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Review – Spokes – P.D. Singer

spokesSpokes
Author: P.D. Singer

Description:
Pro cyclist Luca Biondi lives for the race. For the star of Team Antano-Clark, victory lies within his grasp—if he can outdistance 200 other hopefuls, avoid suspicion from race officials, and keep his lieutenant more friend than foe. Luca also has secrets, and eyes for amateur cyclist and journalist Christopher Nye.

Christopher understands Luca’s need to keep their relationship under wraps, but chafes at hiding in the shadows of his lover’s career. He’s ready to cheer Luca’s victories, but he knows too well how triumph can turn to tears. While Christopher’s heart sees Luca the man, his inner journalist—and his editor—sees the cycling world’s biggest scoop.

From the jagged curves of the Colorado Rockies to the viciously steep Belgian hills, Luca can ride out any bumps—except rumors.

A few words in the wrong ear could crash everything. With miles between them, hints of scandal, and Luca’s fierce need to guard his reputation, a journalist might have to let go of the biggest story of his career or risk forcing his lover to abandon the race. Christopher and Luca face a path more treacherous than any road to the summit in the Italian Alps.

Review:
A lot of my friends who read m/m romance rave about PD Singer, but until now I had never actually tried anything by her. So when my friend Frances offered to let me borrow her copy of Spokes, I took her up on it. And then I’ll admit, it got added to Mt TBR and it loitered there for a while…lol (what can I say, too many books, too little time). But then one day, I picked it up thinking that I would just read a chapter…boy was I wrong.

I was immediately sucked into Christopher and Luca’s relationship, or rather lack thereof at the beginning. I loved the whole cycling team set-up, or rather the cycling team, and a wanna-be cyclist who needs help – I mean, I’m a sucker for a guy who will actually ask for and accept help (no comments from the peanut gallery!). And I could really tell that the author had done her research into the world of cyclists – yes, she had the major things down, but it was the small things like when Luca explained to Christopher how to improve his stroke on the pedals to give more power while riding.

The story itself was pretty action packed without being too angsty – although, there were a few moments where I wanted to slap both Christopher and Luca upside the head. It was like talk guys!! But thankfully, everything did work out and the ending was happy, albeit bittersweet. Overall, I gave Spokes 3.5 but rounded up to 4 stars on GR and I’m looking forward to checking out more books by PD Singer in the future.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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Review – Plum Beach Island – Holly Robinson

beach plum islandPlum Beach Island
Author: Holly Robinson

Review Copy Provided by Author via STB on Goodreads

Description:
“Your brother should know the truth.”

These are the last cryptic words that Ava Barrett’s father says before he dies. But Ava doesn’t have a brother, as far as she knows, so how can she tell him the truth? She dismisses the conversation and dedicates herself to bringing her family together for her father’s funeral. This is no easy task, since her sister, Elaine, has been estranged from the family and still harbors resentment against their stepmother and half-sister, Gigi. Ava, on the other hand, is a single mother who sees Gigi as a troubled teen in need of love and connection.

Ava, too, could use more love in her life and finds it where she least expects it. But the biggest surprise of all is that Gigi holds the key to the mystery surrounding her father’s dying words, and joins Ava in uncovering a secret that rapidly unravels the very fabric of their entire family…

Review:
When I got my first look at the cover for Plum Beach Island, my immediate thought was that it would whimsical, flirty, a light kind of read. But having previously read Holly Robinson’s work, I knew that wasn’t going to be the case – she manages to find that story that tugs at the heart-strings. And Plum Beach Island was no different, although I will admit that it wasn’t as angsty as her previous book – not that I’m complaining!

I was sucked in to the story of Ava, Elaine and Gigi from the very beginning – there is something about Holly’s writing that makes the relationship between the women so real – I mean, I felt like I was watching three sisters interact, there were happy moments, sad moments, moments where I wanted to hit one (or all three of them) upside the head. There is definately plenty of angst between the three of them, from Ava/Elaine and the sisters who grew up together, to Gigi, the interloper, trying to figure out where she fits in the family. Added to that the last words from their dying father, about a brother no one knew existed. The mystery of finding their brother played out well through the book, it wasn’t like a wham bam solve the mystery ma’am, but rather a gradual release of clues and discovery leading to the ultimate discovery. There was definately a feel-good ending to the book.

This was one of those books where you think you are just going to read a chapter or two, and then next thing you know its 2am and your alarm clock is going to go off in 2 hours…(yeah, it most definately got snoozed that morning). Its hard for me to say which authors are similar to Holly Robinson, maybe Kristin Hannah with her female relationships, but I think that Holly’s books tend to be more final at the end, whereas sometimes Ms Hannah’s leaving me feeling not quite done.

