Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lauren Layne's Wedding Bells series

Anyone who's been around here for a while knows how much I enjoyed Lauren Layne's New York's Finest series last winter. When I saw that she was writing a series that was about wedding planners, set in NYC, I couldn't snatch them up quick enough. But then I had them all on my Kindle, and they titles are so similar that I couldn't keep straight what order they were supposed to be read in, and I'm way too lazy to look it up, so I just read other stuff. A couple weeks ago I decided that I'd just read them out of order, but I needed to dive in, and I did.

First up is a little novella called From This Day Forward, which I really didn't like at all. This one is about two wedding photographers, who have a history (which is a plus in a novella) but the entire story was about sex between two childish people who couldn't just use their words. This really didn't leave me wanting to move on, but I reassured myself that it was just the novella length and kept going.

The first full length book in the series is To Have and To Hold and it is definitely better than the novella. Brooke Baldwin is a rock star wedding planner on the West Coast, who has just planned the wedding of the decade-- her own-- when she is horrified to find out that he fiancee is a con man. She flees to New York and joins the Wedding Belles, where her first job is the plan the wedding of rich heiress Maya Tyler.  Maya's older brother, Seth, is certain that there's something fishy going on with the groom, and attempts to enlist Brooke's help in uncovering it. But how do you convince a wedding planner to sabotage the wedding she's planning?

One thing that Lauren Layne does really well is sexual tension and this book is no exception. Seth and Brooke are on fire from the first moment they see each other. I love seeing them deal with this, in the middle of client negotiations and planning that thwarts each other. Seth is impossibly wealthy and accustomed to getting this way in all things, and occasionally  pouts badly when he doesn't get what he wants, but his love for both Maya and Brooke shines through very clearly. It's hard to pin down the time line, so it doesn't feel rushed, but at the same time the book is lacking the falling in love that I enjoy so much. This one goes right for the physical, which to be honest is also a good book, but it doesn't really make me close the book with the same type of satisfaction that a good love story does.

The second book in the series is For Better or Worse, and features the assistant wedding planner and her sexy next door neighbor. Heather has never really been in love and believes it's not for her. She's from small town Michigan and her entire life's goal has been to be a wedding planner in New York City. She doesn't have time to fool around or look away from her goal. Josh has recently overcome a bout with cancer, and can't take life seriously-- he knows how short it can be and refuses to add anyone else to the list of people who would be devastated by his death.

This one hit almost all of my sweet spots. The dialogue is truly excellent, the plot is believable, Josh is terrific. I believed that these two could fall in the love, and the romance itself is much better than in the previous book. The ending isn't tied with a pretty bow- Josh IS a cancer survivor- but so realistically handled that you can believe that these are real people and you close the book with complete satisfaction. (If you can ignore Josh's extraordinary wealth, but hey, everyone needs a superpower.)

The last book in the series,To Love and to Cherish, has SO much potential. Alexis, owner of the Belles, is a bit of an ice queen. I never really liked her through the whole series, so I was hoping that all would come to light in her book.  Her hero is Logan, who is the Belles accountant. Logan has been madly in love with Alexis since the moment he laid eyes on her, eight years ago. Eight years is a long time to patiently wait, and Logan is ready to make his move.

This one is really hot, and the plot outline is equally good, but both Logan and Alexis were misses for me. Alexis has a standoff personality, that could have been good but I didn't feel was very well written. Logan would be my ideal beta hero turned alpha, but he "knows what Alexis really wants" way way too often. He's not abusive, but very high handed and not always in a sexy way.  Plus, his sudden ability to BE an alpha at all, after years of being the polite accountant, isn't really believable.While I didn't dislike this one, and it doesn't finish the series nicely, I would not recommend it.

Overall, it's very hard not to compare the series to Nora Robert's Bride Quartet. Both feature a cast of women planners, and while this one doesn't break it down the same way, both feature a complete badass-in-control leader (Alexis here, and Parker for Roberts). Unfortunately, Roberts does it much better. I'm still a fan of Layne, but the New York's Finest series beats this one hands down.

To Love and To Cherish will be out on October 18th.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Crazy Horse, One Year Later

So remember last year when I ran my first half marathon- the Crazy Horse Half Marathon? I'd hoped to run it again this year, but training mostly got away from me, and while I had run up to about ten miles, I knew I wasn't strong enough for a good showing. However, my BRF (best running friend) Jennifer WAS running Crazy Horse, and while I didn't do ALL her long runs with her, I did run quite a few of them, and I wanted to be supportive... so I ran my own private half marathon at home this weekend.
You got this!

I plotted out a route that I expected to be right at 13.1 and decided that if I were hurting at any point after ten that I would walk.  I got to the gates leading out to one of the islands on our trail, which I expected to be at 5 miles, and it was dead on 5 miles. This is what running all over all summer will do- it will build a perfect map of your frequent mileage in your head.

