Cowboy Tough (Tangled Up in Texas) – ARC Review

Cowboy Tough
by Michelle Beattie
Release Date: September 24, 2020
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Book #4 in the Tangled Up in Texas series
Number of pages:  237
Kindle
Source:  ARC from publisher
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating: R
Read 9/22/20 to 9/24/20

Ryker Granger can’t believe his luck when he meets a beautiful woman stranded on the side of the road outside of Last Stand, Texas. Normally this rancher and part-time mechanic would be too reserved to jump into a relationship, especially since his family is still reeling from questions surrounding their father’s heart attack. But his life’s a tangled mess and Shannon is a welcome distraction.

Shannon Smith set out to meet Ryker Granger. Her staged car breakdown was only the beginning of her plan. Meeting Ryker is her chance to right the wrongs his father inflicted on her family. Her plan skews wildly off course—she only meant to score a date, not fall in love. And Ryker’s a straight arrow; he’ll never forgive such blatant deception. But how can she walk away from the man who has claimed her heart?

As Ryker solves the mystery around his father and learns why Shannon came to Last Stand, he faces his toughest choice yet. Forgive a lie or lose the woman he loves forever?

While I’ve been adoring this series, the beginning of this story gave me pause. I’m not a huge fan of the “secret baby” trope, and it seemed this was going in this direction. If you feel the same about that trope, rest assured this isn’t your standard secret baby story. In fact, Shannon is doing what she thinks is best in order to NOT allow her sister to keep this huge secret. That may not bode well for my feelings on what I believe may be the next story in this series. But that’s not for me to worry about now.

I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of the “huge secret” trope regardless if it’s a baby or not. But I could understand Shannon’s initial plan and the fact that she was looking to do the right thing. Not just by her niece, Jenna. Also, by Ryker’s brother Hudson, who deserved to learn things before the rest of his family. I’m still not one to enjoy that empty pit I get in my stomach when stories like this come to a head, though.

Ryker and Shannon have a great chemistry and really bring out the best in each other. It’s actually quite cute and sweet how shy and unsure Ryker is when he finds himself feeling things so deeply. He’s bashful and bold at the same time and it’s quite the writing feat for the author to get that feeling spot on. And Shannon, despite the rough times she’s had in her life, is a breath of fresh air. She does all she can to follow her moral compass, keeps a positive outlook even when things are looking confusing and impossible, and will hurt herself to do what she knows is right.

And yes, when we get to that culmination of the secrets being kept, I feel that terrible pit as I reference above. Again, I still understood Shannon’s motivations and can’t fault her for the way things played out. She tried so hard to do things the right way.

I’m having a hard time believing I will ever be able to forgive Ryker’s dad in the future. I don’t know if that’s even a place the author is intending to take this series. There are other (surprise) storylines that come back to the forefront in this book that I suspected, but enjoyed watching unfold.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Secrets and all. I love the Granger boys and the women who they fall in love with.

4 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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The Love Study blog tour – Review + Excerpt

The Love Study
by Kris Ripper
Release Date: September 29, 2020
Publisher:  Carina Press
Standalone
Number of pages:  336
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Netgalley & Carina Press
Contemporary Romance M/M
Rating: PG-13
Read 9/19/20 to 9/21/20

Book Description:

What happens when the search for the perfect date goes perfectly wrong? Don’t miss this charming romantic comedy from critically acclaimed author Kris Ripper.

Declan has commitment issues. He’s been an office temp for literally years now, and his friends delight in telling people that he left his last boyfriend at the altar.

And that’s all true. But he’s starting to think it’s time to start working on his issues. Maybe.

When Declan meets Sidney—a popular nonbinary YouTuber with an advice show—an opportunity presents itself: as part of The Love Study, Declan will go on a series of dates arranged by Sidney and report back on how the date went in the next episode.

The dates are…sort of blah. It’s not Sidney’s fault; the folks participating are (mostly) great people, but there’s no chemistry there. Maybe Declan’s just broken.

