Seeing is Believing – a funny romance with mystery

Seeing is BelievingSeeing is Believing by Erin McCarthy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Piper Tucker has lived in Cutterville, Ohio for most of her life and does not plan on leaving. She was dropped off at her father’s place when she was eight years old by her stepfather who did not treat her well and did not want her. It was the first time her biological father knew about her and she has been treated special ever since.

Brady Stritmeyer comes back to town after being away for twelve years. Brady just lost his job and decides he wants to come home for awhile to make some decisions. Piper has had a crush on Brady ever since she can remember but he was years older and left for school and until now never returned. Brady does remember Piper and how she would ask him to sketch pictures of her ghosts as she described them.

Piper has seen ghosts ever since she can remember and Rachel is a ghost that Piper has seen several times throughout her life, she died 150 years ago in an asylum after being accused of killing her fiancé.

Piper and Brady find an old newspaper clipping of the murder that Rachel committed and he finds out that he has the same name as the man Rachel killed. As they spend more time together and get to know each other it seems that Rachel disapproves and gets angry, she even hits Piper over the head with a candlestick. To find out more Piper and Brady dig deeper into the murder and find some interesting things that may shed new light on who killed the old Brady and why Rachel seems to be jealous of Piper and the current Brady.

Seeing is Believing is a wonderfully fun contemporary romance with a twist. I enjoyed the humor, the sweet romance and mystery of a century old murder. A recommend read for me.

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The Reunited – A romantic suspense with mystery and paranormal elements

The Reunited (FBI Psychics, #3)The Reunited by Shiloh Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joss Crawford is an FBI agent working for a special task force that is a little different than most, as many of the agents have special psychic powers. He is known as a mirror, one that can take the abilities of others he is mind-melted with which makes him a very valuable agent.

For most of his life, he has been searching for a woman, one he has had weekly dreams about since he found her grave in college. In his dreams he remembers being with her and dying at the hands of another but is not sure what happened to her, only that they have this strong connection.

Drucella Chapman is working undercover privately trying to infiltrating a ring of human traffickers. She has been undercover for two years and has gotten so deep that she is about to marry an evil man named Patrick Whitmore. She does not care about the cost to her, she only cares that the ring is broken up and Patrick is dead. Dru has her own psychic abilities; she is called a Psychometric, and can read the thoughts of those she touches and when she touches Patrick she sees the evil in his mind. Tucker is Dru’s outside contact and has helped her for these last two years.

Taylor Jones is Joss’ boss and his wife Dez also works with the FBI, they all had some type of ability that helps with the most difficult jobs. Because Joss is a mirror, for this task force he needs several abilities and so is using one from Dez and one from Jillian a very powerful fourteen year old that is the daughter of another FBI agent, it was Jillian who got them involved as she “found” out about the women who were missing while on a family trip and could not get the images and voices out of her mind.

Joss finally finds Dru while walking one day and he stops her, they have this strong connection and it is after that meeting that they are able to connect mentally. He tells her about the past, something she does not remember or it was so painful she is suppressing the memories.

Joss goes undercover, posing as someone who finds girls for Patrick; they use FBI agents as the girls to infiltrate the compound and as they get closer to Patrick the danger increases for all those involved. While undercover Joss gets invited to a party and Joss and Dru officially meet and immediately assume the worst about each other, she thinks Joss is one of them and he thinks she is marrying a man that is evil and she knows it.

The present is catching up to Dru, Patrick is seeing through her façade. To make matters worse he also has an anonymous person calling him telling him they know about his ex-girlfriend who disappeared two years ago, he is running scared. So after one chilling night where Patrick threatens her, Dru has Tucker help her escape.

All parties seem to find the compound at about the same time, they know that Patrick is getting nervous so is going for damage control and will kill anyone that might hurt him. At first there is confusion about who is good and who is working with Patrick, so when Dru finds out Joss is with the FBI she is not sure what to think.

The danger to everyone escalates as they try to get the girls out of the compound while the guards are shooting anything that moves and yet the man everyone wants is not around. The fact the Dru desperately wants him dead leaves another dangerous mission ahead.

I really enjoyed this book, the characters are intriguing and the psychic element adds to the romantic suspense. The subject matter is disturbing and Ms Walker does well telling the story. This is the third in the series however I was not lost and although characters from the first two books are featured the flow of this book works. I recommend.

