Misleading a Duke by A.S. Fenichel – ARC Book Review

Title: Misleading a Duke (The Wallflowers of West Lane #2)
Author: A.S. Fenichel
Genre: Historical Romance / Suspense
Publication Date: 29 September 2020

Betrothed to a man she has barely met, Lady Faith Landon calls upon her three best friends—the self-proclaimed Wallflowers of West Lane—to help uncover the secrets of her mysterious fiancé. Her suspicions are aroused when she learns that he has recently returned from France. Is he a traitor to his country? The truth is quite the opposite. Nicholas Ellsworth, Duke of Breckenridge, is a secret agent for the English Crown who has just completed a risky mission to infiltrate Napoleon’s spy network.

After his adventures, Nicholas craves the peace and quiet of the country and settling into domestic bliss with his bride. Until he discovers Faith’s deceptive investigation. How can he wed a woman who doesn’t trust him? But a powerful spark has ignited between Nicholas and Faith that could bring about a change of heart

Misleading a Duke was a surprisingly action-packed and suspenseful read. I couldn’t put this book down!

When requesting this I had been expecting a typical historical romance with the wallflower and arranged marriage tropes. That’s not what this was. Instead, strong themes of mystery, action and suspense were included. I’m not entirely sure what genre this story should go under as it’s quite unique. That said, the romantic aspect of the story was predominant throughout.

FINALLY a historical romance that actually has an INDEPENDENT woman. A truly independent woman who isn’t afraid of being a spinster – nay she welcomes it – and is quite content being the stronger emotional partner of the pair. It was refreshing. Lady Faith London was brilliantly strong, intelligent and confident. Yes she had her flaws and doubts but she remained true to her character throughout the entirety of the book.

Nicholas was an equally strong character however it was hard to connect with him at the start of the story. His anger toward Lady Faith London seemed unjustified (mainly because we had not been provided sufficient information regarding the back story – this was just presumed from having read the premise).

The relationship between Nicholas and Lady Faith was not always easy to follow. At times it was not clear whether they liked/hated each other. I’d just get a grasp on this, only to become completely lost again after their latest interaction. After the first half of the book this seemed to even out as they had a ‘suddenly-in-lust/like’ moment however due to their exceptional circumstances this seemed quite realistic.

While I enjoyed all of the unexpected facets and themes in this story, they caught me unaware. The light torture scenes should either be forewarned to the reader or the story’s premise should hint at the darker tones present in this book.

Otherwise, this was a surprisingly entertaining read. The connection between Faith and Nicholas was beautiful to read once they were forced together.

4 Stars.

Beach Read by Emily Henry – A (*gushing*) Book Review

Title: Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry
Genre: Romance
Publication Date: 19 May 2020

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast. They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block. Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. (Goodreads)

Beach Read caught me by surprise and is in the running to be one of the best romance books I’ve read all year. And in the midst of 2020’s up and downs I’ve been reading A LOT of romance to keep myself happy and sane. It is the best comfort and feel-good genre after all (at least for me). But I digress… back to the enthralling experience that was reading this book.

What surprised me the most about this story was how it managed to have the perfect balance between fun, witty banter and deeper themes. This wasn’t the chick-lit book I had been expecting. Rather, it explored the journey of two people in desperate need for another soul to lean on.

January was a breath of fresh air in regards to the usual romantic heroines. She had a strength of character and lightness that drew me in and kept me interested throughout the book. I’m not going to give anything away (spoilers and all that…) but January’s journey was one of the best parts of this story – along with the development of January and Gus’ friendship to more.

Gus was likewise a fun character to read about although I connected with him less. He was just a bit too cynical for my tastes and yet… he paired so well with January. Together they were a cute yet realistic duo. Their ‘dates’ had me emotional at times while their window chats ( a la Taylor Swift’s ‘You Belong With Me’ video) while writing provided a delightful levity to their romance. Honestly those scenes were one of my favourite parts of the book!

This story had great pace and it wasn’t an easy book to put down and walk away from. If you’re in the mood for an emotionally satisfying and impactful romantic story (without an ending that will leave you hugging your Kleenex box) then this is the happy-medium book for you. It’s the perfect balance between drama and romance and covers some deep themes in an open, unapologetic way for a romance book. I truly adored this story and will be eagerly reading more of Henry’s books in the future!

