Mini Book Reviews, edition 4

Welcome to another round of mini reviews! Once again, these are books I read for “me”, not with any review or critique in mind, but are some I greatly enjoyed and wanted to share a bit about in this corner of the blogosphere. And, three of these were audiobooks I can highly recommend: Love’s Reckoning, In Honor’s Defense, and What Matters Most.

Please visit the Goodreads links in each title to learn more about each book!

Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz (The Ballantyne Legacy 1) | 1794 Pennsylvania, Historical Romance

An epic story of love strong enough to survive pressure, trials, and evil intentions yet still triumph. Eden is a gentle and kind heroine, and Silas is the best sort of hero with his determination and steadfast character.

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read this Frantz novel! Now I can say I’ve read all of hers.

Laura’s Shadow by Allison Pittman (Doors to the Past 9) | 1891 and 1974 South Dakota & Minnesota, Historical Romance with Split Time Narrative

What a fascinating multigenerational story! With truly endearing heroines spanning two very different times, it shows human experiences that unite everyone and explores roles of women in very different times. Mariah’s story is one of contrasts, showing loneliness, contentment, and a hope that has influenced her family into the later timeline and POV of her great granddaughter, Trixie. Trixie’s quest to appease her GG Mariah and finding her own stride in career and love mirror Mariah’s figurative searching for peace.

I LOVE this story and can heartily recommend it to fans of historical fiction and romance. Anyone fond of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House fandom can also delight in the story world and realistic influences Laura has on these characters.

And oh, how I love House the cat and his character as a “catalyst” for a bit of Trixie’s romantic storyline! And RON. And his late night calls, love of grilled cheese, and his Mustang.

In Honor’s Defense by Karen Witemeyer (Hanger’s Horsemen 3) | 1895 Texas, Historical Romance & Western

This is everything I’ve come to expect and love about Karen Witemeyer’s romantic westerns! This one combines a touch of adventure, a good amount of humor, and a well-matched romantic couple — Luke and Damaris are so adorable together, from their meet cute to their tender friendship and unfurling romance. It was great to “catch up” with the rest of the horsemen and see the conclusion of their brotherhood play out with an appropriate HEA.

I really, really enjoyed the audiobooks of this entire series. With the fast pace of this one, I was happy to listen to it on a road trip with fewer breaks between segments.

What Matters Most by Courtney Walsh (Nantucket Love Story 3) | Nantucket, MA & Chicago, IL; Contemporary Romance

Courtney Walsh has delivered another relatable, emotional romance. This one pairing an unlikely couple who share a connection — one that the heroine, Emma, isn’t privy to for part of the story. This sets up a secret-keeping hero situation, which becomes slightly frustrating but completely believable due to the circumstances of Jamie’s past and his heart. I was rooting for them to find forgiveness for each other and for themselves, a deeper theme Walsh explores with aplomb. The return to Nantucket as a setting was picturesque and a perfect backdrop for this story to unfold.

see that develop. I really enjoyed the return to Edinburgh for the setting of A Wicked Conceit.

Audiobook Review: The Enemy by Sarah Adams

Welcome! I’m sharing about Sarah Adams’ romcom The Enemy, the second book in her “It Happened in Charleston” duology. It recently released in audiobook!

About the Book

It’s been twelve years since I’ve seen him, twelve years since he won our war of wits by outsmarting me with a tactic I didn’t even know was allowed. But tonight…I’m going to resurrect the battle. 

Ryan Henderson is back in town for our best friends’ wedding, and I plan on showing him exactly how much I don’t care about him—or the almost kiss he ruthlessly dangled over me after graduation. But things have changed since then. I’m a successful bakery owner now, and I plan to rub every delicious detail of my life in his ugly face. There’s just one problem: his face is gorgeous. He wasn’t supposed to look like this or pursue me like a sexy guided missile. I have to stay strong until the wedding is over and Ryan scurries back into whatever alternate universe he escaped from. His interest in me is nothing but a continuation of the games we played in high school…right? 

