Category Archives: chick lit

Review: Thirteen Weddings

13 weddings

Thirteen Weddings
by Paige Toon
Published by Simon & Schuster U.K.
448 pages
Genre: romance, literature
3.5 / 5

Perhaps my biggest pet peeve as a reader is when I invest myself emotionally and in a book – when I give it all of my time and attention – only to experience the main character betray herself at the end. It feels disingenuous, like I’ve taken part in a lie.

Such is my problem with this book.

The first three quarters – the first four fifths, for goodness sake – is fantastic. Bronte comes to London for a hen night, meets the gorgeous and alluring Alex, and they rock the headboard. She goes back home to Australia, he heads back to his life, and all’s right. Each has recently broken up with a significant other, they provide succor and sex to one another, and they have given themselves some hot memories.

A year and a half later, Bronte is in London for a new job. Joining her, equally new to the company, is Alex. Neither can forget the passion and chemistry they shared, but now there is a teensy little problem: Alex is engaged to the girl from whom he was broken up when he and Bronte got together the first time.

The thing is, their attraction to each other is just as strong as it was when they met in the bar. Their attempts to fight it off only seem to strengthen it. Sure, Alex has a fianceé, and Bronte soon has a boyfriend of sorts in Lachie, a fellow Aussie who has come to England as a sort of budding wedding singer. Lachie is every bit as hot as Alex is, and he cares deeply for Bronte. But her heart belongs to Alex.

The thirteen weddings are those at which Bronte works as a photographer. If you’re interested in the nuances of wedding photography, this is the book for you. Each of those weddings – Each.One . – is detailed and discussed, sometimes to the detriment of the story’s pacing. You’ll be on a roll with Bronte and Alex, and then you’re at a wedding.

Bronte, Alex, and Lachie are an entertaining threesome. Bronte has a sweetness to her, but also a sharp edge. A childhood experience scarred and scared her away from religion and marriage, but she is willing to open her heart to Alex and Lachie. It’s in there – her hope in love and fidelity – but she has to trust herself before she’s willing to tear down the obstacles she faces.

Alex is presented as an honorable guy. He’s engaged to a woman he’s been with for ages, and he feels tremendous loyalty to her. Yet she has become an obligation and not a life partner, even if Alex clings to closely to duty to see it. Lachie, on the other hand, is a traveling troubadour of sorts. He’s fun, and he’s interested, and he’s the salve to Bronte’s torn heart and ego.

Does she use him? I think she does. She’s given her heart to someone else, and as much as Lachie gives to her, she takes, even when it appears she is giving in return.

The ending … well, I won’t say anything because you need to read the book. But the ending ANNOYED THE HELL OUT OF ME. It isn’t that I expect hearts, roses, and happy Hollywood endings. But I do expect that the ending will remain true to the characters I’ve enjoyed. And this ending seemed to smack that loyalty and disregard it completely.

Read it, come back, and hit me up in the comments. I’d love to know what you think. I’d also have loved to give this five stars, but the ending left me angry.

 

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Review: Four Weddings and a Break Up

4 weddings and a breakup

Four Weddings and a Break Up
by Elyssa Patrick
Published by Aspendown Books
308 pages
Genre: romance; chick lit
3.5 / 5

You know what they say about the best laid plans, right? Think about how many novels have been written using that device.

And yet Four Weddings and a Break Up offers an adorable, sweet, refreshing spin on the oft used twist.

Ginny is a teacher who survived a school shooting. She is tired of being the object of scorn, curiosity, and pity in her small seaside town. She dreams of being a “normal” person but fears that dream will never come true for her. The shooter’s family blames her for the shooting in which he killed himself, and their animus toward her seems to increase by the hour.

While not necessarily looking for love, Ginny wouldn’t mind having someone special. She isn’t sure she is cut out for marriage, largely because the horrors she survived have made her question everything. Heading into a summer packed with weddings, she knows she won’t have that “plus one” that would make things sooo much easier.

