Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Christmas with You by Jess Mastorakos



Marine Staff Sergeant Charles Cooper is desperate. When he idiotically made up a fake girlfriend to appease his grandmother, he hadn’t counted on Grandma Jean flying halfway across the country to meet her at Christmas. With only a few days until the big family dinner, he needs a girlfriend. Fast.

Angie Black can think of few people who get under her skin more than Cooper. Unfortunately, she has to tolerate him since their best friends are married to each other. When Cooper asks her to be his fake girlfriend for a family dinner, Angie agrees only because she could use a fake boyfriend herself. Her entire office is invited to the wedding of their boss, and he happens to also be her ex.

Their fake relationship seems to solve both of their problems. That is, until unexpected feelings arise. With his deployment looming, will they figure out that they're meant to be before they find themselves half a world apart?

My Review: 5 Stars

Have you ever started a series that is so good that you wish someone would create a “pause life” remote so you can stop everything and just read? That’s where I’m at right now. I want to sit in my comfy chair with my hot cocoa and sweet treats and just read. Life can be tough when you don't want to adult. 😉 

If you follow my blog, you know that I am not a fan of the fake relationship trope. But since all the books I've read in this series have been amazing, I thought what the heck. Let's give it a go. Y'all Ms. Mastorakos is making a liar out of me! I ended up loving this book! I guess I just haven't been reading the right authors. 😉

I absolutely adored Cooper and Angie! Their bantering back and forth had me giggling and made me root for them even more. I loved watching their relationship develop from kinda enemies to friends to something more. Both of them had been in a bad relationship and were so focused on not falling into the same trap again that they didn't realize they were falling in love. They're definitely favorites of mine. 😊

And can we talk about Grandma Jean for just a second? Y'all she was the best! She was always up to something when it came to Cooper and Angie. Sneaky and full of mischief. I loved the role she played in getting them together. It was perfect!

Christmas with You was a great addition to an amazing series. If you're looking for a fun series to escape into, I highly recommend this one. I'm going to have a major book hangover once I finish this series. I am so glad that I discovered Ms. Mastorakos! Her books are just what I needed right now.

And of course I can't forget about my casting! What do you think?!

Monday, October 26, 2020

In Name Only by Jennifer Peel



He gave his name to protect her. All she wanted was his heart.

Dani Kramer used to think growing up in foster homes was the most difficult thing she would ever have to do until all her dreams come true. Married to the love of her life, Dr. Brock Holland, and running a foundation that specializes in finding jobs for kids out of foster care, Dani seems to have it all. What no one knows is that it could all go away tomorrow if anyone finds out about the precious secret she carries.

For Brock Holland, military doctor, life has always been about duty to his career and country. But when he’s captured during a joint allied training mission, thoughts of Dani, his best friend, the woman he’s tried for years not to fall in love with, help him not only survive but reevaluate his priorities. However, when he returns home, he finds Dani is pregnant. In a cruel twist, duty calls again. He must marry Dani to save her from becoming a political pawn in a dangerous game she didn’t know she had signed up to play.

But who will protect Dani’s and Brock’s hearts from each other? Or will they discover their marriage is more than only sharing a last name?

My Review: 5+ Stars!

You guys. I am speechless. Where do I even begin with my review? What can I say that's going to do this book justice? 

I knew going into this book that Brock and Dani's journey was going to be intense. But I was not prepared for it being wrought with so much pain and heartache. But with pain, comes strength. With ugliness comes beauty. With heartache comes love. This book is phenomenal! Here it is, days later, and I'm still thinking about everything Brock and Dani went through to get to where they are. Their love is a love worth fighting for. A love that was put through the refiners fire to become the most beautiful love they could ever imagine. Their story will stick with me for a long, long time to come. 

I can say that, without a doubt, the Pine Falls series is definitely one of my favorites. It's so real, so raw, so beautiful. I have fallen in love with every single one of the characters. I'm excited for Brant and Kinsley's journey. I have a feeling that theirs is going to be the toughest one of all. And I'll be right there by their sides, encouraging them and hanging on every single word. 

