Life and Other Inconveniences

42755366Life and Other Inconveniences
by Kristan Higgins
Release Date:  August 6, 2019
Publisher:  Berkley
Standalone
Number of pages:  448
Kindle
Source: MCL
Contemporary Fiction
Rating: R
Read 9/26/19 to 9/27/19

 

Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?

Last time I read a book by this author (2017!!!) I complained about being all caught up with her books and having to wait a long time between books now. This time the length of my wait was my own darn fault.  I somehow skipped Good Luck With That last year.  Don’t worry, I will be remedying that soon.

As usual, Kristan Higgins knows how to make me laugh and cry and get mad. Feel despair or hope. She also knows how to make her readers feel sympathy for unlikable characters.  I’m talking about you Genevieve! When you’re first reading this story, you may not believe me about that.  And I’m not saying I ever fully loved Genevieve.  But I did find some level of sympathy for her while wanting to punch her in the throat.

Although we get some input from multiple characters throughout this book, the main story is centered on Emma.  Boy oh boy did that woman have it rough.  Sure, she grew up rich and had her needs taken care of, but the more I learned about her childhood the more I wanted to cry. The good thing is that her upbringing made her a fantastic mom.  Anyone who has had kids knows that some kids are just easier than others.  She got lucky with Riley for sure.  But that doesn’t negate the fact that she worked hard to be a loving mother who is always there for her daughter.

Which brings me to Miller and his toddler Tess.  Oddly enough, although he was raised by a loving family and had an idyllic marriage for quite a while, he is the one I sympathized for the most.  The author did such an amazing job of evoking those helpless feelings a parent can get when their kid is just not cooperating with any of our attempts at being “good” parents. Of course, that made him feel like a terrible parent which led to feelings of guilt. Which make Emma and Riley the perfect people to come into the lives of Miller and Tess.

I’m not classifying this story as a romance since the story does not revolve around a romance.  There are elements of romance in this story for sure.  So as not to give spoilers I’m not going to say much more than that…but it seems there is romance around every corner in this book that, again, I’m not classifying as a romance.

While I sit here trying to write this review, I feel like so much happened in this story I can’t possibly talk about it all without adding a lot of confusion.  But, while reading the story, I never felt like it was too cumbersome.  Everything flowed beautifully and smoothly from beginning to end.

It may not seem like it at times as you’re reading this book, but this story will give you hope in the end.  There are sad and terrible things that need to be addressed along the way that will make you wonder how everyone will feel joy eventually.  It happens. I promise.  Kirstan Higgins always come through.

4.5 stars

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Protected in Darkness – ARC Review

47954267._SY475_Protected in Darkness
by Nicole Edwards
Release Date:  October 22, 2019
Publisher: Nicole Edwards Limited
Book #1 in the Misplaced Halos series
Number of Pages:  437
Kindle Edition
Source:  ARC from author
Paranormal Romance M/F
Rating:  XXX
Read 10/12/19 to 10/13/19

 

Heaven refers to them as Misplaced Halos. Humans don’t even know they exist. This faction of celestial warriors was sent here under the cover of darkness to protect humanity from Lucifer’s demons. In return for their servitude, these warriors expect only one thing: the eternal love they were promised, what angels refer to as an amsouelot.

The first of his kind, Obsidian has spent the past fifteen hundred years fighting alongside his brothers, protecting humans from Lucifer’s demons, all while keeping to the shadows. Their mission is simple. Right up until it isn’t. The day Obsidian learns of a traitor in Heaven is the day everything changes. The entire reason for his existence is put on hold because there’s a new assignment: find the female whose soul belongs to his and protect her, no matter the cost.

Penelope Calazans spends her days sleeping and her nights serving free drinks to the gamblers looking to win big in Sin City. It’s not a glamorous life, perhaps a tad lonely, but she’s content. Or she thought she was. Then he appears. The mystery man who would turn out not to be a man at all, but rather an angel. The angel who would turn Penelope’s mundane life upside down, revealing what really lurks in the dark.

Not only do they have to battle the demons looking to possess their souls, but Obsidian and Penelope must overcome the obstacles that come with falling in love. In the end, an angel and a human must make the ultimate sacrifice, all in the name of a love everlasting.

