Book Review: A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls by Katie Mettner

Title: A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls
Author: Katie Mettner
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Christmas
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Actress Carrie Murray’s films are a Christmas lover’s delight. Filled with twinkling lights, festive carols, and happy endings, they’re the perfect escape from reality. For her and the audience. Then Tinseltown calls.

Braxton Timothy is Hollywood’s biggest action star. Handsome and talented but decidedly on the naughty list, no one can fathom his sudden desire to produce a feel-good Christmas movie—least of all, his no-name co-star.

Alternating between scenes reminiscent of everyone’s favorite made-for-TV movies and unexpected, off-screen chemistry, Gingerbread Falls has surprises in store this holiday season. The question is, will there be enough Christmas magic to convince two imperfect people that they’re perfect for each other?

I’ve been feeling festive all week, and I think part of that can be attributed to A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls. This book instantly put me in the Christmas-spirit, and I’ve already replaced my Halloween decorations; my house now boasts two Christmas trees and cozy lights, and I’ve already blasted holiday music for three days in a row. That’s rare for me, because I usually only start feeling the holiday spirit around December.

But A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls is the kind of heartwarming romance that puts you right in the mood for holiday cheers. The main characters, Carrie and Braxton, are two people who desperately need love, except they don’t really know that they need it. They’ve both gone through hardships in the past that shaped them into the people they are today, and for the reader, it’s obvious from the start that if these two can embrace the chemistry that lingers between them and take a chance on each other, that they might find what they have been looking for all along, without knowing it themselves.

The one thing I sometimes dislike about these types of books is that they can be quite predictable, but that wasn’t the case for A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the twists and turns.

If you’re looking for a book that’ll put you in the mood for the holidays, look no further.

Book Review Risking Forever

Title: Risking Forever: Vol. 1
Author: Tara Gallina
Genre: New Adult Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Risking Forever: Vol 1 (The Forever Series) by Tara Gallina

My best friend has been obsessed with Sebastian since our freshman year in college. She wants him to herself, which is fine by me. He’s a paycheck, a means to an end goal. He’s temporary. But he’s also tempting—the way he looks at me, the things he says, the way he touches me… If I’m not careful, I might do something I’ll regret. ~Ainsley Belle

THE FOREVER SERIES
At twenty, Ainsley knows it’s time to follow her own dreams and not the future her that was planned for her—a future she never wanted. Losing her job couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Sebastian Gianni isn’t the ideal boss, but he has a position to fill and Ainsley is desperate. The sexy twenty-two-year-old comes from money, owns a successful business, and graduates from college in three months. He has his life together in a way Ainsley could only dream.
No wonder her best friend is obsessed with dating him. Even his ex-girlfriend is determined to get him back, although threatening him seems like the wrong approach. Ainsley would be a fool to fall for the guy, too.
By no means, should she trust him. He has more secrets than anyone she knows, which makes her wonder if the mafia rumors about him are true. It doesn’t matter that he’s a good listener, and sweet and protective at times. That playful flirty side he shares with her alone means nothing. Right?
When a kiss turns into a secret romance neither can give up, Ainsley learns the truth about Sebastian’s corrupt family and why his ex-girlfriend won’t go away. A future together is near impossible and comes with a risk that could get them both killed—or give them everything they’ve ever wanted.

Risking Forever was everything I expected when reading the synopsis, and much more. Main character Ainsley is at that point in life that most of us, if not all of us, have to cross when we’re growing up from young adults into adulthood: where you have to decide who you really are, and what you want your future to be like.

When she loses her job, she’s desperate enough to start working for Sesbastian Gianni: a man her best friend has been obsessed with ever since freshman year in college, and whose ex-girlfriend just can’t seem to get over. With this kind of track record, Ainsley would be stupid to fall for him too… Yet, that’s exactly what happens. Sebastian is playful, confident, flirty, yet he’s also protective and caring, and the more time Ainsley spends with Sebastian, the more she feels attracted to him, until attraction turns into something much more. But can they have a future together, or will secrets from Sebastian’s past drive them apart?

Ainsley’s personality is very engaging. She truly wants to better herself, she’s ambitious, but she’s also kind and caring, and she’s genuinely just a friendly, inviting person. I also liked Sebastian, but he’s more of a mystery – that’s a good trait for a romantic interest, though, since it allows readers the time to get to know him slowly. The writing was solid too, and overall, this was an entertaing romance story that I really enjoyed reading. I can’t wait for the next installment in the series.

