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  • Sandlynn
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    Post count: 87

    Continuing with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

    Letter “N” for “Not a Mistake”

    For letter “N,” I read a book that was unusual on a couple of levels — at least for me. The book I chose was Amber Belldene’s Not a Mistake (Hot Under Her Collar – Book One) published in 2016.

    What’s unusual about this book is that both the hero and heroine are Episcopal priests. Oh, and its author is also an Episcopal priest! Now, that doesn’t mean the story is an inspirational or even deals with spiritual issues, per se. In fact it’s main focus are moral issues both personal and professional. Also, it has very sexy moments.

    This book has a mini-review here on AAR. So, I don’t know that I really need to provide a lot of details about the plot. Basically, however, the heroine has had a crush on one of her professors from seminary school. He’s a handsome man, a priest himself, and somewhat rigid in this beliefs. He also investigates ethical infractions by other priests. After graduation, our heroine, Jordan, is celebrating with her classmates and they invite Professor Dominic Lawrence along. Later that evening, Jordan and Dominic have a romantic hook-up that ends up producing an unexpected consequence — a pregnancy. This pregnancy could torpedo both their careers. Jordan has just gotten a job as a priest to a small congregation in Santa Cruz, California, and Dominic is up for a promotion in the church. How can they reveal their relationship? Should they? Each face their own moral and ethical dilemmas which are impacted by Jordan’s congregants as well as Dominic’s troubled past and his current investigations.

    This story feels very genuine. The people here are not morally pristine. But they are good people facing problems. The characters’ professions and situations made this a unique read, but the underlying plot would be recognizable to any romance reader. I have to admit, even though I am not a very religious person, it felt a little weird, at first, reading about the sex lives of two priests written by a priest, but it just reinforced that people who hold such positions also have personal lives and desires and may not always do the right thing. I enjoyed it, would give it a B+, and look forward to Belldene’s other books. (I did want to know exactly what Dominic was doing professionally at the end of story. It wasn’t quite clear to me.)

    *******
    
The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 7 down, 11 to go (R, D, L, J, A, G, N …)

    library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 216

    The 21st Century Challenge
    2007 = Don’t Let Go by Sydney Somers (published May 2007):
    The h/h were both after the same guy: the hero as a private investigator hired to prove he was cheating on his wife, the heroine because he’d bilked her mother-in-law out of her life savings. The suspense plot was dull and used as a flimsy excuse to force the h/h to spend time together. It was odd that their families had a centuries-old feud yet neither knew who the other was, but at least the issue was addressed on page. The heroine jumped to a number of conclusions and it was difficult to buy into her justification for lying. I also had issues with the hero, particularly for a plot point that was played for laughs, but wasn’t funny. Some nice moments but overall a lackluster read.

    The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge
    I for interconnected — Read a romance that is part of a series.
    Whatever It Takes by Sydney Somers – book 3 in Spellbound series:
    The h/h had eloped after a whirlwind romance four years earlier and the heroine was justifiably irate that the hero had then disappeared with only a note asking for a divorce. That didn’t stop the sparks from flying when they met again and she was dragged into his world of shadowy espionage. The hero had always regretted leaving. The author did a good job of making the h/h each sympathetic, demonstrating how they’d changed and why things would be different this time around, all essential elements for a believable reunion romance. There was also a fun secondary romance with the heroine’s brother and their company’s receptionist. I wanted more of both couples. By far my favorite of the series.

    The Alphabet Challenge Variation
    M = Must Be Magic by Sydney Somers:
    This was another reunion romance. I liked the h/h, but their only issue was a lack of communication so too much of the conflict in the second half felt manufactured. The author seemed to adjust the rules of her magic worldbuilding to prevent the secondary characters from finding the h/h after their plane crashed which felt like a cheat and added to the sense of contrived drama. It didn’t help that the h/h took so long to have a heart-to-heart conversation. An uneven but still likable read.

    • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
    • The 21st Century Challenge : 7 down, 11 to go…
    library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 216

    The Shoe Challenge
    Athleisure – Fashion sportswear that is inspired by both athletic and leisure elements. Read a book where the h/h work in the leisure industry (hotel, vacation planner, tour guide etc)
    The River House by Carla Neggers – heroine runs a party planning business:
    The h/h had been BFFs until a falling out three years prior to the start of the story. The hero had always wanted out of their small town but was at loose ends after selling his latest start-up company. The characters from the previous books in the series either put in an appearance or they were all mentioned—complete with a mini-synopsis of how they met—which led to too much info-dumping, but at least the hero acknowledged it. Even though this series is set in a small town I have always liked that the big city is not treated as bad. The heroine had moved back simply because it was a more affordable place to live. I liked the h/h as a couple, but the book was not one of my instant favorites.

    Riding boots – Horse racing is the sport of kings. Read a book where the h/h is a member of the nobility.
    Ivan by Kit Rocha – heroine is a princess:
    Though set in a post-apocalyptic world, much of this story took place in what amounted to a Regency-like house party: mothers and chaperones vying to grasp the most advantageous marriage for their children and not above using them as political pawns. I did get lost trying to keep the extended family connections straight. I read the earlier books in this series, but I was never quite sure what was supposed to be common knowledge vs newly revealed information since I did not read the original series. The romance between the h/h, filled with a balance of angst, humor, and joy, made the book for me. An enjoyable read.

    • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
    • The 21st Century Challenge : 7 down, 11 to go…
    • The Shoe Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 216

    The 21st Century Challenge
    2008 = Par for the Course by Jenna Bayley-Burke (published July 2008):
    The heroine had a crush on the hero while he was in college and she was in grad school. They’d shared one kiss at a party. Years later she had bleached her hair and wore colored contacts to disguise herself when she set up an interview at his golf resort to write a magazine article on how golf courses were the hot new singles scene. The set-up made little sense other than to give the heroine a reason to dress in disguise at the start (though it was explained in more detail late in the story). The h/h each repeatedly jumped to erroneous conclusions. The subplot involving the hero’s brother and father was meant to give the hero other issues to deal with but bored me. The hero was a passive-aggressive creep right up to the end. The h/h needed professional counseling, both individually and as a couple. The female owner of the neighboring golf resort was by far my favorite character. A very disappointing read.

    2009 = Love Me Tomorrow by Dee Tenorio (published Feb 2009): The hero started as a self-centered jerk who had broken up with the heroine years before. When she’d started dating his bff he guilted them both until they broke up. The bff was killed in a fire and the town blamed the heroine. There were too many scenes from the villain’s POV and his identity was obvious. It was frustrating that the h/h refused to have an honest conversation at the start. I liked the heroine. Thankfully the story vastly improved in the second half.

    2010 = Doctoring the Single Dad by Marie Ferrarella (published Mar 2010): The pediatrician heroine repeatedly thought how most fathers were inept at taking care of infants. She also talked a lot about her other patients. All of which we were meant to find amusing, but kept throwing me out of the story. Several of the circumstances that caused the h/h to spend time together felt manufactured as did their breakup near the end. The heroine’s matchmaking mother was annoying. Despite the numerous plot issues I liked the h/h.

    • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
    • The 21st Century Challenge : 10 down, 8 to go…
    • The Shoe Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    Sandlynn
    Participant
    Post count: 87

    Next up in The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

    Letter “B” for “Louise Bay”

    For letter “B,” I picked up Louise Bay’s The British Knight, published in 2017. Apparently, this book had at least two previous sequels as I was reading about this author’s other work, I recognized some of the supporting characters in The British Knight. That being said, you definitely don’t need to read those books to appreciate this one.

    This book was reviewed by AAR and was given an A. So, I was really looking forward to it. You can find the review here: https://allaboutromance.com/book-review/the-british-knight-by-louise-bay/

    Mostly, I agree with the review. This book features two interesting characters who are compelling separately and who challenge each other together. The heroine is an American, living in NYC, who had studied at MIT and was starting a software business with her boyfriend when the jerk, not only cheated on her, but literally stole the company from beneath her (which actually made me wonder about her intelligence, but I guess that’s love). She’s been licking her wounds and floundering ever since, when she’s offered an opportunity by her sister’s sister-in-law to work and spend time in London. She arrives and begins a job as an Administrative Assistant in the chambers of a prestigious law office. In particular, she’s assigned to work for a brilliant, rising barrister who is also a workaholic who will let no one near his cases. Soon, she is using her aggressive persistence to not only whittle down the hero’s lone wolf defenses, but to get under his skin personally. But, of course, our heroine has defenses too and those are being whittled away as well.