Overall, I gave Plum Beach Island (ack, why do I keep trying to type Beach Plum Island!!), 4.5 stars, but rounding down to 4 on Amazon (and up to 5 on Amazon).

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Running the Red Light – Kelsey Browning

running the red lightRunning the Red Light
Author: Kelsey Browning
Series: #2 in the Texas Nights series (but can be read as a stand-alone)

Description:
After wearing a “Least Likely to Succeed” label all her life, Roxanne Eberly is hell-bent on making her Red Light Lingerie store successful. Although the residents of small-town Shelbyville, Texas, are a little…lingerie-resistant, she’ll win them over eventually. So when a former employer sues her, putting a major wrinkle in her careful plans, she reluctantly accepts help from hot-stuff Houston attorney Jamie Wright.

Jamie’s on track to become his firm’s youngest partner, but discovers an unwritten prerequisite—marriage. Turns out, the only woman he wants is Roxanne, but peddling thongs and sex toys isn’t a suitable career for the spouse of an up-and-coming attorney.

Jamie’s tangled up in Roxanne’s lawsuit, her life and her lingerie. But if they’re ever going to make it work, Roxanne’s big-city boy will have to decide what he values more: the career he always thought he wanted or the woman he never thought he’d fall for.

Review:
Kelsey Browning’s Running the Red Light was released right as I was craving a romance that didn’t feature any of the current trends (think 50 shades of grey…) – all I wanted was a nice, mostly angst free contemporary romance and she totally served it up. I’d like to thank Jamie Farrell (who wrote Southern Fried Blues that I LOVED) for promo’ing this book on her facebook (and telling me that it could be read as a stand-alone). If you are currently in a bit of a slump and need a new author to try, I highly recommend Kelsey Browning.

I loved the fact that the heroine owned an adult store, but that the story itself wasn’t an erotic romance – which it could haven’t easily been. Rather, I found that Ms Browning walked a nice line between sweet and sensual, without every actually crossing it. Add to that a smexy lawyer, who has been friends with the heroine for several years, so it wasn’t a “wham bam thank-you ma’am” romance as well (i’m personally not a fan of insta-love – I like my characters to have a bit of history).

The whole labeling the heroine as “least likely to succeed” was an interesting approach because I think it says something about our society and how people perceive those labels. In particular, I liked how even though she had been labelled that way, that Roxanne didn’t let it stop her from reaching her goals in life and didn’t have an woe is me type attitude. I also appreciated how Jamie (the H), didn’t patronize her either when her issues became apparent – that is a personal pet peeve of mine.

I know that I will be going back and reading the first book in the series (Personal Assets – which is about Roxanne’s friend Allie – who appears in this book) and can’t wait to see how the rest of the series turns out. Overall, I gave Running the Red Light 3.5 stars, but rounded up to 4 stars. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a cute contemporary romance with sexy lawyers and adult fun and games.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – When The Rogue Returns – Sabrina Jeffries

when the rogue returnsWhen the Rogue Returns
Author: Sabrina Jeffries
Series: #2 in the Duke’s Men series

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:
Victor Cale never imagined that his sweet, shy bride, Isabella, would use her talents for creating exquisite imitation jewels criminally. But there’s no denying that her handiwork was used in the theft of the Dutch royal diamonds– right after Isa disappeared into the night.

Ten years later, Victor is sent to Edinburgh to investigate a wealthy baron’s mysterious bride-to-be… who turns out to be Isa, masquerading as an alluring widow. No longer the meek girl he once knew, Isa boldly asserts that it was Victor who abandoned her, after he helped steal the royal diamonds!

Piecing together the truth of the past reawakens their volatile passions, which burns hotter than ever. But with a decade of secrets between them, Victor and Isa must trust each other to bring the real thieves to justice– without getting burned themselves.

Review:
I’ll readily admit that Sabrina Jeffries is a comfort read for me, I know exactly what I am getting when I pick up her books. A pretty decent historical romance, normally with a light mystery element (either within the specific book, or through-out the series). In this installment, I was treated not only to the mystery, but a second chance romance story (which I will readily admit that I am a sucker for). In this case, it had been ten years from when Victor and Isa had seen each other last. And thankfully, their separation wasn’t due to “the big misunderstanding” which i hate, but rather the manipulation of a different party.

