Review

Written in the Stars

Written in the Stars

By: Alexandria Bellefleur

Blurb:

After a disastrous blind date, Darcy Lowell is desperate to stop her well-meaning brother from playing matchmaker ever again. Love—and the inevitable heartbreak—is the last thing she wants. So she fibs and says her latest set up was a success. Darcy doesn’t expect her lie to bite her in the ass.

Elle Jones, one of the astrologers behind the popular Twitter account, Oh My Stars, dreams of finding her soul mate. But she knows it is most assuredly not Darcy… a no-nonsense stick-in-the-mud, who is way too analytical, punctual, and skeptical for someone as free-spirited as Elle. When Darcy’s brother—and Elle’s new business partner—expresses how happy he is that they hit it off, Elle is baffled. Was Darcy on the same date? Because… awkward.

When Darcy begs Elle to play along, she agrees to pretend they’re dating to save face. But with a few conditions: Darcy must help Elle navigate her own overbearing family over the holidays and their arrangement expires on New Year’s Eve. The last thing they expect is to develop real feelings during a fake relationship.

But maybe opposites can attract when true love is written in the stars?

Review:

I was not expecting to love Written in the Stars as much as I did. I figured if I were lucky, it would be cute, but I expected to be put off by the astrologist. As much as I enjoy looking at the occasional horoscope, it’s not something that I believe in. I expected Elle to be super flighty and borderline stupid. I had low expectations that Bellefleur would be able to sell the relationship. I was wrong.

Elle is an astrologist, but you never get the impression that she’s anything less than passionate, driven, and smart. She knows who she is as a person, and she likes herself. She does what makes her happy, and she’s found a way to make a living at it. She’s living the dream, except for being unable to find her soul mate.

Meanwhile, Darcy is two years out of a bad relationship. She’s closed herself off, and the last thing she wants is to fall in love. She keeps going on dates only because she loves her brother so much and wants to make him happy. Even that has its limits, though, and she convinces Elle that faking a relationship will help them both. If it weren’t for the obvious sparks flying between the characters, the fake relationship wouldn’t have worked because there was almost nothing in it for Elle.

They were beautiful together. In the In Death series, there’s an older couple, Dr. Mira and her husband, Dr. Mira (I don’t remember their first names, lol). They’re both brilliant but pretty different in personality. However, you never doubt how much they feel for each other. I could see Elle and Darcy becoming like them. It was adorable.

There is nothing on Goodreads about this being a series, but there were a couple of characters that could conceivably be written about, Darcy’s brother, Elle’s roommate, and Darcy’s best friend. I would definitely read them if they’re written. Especially since I’m hoping there’ll be peeks at Elle and Darcy. The book ended a bit abruptly, and I want to know more about what happens to them.

5/5

Murder on Cold Street (Lady Sherlock #5)

Murder on Cold Street (Lady Sherlock #5)

By: Sherry Thomas

Blurb:

Inspector Treadles, Charlotte Holmes’s friend and collaborator, has been found locked in a room with two dead men, both of whom worked with his wife at the great manufacturing enterprise she has recently inherited.

Rumors fly. Had Inspector Treadles killed the men because they had opposed his wife’s initiatives at every turn? Had he killed in a fit of jealous rage, because he suspected Mrs. Treadles of harboring deeper feelings for one of the men? To make matters worse, he refuses to speak on his own behalf, despite the overwhelming evidence against him.

Charlotte finds herself in a case strewn with lies and secrets. But which lies are to cover up small sins, and which secrets would flay open a past better left forgotten? Not to mention, how can she concentrate on these murders, when Lord Ingram, her oldest friend and sometime lover, at last dangles before her the one thing she has always wanted?

Review:

Out of all the Sherlock spinoffs I’ve read, admittedly, there haven’t been many, the Lady Sherlock series is my favorite. So far, I’ve enjoyed each book, and after five books, the series has not dipped at all in quality.

Murder on Cold Street picks up right after the previous book. Charlotte and her crew have had next to no time to recover from everything that happened in France when they learn that their old inspector friend has been arrested and will be charged with two murders. It’s all very dramatic and mysterious, precisely what you want in this type of story.

Charlotte doesn’t waste any time starting her investigation. You know that he didn’t do it, but the question is will she be able to solve the mystery in time. This is always a fun story, though, it was also used in a previous book.

Inspector Treadles is sort of on the outs with Charlotte and co. He found out that she was, in fact, the great detective and not her make-believe brother. Treadles has very firm ideas about what women can and cannot do, which has also hurt his marriage. It’s actually his marriage that pushes him to reevaluate how he thinks, and I love that about him. One of my favorite parts of previous books was seeing the brief glimpses into his relationship with his wife. They were the one couple that seemed like they were in a happy relationship.

Treadles’ relationship with his wife was a central focus of the story, but Charlotte’s relationship with Lord Ingram was also progressed. This has been developing throughout the series, but it looks like things are starting to happen now. No more dancing around. Reading the couple’s reactions to each other made me smile.

