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

Shameless Cover

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

SCOTUS (A Powerplay Novel) by Selena Laurence

SCOTUS (A Powerplay Novel) by Selena Laurence

Title Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

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

If you’re looking for a romance you can really sink your teeth into, look no further than Selena Laurence’s SCOTUS. This Powerplay novel is a standalone political romance that truly packs a punch, dealing with some serious current issues like racism and political scandals and featuring an interracial couple. It’s an emotional second-chance romance that will keep you turning the pages right up to the end.

Teague Roberts has had his eye on becoming a Supreme Court Justice since he was a little kid growing up in a neighborhood filled with gangs and violence. All his life he’s been trying to get out of the shadow of his upbringing, but he’ll never really be able to forget where he’s from. Just as he’s on the cusp of getting everything he’s ever wanted, a blast from his past shows up and threatens to ruin it all.

Deanna Forbes was once engaged to Teague, but now she’s assigned to report on him as the president’s Supreme Court nominee. Her boss wants her to find a scandal, but Teague appears squeaky clean on the outside. She’s the only person who knows his darkest secret and could ruin his entire career. Deanna already has sins of the past to atone for. Despite having never stopped loving Teague, she’ll never be able to forgive herself for what she did to him twelve years ago.

The way the author handled the racial issues in this book was both heartbreaking and brilliant. The reader gets both perspectives, with Deanna having been raised by parents who wouldn’t accept a black man for their son-in-law and Teague struggling to overcome every racial roadblock thrown in front of him.

Teague’s character was so complex I couldn’t help but love him right from the start. On the outside, he was a successful attorney wearing power suits and working eighty hours a week. On the inside, he was still the kid who grew up in a rough neighborhood and was used to defending himself, sometimes for no other reason than the color of his skin. No power suit would change the perception of some people, and throughout the story Teague had to accept this and find ways to overcome it.

Deanna was intriguing on her own as well. It wasn’t long after letting go of Teague the first time that she realized it was the mistake of a lifetime. She spent the next twelve years trying to make up for it any way she could. And once Teague was back in her life, she was going to do whatever she could to right her past wrongs.

The emotion in this book was off the charts, and it ran the gamut of heartfelt to heartbreaking and everything in between. I was so emotionally connected to these characters that I hurt for them and could feel every bit of their pain. Even a secondary character brought me to tears several times.

I have read quite a few books by Ms. Laurence and truly enjoy her writing, but this one is her absolute best. The present-day issues and emotional journey will stay with me for a long time to come.

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

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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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Rach

Dreaming of Rhapsody (A Rhapsody Novella) by Selena Laurence

Dreaming of Rhapsody (A Rhapsody Novella) by Selena Laurence

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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