Monday, December 30, 2019

The Prince of Broadway (Uptown Girls, #2) by Joanna Shupe

Title: The Prince of Broadway: Uptown Girls
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Uptown Girls (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (December 30, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0062906836
ISBN-13: 978-0062906830
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my review or rating. All quotes are subject to change as an ARC is not the final version. Any errors in quotes are most likely my own and not the authors.

Florence Greene is not your typical society miss. She doesn't have grand plans of marriage or of raising a family. Her dreams consist of opening a casino for young ladies and she's come up with a plan to accomplish just that. It all revolves around a rather illusive man named Clayton Madden. Clayton owns the most successful gambling establishment in the city call the Bronze House. She wants her casino to mimic his and she's hoping he'll mentor her on how she can go about making that happen. Gambling, after all, is illegal in the great state of New York, but Florence isn't the type to let a little thing like that get in her way. The one thing she hadn't counted on, however, was finding herself attracted to the man, or that he'd be attracted to her...

"You should know a few things before we finalize any apprenticeship."

She leaned in, all eagerness and devotion, hanging on his every word.(...)

"I'll put my cards on the table. I'm attracted to you."

Her brows shot high on her forehead, her face slackening. "W-what?"(...)

"Understand that my motives are never pure. I'm as selfish as they come, and if there's an opportunity to get you in my bed I won't hesitate to take it."(...)

"Was there anything else?"

"Yes, actually. I plan to bring about your father's ruin."

This was the second book in the Uptown Girls series and it can be read out of order as a standalone. It actually takes place at the same time as 'The Rogue of Fifth Avenue,' the first book in the series, so the reader truly will have missed nothing if they haven't read the previous book first. The series revolves around the Greene sisters who are unconventional young women who are the daughter's of one of New York's richest and most influential men. The series is set in the 1890's when Carnegie Hall has just been built, child labor laws are all but nonexistent, and women still have yet to acquire the right to vote. It's set in an era when there is a great divide between how the upper and lower classes of New York society live. The novel takes place during a time when corruption in the police department runs rampant and justice is not always served. In other words, it's a great period to use for the backdrop of a story. If you've not yet read one of Ms. Shupe's novels, you will not be disappointed.

Florence Greene is smart and beautiful, but has never truly felt like she fit in with high society, mainly because she's never cared what they thought of her. Plus, she isn't one to engage in games unless they involve a gaming table. She's played her role in society seamlessly, however, for the sake of her mother and sisters. She's even turned down several proposals, but being married to some society fop whose ego barely fits in the room is not her idea of bliss. The only thing that has kept her sane over the years is her dream of one day opening up a casino for ladies, and being able to be the person she'd always felt she was meant to be. She found out at an early age she had a love and knack for cards. She intends to make use of that.

Clayton Madden is a self-made man who blames his family's demise on Florence's father. All he's done over the years has been driven by the thought of one day being able to exact revenge on him. Florence, however, is something he hadn't expected. The more he gets to know her the more he comes to like her. He convinces himself he can still exact revenge upon her father without it affecting their relationship. He'll soon find out the truth of the matter and have to deal with the consequences.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. The book had a nice combination of drama and romance which kept my interest from start to finish. While Clayton and Florence would appear to be an unlikely couple, their chemistry is undeniable. As they start to work together and get to know each other they gain a mutual respect for one another. Clayton has no problem letting Florence be who she wants to be and, for the most part, encourages her endeavors. Some of Florence's behavior, however, was a little questionable for someone who supposedly was trying to protect her mother and sisters from scandal. Plus, it took me some time to warm up to Clayton, but by the end he won me over. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a SHOWER rating--a cold shower may be necessary. Need I say more? Some books should come with a warning--make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. lol 

Order of the Uptown Girls series: 

Coming June 2020:

Friday, December 27, 2019

Rocky Mountain Heat (previously published as All of Me) (Wedding Veil Wishes (4)) by Lori Wilde

Title: Rocky Mountain Heat (previously published as All of Me) (Wedding Veil Wishes (4))
Previous title: All of Me
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Wedding Veil Wishes (4) (Book 4)
Format: Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Forever; Reprint edition (December 17, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1538700190
ISBN-13: 978-1538700198
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my rating or review.

Legend has it long ago a witch created beautiful lace bridal veils. Her last and final creation she enchanted with a spell, or so the story goes...

“Once upon a time, in long-ago Ireland, there lived a beautiful young witch named Morag who possessed a great talent for tatting lace. People came from far and wide to buy the lovely wedding veils she created. But there were other women in the community who were envious of Morag’s beauty and talent. These women made up a lie and told the magistrate that Morag was casting spells on the men of the village.

The magistrate was engaged to a woman that he admired, but did not love. He arrested Morag, but found himself falling madly in love with her. Convinced that she must have cast a spell upon him as well, he moved to have her tried for practicing witchcraft. If found guilty, she would be burned at the stake. But in the end, the magistrate could not resist the power of true love.

