Starry-Eyed Love (Spark House: Book 2) by Helena Hunting

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of Publication: May 10th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Series: Spark House

When Sparks Fly—book 1 (review here)

Starry-Eyed Love—book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Charming, hilarious, and emotional, Starry-Eyed Love is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.


First Line:

“One more round?” I tap my empty margarita glass.

Starry-Eyed Love by Helena Hunting

London had just broken up with her boyfriend when she was approached by a charming (and attractive) stranger at a bar. Turning him down, London thinks nothing of it. Fast forward a couple of months, and London is working on bringing in a new client as a sponsor for her family’s hotel. To her surprise, the stranger that she had rejected was the company’s CEO. The attraction between them is instant, but both are determined to keep things professional until after the auction. After the auction, all bets are off. As London and Jackson start dating, they need to navigate Jackson’s secrets and London being overwhelmed with her job. But, when a secret from Jackson’s not so distant past rears its head, it could cost them everything.

I loved London. I understood why she initially didn’t take Jackson’s number at the beginning of the book. She tried to get over her ex and didn’t want a rebound relationship. Sidenote: Very refreshing for an author NOT to have a romantic lead ping-ponging between men. Anyway, back to London. I also loved her reaction to realizing who Jackson was when she gave the presentation. I was laughing during that. But she also did annoy me. She didn’t want to confront Avery about hiring people to help. She walked in on half a conversation and immediately low keyed flipped out on Jackson (not that he didn’t deserve it—he did, but calling herself the “other woman” when he was clear that he wasn’t in a relationship with Selene was a little dramatic). But that made her more relatable.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if Jackson liked London until about halfway through the book. His reasons for turning her down were valid, but he kept blowing hot and cold. He also kept ignoring good advice from people close to him until it exploded at the auction. But, the way he tried to win London back tugged at my heartstrings.

I want to mention that I wouldn’t say I liked how Avery was portrayed in the book. She went complete Bridezilla at the end. That went against how she was described in book 1. I wasn’t a big fan of that.

I also wasn’t a fan of Selene or how she was written. I figured what her role in Jackson’s past was, but I thought her arc would go a different way. I wasn’t a fan of how she treated London or how mad she was at Jackson. She was the one who wasn’t responding to texts or answering calls. And what she said to him on the terrace was unbelievable. But, I do like how she did try to make things right with London at the end.

I loved how natural Jackson and London’s romance was. It wasn’t a week of them banging like rabbits and deciding that they were in love. Instead, their relationship grew over a couple of months. It was beautiful to watch that. Even the fight (and Jackson’s “betrayal”) was natural, as was the breakup and reconciliation. I loved it!!

The sexual chemistry that Jackson and London had was instant. And like their romance, it was allowed to grow. The author conveyed so much with a kiss or a touch. The sex scenes were just graphic enough, but enough left unsaid so that I could use my imagination.

The go green/auctions/hiring of Spark House storyline was well written. I liked how the author tied Jackson’s experiences with his parents into his passion for green living. There was a lot of technical jargon that I didn’t understand (or care to google), but it didn’t matter to me. That was a tiny blip in an otherwise terrific storyline.

The end of Starry-Eyed Love was excellent. I’m not going to get into it, but I was wowed with what Jackson did. It was the perfect ending for the book.

I would recommend Starry-Eyed Love for anyone over 21. There is mild language, mild violence, and somewhat graphic sex scenes.

The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner

Publisher: Atria Books

Date of publication: May 10th, 2022

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ+

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of That Summer comes another heartfelt and unputdownable novel of family, secrets, and the ties that bind.

When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house on Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.

From “the undisputed boss of the beach read” (The New York Times), The Summer Place is a testament to family in all its messy glory; a story about what we sacrifice and how we forgive. Enthralling, witty, big-hearted, and sharply observed, this is Jennifer Weiner’s love letter to the Outer Cape and the power of home, the way our lives are enriched by the people we call family, and the endless ways love can surprise us.


First Line:

For forty years, the house had stood, silvery cedar and gleaming glass, on the edge of the dune, overlooking the waters of Cape Cod Bay.

The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner

Ruby has announced her upcoming marriage to her pandemic boyfriend. This throws her family into a tailspin. When the dust settles, lives will never be the same. Can everyone and their relationships survive what is going to happen?

I wasn’t a big fan of how the author wrote this book and almost DNF’d it a couple of times. The author took us down memory lane with all of the characters. If there were two POVs and it jumped from past to present, I would have been fine. But every single character. Nope. By the time the author was able to bring everyone to a single plotline (the wedding), I was struggling.

I wasn’t a fan of the characters either. I know that the author was trying to make them more realistic but having them all cheat (at one point or the other) or make them do stupid things (like sleeping with a guy to get money for an abortion that didn’t happen) was just too much. The only one I liked was Sam, and his arc was excellent.