But the longer he stays, the more I wonder if I’m wrong and his tender smile and heated attentions are genuine. Maybe it’s not a game. Ha! Who am I kidding? This is Ryan we’re talking about. Of course it’s a game—a game called war—and this time I will win.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

The Enemy is a fun frenemies-to-lovers romcom with a foodie element, southern charm, and ANTICS. In true Sarah Adams fashion, this story follows an extremely relatable heroine, June, as she maid of honor duties for her BFF while encountering her high school nemesis (whom she’s secretly crushed on forever), Ryan, as the best man. Hilarity ensues as Ryan, also pining for “June Bug” forever, engages in a war-like effort to win her over as a friend and convince her they have a real connection that could result in major romantic sparks. And does it ever!

I love how Sarah Adams is able to portray truly laugh out loud situations that feel believable then turn around and have you feeling deep emotions as you get to know the heartaches and past of the characters.

A quick note about the audiobook: it has one of the BEST male narrators I’ve heard in contemporary! Both narrators do a good job, but he knocks it out of the park and just *sounds* like I imagine Ryan to be, with all his personality.

Thank you to Netgalley for the audiobook review copy. This is my honest review.

Review & Blog Tour: “Turn to Me” by Becky Wade

Today I’m a part of a blog tour for Becky Wade’s Turn to Me, the fantastic conclusion to her Misty River Romance series. While these books feature different couples and can all be read as standalones, I highly recommend reading them in order for the bigger friendship arc.

About the Book

His promise will cost him far more than he imagined.

Guilt has defined Luke Dempsey’s life, but it was self-destructiveness that landed him in prison. When his friend and fellow inmate lay dying shortly before Luke’s release, the older man revealed he left a string of clues for his daughter, Finley, that will lead her to the treasure he’s hidden. Worried that she won’t be the only one pursuing the treasure, he gains Luke’s promise to protect her until the end of her search.

Spunky and idealistic, Finley Sutherland is the owner of an animal rescue center and a defender of lost causes. She accepts Luke’s help on the treasure hunt while secretly planning to help him in return–by coaxing him to embrace the forgiveness he’s long denied himself.

As they draw closer to the final clue, their reasons for resisting each other begin to crumble, and Luke realizes his promise will push him to the limit in more ways than one. He’ll do his best to shield Finley from unseen threats, but who’s going to shield him from losing his heart?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Turn to Me by Becky Wade concludes the Misty River Romance series and gives readers the long-awaited story of the enigmatic Luke Dempsey as he keeps an inconvenient promise to Finley’s father – working for her animal shelter while providing protection and assistance in an adventurous final birthday treasure hunt. This story features a deep perspective of grace, a swoony romance, endearing and realistic characters, and a gorgeously fleshed out setting in the mountains of northern Georgia. Readers of the previous book in the series, Let It Be Me, will delight with occasional sections from Ben Coleman’s perspective as he moves on from heartbreak and develops a tentative new friendship with a sweet woman named Akira.

Finley and Luke are seeming opposites in many ways, but their common sense of honor unite them from their first interactions. Their conversations and banter highlight their chemistry, with Luke’s snarky sense of humor shining through at the BEST times! While Finley’s plans to “restore” Luke to society and wholeness through her friendship and encouragement are successful, I love that he challenges her to think and choose to hope in a future she had given up on.

I personally find an intangible something very relatable in the dynamics and relationships of Becky Wade’s stories. It is that key style element which elevates her stories in the genre. For Finley and Luke, it is their struggles to risk their hearts for love and to work through hard things in their lives. I especially find the parts of the story where Luke is processing the grief and loss of a sibling, and talking through his self-labeled responsibility, to be touching.

While the friendship-and-romance is the heart of the story, themes of forgiveness and an organic sense of the characters’ faith are all important parts that make up this impressive whole. I love the daring of the treasure hunt with personal clues leading Finley on a journey of discovery. The various pets and DOGS (tiny, fierce Agatha in particular!), the collection of cacti, Luke’s automobile knowledge and restoration, CeCe’s wisdom, Trish’s Christmas songs, Ben and Akira’s encouraging friendship, and Luke’s family are more small things I enjoyed.

