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Book Reviews for Insomniacs and Shift Workers

Thanks for joining me! I’ve decided to keep track of the books I love and the reviews I use to remind me why I loved these books here in one spot on WordPress. I am a neophyte in the blogverse so please be patient while I figure out what the heck I am doing here.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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Take My Hand by Missouri Vaun

 

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Sweet small town romance, the first of a series featuring three best friends from Pine Cone, Georgia. I have a weakness for butch/femme couples so the Clay/River pairing worked for me, even if their names made me laugh. I like the way Missouri Vaun writes and felt like I got to know the folks in Pine Cone in just a few short scenes. River’s comment about slipping into some twilight zone lesbian version of Steel Magnolias following her close encounter at the Clip and Curl made me laugh and helped me look past the plethora of lesbians filling the streets of Pine Cone.

This is a quick read and a simple enough romance with the expected attraction followed by misunderstandings (quickly resolved) followed by some fairly steamy make-up sex. There is drama which pulls our two mains together and our hoped for HEA. The southern charm is front and center in Take My Hand and as River Hemsworth discovers, the locals are warm and welcoming.

ARC received with thanks from publisher via NetGalley for review.

Gold by E.J. Noyes

 

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What a beautiful love story. I loved the authentic feel to the post career life for many professional athletes. Aspen’s scars, both physical and emotional keep her relationship with Cate from developing into her white picket fence, wife, dog and kids dream. Lots of soul searching and growth needed for this former Olympic ski racer. Loved the passion and obvious connection every time Cate and Aspen shared moments together.

It’s been a while but this book tops my list for best last line in a novel. Loved it.

The Shape of You by Georgia Beers

 

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I enjoyed reading this unfriendly strangers to lovers romance with an edge. The world of spin classes and fitness club workouts is the setting and it’s the perfect venue to generate some heat (and sweat) between our two leading ladies.

Rebecca lets her anger at being forced to train a bunch of bridezillas jade her already low opinion of Spencer. Spencer is a pleaser and is reluctant to admit to herself that her relationship with Marti could be better. Getting railroaded into joining a fitness class showcases Spencer’s self esteem issues and sets her up as an easy target for Rebecca’s wrath.

What made this a feel good read for me was watching the personal growth in both women as their relationship slowly develops, one sixty- second plank at a time. I liked watching Spencer’s confidence grow as she discovers all she is capable of achieving. Rebecca learns to appreciate the woman hidden under the meek exterior and warms to Spencer in response. I’m not saying there aren’t bumps along the road and inappropriate behaviour does raise its ugly head but I felt the author presented enough evidence to make it clear that Spencer and Rebecca should be together.

A nice romance to curl up with on a rainy weekend and a bit of inspiration to jump out of my treadmill rut and try a spin class.

ARC received with thanks from publisher via NetGalley for review.

McCall by Patricia Evans Jordan

 

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Impressive debut. I enjoyed this enemies to friends romance. Sara tries to open a diner in the resort town of McCall, Idaho with the insurance money from her burned out business back in Savannah. She has fond memories of summers spent by the lake and hopes to get her life back on track. Her lack of knowledge (and a boating license) on the water means she falls on the wrong side of wary lake patrol officer, Captain Sam Draper.

I loved the lively dialogue between Sara and Sam. I loved the Idaho lakeside setting and enjoyed the humour and hot scenes between Sara and Sam. I liked the slow relationship build as Sam takes Sara around to various diners and food trucks sampling some of the local cuisine and I loved the butch/femme dynamic, a favourite pairing of mine.

My only challenge was in the name choices for the mains. I found them too similar and had to keep reminding myself who was who especially during the sex scenes.
There is a small amount of angst, but this overall feel-good story left me happy and satisfied. Witty dialogue, great settings and a tiny bit of conflict? I gobbled this one up in one afternoon.

This is an author I’ve added to my must read list. She’s got all kinds of potential.
4.5 stars

ARC received with thanks from Sapphire Books for an honest review.

Shadowboxer by Jessica L. Webb

 

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Webb takes a hard look at the life of social workers and the youth they try to protect in Shadowboxer. Jordan’s past forms the person she is today. Her gym is a haven for street kids she hopes to help by providing a safe space where they can learn some life skills and catch a break from the dangers they face in their homes and on the street. Ali represents the corporate do-gooders who help fund programs for youth but rarely understand the challenges faced by these kids who know that once they age out of the system these same corporations will turn a blind eye to their struggles.

This is a dark and gritty read. Sure there is a rekindled romance between first loves Jordan and Ali but romance takes a back seat to the realities of the kids they are trying to protect. I didn’t feel the chemistry between the two thanks to the dark place Jordan dwells in for most of the novel.
She is the Shadowboxer. Not merely because of her boxing past, but because of her insecurities and lack of confidence that she is good enough to be tasked with protecting these at-risk kids. She fears she is punching the air at a foe she can never defeat. Her biggest opponent is herself. Is she doing the right thing? Can she make a difference in their lives? Will anything she tries to do make a difference? The author throws a political situation outside Jordan’s control into the mix and hints at these uncertainties for all social workers in society today. It makes for a dramatic ending and a thought provoking read.

Kudos to the author for stretching her writing skills and proving she is capable of reaching a mainstream audience every time she puts pen to paper.

ARC received with thanks from publisher via NetGalley for review.

Food for Love by C. Fonseca

 

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Foodies delight with a slow burn romance to go along with it. Jessica has been through a harrowing accident and comes across in the opening scenes as a damaged, bitter and distrustful person. As we learn more about her past,her reluctance to trust anyone much less put her trust in anyone becomes painfully clear. Well done on her character development.

Lillian is the woman many of us would like to be. She juggles her career, friends and family with an upbeat if exhausted attitude. Through her character we get to experience life in this beautiful corner of the world and a heart big enough to melt even the most jaded of professional cyclists.

The supporting characters are well drawn and help the reader understand Jess and Lili. Usha plays a minor role, yet her connection to Jess’s mom is the key to bringing out the humanity in Jess. Yes there is a kid but little Ru is a sweetheart and the perfect medicine to pull Jess out of the funk she had been in since her accident and maybe even the majority of her adult life.

I enjoyed spending time tasting the local delicacies and enjoying the scenery of this area of the world. Add in a sweet romance and you have a nice escapist read.

ARC received with thanks from publisher via NetGalley for review.

Love Like This by Melissa Brayden

 

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We knew Hadley’s story would be special and Brayden delivers once again. I’ve not been Hadley’s biggest fan in this series, finding her pie-in-the-sky attitude towards life too sweet for my dark roast coffee taste. I loved the many references to her unrealistic “goodness” made in the early chapters of the book. An author who can laugh at her own character and what makes them unique is so entertaining. That she ends up being paired with a pragmatist like Spencer makes Hadley’s fluffy view of life all the more endearing. Spencer is suitably conflicted.

Hadley, Spencer realized, thought a lot of things were awesome. In fact, she was perpetually cheerful and optimistic in every conversation they’d had thus far. She couldn’t decide if that was an endearing quality or annoying one. (Loc. 516-517)

Meeting Spencer, a woman whose feet are firmly planted in the real world, allows the reader to look beneath the Disney princess and see the depth of character we all hoped for in Hayden. I liked the way Spencer challenged Hayden’s view of relationships and I loved how take charge Hayden turns out to be both at work and in the bedroom. A tiger hidden under all those gosh golly good deeds. Who knew?

A great finale to a solid series and some memorable women. Well done.

ARC received with thanks from publisher via NetGalley for review.