    I enjoyed this story very much and am interested, now, in going back and reading the previous stories involving the supporting characters. The only reason I would not give the book an A is 1) I couldn’t figure out why the heroine (Violet) had been so stupid in the first place — that was just never explained here since she seemed to be such a savvy woman. Maybe we needed a chapter on that — and 2) I thought the ending of this book was a little too convenient. A colleague just happened to know of a position at Columbia University for our hero? The hero and heroine are going to have a bi-continental life? If they have children, that definitely wouldn’t work out. I would give this story a B+/A-.



    ******


    The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 8 down, 10 to go (R, D, L, J, A, G, N, B …)

    library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 216

    The 21st Century Challenge
    2011 = Deadly Dreams by Kylie Brant (published Apr 2011):
    Each year I pick one author from my TBR I am woefully behind on and this year I chose Kylie Brant. I read the previous book in this series way back in 2010 (eek!). There were a number of plot elements introduced that didn’t really go anywhere and there were issues with some of the secondary characters being more caricatures than fully formed characters. The romance felt rushed, but that fact was addressed on page so the HEA was believable. There were significant developments in the overarching storyline regarding the heroine’s boss. But the focus of the book was very much the serial killer case the h/h were investigating. The heroine and her journey back to trusting herself made the book for me.

    2012 = Holiday Affair by Annie Seaton (published Mar 2012) : The h/h met while she was on vacation and had a one-night stand. When she returned home she discovered that not only was he the brother of one of her guy friends who suddenly wanted to discuss marriage, but also a new professor in the history department where she was a professor, and her new neighbor. The hero was a condescending jerk and treated the heroine terribly through most of the story. There wasn’t nearly enough groveling or effort on his part to change his behavior, he just suddenly decided it was true love and…blah! Even though the plot and hero did not work at all for me, I enjoyed the settings and liked some of the supporting characters so I would try this author again.

    • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
    • The 21st Century Challenge : 12 down, 6 to go…
    • The Shoe Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 216

    Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas
    Long Ride Home by Elizabeth Hunter:
    Many characters were mentioned and there were more questions than answers, but this novella was a nice introduction for the series. I really liked the deceased husband.

    The 21st Century Challenge
    2013 = Shifting Dreams by Elizabeth Hunter (published Aug 2013) :
    Three years in book time had passed since the introductory novella. The heroine was reluctant to get involved. The hero had been hired as chief of police and quickly realized the townspeople were all keeping secrets. I knew from the blurb there would be a murder, but the victim took me by surprise. I understood why the town wanted the hero kept in the dark, but I sympathized more with his POV. The romance took time to develop. I loved the relationships the hero built with the heroine’s sons. I had quibbles with the way some events were glossed over but overall a very enjoyable read.

    Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas
    Five Mornings by Elizabeth Hunter:
    This novella gave more background on characters we met in book one who will be the h/h of book two. It made it clear that their break-up was a result of communication issues and they were each equally responsible. It would not work as a stand-alone, but I appreciated the extra insights.

    The Catchphrase Challenge
    “What’s up, Doc?” Bugs Bunny (Looney Tunes) – Read a romance where the h/h work in the medical industry in some capacity.
    Desert Bound by Elizabeth Hunter – heroine is doctor:
    This book delved into the complicated relationships between the various families in town. The conflict between the h/h felt forced as it was one-dimensional. I had issues with the way the h/h were both derisive toward certain characters. Even though we didn’t get to know him well, I really liked the murder victim and was sad he was killed. The mystery was intriguing and I enjoyed the exploration of the h/h’s differing family dynamics as well as the set-up for the next book.

    • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Catchphrase Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • The 21st Century Challenge : 13 down, 5 to go…
    • The Shoe Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 216

    The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge
    T for transfigure — Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero has the ability to shift into an animal.
    Waking Hearts by Elizabeth Hunter – heroine is a fox shifter, hero a bear shifter:
    This couple intrigued me from the moment they were hinted at in book one. The heroine was reluctant to get involved as she was going through a divorce after her husband had abandoned her and their children, working two jobs, and felt she had nothing to give. The hero had been in love with her since high school. They took things slow which was frustrating at times but fit their characters. There was the usual dose of humor. I found it odd that the revelation from the previous book was not addressed at least by the heroine in an internal monologue or something (trying not to be spoilerish). We were left with numerous loose ends in the overarching plot so I’m hoping the author eventually returns to this series (it’s currently on hold according to her website). My favorite of the series.

    The 21st Century Challenge
    2014 = His Taste of Temptation by Cathryn Fox (published Nov 2014):
    The hero was attracted to the heroine but erroneously thought she was involved with his younger brother who was her bff and roommate. This misconception took too long to clear up. The way they got together the first time was improbable and silly. I wished they’d simply had an honest conversation. The heroine had self-confidence issues so repeatedly reminded the hero their relationship was only temporary. The hero felt unworthy to be with her. I found it odd there were apparently no zoning restrictions in the town. I liked the h/h, but the characters deserved a better plot.

    2015 = Alec’s Royal Assignment by Amelia Autin (published Aug 2015): The hero started off as a jerk who thought he was enlightened but his thoughts and actions made it clear he thought of women as lesser. The heroine was a royal bodyguard trying to prove women belonged in the royal family’s personal guard. When she foiled an assignation attempt the hero inserted himself into the situation despite not being part of the protection detail. When it finally seemed he would step up he then changed his mind because his job was the most important thing to him. Of course things worked out that he didn’t have to actually sacrifice anything. The hero was exceedingly annoying, but I liked the heroine. She deserved so much better. An extremely disappointing read.

    • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 5 down, 13 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Catchphrase Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • The 21st Century Challenge : 15 down, 3 to go…
    • The Shoe Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    Sandlynn
    Participant
    Post count: 87

    Continuing with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

    Letter “C” for Alyssa Cole

    As our April selection, my book group decided to read Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory, published in 2018. So, that fit perfectly within the parameters of this challenge.

    I was very interested in reading this book since I heard the author speak at an event, and the AAR reviewer gave the story a solid “A”. Since it was reviewed here – see the following link, https://allaboutromance.com/book-review/a-princess-in-theory-by-alyssa-cole/ — I don’t think I need to go into too much detail in describing the story’s set-up. The plot bears some similarity to the movie Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy, and I’m sure having the book released at the same time the blockbuster, Black Panther, is also in theaters has got to be fortuitous!

    The story involves a New York City graduate student in epidemiology who was orphaned as a child and can’t remember much about her past. Naledi’s been mostly making it on her own with only her best friend, a waitressing gig, and a research internship as her support system. Little does she know, a country in Africa has been long seeking her whereabouts, as she is the long lost betrothed of the country’s prince. Once Prince Thabiso and his assistant track Naledi down, they try and suss her out without telling her who they are. The first part of the book involves them trying to figure out what she knows, while Naledi grows increasingly intrigued by this stranger who doesn’t quite fit into the starving student lifestyle. As the pair get closer, the question becomes when will Thabiso tell Naledi the truth and will she agree to return to her native country, Thesolo.

    I would have to say that I mostly agree with the “A” rating. This book is pretty solid. I thought Naledi was a great heroine and loved that she was a woman of color in a STEM field. The author does a credible job making Naledi believable – so much so, I checked out Cole’s bio to see if she also has a background in science. (She was a science editor, apparently.) I enjoyed many of the supporting characters and – for once – wouldn’t mind reading a sequel or two focusing on them – especially since a few loose ends in the story are left unexplained. So, I’d be interested in seeing if they are answered in follow-up books. The only downside was that I thought the conclusion was a bit rushed, with some key confrontations accomplished “off stage.” I also felt the villain was a bit obvious, making the latter part of story not as strong as the beginning. I would give this book an A-/A. And, I’m definitely looking forward to the next one in the series.

