One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Title Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

Real people. Real struggles. Very real emotion. Jojo Moyes delivers all of that in spades in the novel One Plus One.

Jess is a single mother. Since her husband left she’s barely making ends meet. Her sixteen-year-old stepson Nicky is being bullied, and her ten-year-old daughter Tanzie is a genius at math. One math competition could allow Tanzie to go to a better school, get a better education, get out of their horrible neighborhood. But without even enough money to get Tanzie to the competition, there’s no hope of getting ahead in this world.

Ed Nicholls may be a rich software developer, but he has problems of his own. He’s facing the possibility of prison for just trying to let a woman down easy. When he crosses paths with Jess and offers to drive her family to the math competition, it should be a simple trip and something to take his mind off his own problems. Falling in love certainly wasn’t on the agenda.

This book caught me up in the lives of its characters and kept me enthralled throughout. One of the most immediate things that drew me in was that the main characters did not even like each other at the start. Jess was “the help.” She cleaned Ed’s house, he didn’t have a clue who she was or what her situation was, and he literally slammed a door in her face. Ed was just another rich guy who didn’t know how good he had it. And once the two got into a car together, they got even more prickly toward each other. Such an awkward situation that had no choice but to turn into some kind of friendship.

The character growth was amazing on all fronts. Jess needed to learn to accept help. Ed needed to realize his situation wasn’t the worst thing out there. But even Nicky and Tanzie had much to learn, and I loved that Nicky and Ed formed a bit of a friendship that allowed Nicky to grow beyond his little neighborhood and find his place in the world.

The reasons for only 4 out of 5 stars were somewhat minor but enough of a drawback for me. Overall, I loved the book and was filled with emotion while reading it. But there were a few inconsistencies in the story, like the dog being in two places at once, which tend to draw me out of the story. The other thing for me was that while Ed was a loveable character as he was written, it wasn’t exactly the way it was depicted in the summary of the book. I expected some more quirks, or that he’d be a little more insecure. He was certainly uninformed about financial matters, but for the most part his character seemed to be fairly confident. He was no pushover with his ex-wife, and never seemed to doubt why women were attracted to him.

This was an enjoyable and emotional journey, and I will definitely read more by this author.

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Rach

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

Kaz Brekker is known as Dirtyhands because he’s not afraid to do what’s necessary to achieve his goal. When he’s offered a job that will make him wealthy beyond his dreams, he can’t turn down the chance, especially if in the process he can settle an old vendetta. But the job just might be a suicide mission. His team is made up of other misfits like himself, each bringing a particular strength to the table, but they all have plenty to lose.

Six of Crows is not the kind of book I normally would choose for myself, but based on a friend’s suggestion, I gave it a shot. I’ll admit it took me a little while to get into the story as there is a lot to learn about the world Kaz and his team live in. But once I got to the meat of the story, I absolutely couldn’t put it down. It’s the kind of book that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

All of the characters were well thought out, and I enjoyed the way the author gave us little peeks into their lives, unveiling a new layer to a character yet leaving the reader yearning for more. I was so attached to each of the characters on the team; I couldn’t stand any one of them being in peril. They each had their own demons to face, adding even more depth to the plot.

I enjoyed this so much I immediately checked out the next book in the series from my library.

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Rach

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

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5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of The Idea of You through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

To an outside observer, Lucy Carpenter has it all. She’s been promoted through the ranks at work and other women aspire to be like her in their professional careers. She’s finally found a wonderful man, and they’re happily married. But what no one else can see is the baby-shaped hole in Lucy’s heart. It’s what she wants more than anything in the world—to be a mother. And it’s the one thing that constantly eludes her. Her stepdaughter’s presence puts a strain on Lucy and Jonah’s marriage, in addition to being a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. And suddenly, Lucy’s on the verge of losing everything.

The Idea of You is a powerful, emotional book that had me turning pages late into the night. Lucy’s story drew me in immediately, and its hold never lessened. The format was interesting and different, keeping the reader somewhat guessing for a while but with enough information to feel Lucy’s despair and pain right along with her. Parts of the story were difficult to read, but only because the author made me feel like I was in the story with Lucy. I hurt for her, I cried with her, and I laughed and loved with her. Watching her knit so many baby items was heart-wrenching, and seeing her finally bond with her stepdaughter was inspirational.

This is the second book I’ve ready by Ms. Prowse, and it definitely won’t be the last. She has a way of presenting everyday human issues and taking you on a poignant journey through the lives of her characters. Having only been in Lucy’s shoes to a very slight degree, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to relate to her situation or the book, but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Sometimes I wanted to hit Jonah over the head and tell him to take a good look at his wife, and other times I was sure Lucy was going through life with blinders on thinking of nobody but herself. Regardless of who was right or wrong in any particular situation, the story was about the journey, the ups and downs life takes us on in finding our path to happiness. And sometimes, that path doesn’t end up where you thought it would.

