Romance

The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska #1)

The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska #1)

By: Sarah Morgenthaler

Blurb:

He had a strict “no tourists” policy…
Until she broke all of his rules.

When Graham Barnett named his diner The Tourist Trap, he meant it as a joke. Now he’s stuck slinging reindeer dogs to an endless parade of resort visitors who couldn’t interest him less. Not even the sweet, enthusiastic tourist in the corner who blushes every time he looks her way…

Two weeks in Alaska isn’t just the top item on Zoey Caldwell’s bucket list. It’s the whole bucket. One look at the mountain town of Moose Springs and she’s smitten. But when an act of kindness brings Zoey into Graham’s world, she may just find there’s more to the grumpy local than meets the eye…and more to love in Moose Springs than just the Alaskan wilderness. 

Review:

So, this book was on my to-read list, but my library didn’t have it. I was hoping they’d get it eventually, but then I got a lovely email letting me know it was on sale. I am so glad I went ahead and bought it.

Zoey is a waitress that has scrimped and saved for ten years to have her dream vacation. Who hasn’t dreamed about going to Alaska?? Finally there and on the first day, she meets Graham. It wasn’t quite love at first sight, definitely not for her, but I could see Graham being convinced of it pretty easily.

Graham about made the book for me. He would say these goofy super sweet things, and it would make me cry. He was an artist, went to art school, and dropped out because he wasn’t good enough. He was just quirky enough to be endearing, and the only reason someone hadn’t already snatched him up was that he lived in a small town in Alaska.

One of my favorite parts of Zoey was how unpredictable she could be. She was poor and made decisions accordingly, but she could also be impulsive. She could be shy, but then say something that would catch Graham off guard. They made an impossibly cute couple, and I ended up crying through the book. I love them.

The background characters were interesting enough that I’m hoping for multiple books in the series. Since there are already two books up for pre-order, it looks like those hopes are going to be realized.

The Tourist Attraction is easily one of my favorite books of the year. I’m already thinking about re-reading it, and I’m beyond excited that I don’t have long to wait for the sequel. If the series ends up being as good as this book, it will end up being one I re-read a lot.

5/5

One to Watch

One to Watch

By: Kate Stayman-London

Blurb:

Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers–and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?

Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition–under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful anti-fat beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.

But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, razor-sharp debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men–and herself–for a chance to live happily ever after.

Review:

I’ve got some thoughts about One to Watch. First, I want to say I did enjoy the book, but I’m leaning toward not giving it above a three-star. Second, I cried a fair amount while reading this book. Probably more than your average reader. I’m a crier, but this also hit some body image issues I have so fair warning.

Bea is a plus-sized fashion influencer. Initially, she comes off as very confident and sure of herself, but that is completely obliterated once the story starts. She’s spent a significant portion of her adult years obsessed with a man that ends up using her. At first, I wasn’t sure if he was using her or if she saw more into things. Then, when things are cleared up, I end up being less sympathetic to Bea. That all happens pretty early on, so she had an uphill battle for me.

I’ve never watched the Bachelor or any show like it. I’m aware of them. I know the general premise. It’s just not the type of show that appeals to me. That being said, if it’s like what this book is and if I had people to watch it with, people like the book shows through snippets, I could see myself getting into it. Potentially.

The decisions made by the show regarding dates and men seemed pretty realistic, especially their rating obsessed decisions. My main problem there was that Bea was always so forgiving to the producer. Forgiving is the wrong word. Bea seemed to be acting like Lauren was her friend a lot of the time. There was no reason why Bea should have acted that way. By the end, it seemed like the author was setting it up for the sequel to be about Lauren. Not a fan.

I will say that I had a hard time figuring out who Bea would wind up with. It was obvious who she wasn’t going to end up with, but the other side was harder to figure out. Mainly because the author was going out of her way to make it that way. Bea would have misgivings about someone but still pursue them, and then their issue would be revealed. It should have been obvious who she would wind up with, but she had pangs of uncertainty and trouble believing everyone.

I found the ending to be a little underwhelming. I’m assuming if this had been a reality show, I would have been thoroughly entertained, but I was just glad of the way the author wrote it because it minimized the awkwardness. Obviously, Bea ended up with one of the men. She had a connection with him, but because of the format of the show, she barely spent any time with him. She had connections with multiple men to the point where I wondered if she would choose more than one. I hate love triangles, so I would have enjoyed it more if it went that way.

I guess my issue with the book is that the reality show format is not something that appeals to me. My main focus when picking this book up was that it had a plus-sized heroine front and center. Maybe if there had been more romance and had less time having Bea doubt herself and men being absolute horrors to her, I would have enjoyed it more. I don’t know. Once again, I felt like the blurb promised me one thing, but the book gave me something else entirely.

My feelings for the book are complicated. I had no issues with the writing style. I really enjoyed the bits in between from social media. Loved the inclusion of Chris Evans. I ended up not being a fan of a lot of significant parts, though. After writing this review, I’m not even sure I enjoyed it anymore. I’m bummed now.

2/5

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows (Feminine Pursuits #2)

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows (Feminine Pursuits #2)

By: Olivia Waite

Blurb:

When Agatha Griffin finds a colony of bees in her warehouse, it’s the not-so-perfect ending to a not-so-perfect week. Busy trying to keep her printing business afloat amidst rising taxes and the suppression of radical printers like her son, the last thing the widow wants is to be the victim of a thousand bees. But when a beautiful beekeeper arrives to take care of the pests, Agatha may be in danger of being stung by something far more dangerous…

Penelope Flood exists between two worlds in her small seaside town, the society of rich landowners and the tradesfolk. Soon, tensions boil over when the formerly exiled Queen arrives on England’s shores—and when Penelope’s long-absent husband returns to Melliton, she once again finds herself torn, between her burgeoning love for Agatha and her loyalty to the man who once gave her refuge.