I also wasn’t a fan of a total recap of the pandemic during the book’s first half. I lived it; I know what happened. I didn’t need it shoved down my throat. But I get why the author did it. She wanted to show how pandemic relationships got serious, and they soured just as fast.

I loved Ronnie. She was feisty, and she intensely disliked the Pond People. Every time I saw those words, I giggled. She also gave up so much for her kids. So much that they didn’t understand or care. So, when she got that news in the middle of the book, my heart sank, and I began a countdown before she told Sarah and Sam.

I also loved Sam. His journey to self-discovery was one of the better storylines. He didn’t cheat, and he loved his wife. He was raising his stepson alone after her death. There was a point in his storyline where I did wonder about him. I wondered if he was asexual until he discovered hobbit fan fiction and then realized something about himself. His journey from then on was one of the best things about this book.

I was not too fond of Sarah. Instead of talking to Eli and asking him what’s up, she chose to go the other path. She ASSUMED that he was cheating on her and used that as the reason to get her apartment. When she hooked back up with Owen, I rolled my eyes. I could see where this was going. But, I wasn’t expecting it to end the way it did. That surprised me.

I was on the fence with Eli. Like Sarah, I didn’t understand why he didn’t call Rosa and ask her what he was assuming of her. I laughed when he had Ari try to lift the toothbrushes and got the wrong one. I could think, “Well, at least he knows for sure about that one.” But, he was so involved with what was going on with him that he didn’t see what was going on with Ruby or Sarah until it was almost too late.

I didn’t blame Rosa for doing what she did when she found out she was pregnant. She had no clue that it would backfire the way it did. I got why she was embarrassed to face Eli. But to read her side of that weekend was a little disappointing. I expected more from her since Eli remembered her as this vibrant, sensual woman.

I liked Gabe, but I wish he had been more open with Ruby about getting married. I get that he was a go-with-the-flow guy, but this was almost too much. He should have told Ruby that he didn’t want to get married and ended it. Then that would have made what happened next much more palatable to me.

Ruby was alright. She was used to getting what she wanted when she wanted it. So, when she wanted to marry Gabe, she went for it. I did feel bad for her when she finally realized she couldn’t marry Gabe. I would have done the same thing if I were in her shoes.

The end of the book was alright. I liked how everyone came together, and I got misty-eyed when the author recapped what had happened in the year since that night.

I would recommend The Summer Place to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and mild sexual situations.

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: November 30th, 2021

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | Apple Books | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a deeply moving novel about the resilience of the human spirit in a moment of crisis.

Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. The whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.

Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.


First Line:

When I was six years old, I painted a corner of the sky.

wish you were here by jodi picoult

When I first read the blurb for Wish You Were Here, I was hesitant to read it. There is nothing against the author, but a book written about the pandemic’s beginning while we were still in it didn’t exactly gel with me and gave me anxiety. But, I decided to read it, and oh boy, am I glad I did. This book was excellent on all ends.

Wish You Were Here is the story about Diana and how her life is turned around when COVID 19 hit. Diana is an art specialist at Sotheby’s and living with her almost fiance (Finn), a surgical resident at Presbyterian Hospital. Diana is days away from not only closing a life-altering deal with a famous rock widow (based on Yoko Ono), but she is going on a bucket list vacation with Finn to the Galapagos Islands. Life is good for her, but there are talks of a pandemic making its way across the globe. Then things implode. COVID has hit New York City, and Finn is told that he cannot take his trip. Diana, thinking that COVID will blow over (didn’t we all), makes the trip alone. But her once-in-a-lifetime trip turns into something else when the borders close, and she is stuck on the island. Alone, with no cell service, no money, no luggage, and unable to speak the language, Diana thinks it can’t get any worse. But things start to turn around when a local woman takes Diana under her wing, and Diana connects with not only her 14-year-old granddaughter but her handsome but standoffish son. Diana realizes that the life she thought she wanted with Finn in New York City wasn’t what she wanted, and she wants a life with Gabriel. Will she have it? Or will it be ripped from her by COVID?

I wish I could say that I wasn’t triggered while reading Wish You Were Here. But I was. There was a whole section of the book where I cried continuously. Those scenes reminded me of how I felt during the pandemic’s beginning. I remembered the uncertainty and the fear. But, I also remember the small acts of kindness and how people pulled together for the most part. The author beautifully highlighted all of that in Wish You Were Here.

The pacing of Wish You Were Here was between medium and fast. There were parts of the book that were lightning fast. But there were also parts of the book that were medium-paced. The author did a fantastic job of slowing the book down and picking the pace back up. There was a slight lag, but that was right around the surprise of a plot twist, and I expected it.