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Losing It – a fun, cute romance

Losing It (Losing It #1)Losing It by Cora Carmack
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bliss Edwards is a twenty two year old young woman in her last year of college; she knows she is a smart, cute and fun person however somehow she is the only person she knows who has never had sex. And she wants to lose this label and move on with her life. It seems to be a sticking point every time she dates someone new. Bliss thinks that the reason she has never had sex is because she is a control freak.

Her best friend Kelsey is ready to help and takes her out to a local bar, after she helps her dress appropriately of course. She stays for awhile and then decides she is ready to go home – when she spots a cute guy in the back reading Shakespeare and is immediately intrigued. She is a drama major at college and there is something about a nice looking man reading the classics in a bar that intrigues her. When she talks to him she also notices he has a British accent. She must get to know this man.

They hit it off and after exchanging names and small talk he takes her back to his place on his motorcycle. She notices he lives in the same apartment complex she does, as they get off the motorcycle she burns her leg and when he can’t get into his apartment because he is locked out, they go to her place for some first aid.

They end up getting intimate and she finally she believes she is ready, but before it goes too far she chickens out, makes an excuse that she has to go get her cat from the Vet, at midnight – she does not own a cat. But she somehow leaves her apartment and watches until he leaves and goes back, feeling horrible.

The next day Bliss starts their new semester the last one before they graduate, as they walk into drama class they are introduced to their new professor and Bliss realizes that it is Garrett the man she deserted for her imaginary cat.

As uncomfortable as it is throughout the semester they try to keep their relationship professional, however they eventually start to date. There are some problems they must get through, a friend that actually really liked Bliss for more that she could give, an end of year play that has some embarrassing problems and a sickness that creates havoc for several of the actors before the play is even shown. And of course Bliss eventually loses it with Garrett.

I enjoyed this cute, sexy, fun romance. The characters were interesting and the story was pleasant with some sexual tension thrown in for excitement.

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Kissing Under the Mistletoe – a wonderful heartwarming story

Kissing Under the MistletoeKissing Under the Mistletoe by Marina Adair
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Regan Martin believes she has finally received the perfect job offer; she is hired as a wine marketer for a company that was founded and run by women. She even gets a home to live in and her daughter (Holly) will be going to a school that the company will pay for. Regan made a horrible mistake six years ago by trusting a man that did not tell her he was married, she has been paying for it ever since. With numerous jobs behind her, she is ready to move on and forget the last six years. Until she realizes who else lives in the town of St. Helena.

Gabe DeLuca has placed a target on Regan’s back and has been hounding her ever since he walked in on a dinner date with her and his sister’s cheating husband, Richard. He has been the acting patriarch of the family since his parents died and he took it upon himself to watch out for his brothers and especially his baby sister. His family owns a large winery and ever since he saw Regan and Richard together, Gabe had tried to keep Regan out of the wine business in hopes that his sister would never have to deal with her.

Regan has told Gabe several times that she was sorry and did not realize that Richard was married. She was nineteen and emotionally Richard pushed all the right buttons. Gabe’s mission is to protect Abigail (his sister) and he was not interested in whose fault it was, he has just never wanted Regan and Abby to meet. To make matters worse, Richard has disappeared with a lot of money and Abby has been unable to get a divorce.

When both Regan and Gabe realize that she has been hired by his grandmother’s and sister’s wine company (Ryo) she is fired and only has a few days to move from the cottage. She is devastated until the most amazing things start to happen. Chaira (Chi Chi) Gabe’s grandmother and her friends seem to take a liking to Regan and along with Jordan Schultz, the woman who originally hired her they make it their business to find her a new job and a place to live. And even though there are still several people around town that want her to leave or at the very least see if Richard will contact her so they know where he is, those that rally around her make the others see her in a different way, which in return makes Gabe also see her differently.

I really enjoyed this book and had such a fun time reading you will laugh and cry as the author tugs are your heart. The characters are interesting and I laughed out loud several times from their antics. The “Randolph” rescue campaign, all three Mrs. Clauses trying to out-maneuver the PTA to keep the Community Action Committee from being barred from the meetings and the naughty jar, I believe Regan will be able to fund Holly’s college fund with it. I am looking forward to the next book; the brothers and sister were still not quite sure about Regan by the end of the book so it will be interesting to see how things progress.

