Flutter by Olivia Evans – Review

Flutter by Olivia Evans

Flutter Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

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

When Dylan Walker lost the love of his life, he dedicated his life to helping others like her. After six years, he’s finally ready to start over, and that includes moving to the other side of the country where he doesn’t have memories of his past. But his path to helping others puts him in the direct path of a ghost. Not only is Presley Cooper supposed to be dead, but judging by the blank way she stares straight through Dylan, she won’t be any help in figuring out how she ended up there. Now he needs to make her remember not only her life but also her love for him.

Flutter is a standalone romantic suspense novel that had interesting aspects of mental illness woven into the story. As a doctor, the main character worked with patients in an in-patient mental illness facility, which provided the reader with glimpses of the suffering from various mental illnesses. The author presented the information in a way that was sophisticated enough to be coming from a doctor yet plain enough for the reader to understand, which increased my enjoyment of the story.

The book has aspects of both romance and suspense, but it leaned heavier on the suspense plot. The romance between Dylan and Presley was more of a given, with information provided to prove how much they loved each other rather than the process of falling in love. The story goes back and forth between the past and the present, which isn’t my favorite way to read, but it does work in this book to provide more information on the history between the characters and explain aspects of the plot going forward.

As for the suspense, it was interesting to watch Dylan trying to help Presley and another patient, and the suspenseful parts of the story were wrapped up nicely without leaving a bunch of loose ends. I especially appreciated that Presley’s mental issues were not immediately solved at the climax of the story, making it more realistic.

There were other parts that didn’t ring true for me, but not enough to take me out of the story. I also wasn’t immediately drawn into the story at the start, but glad I kept reading because it was well-written and enjoyable in the end.

If you enjoy suspenseful romance, this book is worth the read. I’ll definitely read more by this author.

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Rach

Starry Eyed Inside by Rochelle Allison

Starry Eyed Inside by Rochelle Allison

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4 out of 5 Stars

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

Coming of age is never easy, and it’s especially difficult for Rory Shepherd when she falls for bad boy Skyler Nolan. Starry Eyed Inside takes readers on a journey of exploration through the high school years, following Rory through first love and heartbreak and learning to live for herself. One of my favorite things about this book was the author’s use of voice for Rory and being able to feel her maturity emerging as she goes from love-struck high school freshman to senior year and knowing what she wants out of life. The journey is an emotional roller coaster, and the author has a talent for making readers feel everything her characters feel.

Although the story is told from Rory’s point of view, we get plenty of Skyler growing up as well. He goes from from reckless, indifferent teenager to a young man who has figured out what’s important and isn’t afraid to go after it. His patience and determination showed great character growth, and I enjoyed falling for the bad boy but loving the mature young man.

This is a great story of life and love, but I hesitate to classify it as Young Adult due to the amount of sexual content. It’s definitely geared more toward the older YA crowd. This certainly isn’t a strike against the book for me, but worth noting if that’s not your cup of tea.

A couple things contributed to this being a 4-star book for me as opposed to giving it 5 stars. While I enjoyed the journey of the characters, at times I felt it was too drawn out. The final third of the book could have been condensed and more to the point in my opinion. There were a few secondary characters with not enough follow-through (or perhaps too much inclusion to start), and some editing errors and minor inconsistencies, but nothing that would take me too far out of the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would definitely read more by this author.

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Rach

Sugar & Gold (Dreamcatchers Book 2) by Emma Scott

Sugar & Gold (Dreamcatchers Book 2) by Emma Scott

Sugar & Gold Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

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

Sugar & Gold is the second book in Emma Scott’s Dreamcatchers series, but as a standalone novel, you can comfortably read this amazing book without having read the first in the series (although I highly recommend reading How to Save a Life anyway—my review can be found here). Like the first book, this one contains what I’d categorize as a touch of paranormal. It’s so well-incorporated into the characterization that it doesn’t feel like a paranormal story though, so definitely don’t let that scare you off from reading if you’re not a fan of paranormal romance.

Nikolai Young was born with a gift he’d rather not have. His ability to know people’s emotions set him apart from a young age and caused his father to leave and his mother to think he had the devil inside him. He spends his life running from his ability, crisscrossing the country to keep his gift from overwhelming him. He plays poker to win just enough money to live off of and then moves on. Until he meets Fiona, the woman who calms the chaos of his gift.

Fiona Starling has a dream of moving to Costa Rica. The bright colors and lush greenery will help her escape her ugly past. She’s already begun rebuilding her life on her own terms, and a one-night stand with a tattooed stranger fits the bill of doing whatever she wants in the moment. Their physical connection is so strong right from the start that Fiona and Nik can’t seem to stay away from each other. But both of them have inner demons to deal with before they can find peace with each other.

I have yet to read a book by Ms. Scott I didn’t love, and this one was no different. It captured my heart right from the start with Nik’s poor, tortured soul just trying to find a little peace. I also loved sweet Fiona, so happy and carefree on the outside but with a difficult past she kept buried inside. The character growth in this book was a joy to watch. Nik and Fiona each had issues to come to grips with, and they knew they couldn’t depend on the other as their sole resource.

As with all of Ms. Scott’s books I’ve read so far, this story is full of passion and emotion. The author has a way of making you feel everything right along with the characters. I am a fan for life of Ms. Scott’s work and will be eagerly awaiting each of her new releases.