I am a little sad to say goodbye to these “Miracle Five” characters with this last book in the series. The concluding chapters, with heart-wrenching moments and a certainty of HOPE, are perfectly written.

Thank you to the publisher, Bethany House, for the review copy. This is my honest review.

My Reviews: book 1, Stay With Me book 2, Let It Be Me

Blog Tour Schedule

Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more reviews AND interviews with Becky!

May 5th Inside The Wong Mind | May 6th Blessed & Bookish

May 7th Books and Everyday Life | May 8th Simply Susan

May 10th Melmo2610 A Bookish Blog | May 12th Becky’s Bookshelves

May 14th Holly’s Book Corner | May 15th Christian Chick’s Thoughts

May 16th Remembrancy | May 18th The Green Mockingbird

May 19th Batya’s Bits | May 20th Life of Literature

May 21st Britt Reads Fiction | May 22nd Amy Watson Author

May 23rd Beauty In The Binding | May 24th Reviews By Erin

May 25th My Book A Day

Giveaway and extras!

Something fun! Here’s a link to Turn to Me‘s playlist on Spotify:  https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7sUpFdrzlTUN4THyA0ds1E?si=GXJ7BcjaSF-ddftSqs2wMw&nd=1 (curated by @the_reel_bookery on IG!)

Author Becky Wade and her publisher are offering a fun giveaway, running through May 24th! Visit Becky’s website to enter the giveaway.

Mini Book Reviews, edition 3

It has been a while since I’ve posted mini reviews! These books are ones I read for “me”, not with any review or critique in mind, but are some I greatly enjoyed and wanted to share a bit about in this corner of the blogosphere.

Please visit the Goodreads links in each title to learn more about each book!

A Stroke of Malice and A Wicked Conceit by Anna Lee Huber (Lady Darby Mysteries 8 and 9) | 1832 Scotland, Historical Mystery

These two books are, of course, FANTASTIC mysteries in this series! I love so many things about these characters and the development of their stories. Huber wields setting skillfully to influence the tone of the story and make each of these mysteries unique. A Stroke of Malice, in particular, was fascinating to see unfold as the identity of the victim remains in doubt for a large part of the story.

Of course, I am happily satisfied with the way Gage and Kiera’s relationship continues to be a factor, with their romance and dynamic broadening to include a larger cast of familiar characters. And Anderley and Bree have some interesting things happen (maybe between them?) in these two books, so I am excited to see that develop. I really enjoyed the return to Edinburgh for the setting of A Wicked Conceit.

On Wings of Devotion by Roseanna M. White (The Codebreakers 2) | 1917 London, Historical Romance

I LOVE this book and series! What an engaging historical romance. I was riveted by both the historical setting and bits of suspense AND the unfolding friendship-to-romance between Ara and Cam. He’s the brooding, wounded type with a soft heart who knows immediately what a gem Arabelle is — and he does everything in his power to support her.

Provenance by Carla Laureano | “Jasper Lake” and Denver, CO; Pasadena, CA, Contemporary Romance

Carla Laureano writes raw and realistic characters, and Kendall and Gabe are my newest favorites! Their journey to romance begins with a tentative and unlikely friendship, and I love seeing them recognize and bring out the best qualities in each other. This storyline doesn’t shy away from tough questions and themes, everything from identity, heritage, faith, abandonment, and even a Christian perspective of sexuality are examined. The small town mountain lake setting is idyllic and charming (and is a good contrast to the largely urban feel of Laureano’s recent series set in Denver), and the fascinating topics of architecture and small town politics are thoroughly explored.

Falling in Somerset by Jenny B. Jones | Sugar Creek, Arkansas and Bath & London, England, RomCom

Falling in Somerset is a cute and sweet romance. I loved getting to know the bookish heroine and the sports-loving, totally-a-catch hero, Duke. This little novella combines a friends-to-lovers situation with a little bit of a fake-dating scenario AND a trip to Bath, England, with all kinds of nods to Jane Austen through a “cultural” experience that turns hilarious. I especially liked how Duke is head-over-heels from the very beginning and how Tillie learns a little more about her best friend and a lot about her own strengths over the course of the story.

