Engagement and Espionage by Penny Reid

engagement and espionage

official blurb
Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil . . . and now they’re engaged! But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most “fowl” need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear. Sabotage! Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?

3.75 our of 5🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

I loved diving back into the Winston brothers lives. I struggled through a lot of the “pennyverse” books so I was not sure how I would feel revisiting this world again, but in the end I was happy I did.

Cletus and Jenn are as adorable as ever. This was a different genre of book than the Winston brothers- I would call this a steamy cozy mystery, with the steam level being quite high.

I really liked this book! It was a little stressful for me (that’s normal with me and any suspense even if it’s minimal), even with it being pretty predictable. It was fun to try to piece together where this book intertwined with the other books in the timeline. I almost had to remember what I didn’t know yet.

One of the things that this book mentions is how rude Cletus is to Roscoe – I had no memory of this whatsoever! This is probably to be expected when you read 628183772 books in this universe but it was kind of funny to me that I didn’t remember that at all.

Like most PR books there are plenty of content warnings: abuse (emotional and physical), kidnapping, gun violence, attempted murder.

Overall I read this book quickly and really loved the time I got to spend in Green Valley. I loved seeing Cletus and Shelley interacting a lot.

One last complaint is the last chapter was from Cletus’ perspective and it felt as though it should’ve been from Jenn’s. it didn’t keep the same cadence or tone that Cletus’ chapters usually did.

While this is technically a stand alone novel I would not recommend it without reading Beard Science (but in all reality you should read the Winston brothersseries up through beard science and then read this book). And if you really wanted to go for it, it would give you additional knowledge of you read Ashley and Drew’s book (Beauty and the Mustache)  before the Winston brothers series. I know, that’s a lot before this but the series is on my required reading list for romance lovers, so really you should read it anyways.

while reading you should
listen to bluegrass music – may I suggest the civil wars?
Eat: a new cupcake from a local bakery.
Do: change your oil and have your tire pressure checked. (Cletus is a mechanic after all).

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Beach Read by Emily Henry

I had the HARDEST time rating this book.  Because there were things I really didn’t like about it.  But then I also loved parts of it and thought it should be five stars! Gah.  Okay I’m going to go with four stars for now, but I might revise it later.

4 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level but level 🔥🔥 description used.

 

what i didn't like

Two authors are in a relationship. Only one reads the others books. Do you root for them? I mean you do…but do you really? Because you’re pretty sure one is more invested than the other.

There wasn’t a love triangle exactly but enough of one where I felt like…so are you in love with two people at the same time? I’m confused how you can make grand proclamations after it took multiple days to decide which person you want to have a future with.

I feel I should mention this even though I really don’t want to because it’s a dumb reason to not like something in a book..  But January cried a lot in the book, and at one point I thought…sheesh.  I think if I felt that she was facing her feelings and crying I wouldn’t have minded it on the page at all. But she is avidly avoiding resolution in her life so it made the tears more eye roll inducing for me.

There were multiple communication issues that drove the plot but would get resolved pretty quickly. I’m not a communication issues fan, and even though there were resolutions taking place, I eventually got tired of the couple’s poor communication.

what i liked

I loved the banter, it was quick witted and had me smile reading quite a lot.

Shout out to a book that points out all of the positives of reading and or writing romance!

13 chapters into this book and I was positive it was going to be five stars. I read it quickly and it easily could’ve been a one day read for me if I didn’t have a newborn and two toddlers.

I loved the best friendship between Shadi and January.

 

Lots of content warnings in this book. If you find content warnings (previously called trigger warnings) to be spoilers then skip the next sentence! Content warnings include: physical abuse, living in a cult, death of a loved one, cancer storyline, infidelity.

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Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

famous in a small town

So I’ve been stumbling upon old reviews that I drafted somewhat but never finished.  I thought about scrapping them entirely but then I thought, mmm…better not.  That was a very niche Pitch Perfect joke.

pitch perfect gif

official blurb
For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends—loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for—she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival. The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return. What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything—along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own.

3.5 stars

The story in this book gave me a couple of twists, one of which I didn’t see coming (which is rare for me! …okay it would probably be less rare if I read things such as thrillers but since I don’t I can say I like the twists in the YA novel).  As always, I loved Emma Mills writing because she produces realistic characters.  It didn’t rate higher because the story wasn’t one that had me pulled in and non stop reading.  While I wouldn’t consider this a reread, overall I laughed out loud a few times while reading and enjoyed the ride.

Here are some quotes that I loved!

“Nice to meet you,” August said.
“That’s what I’ve heard, I replied.”

“Were you eating cold lasagna?” I asked, scooping pasta remains into the Tupperware while he wiped up the trail of sauce.
“Yeah.”
“But the microwave is right there.  Love yourself!”