Diana was my favorite character in Wish You Were Here. I liked her because she wasn’t likable (well, to begin with). She had a horrible relationship with her famous photographer mother, and she wasn’t apologetic about it. But, on the other hand, she loved her career and Finn (in that order). Her personality was set during the first two chapters, and, to be honest, I thought that she would be like that throughout the book. But then she got stranded, and a different Diana started to appear.

The romance angle was there, but it wasn’t a massive part of the book. I liked that Gabriel and Diana’s romance was a slow-burn romance. I liked that I wasn’t sure if they would end up falling in like (notice I said that instead of love) or if they would hook up. But, I also liked that Diana and Finn’s relationship was steady and predictable. Regardless of who she was with, Diana had a good guy.

Wish You Were Here is set in two places: The Galagapos Islands and New York City. I fell in love with The Galagapos Islands while reading the book. For some reason, I never thought of The Galagpos Islands as a vacation spot. But since reading this book, it has been put on my bucket list!! I have been to New York City and plan on going back.

As I mentioned above, a plot twist comes out of nowhere in the middle of the book. I was utterly taken by surprise. It was something I did not see coming at the time. But looking back, I could see the very subtle hints that the author dropped. So, be warned, it is a huge twist and what is revealed on the other side isn’t easy to read.

I want to get into the latter half of Wish You Were Here. But I can’t because of the darn twist. It would lead to spoilers, and I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone. I will say that Diana does go through that transformation I mentioned above, and I do like how she ended up.

I would recommend Wish You Were Here to anyone over 16. There is mild violence, mild sexual situations, and language.

Three Sisters (The Tattooist of Auschwitz: Book 3) by Heather Morris

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: October 5th, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction

Series: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz—Book 1 (review here)

Cilka’s Journey—Book 2 (review here)

Three Sisters—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible |B&N |WorldCat


Goodreads Synopsis:

A promise to stay together.
An unbreakable bond.
A fierce will to survive.


From international bestselling author Heather Morris comes the breathtaking conclusion to The Tattooist of Auschwitz trilogy.

When they are girls, Cibi, Magda and Livia make a promise to their father – that they will stay together, no matter what.

Years later, at just 15 years old, Livia is ordered to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Cibi, only 19 herself, remembers their promise and follows Livia, determined to protect her sister, or die with her.

In their hometown in Slovakia, 17-year-old Magda hides, desperate to evade the barbaric Nazi forces. But it is not long before she is captured and condemned to Auschwitz.

In the horror of the death camp, these three beautiful sisters are reunited. Though traumatised by their experiences, they are together.

They make another promise: that they will live. Their fight for survival takes them from the hell of Auschwitz, to a death march across war-torn Europe and eventually home to Slovakia, now under iron Communist rule. Determined to begin again, they embark on a voyage of renewal, to the new Jewish homeland, Israel.

Rich in vivid detail, and beautifully told, Three Sisters will break your heart, but leave you amazed and uplifted by the courage and fierce love of three sisters, whose promise to each other kept them alive. Two of the sisters are in Israel today, surrounded by family and friends. They have chosen Heather Morris to reimagine their story in her astonishing new novel, Three Sisters.


First Line:

The three sisters, Cibi, Magda, and Livi, sit a in tight circle with their father in the small backyard of their home.

three sisters by heather morris

When I agreed to read and review Three Sisters, I thought I knew what I was getting into. I had read/reviewed numerous books on the Holocaust and didn’t think that I could be affected by what was done to millions of people. But then I read Three Sisters, and my heart was broken by what I read. I don’t think that I will ever read a book about the Holocaust without crying my eyes out.

Three Sisters is a book that details Cibi, Magda, and Livi’s time in Auschwitz. Well, to be clear, the book mainly follows Cibi and Livi in Auschwitz. Magda was able to stay at home with her mother and grandfather until the Nazis rounded everyone up towards the end of the war.

I thought I was prepared for the horrors that I had read about Auschwitz in previous books. But, whatever preparedness I had was thrown out the window. The trauma that the girls went through touched me deeply, and I just wanted to reach through the book, hug them, and say, “It’s going to be alright.Cibi, Livi (most of all Livi), and Magda were all survivors.

Three Sisters went into what life was like after the Nazis were deposed. Cibi, Livi, and Magda were forced to rob their own childhood home for pictures Magda and her mother hid away. The bigotry and hatred that people showed them were horrifying to read but not unexpected.

The end of Three Sisters made me smile. The girls found their HEAs and were committed to never forgetting what happened to them. The afterward (with the different children and grandchildren) made me smile because they did have a “normal” life.