Enter Wes Dalton, a gorgeous – and I do stress GORGEOUS – hunk of man whose father lives in town. Wes is a contractor and real estate developer who long ago moved to Las Vegas with his father’s first wife. Whereas Ginny wonders what she lacks when it comes to relationships, Wes wonders about what he has. His father was a cheater, and Wes tells himself that infidelity runs in the gene pool.

These two meet cute. Or hot. Definitely hot. Ginny is looking for a sexual release and finds it in Wes. But of course, nothing in Ginny’s life goes according to plan, and rather than a simple, quick hookup, she’s forced to see Wes over and over again because he’s come to town for a visit.

It turns out, though, that they can help each other out. And by “help” I don’t just mean “you be my plus one and I’ll be yours,” I mean ROCKIN’ THE HEADBOARD type helping.

They have an interlude in the cab of his truck that is …. well, read the book and find out. But strap on your vibrator, because you will need it.

As for the rest of the story, it’s adorable and predictable. Ginny is nearly impossible not to like, and Wes is so hot that you can forgive him just about any transgression. Each of them has a way to go before their relationship can be what they want and need it to be, and given that Ginny has survived a shooting, you know the path will be fraught with Issues.

Still, it’s a fun, hot read, perfect for when your toes are curled up in the sand or dipped in the pool.

 

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Review: Dancing Backward in Paradise

dancingbackwardinparadise-200

Dancing Backward in Paradise
by Vera Jane Cook
Published by Musa Publishing
347 pages
Genre: chick lit 
3 / 5

 

Grab some grits, pull up a chair, and get ready to transport yourself to a trailer park in Hixson (emphasis on HICKS), Tennessee.

Grace Place (for reals … that’s her name) finds herself in a bit of limbo. She’s out of high school, working as a dog sitter / babysitter / housekeeper for the richest woman in town, a young(ish) woman married to an older man dying of cancer. Grace’s mom wants her to earn enough money to take her to New York, where Grace can live out her mother’s dreams. Grace herself appears to not have any dreams of her own.

The longer she works for Betty Ann, the more confused Grace becomes. For one thing, there is the matter of her boyfriend Lenny Bean, whose lighter keeps winding up in Betty Ann’s home. For another, Betty Ann is a bit strange. She’s married, has a lovely baby girl, but likes to rock that headboard with any man who comes along.

Naturally, Grace discovers just why that lighter ends up at Betty Ann’s house. And Grace becomes suspicious: are Lenny Bean’s motives pure, or does he want to bring harm to Betty Ann?

How does Grace react to all of this? She goes to New York, where the story makes a 180 and changes course.

The problems with this book are that it tries to be too many things: a romance, a mystery, a coming of age. Grace is almost unbelievably naive, to the point that you wonder how she even figures out how to walk down the streets of New York, much less find a job. The plot convolutions take far too many twists and turns.

And yet … it’s impossible not to like Grace Place.

Yes, she’s woefully naive, but she means well, which is more than you can say for nearly every other character in Hixson. (Somewhat ironically, the people in New York – that churlish lot who supposedly would rather ignore a knifing right in front of them than help out a stranger – turn out to be the nice ones.) When Grace can’t see what’s right in front of her, we want to protect her rather than knock some sense into her. We want her to find success in New York, and when she returns to Hixson, we want her to do so with spectacular success.

For all of the weaknesses here, the story is entertaining, and Grace is adorable.

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Always On My Mind

always on my mindAlways On My Mind: The Sullivans
by Bella Andre
Published by Harlequin MIRA
304 pages
Genre: romance; chick lit 
4 / 5

 

If you have read any of Bella Andre’s Sullivan Family series, you undoubtedly are as hooked on this herd as I am. With each book, I find it more and more difficult to pick a favorite. But from the start, I’ve been intrigued by Lori (aka “Naughty” to her twin sister Sophie’s “Nice”). Lori is the wild child, the one who, as her family observes, runs in and out of rooms so quickly that you hardly have time to register that she’s been there. Yet she nonetheless leaves an impact wherever she is.

Lori has been living in Chicago, where she works as a dancer and choreographer. Like most of the Sullivans, Lori has achieved some fame and adulation – professionally, at least. Personally (romantically), her life is far less admirable. She’s been in a relationship with a man who does not put her first, to say the least. One day she decides she has Had It and she bolts for her hometown in California.