Review: “In Search of a Prince” by Toni Shiloh

I’m happy to be sharing a review today of Toni Shiloh’s In Search of a Prince, her first novel published with Bethany House. This one features a marriage of convenience trope mashed up with a royalty theme — a winning combination :).

About the Book

Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops the mother of all bombshells–Brielle is a princess in the kingdom of Ọlọrọ Ilé, Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, King Tiwa Jimoh Adebayo, is failing.

Distraught by her mother’s betrayal, Brielle is further left spinning when the Ọlọrọ Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before assuming the throne or the crown will be passed to another. Uncertain who to choose from the council’s list of bachelors, she struggles with the decision along with the weight of her new role in a new country. With her world totally shaken, she must take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

In Search of a Prince is a delightful fairy-tale esque story that doesn’t shy away from life’s difficulties & the strength that comes from faith in God. Fans of The Princess Diaries movies (1 & 2!) will like the similar situation Brielle finds herself in, as a surprise heir to a throne with the added pressure of finding a suitable husband while under pressure from all sides.

Shiloh has created a detailed setting that is both idyllic and tropical with believable political and social structure with the fictional Ọlọrọ Ilé, Africa. As Brielle navigates this new-to-her environment, she learns more about herself and how to rely on God’s strength and guidance to make decisions. I think I loved the themes of faith and trust in God’s ultimate plan the most because they seem so natural to the characters and inherent in their lives.

This story balances stately glamour, hints of humor, and God-ordained life roles. Brielle is a character to root for — especially as she experiences a romance in the most unexpected of times in her life. I enjoyed the side characters of the story, especially the levity and fun Iris brings to the page. I am looking forward to Shiloh’s follow up novel featuring Iris as the heroine!

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “It Happened in Nashville” Duology by Sarah Adams

Let’s review! A “duology”, by definition, is a pair of related novels, plays, or movies. In author Sarah Adams’ “It Happened in Nashville” duology, two romcom novels are connected by a brother and sister — setup for some hilarious moments and fun tropes.

About the Books

The Off-Limits Rule

I have found rock bottom. It’s here, moving in with my older brother because I’m too broke to afford to live on my own. But that’s okay because we’ve always been close and I think I’m going to have fun living with him again.

That is until I meet Cooper…

Turns out, my brother has very strong opinions on the idea of me dating his best friend and is dead set against it. According to him, Cooper is everything I should stay away from: flirtatious, adventurous, non-committal, and freaking hot. (I added that last part because I feel like you need the whole picture.) My brother is right, though. I should stay away from Cooper James and his pretty blue eyes. He’s the opposite of what I need right now.

Nah—Who am I kidding? I’m going for him.

The Temporary Roomie

What happens when you have to play nice with your greatest enemy? Revenge.

Drew Marshall may have let me move into his spare bedroom while my house is being renovated, but don’t think for one second his kindness comes without strings. Big, ugly, fake relationship strings.

That’s okay, though, Dr. Andrew. I’ll agree to your terms, move into your house, and act like your girlfriend when the big day comes; but I also plan to make your life miserable—make you pay for what you did to me.

I may not be good at forgiving or forgetting, but I’m excellent at getting even.

The Off Limits Rule on Goodreads | The Temporary Roomie on Goodreads

My Thoughts

The Off Limits Rule
Hilarious in so many ways, this story affords its leads with time for friendship and romance. The chemistry between them is fantastic, as is the banter. I loved the “off limits” element of their relationship (her brother Drew realllly doesn’t want them to be together for reasons, but he doesn’t know the whole story) because it allowed for that bro-friendship to deepen. It also caused the couple’s (somewhat) restrained moments to be sweet and, on Cooper’s part, show his genuine tenderness for Lucy and empower her and enlighten insecurities.