“She knows everything,” Flora said. “She’s like the internet.”
She was possibly better than the internet sometimes.  I’d volunteered there since freshman year, and Mel had never once redirected to an ad for male enhancement.

“Sammy.”  He snapped his fingers.  “Patty. Patty Weaver. Oh yeah.  She makes a great lemon tart.”
“I heard she also makes responsible children.”

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The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska #1) by Sarah Morgenthaler

tourist attraction

What’s this? Another old review that I’ve stumbled upon?  Yupp… You know me, I love to draft without publishing or fine tuning anything and then have 92727390218 drafts!  Don’t worry, I’m working on it!  This one comes at you from March 2020.

arc review

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC of this book which comes out on May 5, 2020.

All I keep thinking while reading chapter one is, why does the author keep repeating the characters names all the time? Graham and Zoey. Almost every sentence starts with their name, it seems like! Seriously… Why?

Do you ever read a book and think that perhaps the author is either way smarter than you are (a very likely case) or from somewhere other than America (a less likely case)? Because as I was reading I thought some phrasing was a bit off. And at one point asked the question: what the heck is a cudgel?  I still don’t know the answer as to whether or not the author is perhaps British but I did look up a cudgel and can say definitively that the author’s diction is far superior to my own. 

I know that people like to liken the hero in this book to Luke from Gilmore Girls.  The classic grumpy diner owner in a small town.  But… well let’s be honest, I’m team Christopher. Perhaps herein lies the problem as I trudge forward with this read.

In the end, I had to DNF this book (did not finish).  I was so excited to get my hands on it but after seeing the characters interact, I feel confident that I’m not the right reader for this book. 

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Worth The Whisk (Donut Disturb #2) by Melissa

worth the whisk

arc review

official blurb
Oh, you know a phallic pipe joke? Cool. I’ve heard them all. Trust me, they don’t make me blush anymore. As the only female plumber in the family business and the newest member of an all-male construction crew, I’ve developed a thick skin. Usually I’m ready for anything. Doing my cousin a favor, I take a late-night plumbing call thinking it’ll be an easy fix. What I’m not prepared for is to be mistaken for a homeless man or to find a soaking wet hunk glaring at me. I have to work fast not only to fix his perception of me, but also the burst pipe that is flooding the Bake, Rattle & Roll bakery. Working around pastry chef Harrison Daniels throws a wrench in my plans. I’m going to have to use every tool in my arsenal to resist falling for him and his sweet, tempting words. He’s out to prove he’s worth the risk and I’m starting to agree.

3 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥  out of 5 steam level

This book was much like the first so I think if you liked book one you’ll also enjoy this one! Like the first book, this a romcom with a bit of suspense in it. It was good to see the characters from book one. The rising star in the books for me is the mom – she just cracks me up!

Content warnings: stalker, death of a loved one, cancer.
There is cursing in this book.

The book is such a quick read which I really like. There were some really funny moments throughout the book. The downside is that I don’t fully get immersed in the characters and feel their connection to each other. Again, similar to the first book I found the words telling me things that I didn’t end up feeling while reading.  I really liked the switch up of the majority gender roles that the two main characters did for their jobs. August was a female plummer, while Harrison was a tattooed male baker.

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Hands down By Mariana Zapata

hands down

 

official blurb

Before he was Big Texas, he was Zac the Snack Pack. Bianca Brannen knows time—mostly—heals all wounds. Including those your once loved ones might have unintentionally given you. (Those just take longer.) She thinks she’s ready when a call has her walking back into her old friend’s life. Or at least as prepared as possible to see the starting quarterback in the National Football Organization. Before the lights, the fans, and the millions, he’d been a skinny kid with a heart of gold. Waltzing out of Zac Travis’s life should be easy. Just as easy as he walked out of hers.

1.5 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥  out of 5 steam.

There’s one sex scene at the very end of the book that can be easily skipped. There is cursing in the book.

Let’s get into what I didn’t like about the book. Okay… It’s fairly obvious I liked almost nothing. But I read the WHOLE thing. Well I say that but like most MZ books, I skimmed a lot of inner dialogue. Bc her books desperately need editing.

Shall we talk nicknames yet? Bibi, little Texas, big Texas, snack pack, kiddo. That’s right…I ended on kiddo. Because Zac calls Bianca that the WHOLE book. I hated it. There was a bit of an age gap. But…no, I am not rooting for a couple who uses kiddo as a term of endearment.

I think she tried so hard to convince the reader of a friend’s to lovers romance that she went too far. They were literally throwing farts in each other’s faces. I wish I was joking about that.

Shall we touch base on inner monologue yet? I cannot….CANNOT… Get behind one person talking and then multiple pages of inner dialogue before the main character responds!!!! That is weird! Who would wait that long to respond in a conversation?! It doesn’t make any sense.