I look forward to reading more by this author and highly recommend this book.

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Rach

The Czar (A Standalone Hockey Billionaire Romance) by Selena Laurence

The Czar (A Standalone Hockey Billionaire Romance) by Selena Laurence

The Czar Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of The Czar by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Mick Petrovich’s life has been built around playing professional hockey and enjoying no-strings-attached time with the puck bunnies. When an injury puts him out of hockey for good, it throws everything he’s lived for into turmoil. His father’s pressure to join the family business only makes matters worse. Mick has very personal reasons for wanting to stay as far away from the vodka business as possible.

Solana Werner has just landed her dream job in the marketing department of Petrovich Vodka. She’ll let nothing stand in the way of proving herself in the corporate world, and she may have something to prove in her personal life as well. Her growing attraction to the heir-apparent of Petrovich Vodka, Mick, is dangerous in more ways than she ever imagined. Both Mick and Solana need to figure out what they really want out of life before it’s too late to have it all.

The Czar is a standalone romance from trusted romance author Selena Laurence. Ms. Laurence can always be counted on to deliver a solid plot and well-developed characters, and this book is no exception. Ever the playboy, Mick’s career-ending injury forced him to wake up and take a hard look at his life. From the beginning of the story to the end, Mick worked his way through a life-changing journey to figure out what came next. In addition to the romance between Mick and Solana, Mick also had to choose a new career path and resolve relationship conflicts with his father over the family business.

One of the things that drew me to Mick beyond the sexy hockey player persona was his Russian heritage. It was incorporated into many aspects of the story, from the food to his nickname for Solana, and gave more depth to his character. I also enjoyed reading about Solana’s Hispanic background and how each character respected where the other came from.

The relationship developed at a nice pace with both Solana and Mick having to come to terms with their feelings for each other in their own time. The only minor drawback from this story for me was that the problems in their relationship could have been avoided, but the growth of each character kept me engaged and turning pages.

Overall, it this was another enjoyable book, and I will continue to read Ms. Laurence’s work as I can always count on an appealing story. All of my reviews of Ms. Laurence’s books can be found under the Author Spotlight tab.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Hinged (Soul Mate Rescued Book 2) by Char Sharp

Hinged (Soul Mate Rescued Book 2) by Char Sharp

Hinged Cover

3 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Hinged by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Seven years ago, Cooper Baron lost the love of his life. Robin Finch disappeared, and no matter how hard Coop tried to find her, it was like she no longer existed. But he didn’t give up, and he won’t until his soul mate is back in his arms.

Robin Finch has no memory of her life prior to seven years ago. She’s been living with Dr. Ramsey Gunn, as his wife, but deep down she knows he’s not the love of her life. Robin and Ram have been on the run, hiding in the shadows with Ram erasing any electronic evidence of their existence before it can be found by those hunting them. Until the day Robin runs into Cooper Baron, and something in her mind—and her heart—is unlocked.

What should be a sweet reunion is in actuality confusing and life-threatening. Cooper will need to bring down the person who is trying to kill Robin before they can move on with their lives.

Hinged is book two in the Soul Mate Rescued series and can comfortably be read as a standalone book. It is a romantic suspense story with technology thriller aspects. The author’s style brings out a nice amount of emotion between the characters, and it’s easy to feel their love and despair right along with them. The idea of soul mates physically feeling the presence of their other half, though slightly farfetched for my taste, transferred well in this story. Robin’s amnesia and the subsequent recovery of her memory was handled in what seemed to be a realistic fashion.

The plot of the story focused more on the romance than the suspense or thriller aspects. It seemed to be missing vital pieces of information regarding the investigation into the threat against Robin, focusing instead on Robin’s life once she was rescued. Since it was told from both Robin and Cooper’s point of view, I would have liked to see what Cooper was doing behind the scenes to locate and take down the threat. Even after the climax, I wanted to know more about how the climax occurred since the reader wasn’t provided the information prior to that.

Overall, this was a good romance story, and if you enjoy reading a straight romance it could be worth your while. I would have liked to see it a little more rounded with the information that was brought into the plot, but I would probably still try another book by this author.

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Rach

Cade’s Loss (California Cowboys Book 1) by Selena Laurence

Cade’s Loss (California Cowboys Book 1) by Selena Laurence

Cade’s Loss Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Cade’s Loss by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Cade Jenkins had to give up his whole life at only twenty-five years old. After his parents’ sudden death, he became the guardian of two younger brothers and was responsible for a large California ranch, putting his dreams of a professional surfing championship on hold indefinitely. Years later, he still feels responsible for keeping the ranch running and his brothers in line. When his brothers want to ride the ranch wave of the future—organic ranching—Cade can’t seem to move forward without feeling like he’s forgetting his past.