 

Book Review: As You Witch by Erin R. Bedford

Title: As You Witch
Author: Erin R. Bedford
Genre: Paranormal, Reverse Harem, Witches
Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?
When Max gets a magic amulet that makes nearly every desire come true, she’ll learn the truth of be careful what you wish for.
However, magical hijinks aren’t all that Max has to worry about. With her hard-working parents strained to pay her tuition, Max’s only chance to stay in Winchester Academy is to win the scholarship at the big school fair. Of course, to win, she has to beat her bully of a rival, wow the entire school, and juggle four guys vying for her attention.
Nothing a few wishes, a little magic, and a lot of luck can’t handle … she hopes!

I previously reviewed the first book in the series, Witching on a Star. That wasn’t a success by any means – I rated it 2,5 stars, and while I had high hopes for a reverse harem set in a witching academy, my hopes fell flat and the book was a bit of a dissapointment.

Still, I picked up book two, As You Witch, because I wanted to see if it would get any better. The series has a lot of potential, it just never executes it well, so I thought that maybe some of those kinks would’ve gotten fixed in book two. Alas, no such luck, and I even liked this one less than the first one.

This book was filled with unnecessary drama from the start until the end. With a million possible options to pick villains when your book is set in a witching world, the author keeps on using the mean girl as a villain. It’s dull and predictable. The dialogue is so bad that I had to roll my eyes at every other sentence. Max is immature, childish, entitled, and the guys she’s supposedly in love with are so bland and boring even I wouldn’t be able to keep them apart.

There is no conflict. There’s nothing really at stake. The relationships are too perfect – these four guys are instantly OK with all of them being with the heroine, and none of them is trying to win her for themselves. Of the four guys, only two have a hint of a personality, and the other two are basically just thrown in so this would be a reverse harem and not a love triangle. Either give them more personality or focus on the two that do have developed personalities and that a reader can root for.

Look, I know I’m one of the few who isn’t fond of this series, and it has really high overall ratings on Goodreads and Amazon. So, don’t take my word for it, this is after all just my opinion. But as far as reverse harems go, I’ve seen a lot better than this one.

Book Review: Witching on a Star by Erin R. Bedford

Title: Witching on a Star (Academy of Witches #1)
Author: Erin R. Bedford
Genre: Paranormal, Reverse Harem, Witches
Rating: 2,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

All her life Max knew she was destined for more, but when she graduated high school, she never expected to find out she was a witch.
Now Max isn’t headed to the ivy league college of her dreams but to the Witch’s Academy, where the spells are real and the classes just might kill you.
If Max hopes to survive her new destiny she’ll have to put up with mean girl cliques, way too sexy for their own good bad boys, and a popularity contest she didn’t expect to win.
Turns out, wishing comes with consequences and all magic has a price, especially at Witch Academy, but Max may find she’s more prepared than she thought to handle it all.

Last week, I was in the mood for a reverse harem romance. Reverse harem, for those who don’t know, is where one girl has several love interests…and actually ends up with several or all of them! It might be a bit of a strange concept if you’re not used to it, but the last year it’s really gained some fraction in the reading community and more and more people are picking up this genre of books (with more and more writers starting to write in this genre as well). Reverse harem is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine, so I’m glad to see its success growing over the past year.

Anyway, on to this book, Witching on a Star, one of the first reverse harem books I’ve picked up in a while. We meet Max, our heroine, who never expected to find out she was a witch after she graduated high school. But lo and behold, not only does she have powers, her family is actually pretty famous in the witching community, and her grandparents are swimming in cash.

Witch Academy could be fun and exciting, but on the first day, Max already makes enemies out of the current queen bee of the school, and bumps into several guys who each have their unique, interesting personality traits. There’s the typical division: smart but somewhat shy, sexy bad guy, and then two more who don’t make that much of an appearance in this book and weren’t quite that memorable to me. In fact, personality-wise, basically the only one I could tell apart from the others was sexy bad guy. The others are so bland and indescriptive that they might as well be the same person.

So far, the book seems to have everything you’d expect in a reverse harem, right?

Well, it does, but it’s all kind of cringy. The romance is cringy. Everyone Max meets instantly falls in love with her, even willing to put morals and jealousy aside to be with her; they don’t mind if she’s dating multiple guys because she’s Max, the most special snowflake to ever walk this earth.

Max’s special-snowflake behaviour is so annoying. She goes from having no powers to being overpowered in a matter of pages, without actually needing any training. She scarcely spends any time in classes, more often than not hanging out with boys instead.