After hitting the island my pace slowed down a good bit. I realize around mile 7 that I was not going to be well fueled and I let myself take a couple of walk breaks. I could not have asked for better running weather, and it was beautiful out in the woods alone. There were very few other runners and only a handful of dog walkers. I hit the gates to leave the island at 8.2, and knowing I had 5 miles to go made me happy. Such good math!

I struggled a bit until around 9.5 where I ate my second and last Gu, and then perked up at about mile ten. Ten miles down, only a 5K to go! At mile 12 our theme song come on, and I stopped to take this picture of me in "Beast Mode" (wow, this is incredibly cheesy to tell non-runners!) and then kept on running. My last three miles were nearly as fast as my first three miles, and this made me really happy.

I learned that running your own private half marathon is really hard. There's no one around to cheer you on, and the miles feel fairly endless. I thought it would kill me to have this internal map of just how far I had to go, since I was running in familiar trails, but in the end it was nice to be able to not wonder at all. I bought myself a new running watch this week, and it's fairly big compared to my old one. I thought it might be hard to learn to use it, but turns out it was excellent, and I LOVE being about to change music tracks from my watch and review texts I don't need to reply to immediately.

My time ended up being slower than Crazy Horse (2:36) but faster than the River Rat Half in April (2:52). I suspect that if I'd done Crazy Horse that the crowded energy would have brought me a nice PR, but not nearly as well as Jennifer, who ran an amazing 2:17!!


Monday, October 10, 2016

September Reading Update

Ok, technically through October 4th, but who's counting?

I read a LOT in September. I'm not really sure how.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. I started this one in August, and finished it up fairly quickly. Everyone is right, it is excellent.

Head in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts are so Easy to Look Up by William Poundstone. Still only at 20%. Interesting, but feels a bit political.

Hold Me, Cowboy by Maisey Yates. This one turned out pretty good, if a bit fast.

From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne

For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne

To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne.  (I see a series.) It was good, not excellent. Book 3 is by far the best. Review of the entire series to come.

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck. I started this one on the plane to Philadelphia and while it is interesting, it was wasn't what I was in the mood to read.

Hamilton: The Revolution. Yes, I've succumbed. This is beautiful, a must for any fan. More on Hamilton later.

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn. Reread.

New On My Kindle, for once this list is shorter!!

Christmas with the Sheriff by Victoria James.

Completely Yours by Erin Nichols

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. I can't help it.

Friday, October 07, 2016

The Five Books that I really want to Buy. Right Now.

You know how sometimes there aren't a lot of new (newish) releases that just beg you to buy them, and sometimes there are a ton at once? (Or maybe just a lot that your library doesn't get as an ebook, and who reads paper these days anyway?)  These five are open in windows on my phone, just waiting until I can't resist any longer.

Do You Want To Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare. Book 5 of Spindle Cove, which I LOVED, and really, how great is this description??

Tools of the Titans: The Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss. This is a pre-order, so it's not killing me, but I don't want to forget either. I love his blog and would like to read his books.

Sweet Little Lies and The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis. Apparently Shalvis isn't doing NetGalley with this series, and I keep seeing terrific little snippets of both books. Gonna have to buy.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. I finally got Mike hooked on Hamilton, and after our trip to Philly (more on that later) he was itching to read this. Full disclosure, he bought it last weekend so it doesn't really fit this list, but *I* haven't started it yet.

What books are on YOUR radar right now?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Darkest Journey by Heather Graham

So,  Darkest Journey by Heather Graham.

Here's the summary, from Amazon:

They say it's about the journey, not the destination…

Charlene "Charlie" Moreau is back in St. Francisville, Louisiana, to work on a movie. One night, she stumbles across the body of a Civil War reenactor, the second murdered in two days. Charlie is shocked to learn that her father—a guide on the Journey, a historic paddle wheeler that's sponsoring the reenactment—is a suspect.

Meanwhile, Ethan Delaney, new to the FBI's Krewe of Hunters, is brought in on the case. He and Charlie have a history of their own, dating back to when he rescued her from a graveyard—led there by a Confederate ghost!

I know. I've been threatening to do this forever, but... this is it. I can't read more of these. While I quite appreciated the first couple I read, and I still enjoy the ease and lack of required thought for these, I just can't with the phoned in plot any longer. There's either so many plot holes you could drown in them, or there's just zero hints or signs and the killer turns out to be out of the blue. Red herrings abound and then are explained away needlessly. If the romance were strong, I'd probably keep going with the series, but the romances are always insta-love. They feel a connection to each other because they can both see ghosts, so it must be love? I don't feel like any of the characters are any different from any other title in the series, and eh, this is why I stopped reading Fool's Gold too.

Now let's see if I can actually resist when I see the next one pop up...