But the thought of being near all of those Sullivans rankles her. She isn’t ready to face them. When she gets off the plane, she rents a car and asks the attendant where she should go. Pescadero is the answer, so off Lori drives.

A girl has to work, regardless of what she’s trying to escape, and Lori answers the first job posting she finds: for a cattle hand. What does she know about ranching? Um, very little. One of her family members owns a winery and her mother planted flowers, so she kind of sort of understands horticulture, but cows? Pigs? Chickens?

No.

What she certainly does understand is that Grayson, the ranch owner, is H-O-T. If he isn’t worth the mud and filth of the job, nothing else could be.

Conveniently, Lori has to stay with Grayson.

Very conveniently.

As drawn to each other as they are, each is reluctant to pursue the romance. Grayson has decamped to Pescadero for his own reasons, and he is slow to let Lori know those. It isn’t that these two are opposites; rather, it’s that they are too much alike.

Andre writes in a way that makes you enjoy her characters. The entire Sullivan clan gets together a couple of times, so you will get to check in on your favorites from past installments. Despite the size of the family, Andre lets you get to know each one of them, and she gives each one his or her own voice.

Lori and Grayson are flawed, and those flaws are not glossed over. Theirs is a romance that comes in fits and starts, and it’s nice to see the man as the more persistent pursuer for a change. It’s nice to get to know Grayson, period. Girls. Trust me on that one.

This is a fun, romantic book with its share of hot headboard rockin’. Not too graphic, but hot nonetheless.

Spend some time with the Sullivans. You will want to join their family too.

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Once Upon a Billionaire

once upon a billionaireOnce Upon a Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #4)
by Jessica Clare
Published by Penguin Group
266 pages
Genre: romance; chick lit 
3 / 5

 

The title is  a dead giveaway that this book is a fairytale.

Good fairytales make you believe, even if just a little, in the possibility of them coming true. Poor girl meets gorgeous, rich prince? Yes, it’s improbable, but we can hope, can’t we?

In this case, we have Griffin Verdi, heir to some sort of made up throne in a tiny European country, as our Gorgeous Rich Prince. He’s also a bit of a bully in that he expects things to be done HIS WAY, thank you very much.

When his assistant can’t accompany Griffin to a family wedding in the kingdom, Griffin throws a hissy fit. Who will tie his ties? Manage his schedule? HELLO? Who will assist him?

A much loathed girlfriend of one of Griffin’s fellow billionaires steps in with a recommendation, and before you can say, “HowDEEEE!”, Griffin is on his private plane with comely country lass Maylee.

She grew up in a trailer in Arkansas, natch.

So our star crossed lovebirds must get to know each other, discover each other’s true souls, etc., etc. Fortunately for us, they also must rock the headboard, and those scenes – few though they are – make this more fun to read.

I thought Maylee was straight out of Central Casting for “hillbilly rubes,” which almost made me not care whether her happily ever after happened or not. But – and this is a big “but” – I liked her, and I liked Griffin. Maylee says what she means and means what she says (if you can pardon the hackneyed expression), and Griffin needs someone like that in his life.

This is a fun, escapist read, full stop. Utterly forgettable once you’re finished, but pleasant and enjoyable while you’re in it.

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Blog Tour: On the Rocks

On the RocksOn the Rocks
by Erin Duffy
Published by William Morrow
322 pages
Genre: women’s fiction; chick lit 
4 / 5
Imagine this: you are shopping for your wedding gown, and as you stand in a Vera Wang confection (your dream dress!), sipping on complimentary Champagne, your best friend and Maid of Honor happens to check Facebook.

And discovers that your fiancé considers himself to be no longer in a relationship.

Such is the nightmare that Abby faces in the opening pages of this book.

She reacts the way most of us would: she digs into pints of Ben & Jerry’s and soothes her aching heart with ice cream and self-pity. When six months passes and she has progressed onto no new stage of grief, best friend Grace drags her by the scruff of the neck and hauls her out to a rental cottage to spend the summer near a Rhode Island beach.