The villain is a mean girl. Yes, in a world of magic where you could conjure up about any type of villain, the villain Max has to stare down is Sabrina, typical mean girl who used to be queen bee until Max came along, who promptly stole Sabrina’s boyfriend (ex-boyfriend since he dumped Sabrina previously, apparently for cheating on him with his brother… which is exactly what Max ends up doing from the start, out in the open, and he makes no comment about it whatsoever…double standards much?).

The best friend is just filler, and only shows up when Max needs her to, conveniently disappearing at any other moment. The world-building is OK but I’m curious to find out more about this wizarding world and its many families. So far, the school and world feel really, really smal. I would also like to find at least one guy in this series who is NOT instantly falling for Max.

I also picked up book two just because I wanted to see if it would get any better, as despite the mean-girl clichés and Max being a Mary Sue, I am intrigued by the guys and if they will keep swooning over Max or if more drama will come their way. Stay tuned for my review of book two soon.

Book Review and Giveaway My Way To You

Title: My Way To You
Author: Lyndell Williams
Genre: Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Lawyer Simon Young is smart, confident, and adept at keeping things with women casual—until he meets his best friend Marcus’s sister, Regina. Immediately intrigued by Regina’s beauty, Simon becomes increasingly enthralled and ultimately risks his friendship to have her for himself.

Social justice writer and activist Regina Kent is usually cautious and savvy. Yet, unable to resist her attraction to the handsome Simon, she plunges into a torrid affair, knowing that she chances angering big brother and her less tolerant followers, many of whom will not accept that one of their most popular pro-Black bloggers is dating an Asian man.

As their clandestine romance evolves, Simon and Regina fall deeper in love. Making sure that things stay between them becomes progressively impossible, and neither knows how much longer they can keep Marcus in the dark and the world at bay.

In My Way To You, Simon Young, a confident, intelligent lawyer, is determined to keep things casual when it comes dating. But when he meets Regina, the sister of his best friend Marcus, he is amazed by the pull he feels toward her. Can he keep things casual this time around, or will he fall for her the way he’s never fallen for any woman before?

Regina is usually quite cautious when it comes to the dating game, but Simon is so charming and attractive that she simply can’t resist. Still, she’s worried about what her brother Marcus might think about her dating his best friend, especially when he finds out they were dating behind his back…

I loved how the relationship between the two characters, despite their instant attraction, still moved rather slowly from that point. Both of them were reluctant to get in an actual relationship, and they each had their own reasons, which made a lot of sense for me. The cultural clash between Regina and Simon’s cultures was also very interesting and added additional challenges for their relationship.

Since I don’t want to spoil the story itself, I’ll just say that a lot of things happen throughout the book, and there’s never a dull moment. Just when you think things will calm down for Simon and Regina, something else happens that puts their relationship at risk. The fast pacing kept the story really entertaining, and I couldn’t put it down.

 

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Book Review Dearly Beloved by Peggy Jaeger

Title: Dearly Beloved
Author: Peggy Jaeger
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Colleen O’Dowd manages a thriving bridal business with her sisters in Heaven, New Hampshire. After fleeing Manhattan and her cheating ex-fiancé, Colleen still believes in happily ever afters. But with a demanding business to run, her sisters to look after, and their 93-year-old grandmother to keep out of trouble, she’s worried she’ll never find Mr. Right.

Playboy Slade Harrington doesn’t believe in marriage. His father’s six weddings have taught him life is better as an unencumbered single guy. But Slade loves his little sister. He’ll do anything for her, including footing the bill for her dream wedding. He doesn’t plan on losing his heart to a smart-mouthed, gorgeous wedding planner, though.

When her ex-fiancé comes back into the picture, Colleen must choose between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.

In Dearly Beloved, main character Colleen manages a thriving bridal business along with her sisters. Despite having had a bad break-up courtesy of a cheating ex-fiancé, Colleen still believes in true love. Still, with a business to run, a grandmother and siblings to look after, she doesn’t have much time to look for the right guy.

Then, she meets Slade Harrington, a man who has no desire in being in a relationship and thinks the single life is just as well. But when Slade meets Colleen, it could be a match made in heaven… But then the ex-fiancé comes back into the picture, and Colleen has to make a choice that will change her life forever.

I don’t want to give out too much spoilers, but I loved this! Colleen is amazing. She’s charming, fun, kind and generous. And the way she interacts with her family is simply adorable. Slade too is intriguing, and he has a mysterious side to him that the reader instantly wants to know more about. I was also very fond of the writing style, which was easy to read but brought just the right pacing to a book in this genre. A great read for those cold winter nights!