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The Billionaire’s Christmas Baby – a fun feel good Christmas story

The Billionaire's Christmas BabyThe Billionaire’s Christmas Baby by Victoria James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun feel good Christmas story.

Hannah Woods has been counseling a group of single, unemployed mothers each Thursday evening and when she is done all she wants to do is get into her comfy clothes and have two glasses of wine. Hannah likes counseling however there are some days that are harder than others. On this latest day she is worried about Louise, a woman who didn’t show at the meeting. Hannah had been Louise’s caseworker since she was pregnant and at first she thought things were getting better, however lately she is not sure. As she leaves the center she hears a small cry and as soon as she sees the basket she knows whose baby it is, Louise’s baby, Emily.

Louise left a note saying she was sorry and I could not do this anymore, that life was too hard. She wanted Hannah to please find her brother, Christopher James saying she believes he would raise Emily. So Hannah breaks every rule in the book and was searching for three weeks until she finally finds him, his name is now Jackson Pierce. He left his old life behind and started his own software company after graduating college; he and his partner had turned it into a billion dollar company within 10 years.

So on a snowy, windy night she drives up to his cabin and knocks on the door where he proceeds to tell her she must be in the wrong place and slams the door in her face, twice. Hannah is not sure what to do, but gets her car ready to drive away, however Jackson finally comes back out and asks her to come back into the house, knowing she could not drive in this weather. He is surprised to find that Hannah is not the only occupant in the car.

Believing Emily is Hannah’s he is shocked when he overhears a conversation and finds out Emily is his niece. Needless to say he is angry and if the weather had not turned into a blizzard he would have made them leave. He does not want to be a father and rejects any mention of adopting Emily. As they ride out the storm, Hannah learns about his childhood, that he had been let down by social workers, his father and more recently by his sister when she and her addict friends stole everything from him when he was just starting out.

Hannah has her own past she has to deal with and because she feels responsible for Louise’s death (since she did not see the signs) she will do anything to keep Emily out of the system. During the five days they are together she hopes she is getting to Jackson, and she is amazed when he finally says he will adopt Emily but wants a promise out of Hannah, that she will be there for every step of the proceedings.

When the blizzard lets up, Hannah goes back to work to find she has lost her job but gained much more with Jackson and Emily.

What a cute fun story. I liked how the story unfolded and really enjoyed getting to know Hannah and Jackson. Both had terrible childhoods but had not let the past scar them from making something of them-selves. The only thing that they were unable to do was fall in love until they met the right person. This is a lovely Christmas story that brings warmth to your heart.

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Sea Glass Winter – an engaging fun romance

Sea Glass Winter: A Shelter Bay Novel (Shelter Bay #5)Sea Glass Winter: A Shelter Bay Novel by JoAnn Ross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Northwest author shows us what small town living is like in coastal Washington state.

Dillon Slater was a Tech sergeant who has spent time in Afghanistan defusing IED’s. After his tour, he signed up with the Troops to Teachers program and recently started a job teaching high school physics and coaching the boys basketball team in the idyllic town of Shelter Bay, Washington.
Claire Templeton is a jewelry designer who lived in Beverly Hills until recently, and is now a citizen of Shelter Bay. After her mother died her 15 year old son seemed to go through a troubled stage, so she picked up and they moved north.

Claire’s son Matt was recently a star basketball player for his high school and is not happy with the move. He knows that the Shelter Bay team has had a losing season for many years. Matt may not be happy he is here, however the town is ecstatic, as they know all about the phenon who is moving to town.

As Claire and Matt settle into small town living, Dillon makes his presence known to both Claire and Matt; he is attracted to Claire and wants Matt to succeed. He also is very interested in the team and wants them to work together whether they win or lose, much to the dismay of the citizen’s who want to win.

As the season progresses they have some success and some failures which results in the team doing exactly what Dillon wants, they start to mesh. Dillon and Claire also grow closer, even though she fights her attraction; Dillon is a determined man who always gets what he wants.

This is an engaging fun light romance centering on small town living where people often help fight your battles and share your successes. This is the 5th in a series and can be read as a stand-alone however since it is a small town, characters from other books reappear and share their continuing lives.