Legacy by Nora Roberts

Book Cover
Legacy by Nora Roberts

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: May 25th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, Mystery, Women’s Fiction, Thriller

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | Barnes and Noble | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher

Trigger Warnings: Violence


Goodreads Synopsis:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author presents a new novel of a mother and a daughter, of ambition and romance, and of a traumatic past reawakened by a terrifying threat…

Adrian Rizzo was seven when she met her father for the first time. That was the day he nearly killed her—before her mother, Lina, stepped in.

Soon after, Adrian was dropped off at her grandparents’ house in Maryland, where she spent a long summer drinking lemonade, playing with dogs, making a new best friend—and developing the stirrings of a crush on her friend’s ten-year-old brother. Lina, meanwhile, traveled the country promoting her fitness brand and turning it into a billion-dollar business. There was no point in dwelling on the past.

A decade later, Adrian has created her own line of yoga and workout videos, following in Lina’s footsteps but intent on maintaining creative control. And she’s just as cool-headed and ambitious as her mother. They aren’t close, but they’re cordial—as long as neither crosses the other.

But while Lina dismisses the death threats that Adrian starts getting as a routine part of her daughter’s growing celebrity, Adrian can’t help but find the vicious rhymes unsettling. Year after year, they keep arriving—the postmarks changing, but the menacing tone the same. They continue after she returns to Maryland and becomes reacquainted with Raylan, her childhood crush, all grown up and as gorgeously green-eyed as ever. Sometimes it even seems like the terrifying messages are indeed routine, like nothing will come of them. Until the murders start, and the escalation begins…


First Line:

The first time Adrian Rizzo met her father, he tried to kill her.

legacy by nora roberts

Review:

Nora Roberts is one of my favorite romance authors to read. I was first introduced to her work when I was in middle school, and the library had one of her books in stock (I don’t remember which one, that was thirty years ago). When my oldest daughter was born fifteen years ago, I stopped reading and didn’t pick up a book until she was four and my son was two. But, it took me until mid-March to pick up a Nora Roberts book. I am glad I did. I enjoyed reading Legacy!!

Legacy is a medium-paced book. The book’s pacing was medium-paced, but it ramped up quickly during the last few chapters of the book. There was some lag in the book’s middle (when Adrian and Raylan’s storyline came together), but it didn’t last for long.

There were two main points of view, with a third point of view added later in the book. I am not a big fan when an unexpected POV is added late in the book. But, in this case, considering who the POV belonged to, it made perfect sense.

I adored Adrian in Legacy. She was one of the more grounded characters that I have read in awhile. But, I did find it hard to connect to her during certain scenes. But overall, I read her scenes with a smile.

I liked and sympathized with Raylan’s character. His loss was one of the saddest that I have read. I liked that the author showed a realistic view of someone’s grieving process. I thought that he was a great father also. Plus, I like his dog…lol.

Speaking of the dogs in Legacy, they were fantastic. Sadie and Jasper made the book whenever they appeared. Sadie proved herself to be the true MVP at the end of the book (Jasper too).

I loved Raylan’s children, but I did think that they talked a little too grownup for a six and eight-year-old. I have a seven-year-old, and she doesn’t have the vocabulary that Mo did. But, that aside, they were adorable.

I was surprised at who The Poet was. For some reason, I thought it was going to someone else (the PI had mentioned another person).

The author built up the romance angle of the book slowly. Of course, I knew that Raylan and Adrian were going to get together. It was just a matter of when/where. When they did end up getting together, there was a feeling of “Finally.” I liked that the author had them dating before the events that led up to the end of the book. It made the ending so much better!!

The thriller/suspense angle of the book kept me on edge. I liked the mini-chapters where The Poet was featured. I got a better understanding of how this person was spiraling. When that person started escalating, I couldn’t read the book fast enough. I needed to see how this book played out with Adrian. And once the author revealed the connection to her, I was even more eager. Of course, there was poetic justice with how those scenes played out too!!

The end of Legacy was good. The author was able to wrap up the storylines in a way that satisfied me as a reader. There were no storylines left open/hanging. There were no questions about specific events that happened in the book.


Legacy was a great romantic suspense novel. The plotline was great and the characters made the book. Plus, I didn’t figure out who The Poet was until the reveal which surprised me.

I would recommend Legacy to everyone over the age of 21. There is sex, but it is not graphic. There is somewhat graphic violence. At the beginning of the book, Adrian’s father attacked Adrian, her mother, and her mother’s best friend/nanny.

Fairytale by Danielle Steel

Fairytale: A Novel by [Danielle Steel]

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Date of publication: October 10th 2017

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Drama

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Alibris | IndieBound | Indigo |Audible | Walmart eBook

Format Read In: eBook

Where Did I Get Fairytale: Library via Overdrive

Trigger Warning: Mild violence, attempted sexual assault, death of a parent, grief, cancer

Goodreads Synopsis:

Camille Lammenais has grown up in the beauty of the Napa Valley, surrounded by acres of her family’s vineyards. Her parents, Christophe and Joy, still deeply in love after two decades of marriage, have built a renowned winery and château modeled after Christophe’s ancient family estate in his native Bordeaux. Camille has had a perfect childhood, safe in her parents’ love. After graduating from Stanford, she returns to help manage Château Joy, her lifetime goal. But their fairytale ends suddenly with her mother’s death from cancer.