Book Review and Giveaway Love for Two Lifetimes

Title: Love for Two Lifetimes
Author: Martina Boone
Genre: Coming of Age / Young Adult
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Two generations, two great loves, one devastating lie . . . 

When Izzy unexpectedly loses her mother in a car accident, her world shatters. Their relationship has always been so close that Izzy can’t imagine life without her. Nor can she begin to understand when she finds a secret box of love letters that her mother wrote but never sent. The idea of her mother hiding such intense feelings for more than twenty years without so much as a hint makes Izzy question everything she thought she knew–including the identity of her father.

Following a trail of clues overseas, Izzy steps into a world of glamour and English royalty, one which years ago forced her mother to choose between her obligation to her musical gift and her lover’s obligations to his family, title, and estate. It’s a world of secrets and masquerades, of heartache and betrayal. And in the midst of this world, Izzy finds a young man who feels as broken as she does herself. The two are drawn to each other–only to find that their parents’ lies may present an insurmountable obstacle between them.

Thrown together on a coming of age journey of discovery that spans two lifetimes and takes them from a grand estate in the Cotswolds to a hospital bedside in India and ultimately to the Taj Mahal, Izzy and Malcolm try desperately not to fall in love. But some things are impossible…

And some loves are worth any sacrifice… 

Uplifting, funny, tragic, and unforgettably, luminously romantic, Love for Two Lifetimes is a tale of two generations of love, a lifetime of friendship, a history of sacrifice, and one last, heartbreaking and hopeful choice revealed in prose, texts, and love letters. Written for young adults and grown-up romantics, if you love the romance of the royal weddings or any story by Nicholas Sparks, Love for Two Lifetimes will have you turning pages late into the night.

“Heartwarming, lyrical, soulful, and with just the right amount of humor: this book sparkles with authentic, layered characters and beautiful, thoughtful prose.” — Jodi Meadows, NYT bestselling co-author of My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane

Love for Two Lifetimes is an inspiring, heartwarming book, and one of my favorite reads in this genre this year. Izzy’s mother passes away in a car accident, and Izzy has no idea how she will ever cope with the loss. When she finds a box full of love letters written by her mother but never sent out, Izzy follows the trail of her mother’s history, and the love she cherished for so long but did not act upon.

This leads Izzy into the world of English royalty, where she finds someone who is as broken as she is, Malcolm. The two of them have instense chemistry, and soon enough, they can no longer deny the passion between them. As they discover more about Izzy’s family history, they grow closer and closer together.

I loved Malcolm. He was caring, loving, and capable of putting others’ needs in front of his own. I also really liked Izzy’s personality, she was complex and emotional, but all in a good way, and easy to relate to. I particularly envied the relationship Izzy had with her mother, and it reminds me a lot of the relationship I have with my mother.

Fans of love stories, especially those that span generations, should definitely read this book. It’s an excellent read, and will leave you wanting more.

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Book Review: Beast by Shirley Gal

Title: Beast
Author: Shirley Gal
Genre: Mystery, Romance, New Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

She has no past…

A woman wakes in a dark room with no recollection of how she got there, let alone her own name or where she lives. She has no idea how, but everyone else seems to know her as Gabi. A series of unknown numbers run through her head and her dreams are plagued by a faceless man.

She has no allies…

James is an enigmatic stranger who has dubbed himself Gabi’s caretaker. He’s a beast of a man with the gruff personality to match. It’s unclear what he knows of her past, but he’s obviously keeping something from her. She’s forbidden to leave, though she’s not his prisoner. He sets her on edge, but she can’t help feeling drawn to him.

And now, she must gamble on her future with this stranger.

When Gabi Levin enlisted in the Israeli Mossad, she thought she was signing on for a charmed life of adventure and intrigue. Instead, she finds herself married to a man she doesn’t know and couldn’t love, living in a detached tower, training for hours on end. Without carbs.

Adam Miller is a man who always gets what he wants. He’s the trifecta: handsome, rich, and a condescending prick. He assumes that he can easily dominate the beautiful woman assigned to be his wife, simply using her to locate the information he needs.

Now, they both must get past their preconceptions and learn to trust each other if their assignment is going to work.

In Beast, the first book in the Shadow Games trilogy, a woman wakes up in a dark room with no idea of how she got her, no memory of her own name or who she is. Everyone else seems to know her as Gabi, though, and her caretaker is James, a gruff man who is obviously keeping something from her. Moreover, James refuses to let Gabi leave.