I appreciated Thomas’ inclusion of Lord Ingram, realizing the amount of privilege he has as a man of power. He could see how much harder Charlotte and Mrs. Treadles had it. However, I appreciated even more Charlotte’s realization of the privilege she had as a white woman when compared to a character that was a biracial woman. Those conversations and insights pushed Murder on Cold Street to be one of my favorites of the series.

5/5

In a Holidaze

In a Holidaze

By: Christina Lauren

Blurb:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

Review:

In a Holidaze is a Christmas Groundhogs day story, two things that I love, so I was particularly excited to read it. I was hoping for a bit more Groundhogs day than I got, unfortunately.

Maelyn does her best not to make waves. She wants to make sure everyone else is comfortable, sometimes at her own expense. She’s also a stickler for tradition. When everything seems to go wrong at her usual family Christmas vacation, she finds herself reliving the entire trip. It wasn’t until she decided to say f-it, I’m going to do what I want when things started to go right. I was actually a bit disappointed by that. I wanted more times through, but at the same time, I was annoyed at how obvious what she needed to do was.

Andrew, Maelyn’s love interest, seemed like a good guy. She’d had a crush on him for half of her life, but he had her firmly in the little sister category. Things, of course, changed in that department. Their intimate scenes were closer to fade to black than explicit, which was fine.

In a Holidaze was a fine book. It just needed to be punched up in a couple of plot areas. There was a large cast of characters, and they didn’t all get the time they deserved. They seemed interesting and were fleshed out, but several didn’t contribute much to the story. I was also disappointed in the handling of Andrew’s brother, Theo.

It was a cute holiday book and, with the right expectations, enjoyable.

3/5

Witchmark

Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle #1)

By: C.L. Polk

Blurb:

In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.

Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.

When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.

Review:

It took me a couple of weeks to get into Witchmark. Not because there’s anything wrong with the book; I just wasn’t in a reading mood. Once I did, though I was all in, telling my kids to leave mommy alone so she can read.

Miles Singer was born with the ability to heal. The only power valued in his country is the ability to control storms. Since he doesn’t have that power and is part of one of the country’s wealthiest families, his choice is to forever bond with a storm mage so that they can basically use him as a battery. For obvious reasons, he’s not a fan of that, however if the general public find out that he’s a witch he’ll be locked away in an asylum. So he runs away as a young man.

We meet him years later after he’s served in a war and become a shadow of himself. His desire to heal is constantly warring with his desire not to be found and brought back to his family. Things change, and I’m reminded why life as a kind person who cares about others above all is filled with constant disappointment.

Anyway, Miles is pulled into a mystery that has implications across his entire country. He’s also dealing with the mystery of what’s happening to the men coming back from war. It’s a tangled web that I wasn’t able to figure out until the end. Bits and pieces were obvious, and I still don’t trust his sister, but the big reveal wasn’t what I thought it would be.

Witchmark was a great story, and I’m so glad that The Midnight Bargain wasn’t a fluke. I really like C.L. Polk, and I’m excited to read the next books in the Kingston Cycle.

4.5/5

Snapped (Playbook #4)

Snapped (Playbook #4)

By: Alexa Martin

Blurb:

With the stakes this high, it’s no longer just a game for the quarterback in this romance by the author of Blitzed.

Elliot Reed is living her best life—or pretending to. She owes it to her dad’s memory to be happy and make the most of her new job as Strategic Communications Manager for the Denver Mustangs. Things are going well until star quarterback Quinton Howard Jr. decides to use the field as his stage and becomes the first player to take a knee during the national anthem.

As the son of a former professional athlete, Quinton knows the good, the bad, and the ugly about football. He’s worked his entire life to gain recognition in the sport, and now that he has it, he’s not about to waste his chance to change the league for better. Not even the brilliant but infuriating Elliot, who the Mustangs assign to manage him, will get Quinton back in line.

A rocky initial meeting only leads to more tension between Quinton and Elliot. But as her new job forces them to spend time together, she realizes they may have more in common than she could’ve ever imagined. With her job and his integrity on the line, this is one coin toss that nobody can win.

Review:

I seriously thought I’d already written and posted this review. The holiday season has me all messed up.

Snapped was the book I most expected from a series based on football players, but also the one I feared the most. There is so much going on in the real world, and it could have so easily been done poorly. I think that Martin did the best job a romance book could accomplish. I was impressed.

Elliot has suffered a significant loss with the death of her only parent. She struggles to cope with that almost a year later and has buried herself in her job. She is biracial and has felt torn in two her entire life. One of her defenses is ignoring certain things.

Quinton is living his own nightmare but refuses to back down. He’s got a platform, and he’s going to use it to the best of his ability. He’s a pretty great hero. He’s not pushy, he knows his own mind, and he doesn’t want Elliot to change. He just needs her to stop ignoring certain things.

They worked well together. Their romance was subtle at first, considering Elliot didn’t think he liked her. Once it got going, it was full-on because, at that point, they’d become friends. I like friends to lovers, so I enjoyed that a lot.

I’m not sure if there’s going to be a book after this one. There isn’t any unmarried person in the book that stood out as a possibility for another story. However, one couple is experiencing issues that I would love to see a story about. A short story, at least. If that doesn’t happen, Snapped was an excellent book to go out on.

4/5