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BOOK REVIEW: Sweetheart by Cookie O’Gorman

BOOK REVIEW: Sweetheart by Cookie O’GormanSweetheart by Cookie O'Gorman
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Sweetheart (suh-weet-hart): Someone who is kind, friendly, and/or lovable. For reference, see Scarlett Kent.

Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Kent likes the idea of love—in theory. She’s just never had time for romance. Voted Most Likely to Succeed, founder of a youth mentoring program, and an aspiring professional violinist, Scarlett has goals—and a list of “firsts” she’d like to complete before graduation.

One thing that’s not on her list: Falling for Sam Bishop.

Flirtatious jocks who sleep through class aren’t her type—no matter how good Sam looks in his jersey. But when her car breaks down, Sam stops to help…which leads to an unexpected offer.

Sam volunteers to help Scarlett complete her list. In return, she’ll help him win back his ex.

It’s a sweetheart deal that should benefit everyone.

But between kissing lessons and pretend dates, Scarlett realizes Sam is the perfect fake boyfriend. And if she’s not careful, he could be her first real heartbreak.

This book features two souls who’re meant to be, one fake arrangement, so many heart-melting kisses and answers the question:

What happens when a perfectionist falls for a player?

Review:

Sweetheart was a fake dating, young adult romance that was smile inducing and will warm your heart.  The characters were so easy to love, and the story-line had me finishing this book in less than 24 hours!  If you love books that have a fun and flirty vibe, are beyond adorable, and radiate happiness, then you need Sweetheart in your life!

“Just get in the car, Starlet,” he said.
He popped the locks, and I did just that.
As I slid into the car, however, I mumbled, “My name’s Scarlett. Not Starlet.”
Sam gave me that half-grin. “I know,” he said.
Sure you do.

Scarlett Kent had a list of “firsts” that she wanted to complete before she graduated High School.  When Sam Bishop picked her up on the side of the road, after her car died, he also agreed to help complete her list.  In exchange, it would help him win back his ex.  But as they made their way through her list, it was hard to keep feelings just fake.  And not fall in love with the other.

His hand on my waist burned.
His eyes stared into mine.
His breaths were so close I felt as much as heard his next words.
“You okay, Kent?” he asked.
“Yeah, I—”
A locker door slammed loud enough to make me jump.

I adored Scarlett!  She was determined and focused on her goals.  Whether it was the youth mentoring program she worked on, or dedicating hours to become a professional violinist, Scarlet gave her all.  So I love that she was brave and wanted to conquer her list!  Even if she was skeptical of love.  And while she was someone who seemed to like to be in control, I loved watching how Sam pushed her outside her comfort zones in the best possible way.  Especially when he was constantly being the object of her attention.

“I’m not crying.”
“Yeah.” He reached forward, cupped my cheek, and gently ran his thumb beneath my eye, capturing a tear that had managed to escape. “Must be my mistake,” he murmured.

Sam was a soccer player who was so effortless to love.  He was one of those guys who was sweet, but also sexy.  Playful, but could also take charge.  I loved every single side of Sam!  And the little clues he seemed to be dropping were right there, in front of Scarlett’s face.  The way he could say one thing, when it was actually something else had me squealing in joy!  Yet Scarlett was too focused on the end game to see what was truly going on.  Sam will make you swoon, sigh, and fall in love!  I loved him with my whole heart!

Sam was right. I’d imagined my first kiss in a million ways, in different places, different scenarios. But try as I might, even with my overly active imagination, one thing remained the same. There was one face that always came to mind.
His.
But the kiss wasn’t real, I reminded myself.
We did it to seal our agreement and check an item off the list.

Sam and Scarlett used to be the bestest of friends, yet that all fell apart when they went to high school.  So there was this tension between them that was delicious.  And as they started to check things off Scarlett’s list, it was so easy to fall that much deeper for the two of them.  From that first kiss, to spinning, kisses on fingers, practicing with a bystander, to mini golf, there were so many memorable moments!  Plus I adored the nickname Sam gave Scarlett.  Watching their fake dating and love story unfold was not only so much fun, but it was heartwarming too!

“Mission accomplished.” He grinned, but I just shook my head. Before I could think better of it, I said, “I missed you.”
Sam’s expression sobered. “I’ve been right here, Kent.”
I nodded. “Yeah, but…never mind.”

You know that moment, when what started out as fake, no longer feels that way? When they can’t stop thinking about each other, and the touches and glances just move to another level?  O’Gorman executed making the reader feel all of their feelings and angst beautifully!  And on top of that, there were so many characters that appeared from previous books in this story!  Do you need to read any books before this one?  No!  But I can’t recommend all of her books enough!  Scarlett’s sister’s story was Bookworm fyi ♥.