Yet in the past, Gabi signed up with the Mossad, passed all the tests with flyikgn colors, but is then assigned in a top strategic mission for which she has to marry Adam Miller. Although Miller is distant and cocky, Gabi starts feeling something for him and the attraction is mutual.

The book doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s a good thing. The romance is solid, Gabi is a charismatic, strong character and Miller is drop-dead sexy, and the two of them make a good match. There’s a lot of humor in the writing, and that makes the book stand out from other reads in this genre.

Book Review: The Other Side of the Sky by Haner Bat Hannah

Title: The Other Side of the Sky
Author: Haner Bat Hannah
Genre: Romance, Drama, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Telma confidently marches over the bridge of her life and then…

Telma is an opinionated little girl who doesn’t quite fit into the world around her. She becomes a physics professor, happily married to Uri, a bridge engineer, whose life seems secure as the bridges her husband builds. However, the little girl is not quiet; she reflects on the successful adult life from her unique point of view.

Gadi, a genius from Berkeley is attracted to Telma’s distinctive view; he hopes he has found in Telma someone to lean on. An emotional-roller-coaster-like relationship develops between them. But Telma prefers the stable ground Uri has built for her.

Can she pull together the pieces of herself and emerge whole?

Yet bridges can collapse, and Uri is involved in a serious accident that crushes not only him but Telma’s entire world. When their lives become intertwined with those of Gadi and Yael, his beautiful wife, Uri’s story, revealed to her with brutal honesty, shreds Telma’s life to pieces. Gradually, Telma reconstructs herself anew, forming a more inclusive, complete, and accurate picture. A picture in which there is no need to hide behind long black hair and one in which the little girl goes back to seeking out the emerging whole. But will she ever again find peace?

The Other Side of the Sky focuses on Telma. The reader first encounters Telma as an opinionated little girl, and watches her grow up, becoming a physics professor. Adult Telma is happily married to Uri, a bridge engineer.

When Uri is involved in a horrible accident, Telma’s entire world is crushed. Telma finds her life becoming entertwined with that of Gadi, a genius from Berkeley who is attracted to her, despite being married.

As Telma comes to terms with what happened, she has to re-discover herself, and find the strength to re-emerge from this terrible turmoil.

The childhood moments of Telma’s life are very touching and help explain why she became the adult she is today, and why she made certain life story. Romantic but also drenched in a good amount of melancholy, this is a book about childhood, growing up, about love and the choices we are sometimes forced to make, about life and how short and precious it is.

Book Review: Michelle by Ayala Yoked

Title: Michelle
Author: Ayala Yoked
Genre: Psychological, Romance, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Michelle is in trouble – but she’s fighting for her ideals!

In this psychological romance a group of university students and soldiers go underground to try to implement ideas about which they are passionate. The French police are after them. Michelle has just been released from jail in France after attempting to damage an arms factory.

Michelle has two lovers – but she’s not in love!

Michelle comes to Israel and rekindles her romance with David, a middle-aged, married professor. Tom, her student lover who had been wounded in war, and Gad, David’s son, are also among the rebels. Michelle is intellectual, arrogant and teasing – and not committed to either of her lovers.

Michelle’s rebel group depends on her – but nothing is simple!

Michelle’s friends know they can rely on her, but they each struggle with their own internal conflicts. David is terrified about his son’s entanglement in illegal activity. His own failure as a soldier still haunts him. David’s sister, Pola, comes to visit and supports their activity. These idealistic rebels will inspire you, despite their dilemmas!

In Michelle, we meet an enigmatic, charming young woman who has a rebellious streak and who is, you guessed it, named Michelle. While Michelle Cohen is the centerpoint of everything and the story, ultimately, is about her quest to fight for what she believes in, the other characters are equally as compelling and bring a lot to the table as well.

Set in Israel, the book not only focuses on Michelle but also on her love life, on the tragedies of life, and even on her time in prison – which she was sent to after getting convicted by the French court after attempting to damage an arms factory.

Michelle is vibrant, full of life, enthralling but also puzzling – to others and to herself. She often doesn’t understand the trauma that drives her to do certain things, and only in hindsight does she understand why she made certain choices. As a reader, you’re right there next to her, discovering her as she discovers herself.

Most of the book takes place in Israel, and the author does a particularly good job describing the towns, streets, and general atmosphere. Even though I’ve never been, I could imagine myself being there.