    ******


    The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 9 down, 9 to go (R, D, L, J, A, G, N, B, C …)

    library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 216

    The 21st Century Challenge
    2016 = Lonen’s War by Jeffe Kennedy (published July 2016) :
    Many of the rules of this fantasy world weren’t fully explained. The h/h were both thrust into ruling via a war between their peoples and the fact their fathers and older brothers were soon killed. The heroine had grown up isolated and clueless to the atrocities committed against the hero’s kingdom. The story definitely benefited from having both the h/h’s POVs. This book was mainly set-up with the eventual romance hinted at but far from the focus. There was a set of cartoonishly evil villains as well as a multitude of other opportunistic characters out for power. An intriguing start to this series.

    The Shoe Challenge
    Mary Jane – Read a book with a name in the title, that is part of a series based on siblings/family members or that involves young girls in some way.
    Oria’s Gambit by Jeffe Kennedy – heroine’s name part of the title:
    The h/h agreed to enter into a marriage in name only so the heroine could ascend the throne and protect both their kingdoms. Their burgeoning relationship was complicated by the fact the heroine could not be touched by anyone except her mother. The hero was determined to somehow make their marriage real. They each started mistrustful of the other but they made an effort to really talk and worked on becoming a team. I appreciated that the plot didn’t rely on any big misunderstandings. The villains were still somewhat one-dimensional. Overall an engaging read with some interesting plot twists.

    Synthetic – Many shoes are made of manmade materials these days. Read a book that is “fake” in some way, such as a fantasy, sci-fi, or alternate history romance.
    The Tides of Bára by Jeffe Kennedy – fantasy:
    Picking up where the cliffhanger ending in the last book ended, the h/h went on the run. The heroine’s dragon familiar continued to provide both wise counsel and comic relief. The hero’s horse was a welcome addition. Unlike the previous book, several misunderstandings were allowed to fester simply to provide conflict between the h/h. Thankfully that didn’t last too long. While there were a few surprising twists mostly this was a bridge book to set up the next phase of the overall storyarc.

    The Catchphrase Challenge
    “De plane, de plane!” Tattoo,(Fantasy Island) – Read a fantasy romance.
    The Forests of Dru by Jeffe Kennedy:
    The hero’s people, particularly one of his brothers, were reluctant to trust the heroine with some believing she’d cast a spell on him. So more political intrigue, this time set in the hero’s kingdom. The h/h were back to working as a team and discussed their problems. My favorite of the series so far. Hopefully the author will soon write more as there were many plot threads left dangling.

    • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 5 down, 13 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Catchphrase Challenge: 3 down, 15 to go…
    • The 21st Century Challenge : 16 down, 2 to go…
    • The Shoe Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 216

    The 21st Century Challenge
    2017 = A Marriage Worth Saving by Therese Beharrie (published June 2017) :
    The hero’s father had died and left his share of the winery equally to his son and daughter-in-law if they agreed to work together to plan a party, otherwise it would be auctioned off and the proceeds split. The hero was the one who had initiated their divorce but placed the emotional blame on the heroine since she’d agreed to it. They each had communication issues, but he continued to act like a jerk so I had more sympathy for her character. They both could have benefitted so I wish the idea of couples counselling would have at least been mentioned at some point. Despite these issues this was a likable reunion romance. The heroine made the story work for me.

    2018 = Bride for Keeps by Nicole Helm (published Apr 2018): This h/h had been featured in several of the author’s earlier books (each part of different, multi-author series). Their marriage issues were a major subplot in one, so I was happy they finally got a story of their own. They each started out with unconstructive ways of handling their problems. The beginning of the book took place concurrently with the earlier books, so some events were already known. The book could work as a stand-alone, but I would recommend reading the earlier books first. The h/h’s actions and inactions would have been more frustrating to read if I hadn’t known about them from the earlier books. Each felt unworthy of the other. They both had to learn to truly trust and talk about their problems. Overall, a wonderful marriage in trouble story with a good balance of angst and humor.