I am in serious awe of Ms. Peel's talent. She has an extraordinary gift when it comes to telling her stories. From the moment you start reading her books, you are transported to the setting of that book where you live, eat and breathe with her characters. You feel every single emotion that they feel. You will laugh with them, cry with them, celebrate their triumphs, mourn their losses and cheer them on as they fight for their friendships, their love and their happily ever after.

There is so much more I could say about this book. But this is one of those times where less is more. My advice to you would be to grab a box of tissues, have a pint of cookie dough or your favorite comfort food on hand, open your heart, open your mind, let yourself feel, just be. It's not going to be easy, but it IS going to be worth it. 

Content warning: This book contains sensitive material related to PTSD, brief military violence, and pregnancy. For more detailed descriptions that include spoiler alerts see the authors blog on her website. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Away from You by Jess Mastorakos



Lance Corporal Matthew Mills returned home from his first deployment with more than just a bullet wound. While he knew that injury would heal, he feared the invisible ones never would. He couldn't trust his own mind anymore and the only way to keep Olivia safe was to push her away... maybe for good.

Olivia wanted nothing more than to stand by her husband while he battled PTSD. If he needed time and space, that's what she'd give him. But how long was too long? Just when she was about to lose hope, fate and a few meddling friends stepped in.

A week in the woods at Big Bear Lake promises relaxation, fun with friends, and adventure. Without the pressures of the outside world, Olivia hopes she can convince him that their love is worth fighting for. And as much as it scares him, Matt can't help but want to let her.

My Review: 5 Stars

Have you ever picked up a book, started reading it and instantly knew you were going to have the hardest time putting it down? Well, that's exactly what happened to me with this book. The only thing that stopped me from staying up all night reading was my kindle continually hitting me in the face every time my body drifted off to sleep. But, the moment I woke up this morning, you better believe I grabbed my kindle, curled back up under my blanket and picked up right where I left off. It was the perfect way to start my Sunday. 😊

Matt and Olivia have been together since their freshman year in high school. Their relationship was strong and they knew that when hard times came, they would be able to weather them together. Neither one of them were prepared for Matt getting injured in combat and coming home with PTSD. Words were said, trust was broken, and Matt's decision to end their marriage crushed them. But when your love is as strong as theirs and your friends know the only way to overcome this trial is by being together, you have to give it your all and trust that, in the end, it will all work out the way it should. 

I knew from the moment I started reading this book that it would be an emotional rollercoaster. I found myself rooting for Olivia and Matt from the very beginning. They were young, barely starting out in their marriage, and were dealing with something that no one around them had ever gone through before. To say their journey was tough is an understatement. But it made them better and brought them closer together. I loved every single minute of this book! It's one I know I'll be reading over and over again. 

There are several reasons why authors become one of my favorites. One of those reasons is their ability to take a very hard, taboo subject that no one wants to read about, and address it in a respectful way that has you opening your eyes and understanding, even if it's just a little bit, what others who are suffering with it may be going through. Ms. Mastorakos does an exceptional job writing about the hard stuff that most of us will never face in real life. PTSD is one of those hard subjects no one wants to talk about but that everyone should be talking about it. It's real and it probably tears more families apart than most of us realize. I've always had a deep respect for our military men and women and their families. But after getting a "behind the scenes" look into what they can and do face every day, my respect for them has grown even more.  

I am absolutely loving this series! I've been in a bit of a reading funk lately but this series has completely captivated me and I don't want to do anything BUT read. I can already tell you I'm going to have a major book hangover when I finish this series. 😉

As for my casting... y'all... I'm loving these two! What do you think?

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Back to You by Jess Mastorakos



Spencer and Ellie are just friends. Right?

For Spencer, Ellie has always been his rock. His stability. The one who was there for him in his darkest hour. But he's never thought of her as more than a friend... until now. And that's just inconvenient, since he knows what she wants right down to how she takes her coffee, and it isn't him.

Ellie wants a stable life and a white picket fence, so she only dates guys who want that, too. She knows Spencer doesn't do relationships. And besides, high school is over and he's about to be a U.S. Marine. It could never work... could it?