Abby’s summer of self-discovery is as rocky as they come. She doesn’t want to go, even if she realizes that Grace has a point. Abby likes feeling sorry for herself; she enjoys the sadness that comes from her broken heart. Ben, the ex-fiancé, texts her occasionally, and Abby jumps at those texts like a dog to a bone. How self-flagellating can you get?

Grace knows, though, that Abby needs to remove herself from memories of Ben and to create new ones. In doing so, Abby will prepare her heart for a new romance, perhaps even with someone she meets in Rhode Island. Not that Grace is much of an expert in the ways of love, mind you. Grace’s boyfriend has a wife of his own, rendering Grace one of those women who thinks her lover will forsake his marriage and commit to her.

And so Abby heads to Rhode Island, where she first meets one of Grace’s co-workers, and then begins meeting others. She goes on dates, she makes new friends, she winds up enjoying herself, which surprises her most of all.

She also – more importantly – learns to be her own person, something that Grace observes. Can Grace apply these lessons to her own life?

This is a wonderful story of friendship, first and foremost. Yes, Grace has little romantic interludes, but it turns out that Whitney Houston had it right: the greatest love of all is learning to love yourself.

You will enjoy meeting all of the quirky characters in this book, but most of all, you will enjoy tagging along on Abby and Grace’s voyages of self-realization. We want them to be happy, internally more than anything. Erin Duffy knows this, and she crafts characters who seem like us, like our friends, like people we know and are. By rooting for them, we root for ourselves.

 

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Blog Tour: The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend

ttbThe Time Traveler’s Boyfriend
by Annabelle Costa
Published by Dev Love Press
250 pages
Genre: chick lit; romance 
Thanks to the publisher for the preview
4 / 5

 

Claudia and Adam have been dating for a year, and given that she’s in her mid thirties, the deafening sound of a clock ticking has become the soundtrack of her life. It doesn’t help that Claudia’s parents routinely ask her when she’s getting married.

The only person, in fact, who is not all that keen on discussing the matter is Adam.

It turns out that Adam had a true love who broke his heart in the years before he and Claudia met. So let’s just say that Adam is a wee tad reluctant to commit.

He likes inventing things, and when one of his projects turns out to be a time machine, he convinces Claudia to go back and prevent The Accident.

You see, Adam is disabled, having been hit by a car. He wants Claudia to return to the time he got hit and stop it from happening. He also hopes that her doing so will prevent him from having his heart broken.

There is a sweetness to this book that is almost difficult to quantify. Claudia wants to get married, yet she finds herself wondering if Adam really is future husband material. He gave her diamond earrings instead of a diamond ring, and he keeps saying he isn’t ready. Claudia isn’t so sure she wants to wait around for him to be ready, either. When he asks her to travel back in time, though, she finds herself agreeing. She’d do anything for him; well, she would time travel for him. But will she wait for him to be ready?

Adam is completely lovable. Yes, we understand that he was burned – and burned badly, it appears – by his ex flame. As much as we empathize with the heartbreak, we understand even more his desire to be rid of the wheelchair and disability. If it can be fixed, then why not try?

All the while, you will find yourself hoping that these two stay together. You can almost forget that Adam is wheelchair bound, and you can see why Claudia loves him so much. Why is he drawn to her? Well, that’s not so easy to understand. She loves him, and she doesn’t seem put off by his disability. She loves him for him, and I suppose that’s a powerful aphrodisiac.

And speaking of aphrodisiacs, yes, there is some headboard rockin’. It’s fairly mild, but Costa wants you to know that a disability does not equate to not being able to be a lover.

This is a quick, sweet read that will have you chuckle out loud and perhaps even shed a tear. It’s fun and heartwarming, and you will enjoy it.

Want to know more?

You can read the first chapter – FOR FREE! – right hereanniefixed

About the Author

Annabelle Costa is a teacher who writes in her free time.  She enjoys the wounded hero genre, involving male love interests with physical disabilities, who don’t follow the typical Hollywood perception of sexy.

 

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