Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie Grazer

A review copy of this book was provided by St Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

When St Martin’s approached me about reading Been There, Married That, I was thrilled. The summary made it sound like a combo of the movie It’s Complicated and the show The Real Housewives of Orange County – a gorgeous mix of luxury, drama and divorce. Unfortunately, Been There, Married That fell flat for me because of a mix of pacing, characterization, and writing style issues.

When he changes the locks, she changes the rules.

Agnes Murphy Nash is the perfect Hollywood wife – she has the right friends, the right clothes, and even a side career of her own as a writer. Her husband Trevor is a bigshot producer, and from the outside it looks like they’re living a picture-perfect celebrity life, complete with tennis tournaments and lavish parties.

But the job description of a Hollywood wife doesn’t cover divorce, which is the way Agnes’ life is headed after she comes home one day to find her credit cards cancelled and the security passwords to get into her enormous LA home changed. Oh, and there’s a guy there whose job it is to tase her if she tries to enter…which she does.

Needless to say, Agnes’ husband is dead set on making sure she loses big time, but Agnes isn’t the type to just lie down and take it. In a world of fremenies and hot nannies, personal psychics and “skinny” jello shots, Agnes may be losing her husband, but could that mean getting her own life back?

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Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

A review copy of this book was provided by St Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

It’s been a long time since a book has made me emotional enough to actually cry while I read it. Sure, lots of books have made me feel sad and empathize with characters, but very few make me emotional enough to keep thinking about the book long after finishing it. This book packs an emotional punch – and rings especially true to the realities of what being a woman working in a male dominated field can be like. Things You Save in a Fire is much deeper than the contemporary romance it appears to be at the surface: it’s a dark and emotional look at the lasting impacts of trauma and forgiveness.

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s a total pro at other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to give up her whole life and move to Boston, Cassie suddenly has an emergency of her own.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew—even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the infatuation-inspiring rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because love is girly, and it’s not her thing. And don’t forget the advice her old captain gave her: Never date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…and it means risking it all—the only job she’s ever loved, and the hero she’s worked like hell to become.

Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt and healing tour-de-force about the strength of vulnerability, the nourishing magic of forgiveness, and the life-changing power of defining courage, at last, for yourself.

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Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson

After reading the first two Sometimes in Love books (Smitten by the Brit and Getting Hot with the Scot) I was over the moon when my NetGalley request for Once Upon a Bad Boy was approved. The first two struck a great balance of sizzling romance and heart – with no shortages of chemistry. Unfortunately, Once Upon a Bad Boy failed to live up to my expectations and was ultimately a forgettable serial romance with some problematic tendencies.

NEVER SAY NEVER
Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend—the one who took her heart and ran away.

WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE
Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them—Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet—is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

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Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke

A review copy of this book was provided by Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

When I read about this book on NetGalley I was thrilled – it seemed right up my alley. A cute romance between two childhood sweethearts, one who doesn’t believe in astrological signs (which I find very relatable) and one who lets the stars guide his life choices. While the concept was sound, I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the book due to some issues in the storytelling.

When childhood sweethearts Justine (Sagittarius and serious skeptic) and Nick (Aquarius and true believer) bump into each other as adults, a life-changing love affair seems inevitable. To Justine, anyway. Especially when she learns Nick is an astrological devotee, whose decisions are guided by the stars, and more specifically, by the horoscopes in his favorite magazine. The same magazine Justine happens to write for. As Nick continues to not fall headlong in love with her, Justine decides to take Nick’s horoscope, and Fate itself, into her own hands. But, of course, Nick is not the only Aquarius making important life choices according to what is written in the stars.

Charting the ripple effects of Justine’s astrological meddling, Star-Crossed is a delicious, intelligent, and affecting love story about friendship, chance, and how we all navigate the kinds of choices that are hard to face alone.

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Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson

A review copy of this book was provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

Earlier this year I read, and thoroughly enjoyed, the first book in the Sometimes in Love Series, Getting Hot with the Scot as an early review copy. Since finishing it, I was counting down until I could read the sequel, Smitten by the Brit. I’m happy say that this book lived up to my excitement and expectations (though it was predictable), and was even better than Getting Hot with the Scot.

DEFINITELY, MAYBE…OR LOVE, ACTUALLY?

English professor Bonnie Blythe expects her life to play out like her favorite novels, especially now that her long-term boyfriend has finally proposed. So when a shocking discovery leads Bonnie to end her engagement, she decides to close the book on love. But the plot thickens when a brand-new character enters the scene—and quickens Bonnie’s heart.

With his brilliant blue eyes, sexy accent, and irresistible charm, Theo Wharton is like a romantic hero straight out of a Jane Austen novel. When fate places Bonnie in England for a summer—conveniently close to Theo—she realizes a hot friends-with-benefits fling is exactly what she needs to start a fresh chapter. Just as Bonnie begins to believe she’s falling in love, an eye-opening revelation into Theo’s life makes Bonnie feel like she’s wandered into one of her favorite books. Will Bonnie have the courage to risk her heart and turn the page with the dashing Brit to find her true happy ending after all?

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