It was interesting seeing how the author worked in the idea of a missing relative (which was the mystery from the first book) into the main characters for the second book in the series. Although, I felt like I never really got to know Victor as a character. I just felt really detached from him in this book – I felt like I learned more about him in the first book in the series, than this one – which was weird and shouldn’t have been the case. It was due to that, that ultimately, I only gave this book three stars. While it featured a romance trope I enjoy (second chance), mixed with one that i’m not really a fan of (secret baby/child), it just didn’t work for me.

I will say, however, that while I wasn’t quite a fan of this installment in the series, I do continue to like Jeffries writing style and I will continue to read her books in the future.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Perfect Timing – Laura Spinella

Perfect TimingPerfect Timing
Author: Laura Spinella

Review Copy Provided by Author via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book on Goodreads

Description:
What’s a Jersey Girl to do when she moves to Catswallow, Alabama? Isabel Lang finds the answer in an unlikely bond with the musically gifted Aidan Roycroft. The two share everything from a first kiss to startling family secrets. But when Aidan is accused of a violent crime, the two flee to Las Vegas where Isabel’s future comes tumbling down.

Seven years later, the past is buried, including any relationship with Aidan. Isabel is busy running a radio station and closing in on commitment with Nate Potter, a guy who defines ideal. Life seems cozy until new station management demands a sudden-death ratings grabber, putting everyone’s future on the line. What should be a simple solution leads to a stunning revelation as Isabel is forced to call on the past and the only rock star she knows.

Review:
If there is something that Laura Spinella does good, its bad boy heros and honestly, i’m a sucker for them. Her first book was a 5 star read for me, and i was eagerly waiting (ok, stalking her website for updates on new books…) – so I jumped on the opportunity to read Perfect Timing when she offered it up to one of my goodreads groups. The book arrived on a Friday and man was I glad that I didn’t have anything planned for the weekend, because I was sucked in. Admittedly, I actually finished it by Saturday afternoon with minimal interruptions but yeah. Although, I will say, it wasn’t quite as good as Beautiful Disaster, but only minutely different.

Plus along with the bad boy storyline, it also was one of second chances and I’m also a sucker for a second chance romance. Although, I did want to bitch slap Isabel because I thought she was rather selfish in her actions – yeah, I know she was only a teenager, but it still irked me. But its really hard to review this part without spoilers, suffice to say, I wasn’t a fan of her mother or other characters in her previous life. I did, however, like her friends in her new life – her father and his partner, and her co-workers at the radio station. I think the author nailed the diverse personalities that people experience in their lives.

I did feel that overall, I liked the ending in Perfect Timing better than Beautiful Disaster – it felt more complete and fulfilling. Overall, I gave Perfect Timing 4.5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary romances with bad-boy rock stars and second chances.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Take Me Home For Christmas – Brenda Novak

Take Me Home for ChristmasTake Me Home For Christmas
Author: Brenda Novak
Series: #5 in the Whiskey Creek series

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Too bad all memories aren’t pleasant. Everyone in Whiskey Creek remembers Sophia DeBussi as the town’s Mean Girl. Especially Ted Dixon, whose love she once scorned.

But Sophia has paid the price for her youthful transgressions. The man she did marry was rich and powerful but abusive. So when he goes missing, she secretly hopes he’ll never come back—until she learns that he died running from an FBI probe of his investment firm. Not only has he left Sophia penniless, he’s left her to face all the townspeople he cheated….

Sophia is reduced to looking for any kind of work to pay the bills and support her daughter. With no other options, she becomes housekeeper for none other than Ted, now a successful suspense writer. He can’t bring himself to turn his back on her, not at Christmas, but he refuses to get emotionally involved. He learned his lesson the last time.

Or will the season of love and forgiveness give them both another chance at happiness?

Review:
So I don’t know if i’m the only blogger out there that does a happy dance when popular/well-known authors ask me to review their books, but I was totally doing that when the email from Ms Novak showed up a few weeks ago (yes, i’m a dork and I admit it!). But I will admit to being kind of concerned that this was book 5 in a series that I hadn’t read yet – although the author assumed me it could be read as a stand-alone (which I both agree and disagree with – but more of that later). Anyways, after I read the description and also the novella that kicked the series off (you can see that review on the blog also), I decided to take a chance on the book.

My initial thoughts with the opening of the book was that it reminded me of the Ashley Judd movie, Double Jeopardy – where the husband disappears and no one knows what happens – what is planned/foul play etc. But more so, the story focused on the after effects…how the “golden boy” of the town deceived everyone and how, as is human nature, people want to find someone to blame, even if the person is innocent. I really felt bad for Sophia for about 70% of the book. Although, it was nice seeing her change and become stronger through-out.