Organic consultant Nina Cline values her independence just slightly above the environment. She will never again be beholden to a man for her happiness. Meeting Cade in a bar was only a bit of fun for the night, but when he turns up at the ranch as her next client, the sparks begin flying thanks to their opposing outlooks. Cade becomes Nina’s biggest stumbling block. He not only wants to resist every change Nina suggests for the ranch, but she’s also in danger of losing her heart to him.

Cade’s Loss is a remarkable story about family, love, and letting go of the past. It’s a wonderful start to the California Cowboys series, drawing the reader in to the entire Jenkins family even though it’s a standalone book. And what could be sexier than a surfing cowboy with a tortured soul?

Cade’s personality made him easy to love right off the bat. He was a family man through and through, but he’d yet to realize his love for his family had become misguided. He still saw his brothers as needing guidance when they were not only capable of taking care of themselves but also more than qualified to run the ranch.

Nina was a strong woman who had been burned in her career by a man and wasn’t willing to let it happen a second time. Her strong convictions toward herself and the environment made her an endearing character, and her relationship with Cade made her a better person. The relationship between the characters occurred at a natural pace, with plenty of time to actually get to know the other person before falling in love.

The Jenkins brothers were an intriguing family, and I felt connected to the secondary characters and am looking forward to the rest of this series to read more about them.

Other reviews of Ms. Laurence’s books can be found on the Author Spotlight tab.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Dreaming of Rhapsody (A Rhapsody Novella) by Selena Laurence

Dreaming of Rhapsody (A Rhapsody Novella) by Selena Laurence

Dreaming of Rhapsody Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Dreaming of Rhapsody by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Topher Leigh may be a rock star bass player, but he’s not what anyone would expect. His inability to experience feelings and his propensity for saying what’s on his mind set him apart. His brother and best friend do their best to protect Topher and keep him safe, but when Rachel enters his life, everything changes. Topher has only been able to feel in his dreams, until Rachel.

Rachel Wilson’s sister has warned her that getting involved with Topher can’t lead to anything good. He’s a sweet guy, but there’s no future for them since Rachel needs to return to school to finish her veterinary degree. Besides, Topher isn’t capable of being a boyfriend, husband, or a father. Except maybe the people who know him the best don’t really understand him at all.

Dreaming of Rhapsody is a novella in the Rhapsody series and can comfortably be read as a standalone story. The series focuses on the rock stars in the band Rhapsody, with Topher in the spotlight of this book. The fact Topher was so different than a typical rock star sets this story apart from all the others. It’s a sweet story about never underestimating someone’s abilities.

Topher was a well-developed character with lots of idiosyncrasies. In some ways he was extremely naïve, but in others he was more knowledgeable than he was given credit for. With the story told partially from his point of view, the reader got a first-hand look at his frustration and the way he saw the world. I especially enjoyed when he described how everything had beats and colors and patterns.

Rachel was a perfect match for Topher, and their growing relationship was fun to watch. Like Topher’s brother and best friend, Rachel needed to learn to trust him to make decisions for himself. She also needed to learn that it was okay to go after what she really wanted.

This was a wonderful addition to Ms. Lawrence’s catalog of stories. I truly enjoy her writing each and every time.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Southern Fried Blues (The Officers’ Ex-Wives Club Book 1) by Jamie Farrell

Southern Fried Blues (The Officers’ Ex-Wives Club Book 1) by Jamie Farrell

Southern Fried Blues Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was gifted a copy of Southern Fried Blues by the author. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

When her husband divorces her out of the blue, Anna Martin finds herself a thousand miles from home in a job she doesn’t love and lacking the education she was never able to complete. She’s uprooted her life too many times for a military man, and vows to never do it again. But finding herself and figuring out what she really wants in life might be pushing her toward a sexy man in a uniform after all.

Jackson Davis is a Southern gentleman through and through. Despite his jokes about his mama, it was really his daddy who taught him everything he knows about being a gentleman. And if the best man he’s ever known couldn’t keep a woman happy, Jackson doesn’t hold out much hope for himself. Yet there’s something about Anna Grace that makes him want to try.

Any relationship between Anna and Jackson comes with an expiration date—deployment—so it should be safe for them to spend some time together while they have the chance. But when their hearts get involved, things could get ugly.

Southern Fried Blues is book 1 in The Officers’ Ex-Wives Club series and it can comfortably be read as a standalone. This witty contemporary romance is full of Southern slang and banter that kept me amused throughout the entire story. Jackson had a habit of playing the dumb redneck when he didn’t want to show his true colors. Thankfully, his Anna Grace saw the man underneath and called him on it every time.