Six months after losing his wife, the devastated Christophe is easy prey for a mysterious, charming Frenchwoman visiting the valley. The Countess de Pantin is the essence of Parisian seductiveness and sophistication. Within weeks they are a clandestine couple, making love like teenagers, glowing with their secret. Camille, still grieving for her mother, is shocked by the news that her father intends to remarry. Then she begins to see past the alluring looks, designer clothes, and elegant manners of the countess, while her innocent father is trapped in her web.

When tragedy strikes again, Camille is at her stepmother’s mercy, and that of the two evil stepbrothers who appear. Camille needs to fight—first for her legacy, and then for her very life. But as she grapples with the plots being carried out against her, the countess’s elderly, kind, clever mother becomes her only ally, and a childhood friend emerges as a prince worthy of any fairytale.


First Impressions:

When I was browsing my library (virtually, of course) and saw that Fairytale was available for takeout, I was excited. My grandmother introduced me to Danielle Steel when I was a tween. She had a vast collection of her early works and was more than happy to share them with me. So, I had to take this book out and read it.

I was a little taken aback by the lack of dialogue in the first half of the book. While it was beautifully written, I wanted to see some verbal interactions between Camille, Christophe, and Joy.

The characters came across as flat. I couldn’t connect to Joy, Christophe, or Camille. That frustrated me because I wanted to connect but couldn’t.

Going into the middle of the book, I got bored and put the book down for 2-3 days. I debated on continuing. I decided since I had already read 1/2 the book, then I will continue reading it.


Mid-Book Impressions:

The middle of the books starts with Christophe meeting Maxine. I knew what she was the minute she came into the picture. A gold digger and I knew her true colors would come out as soon as they got married.

They did, oh boy, did they. Maxine dropped her act with Camille as soon as she said her vows. She was trying to separate and alienate Christophe from Camille, and it almost worked.

I will say that the book did get better when Maxine brought her mother over from France. I loved her!! She brought much-needed laughter and light to an otherwise depressing part of the book.

I wish that Camille had more of a backbone. She let her stepbrothers, Maxine and Cesar, run rampant all over her. There were parts of the book where I was shaking my head in disbelief. Of course, it only amped up after Christophe died and left Camille his sole heir.

There was a lag in the middle of the book, and it almost derailed it. I also found that there was a lot of unnecessary repeating of events. I wouldn’t say I liked that there was an emphasis on how evil and bad Maxine’s sons were. It kept being driven home. After the 4th or 5th time, I was like, “Stop; I get it. They’re evil jerks.


End of Book Impressions:

The last half of Fairytale was challenging for me to finish. I will admit, I skimmed over some parts. I couldn’t wrap my head around a woman being pushed around the way Camille was. I mean, she was forced out of her house and into a freaking horse barn, and she allowed it!!!! I wanted to reach through the book, shake her, and tell her to be assertive. Uggh.

The Cinderella angle of the book came into play during the last half of the book. I was looking forward to seeing how that played out. I was sorely disappointed. There were 3-4 (maybe a couple of more) chapters with Camille in the Cinderella role. Such a disappointment!!

The end of Fairytale was predictable and boring. The minute that Camille decided to go to the Harvest Ball, I figured something would happen. I also figured who was involved. But I didn’t figure the surprise twist. That took me by surprise because it came out of nowhere.


My Overall Thoughts on Fairytale:

While I am a fan of Danielle Steel, I was not too fond of this book. The book seemed hastily written with a lot of repeating of unnecessary scenes/dialogue. The characters came across as flat and two-dimensional. They got into predictable situations that had predictable outcomes. The Cinderella angle of the book was short and kept to only a few chapters.

I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book. There is sex but it isn’t graphic. There is an attempted sexual assault (not graphic) and talk of elder abuse.

In Her Shadow by Kristin Miller

In Her Shadow: A Novel by [Miller, Kristin]

3.5 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: April 21st, 2020

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Women’s Fiction

Where you can find In Her Shadow: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

A pregnant young woman becomes obsessed with the disappearance of her lover’s wife–only to discover that she may be headed for the same fate–from New York Times bestselling author Kristin Miller.

Once his secretary, Colleen is now pregnant with Michael’s baby. When he brings her to his opulent estate, Ravenwood, she is abruptly thrust into a life of luxury she’s never known. But Colleen finds the immense house suffused with the memory of Michael’s beautiful wife, Joanna, who left months ago and who haunts her imagination. It quickly becomes apparent that there is little room for a new mistress of this house: The staff greets her with hostility, and there are entire wings and corridors from which she is prohibited to enter.