    The Catchphrase Challenge
    “Kiss my grits!” Flo (Alice) – Read a romance that takes place in the American south or a book about a waitress/cook/restaurant owner or restaurant worker.
    A Passionate Business by Stephanie James – heroine owns a restaurant:
    The heroine’s desire to be taken seriously in business could have been written today rather than 1981. The hero believed she was good at business, but we’re supposed to overlook “quirks” like her coming home to discover he’d broken into her house so they could talk, his high-handed announcement that she would marry him as if she had no say in the matter, or the multiple incidences of saying he should beat her. (/sarcasm.) On the plus side the heroine made it clear she wouldn’t put up with such behavior. Most of the conflict would have been avoided if the hero had been more forthcoming. Lots of humor, but very much an old skool romance.

    • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 5 down, 13 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Catchphrase Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Shoe Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The 21st Century Challenge : completed!
    library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 216

    The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge
    H for health — Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is involved with the health services industry, e.g. doctor, nurse, paramedic, physical therapist, etc.
    Hot Response by Shannon Stacey – heroine is an EMT:
    The h/h started off on the wrong foot so the romance was slow to begin. Family and work dynamics played a significant part in the story. There were glimpses of the earlier characters, but the focus was very much on this h/h. A few scenes took place off-page that I wished we’d gotten to actually read. While I could see the hero’s point, not that much time had actually passed since they’d started dating so his quasi-ultimatum to the heroine was uncalled for (trying not to be too spoilerish) and the ending seemed rushed. Still I liked the h/h both individually and as a couple, there was a lot of humor, and overall I liked their romance as well as the interactions with their families and co-workers. An enjoyable read.

    C for critter — Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero have a pet.
    Total Bravery by Piper J Drake – hero has a dog:
    A nice twist on the traditional ‘hero and his bff’s younger sister’ trope as the heroine’s elder sibling/hero’s bff was a woman. The hero was on his first day at his new job when he received a call from the heroine who was on the run from two men. Despite being bff’s with her elder sister during their military days, the h/h had never previously met. The mystery plot was intriguing. I understood the logistical reasons behind a decision the hero made toward the end, but I had issues with what happened (trying not to be spoilerish and the situation was later addressed). The hero appeared in the previous book and his bff was mentioned, but this book introduced a new group of characters and their working dogs as well as a new setting (Hawaii). Looking forward to more books in this series. Most of the book took place over a few days so the romance felt rushed. However this was also addressed and I found the HEA believable.

    • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 7 down, 11 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Catchphrase Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Shoe Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The 21st Century Challenge : completed!
    library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 216

    The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge
    N for new — Read a romance by a debut author or a romance by any author you haven’t read before. Or read a New Adult romance.
    The Emperor’s Arrow by Lauren DM Smith – author’s debut nook + new to me author:
    The heroine was a warrior from an isolated island required to travel to the city as one of the bride candidates for the emperor. Honor dictated she do her best, but she figured she would soon be dismissed. She didn’t count on falling for the hero or foiling several assassination attempts. While the romance was central to the story, the focus was much more on the heroine’s journey, including her efforts to navigate the palace intrigue, than on the hero’s. At times I had trouble keeping the various noble houses straight. There were a few plot quibbles, but I loved the heroine so overall a very enjoyable read.

    The Alphabet Challenge Variation
    F = Cavanaugh Vanguard by Marie Ferrarella:
    Early on the hero was thinking about how he worked on behalf of victims to avenge their deaths. Okay… except he was a major crimes detective, it was the heroine who worked homicide. There were timeline inconsistencies which kept throwing me out of the story. The banter was stilted in spots, but I ended up liking the h/h overall. The mystery started with multiple bodies discovered in the wall of a hotel being demolished. It should have been intriguing but was rather meh (and one plot point was introduced and then disappointingly was never mentioned again so felt unresolved). There were parts I enjoyed but overall an uneven read.

    • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 8 down, 10 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 5 down, 13 to go…
    • The Catchphrase Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Shoe Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The 21st Century Challenge : completed!
    Sandlynn
    Participant
    Post count: 87

    Continuing with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

    Letter “E” for Eversea

    For this letter of the alphabet, I chose to read Natasha Boyd’s Eversea, published in 2013. I met this author at the RT Convention in Atlanta when I sat at her table at one of their various fan events. During the conversation with those at her table we learned that the author’s not native to the U.S., has lived around the world, but now resides on Hilton Head, South Carolina. I mention all this because I want to say that for a non-native of that region, she did a wonderful job portraying that part of the country. I really felt like I was right there. So, good job.

