To Have and To Hold

To Have and To Hold. Lauren Layne. 2016. 385 pages. Pocket Books. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] This book has all the makings of a great story – an overprotective brother who doesn’t trust the naiveté of his sister or, more aptly, her new fiancé, a wedding planner with a failed almost-marriage, and the bright, twinkling lights of New York City. I was completely intrigued by the story and couldn’t put it down, but found myself wanting more from its characters. If I could give this 3.5 stars, I would; To Have and to Hold is a good book, but it doesn’t stand up as well to Lauren Layne’s other works. Brooke Baldwin was one of LA’s premier wedding planners, until she found out her fiancé was a con man. The most important wedding of her career was a spectacle for all the wrong reasons: instead of her walking down the altar to start a life with him, the FBI dragged him down the altar to a jail cell. She ran to New York City to get away from the spotlight and quietly rebuild her career. When she’s picked up as a planner for Wedding Belle’s, one of the city’s…

Getting Inside

Getting Inside. Serena Bell. 2017. 198 pages. Loveswept. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] The book has to be compelling if me, a complete non-sports fan, can’t put it down. From the start, I was pulled in by Iona and Ty and was so intrigued at how they’d ever manage to fight their attraction while balancing their messy coach-player relationship. Serena Bell wove their story together well. Too often, romance stories with a focus on sports are either too heavy on the sport or don’t include enough detail, making it an afterthought. With Getting Inside, she shows that she’s done her homework on the sport but isn’t beating the reader of over the head with her knowledge. I was clued in enough to understand that football was the heart of the book, but still enjoyed the actual story.

Winner Takes All

Winner Takes All. Erin Kern. 2016. 384 pages. Forever. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] As the first installment in a new “Championship Valley”series, Winner Takes All does not disappoint. Blake is disgraced, begrudingly retired football star who’s return to his hometown with one season to turn around a high-school football team’s losing record. Annabelle is a control-freak physical therapist who refuses to quit on the team, even if it means she’s constantly under Blake’s skin. The two make for an interesting pairing – they both want the best for the team, but are constantly fighting (not well) their own attraction for each other. I am pleased with Kern’s newest release. Books from her “Trouble” series did not disappoint, so I came in with high expectations. She continues to create well-developed main characters who are relateable and realistic. Their motivations aren’t always spelled out in an elementary way, but there’s enough detail for readers to understand the various choices they make. Both Blake and Annabelle are flawed, but their story is interesting and actually entertaining to watch. Their playful banter coupled with frustrating work interactions makes for a story that’s simply fun to read. At times it’s emotionally draining, but…

With a Twist

With a Twist. Staci Hart. 2015. 386. Promise Socks Publishing. [Source: Kindle Unlimited.] This is a cute enough story about a group of friends and their trial​s/tribulations in love. It focuses on professional ballerina Lily as she navigates what she hopes will be a whirlwind romance with her longtime crush and fellow principal dancer Blane (insert dreamy eyes here). Sadly, all that glitters is not gold, and she’s stuck trying to figure out whether to put her efforts into Blane or fly solo. Her close-knit group of friends is there to support her either way, especially her neighbor West, whose own love life is as complicated. With a Twist is definitely a simple read, one you can get through in a few hours. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a remarkable read to me. I found nearly all of the relationship trajectories predictable. This is partially a mix of the author’s blatant foreshadowing and my having read one too many romance novels. As it was, I felt like I knew what the outcome of the book would be and just needed to trudge through the book to prove myself right. Along the way, peripheral relationships tended to play out how I expected, though they…

Not Quite Perfect

Not Quite Perfect. Cathernine Bybee. 2016. 332 pages. Montlake Romance. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] In full disclosure, I’m a huge fan of the Not Quite Series from Catherine Bybee. Book 5, “Not Quite Perfect,” continues by focusing on psychology Mary Kildare and her strained history relationship with Glen Fairchild — at least, it would be a relationship if either of them would make the first move. There’s plenty of chemistry between them, but Glen’s playboy past makes Mary leery of opening up to him. Add to that the fact that the pilot/co-owner of Fairchild airline lives on the opposite side of the country – there’s enough to give Mary pause than just their antagonistic first impressions. “Not Quite Perfect” did not disappoint. As always, Bybee gives the reader an enticing courtship between intriguing characters. I found myself constantly wondering whether Mary would be her own biggest hurdle to a successful relationship and whether Glen would actually commit to a relationship, rather than a fling.