Friday, October 27, 2017

Cover Reveal: Bad at Love

I'm so excited to share the cover of another Karina Halle novel! Her covers are usually so freaking gorgeous that it's fun to be involved in the official reveal. Bad At Love is coming at you in just under three weeks - it publishes on November 16. Because my life has been just a tad insane lately, I actually missed the initial announcement about this novel. But now that I've caught up? Cannot. Wait. 

Here's what Halle's new contemporary standalone novel is all about:
She's bad at love, but he's even worse... Marina is hot, blonde, and wickedly smart, but when it comes to men? She's hopeless. Between her quirks and her lack of filter, there isn't a man in Los Angeles that will stick around after the third date. Her handsome, charming friend Lazarus has the opposite problem. Everyone wants to be his girlfriend, but he gets bored and moves on quickly.
 There's only one way to figure out why neither of them has cracked this love thing-- they'll date each other. On paper, it's the perfect experiment. But in reality, things between Marina and Laz get complicated quickly. They might be bad at love, but they are even worse at being friends.
It sounds like such a Halle book - funny, steamy, and full of heart. 

Now...are you ready for the cover? It's yet another one designed by Hang Le which should tell you that it's going to be beautiful and perfectly capture Halle's story.

Drum roll please....

Gah. I absolutely love it. This is definitely a book I want to take on vacation next month because I feel like I'm on vacay just looking at it.

What do you think? Do you think you'll buy this one? At the very least, you should add it to your Goodreads shelf!

Meet Karina 
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Root Literary and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Connect with Karina
Join her Reader Group
Stay up to date with Karina by signing up for her newsletter here

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Review: London Can You Wait?

At some point in 2016 I started hearing about a book called London Belongs to Me. It was a debut novel and it sounded really good. One day it came up on sale so I snapped it up on my ereader and then, a few weeks later, I was asked to review it for the other blog I sometimes review for, Novel Escapes. (You can find my review here.) Clearly I had wanted to read it so I agreed to review it for some extra exposure for the author. And guys? I adored it. It wasn't perfect but it was really good. So good, in fact, that I bought a Kobo gift card for my sister (who was working on a cruise ship at the time) so she could buy it too (she's a sucker for stories set in London). I was so excited when I learned Jacquelyn Middleton would be writing a sequel. London, Can You Wait? was just as delightful as the first book!

Here's the synopsis:
Alex loves Mark. Mark loves Alex. But is love enough?
Since moving to London from the US, twenty-four-year-old Alex Sinclair seems to have it all: a coveted job writing for the theatre, supportive friends, and the man of her dreams—gorgeous Irish actor, Mark Keegan. But in the year since the acclaimed debut of her play, Alex and Mark’s lives have been turned upside down.
Thanks to his role on a smash-hit British TV show, Mark is catapulted to stardom. Alex couldn’t be happier—until her boyfriend’s popularity and insatiable drive to succeed means they’re apart more than they’re together. Forced to share Mark with showbiz heavy-hitters, intrusive press, and unrelenting fangirls, Alex’s hopes for a stable and committed life with him start to fade. Her struggles with panic attacks, career uncertainty, and Mark’s increasingly worrisome behaviour make her wonder: how much more can she bend before she breaks?
A passionate tale of secrets, loss, and ambition, London, Can You Wait? is the eagerly-awaited sequel to Middleton’s debut novel, London Belongs to Me.
The story starts about a year after London Belongs to Me ended. Mark and Alex are totally in love and Mark's acting star is rapidly rising. I can't imagine how it would feel to be dating an actor let alone a super famous one who is hardly ever around. I've done the long distance relationship thing and it is not easy - and we weren't even dealing with the added stress of fame. I totally understood all of Alex's emotions when it came to missing Mark and being frustrated that he was constantly putting work first. She wants to be supportive because she loves him so much but how can you be supportive when it seems like your partner doesn't care enough to be around to support you? I could even understand why she wouldn't want to have that tough conversation with Mark to explain how she was really feeling (hey, tough conversations are no picnic). But I really wanted her to. I hated that both she and Mark were hiding so much from each other. That is not a recipe for a healthy relationship.

This next part will be a tad spoiler-y but it's to be expected because it's a novel about an established couple so you know there's going to be some relationship issues. I was not thrilled with how Mark was handling his fame or what he does (and doesn't do) that ultimately breaks the pair up. But, it helped them finally face their issues and build an even stronger foundation for their relationship.

Even though it was a novel about a girl who's dating a famous actor, I found the story to be pretty realistic. Alex's relationship fears were valid and her career struggles were also authentic. Most younger twentysomethings (including myself when I was Alex's age) either have no idea what they want to do with their life (me) or know what they want to do and have trouble gaining more than a toe-hold in their industry of choice (Alex). I also loved that even though the story mostly revolved around Alex and Mark's relationship, Alex's career played an important role. This isn't just a love story which makes the novel oh so much better.

