Thursday, February 18, 2016

Review: Some Kind of Wonderful

Some Kind of Wonderful is the second book in author Sarah Morgan's Puffin Island series. While I hadn't read book one, First Time in Forever, I was still excited to check out this small town, second chance story. Two of my favourite tropes together in one romance novel? Sign. Me. Up.

Here's the synopsis:
USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan will sweep you away with her Puffin Island series! In a town where anything can happen, sometimes love can be found in the most unlikely place of all...
Her whole life, Puffin Islander Brittany Forrest has dreamed of adventure. And at the age of eighteen, she thought she'd found it in bad boy Zachary Flynn. But after just ten tempestuous, smoldering days, their whirlwind marriage went up in smoke, and Brittany resolved to put him out of her mind forever.
Zach knows he let Brittany down, but being back on Puffin Island and seeing Brittany again stirs up long-buried emotions. This daredevil pilot has never felt worthy of her, yet he can't stay away - even when he knows the chemistry between them will only complicate his life.
As long, hot summer days on the beach dissolve into sultry, starry nights, Brittany and Zach find that the sparks between them are more powerful than ever. Could it be that the second time around, their dreams of a happy-ever-after will finally come true?
There's a small chance I was expecting more out of this novel as I was just the teensiest bit disappointed when I finished it. Don't get me wrong...I enjoyed reading the book and I was happy spending the time doing so but...something irked me. I think it was a combination of a couple of things. The first was one of the things I was looking forward to about the book: the small town. It was small and therefore everyone knew everyone else's business. Brittany dealt with it because she knew, deep down, the townspeople meant well. I didn't have the benefit of living on Puffin Island my whole life so I didn't get that. I felt like Zach. It was a bit suffocating and, holy man, people were so judgmental and rude. Speaking of Zach...this was another small issue for me. He wasn't quite as well defined as I would have liked. I didn't mind so much at the start because he was holding so much back when Brittany came back to town. But by the end? I still didn't quite feel like he gave himself over to her totally. Maybe I just expected more of him :)

All that being said, the story was a sweet one. I mentioned before that I really like second chance romances. This one was interesting because there had been zero closure when Brittany and Zach's marriage fell apart and, when you meet them, you can tell they haven't been able to let go of what happened so many years ago. I looked forward to seeing how the pair dealt with unresolved feelings and issues. I was on Skylar's, one of Brittany's best friends, side and wanted the two to give into the physical feelings. Of course, I also wanted them to talk things out but sometimes you just gotta, well, you know. ;)

Speaking of Skylar, I really need to look into the next book in the Puffin Island series, Christmas Ever After, because it focuses on Skylar and Alec and I find them both really intriguing. Plus, I'm fairly certain part of the story takes place in London (a city I'm desperate to visit but have only ever experienced through books, TV, and movies!) before moving back to Puffin Island. Might have to read a holiday book in the spring!

Even with those few little things, I still liked Some Kind of Wonderful. I will continue to read Sarah Morgan's books (in fact, I may investigate her backlist when I'm in the mood for a sweet, good romance). You don't have to read the first book in the Puffin Island series but I think I would recommend it. There are enough references that make me wonder if I would have enjoyed the book more if I had started the characters' stories from the beginning.

*An eARC was provided by the publisher, Harlequin, via NetGalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: The Lie

I've been reading Karina Halle's books for a little while now but I have yet to blog about them. Which is a shame because you all need to know how fantastic they are! The Lie is Halle's latest novel, just published today. It's just as addicting as her other contemporary books and I did not want to put it down!

Here's the synopsis:
Their love led to a lie
Their truth led to the end
Brigs McGregor is crawling out from the ashes. After losing his wife and son in a car accident and his job from his subsequent downward spiral, he's finally moving forward, getting a prestigious teaching position at the University of London and a new life in the city. Slowly, but surely, he's pushing past the guilt and putting his tragic past behind him.
Until he sees her.
Natasha Trudeau once loved a man so much she thought she'd die without him. But their love was wrong, doomed from the start, and when their world crashed around them, Natasha was nearly buried in the rubble. It took years of moving on to forget him, and now that she's in London, she's ready to start again.
Until she sees him.
Because some loves are too dangerous to ever indulge.
And some loves are far too powerful to ignore.
Their love just might be the life and the death of them.
Here's the thing...I consider this book a part of a series even though it's technically not a series and Halle doesn't want it promoted as such (sorry, Karina!). However, I'm a series purist and loather of spoilers. I must read a series in order, even if it's like this one where each story can completely stand on its own. I don't like finding out what happened in a previous book in a later one when I could have read the full story for myself. All that being really don't have to read The Pact, The Offer, The Play, or Winter Wishes (a holiday novella that takes place during the time of The Play) in order to enjoy The Lie. You really don't. But you'll learn what happened with Lachlan and Kayla in The Play and their story is so great that I highly suggest you read it anyway. They're all such amazing reads that you'll breeze through because you'll be addicted to the smart, sexy, real storylines.