4.5 Stars

Bear by Ben Queen – MG eARC Book Review

Title: Bear
Author: Ben Queen, Joe Todd-Stanton (Illustrator)
Genre: Graphic Novel / Middle Grade
Publication Date: 18 August 2020

Bear is a guide dog who would do anything for his owner Patrick – and embarks on an epic quest from the forest to the city to regain his sight so he can protect his best friend.

Bear is a service dog who would do anything for his owner and best friend Patrick who is blind. But when Bear suddenly loses his vision, he worries he’s lost his purpose in life—protecting Patrick! Following the misguided advice from some self-serving raccoons, Bear embarks on a transformative journey to regain his eyesight. Out of both necessity and survival, he learns to tap into his other senses and begins to see the world from a new perspective that is at times more rich and colorful than the world he’s always known. 

Bear was just as it had appeared to be: a heart-warming story of a charming dog named Bear and his relationship with his owner Patrick (AKA: his best friend. Also AKA: his purpose in life).

Bear’s child-like nature and innate goodness were delightful to read. Simple thoughts were shared across a bright spread of illustrative artwork with bold colours and colour-coordinated speech making Bear’s thoughts easily distinguishable. This allowed me to follow the story without any confusion and I was transfixed enough to finish the book all in one sitting.

Patrick’s inclusion in the story not only aided the reader’s understanding of Bear’s purpose as a Guide Dog but their relationship was also really sweet to read about. It’s not often you have someone so dependable and close in your life however, Patrick was lucky enough to experience this after adopting Bear. Their relationship was a unique blend of friendship, love and a strong sense of purpose.

When Bear suddenly loses his vision, all of this is set to disappear. The loving home he has finally found with Patrick and the loss of his one purpose in life. With an ensuing adventure full of midnight escapades and being lost in a large city, Bear faces it all in the hope of being able to restore his vision. While this book had a jaunty pace there was the impression that a few areas had been quickly glanced over in the hope of maintaining the pace and removing some of the cumbersome time elements from the story. Bear read as if it had been set all in one day and yet… it felt like too much had happened for this to be logistically possible. Additionally, there was the inclusion of a family-like HEA at the end that felt unnecessary and a bit out-of-the-blue. I would have preferred the story without this element.

Overall, Bear was a fun and entertaining story that I would recommend for people of all ages. This is a delight that can be enjoyed by all!

4 Stars

*Arc kindly provided by BOOM! Studios via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Top 5 Sat: Second Chance Reads

Hey all!

I hope you’re all enjoying the start of your weekend. The topic for this week’s Top 5 Sat meme, created by the lovely Mandy over at Devouring Books, is: Book’s I’d Give a Second Chance.

There have been quite a few books that I’ve put down or DNFd this year and I think some of those probably deserve a second chance. Here are the top five I’ve got my eye on trying again:

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – I’ve tried twice to read this story, so perhaps this would be more fitting for a third-time’s-the-charm list, but somehow I still haven’t gotten in to this story. There’s just something about Simon’s narration that bugs me. As well as the fact that the story starts off as if it were in the middle of the book… I just tend to lose interest.

All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle – I picked up this book a LONG while ago, maybe a year or so, when it was recently released and relatively hyped. I read SO MANY good reviews about it and was excited to try it myself… until I got bored. My patience these days for pushing through awkward starts to books has become very short, sadly. It’s a bad habit I’ve picked up!

Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker – I ADORE Tucker’s writing usually, especially A Simple Wild, but unfortunately this book just didn’t work for me the first time around. I DNFd at around 30% after the second-chance romance trope got a bit too angsty for me. I was expecting more, too much??, perhaps and this one just didn’t capture my interest for long enough. I don’t think I gave it a proper try though.

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare – has made this list because I initially started reading this book soon after its release – I had been highly anticipating it – however I soon realised I had forgotten important details of the story and would need to reread the first two books again…. and that’s when I gave up. Those books were long but so, so good. It’s worth the reread to finish off the trilogy. Now I just need to find the right motivation!