Or maybe the problem is that the only person he’s feeling chemistry with is Sidney.

Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.

Title: The Love Study
Author: Kris Ripper
Length: 336 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Imprint: Carina Press (Carina Adores)
On-Sale: September 29, 2020
Format: Trade Paperback (also available in eBook and audiobook formats)
Price: $14.99
ISBN: 9781335943194

My Review:

This story is so sweet and angsty…all in a good way. Although these characters are round about 30 years old, there is still such an innocence to Declan. And while Sidney seems quite wise beyond their years, there’s still a sort of naiveté to them, too.

From the moment Declan and Sidney are introduced, there’s a wonderful chemistry between them. But Declan blundered a very important relationship many years ago and doesn’t have much confidence in himself to be able to hold a serious relationship without hurting the other person. Sidney is just frustrated with people not understanding them and has given up on dating altogether.  Their perfectly content to give advice on romance and dating on their YouTube show.

Watching these two fumble their way into a relationship is very endearing and quite satisfying. They have grown up intentions that take the most wholesome and delightful path because of their insecurities and lack of experience over the last few years. It’s truly a joy!

Declan overthinks everything. And I truly mean everything. This was one of those books that I had a hard time reading the end because at a certain point I could see where Declan’s mind was going and I didn’t want to watch him or Sidney go through the heartache that was sure to happen. That’s how invested I got into this couple.

The friend group Declan has, in which Sidney is invited before they even dip a toe in the relationship pool, is fun and supportive and amazing. I love their banter. The author did a great job in portraying the authenticity of this kind of deep and understanding friendship.

I’m sure I’ll pick up more by this author soon. I very much delighted in this story.

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and Carina Press. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

Excerpt:

“I don’t date people,” Sidney said.

I hid my disappointment relief by forcing a laugh. “Oh, me neither. Mostly. Well. Not for a long time. Like…” I focused on the gentle sweep of their hair back from their face as if it would introduce a new topic of conversation. It didn’t.

“See, that sentence seemed like it was going to be followed by another thought.”

“Um, sorry, I realized I was basically spilling my guts to a stranger. You are totally not obligated to listen to me ramble. Only my oldest friends are contractually bound to deal with me being a hot mess.” Cue self-deprecating smile.

“You don’t seem like a hot mess to me and I don’t feel obligated. What were you going to say?”

What the hell. “Just, for a long time my not-dating policy worked? But lately it’s kind of getting…old. I’ve thinking maybe I should…at least try again. With the dating thing.” I wrinkled my nose. “Then I think that’s a horrible idea because oh my god where do you even start? Apps? Bars? I have no idea where people meet to date instead of hook up.”

Their eyes were light brown behind their red-framed glasses and I felt a bit exposed under their gaze, like maybe the glasses had a filter that could read my thoughts. Right when I was starting to shift uncomfortably, they cleared their throat. “I have an idea. It might be a bit obscene, though.”

I batted my eyelashes at them. “I enjoy the obscene.”

“Would you be interested in coming on my YouTube channel? It’s an advice show. I do one livestream and one pre-taped show each week.”

“Er…”

“An interview would be cool, but what if we did a series? You could come on once a week and talk about your recent dating adventures. I could find you the dates if you wanted, since you’d be supplying me with content.” Now their hands sort of danced in explanation. “And if you’re trying to get back into the dating thing anyway, maybe it’s two birds with one stone.”

My brain flooded with words and images—everything from danger, Will Robinson to a vision of Sidney and I shaking hands for the camera at an awards show where we’d just won for “Spectacular Advances in Dating Advice”—but I couldn’t seem to speak.

“Yeah, you’re right, it’s a terrible idea.” Their eyebrows were now a straight line behind their red frames. “Excuse my shameless desire to exploit your emotional turmoil for views.”

“Oh, no, I didn’t…I didn’t think that at all. I mean, I guess yes on the exploiting thing, but that doesn’t bother me. I was more…processing.”