Since they want different things, they're just fine remaining friends. That is, until one night changes everything.

My Review: 5 Stars

Y'all. I am not a fan of books that are full of angst and drama. It's one of the reasons I stay away from YA books. I get so frustrated that I want to throw my kindle across the room. And I may or may not be mentally Gibbs slapping the characters until they get their act together. 

So. Why am I bringing this up? Well, this book is all about the angst and the drama. One of my favorite book buddies had to listen to me vent my frustration last night. BUT. This morning, I had to eat my words. The moment I finished the book I sent her the following message: "Ok... so she has this way of making all the angst and the drama worth it. I ended up loving it!" And, if you're wondering, yes.. she totally laughed at me. 😉

This was a true friends to lovers story. Ellie and Spencer have been best friends since the 6th grade. They've been through everything together and are by each other's sides no matter what. The night before Spencer leaves for boot camp, things start to change. But because Spencer is stubborn and Ellie has a boyfriend, neither were ready for the rollercoaster ride they were about to embark on. 

Oh. My. The feels y'all! The feels! You will experience every single one of them. Every. Single. One. You better hold on tight for this upside down, full of loops, twisty ride! I loved every frustrating, dreamy sighing moment of it!

As far as the swoon factor goes, let me just say... oh my holy swooniness Batman! Y'all the chemistry in this book is off the charts! I thoroughly enjoyed watching it knock Spencer of his feet! WOWZERS! That's just one of the reasons it made all the angst and drama worth it. 😉 

I am loving this series! I can't wait to start Olivia and Matt's book. I love that they were a big part of this book and that I'll get more of Ellie and Spencer in their book. Seeing all the couples throughout the series is a definite plus for me. 

If you haven't read anything by Ms. Mastorakos yet, then I highly recommend checking out her books. I've read 3 of them so far and have NOT been disappointed. She's definitely been added to my favorites and auto-buy lists. 

And of course I can't forget my casting. I. Am. In. Love! What do you think?!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Home with You by Jess Mastorakos



A widowed Marine, his eight-year-old son, and the spunky PE teacher who keeps striking out at love...

When Staff Sergeant Owen O’Malley gets orders to San Diego, the first thing he thinks about is how much his eight-year-old son, Finn, will love the beach. After losing his wife three years earlier, he knows they could both use a little sand between their toes.

Rachel Peters decides San Diego holds her fresh start after her roommates find love and move out. Leaving Texas behind, she plans to soak up the sun, coach Little League, and teach PE to the military kids on base. She does not plan to fall for the handsome, single dad of one of her favorite students.

Miramar is a small base, so when Owen and Rachel keep running into each other, they believe it’s only because of their shared proximity. Little do they know, there’s a four-foot-tall matchmaker pulling the strings. Will Finn accomplish his mission or will they balk at their chance for true love?

My Review: 4.5 Stars

Confession. I am a sucker when it comes to the single parent trope. I don’t know what it is about it, but I love it! I didn’t even finish reading the synopsis before I was dropping everything to read this book. It was just what I needed.

I quickly fell in love with Rachel, Owen and the adorable Finn! Y’all. I’m not going to lie… that kid stole the show! I loved watching him play the little matchmaker, a very important role to get his dad and Rachel together. 😉

Finn was wise beyond his years. But at the age of 8, he had already experienced so much heartache. In a way, he had to stop being a kid at the age of 5 and deal with real life. But the moment Rachel came into their lives, I saw the change in him. He was able to be a kid again and experience new and fun things.

I loved watching Rachel and Owen’s relationship develop from friends into something more. It wasn’t an easy road for them. They both came with baggage and were afraid to unpack it. They felt safer not taking that chance. But with life comes growing pains. They had to learn to let the other one in if they were ever going to find their HEA.

This may be book 6 in the series, but it's the first one I've read (other than the prequel). I really enjoyed it and can't wait to read the other books in the series. I can already tell they're going to be a fun break from reality. 

And of course I can't forget my casting. I'm loving these two. What do you think?