Then bones are unearthed in the grove across the street.

When Michael falls under the suspicion of the detectives investigating the case, the soon-to-be mother of his child finds herself hurled deeper into her boyfriend’s dark past–a past that threatens to upend all her dreams. But the terrifying secrets lurking in the shadows of Ravenwood pale in comparison to the drastic measures Colleen will take to stake a claim to her new life.

Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, In Her Shadow is the chilling story of one woman’s desperate desire to be loved and the ghosts that get in her way–but only if she lets them.


First Line:

“Help.”

In Her Shadow by Kristin Miller

My Review:

When I read the blurb for In Her Shadow, I was intrigued. Seeing the comparisons to Rebecca caught my interest right away. The blurb deepened my interest in the book. It sounded perfect for me. Then I read it. While I liked some parts of the book, there were other parts that I didn’t like. Those parts did factor in my rating of the review.

In Her Shadow had a fast plotline, which I liked. The book takes place within a week of Colleen moving into Michael’s house, Ravenwood. There were no dropped characters and, more importantly, no dropped storylines. The flow of the book was ok. Because the book had several different POV’s (always in 3rd person), the flow did get interrupted. I felt that if the author kept to Colleen, Michael, and maybe Joanna’s POV, the book would have had a better flow to it. I did not need to read about the detective, Michael’s friends, the cook, or the maid’s POV.

I liked, and felt terrible, for Colleen during the first half of In Her Shadow. She was thrust into a world that she did not know about. She had to deal with a staff that treated her like she was invisible. Adding to that, she was pregnant, and it was high risk. I didn’t blame her for feeling that she was overshadowed in the first days there. I also didn’t blame her for becoming obsessed with Joanna and her legacy. But, saying that, I wasn’t expecting what she found out.

I didn’t like Michael. From the beginning, he came across as skeevy. I had my doubts about him from the start. I mean, who moves on less than a month after his wife disappears? And then gets his new girlfriend pregnant? That was a huge WTF for several people in the book and me. But, as skeevy as he was, I didn’t quite believe that he killed Joanna. He was a coward and a bit of a wuss, but he didn’t spark that “I’m a killer” vibe to me.

The secondary characters most definitely made the book. From the police detective to Joanna’s best frenemy to Michael’s best friend, those characters breathed life into the book when it needed it.

The mystery angle of the book (Joanna’s disappearance) was well written, but it held no mystery for me. I was able to guess what happened to her before the author got there. I also guessed certain specific details that occurred before they happened (if that makes sense).

The thriller angle of the book was very well written. The author was able to keep me on my toes during those scenes.

The end of In Her Shadow was intense. Considering the prologue, I was expecting the book to end a certain way. I was not expecting what happened to happen. But, as I mentioned in the above paragraph, there was a huge plot twist that took me by surprise. I was not expecting what was revealed. I also was not expecting the final chapter or the countdown. Does that mean another book is in the works?


I would give In Her Shadow an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread In Her Shadow. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

Truths I Never Told You: A Novel by [Rimmer, Kelly]

5 Stars

Publisher: Harlequin – Graydon House Books (US & Graydon), Graydon House

Date of Publication: April 14th, 2020

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Where you can find Truths I Never Told You: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of The Things We Cannot Say comes a poignant novel about the fault in memories and the lies that can bond a family together—or tear it apart.

With her father recently moved to a care facility for his worsening dementia, Beth Walsh volunteers to clear out the family home and is surprised to discover the door to her childhood playroom padlocked. She’s even more shocked at what’s behind it—a hoarder’s mess of her father’s paintings, mounds of discarded papers and miscellaneous junk in the otherwise fastidiously tidy house.

As she picks through the clutter, she finds a loose journal entry in what appears to be her late mother’s handwriting. Beth and her siblings grew up believing their mother died in a car accident when they were little more than toddlers, but this note suggests something much darker. Beth soon pieces together a disturbing portrait of a woman suffering from postpartum depression and a husband who bears little resemblance to the loving father Beth and her siblings know. With a newborn of her own and struggling with motherhood, Beth finds there may be more tying her and her mother together than she ever suspected.

Exploring the expectations society places on women of every generation, Kelly Rimmer explores the profound struggles two women unwittingly share across the decades set within an engrossing family mystery that may unravel everything they believed to be true.


First Line:

I am alone in a crowded family these days, and that’s the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced.

Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

My Review:

I am not going to lie. Truths I Never Told You is a book that you need to read with a box of Kleenex nearby. That was something I wish I knew before I started reading it.