    This story is about a young woman, Keri Ann Butler, who lives in the low country of South Carolina, alone in an old, historical home, which needs a lot of work and is important to her small, tourism-dependent community. Unfortunately, Keri and her brother, who is in medical school, don’t have the resources to fix it up. Keri works as a waitress, creates some art on the side, and is waiting for her brother to finish school so she can pursue her own education. While waiting for her life to begin, Jack Eversea comes crashing into it. Jack is a Hollywood A-list actor who stars in a popular movie franchise based on a series of books Keri has long loved. His presence in South Carolina is on the down-low. Jack’s staying at the beach front home of a friend, who’s a movie producer, while he escapes from the paparazzi after it goes public that his long time girlfriend and co-star is caught cheating on him. Even though Jack’s relationship with his girlfriend had been running on fumes and was growing more businesslike, than passionate, Jack was still blindsided by her faithlessness — especially when it becomes the talk of the town. Needing to clear his head, Jack decides to secretly flee to the east coast. Of course, it takes no time before Jack meets Keri and, although she’s initially skittish as well as starstruck, they soon find they have a mutual attraction that, despite the obstacles and their differences, might be something they’d like to pursue.

    First off, I have to say, this book is not a standalone. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger which is continued in a second book, featuring the same heroine and hero, titled Forever Jack. If that is not the type of thing you like, be warned. But, to be frank, I liked it. I liked the cliffhanger and am looking forward to diving into part two of Keri Ann and Jack’s story. Not only do I think their romance is believable and done with care, but I also enjoyed all the supporting characters, especially Keri Ann’s friend and her brother, about whom I believe a later book is about. (I think there are five books devoted to these group of characters, one of which is a shorter e-book.) Finally, Jack’s backstory is very interesting and unexpected. In fact, I had to chuckle over one tiny bit of info that might delight historical romance fans.

    I also have to say that I love the art on the book covers, which is neither here nor there, except it always makes me happy to open a book that is also so attractive.

    On the downside, I thought the ending — because it was a cliffhanger — was a little, bit confusing, since I wasn’t expecting that at all. At the end, we learn, via word of mouth, about one set of events, and then a further chapter goes back and shows us what happened. At first, I didn’t know that was happening and had to read it over. But, now that I’ve figured it out, I really liked it. But, it was confusing. Secondly, I thought Jack’s relationship with his girlfriend seemed to mean a bit more to him than was stated. Maybe it was just male ego, but he seemed more emotional about it than I would’ve expected if he was truly done with it all.

    All this being said, I have to say, I am very pleased and am going to order some of Ms. Boyd’s other books. This one I’d give an A.

    ******


    The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 10 down, 8 to go (R, D, L, J, A, G, N, B, C, E …)

    library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 216

    The Shoe Challenge
    Wingtip – Read a book about a pilot or stewardess.
    Marry Me, Major by Merline Lovelace – hero is a pilot:
    The h/h agreed to a temporary marriage in-name-only to aid her efforts to get custody of her step-niece. Their plans went awry when the hero was injured before his deployment. They ended up actually living together and soon decided to give their marriage a real chance. For the most part the h/h talked through their issues (except for the big misunderstanding toward the end). There was a great deal about “places to go” while in New Mexico. Some was well-incorporated into the plot, but some came across as info-dumping. The “villain” crossed into mustache-twirling territory. The wrong character apologized in the end or there should have at least been joint groveling. Despite these quibbles, overall a fun read.

    The Alphabet Challenge Variation
    Q = The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick:
    There was a large cast of dubious characters, many lying about their identity, and most double- or triple-crossing their various partners in crime. The h/h were each keeping secrets as well. They made a fun couple. I enjoyed the romance even though it felt overshadowed by the mystery elements at times. The mystery had lots of fun twist and turns even if some were obvious. There was also the hint of a secondary romance with two characters introduced in the first book. I hope we see more of them if this series continues. Overall a charming read filled with the author’s customary humor and found family themes.

    • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 8 down, 10 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 6 down, 12 to go…
    • The Catchphrase Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
    • The Shoe Challenge: 5 down, 13 to go…
    • The 21st Century Challenge : completed!
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