While Nicole Edwards is one of my top 5 favorite authors (the order is fluid and those top 5 shift as my mood changes and new books are released), this is her first foray into paranormal romance.  Which is funny since she’s the one that got me back into the genre a couple years ago.  Being a super-fan means I also subscribe to her newsletter and she sometimes tells us what she’s reading. She got me hooked on Rebecca Zanetti when I decided to give one of her recommendations a try.  (There are also some paranormal books and authors in this story that I’ll be checking out as soon as possible.) I love this author’s writing style in her contemporary romance, so knew that wouldn’t be an issue here.  But it remained to be seen if she could carry off the plot and world building of a paranormal story.  She can and she does!

There are a lot of characters to meet in this book, but the story quickly zooms into our main subjects for this go around so as not to get too confusing.  The reader needs to meet all of Obsidian’s “family” in order to understand the story, but it’s done in an organic way that makes sense and doesn’t overwhelm.  Since Penelope is on the other end of the spectrum of friends and family, meaning she’s more of a loner, we get to know her through her interactions with coworkers, her inner dialogue, and her phone calls to her best friend in another state.  I enjoyed getting to know Penelope in the context of her friendship with Winnie.  Although it wasn’t face to face, the things they said and did while talking really gave me a feel for her character and endeared the character to me.

Obsidian and Penelope have great chemistry from the start.  Things move fast, but I love a line later in the book about humans measuring depth of emotion on time and how time is irrelevant.  How true that is! I enjoy that there chemistry is very sexual, but it’s also more.  They spend time talking and getting to know one another and really connect emotionally and intellectually.  Although it would be so much easier for Obsidian to do things another way, he attempts to ease Penelope into things instead of going all alpha on her and bulldozing into her life.  He takes great care with her brother and best friend even though they complicate matters and it would be easier to push them to the side.

There’s a lot going on in this book in order for the author to build this world.  There are unfamiliar words and customs.  She does a beautiful job of keeping the confusion at bay.  The words can be intuited from the text and things are explained in a way that is fluid and natural to the story. All the makings of an immersive paranormal romance series. (I have to note how much I love the title now that I’ve read the book, too.)

Now that I’ve had a taste of one of my favorite authors writing outside her usual genre, I’m ready for more.  This one should satisfy Nicole Edwards’ fans and paranormal romance fans alike.

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the author. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

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TTT: Extraordinary Book Titles

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  There is a new topic each week for bloggers to join in with their own top ten. If you’re looking for some new or different book blogs to read, hop on over to her site and check out some of the links.

It seems, most weeks, I struggle to come up with ten things for my Top Ten Tuesday list.  This week, once I got rolling, I just kept adding titles.  So I’m going to go with the 15 I had jotted down before I realized I was over the 10 I was supposed to stop at.  

These are titles that either popped in my head, or I scanned Goodreads for the books I’ve read to job my memory.  But they aren’t necessarily books I loved…although some are. I chose titles that would make me stop and, at the very least, read the blurb.  In other words, titles that would make me curious.  I linked each title to my review of that book if you’re curious as to the interesting titled leads to an interesting read.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
by Kylie Scott

Stuck in Manistique
by Dennis Cuesta

To Be Honest
by Maggie Ann Martin

Leave No Trace
by Mindy Mejia

The Snow Child
by Eowyn Ivey

The Art of Running in Heels
by Rachel Gibson

Accidentally on Purpose
by Jill Shalvis

Lies Jane Austen Told Me
by Julie Wright

If My Moon Was Your Sun
by Andreas Steinhofel

Perfectly Inappropriate
by Stacey Kennedy

Gather the Daughters
by Jennie Melamed

The Scars Between Us
by M.K. Schiller

The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland
by Rebekah Crane

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford

(note: I read this before I was regularly writing reviews, but it’s definitely a 5 star read!)

Life and Other Inconveniences
by Kristen Higgins

(note: my review of this won’t be posted until next week, another amazing read though.)

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The Marriage Contract (The O’Malleys)

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The Marriage Contract
by Katee Robert
Release Date:  June 2, 2015
Publisher: Forever
Book #1 in the O’Malleys series
Number of Pages:  368
Kindle Edition
Source:  MCL
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating:  NC-17
Read 9/15/19 to 9/17/19

Teague O’Malley hates pretty much everything associated with his family’s name. And when his father orders him to marry Callista Sheridan to create a “business” alliance, Teague’s ready to tell his dad exactly where he can stuff his millions. But then Teague actually meets his new fiancée, sees the bruises on her neck and the fight still left in her big blue eyes, and vows he will do everything in his power to protect her.