Truths I Never Told You is split into three povs. Grace, Beth, and Maryanne. Grace’s POV was hard to read. Her mental anguish was clear to see. It hurt me to see her not able to take care of her children or herself. When she did try to get help, she was told to suck it up. The decision she made in the middle of the book was a necessary one. Beth’s POV was just as hard to read as Grace’s was. Her anguish at not connecting with Noah and having to put her father in hospice was palpable. Maryanne, on the other hand, was this vibrant, over the top woman who breathed new light into the book. Her POV helped highlight how little rights women had back in the ’50s and ’60s. It also showed that a mother isn’t necessarily the one who birthed you.

The author did a fantastic job of highlighting what women’s rights were like back in the ’50s and ’60s. I had no issue imagining a woman with severe postpartum depression being forced into electroshock therapy or, as Grace was told, to snap out of it. I was horrified at how little help she had. I understood why Grace did in the middle of the book and why she contacted Maryanne to help her.

Beth’s experiences in the late 1990s were much better than Grace’s. But the stigma of having a mental illness hung over her head kept her from seeking help. Unfortunately, that still is the case these days. But, I was glad to see that Beth had a support system. She had siblings, a husband, and a mother in law who cared about her mental health.

Maryanne was the real MVP in this book. She didn’t get her own POV until the last half of the book. The author did a fantastic job of showing how she did what she thought was right and the fallout of that. Her scenes with Beth at the end of the book was poignant and heartbreaking.

The mystery angle of the story was well written. It was written around Beth’s father’s dementia and illness. That meant that I had a kernel of doubt about what happened until Beth unearthed the trunk. That scene blew it out of the book for me. The ring, the death certificate, the picture were all explained. And that meant even more tears on my end.

The end of Truths I Never Told You was well written. The author brought all the storylines (Beth, Grace, and Maryanne) together. I loved seeing everyone and how they healed from Patrick’s death and what was uncovered in Beth’s investigation.


I would give Truths I Never Told You an Adult rating. There is no sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Truths I Never Told You. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

A Hundred Suns by [Tanabe, Karin]

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: April 7th, 2020

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction

Where you can find A Hundred Suns: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

An evocative historical novel set in 1930’s Indochine, about the American wife of a Michelin heir who journeys to the French colony in the name of family fortune, and the glamorous, tumultuous world she finds herself in—and the truth she may be running from.

On a humid afternoon in 1933, American Jessie Lesage steps off a boat from Paris and onto the shores of Vietnam. Accompanying her French husband Victor, an heir to the Michelin rubber fortune, she’s certain that their new life is full of promise, for while the rest of the world is sinking into economic depression, Indochine is gold for the Michelins. Jessie knows that their vast plantations near Saigon are the key to the family’s prosperity, and while they have been marred in scandal, she needs them to succeed for her husband’s sake—and to ensure that her trail of secrets stays hidden in the past.

Jessie dives into the glamorous colonial world, where money is king and morals are brushed aside, and meets Marcelle de Fabry, a spellbinding French woman with a moneyed Indochinese lover, the silk tycoon Khoi Nguyen. Descending on Jessie’s world like a hurricane, Marcelle proves to be an exuberant guide to ex-pat life. But hidden beneath her vivacious exterior is a fierce desire to put the colony back in the hands of its people, starting with the Michelin plantations, fueled by a terrible wrong committed against her and Khoi’s loved ones in Paris.

Yet it doesn’t take long for the sun-drenched days and champagne-soaked nights to catch up with Jessie. With an increasingly fractured mind, her affection for Indochine falters. And as a fiery political struggle builds around her, Jessie begins to wonder what’s real in a friendship that she suspects may be nothing but a house of cards.

Motivated by love, driven by ambition, and seeking self-preservation at all costs, Jessie and Marcelle each toe the line between friend and foe, ethics and excess. Cast against the stylish backdrop of 1930s Indochine, in a time and place defined by contrasts and convictions, A Hundred Suns is historical fiction at its lush, suspenseful best.


First Line:

The house of a hundred suns.

A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

My Review:

When I saw that A Hundred Suns was based in 1930’s French-occupied Vietnam, I was intrigued. I haven’t read a book about that period that A Hundred Suns took place in. I have also been intrigued by Vietnam. To my recollection, I haven’t read any books that take place in Vietnam. That was a huge reason why I decided to read the book.

A Hundred Suns did start slowly and stayed slow for the first 60% of the book. I got that the author had to lay Marcelle and Jessie’s backstories, but it seemed a bit dragged out. Once the scene at the train station happened, though, the book sped up. The last 40% of the book flew by. I wish that the first part of it did.

There was a small amount of lag in the events before Jessie’s unfortunate incident at the train station. It only lasted about a chapter, and the author was able to get the book back on track. Other than that small lag, the writing flowed beautifully, even with two separate POVs (Jessie and Marcelle). The author was able to switch back and forth between their characters seamlessly. I loved it!!