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore – If you’ve been reading my blog posts over the past year you’ll know I ADORED Graceling. To the extent that it’s in my all-time faves list. But… I couldn’t seem to finish off the final book in the high fantasy series. Perhaps I’ve changed over time? Or maybe Bitterblue just wasn’t for me? Either way I hadn’t been expecting to DNF this book less than half way through. My eternal love for Graceling demands I give this one a second try though!

Top 5 Sat: One Word Titles

It’s Sat again and that means we get to do one of our all-time fav memes: Top 5 Saturday created by the lovely Mandy over at Devouring Books. The topic for this week is: One Word Titles.

Last weekend I spent a LONG time trying to write a post for the previous topic in this meme, books by the sea, and couldn’t seem to find any books on my TBR. Nevertheless this week it seems like the complete opposite has occurred. I had TOO MANY one word books to choose from. Oh well, you can’t win it all, ha.

Motion by Penny Reid – I adore Penny Reid’s writing and really enjoyed the first series in the Hypothesis Trilogies. She always seems to manage creating the perfect balance of witty characters and endless drama (that somehow doesn’t get annoying?). She’s a genius, in my completely biased opinion. If you’re a science geek you’ll love her books too. They’re accurate! It’s like finding a gem in the rough.

Spellhacker by M.K England – This one made it on to my list as it sounds awesome and is surprisingly one word (??). I love books with heist themes and a merry group of law-breaking friends. What more could you want?

Havenfall by Sara Holland – I’m just going to be honest, this one is on my TBR because the cover is so pretty. Yes, I’m shallow like that. In my defence, I’ve also happened to read positive reviews for it. Well, mostly positive.

Faker by Sarah Smith – Oh, the sweet joy that is an enemies-to-lovers. Seriously I don’t think I’ll ever tire of this trope! Emmie and Tate sound so impossibly different. I’m expecting fireworks, drama and built-up sexual tension. I’ve read some mixed reviews for this one but for now I’m remaining hopelessly optimistic!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber – I’ve literally seen this book everywhere for years and haven’t really read any negative reviews for it. The premise sounds adventurous and full of magic. It’s been a while since I’ve read a fantasy immersed in magic.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman – Book Review

Title: The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: 2nd May 2019

The Toll, the final part in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, is currently running as my ‘Most Disappointing Read of the Year’ purely because I was SO EXCITED for it and SO LET DOWN by the direction it took. The thing is though, it’s brilliant. It’s very well written, refuses to conform to the ‘Chosen One’ trope, expertly creates a dystopian atmosphere and weaves in a strong stance on modern-American politics.

That said, it just wasn’t for me. But please, for the sake of me avoiding feeling like The Grinch who stole Christmas, take note of my opinions and critiques. I’m not saying this was a terrible book. I’m saying it wasn’t what I wanted for the end of this series. There will quite likely be A LOT of readers who adore this book.

The Toll began where Thunderhead left off – with a rise in support for Scythe Goddard’s followers and cracks in the foundation of the respected, ethically-bound Scythedom that had reigned for so long. In its stead rose the new wave of Sycthes – blood-hungry, arrogant and bejewelled in respect to their ostentatious nature. The rise of the ‘modern scythes’ seemed apt to me with the glimpses of human fallibility that had been slowly portrayed to us throughout the previous book, Thunderhead. Scythe had painted the picture of a perfectly organised and constructed world that was immune to the failures of its past – such as unemployment, debt and death. The gradual progression toward a failed society, despite the extreme advancements in modern medicine, seemed like a fitting arc for the end of this trilogy. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all I enjoyed from this book.

My original enjoyment in this series came from the expert creation of the Scythe dystopian world but also the two main characters: Citra and Rowan. I adored them. They were real, they had flaws. While I connected to Rowan easily throughout this book Citra, or rather Anastasia to be more specific, was very hard to connect to. It felt as if her initial naivete had not only disappeared but she had also become cold and hard. Yes, she was essentially a killer and that would have an effect on anybody’s personality but she felt too emotionally removed as a character to be able to connect with as a reader.