This isn’t going to win me any awards for bashing her dedication in the book. I know that. But seriously… I went into this book thinking her husband died while she was writing it. I actually almost DNFed it early on (I always go through this debate for MZ books bc….editing) but I felt a sense of loyalty to her to read it bc she wrote it during a time when her husband died. Why did I think that? Well, because the dedication is as follows: “To my greatest friend and teacher. The absolute love of my life. Dorian, this book and my whole life is dedicated to your memory.” Upon further research…Dorian is her dog. A great dane to be specific. Do I care that she dedicated the book to her dog? No, not really actually. Do I care that she phrased it in a way that made me think it was her husband? Yes!!! It bothered me the WHOLE time I was reading it!!

Last but not least- my least favorite plot device was used… communication issues. Bianca kept everything to herself. Zac would have to drag the smallest of answers out of her. For like 50% of the book. Finally somewhere around 67%ish they clear up the issues. And if you’re waiting for the couple from The Wall Of Winnipeg to show up (which is awesome!) you’ll have to wait until about 80% into the book. (And if you made it there, then you even saw a Lukov cameo around 64%!). What’s the premise of the communication issues, you ask? Basically Bianca was childhood friends with Zac and is upset with Zac about not keeping in touch with her. But she doesn’t tell him that… How hard is it to say that?! For a book that is literally 529 pages, I just did not like that being the driving plot point.

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Always Only You (The Bergman Brothers #2) by Chloe Liese

always only you

 

official blurb
Ren: The moment I met her, I knew Frankie Zeferino was someone worth waiting for. Deadpan delivery, secret heart of gold, and a rare one-dimpled smile that makes my knees weak, Frankie has been forbidden since the day she and I became coworkers, meaning waiting has been the name of my game—besides, hockey, that is. I’m a player on the team, she’s on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. But patience has always been my virtue. Frankie won’t be here forever—she’s headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won’t want to leave me behind, too. Frankie: I’ve had a problem at work since the day Ren Bergman joined the team: a six foot three hunk of happy with a sunshine smile. I’m a grumbly grump and his ridiculously good nature drives me nuts, but even I can’t entirely ignore that hot tamale of a ginger with icy eyes, the perfect playoff beard, and a body built for sin that he’s annoyingly modest about. Before I got wise, I would have tripped over myself to get a guy like Ren, but with my diagnosis, I’ve learned what I am to most people in my life—a problem, not a person. Now, opening my heart to anyone, no matter how sweet, is the last thing I’m prepared to do.

5 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 steam level

 

what i liked

Well that was perfectly delightful in every way. Soren is the book boyfriend of my dreams. I’m mildly obsessed with him. Chivalrous, saving himself for love, athletic, gorgeous, kind, thoughtful…oh did I mention he uses Shakespearean lingo instead of cursing? (Not to say that there isn’t cursing in the book, because there is). If someone is picturing him as an actor, let me know because I could NOT get a picture in my head!

Edit 7/23/2020: Okay Chloe, being the nicest author ever, sent me her mood board for inspiration behind Ren and Frankie! Okay technically it’s not a mood board but I really wanted to use that term.  Without further ado, here is the inspiration!

Screenshot_20200723-111711

Frankie is the author’s #ownvoices portrayal of an autistic heroine. She (Frankie not Chloe) also lived with physical disabilities that made her even easier for me to relate to being a chronic pain sufferer myself.  She was amazing. Witty, obsessed with Harry Potter…need I go on? (Don’t worry, if you’re irritated with JK Rowling, this was addressed super well in the book!)

Listen I just think the Bergman Brothers are just going to be like family to me. They will be another Winston Brothers family that I feel like I know, and I definitely love. I can see myself rereading all of the books in this series! (I know there are only two so far but they’re amazing so I’m taking that stance now). Ps. If you want to read my review for the first book in this series then check out Only When It’s Us right here.

I was smile reading so many times while I read this.  I would laugh out loud.  I would roll my eyes with Ren and cringe through my fingers through some embarrassing moments.  All of that to say that I was in this book while I was reading it!  

Tropes include: “Always Only You is an opposites-attract, forbidden love sports romance about a nerdy, late-blooming hockey star, and his tough cookie coworker who keeps both her soft side and her autism diagnosis* to herself. Complete with a meddling secretary, tantric yoga torture, and a scorching slow burn, this standalone is the second in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.”

Seriously you guys, this series is gold. Liquid gold.  Okay… I don’t even know why I said that… but it’s a thing people say right? Anyways, it obviously made my list for Required Reading for Romance Lovers.  Read it! Read it!  …I mean, I think you should read it. 

while reading you should
Watch: Miracle. (I mean you should watch this movie at least once a year because it is one of my all time favorite movies.  But also this book has hockey in it so it works!)
Listen to: an audiobook of Pride and Prejudice
Do: Meet up with your book club.  Points if your book club is reading this steamy romcom.

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