The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Publication Date: July 19, 2022

Description from the Publisher through Netgalley

“My perfect ten of a book!” — Emily Henry, New York Times bestselling author of BEACH READ and BOOK LOVERS


She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

My Review

I have loved everything that I have read by Katherine Center and this new release is no exception. I adored this book and read it in about 24 hours. Hannah and Jack as characters were so well written. I enjoyed their relationships with their coworkers and families.

You do not need to know any more about the story, just pick it up and read it!

I gave this book 5 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Bet on It by: Jodie Slaughter

Publication Date: July 12, 2022

Description from Publisher through Netgalley

“Jodie Slaughter is must-buy author, and Bet on It is a perfect example of what makes her writing delicious. Aja and Walker’s story is hot, sweet, and utterly unique, with a rock-solid emotional core.” – Talia Hibbert, New York Times bestselling author of Act Your Age, Eve Brown

The first time Aja Owens encounters the man of her dreams, she’s having a panic attack in the frozen foods section of the Piggly Wiggly. The second time, he’s being introduced to her as her favorite bingo buddy’s semi-estranged grandson. From there, all it takes is one game for her to realize that he’s definitely going to be a problem. And if there’s anything she already has a surplus of, it’s problems.

In Walker Abbott’s mind, there are only two worthwhile things in Greenbelt, South Carolina. The peach cobbler at his old favorite diner and his ailing grandmother. Dragging himself back after more than a decade away, he’s counting down the days until Gram heals and he can get back to his real life. Far away from the trauma inside of those city limits. Just when he thinks his plan is solid, enter Aja to shake everything up.

A hastily made bingo-based sex pact is supposed to keep this…thing between them from getting out of hand. Especially when submitting to their feelings means disrupting their carefully balanced lives. But emotions are just like bingo callers—they refuse to be ignored.

Jodie Slaughter’s Bet on It is a heart-stoppingly fun, emotional romance that will have readers falling in love until long after the last page is turned.

My Review

I have very mixed feelings about this book. I liked that the main event for this book was a Bingo hall. I found that to be a unique activity but made sense for the small-town setting. Aja and Walker both suffered from different versions of mental illness and they both were handled very well. Aja was a very confident, body-positive, plus-sized black woman that stole the storyline.

The parts of the book that were a turn-off for me were the descriptions of the way in which they ate. To me, it came across as sloppy, manic, and unnecessary. I am all about someone enjoying their food but to depict someone devouring a hot dog in seconds and leaving remnants of the meal behind was not attractive. For me, it took away from the mood of the story. I also did not appreciate the description of the romantic scenes. It was more that the words that were used were almost vulgar and the images that were presented were not appealing. I may not be the majority in this opinion, but for me, it detracted from the story.

I gave this book 2.5 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the Publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot

Description

One of Parade’s Favorite Books of Spring!

A chef’s journey to success leads to discovering the perfect recipe for love in this delicious romantic comedy.

Sadie is a rising star in the trendy Seattle restaurant scene. Her dream is to create unique, modern, and mouthwatering takes on traditional Jewish recipes. But after a public breakup with her boss, a famous chef, she is sure her career is over—until she lands a coveted spot on the next season of her favorite TV show, Chef Supreme

On the plane to New York, Sadie has sizzling chemistry with her seatmate, Luke, but tells him that she won’t be able to contact him for the next six weeks. They prolong their time together with a spontaneous, magical dinner before parting ways. Or so she thinks. When she turns up to set the next day, she makes a shocking discovery about who Luke is….

If Sadie wants to save her career by winning Chef Supreme, she’s going to have to ignore the simmering heat between Luke and her. But how long can she do that before the pot boils over?

My Review

I am a big fan of cooking competition shows and this book did not disappoint in that aspect. This was a fun read with a main character that is trying to make her way in a male-dominated industry. The romance in this story took a back seat to the growth and development of the characters.

I did recognize that this author wanted to be inclusive of all people but for me, just adding in pronouns and a mention of LGBTQIA+ sexuality felt forced. It did not add to the plot in any way.

I did enjoy this contemporary foodie book and read it very quickly. If you are a fan of cooking competitions then I think you will enjoy this book.

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Beach Trap by Ali Brady

Publication Date: June 14, 2022

Description

Two best friends torn apart by a life-altering secret. One summer to set the record straight.

When twelve-year-olds Kat Steiner and Blake O’Neill meet at Camp Chickawah, they have an instant connection. But everything falls apart when they learn they’re not just best friends—they’re also half sisters. Confused and betrayed, the girls break off all contact.