Additionally, the lack of interaction between most of the characters in this book really got me down. I understand, and usually quite enjoy, the concept of splitting characters up in anticipation of their reunion, however it felt like almost the entire book had passed before we saw any interaction. The only exception to this was the interaction between Jerico (my new fav) and Anastasia but her attitude stole some of the lustre from this.

The prominence of The Toll in the story’s arc also let me down. Yes, I know it’s the title of the book and I should have been expecting it. However, I don’t think that should have been at the expense of reading about the other characters. The original cast of characters felt very neglected in this and as they had been there from the start it seemed an odd choice to me. I eventually grew fond of The Toll however not enough to make up for the lost story-time with the other characters I had come to expect.

In concern to the structure of the book, the disconnect between all of the characters bled in to my reading experience and made the middle portion of the book feel very long winded and at times unnecessary. The political themes, that I generally enjoy in books, now became cumbersome to the story. It felt like a ramble and quite honestly it took a lot of motivation to finish this book. If the first two books hadn’t been so enjoyable for me I’m sure I’d have DNFd this one. The ending was a nice surprise but did not make up for the marathon that was the middle.

A sad 2.5 stars from me.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – Book Review

Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author: Holly Jackson
Genre: YA Mystery
Publication Date: 2nd May 2019

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is one of a trend of young-adult mystery books making waves in the genre recently. Well, within the last year or two. From my reading perspective it seemed Karen McManus’ ‘One of Us is Lying’ paved the way to create an interest for readers unaccustomed to hyped mystery-themed novels in the young-adult genre.

With this in mind, Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was expected to be ‘just another YA mystery’. The cute cover, the hype and positive reviews had me swayed to add this to my TBR however. I read this in Buddy Read form with Willow from Willow Writes and Reads.

The story, set in a small town, follows the character Pippa as she explores the murder and mystery behind the death of Andie Bell by her assumed murderer, Sal Singh. Pippa’s curiosity, skepticism and tenacity (sometimes to a dangerous level) gave this story the spark it needed. What could have been an unadventurous tour through this small town’s history was instead written with a light amount of suspense and a deep thread of intrigue.

Pippa’s character development, seen through a loss of naïveté, explored the concept of ‘how well do you know the people closest to you?’. It was chilling to read at times – purely because it seemed steeped in reality. How much do we know about those we love?

Pippa befriending the younger brother of Andie’s supposed killer, Ravi Singh, was an unconventional twist that I hadn’t expected in this story. This happened early on, so it isn’t really a spoiler, but the change it made to the pace and nature of Pippa’s investigation was remarkable. Instead of merely investigating the circumstances behind Andie Bell’s death, Pippa decided to try and prove Sal’s innocence. A tall order in a town convinced he’s the murderer.

Jackson took something so simple – an easily explained tragic murder from the past – and heated it up to the point where I couldn’t put this book down. As we followed Pippa’s investigation, with inclusion of interviews and commentary, I found myself completely stumped as to predicting the ending of this book. With multiple red herrings and an abundance of suspects, Jackson managed to leave me in suspense until the very end. And even then – once I thought I had it figured out – double whammy. She surprised again.

Jackson’s exploration of small-town racism and the fatal impact that can have on others’ lives – such as Sal Singh’s suicide – was a prominent theme throughout. I’m glad this topic was covered as it highlighted the negative impact actions like these can have on others through no fault of their own, such as the scathing treatment toward the Singh’s after Sal’s death.

If you’re after a book that has all of the mystery of an adult novel, without some of the danger, then you’re in the right place. I read this in paperback format but think an audiobook version would be fantastic with all of the interviews involved. I’ll be continuing with the series in Good Girl, Bad Blood soon!

5 Stars

The Coffee Book Tag

Hey all!

How is it another month gone already? Seriously, this year is going too fast for me to keep up. COFFEE was my first thought this morning followed quickly by… it’s going to be a two cup morning after testing the freezing outdoor temps. As an Aussie gal winter mornings are just about the coldest it gets.

I was tagged (an embarrassingly long time ago) in this tag by KitKat from KB Book Reviews – AKA one of the sweetest bloggers out there – and knew it was the perfect theme for my morning. I’m not entirely sure who created this tag, so if you know please leave a comment below so that I can acknowledge them!