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The Duchess War – a wonderful historical

The Duchess War (Brothers Sinister, #1)The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a wonderful historical romance with flawed characters that grow throughout the story. I love Ms Milan’s writing as she weaves stories with amazing characters.

Robert Blaisdell, the Ninth Duke of Clermont is a puzzling man who is trying to make amends for his father’s wrongs. His father was not in the habit of treating people well, including his wife and son. Robert has a secret that he does not want anyone to know about, yet it helps him deal with who he is.

Robert meets Wilhelmina Pursling while she was being accused by George Stevens, Captain of the town’s Militia of writing handbills that may cause worker upheaval and problems for factory owners, and although not a true beauty, he sees something in her that attracts him.

Minnie leads a quiet life living with her Great-aunts and has no wish to be the center of attention, as a matter of fact when she is in a crowd, many times she faints as she has a memory of a swarm of people surrounding her, calling out her name as they spit and throw rocks. She was twelve at the time and her world had just been destroyed. When Minnie was a child, her father passed her off as a boy for the first twelve years of her life. Her father loved and adored her and wanted to take her when he traveled, so he dresses her up as a boy and called her Maximilian Lane. She was a brilliant chess player and they both played all over while traveling, until her world crumbled around her and she was betrayed.

Minnie figures out Robert’s secret and although silently applauds his ingenuity, she does not want anything to do with it, as she does not want her past discovered.

As we learn about Robert’s past we see how his early years shaped who he is now and notice that he is an emotional wreak as he had no love while growing up until he was accepted unconditionally by a half brother he never knew about. Oliver was raised by loving parents however Robert’s father was cruel to both his mother and to Oliver, never accepting him. Robert would do anything for Oliver including telling secrets.

As Minnie tries to prove her innocence Robert is amazed by her and asks her to marry him. Because of her past and his, she doesn’t want to; feeling someone of her status should not marry a duke. She is also worried about what people will think if and when they find out who she really is.

What an emotional story, Ms Milan writes such compelling characters in all her books, they usually are surprisingly wonderful people with interesting histories. I loved how Minnie and Robert are not necessarily attracted to each other in the beginning and when they marry, they may not even feel love. However we see the feelings grow as they spend time together and when they have to deal with a crisis we see the emotional tug of war that goes on between the two and how heartrending to see how it is resolved. I really enjoyed the secondary characters which include Oliver, Sebastian and Violet and look forward to their stories.

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Flashback to young love

Not Exactly
a Love Story
By Audrey
Couloumbis
Random House
Children’s Books
$17.99
Hardcover
$10.99 eBook
Publisher’s Summary:
It’s 1977.Fifteen-year old Vinnie isn’t having a good year. He’s recovering from the worst case of galloping acne his dermatologist’s ever seen. His girl moved to California without even saying good-bye. And the ink on his parent’s divorce papers is barely dry, when his mom announces that they’re moving from Queens to Long Island.

The silver lining in all this is that they move next door to Patsy—everyone’s dream girl. Not that she’d ever notice him. But when Vinnie calls Patsy one night, it leads to a chain of anonymous midnight conversations. Under the cover of darkness, Vinnie becomes Vincenzo, Patsy’s mystery caller, and the two share a side of themselves they would never reveal in daylight and develop a surprisingly real connection (despite the lies it’s built on). As Vinnie gets to know Patsy in real life though, it becomes clear both identifies can’t survive and he’ll have to find a way to hang-up the phone and step into the daylight. Fraught with complications and crackling with witty dialogue, and all the angst and electricity that comes with always being just a phone wire away from the one you want, it’s not exactly a love story . . . but it’s pretty close.

My Review:
I thought this book was especially charming and cute. Told in the very real voice of 15-year-old, parents recently divorced, just moved to a new neighborhood, Vinnie, Love Story is witty, quick, and fun. Back before cell phones and computers, if a boy liked a girl, he had to steal her number and call her from the safety of his dark bedroom, anonymously.
Not really, but it adds to this story.
This is Couloumbis’ debut novel for young adults, and I must say, it is a grand success. A quick voice, plenty of smashing dialogue, a charming ending, and some surprisingly profound moments–like the one below–make up
this pretty pleasing package.
“No one tells you how things really are. Everything coming in waves, one rolling in after the other, and in case you’re thinking that doesn’t sound so bad, keep this in mind: that’s how huge rocks, boulders, become sand on the beach.” (pg 14, ebook)
Rating:
I really liked it. It’s deep enough to keep older readers interested and challenging and clean enough for your younger YA reader. I’d rate it a PG (content wise). There are a couple of mild fight scenes and some language.