If you've read The Play, you'll already have some background information on Brigs. You'll know his wife and son died in a car accident and, if you're like me, you'll have an inkling of what happened prior to the car crash. It turns out I was right and Brigs and Natasha did not exactly have the best start to their relationship. Some people may not like how they first started and that's fine but I wouldn't let it put you off this story. Halle does such a great job of approaching the...I hesitate to call it infidelity because it wasn't a physical affair in the truest sense of the let's just say relationship. It was messy and hard and heartbreaking but also tempting and forbidden and real. My heart broke for both Brigs and Natasha as I read what they had to go to four years prior. They're two amazing people who had been dealt a horrendous blow and I needed them to have a Happily Ever After.

Brigs and Natasha's relationship was a little bit different than the other McGregor relationships I'd read. They had already fallen in love before there was anything physical. Now, they had to learn to trust each other again. They also had to admit to themselves that they never fell out of love, no matter what the other may have thought or what had happened in the past. Halle writes some pretty fantastic, steamy, sexy times scenes in her other books but it seemed to take awhile to get to those scenes in The Lie. It's not a bad thing because I found it totally and completely suited the story and their relationship. Brigs and Natasha had a really sweet, romantic side to their relationship but when they finally made it to the bedroom ( places)? Hoo, boy. Look out ;) (Side note: I love the strong language Halle makes things so much more realistic since I frequently pepper my conversations with f bombs.)

At first I wasn't sure if I enjoyed that the novel went back and forth from present to past. In less talented hands, time shifting (on top of character POV shifting) can get confusing but Halle knows what she's doing. I also realized the story could not be told any other way. Halle gives enough info to start that you know what happened four years ago but then she delves into it even more so you understand how far Natasha and Brigs fell for each other and how broken they were before they ran into each other again.

I adored The Lie. I'm actually suffering from a delayed book hangover after finishing Karina Halle's latest. I adore the characters Halle writes and I get sucked in and addicted to the stories she spins. The great thing about her novels is they're so real and, well, I'm obsessed. There's no other word to use, really. You get everything with this story...drama, heartache, romance, humour, and sex. Anyone looking for an amazing contemporary story needs to read The Lie. Like, right now.

*An eARC was provided by the author in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: He Will Be My Ruin

Tomorrow is a big day in author K.A. Tucker's world...her first standalone novel is being published, and in hardcover to boot! He Will Be My Ruin is also more of a suspense novel than Tucker's previous books. I'm not usually much of a thriller/mystery/suspense kind of girl but I am a huge fan of Tucker so I knew I had to read it. The new novel was twisty, it kept me guessing, and it was good.

Here's the synopsis:
A woman who almost had it all . . .
On the surface, Celine Gonzalez had everything a twenty-eight-year-old woman could want: a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a job that (mostly) paid the bills, and an acceptance letter to the prestigious Hollingsworth Institute of Art, where she would finally live out her dream of becoming an antiques appraiser for a major auction house. All she had worked so hard to achieve was finally within her reach. So why would she kill herself?
A man who was supposed to be her salvation . . .
Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a lethal cocktail of pills and vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers a scandalous photograph in a lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man Celine believed would change her life.
Until he became her ruin.
On the hunt for evidence that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer. A killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.
Tucker's previous books, particularly the Burying Water series, hinted at her ability to tell a suspenseful story well. He Will Be My Ruin was told well. I was kept guessing throughout the entire novel. I thought that maybe I had the mystery figured out even though I wondered if it'd be too obvious because the one suspect just seemed to obvious. (How's that for confusing?) I don't want to say too much because the last thing I want to do is give something away! Basically, the curveballs Tucker threw (er, wrote) were total strikes and I loved that. I didn't want to know what was going to happen next. I wanted to be surprised and challenged. I didn't necessarily want to be frightened but I did want to be kept on the edge of my seat. And I was.

Maggie was such an interesting character. She seems to have it all together and you almost want to be jealous of her at the beginning but you start to realize that she has elements of herself that need...shall we say, readjusting. Not changed, necessarily. Everyone has parts of themselves that could, should be better. By the end of the novel I think Maggie had realized how she could be a better person. It's just so heartbreaking that it had to happen because of her best friend's death.

Speaking of the best friend...I loved that part of the story was told from Celine's point of view. I think Tucker found a great way to be able to tell Celine's story from Celine's perspective. (Not her current one, obviously. Celine is dead and there aren't any ghosts in this book.) Even with this element, Maggie still had to hunt hard for more clues and had to piece together all of the information she was finding. What I learned is Celine would have been such an interesting person to know. I would have loved to hear the stories behind all of her treasures. Because I found myself drawn to Celine, I was even more hopeful that Maggie would find out what really happened and more invested in the overall story.

K.A. Tucker's latest was the first book I read in 2016 and it will be one I continue pushing on others throughout the entire year. He Will Be My Ruin was a damn good book and other book lovers need to know about it and need to read it. The only downside to having read this one well before the release date? I have to wait even longer for her next book. I don't think I'm going to be patient. :) Have you read any of Tucker's novels yet? You definitely should if you enjoy good, entertaining, page-turning reads.

*An ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*