On the eve before Morag was to stand trial, he kidnapped her from the jail in the dead of night and spirited her away to America, giving up everything for her love. To prove that she had not cast a spell over him, Morag promised never to use magic again. As her final act of witchcraft, she made one last wedding veil, investing it with the power to grant the deepest wish of the wearer’s soul...”

Now, hundreds of years later, the veil has found itself in the possession of a group of friends. The final, and last of the friends to try the veil, Jillian, doesn't believe in magic. Truth be told, she doesn't believe in love, at least not for herself. She believes the love matches her friends made after wishing upon the veil were just coincidental and not the result of their wishes. On night, after a friend's funeral, however, Jillian finds herself in a vulnerable state and makes a wish. That wish will change everything...

 "I wish I had a brand new life."
This is the fourth installment of the Wedding Veil Wishes series. The series centers around four friends and an enchanted wedding veil. 'Rocky Mountain Heat', previously published under the title of 'All of Me', can definitely be read out of order and you won't feel lost. At the beginning of this story, three of Jillian's friends have already found their soul mates, but Jillian is a hard sell on the magical powers said to be possessed by the wedding veil. She's the most skeptical of the bunch and doesn't believe the veil had anything to do with her friend's love matches. She vows to never make a wish with the veil.  As we all know, however, you should never say never. In a moment of emotional weakness, she makes a wish. That is when all the fun begins.

Men have disappointed Jillian Sanders all her life. The last time she tried to put herself out there things ended badly. Believing most men are jerks and those who aren't are taken, she's pretty much given up on relationships, but deep down she still wants someone to love. When her best friend and mentor dies, she feels everything so much more, especially when her ex-boyfriend ends up becoming her new boss. Feeling like her life is falling apart, she decides to do the one thing she never thought she'd do--make a wish.

Tuck Manning is a widower who is a shadow of his former self. He loved his wife dearly, but has still not come to terms with her passing even though it's been two years since she died. When Jillian comes to town she challenges him, excites him (even though he's loath to admit it), and makes him feel again. Despite that, however, he still has to come to terms with having feeling for someone other than his deceased wife. He's a great guy but the big question is can he overcome his grief and guilt that he feels at the thought of moving on--preferably with Jillian?

I admit I had mixed feelings about Tuck. While I liked how much he'd loved his wife, I felt it sometimes didn't bode well for his relationship with Jillian. There were times when if I'd been Julian's friend I would have advised her to cut him loose, but I have to admit I've seen others act similarly in real life so I can't really fault Ms. Wilde for it. It took quite some time before Tuck won me over.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was a sweet, funny, and charming romance with some twists and hurdles thrown in for good measure. I enjoyed seeing these two fall for one another despite their trying to resist the pull they felt for one another,  I loved the situation which developed as they tried to figure out who truly owned the lake house. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the Wedding Veil Wishes series:

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

My One and Only Cowboy (Meadow Valley Book 1) by A.J. Pine

Title: My One and Only Cowboy (Meadow Valley Book 1)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Meadow Valley (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 656 pages
Publisher: Forever (December 17, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1538749793
ISBN-13: 978-1538749791
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my rating or review.

Sam Callahan is one of the three owners of the Meadow Valley Ranch. He, his brother, and best friend bought the land for the ranch two years ago and are now into their second month of full operation. Things are tight as they are still working on drumming up business and have sunk a ton of money into building the newly established guest ranch.

In the blink of an eye it could all be taken away when a feisty blond bombshell shows up spouting claims of forgery, fraud, and the illegal sale of her property.

Delaney Harper is beside herself with fury. He ex-husband sold the land she planned to use for an animal rescue shelter by forging her name on a quit claim deed. Now she's confronting the new owners and trying to set things straight. Half that land is hers. While she came looking to reclaim her land, she might just get more than she bargained for...

"I've been thinking about kissing you for two days now, and I don't know if I'm going to be able to stop thinking about kissing you until I know what I missed out on because of that damned storm."

She stared at him, and he watched her chest rise and fall with each breath she took. It was a risk just to say the words to admit what he wanted. What would they be risking if they acted on what he guessed they both were feeling?

She fidgeted with the material of her dress.

"I still want my half of the land," she said. 

He nodded, "I know." 

Could a crazy little thing like love be in her future?
This was the first book in a new series by A.J. Pine which centers around the town of Meadow Valley. It's a small old fashioned town where everyone knows everyone else and can't seem to help poking their noses into everyone else's business. It's a place perfect for fresh starts and the place both Delaney Harper and Sam Callahan chose to start their businesses. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending how you see it), they both chose the same piece of land.