“One more kiss.”
“Whatever you want,” Sam said and pulled me closer.
Those words would replay a thousand different times in my mind.

Sweetheart was an adorable fake dating romance story that will have you smiling from that first page to the last!  There were moments that will make you laugh and also have you falling in love.  So if you need a feel good story that will leave you happy, definitely give this one a try!  I can’t recommend it enough!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*



BOOK REVIEW: Phishing for Love by Lara Martin

BOOK REVIEW: Phishing for Love by Lara MartinPhishing for Love by Lara Martin
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Katherine Center, Phishing for Love is a swoony, laugh-out-loud, enemies-to-lovers, workplace romance.

Phishing: When hackers send malicious emails designed to trick people into falling for a scam.

Phishing test: When organizations send deceptive emails to their own staff to test their response to phishing attacks.

It all started with a cat video.

A video that Tess Miller, a sassy and talented greeting card writer, shouldn’t have clicked on. But cat videos are her kryptonite. And how was she to know the video embedded in the email was a phishing test designed to take down the company she works for?

The infuriating man who tricked and humiliated her? Aaron Sinclair, cybersecurity consultant brought on by her paranoid boss to whip their company into peak security shape. A dark-haired man with a dark past, and an unrelenting thorn in her side.

Buried beneath their mutual animosity, however, is an attraction they both have reasons to fight. Thanks to Aaron, Tess’s boss has labeled her a high security risk and her professional reputation is at stake. A fierce battle of wits ensues as Tess uses every trick not to fall for Aaron’s random phishing tests.

With the end of Aaron’s six-month contract fast approaching, Tess is faced with the looming risk of losing not only her job but also her heart to the man who has tested her in every way possible.

Review:

Phishing for Love was a workplace, enemies to lovers that was an instant favorite!  With banter that will make you laugh and sigh, and so many memorable moments, this book was so easy to fall in love with.  The characters leapt from the pages and I didn’t want to put this book down.  This story was so effortless to love and I can’t recommend it enough if you love grumpy/sunshine adult romance that has the most fabulous slow burn!

This is the moment my ploy backfires dramatically because… those eyes. They seem to see right through me, stripping me bare.

Tess Miller was so relatable, kind, and made me laugh.  She worked at a greeting card company along with her two best friends.  And from the first moment she met Aaron Sinclair, I was laughing and screaming.  Her comment was heard throughout the conference room and I wanted to hide away because of the embarrassment level.  So while she definitely put her foot in her mouth, I loved watching Aaron dish it right back!

I turn to see my current nightmare exiting the elevators. My stomach doesn’t know what to do with itself, getting all quivery at the sight of Aaron.

Aaron’s looks had me melting into a puddle on the floor.  He was the silent, grumpy type who you just wanted to steal from the pages.  So I desperately wanted to know everything he was thinking!  In the moments where he would be kind and thoughtful, like thinking picnics weren’t weird, I fell that much harder for him.  But I  also loved that he could be so tricky.  There were moments, like the bet, where I was gasping out loud afterwards and I couldn’t stop the smile on my face!  Aaron was a protective, good guy, who pulled on my emotions.

“What happened to ‘sharing is caring?’” he asks, quoting my words back to me.
“It doesn’t apply to my mom. Besides, you don’t seem the kind of man who shares.”
He nods slowly. “You’re right, I’m not.”
For an arrested moment, his eyes hold mine. In their depths, it feels as though there’s a message there for me, a message that sends a shiver through my whole body.

From that first moment they met, I was glued to the pages.  Aaron and Tess didn’t seem to like each other, so the tension and banter between them was delicious.  I loved how the sparks flew anytime they were near each other.  Whether he caught her drawing him as the devil and I was cracking up, to her teasing him with her sexy boots, the chemistry between them simmered!  And while some of their banter was laced with barbs, we got to watch as these two souls shared the emotions that were within them.  And that they needed to work through.  I loved them both so much!

Surrounded by his thoughtfulness, I fall just a little bit more. 

But I have to say….I had some horrible thoughts.  The moment Nathan popped up on the pages, I was not a fan.  I mean, who doesn’t laugh at Friends?  That’s a deal breaker for me right there haha.  But there were so many other characters I adored!  Mevia was hilarious with her ability to find out all the gossip.  And I loved Tess’s best friends and their vending machine moments and texts.  They made me laugh and I wanted to be besties with all of them!  I also adored the close relationship she had with her parents and grandma.  And while I struggled with her sister and some of her choices, I’m excited that she is getting her own book!  I feel like she has so much room to grow and I can’t wait to watch it unfold!

My lips part and my head tilts back as his fingers skim the base of my throat and glide up my neck to cradle my jaw. I hear his breathing quicken.