Fifteen years later, when their father dies suddenly, Kat and Blake discover he’s left them a joint inheritance: the family beach house in Destin, Florida. The two sisters are immediately at odds. Blake, who has recently been demoted from regular nanny to dog nanny, wants to sell the house, while social media influencer Kat is desperate to hold on to the place where she lived so many happy memories.

Kat and Blake reluctantly join forces to renovate the dilapidated house, with the understanding that Kat will try to buy Blake out at the end of the summer. The women clash as Blake’s renovation plans conflict with Kat’s creative vision; meanwhile, each sister finds herself drawn into a summer romance. As the weeks pass, the two women realize the most difficult project they face this summer will be coming to grips with their shared past—and learning how to become sisters.

My Review

Kat and Blake grew up living very different lives but had one thing in common, their father. As Blake deals with his abandonment, Kat struggles with trying to live up to his standards while doing her own thing. After his unexpected death, the sisters are thrown together with their inheritance of a dilapidated beach house. Having not spoken since they were 12 years old, these two must try to either work together while moving past their hurt or war with each other.

I enjoyed this story and liked the growth shown by all of the characters. Of course, the romance was almost instant in nature but that is the norm in a contemporary novel. This was a fun, fast, perfect-for-summer read.

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Little Bird by Tiffany Meuret

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

The skeletons in the closet have nothing on the one in your backyard.
Freshly divorced and grieving the death of her father, Josie Lauer has caged herself inside her home. To cope with her losses, Josie follows a strict daily routine of work, playing with her dog, Po, and trying to remember to eat a decent meal—and ending each night by drinking copious amounts of vodka. In other words, she is not coping at all.
Everything changes when Josie wakes to find a small shrub has sprouted in her otherwise dirt backyard the morning after yet another bender. Within hours, the vine-like plant is running amok—and it’s brought company. The appearance of the unwieldy growth has also heralded the arrival of a busybody new neighbor who insists on thrusting herself into Josie’s life. The neighbor Josie can deal with. The talking skeleton called Skelly that has perched itself in Josie’s backyard on a throne made of vines, however, is an entirely different matter.
As the strangely sentient plant continues to grow and twist its tendrils inside Josie’s suddenly complicated life, Josie begins to realize her new neighbor knows a lot more about the vines and her bizarre new visitor than she initially lets on. There’s a reason Skelly has chosen to appear in Josie’s suddenly-blooming backyard and insists on pulling her out of her carefully kept self-isolation. All Josie has to do is figure out what that reason is—and she has only a few days to do it, or else she might find herself on the wrong side of catastrophe.
LITTLE BIRD is a story about found family, no matter how bizarre.

My Review

I really did not know what to expect from this story before reading it and unfortunately, I could not tell you much about it after I read it. I feel that I maybe missed a philosophical component to it. After rereading the summary I can understand that there was an underlying theme of found family but I just could not get on board with the bizarre storyline.

I gave this book 2 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

My Review

From the brief description of this novel, I knew I wanted to read it. A library, a murder, and unexpected friendships abound in this read. I was hooked. I adored every page and did not want it to end.

I can not say too much without giving anything away but it was delightfully twisted with just the right amount of character development that made me care about each of them. I can’t wait to dig into this author’s backlist.

I gave this book 5 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

The “reigning romance queens” (PopSugar) and New York Times bestselling authors of The Soulmate Equation and The Unhoneymooners present a charming and laugh-out-loud funny novel filled with adventure, treasure, and, of course, love.

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.

From the author of the “heartfelt and funny” (Publishers Weekly) sensation The Unhoneymooners, this page-turning adventure full of second chances, complicated relationships, and the breathtaking beauty of the American Southwest will take fans on one wild ride.

My Review

This was an interesting read from the well-beloved writing duo Christina Lauren. I found this book to be reminiscent of a western and I was not too sure how I felt about it. The relationships in this story were not too fleshed out and felt a bit superficial.

This was not my favorite book by them but I did enjoy the mystery element of the story. I would not read this if you have not yet read anything by this duo yet as I do not feel that it is their strongest work.

I gave this book 3 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Wife is Missing by D.J. Palmer

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

When a woman disappears with her two children, one husband will do anything to find them–even confront the secrets of his own past–in D. J. Palmer’s My Wife Is Missing, a twisty thriller from the author of The New Husband.