I will admit that i had issues with Ted though – I thought that he came across as an arrogant jerk for a good part of the book (and now that i’ve read previous ones in the series, that belief has solidified a bit more). I really wanted Sophia to bitch-slap him a few times (what can I say…lol). He did get better – but you could still see that there was quite a bit of baggage between them. I don’t know if, ultimately, I fully believed their HEA – it seemed more of a HFN (happy for now) – but i’ll be interested to check up on them in future books.

As to my comment about being read as a stand-alone or not – it is book 5 in the series and while Ms Novak does a good job of filling in the back-story (and I didn’t feel really lost during the reading), now that I’ve gone back and read the previous four books, this would have been a much more richer experience. Having gotten to know all of the characters – many of whom were only really cameo’s in this book, came to life in previous ones.

Overall, I gave Take Me Home for Christmas 3.5 stars, but I have gone back and read previous books in the series. Personally, I would recommend people read the other books (or at the very least book 1) before this one, just to get more of a feel of Whiskey Falls – you find out so much more about the town and the people.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Southern Fried Blues – Jamie Farrell

Southern Fried BluesSouthern Fried Blues
Author: Jamie Farrell

Review Copy provided by the Author

Description:
A Yankee Lady Stuck in the South
Divorced wasn’t a label Anna Martin ever wanted. Now she’s a thousand miles from home, underemployed, and lonely, but she’s squeezing this lemon life gave her and turning it into lemon meringue pie. Never again will she let any man—especially another military man—get in the way of her career.

A Southern Gentleman Military Officer
Jackson Davis believes in family, football, and Uncle Sam. He treats ladies right, takes his uniform seriously, and he loves his dog, but he doesn’t reckon he’s built for true love. After all, if a man good as his daddy couldn’t do it right, what chance does Jackson have?

One Undeniable Attraction
These two vulnerable souls are as different as cornbread and ketchup, but they fit together like sweet butter on hot biscuits. Short-term, they’re exactly what the other needs. But when their hearts get involved, they’re both gonna end up with a big ol’ case of Southern Fried Blues

Review:
oh where to begin (and don’t worry, this isn’t bad in the slightest). I probably never would have gotten my hot little hands on this book without seeing my former room-mate from college talking to the author on facebook (so I blame you Jen). But the description and the cover (because admit it, the cover is gorgeous!) caught my eye and even though I typically avoid military romances, since I find they rarely live up to my experiences, I figured with the author being a military wife, it would probably be as close to an accurate representation of military life as possible. And boy was I right…

As soon as I started reading, I felt like I was transported back to one of the many military functions that I attending over the years, either formal or informal. The raucous hilarity of the inside jokes that no one outside of the military would understand, made me feel like i had gone home (for lack of a better word). There are definately times when I miss my military service (even if I am doing the weekend warrior type thing).

And at the same time, while it was hilarious in places, I think Jamie also hit on an important issue that often comes up in military relationships, the inability of military spouses to at times finish education, or get into certain career fields because of the fact that they PCS (permanent change of station) every few years. It is a concern to me and something that I think the military and employers in general need to address – but right now, I just don’t have a good idea of how to address it.

I loved her characterizations, especially Jackson. whenever he spoke, I felt my insides melt – I mean what girl doesn’t want a southern gentleman taking care of them…I don’t know many for sure…and I also liked that Anna wasn’t a complete push-over. She could have let Jackson walk all over her, but she didn’t, she was sassy without being too annoying, even if she was a Yankee…lol. I would recommend Southern Fried Blues to anyone who likes sweet, quirky, southern contemporary romance, or who want an insight into real military life. A solid 4 stars and i can’t wait to see what the author comes up with in the future.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Classics Retold Review – Emma – Jane Austen

classics retold

EmmaEmma
Author: Jane Austen

Description:
‘I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.’

Beautiful, clever, rich – and single – Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work.

Review:
I have to say that this is probably one of my favorite Jane Austen (only slightly behind Pride and Prejudice). Of all the characters in the various Jane Austen books, I found the ones in Emma to be the most relatable. While all of them were bound by the various society dictates, there was a quirky-ness that shone through with Ms Austen’s descriptions and the development of the story.

It’s hard to say exactly what I really enjoyed about the book, there wasn’t one specific thing that I can say, yes, it was this scene, this person…but rather it was the amalgamation of everyone together. It was like seeing a stained glass mirror…while each part is individually created when its built and is pretty on its own, it is the final product that make people ohhhh and ahhh.