This book made me laugh so much!  But it also had an emotional side that cut so deep.  I cried multiple times.  So with characters that you’ll fall in love with and an epilogue that was everything, I can’t recommend this closed door romance enough!  If you adore the feelings you’ve gotten while reading a Christina Lauren, Melanie Harlow, Lauren Layne or Livy Hart book, you desperately need this story in your life!

PS, I just loved this quote and wanted to share this one too…

I think, this is what everyone deserves to have. And I’m so very, very grateful I have it, because when that giant tidal wave comes out of nowhere and breaks over you, threatening to drag you under, friends and family are who you cling to. People with deep, strong roots.
I close my eyes and take comfort in two truths: I am strong. I am loved.

BOOK REVIEW: Lost Kingdom by Laurel Black

BOOK REVIEW: Lost Kingdom by Laurel BlackLost Kingdom by Laurel Black
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Trusting him is the only way to save the kingdom.
Betraying her is the only way to keep them both alive.

Stripped of her memories and her magic, Raven has been left for dead.

As a prisoner in the enemy’s mineral mines, her only clue to who she is and where she came from is the mysterious map tattooed on her hand—a map containing hidden secrets that some people would kill for.

Jeddak is one of those people.

A warrior from the Kovak tribe, he’s hunting for the powerful Zavien stone to pay the corrupt king’s ransom. If he doesn’t return home with it by the new moon, his betrothed will be executed.

When Jeddak discovers that a prisoner named Raven has the only map that leads to the artifact, he allies with her as they navigate treacherous lands and battle against ancient magical forces to unravel the map’s secrets. But can Raven trust this stranger who’s helping her? If the map gets into the wrong hands, thousands of people will die.

As their feelings for each other grow, their tenuous alliance begins to fray. Until Jeddak is forced to make a decision—betray Raven or forsake his kingdom.

Choose wrong, and he’ll lose everything.

Review:

Lost Kingdom was a young adult fantasy that swept me away.  With secrets, lies, adventures, friendship, and betrayal, this book was a magical journey that was impossible to put down!  I loved learning about this new world.  The tribes, magic system, and politics were fascinating!  The characters felt so real.  And the story-line was so easy to devour.  With an extremely slow burn romance, this book will have you begging for more.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone.

Raven was a prisoner in the mineral mines.  With no memory of her past, or even what tribe she belonged to, she was struggling just to survive another day.  The conditions she lived in were atrocious.  Then there was Jeddak, who was from the Kovak Tribe, and was in search of a stone to give to his king.  If he didn’t do that, his betrothed would be murdered.  And Raven had the only map that would lead them to the stone.  The story alternated between Raven and Jeddak, and I truly had no idea how it would all unfold.

No one would be punished except me if they found him dead now. At this point, I would gladly accept the consequences just to see him choke on his last breath.

Raven was so effortless to like.  She persevered in the face of atrocity.  Where she was used as nothing more than just another body to accomplish someone else’s goal, she was still brave and fearless.  She fought to stay alive.  But at the same time, she was so unsure of who to trust.  Her past was a blank slate.  So many that surrounded her kept her hidden from their true intent.  Yet through it all, she had this fire that burned deep inside her that pushed her along!

My breath caught. With his dark, wavy hair and long lashes, he was already strikingly handsome. But now the subtle dimples on his cheeks and the playful sparks in his gold-flecked eyes made me temporarily forget it was cold outside. He could rule a kingdom with that smile.

Jeddak, oh my goddess my feelings towards him kept twisting and turning.  I loved how he tried his best to protect Raven.  He was brave, smart, and I loved his relationship with his bear, Kah.  Btw Kah was not only the voice of reason, but I adored his sarcasm.  He cracked me up again and again!  So I kept wondering, who was going to protect Raven from Jeddak?  He was keeping secrets from her.  That entailed not only why he was helping her. But that he was betrothed.  Yet…..just wait….because once we get the full picture at the end of this story, my kaleidoscope of emotions towards Jeddak turned solid and became true and heartfelt.  I can’t say more without spoilers, other than it was a path to get there!

I felt the weight of one of his throwing knives in my hand. Like the sword from last night, it felt oddly familiar. Using a nearby tree as a target, I took aim at a small knot in the wood and let the knife fly.
The knifepoint hit the center of the knot.
My eyes went wide. Who am I?

Jeddak and Lila together will run you through the gamut of emotions.  They connected on such a deep level, but at the same point they kept each other at arm’s distance.  They kept secrets from one another.  But they also needed each other to survive and accomplish their goals.  It was a perilous journey every step of the way!  And there were unthinkable obstacles.  It’ll keep you on your toes wondering what’s going to happen next!  So watching even the tiniest bit of their friendship form had me smiling so huge!  Just try not to smile during the runes scene.

