Happy Publication Day! 🎉

“When we are collecting books, we are collecting happiness.”

—Vincent Starrett

  • LOVE, LISTS, & FANCY SHIPS by Sarah Grunder Ruiz (Berkley)
  • HOW TO MAKE MISTAKES ON PURPOSE by Laurie Rosenwald (Hachette Go)

Thank you to the publishers for helping me collect happiness. Their generosity is something for which I am especially grateful this week!

R E V I E W: Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

Single mother April Parker raised her daughter in Willow Creek, but now that Caitlin is graduating and leaving for college, she plans to sell her house and move to the city. Before she can list it, though, she has a long list of updates and repairs from her real estate agent to deal with.

Mitch Malone, the handsome, gym teacher, is a player known for wearing a revealing kilt at the town’s Renaissance Faire. When he asks April to pose as his girlfriend at an upcoming party for his grandparents’ anniversary, she agrees—as long as he helps her with her home repairs.

As they spend time together, their relationship heats up, especially when Mitch’s family dinner turns into a family weekend, but April reminds herself that she will be moving soon. What started as just an act, though, could turn into more—if April could let go of her plans, but even Mitch might not be enough to keep her in Willow Grove.

I enjoyed Well Matched as much as Well Met, the first book in the series. Mitch’s cousin, Lulu, was hilarious, and his family was infuriating—thinking he settled when becoming “only” a gym teacher—but they also began to come around. This book had several scenes at the Faire because April, the quintessential non-joiner, volunteered as a ticket-taker to support Caitlin. Seeing the Faire from that front-of-house perspective was different and fun. The couples from Well Met and Well Played made appearances as well.

A good choice for those who like the fake-dating trope or age-gap romances.

Some open-door steam.

Thanks to Berkley Romance and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review! I also ordered a signed, finished copy from Mostly Books (Tucson, AZ) and got stickers and a print of April and Mitch!

R E V I E W: The Twelve Days of Snowball by Kristen McKanagh

Adorable kitty Snowball, a lovable troublemaker, recently found her forever family at the Weber Haus bed and breakfast settling in as greeter, entertainer, and sometimes matchmaker. Her first success, in fact, was getting Emily and Lukas together. She loves everyone but Daniel Aarons, a ruggedly handsome contractor—who almost ruined her plans.

This Christmas, though, brings a new manager to the growing inn, Sophie Heidt, who had been betrayed at work and in love by her last boyfriend.

A master snoop, Snowball realizes that that Sophie and Daniel have a growing attraction to each other. But when Emily has family emergency and Lukas and owner Miss Tilly leave with her, entrusting the inn to Sophie, Daniel’s interference infuriates Sophie. Snowball knows she’ll have to be more proactive to get these two together —and her best plans involve causing trouble!

Told from three points of view—Sophie’s, Daniel’s, and Snowball’s, The Twelve Days of Snowball is a cute Christmas enemies-to-lovers romance. I enjoyed how “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was humorously woven into the novel. Giselle, Sophie’s nemesis in planning the Christmas Market on the Weber Haus grounds, was fun to hate. The second half of the book, in particular, moved quickly, as Sophie and Daniel began to admit their feelings but face unexpected obstacles. And of course, Snowball was precious throughout!

Thanks to Kristen McKanagh and Let’s Talk Books Promo for including me on the tour and for a signed, gifted copy of the book!

R E V I E W: The London House by Katherine Reay

Thanks to Harper Muse Books and TLC Book Tours for including me in the book tour for The London House by Katherine Reay.

Caroline Payne, who was named after her great aunt who died of polio, left law school to be near her family in Boston. She receives a surprise visit from Mat Hammond, a college classmate, now historian, who learned shocking information about Caroline’s family. Her namesake didn’t die young, as she was told, but actually abandoned her family and country to marry her lover, a Nazi officer. At first, Caroline is incredulous but then realizes that secrecy and disappointment have shaped her family. She decides to visit the family’s ancestral home in London to uncover the truth.

Ensconced in a trunk in the attic, Caroline finds letters, diaries, photographs, and other  keepsakes. The letters reveal a fashionable Parisian scene around the House of Schiaparelli but also point to the horrors of living under Nazi rule.

London, Paris, WWII, dual timelines, a promising love interest, and a hope for family reconciliation … once I started this, I got completely sucked in! I enjoy the epistolary aspect of the novel in particular, with the immediacy of Caro’s observations about Paris in wartime. Her story was fascinating! Yet, her shame and the secrets it created in the family caused ripples of despair across generations, and only in confronting the truth could the family heal past and present wounds.

Book Review: Never Fall for Your Fiancée

Thank you so much to Saint Martin’s Press – Romance for an advanced reading copy of Never Fall for Your Fiancée, a riotous historical romance, by Virginia Heath (pub date 11.09.21).

Hugh Standish, Earl of Fareham, convinced he has a genetic disposition for infidelity, is determined to remain a bachelor. His mother, Olivia, however, living in Boston with her husband, wants him happily married. To prevent her ambitious matchmaking schemes, he invents Minerva, a fiancée. Things come to a head, however, when Olivia announces a surprise trip to England.

When he assists a woman on a London street and learns her name is Minerva, Hugh sees a way to prolong his fabrication and protect his bachelorhood. He offers Minerva an astounding fee to pose as his fiancée for the duration of his mother’s visit.

Minerva, who has taken care of her younger sisters Diana and Vee since their father abandoned them when Minerva was nineteen, struggles to pay for lodging and food with her sporadic work as an engraver. Despite her reservations, she can’t say no to the financial security the payment would provide.

Minerva and her sisters, along with Lucretia DeVere, an actress hired to pose as their mother, gather at Hugh’s country estate in advance of Olivia’s arrival to learn their roles but find that conforming to two years of detailed letters describing Minerva is difficult indeed, especially when all the actors aren’t cooperative. Although Hugh and Minerva have an undeniable attraction, they come from two very different social classes—and Minerva, skeptical of men in general, isn’t sure she can trust a man who would invent a live interest to prevent marrying. Focusing on each other, though, is near impossible when the pretense crumbles around them.

I loved reading a funny historical romance. Never Fall has great banner, funny, farcical situations, dastardly villains, and unexpected heroes. Hugh and his mother play appalling, hilarious, and clever pranks on each other while outspoken Diana never misses an opportunity for a fiery insult. I do wish that Hugh had been a bit more self-reflective about his perceived limitations and that he used the expression “look down her nose” fewer times.

Although the setting and situation are very different, this book to me is like Dial A for Aunties in that it is a quick and entertaining read that made me laugh aloud. Happily, this is the first book in a new series (The Merriwell Sisters), and I will definitely be reading the sequel!