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Rach

Shameless by Nana Malone and M. Malone

Shameless by Nana Malone and M. Malone

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4 out of 5 Stars

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

Romantic Suspense

Lucia DeMarco has made it her life’s mission to find out why her brother Rafe was killed. In the meantime, she just wants to live. A date with the cute guy who works with the city’s records while she’s searching for information seems like a harmless idea. Too bad her brother’s best friend, Noah Blake, feels otherwise.

Noah Blake swore he would protect Lucia at all costs, and that includes protecting her from jerks who aren’t good enough for her. Realizing he’s one of those jerks doesn’t stop his attraction from growing for the girl he used to view as a little sister. But staying away and staying out of her life are out of the question, especially now that she’s in more danger than she realizes.

Shameless is the first book in a romantic suspense series, and it will capture your attention with its wit and humor. The brother-figure turned romantic interest provides a nice amount of push and pull between the characters, and the tension between them is thick right from the start. I especially enjoyed when Noah intruded on Lucia’s date. There was plenty of comedy as well as forging of the attraction between the characters to carry the reader throughout the book.

This first book in the series focused on the beginning of the relationship between Lucia and Noah, and it could have used a little more buildup on the investigation into Rafe’s death. It didn’t feel like the investigation moved very much by the time the book ended. I did enjoy getting to know both characters, however Noah’s thoughts on how he wasn’t good enough for Lucia became repetitive after a while.

Overall, the story was well-written and left me wanting to know what happens next. I would definitely be interested in reading the next book in the series to find out more about Rafe’s death and how it affects the main characters and their relationship.

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Rach

Saying I Do (Stewart Island Book 8) by Tracey Alvarez

Saying I Do (Stewart Island Book 8) by Tracey Alvarez

Saying I Do Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

MacKenna Jones has been designing wedding gowns since she was a little girl, but for other people. Mac isn’t the marrying type. She got close once, but she now knows that forever is not for her. Yet there’s something about Oban’s sexy doctor, Joe Whelan, that keeps her coming back for more. Too bad Joe hates her for ruining his chance at happily ever after.

Left by his fiancée a week before his wedding, Doctor Joe Whelan has no interest in holy matrimony. He should hate MacKenna for causing the breakup, but he can’t seem to stay away from her now that their orbits have crossed. Since Mac so successfully broke up his wedding several years ago, it should be no problem for her to break up Joe’s sister’s wedding, because no tattooed bus driver could be good enough for his little sister. Never mind that his diabolical plan forces him and Mac together. Shouldn’t be a problem since they’re both allergic to marriage.

Saying I Do is book 8 in the Stewart Island series, and like all other novels in this series, it can comfortably be read as a standalone book. Of course, if you’re already a fan of the series, some of everyone’s favorite characters make reappearances. Good old Mrs. Taylor, Oban’s resident octogenarian matchmaker, is back for another book, and this time she’s pointed her walking stick at Dr. Joe. No one has yet escaped Mrs. Taylor’s matchmaking!

One thing I love about every book written by Ms. Alvarez is that the story always goes beyond the romance. This one is no different. Both Mac and Joe are nuptially-challenged, and they each have good reason to stay away from the institution, in addition to good reason to stay away from each other. The plot is driven forward as much by their family situations and need for growth as it is by their lust. And in typical Tracey Alvarez style, the heat is turned up between the two, and the romance blooms in vivid color across the pages of the book. Attraction turns to love in a natural pace, making the reader fall in love with the characters right along with them.

Another thing I always enjoy in this author’s books is the taste of New Zealand I get by reading them. Descriptions of the weather and scenery are naturally integrated, painting a picture for me of a place I likely won’t ever be able to travel to. This book also had the benefit of including Joe’s Irish slang for added culture, as well as a trip to Las Vegas and the dry desert heat.

Saying I Do was as witty and enjoyable as every other book I’ve read by this author. Although I tend to tire of a series after a few books, Ms. Alvarez somehow keeps me coming back for more … eagerly!

All of my reviews of this author’s work can be found on the Author Spotlight tab.

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Rach

Inappropriately Yours by Cara Dee – Guest Review by Judi Wile

Inappropriately Yours by Cara Dee

Inappropriately Yours Cover

Guest review by Judi Wile

5 out of 5 Stars

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

Inappropriately Yours makes me wonder if Ms. Dee felt this way as Isla did when she started writing her first books. Both father and daughter find love in Camassia Cove. I really enjoyed getting to read 2 parts, one with Jack and Isla’s love story and one with Isla’s father Aiden and Chloe’s love story. I also loved getting points of view from each character involved.

A beautiful heart-warming story of love and devotion, of family and compassion, of understanding and acceptance with a HEA. Great story-line and characters. The angst in this book is low, sometimes you just need to read a mushy love story that makes you swoon. The ending just gives you this goofy smile.

Ms. Dee’s writing has always been incredible to me for years. She seems to just know how to keep the reader excited to read the next chapter until the end. I can’t wait to read more about the characters in Camassia Cove.

Thanks to Rach for giving me the opportunity to read this amazing book.

You can find more reviews of Ms. Dee’s books under the Author Spotlight tab.

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One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

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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

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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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