But I always find it hard to write reviews of these classics, because they are classics for a reason…so I’ll leave my review of Emma at that, but since I did listen to the audiobook, I need to address the narration a little bit. I have to admit when I saw that the only version of the audiobook that my library had had a male narrator (Michael Page), I was a tad skeptical, since Emma is told from a female POV and I can’t remember a classic that i’ve listened to, off the top of my head, that has had a male narrator. So it was a completely new experience for me. But I was pleasantly surprised. There was something smooth and flowing about his narration. I know that i’ll be checking out more books narrated by him in the future (and taking a peek, it looks like he had a pretty decent backlist).

 

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Review – Deal With The Devil – Diana Duncan

deal with the devilDeal with the Devil
Author: Diana Duncan
Series: #1 in the Devilish Devlins series

Description:
Paradise for software designer Cynthia Wagner means uninterrupted solitude to invent a brilliant video game, and save her job. But renovations on her city apartment force her to seek refuge in a temporary rental in the ‘burbs.

The promised Paradise morphs into Purgatory when she meets her new neighbor, a deliciously tempting Irish rogue sporting a wicked grin and to-die-for body. Worse, the handsome bachelor has noisy, drooly, havoc-creating baggage on his hands for the summer… rambunctious five-year-old twin nephews, a baby niece, and the kids’ yappy dog. Rory Devlin is a dangerous distraction—and he’s hiding a naughty secret.

Jackhammers and contractors would have provided more peace and quiet.

Stuck in the Suburbs of the Damned with Mr. Uncle-Turned-Mom and his wild menagerie, Cynthia struggles to meet her deadline. But she struggles more with her undeniable attraction to her devlish-ous neighbor.

Could it be that what she’s mistaken for Hell is actually the Heaven she’s been searching for?

Review:
Sometimes the best or most entertaining books I find, are random ones that I pick up for one of my various reading challenges, this was one of them. I was looking for a book who had an author that shared a name with a character from a Shakespeare play, and I figured that Diana was a pretty easy name to find. And while searching amazon, came across Diana Duncan’s books. I’d never read anything by her, but I know I can for sure that it won’t be the last.

Deal with the Devil was a relatively quick read – I think it only took me 2 metro trips (about an two hours) to read. i had to laugh at some of the issues that Cynthia ran into during the course of the book – I think at some stage I probably would have said, obviously, I’m being told that I shouldn’t be doing this…it was like a calamity of errors ;) But oh was it also spicy in a few places – and I really liked the fact that there was a bit of delay before Cynthia and Rory actually got together…

Then, there was Joy…aka, Crazy Stalker Bitch..oh where to start…lol! All I can say is that you need to read to truly understand her complete psycho-ness. Overall, I’d give Deal with the Devil 3.5 stars – and would recommend it to people who want a cute, smexy contemporary romance.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Heart Like Mine – Amy Hatvany

heart like mineHeart Like Mine
Author: Amy Hatvany

Review Copy Provided By The Author Via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

Description:
Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be?

At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been the one taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again.

But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew.

Review:
I don’t know if its because this is the third book I’ve read by this author in a short period of time, or something else, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as previous books. Maybe it was because I didn’t like how the story was approached, or just didn’t really connect with the main character…Don’t get me wrong – the writing itself was good and the story intriguing, it just didn’t work for me.

Like her previous books, in Heart Like Mine, Amy Havanty tackles a topic that shows up in social media, the desire to be childless. In fact, just this week, I realized that the most recent issue of TIME published in the US (although, not the other versions around the world) were discussing this issue (specifically, does that make people selfish, but that is a whole ‘nother story). But what happens when that desire is turned completely on its head when your significant others (in this instance, her fiancee’s) ex-wife dies and their kids end up living with you. Would you stay in the relationship? Would you decide that you can’t do it, no matter how much you love your SO? These are all questions that were faced by Grace during the course of the book.

While I think Amy did a good job exploring Kelli’s life (her fiancee’s ex-wife) prior to her death, I also felt that it was overdone. I wanted to know more about Grace and her decisions – which were key to the main storyline. Yes, it was mentioned through-out the book, but being told from her current POV, rather than the flash-back style that was used for Kelli’s story. I think that might have added to it – maybe duel chapters with both of their POV’s or something – maybe that was my biggest issue…

Overall, I’d give Heart Like Mine 3 stars – it was well-written and moving, it just didn’t quite work for me.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Book Review

 

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