A family vacation turns into a nightmare for Michael Hart when he discovers his wife and two children have disappeared from their New York City hotel room. Horrified, he fears they’ve been kidnapped. Michael’s frantic search to find them takes a shocking turn when he discovers that his wife, Natalie, appears to have left quite willingly, taking their children with her. The police want to know why, and so does Michael. But there may be a reason why Natalie ran, something Michael can’t tell the police—the truth about his past.

While untangling his deceptions might be the key to locating Natalie, Michael knows it could also be his undoing. To find his wife, he must now turn to the one person capable of exposing all that he’s been hiding. Natalie thinks she has Michael all figured out and has hatched a plan to escape from him permanently. One detail, though, threatens to derail her efforts: sleep—or more accurately, the lack of it. Since the moment the shocking revelations about her husband came to light, Natalie’s insomnia has worsened to the point that she now suffers from delusions.

Are her fears about Michael valid—or a symptom of her condition? With her children’s lives at risk, the stakes for Natalie could not be higher. On her own, running low on energy and resources, avoiding increasingly close calls with Michael—who is on the hunt and closing in fast—Natalie needs someone to turn to for help. But who can she trust when she can’t even trust herself?

My Review

This author has consistently given me a 4-5 star read and this newest addition did not change that. When the Hart family takes a vacation to NYC, their lives change instantly, or so it seems. Told from multiple POVs and alternating timelines, you slowly get the back story of Michael and Natalie. Is Natalie’s insomnia messing with her mind completely or is Michael manipulating her?

When past events come to light, you as the reader, do not know what or who to believe. This story was well done with twist after twist.

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Set on You by Amy Lea

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Description

One of SheReads’ Best Romance Books Coming in 2022!

A gym nemesis pushes a fitness influencer to the max in Amy Lea’s steamy debut romantic comedy.

Curvy fitness influencer Crystal Chen built her career shattering gym stereotypes and mostly ignoring the trolls. After her recent breakup, she has little stamina left for men, instead finding solace in the gym – her place of power and positivity.

Enter firefighter Scott Ritchie, the smug new gym patron who routinely steals her favorite squat rack. Sparks fly as these ultra-competitive foes battle for gym domination. But after a series of escalating jabs, the last thing they expect is to run into each other at their grandparents’ engagement party.

In the lead up to their grandparents’ wedding, Crystal discovers there’s a soft heart under Scott’s muscled exterior. Bonding over family, fitness, and cheesy pick-up lines, they just might have found her swolemate. But when a photo of them goes viral, savage internet trolls put their budding relationship to the ultimate test of strength.

My Review

I do not normally gravitate toward contemporary romances but this book piqued my interest. A plus-size, mixed-race fitness influencer meets buff, gym guy that leads to an in-depth look at their own lives. The characters were likable and the social media posts that were interspersed throughout added to the story. I like the end message of switching one’s mindset from “body positivity” to self-respect. I really thought it was well done.

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews

Publication Date: May 3, 2022

Description from the publishers through Netgalley

Summer begins with Mary Kay Andrews, in this delightful summer read about flipping houses, and finding true love.

Hattie Kavanaugh went to work restoring homes for Kavanaugh & Son Restorations at eighteen, married the boss’s son at twenty, and became a widow at twenty-five. Now, she’s passionate about her work, but that’s the only passion in her life. “Never love something that can’t love you back,” is advice her father-in-law gives her, but Hattie doesn’t follow it and falls head-over-heels for a money pit of a house. She’s determined to make it work, but disaster after disaster occurs, and Hattie’s dream might cost Kavanaugh & Son their livelihood. Hattie needs money, and fast.

When a slick Hollywood producer shows up in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, she gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: star in a beach house renovation reality show called The Homewreckers, cast against a male lead who may be a love interest, or may be the ultimate antagonist. Soon, there’s more at stake than bad pipes and dry rot: during the demolition, evidence comes to light that points to the mysterious disappearance of a young wife and mother years before.

With a burned out detective investigating the case, an arsonist on the loose, two men playing with her emotions, and layers upon layers of vintage wallpaper causing havoc, it’s a question of who will flip, who will flop, and if Hattie will ever get her happily-ever-after.

My Review

If you are a fan of house flipper TV shows and unsolved murder investigations with a bit of romance, pick this book up. Mary Kay Andrews is the Queen of this mix of genres and this was a great read. Perfect for the spring into summer, this will transport you to Savannah and you will instantly fall in love with the atmosphere. I really enjoyed the characters in this story with all of their quirks.

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.