorter.  But despite its flaws, there’s so much to this book to love, you don’t really mind.  And that bathroom scene is Hot City!  I enjoyed reading Jennifer Schmidt’s previous book, The Last Call.  And I’m happy to see that she’s not just continuing her writing, but really making it chick lit worth reading.

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REVIEW: Much Ado About Nothing by Shanna Swendson

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4 years.  That’s how long I’ve been waiting for the conclusion of Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted, Inc. series.  I missed Katie Chandler.  I missed Owen Palmer.  And I missed the myriad of characters populating Swendson’s world.  And just when I’d come to terms with not knowing how these characters would end up, Shanna Swendson’s 5th book of the series pops up on NetGalley.  And all was well with the world.  In this final installment, Katie is at it again.  Not only is she drafted to save Enchanted, Inc. by coming up with a stellar marketing strategy her first day back on the job.  But she has to help her super-wizardy, super-hot boyfriend, Owen Palmer, fight against the current crime wave crippling New York City.  As with any long-awaited final installment of a series, there are certain questions the reader expects to be answered.  What is Owen’s true parentage?  Will he and Katie end up together?  And who is really behind the plot to takeover the magical world?  Thankfully, Shanna Swendson answers all those questions.  And overall, I enjoyed reading this book.  It felt like sitting down with an old friend, I hadn’t spoken to in years.  There’s a certain amount of awkwardness in the beginning.  But after a time, there’s a comfortable rhythm you settle into.  Even though I REALLY did not like the end of Owen’s storyline (side eyes Shanna),  I thoroughly enjoyed everything else.  Kudos to Swendson for writing chick lit worth reading.

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