Darkest Journey comes out on September 27th.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fearless by Kimberly Kincaid

Don't you hate it when you read a book you enjoy, but then fail to write the review until you start to forget details and then you just feel guilty about it?  Yeah. That.

Here's the summary, from Amazon.

Firefighter Cole Everett's life revolves around the firehouse. Committed to saving lives--and to the guys who always have his back in the most dangerous moments on the job--Cole's focus is a coveted spot on the Fairview Rescue Squad. When his captain asks him to mentor a rookie firefighter, he jumps at the chance, hoping it will help to prove his skill. But the new "guy" is none other than Savannah Nelson, a female firefighter as stubbornly determined as Cole is, and a whole lot curvier in all the right places . . .

Savannah won't let anyone extinguish her dream of fulfilling her family legacy and becoming a top notch firefighter--and she's happily surprised when strong-willed, sexy Cole is willing to give her the chance she deserves. Concentrating on the job isn't always easy when the heat between them flares higher every day, but Savannah won't give up--not even when one of Station Eight's veterans seems bent on trashing her reputation. To stop a string of possible arsons, Savannah and Cole will need to eliminate every distraction--but can they let their love go up in flames?

I read the previous book, Reckless, back in the winter, and while I didn't find it to be a winner, I was still looking forward to the rest of the crew. Unlike Katherine, I wasn't really drawn to Cole at all, and didn't really remember him, so it was all pretty fresh. Happily, I turned out to like Cole and Savannah quite a bit and found them both believable. Savannah desperately wants to be a firefighter, and on her own merit. She comes from a family of male firefighters and knows that if she doesn't move away from home she'll never be able to believe if it's her, or her family that leads her to success. She works hard to pull her own weight and doesn't let being a woman limit her at all. Unfortunately for her, not everyone in the firehouse is on the same page.

Cole is given the position of training Savannah to take his place in the rotation after he is promoted to a coveted squad position.  This requires quite the balancing act, he can't delude himself into thinking she is ready, if she isn't, but he's also eager to move into his new role. Cole never hesitates or holds back based on her gender and Savannah never fails to meet expectations. I loved seeing her be a badass in a physical way in a demanding job.

The chemistry between them is certainly there, and their first encounter/kiss ends in a potentially awkward situation, but Kincaid pulls us through. I did find it a bit unbelievable that they could leave all of that heat outside the fire station, so that no one knew. It is strictly forbidden to date within the house, and this becomes a major plot point late in the book. I'm not entirely sure that I'm convinced in the ultimate resolution of the side story with the arsons, but I did believe in the romance, which is what I read it for. While this series isn't one of my go to favorites, I would still recommend it to anyone who is already a fan of this type of setting.

Fearless came out on July 26th.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Reading Update: July and August 2016

About halfway through the month of August I realized that I had never posted an update for July. Rather than be completely off track, I decided to just combine the two months. That makes this pretty long, and I am way too lazy to post pictures and links of every book. You all know how to use Goodreads/Amazon/Google, right?

What I Read:

Duke of My Heart by Kelly Bowen. I completely LOVED this, and have failed in writing a review for so long that I won't do it justice.

Mamaleh Knows Best by Marjorie Ingall. Full Disclosure, I know the author, but it's funny and smart, and probably equally appealing to parents and non-parents.

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan. I like this one quite a bit, but it's not out until end of November so you'll have to wait a bit for the review.

Fearless by Kimberly Kincaid. Katherine assured me that I'd make it past the scene I was stuck on, and she was right. This one finished strong.

Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle. I pretty much flew through this one and jumped right into the next in the series.

In Safe Hands by Katie Ruggle. This one is a bit more tense that the last two, and to be honest I'm not in love with the set up, but still reading.

Head in the Cloud:Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts are So Easy To Look Up by William Poundstone. This is really accessible and interesting, but I've barely started.

Lord Of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. I listened to part of a podcast about this one that called it the "Perfect Romance". I decided I would splurge and buy it, only to discover that I bought it in 2011. So guilt made me start reading, a 20% I'm quite enjoying it. This is my first Chase and the writing style is a bit formal, but I'm getting used to it.

New to my Kindle:

From NetGalley:
Mamaleh Knows Best by Marjorie Ingall
True-Blue Cowboy Christmas by Nicole Helm
In Safe Hands by Katie Ruggle
IQ by Joe Ide
For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne
The Underground Culinary Tour byDamian Mogavero, Joseph D'Agnese
Forks Over Knives Family by Alona Pulde, Matthew Lederman
A Sure Thing by Marie Harte
Hold Me, Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Head in the Cloud by William Poundstone

From Amazon:
The Devil In Winter by Lisa Kleypas. Yes, I've read this, but it was on sale!
Falling in bed With a Duke by Lorraine Heath.
All's Fair in Love and Scandal by Caroline Linden
Chance of a Lifetime by Marissa Clarke. I have zero memory of this one?
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008

Back to TOP