The characterizations of the main characters were interesting and consistent. Anna was a Yankee with OCD tendencies. She loved her label maker more than anything else, and organization was her life. Jackson’s appreciation for her idiosyncrasies made their relationship that much more solid. He watched her sort her potato chips, figured out which pile contained her favorites, and then offered his up just to make her happy.

Jackson’s Southern upbringing made him a true gentleman. Every man could take lessons from him on how to treat a lady. Although he had a wonderful relationship with his mamie, his relationship with his sister and his mama needed some work. With Anna’s help, Jackson was able to make great strides in those relationships.

This book didn’t lack secondary characters, and they were all well-developed and entertaining, keeping the story interesting on all levels. I thoroughly enjoyed this entire book and would definitely read more by this author.

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Rach

POTUS: A Powerplay Novel by Selena Laurence

POTUS: A Powerplay Novel by Selena Laurence

POTUS Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of POTUS by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

The first female President of the United States is beloved by her nation. After more than two years in office, the country already knows they want Jessica Hampton back for a second term. But what does Jessica want? She’s spent the last six years fulfilling someone else’s legacy, and although she loved her late husband and still loves his family, Jessica’s ready to move on with the rest of her life.

Egyptian Ambassador to the United States Kamal Masri has had demands placed on him from a very young age. In his culture, family comes before all else, and you never disobey your father. Having spent so much of his life outside Egypt, Kamal begins to question these ethics—especially when his father’s request goes against everything he’s been working toward in his career.

The attraction between Jessica and Kamal is undeniable, but their situations make a relationship impossible. Family issues and politics just add to the chaos surrounding them. Each will have to make their own decisions about what’s right for their country … and what’s right for their hearts.

POTUS is part of the Powerplay series, but it is a standalone story. It can easily be read without having read the previous books in the series. The most appealing factor of this book is how both main characters are older and more mature, and their choices have life and death consequences. They each need to make decisions based on not only what is best for themselves but also what is best for their country, and those scenarios rarely overlap.

Aside from the differences between Jessica and Kamal’s goals for their respective countries, the most appealing layer of the story was the differences in their cultures. As an Egyptian, Kamal was raised to believe that men should protect women, yet he was falling in love with the most powerful woman in the world. His protectiveness was not always completely misguided, but he still had to learn to let go and allow Jessica to take care of herself. It amused me to see his friends laughing at him about some of his beliefs.

The plot itself was complex and woven together tightly, creating plenty of intrigue to keep me turning page after page. Every action had a consequence, politically and personally, and no choice could be made in a vacuum. Jessica and Kamal’s relationship grew at a believable pace, and their feelings for each other evoked every one of my own emotions.

I would have liked to see a bit more wrap-up about Kamal’s father, but overall the story left me enthralled and satisfied. I have yet to find a book by Ms. Laurence I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and I look forward to future additions to this series.

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Rach

Closer by Emerald O’Brien

Closer by Emerald O’Brien

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3 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Closer by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Just when life should be perfect for Chloe Forrester, everything begins to unravel. Her new fiancé is accused of cheating on her with another woman, and to make matters worse, the woman in question winds up dead. Paxton Potter won’t rest until he gets to the bottom of his ex-girlfriend’s death. He may have broken up with her for cheating on him, but that doesn’t mean he can stand to let her killer go free.

Pax makes Chloe question everything she’s ever known. As the two begin to look closer at the events surrounding Pax’s ex-girlfriend’s death, an attraction is formed. Chloe will need to find the courage to make her own decisions when Pax becomes the prime suspect in the murder.

Closer is a romantic suspense story with lots of twists and turns. The suspense was intriguing, keeping me guessing about the murderer right along with the main characters. The relationship between Chloe and Pax was set at a good pace, especially considering they had both just come out of relationships with someone they thought they’d be with forever.

The main drawback to the story was the relationship between Chloe and Harrison. The story opens with Harrison being accused of cheating on Chloe, so I never felt invested in their relationship. Yet Chloe continually considered going back to him, which made her character appear weak and wishy-washy. While the opening drama was meant to draw the reader into the story, some more building of Chloe and Harrison’s relationship would have made her indecision more believable. Conversely, she could have stood her ground in deciding she was done with Harrison, which would have made her a stronger character.

There were also a lot of editing issues in the book, like incorrect dialogue punctuation and comma splices. The number of dialogue interruptions was distracting as well, forcing me to reread the dialogue to make sense of it.

A little more believability and some good editing would have increased my enjoyment of this story. The base was there with a good plot and well thought-out suspense, but it needed a better execution.

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Rach