As Penelope finally discovers her true place, Agatha must learn to accept the changing world in front of her. But will these longing hearts settle for a safe but stale existence or will they learn to fight for the future they most desire?

Review:

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows was a slow burn romance. Once it got going though…shoo. The two heroines are in their mid-forties, which was a new one for me. Romances, at least the ones I’ve read, tend to be thirties and below. It was nice to see someone middle-aged get a second chance for love.

Agatha is bisexual. She’s a widow who loved her husband and loves her son. She works hard at the print shop she owns to provide for her family to keep them safe. It’s a very volatile period, especially for someone in her line of work. It was honestly very interesting to read about.

Penelope is a lesbian who has married a man who is in love with her brother. Her brother and husband sail the sea hunting whales, living the life of a married couple, while she stays at home alone. For the most part, it works for her, but she is lonely.

There’s an almost instant attraction for the couple, but because of the time and their personal histories neither woman is sure where the other stands. Lots of hinting and angst happen before things are able to progress.

They’re a cute couple, and there’s a lot of passion. I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the side characters, though. Penelope’s brother and husband were cute. Agatha’s son was annoying, and more often than not, I wanted to slap him. A character from the previous book made an appearance, but you don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy this one.

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows further cements my enjoyment of Olivia Waite. I pre-ordered it because I enjoyed The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics so much, and I was not disappointed. I will definitely be pre-ordering the next.

4.5/5

The Marriage Game

The Marriage Game

By: Sara Desai

Blurb:

A high stakes wager pits an aspiring entrepreneur against a ruthless CEO in this sexy romantic comedy.

After her life falls apart, recruitment consultant Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco. But in the eyes of her father, who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, she can do no wrong. He would do anything to see her smile again. With the best intentions in mind, he offers her the office upstairs to start her new business and creates a profile on an online dating site to find her a man. She doesn’t know he’s arranged a series of blind dates until the first one comes knocking on her door…

As CEO of a corporate downsizing company Sam Mehta is more used to conflict than calm. In search of a quiet new office, he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he’s forced to share his space with the owner’s beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.

Review:

Yeah, no, I was not a fan of The Marriage Game. It had everything to do with the hero. He was a complete ass. He walked around with a perpetual erection because the heroine’s boobs were bouncing, or her ass was just too much for him to handle. He was rude and demeaning from the minute he met her. He was controlling and bossy. He came off hostile a lot of the time too. I like an alpha male as long as he’s not domineering, and this dude had plenty of moments. A big no from me.

The only issue I had with the heroine was every interaction with the hero. She would argue, he would say something borderline misogynistic, and she would back down. She was searching for a husband, and you’d think after he crashed the first meeting she wouldn’t let him anywhere near her, but she asked him to go on all of the dates.

Ugh, I honestly can’t get over how much I disliked the hero. I’m assuming I was supposed to overlook his behavior because of how devoted he was to his sister. The hero’s sister was in a wheelchair after her husband, a man the hero introduced her to, pushed her down some stairs. The hero’s mission is to get justice for his sister. That’s nice, good for him. Stop being such a giant dick.

Sorry, I don’t like writing low star reviews. When a book disappoints me or makes me angry, I often just don’t write a review at all. I know that the author was doing their best, and they probably liked what they wrote, and I don’t like bagging on someone’s work in a public area. I just really, really didn’t like this hero.

Full disclosure, I read half of this book, then skipped through the last half, and then read the last chapter. It was difficult for me to do even that. I really should have just bailed.

1/5

Wolf Under Fire (STAT: Special Threat Assessment Team #1)

Wolf Under Fire (STAT: Special Threat Assessment Team #1)

By: Paige Tyler

Blurb:

For the cases no one else can solve, they send in the Special Threat Assessment Team

Supernatural creatures are no longer keeping their existence secret from humans, causing panic around the globe. To investigate, monitor, and ― when necessary ― take down dangerous supernatural offenders, an international task force was established: The Special Threat Assessment Team.

STAT agent Jestina Ridley is in London with her team investigating a suspicious kidnapping. Over her radio, Jes hears her teammates being savagely attacked. She runs to help, but she’s too late. The only survivor, Jes calls for backup and gets former Navy SEAL and alpha werewolf Jake Huang and his new pack. Convinced that the creature who butchered her teammates was a werewolf, Jes doesn’t trust them. But if they’re going to uncover the facts and make it back home alive, she’ll need Jake’s help. And with everything on the line, Jes will have to accept Jake for who he is, or lose the partner she never expected to find.

Review:

Wolf Under Fire was a romantic action story. Since a woman wrote it, the romance was actually good. There were soulmates, instant attraction, and everyone was drawn to their significant others scents.

Jake was ex-military and an ex-cop. He’d just signed up to lead a team at the FBI that specialized in the supernatural. I got the distinct feeling I was missing out on parts of his history, so I believe he was talked about in another book, but it didn’t impact the story.

Jes was a seasoned agent for STAT and not the biggest fan of werewolves. When she meets Jake, there’s an instant attraction, but their first meeting isn’t the best. Things quickly escalate, though.

Most of this book was action. There were car chases, explosions, and lots of fighting. As I said, it was an action romance. This isn’t my usual genre, but I enjoyed it. I do wish there was more information about the supernatural, but Jake and Jes both seemed to be very ignorant about the world. I was also able to guess a couple of the twists pretty quickly. All in all, it was enjoyable, and I see myself reading more from Tyler.

3.5/5