So. Many. LOL moments! Froot loops, Italian accents, ladders and moonlight swims, grumpy brothers, Tahiti and grocery shopping! I feel like Sarah skillfully portrays Lucy as an extremely relatable heroine: her mom-ness, insecurities, fears, heart for Levi (the most darling little boy), and the way she learns to relax and feel wanted again. This book left me smiling over all the feels!


The Temporary Roomie
This is romantic comedy enemies-to-lovers at it’s best! While it combines more tropes (sister’s bff, pregnant mom romance, etc), at its heart is a rivalry that’s as hilarious as it is important to the growth and heart of the story. Instead of meaningless motives for the animosity, the reader gradually sees how the defenses are a shield for hurt and heartache for the heroine. And, for the hero, they are a release in a way that was surprising and complex.

Oh, and did I mention how FUNNY it is?! I LOLed over their sarcastic banter and rivalry over the snowman mug, especially. While it stands alone, I think it’s best enjoyed as part of the duology because the 2 main couples feature actively in both stories (and oh how it’s fun to catch up with Lucy and Cooper in this book!).

And y’all, the romance in this one made me realize I may have A Thing for medical professional heroes (maybe it’s the setup for another way they can care for & obsess over the heroines?!), because when Drew goes all professional pulse checker a few times in this one I melted.

Content note: a few *very* mild expletives throughout each, some innuendo (PG13ish), and both romances are closed door.

Review: “Beyond the Tides” by Liz Johnson

Welcome to my blog and my review of a new contemporary romance novel by Liz Johnson: Beyond the Tides. This marks the first story in her Prince Edward Island Shores series, each focusing on a brother in the same family.

Review

When Meg Whitaker’s father decides to sell the family’s lobster-fishing business to her high school nemesis, she sets out to prove she should inherit it instead. Though she’s never had any interest in running the small fleet–or even getting on a boat due to her persistent seasickness–she can’t stand to see Oliver Ross take over. Not when he ruined her dreams for a science scholarship and an Ivy League education ten years ago.

Oliver isn’t proud of what he did back then. Angry and broken by his father walking out on his family, he lashed out at Meg–an innocent bystander. But owning a respected fishing fleet on Prince Edward Island is the opportunity of a lifetime, and he’s not about to walk away just because Meg wants him to.

Meg’s father has the perfect solution: Oliver and Meg must work the business together, and at the end of the season, he’ll decide who gets it. Along the way, they may discover that their stories are more similar than they thought . . . and their dreams aren’t what they expected.

Bestselling author Liz Johnson invites you back to Prince Edward Island for a brand-new series about family, forgiveness, and the kind of love that heals all wounds.

Goodreads | Amazon

About the Book

In short, I LOVED Beyond the Tides! Tying together themes of forgiveness, dreams, legacy, and love, this realistic enemies-to-friends-to-romance had me rooting for Meg and Oliver to overcome their grudges and prickliness.

In true Liz Johnson form, a heart-deep story unfolds in a setting as much a part of the story as the characters. I enjoyed returning to a different part of Prince Edward Island armchair-adventure style as I learned more about the culture, tradition, and lobster fishing. What an eye-opening and interesting part that was! I am intrigued and impressed with the real-life determination of that profession.

And as for the friendship and romance, plenty of bitterness and sparks overwhelm Meg and Oliver as they work through their new proximity AND some familial problems of the past and present. I loved how Oliver was understanding and determined to be there for Meg even when she was holding on to the past. And, as Meg realizes some lessons about joy and loss, Oliver’s past comes to light in a way that lends clarity to his motives — especially concerning his behavior as her “high school nemesis”. Their romance is paced perfectly with a few swoony moments in unexpected places (like boat decks!). I didn’t know how much I needed to read about a hero who looks like Adam Driver until Oliver Ross ;). I especially appreciated how the final relational conflict was resolved — it felt natural and realistic.

Other little things I loved: Mama Potts and her pottery, wisdom, and muscle cream; Meg’s dad and their whole dynamic; sunrises on the water; Kyle and his coffee; Oliver’s attractive/strong hands and Meg’s fascination with them; fishing clothes shopping with Meg and Oliver. 🙂 I am ecstatic for the rest of the series and more of the Ross brothers in PEI!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Very Sincerely Yours” by Kerry Winfrey

Today I’m sharing a review of Very Sincerely Yours, a romcom by author Kerry Winfrey.