“If it makes it any less gross, if I dated, I would absolutely mine my dating experiences for views.” They frowned. “Okay, no, that doesn’t make it less gross. Sorry. This is a nonideal first impression.”

“I like your glasses,” I blurted. “Just, that was my first impression. Well, actually I thought, Those better not be fucking fashion glasses, and then when I saw they weren’t I was impressed. They look really good on you. Not everyone can pull off red frames.”

“Oh. Um.” They straightened their shoulders. “Thank you.”

*************

About Kris Ripper
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and zir pronouns are ze/zir. Kris shares a converted garage with a kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.
Connect with Kris Ripper
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
Goodreads

Buy Links

IndieBound
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple
Google
Kobo

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TTT: Books On My Fall 2020 TBR

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.

Looking at my Fall TBR for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday has me excited and scared. Excited because I have so many amazing books on tap. Scared because I may not get to them all. It’s been crazy around here lately and I’ve gotten quite a bit busier with real life, leaving less time for reading. But I’m sure going to try my best to fit these all in!

I have 14 books I haven’t yet read that are on my list. These are books that are going to be released in the Fall, between today (9/22/20) and the first day of Winter (12/21/20). On top of that are the various other books I have from the library or have purchased that I still need to find time for. I’m leaving the books I listed on my Summer TBR list that I haven’t yet read off this list. Fortunately, it’s only a few. I’m actually leaving a bunch of other books off that I’m on the waiting list at various libraries because who knows when I’ll get them or if I’ll have time for them once it’s my turn.

Upcoming Releases

9/23/20
Cowboy Tough (Tangled Up in Texas #4)
by Michelle Beattie

9/29/20
A Highlander is Coming to Town (Highland, Georgia #3)
by Laura Trentham

Christmas Kisses with My Cowboy
by Diana Palmer, Marina Adair, Kate Pearce

Continue reading

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Home for the Holidays – ARC Review

Home for the Holidays
by Sara Richardson
Release Date:  September 22, 2020
Publisher:  Forever
Standalone
Number of pages:  320
Kindle Edition
Source: NetGalley ARC
Contemporary Fiction/Women’s Fiction
Rating: PG-13
Read 9/16/20 to 9/18/20

The Buchanan sisters all share special childhood memories of their Aunt Sassy’s beloved Juniper Inn. There, they frolicked in the snow, baked sugar cookies, and celebrated the town’s annual Christmas extravaganza. They haven’t been back to Colorado in nearly fifteen years, but when their aunt invites them for one last Christmas, they can’t say no . . .

With her ex-husband whisking her children away for the holiday, Dahlia decides it’s time to do something for herself. Juniper Springs is just as beautiful as she remembers, but it’s also full of surprises — including the town’s handsome doctor, who makes her feel like herself again for the first time in years.

To the outside world, baker Magnolia has the ideal marriage. Only the pain and sorrow of infertility have strained her relationship with her husband, perhaps beyond repair. But a holiday miracle is about to change her life.

After a whirlwind romance, youngest sister Rose is about to be married, but as the wedding draws near, she’s unsettled by her fiancé’s expectations that she become a society wife. Spending Christmas with her family could be a necessary reality check — or the beginning of a brand-new happily ever after.

Thanks to the strength of their sisterhood, some mistletoe, and the love of their Aunt Sassy, the Buchanan sisters will discover what it is they truly want this Christmas.

I am a huge fan of this author’s contemporary romance stories. This is the first time I’ve read a book by her that isn’t classified as romance, but I still found it to be wonderful. Honestly, I’m a sucker for romance, so of course I devour those books more quickly. There are sweet and romantic elements sprinkled here and there throughout this story, but overall it’s a story about family and sisters. I didn’t read it at quite the same pace as her romance books, yet I still didn’t want to put it down.