Everyone knows the O’Malleys have a dangerous reputation. But Callie wasn’t aware just what that meant until she saw Teague, the embodiment of lethal grace and coiled power. His slightest touch sizzles through her. But the closer they get, the more trouble they’re in. Because Callie’s keeping a dark secret-and what Teague doesn’t know could get him killed.

I’m not one to read very many mafia/mob type stories.  It’s not that I dislike them, I just don’t love them the way I do other genres under the contemporary romance scope.  Usually when I do read the sub-genre, it’s because I already know the author well and adore their other work. So, I can’t say for sure (because sometimes my short-term memory is just crap) why I decided to give this book a try. I’m no overly familiar with this author’s work, but decided to pick this story up anyway. Who knows? And while I didn’t fall in love with the story and the genre, I did enjoy the read.

Teague O’Malley makes a great hero.  I really enjoyed the parts of the book that centered around him.  That’s not to say I disliked Callie, but there were times that I really questioned her decision making skills.  Plus, Teague and Callie together are really great.  Yet, overall, Teague is who made this story work for me.  He is compassionate and cares about the world around him, not just his family.  It’s great that family is such a central thing for these “organizations”, but to put family about good morals and doing what is right I just cannot get behind.  Callie did that a bit too much for me.  She made decisions solely on how they would affect her dad and not how they would affect the world as a whole really bothered me.

Obviously, Callie’s upbringing in this underground world was much different than Teague’s.  While her dad is no angel, at least he was kind to her and her brother all their lives.  Teague wasn’t (and still isn’t) so lucky.  But he still turned out to be a wonderful human being.  Since this series is named after his family, I’ll assume the following stories will center on his siblings.  At this point I’m happy with that because I’m all-in on the storyline of his sister Carrigan.  (Another story I think I’ll like the hero much more than the heroine, but I’ll try to reserve judgement.) I believe the rest of his siblings will have their own interesting stories to tell as well.  They seem to be a pretty diverse bunch for all being from one family.

I enjoyed this story enough that I’ll definitely read the next book to see how it goes.  That’s saying a lot since, as I said, this isn’t really a genre I gravitate toward.

3.5 stars

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Christmas for the Deputy (Bad Boys of Last Stand) – ARC Review

48216695._SY475_Christmas for the Deputy
By Nicole Helm
Release Date: October 17, 2019
Publisher:  Tule Publishing
Book #2 in the Bad Boys of Last Stand series
Number of pages:  210
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from publisher
Contemporary Romance/Holidays M/F
Rating: R
Read 10/7/19 to 10/8/19

 

Ethan Thompson has been a part of the Martin family since he was a troubled teen and Susannah Martin saved him. He’s always done everything in his power to help the Martins, especially oldest daughter Penelope. But he’s always made sure to keep himself just separate enough to safeguard his heart against the straight-talking beauty.

Pen Martin-Wakefield moved home to Last Stand, Texas, with her three girls hoping it would give them all a fresh start after her husband’s tragic death. She’s ready to move on, and as she deals with the stresses of a holiday season and a broken arm, she realizes Ethan is always the one she’s leaned on.

Ethan’s determined to resist Pen and her girls. He’s got too many secrets and scars to be any good for them, but as a Christmas in Last Stand works its magic, Ethan begins to find out just how tenacious Pen is and how lonely his heart has been.

The boys (men) from Last Stand really tug at my heartstrings.  Ethan is no exception.  Not only does he internalize so much hurt, but he does it with a façade of calm and control. Nobody sees past that façade until Penelope.  And Pen didn’t see the real Ethan until the real Pen came out.

Being the oldest of three girls, it was Penelope’s natural inclination to take over the nurturing role when their mother passed away.  Then she got married young and had children herself and that nurturing became more intense and gave her a strong need for control and order.  All the while she compared herself to her deceased mother, never  feeling quite like she’s living up to the memories she has of the woman.

It’s obvious that Pen and Ethan are perfect for each other.  Not only does Ethan bring a sense of calm to Pen, but he is head over heels for her daughters and they for him.  Yet nobody can seem to admit what’s right in front of everyone’s faces.

I love this story and I love the characters. Unfortunately, I was missing the chemistry.  Even though I think these characters are a perfect match, it wasn’t coming off the pages for me here.  There’s no rhyme or reason for that. I can’t explain it at all.  It seems like all of the ingredients were there for a perfect recipe, but there was still something missing. Which makes me sad since I love everything about this story.