There's a massive cast of supporting characters in this novel. You'd almost expect it to be overwhelming but Middleton manages to keep everyone and everything sorted and in check. Of course, I did kind of forget who some of the characters were (it's been awhile since I read LBTM after all) but I eventually got it all sorted out in my head. Lucy is an amazing best friend to Alex and it was awesome to get to see her succeed as well. And Alex's family (her dad, step-mom, and grandmother anyway) are so supportive of Alex and I'm glad that she has them in her corner plus we, as readers, got to spend more time with them as well.

Also - that cover? Love.

I don't know what else I can really say about London, Can You Wait? other than - buy the book and read it. (But also, read London Belongs to Me first because you really will enjoy this book so much more.) It's a great read with really amazing characters who you will completely fall in love with and who you'll root for even when they're being idiots. I cannot wait to see what Jacquelyn Middleton writes next!

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, Kirkwall Books, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Review: Holiday in the Hamptons

I received my ARC of Holiday in the Hamptons on August 11. I had the book finished on August 12 and I had a wedding that day. So, I suppose it's very fair to say I was really looking forward to the next installment in Sarah Morgan's From Manhattan With Love series. (And also very fair to say that I'm way behind with my blog reviews but major life events have gotten in the way.) This is a romance series I fell in love with when I read the first book, Sleepless in Manhattan (review here), and have been eagerly anticipating and then devouring each of the following books. 

Here's the synopsis:
Professional dog-walker Felicity Knight loves everything about New York...until her ex-husband starts working at her local vet clinic. She hasn't seen Seth Carlyle in ten years, but one glimpse of him--too gorgeous, and still too good for her--and Fliss's heart hurts like their whirlwind marriage ended yesterday. So when her grandmother in the Hamptons needs help for the summer, it seems the ideal way to escape her past.
Their relationship might have lasted only a few scorching months, but vet Seth knows Fliss--if she's run away to the Hamptons, it's because she still feels their connection and it terrifies her. He let her go once before, when he didn't know any better, but not this summer! With the help of his adorable dog, Lulu, and a sprinkling of beachside magic, Seth is determined to make Fliss see that he's never stopped loving her...
I know I've said it time and time again but I adore second chance romances. So, the fact that Fliss and Seth were reconnecting after so many years apart was a huge draw for me. The pair were so young when they first got together (and married) that I was excited to see how grown-up them would deal with a relationship. Not so well, in Fliss' case but that was to be expected based on her prickly personality.

I loved that Seth seemed like such a solid guy (but I guess that shouldn't be too surprising since it is a romance and the hero is almost always wonderful and swoonworthy). I think I appreciated that because I had sort of gotten to "know" Fliss over the past few books of this series and knew that she needed someone amazing who could tame her prickliness. You could tell that Fliss has a big heart hidden behind her less than warm personality - a lot of that is based on how she is with her siblings and the dogs she walks - and that makes you root for her Happily Ever After.

As the synopsis mentions, Fliss goes to the Hamptons to run away from her problems and to help her grandmother. Unfortunately, she's so insecure and unwilling to believe she is a great human being that she pretends to be her twin sister, Harriet (who she considers the "good twin"). Fliss' constant negative thoughts about herself kind of got to me and I wished she would realize that she has so much to offer the world. Seth could see that - and could actually, really see her and (this isn't really giving anything away) could tell that she wasn't Harriet. (Which I totally loved, by the way.) But he allowed her to pretend for awhile but finally pushed back when he knew the charade had gone on far enough. Fliss needed that push and Seth wasn't going to let her sell herself short.

Holiday in the Hamptons was really fun and sweet and I loved getting to know Fliss and Seth more. I wouldn't call this installment one of my favourites in the wasn't bad by any means but I felt like there should/could have been more...well just more...between Fliss and Seth. Sarah Morgan still remains one of my favourite contemporary romance authors and I cannot wait to read Harriet's story, Moonlight Over Manhattan.

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, Harlequin, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Chasing Christmas Eve

It may be Thanksgiving here in Canada (Happy Thanksgiving, friends!) but I'm getting the holiday spirit going already with Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis. This is the latest in her HeartbreakerBay series but you don’t have to read the others to enjoy Colbie and Spence’s story. Of course, if you’re like me and haven’t read them you’re probably going to want to go back and visit the stories Shalvis has already written. That’s how much fun and how sweet this novel was!

Here’s the synopsis via Goodreads:
Meet cute...Run for the hills—temporarily. That's Colbie Albright's plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie's so over it that she's under it. She's also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she's pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won't be a stranger for long.
Make merry...Spence's commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn't have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot chemistry—he's got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself... just because she's gorgeous and a great listener just because she gets Spence immediately doesn't mean he won't be able to let Colbie go. Does it?
and hope for a miracle.Now the clock's ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.