There are some very hard realities these sisters have to face throughout this book. All three of them are going through intense lows, but coming together at their aunt’s house, away from their “real” lives, helps to lift them back up. Dahlia, Magnolia, and Rose begin to rediscover that special bond of sisters and realize they’ve been going it on their own when they could have been leaning on one another.

While each sister has their own journey of self-discovery to take, they’re really not so different. Self doubt and an ingrained need to always be the helper to everyone else keeps them all from doing things that make them happy. They see that characteristic in each other, but have a harder time seeing it when they look in a mirror.

There is a lot going on in this story, but the author weaves it all together beautifully. I’m a stickler continuity and timing issues. The continuity in this story is spot on, but some of the timing gave me pause. In this case, I feel as though the author took artistic license on how long things take to accomplish in order to keep the flow of the story going, and I’m okay with that.

This story isn’t classified as romance, but it still gave me a Happily Ever After at the end, which I love.

4 stars

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

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Waiting on a Cowboy (McGrath)

Waiting on a Cowboy
by Jennifer Ryan
Release Date:  August 18, 2020
Publisher: Avon
Book #1 in the McGrath series
Number of Pages:  384
Kindle edition
Source:  Goodreads Giveaway
Contemporary Romance/Western M/F
Rating:  NC-17
Read 9/5/20 to 9/7/20

Tate McGrath just didn’t get it. Why was Liz Scott, his best friend—and the person he relied on and trusted most—suddenly avoiding him! When he finally tracks her down, he finds her with a man he knows nothing about and she’s been dating for weeks. Suddenly, he can’t make himself ignore her tempting curves and deep green eyes, and all he wants to do is keep her all to himself. What was going on? Could he possibly be…jealous

Liz had made the decision: stop carrying a torch for Tate and find a guy who wants to be her everything. Tate had always seen her as honest, dependable, smart, kind…Best friend, not girlfriend! And she needed to give up the dream of marrying the man she’d loved since preschool and move on. 

But when Liz’s boyfriend turns dangerous, Tate steps up to help and soon realizes he’s the cowboy hero she’s been waiting for him to be all along. 

I feel like I’ve read a lot of books with intense content lately. This story deals with domestic abuse and stalking, among other things. If that is not something you do well with in your books, please skip this one. It’s a great book, just not for everyone.

It’s been a minute since I’ve read a Jennifer Ryan book. I was lucky enough to win an ebook of this story in a Goodreads giveaway. Yay! I’ve read a lot of this author’s books, but definitely not all of them. And when I saw this is a first in series book I tried my luck at getting a copy.

Although this is the first in the McGrath series, there were a few things that made me think some of the other characters came from another series. Turns out this series is flowing out of the Wild Rose Ranch series. Not to worry, I didn’t have an issue following along. Now I just want to read that series to learn how Tate’s brother got his HEA.

Honestly, I thought I was going to despise Tate after the first chapter of this story. Ugh! The man was so clueless and self-involved! Yes, he seemed like a good enough guy. But he sure wasn’t being a very good friend to Liz. And it seemed like that was often the case. The friendship was a bit lopsided. Thankfully, once Tate pulled his head out of his butt, everything clicked into place and even he admitted he was quite the idiot for years leading up to this moment.

As for Liz, she has the patience of a saint. Of course, it’s hard to walk away when you know the person you’re cutting out of your life is the love of your life…even if that person has blinders on. This woman has been put through the ringer but still is able to find compassion for Tate.

Once everyone opens their eyes to what is going on around them, the relationship between Liz and Tate is on fire. I love how they love each other. And, although it’s hard to read at times, I appreciate the author painting a pretty realistic picture of how abusers work. Their methods and ways to make smart women doubt themselves. Of course, the situation with Clint (a guy Liz dated while waiting around for Tate) is extreme. But the bare bones of that relationship – drastic mood swings, extreme jealousy, etc. – is how these men operate. This author is wonderful at writing suspense, and that was no different in this book.

Reading this story was quite a reminder that I need to get more Jennifer Ryan reading into my repertoire. She’s always entertaining.

4 stars

**I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

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