Side note: If you haven’t checked out KB’s blog before GO THERE NOW. It’s brilliant!

LONG BLACK

Name a series that’s tough to get into, but has hardcore fans.

I’d have to go with LOTR. Its fans are present far and wide and seem endlessly loyal to the series. Unfortunately, this is just one series I struggled to get in to. I enjoyed the Hobbit but not the trilogy.

PEPPERMINT MOCHA

Name a book that gets more popular during the winter or festive time of the year.

It would have to be P&P. It seems that I’m not the only one to reread this during the holiday season! I’d also like to add in here: P&P retellings. Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours by Sonali Dev is one retelling I have my eye on. Have you read any noteworthy P&P retellings?

HOT CHOCOLATE

Name your favourite children’s book.

The Magic Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton was my all-time fav read as a child. I remember my mother reading the adventures to me and eventually learning to read it myself. I still go back and read it from time-to-time.

DOUBLE SHOT ESPRESSO

Name a book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

This prompt was probably looking for a more heart-pounding, terror-inducing book but since I’m the wimpiest of wimps I avoid anything ‘too scary’ (AKA most thrillers and horrors). This is as about as scary as it gets for me. I couldn’t put this one down though!

STARBUCKS

Name a book you see everywhere.

I’ve been seeing Schwab’s books EVERYWHERE lately. She’s an author I have on my TBR but I haven’t tried any of her books/series yet. I’m particularly keen on trying A Darker Shade of Magic as the premise of parallel Londons sounds interesting.

THE HIPSTER COFFEE SHOP

Give a book by an indie author a shout-out.

I’m not content to just give one indie author a shout-out when I’ve recently ADORED these two books by indie-authors. Madeline Ash’s self-published series, Cowboy Princes, is a quirky and oh-so-sweet romance that I cannot recommend enough. Beneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela Deen also makes this list because it’s a brilliant fantasy filled with merfolk, intrigue and adventure. If you’re unsure JUST READ THEM. I promise they’re worth the try.

OOPS! ACCIDENTALLY GOT DECAF

Name a book you were expecting more from.

Oh man, these were such disappointments for me. My excitement during the WAIT for the release of these books was very quickly turned around once I started reading them. Undercover Bromance had many of the same elements I loved from the first book in the series but unfortunately an annoying female MC and dragged out investigative side plot let this one down.

The Arc of a Scythe trilogy started out as one of my all-time faves. I still think back fondly on the time I first read Scythe. It completely captured my interest. The Toll however, has been an incredibly hard book to finish. I’m still trying to read it after two months of chipping away at it. I’m now trying to make the hard decision of either continuing to push through or DNFing this.

THE PERFECT BLEND

Name a book or series that’s bitter sweet yet satisfying.

This ending was more bitter than sweet for me. By that I mean: I was utterly destroyed and ugly-cry sobbed. It completely broke my heart and yet… there was some happiness in there too. Everybody deserves the right to their own choices and final decisions. It took me a long while after reading the book to come to terms with that. I finally realised you don’t often have to agree with others’ choices, or even fully understand them, to be supportive of their wishes.

I TAG

As always, if you choose to participate in this I’d love to see your responses so please link back in to one of my posts.

Her Cowboy Prince by Madeline Ash – ARC Book Review

Title: Her Cowboy Prince (Cowboy Princes #2)
Author: Madeline Ash
Genre: Royalty Romance
Publication Date: 3rd June 2020

BUY IT ON AMAZON NOW

Meet the cowboy royal who will never be tamed—and the best friend sworn to protect him.

Kris Jaroka didn’t sign up for this. He and his triplet brothers were uprooted from their ranch to inherit the throne of Kiraly. His duties keep escalating, and no amount of shirking his guards can stop the gut-ache of leaving his best friend, Frankie, behind.

But his biggest challenge lies ahead.

For years, Frankie Cowan has secretly monitored the safety of Kris and his brothers. When Kris’s recklessness forces her to reveal herself as the head of palace security, her duty to protect him and his refusal to be tamed meet head on.

Bound together, their lies and hurt soon surrender to their chemistry, and Kris burns to offer her his future. But Frankie’s past isn’t fit for a cowboy, let alone a prince—proving that the person she most needs to protect him from is herself.