It was really easy to see why Spence would fall for Colbie. I loved her too! She was smart, funny, and down to earth. She had issues – which reared its ugly head a few times over the course of the novel – but she seemed committed to working through them. After running away, of course. I do wish she was more firm with her mom and brothers at the end because they really were taking advantage of her. I get that she’s a fixer – I kind of am myself – but she was so focused on that that she couldn’t see that maybe her life could be different and oh so much better with Spence and San Francisco.

It was also easy to see why Colbie loved San Francisco. I’ve never been but it’s on my travel bucket list. The area Spence and his friends live in sounded so great and had a nice small town vibe in the middle of a big city.

Spence had a really awesome, loyal group of friends which are his self-made family. I loved the friendship between all of them. They’re super protective of him because other people from his past have taking advantage of him. For the most part, that’s sweet. But sometimes their protectiveness became a little extreme. I get that they might assume Colbie is a reporter since they know virtually nothing about her but I also couldn’t quite see why there was so much fuss about Spence. Sure he’s crazy smart and rich and good-looking but…I don’t understand why the media was crawling all over him. I also really didn’t understand why Elle was so crazy Mama Bear protective of Spence. It was honestly annoying to read and I wish she, and some of the others, gave him the chance to fall in love instead of blocking his relationship with Colbie whenever they could. They liked her – and it was sweet that the ladies of the group immediately took Colbie under their wing – but instead of allowing her to share her background in her own time, they forced the issue.

The romance was totally believable in this story, even if it happened really quickly. Colbie and Spence had so many common personality traits and differences where it mattered that it made so much sense for them to fall for each other.

I’m finding that most Christmas romances these days aren’t really too Christmassy. So it wasn’t that weird reading a book set in the three weeks leading up to Christmas when it was October and unseasonably warm here in Ontario. But, had I been reading this in December and wanted a romance with all of the Christmas trimmings, I may have been disappointed. As long as you don’t expect Santa or tinsel at every turn, I think you’ll enjoy the hints of holiday throughout this book.

All in all, Chasing Christmas Eve was a really nice read. Jill Shalvis is so talented at creating worlds that are sweet and so much fun to read about. I read this one really quickly and my heart was full at the end for Colbie and Spence. I’d consider that a win.

At the unexpected sight of Spence, Colbie startled hard. How was it that he was the one who needed glasses and yet she’d not seen him standing against the window? “No, I don’t kill a lot of people,” she said cautiously because she was wearing only a towelin front of a strange man. “But I’m happy to make an exception.”
He laughed, a rough rumble that was more than a little contagious but she controlled herself because, hello, she was once again dripping wet before the man who seemed to make her knees forget to hold her up.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said and pushed off the wall to come close.
She froze, but he held up his hands like, I come in peace, and crouched at her feet to scoop up the clothes she hadn’t realized she’d dropped.
Leggings, a long forgiving tee, and the peach silk bra-and-panty set that hadn’t gotten so much as a blink from the TSA guy.
But it got one out of Spence. He also swallowed hard as she snatched them back from him.
“Hold on,” he said and caught her arm, pulling it toward him to look at her bleeding elbow.
“Sit,” he said and gently pushed her down to a weight bench. He vanished into the bathroom and came back out with a first aid kit.
It took him less than two minutes to clean and bandage the scrape. Then, easily balanced at her side on the balls of his feet, he did the same for both her knees, which she hadn’t noticed were also scraped up.
“You must’ve hit the brick coping as you fell in the fountain,” he said and let his thumb slide over the skin just above one bandaged knee.
She shivered, and not from the cold either. “Not going to kiss it better?” she heard herself ask before biting her tongue for running away with her good sense.
She’d raised her younger twin brothers. Scrappy, roughhouse wild animals, the both of them, so there’d been plenty of injuries she’d kissed over the years.
But no one had ever kissed hers. Not surprising, since most of her injuries tended to be on the inside, where they didn’t show. Still, she was horrified she’d said anything at all. “I didn’t mean—”
She broke off, frozen like a deer in the headlights as Spence slowly lowered his head, brushing his lips over the Band-Aid on her elbow, then her knees. When he lifted his head, he pushed his glasses higher on his nose, those whiskey eyes warm and amused behind his lenses. “Better?”
Shockingly better. Since she didn’t quite trust her voice at the moment, she gave a jerky nod and took her clothes back into the bathroom. She shut the door and then leaned against it, letting out a slow, deliberate breath. Holy cow, she was out of her league. He was somehow both cute and hot, and those glasses . . .

Connect with JillWebsite * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest * Tumblr * Goodreads 

Buy Links for Chasing Christmas Eve
Amazon * IndieBound * Barnes & Noble * Books-A-Million * iBooks * GooglePlay

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, Avon Books/HarperCollins, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*