A quick warning for those of you haven’t read the first in this series, Homecoming for the Cowboy; I think you’ll be missing some key points about the way the Ethan and his brothers and Penelope and her sisters were raised if you don’t read that first story.  Sure, you can read this as a standalone, but you’ll be missing a depth to this story if you do that.  Plus, that first book is amazing and a must read.

3.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

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A Christmas Romance – ARC Review

48216647._SY475_A Christmas Romance
By Nancy Holland
Release Date: October 14, 2019
Publisher:  Tule Publishing
Standalone
Number of pages:  250
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from publisher
Contemporary Romance/Holidays M/F
Rating: R
Read 10/6/19 to 10/7/19

 

J.T. Guzman still blames Meredith Hart and her father for his brother’s death. Bitter and grieving, he left the beloved ranch vowing never to return. Now a successful NYC attorney, he’s forced to return home to protect his mother’s financial interests when his step-father dies and divides the ranch between J.T.’s mother and Meredith in trust for her son. Seeing Meredith again hurts more than he imagined.

Meredith has loved J.T. for as long as she can remember. As teens, he barely noticed her clumsy, youthful attempts to get his attention, except to wrongly condemn her on flimsy evidence. Now that her father is dead, she’s willing to do anything including work alongside him, if it means she can hold on to her son’s heritage. Finding forgiveness is a dream she’s also not quite willing to abandon.

Drawn back into an emotional entanglement he thought he’d left behind, J.T. discovers that, far from being the enemy, Meredith may become the woman he loves.

There is a lot going on in this story.  Not in a way that makes things confusing, not at all.  But there are some pretty heavy issues discussed and, even after things come to light, there are more layers beneath it all.  So, I feel I have to do my due diligence to give you all a trigger warning.  This story deals with assault and the stigma of assault.

This is a new to me author and it really struck me how much care she takes with her characters.  I don’t know how else to explain the nuance of emotion she gives during dialogue.  It’s not burdensome, but it is packed tight.  I really appreciated feeling the author cared about her characters as much as she wants her readers to care.

Joaquin was not always my favorite person.  Not so much because he wants to sell the ranch, I understand his need to protect his mother.  But when his mom talks about staying on the ranch I don’t feel he really listens.  He has a plan that he thinks is best and therefore it must be best, right?  He doesn’t ask in depth questions of Meredith and the reasons she has for wanting to keep the ranch, her plans for the future of the ranch, etc. Even after they become closer, he doesn’t ask these questions.  He’s a bit single minded that way.  His heart is definitely in the right place, but he’s oblivious.

Meredith can come across as brusque, but she’s been dealt a lot of blows throughout her life.  She’s stronger for them, but it also makes her as skittish as a cat.  Luckily, Joaquin helps settle that skittishness just as much as he brings it out.  He helps her to see that she’s wanted and a worthy person.

This is one of those books where you can see what the huge conflict will be from a mile away, so it’s no surprise when it happens.  How it’s dealt with is the fun of these types of stories.  This was a good, solid read and I’m sure I’ll seek out more from this author in the future.

3.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

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Hazel

Man, was this news hard to hold back telling you guys.  But I wanted to make sure baby, mom, and dad were all settled before they had their pictures plastered anywhere other than our more private social media accounts.  You may have guessed by now, I’m a grandma!!!

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Hazel was born 2 weeks early, 11 days ago, on September 27.  She was ready though.  While both her mom and dad were smaller babies, she was a solid 8 lbs. I seriously cannot wait to snuggle those baby rolls!

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Poor angel. But, her mom pointed out she’s a rock star. Look at her hand, heehee.

While mom and baby were discharged the day after she was born (a Saturday), she ended up with jaundice and back in the hospital on Monday evening.  But she’s a trooper and her numbers went up pretty quickly once treatment was started.  Do you guys know how hard it was for this grandma to not hop on a plane to be there for them all?  My sisters talked me down.  My younger sister had been through this with one of my nieces and told me I wouldn’t be able to hold Hazel anyway, and didn’t want to take any time away from Kirsten and/or Griffin getting to spend time with Hazel when it was allowed.  Our little fighter was home again on Wednesday and doing well

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I’m counting down the days until I get to see this little nugget…and her dad and mom, too. Less than two weeks now!  Kirsten’s parents will be there this weekend and stay a week and I’m super jealous they’ll get to meet Hazel first.  

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