Review

A charming and heartwarming new romantic comedy by the author of Waiting for Tom Hanks, Kerry Winfrey.

Teddy Phillips never thought she’d still be spending every day surrounded by toys at almost thirty years old. But working at a vintage toy store is pretty much all she has going on in her life after being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend. The one joy that she’s kept is her not-so-guilty pleasure: Everett’s Place, a local children’s show hosted by Everett St. James, a man whom Teddy finds very soothing . . . and, okay, cute.

Teddy finds the courage to write to him, feeling slightly like one of the children who write to him on his show. He always gives sound advice and seems like he has everything figured out–and he pretty much does: Everett has a great support system, wonderful friends, and his dream job. But there’s still that persistent feeling in the back of his mind that something’s missing.

When a woman named Theodora starts writing to Everett, he is drawn to her honesty and vulnerability. They continue writing to each other, all the while living their lives without meeting. When their worlds collide, however, they must both let go of their fears and figure out what they truly want–and if the future they want includes each other.

Goodreads | Amazon

About the Book

Very Sincerely Yours is a really cute romcom with a pop culture feel that explores how life doesn’t always turn out like you expect.

I loved the You’ve Got Mail feeling of much of this story, with an email-friendship at the heart, and even a reference to a lovely fall day. But Teddy and Everett have their own unique challenges to a romance, adding a good bit of realism to the comedy while exploring the dangers of being a workaholic and the misguided way some people try to earn others’ affection. At its heart, it’s a delicate reminder of how dreams don’t have an expiration date.

The hero’s character pays clear homage to Jim Henson and Mr. Rogers, yet he comes off as original and very endearing. The way Everett portrays the importance of understanding and relating to children is one of his best qualities (because who doesn’t love a guy that’s genuinely good with kids?!). His little sister is my FAV with her no-nonsense demeanor! Teddy’s roommates, too, add to the great supporting cast with their personalities.

“When it’s really love, you don’t have to lose yourself. Falling in love should make you more yourself.”- best unexpected advice from Sophia, Teddy’s sister.

Content note: some mild to strong expletives throughout, sensuality, and closed-door romance scenes.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Plot Twist” by Bethany Turner

Fans of romcoms (of the book or film variety) will want to take note: Plot Twist by Bethany Turner is not to be missed! Read on for more about the novel and my thoughts on this cute story.

About the Book

An aspiring screenwriter has a chance encounter with an actor who could be the man of her dreams. Over the next ten years, she’ll write the story . . . but will he end up being the star?

February 4, 2003, promises to be a typical day for Olivia Ross—a greeting card writer whose passion project is a screenplay of her own. But after she and a handsome actor have a magical meet-cute in a coffee shop, they make a spontaneous pact: in ten years, after they’ve found the success they’re just sure they’re going to achieve, they’ll return to the coffeehouse to partner up and make a film together. The only problem? Olivia neglected to get the stranger’s name. But she doesn’t forget his face—or the date.

For the next ten years, every February 4 is marked with coincidences and ironies for Olivia. As men come and go and return to her life, she continues to write, but still wonders about the guy from the coffee shop—the nameless actor she’s almost certain has turned out to be Hamish MacDougal, now a famous A-lister and Hollywood leading man.

But a lot can happen in ten years, and while waiting for the curtain to rise on her fate, the true story of Olivia’s life is being written—and if she’s not careful, she’ll completely miss the real-life romantic comedy playing out right before her eyes.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Bethany Turner’s romcoms are always fresh and brimming with pop culture. Plot Twist offers the same zest and smart plotting, but with celebrity references amped up thanks to the the LA setting and culture. This story is especially unique with its timeline and take on romance yet full of beloved tropes and one of the BEST roommate relationships I’ve come across in a while. And the hero, y’all. He’s unexpected and lovable and quite the surprise!