Oh man, this is one of the books I was highly anticipating this year and it was SO WORTH THE WAIT. Get prepared for a nonsensical review because I utterly adored this one!

From the first book in this series, Her Cowboy King, we met the characters Kris (one of three heart- breakingly handsome and quirky cowboys) and his best friend Frankie (a kick-ass female with a strong independent streak). Their romantic tension, while still being in the friend-zone, had me highly anticipating this book. I love a good friends-to-lovers romance and Madeline Ash certainly has a fab way of writing it!

While there was some investigative suspense in this story, about the ‘accident’ that resulted in the previous monarch’s death, it read as mainly a character-driven story. Told in alternative third person POV chapters, I was easily pulled in and immersed in the sexual tension that surrounds Kris and Frankie. These two were practically burning up and NOTHING HAD HAPPENED YET. It was a slow-burn wait until the end. Which for me is the best kind.

The setting was beautiful and all I wanted was to move to Kiraly so that I could proudly wear flannel and a cowboy hat in support of these brothers. Their triplet connection was one of the best parts of this story and came across as strong as it did in the first book. What made it special though was the willingness of the author to give each of these characters realistically flawed personalities. They were charming but not always sickly-sweet charming. Which is the downfall of some other romances I’ve read lately.

I’ve given this story 4.5 stars due to the fact that: a) I could not put it down and lost most of my night’s sleep reading this baby, b) the slow-burn build-up between Kris and Frankie is one of the best I’ve read yet and lastly c) who can resist falling in love with a cowboy prince??

This story is unique and I’m glad the author wasn’t shy to go against the grain and write a story with COWBOY PRINCES that felt REAL and POSSIBLE. The only thing I would have wanted to be different was the suspense aspect of this story. It was a bit predictable and I wished that there had been more exploration of the ‘bad guy’s’ reasoning for his actions. It was subtly hinted at but not fully explored, although this could just be to lead up to a full exploration of it in book 3.

4.5 Stars.

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams: A disappointing book to review

Title: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2)
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Genre: Romance
Publication Date: March 2020

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Oh, this was a disappointing read. For a romance novel it wasn’t what I’d classify as ‘awful’ but it definitely did not meet the expectations I’d set after reading the first book in this series – The Bromance Book Club. My excitement after hearing that Mack (sweet and delightfully arrogant Mack) was going to be the lead in Undercover Bromance was high. It’s such a shame this book was ultimately a let down for me.

FIRST OFF: The things I actually liked…

Adams’ writing was full of entertainingly witty banter, especially between the book club members, and was relatively easy to read. The story flowed with a decent pace and the side characters, as well as glimpses of the first book’s characters Gavin and Thea, kept me engaged in the story.

Mack was such a sweetheart in this. Yes, he was a bit arrogant and clueless when it came to giving women what they really wanted – opening up and being vulnerable – but he more than made up for this in other areas. His open-mindedness, constant consideration of others and general charming manner had me sighing with joy.

SECONDLY: The things I didn’t like…

LIV. Plain and simple she was just a very abrasive and rude character. She had suffered in the past from issues with men after having a poor father figure BUT in my opinion this did not grant her the right to be a total di** to Mack at almost every point in the book. He honestly deserved so much better, especially as most of the time her anger was directed at his attempts to help (*eye roll*), and if it wasn’t for Liv’s personality this would have been a highly enjoyable read.

The inclusion of an undercover op in this story was meant to add to the suspense aspect of the book club’s current book selection however, the inclusion of this arc in the story was not seamless. It read as cumbersome and the investigation did not seem to flow naturally with the romantic plot line. Instead, the investigation felt included ad-hoc where needed to force the two main characters together. Otherwise, it was overdone and not a feature of the book I overly enjoyed.

Lastly, Adams’ pace and fab characters (with the exception of Liv) were great! I like that this book could potentially have been read as a stand-alone and for those not keen on Liv in book one I’d recommend skipping this and jumping straight in to Gavin’s (he’s Mack’s tech-genius friend) story in book 3. We don’t learn much about Gavin in book 2 so there’s no real loss there.

2.5 Stars.