I liked Jessie. She did come across as conniving at the beginning of the book. I mean, she convinced her husband to move to Vietnam. But, as I got to know her character, I could see how strong she was. Her strength was apparent in the last half of the book.

Marcelle was my favorite in the book. She was deliciously devious and pulled off her plan perfectly. Even when Khoi was having issues with what was going on, Marcelle didn’t. She was willing to do anything to get revenge. And oh boy, did she ever. I did feel bad for her, though. Blinded by her hatred, she let it overcome her. She also failed to see that Jessie had nothing to do with what was going on in the plantations. To her, Jessie was the more available of the two options.

I didn’t like Khoi or Victor. Khoi was an enabler. He talked a good game, but when push came to shove, he wasn’t behind Marcelle when she wanted to go to the next step. He kept switching back and forth, and it drove me batty. I didn’t like Victor because he knew what was going on at the plantations, and he contributed to it!!

I thought that the use of Vietnamese (or Indochinese) and French language added an extra oomph to the plotline. As much as I liked it, I do wish that there was a glossary to explain specific terms. I ended up having to use Google Translate a lot to understand so of the words.

I do want to give a small warning. There is drug use (opium smoking) detailed in the book. I did like that the author chose to show how casual people were about smoking opium back then. But there might be people who are triggered by it. There is also a scene from when Jessie visits one of the Michelin plantations, where she witnesses pretty gruesome torture. I like to think that I am immune to stuff like that, and that made me pause while reading.

The end of A Hundred Suns was terrific. As I said, the book took off in that last 40% of the book. I am not going to get into it, but I will say that Marcelle and Khoi got what they deserved.


I would give A Hundred Suns an Adult rating. There is sex. There is mild language. There is mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread A Hundred Suns. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Been there, Married That by Gigi Levangie

Been There, Married That: A Novel by [Levangie, Gigi]

2 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: February 11th, 2019

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Where you can find Been There, Married That: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Bookbub

Book Synopsis:

A hilarious new novel full of Hollywood glitz, glamour, and scandal.

When he changes the locks, she changes the rules.

Agnes Murphy Nash is the perfect Hollywood wife – she has the right friends, the right clothes, and even a side career of her own as a writer. Her husband Trevor is a bigshot producer, and from the outside it looks like they’re living a picture-perfect celebrity life, complete with tennis tournaments and lavish parties.

But the job description of a Hollywood wife doesn’t cover divorce, which is the way Agnes’ life is headed after she comes home one day to find her credit cards cancelled and the security passwords to get into her enormous LA home changed. Oh, and there’s a guy there whose job it is to tase her if she tries to enter…which she does. Needless to say, Agnes’ husband is dead set on making sure she loses big time, but Agnes isn’t the type to just lie down and take it. In a world of fremenies and hot nannies, personal psychics and “skinny” jello shots, Agnes may be losing her husband, but could that mean getting her own life back?

Been There, Married That is a drop-dead hilarious battle of wills that will make you laugh out loud, cringe, and keep turning the pages to see what crazy disaster will happen to Agnes next…and how she’ll rise from the ashes.


First Line:

“A toast!”

Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie

My Review:

I like contemporary women’s fiction as much as the next person. But, it seems like 90% of women’s fiction that I read ends up being rubbish. So, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I got the email for Been There, Married That. I debated on deleting the email and pretending I didn’t see it. After reading the book, I wish I did.

The plotline for Been There, Married that was a mess. I do not have a problem following plotlines, but this one tried my patience. There was a significant amount of lag in the book. It happened right when Agnes had her mini-breakdown. The book never recovered. There were also dropped storylines, which is another thing I didn’t like. Don’t introduce a storyline and not complete it. Uggh!!

I found all of the characters (the teenagers included) to be unrelatable. I know that they are supposed to be a parody of what people think Hollywood wife is like, but man, it left a bad taste in my mouth. There were off-colored jokes and racial stereotypes (the Latina housekeeper). Let’s not forget that there were jokes about rehab. There were some funny parts of the book (Agnes being called A-Nus by Petra was one), but overall, I didn’t care for the characters.

The divorce storyline, unfortunately, was true to life. The lengths that Trevor went through to get dirt on Agnes and her sister, I believed. The fact that Penelope was caught in the middle, I believed also. I also believed that money buys things, and in this case, it was a frame-up of Agnes’s sister. Of course, the end of that plotline was as confusing as the rest of the book, but it was the most relatable thing in the book.

The end of the book was a confusing mess. I had to read the last chapters a few times before I understood what happened. I did NOT enjoy that.


I would give Been There, Married That an Adult rating. There are sexual situations. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would not reread Been There, Married That. I would not recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**