Plot Twist and Films
These movies all have a connection to Plot Twist 😉

I absolutely laughed and highlighted my way through this novel. The celebrity name dropping and movie references make my heart happy, particularly as a movie buff. Its setting and cast of characters are a natural springboard for Hollywood happenings. And the way the actor Hamish MacDougal resembles real-life actor Gerard Butler is uncanny 😉 and hilarious.

Plot Twist is simultaneously a unique romcom and a story that harkens back to classic and beloved romcom tropes through its wry moments of spontaneity and over the top IRONY. It has, to name a few, meet cute(s) (yes, plural), a bachelorette auction, celebrity sightings, a Hallmark-like greeting card company, dreaded exes showing up at the most inopportune times, and a bff relationship to envy.

The timeline works for the story, checking in with Olivia and friends every February 4th for ten years, and is in favor of the character development. While it could feel abrupt, Turner takes her time with each “day” and builds complexity by catching up events of the past year and showing another crazy day in Olivia’s life. Olivia learns to how to be comfortable in her own skin. along the way, and she learns to appreciate the heroes in her life who come and go — and one hero, in particular, who is there for her all along.

My very favorite part of this story is the BFF relationship Olivia has with her roommate, Fiona. Fiona is pivotal to the plot in many ways. While the romance and zany comedy are a huge part of the story, my takeaway is that a relationship like Olivia and Fiona’s is as important in life as a HEA (happily ever after).

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Only Time Will Tell” by Amy Matayo

Welcome to my blog review of the latest novel by Amy Matayo! She has recently published her second novel in her “Charles and Company Romance” series (as in Charles Dickens!). Book two: Only Time Will Tell.

About the Book

For newly published author Eliza Sterling, having her first book launch party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a dream come true. Since her book is a modern-day retelling of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and the Met is hosting a display of rarely seen Dickens’ artifacts at the same time, she chalks it up to a case of good timing.

For publicly disgraced, former best-selling author Lew McDonnell, seeing a debut author having her first book launch party at the Met brings up all sorts of resentments. Especially when the book this lady is promoting just happens to be one of his old manuscripts that she’s clearly plagiarized and claimed for herself.

When heated words are exchanged in front of a display case containing an original copy of Great Expectations, both Lew and Eliza are prepared for a fight. But they aren’t prepared for the room to shake, for the display case to shatter, or for the old book to send them both careening toward a new existence entirely.

When Lew wakes up on the floor of the Charles Dickens museum in London to see Eliza working there as a tour guide, he knows something has gone horribly wrong. It’s the same day and time, but suddenly he’s the best-selling author headlining his own book launch again, and Eliza is serving him drinks and working all hours to make ends meet. And the weirdest thing of all?

Lew is the only one who remembers their former lives.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

A smart concept combines with a hint of romance in this contemporary time-shift story of two authors with a big lesson of selflessness. Amy Matayo’s sarcastic humor and skill at penning first person point of view make Lew’s predicament and Eliza’s growing hope all the more impactful.

The first book in this “Charles & Company Romance” series, Before Time Runs Out, took readers back in time to Dickens’ London. In book 2, it’s more like a time-shift takes place with a switch of circumstances for both of the protagonists with only one of them aware of the change. This clever spin on a time travel concept takes the series in a different direction: one that builds on the allure and mystery of a Dickens “first draft” featured in book 1. Both tell separate stories and can be read as standalones, but I recommend reading them both to understand the connections to Dickens!

I love that both lead characters of this series are writers! A bit of tongue-in-cheek humor about writing, romance, and social media will be funny to any avid readers or those connected to the publishing industry. Beyond their professions, Lew and Eliza are realistic and full of depth. They face circumstances that bring up important questions about selflessness, responsibility, and family.

A few more things I enjoyed about Only Time Will Tell:

  • the modern London setting (this time) and its tiny contrasts to American speaking and culture.
  • humor and CATS! and Brit Speak
  • Family and its messy, complicated joys
  • Matayo’s portrayal of the male POV. Written SO WELL it’s almost scary.
  • The way hope and faith thread through the story in subtle ways

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.