A wonderful romance between two very damaged characters

Eleanor & Park
By: Rainbow Roswell
Genre: YA Contemproary
Content Rating: PG-13 for
some language and some sexuality (warning: best first kiss scene in a YA EVER!)
Rating: 5/5
Cover: Love how it captures
everything in the book
Instalove Factor: Nope, they
worked hard for their love
Favorite Line: “Park turned
toward the Plexiglas window and waited for a world of suck to hit the fan.” (pg 16, ebook)
Disclaimer I
received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.
 
Publisher’s Summary
“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
My Take I get so wrapped up in reading genre fiction in YA (paranormal, fantasy, dystopian, etc) that I forget how much I love contemporary YA fiction. It has a way of touching you as a reader and making you experience things in a realistic and emotional way that genre fiction could never do. While at times it can be a bit sad or depressing, it’s also refreshing and beautiful.
I just finished reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and this book is one of those refreshingly beautiful contemporary romances. Set in 1986, the book is told from alternating points of view written in the 3rd person, between (you guessed it) Eleanor and Park.
It opens with Eleanor starting a new school and walking on to the bus for the first time and seeing Park then flips to Park’s first impression of Eleanor. Let’s just say it’s anything but love at first sight. Life for Eleanor is hard. We aren’t given many details about her past, but we do know that she was kicked out by her stepdad for a year and is just now coming back home. She has four siblings and all of them share the same room. Her stepdad is an abusive drunk (although Rowell never goes into details about specific events) and she’s being bullied at school. But she is strong and tries to ignore everything.
Park is from a pretty functional family, although his dad wishes he were more….well, just more. Park is ridden hard by his tae-kwon-do teaching father and compared to his younger brother too much. He has friends at school, but he’s pretty quiet. And then he falls in love with the wrong girl.
This seemed like a long book when in reality it really wasn’t. I think that illusion was created by the fact that so much happens on every page; no space is wasted in telling the story and developing the characters.
I loved the snarky comments that constantly came from Eleanor and the fact that she was afraid to let Park get so close, constantly second-guessing that he could actually love her. Park had the patience of a saint in dealing with her insecurities, but he was also human, getting frustrated and making mistakes. They both do, and I think that’s one of the aspects that makes this book so real.
My Recommendation Definitely worth the read. Loved this book so much.
–Rachel

On Dublin Street, an emotional journey of passion, love and trust

On Dublin StreetOn Dublin Street by Samantha Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An emotional journey of passion, love and trust.

Jocelyn Butler (Joss) has kept everyone at arm’s length for years, ever since her parents and sister, Elizabeth died in a car crash and then a year later her best friend, whom she had relied on while in foster care, was killed in an accident that Joss blames on herself. So for eight years she never let anyone close, as she spent her teenage years rebelling from everything, it was only after one scary incident when she was eighteen that she decided to change her life, yet still keeping her emotional walls up.

She moves to Scotland, the country her mother was from and with dual citizenship Joss is able to go to college and escape. Now, newly graduated from college she is ready to make her way as a writer. The problem is that she is in need of a new place and roommate since her best friend moved to London to continue her own education.

Joss is very frugal when it comes to her inheritance, as if it spending as little as possible would lessen the reason she has this money. Joss decides she needs to spend more for the kind of place she wants, something that will help the creative juices flow for her writing. She finds a great place and wonderful roommate in Elle; unfortunately it comes at a price: becoming friends with Elle, meeting and liking her family and feeling even more for her brother Braden, causing Joss to have panic attacks as she realizes she has not dealt with her family’s death after so many years.

We follow Joss as she works through her sorrow and begins to live again with the help of Elle and Braden. Braden pushes all her buttons and makes her live again and by falling in love with him she lets him break through the walls she has constructed around her emotions. This is an angst filled touching story about trust, love and letting others in. Although written in first person (something to get use to) I thoroughly enjoyed the story, as it kept me involved to the end to find if Joss completes her journey with the help of Braden.

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