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

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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Happy reading!

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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Happy reading!

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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Happy reading!

Rach

Teach Your Heart (Far North Book 3) by Tracey Alvarez

Teach Your Heart (Far North Book 3) by Tracey Alvarez

Teach Your Heart Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

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

Gracie Cooper has been wandering Europe since her mother’s death four years ago, but now it’s time to return home to New Zealand. That, unfortunately, means once again being under her father’s microscope and having him point out all the ways her life has fallen short of his expectations. Gracie needs a job, because she’s still got plenty of student debt to pay back, but also to fund her next adventure—far away from her father in the United States.

Dr. Owen Bennett is so focused on his career since the death of his sister that he essentially lives a solitary life even when surrounded by people. That will all have to change when his nieces and nephew come to stay with him for a few months while his mother—their guardian—recovers her own health.

It’s serendipity when Gracie runs into the misfit kids. They need a nanny; she needs a job. Everyone’s happy. Except this darn attraction zipping through her every time she sees her new employer could be a problem. He’s so far from her type. She doesn’t stay put long enough to have relationships. How in the world could this ever work? Maybe some lessons need to be learned the hard way.

Teach Your Heart is book 3 in the Far North series but is completely standalone. If you’ve read the first two, you’ll enjoy the updates on the characters from those books, but you won’t be missing any pertinent information if you start with book 3. As usual, Ms. Alvarez has created a believable, well-paced romance that encompasses more than just the relationship of the main characters. One of the reasons I continue to come back to her stories is because I can always depend on their being something more, something that gives the story and the characters depth.

In this book, both main characters had family issues to solve. While they were somewhat predictable issues, in no way was the growth of the characters predictable or boring. Even when I could feel how things were going to play out, I still couldn’t put the book down because I wanted to see it and get the emotions that went with it.

Owen Bennett had immersed himself in work at the hospital, so when his parents could no longer care for his orphaned nieces and nephew and he was nominated for the job, things became complete chaos. He wanted to do right by his sister’s kids, but the situation was only temporary so how could he make life decisions for them, and especially decisions he knew went against her wishes? With little nudges in the right direction from Gracie, his new nanny who had a free spirit like his sister, Owen began to understand there were more important things than his job, and loving these three kids wasn’t temporary, nor was loving Gracie.

Gracie Cooper was restless and didn’t plan on returning home for long, mostly to stay off the radar of her overbearing father. Finding the nanny job with Owen’s kids would allow her to pay back her student loans and still have travelling money. She didn’t bank on making friends, finding a career she actually enjoyed, loving those crazy kids, and of course loving her boss.

Combined with the enjoyable pace of the relationship and growth of the characters was a nice dose of humor. I loved the kids and all their antics, as well as Owen’s rules and how they changed throughout the story.

Another abundantly entertaining read from Ms. Alvarez. I will continue to read more books in this series. All of my reviews of her work can be found under the Author Spotlight tab.

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Happy reading!

Rach

The Deeper Chronicles Book 2 by Allyn Lesley

The Deeper Chronicles Book 2 by Allyn Lesley

3 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided an ARC of Deeper Book Two by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Noah Adams and Avi Linton are finally able to relax and enjoy each other, but business for Noah always takes precedence. Avi understands, to a degree, though that doesn’t keep her from pushing for answers Noah isn’t willing to give. Noah’s business suddenly becomes personal and he has to figure out who is targeting him and how to stop the threat. When the threat sets its sights on Avi, Noah has more to lose than he ever imagined. He’ll need to save Avi without losing himself in the process.

Although not strictly necessary, I highly suggest reading book 1 prior to reading The Deeper Chronicles Book Two. There is a lot of information from the first book that continues into this book, and since it had been a while since I read the first one I found myself struggling at times to understand some parts.

That said, it is an interesting and intriguing romantic suspense novel, and I appreciate the way the author is able to weave together various pieces of the puzzle. So many things are happening at once but I was able to follow along and put clues together, which kept me engaged throughout.

Noah was an alpha who ruled with an iron fist. His characterization stayed true from the first time we met him in book 1 until the end of this book. While I appreciated the consistency of his character, it was also one of the downfalls of my enjoyment. If you’re the type of reader who loves an alpha male and the women who submit to them, then this series would be a great choice for you. Unfortunately, I prefer to see character growth and adaptation. I wanted Noah to show a little trust in Avi and let her into his world a bit. Instead he used sex to distract or deter her every time she asked him questions, which not only left me disconnected from Noah but also wondering exactly what their relationship was based on other than sex. Avi was a bit too weak for my liking.

The copy of the book I received was an ARC edition, so I tried to limit my criticism of grammatical errors, however they did factor into my rating a bit as there were some errors in vital sentences that really took me out of the moment. Hopefully they have been cleaned up in the final publication.

I’m certain this book will appeal to many readers. It just didn’t hit enough high notes for me.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Full Tilt (Full Tilt #1) by Emma Scott

Full Tilt (Full Tilt #1) by Emma Scott

Full Tilt Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

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

Jonah Fletcher knows his time is short, but he’s vowed to leave an impression behind and focuses all his waning energy on completing his masterpiece—a glass installation. He didn’t count on the drunk guitarist storming into his life and changing all his priorities. Kacey Dawson’s impulsiveness has landed her in a world of trouble, but it’s also put her at a crossroads. Continuing on with the band the way she has is self-destructive, and ultimately it’s not what she really wants to do with her life. But her demons chase her and she has nowhere to escape.

Until she wakes up on Jonah’s couch with no recollection of how she got there.

An unlikely friendship blossoms into something more, but life doesn’t always give you what you want. Sometimes it gives you exactly what you need.

There are few words I can use to describe Emma Scott’s Full Tilt. Heartbreakingly beautiful are the main words that come to mind. This is the type of story that will keep you reading late into the night, and then have you lying awake for hours after, unable to sleep because of the impression it leaves.

I was immediately sucked into the lives of Jonah and Kacey, both characters with depth and intrigue. Jonah doesn’t allow people to get close. What’s the point when he knows his time is short? He wants to be remembered for doing something amazing, not mourned or pitied. But when Kacey crosses his path, he can’t help but be drawn out of his comfort zone, out of his routine. The attraction is undeniable and real, but Kacey has to go into it with eyes wide open. She knows how this will end, but is she strong enough to enjoy it while it’s here? Her life can only change for the better by letting Jonah be a part of it.

I’ve now read a few of Ms. Scott’s books and enjoyed them all, but I can say with absolute certainty that this one will remain high on my favorites list for years to come. I’m not typically a fan of this kind of story, but the emotions Ms. Scott is able to draw out made the story worth every minute of lost sleep.

Although this is book one of two, it can comfortably be read as a standalone, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself clamoring for book two as soon as you turn the last page.

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Happy reading!

Rach