Neither Delaney nor Sam is looking for a relationship. Both have issues which they need to come to terms with before they could have a chance at a successful relationship. Plus, the matter of who truly owns the land Meadow Valley Ranch still sits between them. As they get to know each other, however, they realize they have more than they thought in common. The spark of attraction they've both felt from their first meeting will slowly ignite into something neither can deny, but they'll do their darnedest to do just that.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses.This was a sweet and lighthearted romance that tackled a heavy topic. Sam's father suffers from dementia and he doesn't believe love is in the cards for him. Sam has closed himself off from serious relationships for years not knowing if his future will mimic that of his dad. When Delaney first confronts Sam claiming half the land is hers, he's convinced someone's playing a joke on him. A bad one. Soon, however, it becomes clear his entire business could be in jeopardy, but there's something about Delaney Harper, despite the threat she poses, that draws him to her. Slowly, she tears down the careful constructed walls he's erected around himself, and makes him realize he can have it all if he just lets himself. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Forever Friends (Cranberry Cove #1) by Sarah Mackenzie

Title: Forever Friends (Cranberry Cove Book 1)
Classification: Adult Women's Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Cranberry Cove (1) (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 320 pages
Publisher: Forever (December 10, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1538751127
ISBN-13: 978-1538751121
Author's Website: Not Available at this time
Notes: I received an eARC loan of the book from the publisher through Edelweiss for review purposes. This in no way affected my review or rating.

Sadie Landry is a stay-at-home mom who feels she's losing her identity. The cool, confident young professional she'd once been has been replaced with a women who feels a bit like a fish out of water flopping around and trying to catch her breath. Add in the fact her husband is acting suspicious, her mother-in-law is constantly nitpicking her every move, and she suspects she might be pregnant and you've got the makings of a woman on the verge of coming undone.

Renee Rhodes is a single mom and a newly minted empty nester. Her daughter is attending her first year at college and Renee doesn't know what to do with herself. Her life centered around her daughter and now she feels a little lost and without purpose.

Two individuals with seemingly nothing in common at different ends of the mommy spectrum will be united over the burning of a batch of cupcakes. They will come to each other's aid in ways neither could ever have imagined--helping each other out with life, love, and the pursuit of happiness all while forming a friendship that will last forever...
This was a very heartwarming story with some twists and turns along the way. The mystery of what Sadie's husband is up to kept me guessing. The friendship forged between Renee and Sadie was enviable and there was no doubt that these two would be life long friends. I liked how Ms. Mackenzie picked two people at very different points in their life to form a friendship. I enjoyed how each was able to impart a piece of wisdom to the other to help them get through the difficult and confusing situations they were facing.

I loved how the author captured some of the stress and self doubt that sometimes accompanies being a stay-at-home mom of young children. I still remember my first real shower after having my daughter. I was relieved to finally have some alone time, something I hadn't realized I needed until I stepped into the bathroom. Less than a minute into it my husband rolls our daughter into the bathroom in her bassinet and left her saying he couldn't get her to stop crying. Needless to say I started crying and got very upset with him when I got out. Crying babies and showers don't mix especially when you're nursing. Your whole life is upended in ways you never would have imagined when you have a child. Having a little person attached to you at the hip is both wonderful and a bit overwhelming. At times it feels like you're constantly taking one step forward and two steps back and losing yourself in the process.

On the other side of the parenting perspective, I loved how the author captured some of the emotions a parent experiences when their child goes off to college. I've yet to become an empty nester, but I do know what it's like when your child goes off to college and suddenly their coming home during breaks isn't a given any more. While they're out testing their wings getting ready to fly away, you're still trying to deal with the fact you need to let them go so they can become the independent person they're meant to be. This is not always the easiest thing to do when your main goal for years has been to keep them safe, healthy, happy, well rounded, clothed, and fed. While the story delves a little into some deep topics, this storyline made me think of the Jergens lotion commercial where Leslie Mann makes her 20-year-old daughter use the skin lotion on her elbows, and ends with letting her know she's free for dinner. I'm so that type of mom--while the kids may be ready to break away, I'm just not.

While friendship holds a key role in this story, romance was just as prevalent. The repairing of the relationship between Sadie and her husband, and the transformation of the relationship between Renee and Dan into something more were fun to watch. Each couple had some hurdles to overcome, but as expected in any good romance, love prevails.

I ended up giving this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed this story immensely. The two main characters, Sadie and Renee, were easy to relate to and sympathize with. I liked the contrast between the characters and between their relationships. The book contained a lovely combination of humor, friendship, drama, and romance. This was a great first novel from Ms. Mackenzie. Her writing style reminded me a little of Debbie Macomber's and Susan Mallery's, and I look forward to reading many more of her novels. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one scored a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice. The only thing missing in this one was recipe for one of Grandma Hester's pies at the end. That would have been the proverbial icing on the cake, or, er, the à la mode on the pie, I suppose, for this one.

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