I studied his face, lit by the golden flames. Just a few days ago, he was a stranger. A liability I wanted to leave behind in the stables of Malengard. Now, he felt familiar. Safe. Even though I was in a foreign land, I felt like I’d found a small piece of home in him.

This story had so many twists and turns.  And while it felt fast paced, there were also so many deeper moments laced throughout the pages.  With foreshadowing, a possible deadly fate, and battles in the future, this book had so much story within these pages.  I am nervous for what’s to come and looking forward to that next book!  Especially because of Skyler.  I don’t know what that says about me, especially the feelings I have towards that character, and nope I’m not explaining anything more other than I am beyond obsessed!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: How The Grump Saved Christmas by Claire Kingsley

BOOK REVIEW: How The Grump Saved Christmas by Claire KingsleyHow The Grump Saved Christmas by Claire Kingsley
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Hardworking Isabelle Cook has a serious problem. Her family farm, site of Tilikum’s Christmas Village, is in trouble. Big trouble. And worst of all? The man trying to buy it is none other than the grumpiest, grinchiest man of them all—Elias Stoneheart.

That’s a big nope. She’s not letting him get involved. Not with his heart made of coal.

Elias Stoneheart is in the business of making money, not friends. Especially when his boss is promising a long-awaited promotion. All he has to do is convince one struggling family to sell their farm.

The problem? It’s Cook Family Farm. And Isabelle Cook is his ex.

He might have history with Isabelle, but this is just business. A Christmas-loving farm girl is not going to come between him and his ambition.

And Christmas? He hates it. Christmas Village needs to go.

But as Elias spends time in the small town, holiday spirit—and Isabelle—get under his skin. And she might be the only one who can melt the ice around his heart.

Author’s Note: a sassy farm girl takes on a grumpy businessman in this stand-alone small-town Christmas romance. Saucy banter, a guard donkey, plenty of holiday cheer, and a heartwarming happily ever after that will make you believe in the magic of Christmas.

Review:

How the Grump Saved Christmas was a second chance, grumpy sunshine adult romance that was a lot of fun! With a Christmas tree farm, snow, hot cocoa with whipped cream and holiday sprinkles and lots of holiday cheer, this romance book was the perfect book to read in December!

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…
No, I wasn’t. I was dreaming of a cup of dark roast— the coffee here was exceptional— and the shot of Irish whiskey I was going to add to it that were going to get me through the rest of this nightmare of an afternoon.

Elias was such a cynic and a complete grump.  In that first chapter alone he showed us what a jerk he could be.  Especially when he took on the job to convince his ex’s family to sell their land so his company could build a data center.  Not only would he get a promotion if the sale went through, but that ex wasn’t just any old ex.  She was the woman he had wanted to marry.  So I tried to find little clues here and there that he had a heart.  You could see them if you looked closely….like when he threatened Damien that he would kill him if he bothered his assistant again haha.  So when he came face to face with Isabelle again, I loved how she affected him.  And how she slowly started to change him too!

My heart tried to do something. Start beating again, maybe. Whatever it was, it hurt and I did not like it.
Straightening my shoulders, I swallowed back the sensation. Forced it behind a wall of ice where it wouldn’t get in the way.
When she turned to face me, her eyes widening with surprise, I didn’t even flinch.
Despite the fact that she was still the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.

This story alternated between the two of them and I adored Isabelle!  She had a strong work ethic, loved her family, and adored the tiny town she lived in.  Yet her parents’ farm was struggling.  They were in so much debt, and while selling financially made sense, it hurt Isabelle’s heart to think about it.  But thankfully she was surrounded by a strong community and the most amazing best friends.  And an ex that was starting to remind her why she fell in love with him years ago in the first place.

There was no slow-motion retreat filled with angst. His cold eyes left mine and he turned around and walked away.

When we got to hear Elais’ backstory, oh my Santa, I hurt for his 11 year old self.  I understood how he turned into what he was.  But I still wanted to see him become the man I knew he could be!  So I was elated that we still had so many moments of happiness with Elias.  I was screaming during some of the moments with Isabelle’s parents.  This story was so much fun while also touching on the emotional side!

“How do I look at her?”
She wiggled her eyebrows. “Like you want to jingle her bells.”
I groaned.

Small town romance, friendship and love made this Christmas story shine brightly!  While there was steam on the pages, it wasn’t detailed.  And the side characters could have easily held their own book.  Cole was a farmhand who was such a good friend!  And I adored Alice and her daughter Maddie!  Their endings made me shed happy tears!  I also Isabelle’s parents too!  So with moments that will not only warm your heart but make you laugh out loud too, this book was a blast!  This is my first book by Claire Kingsley, and I am looking forward to discovering more of her backlist books!

BOOK REVIEW: Christmas Cupid by Ilsa Madden-Mills

BOOK REVIEW: Christmas Cupid by Ilsa Madden-MillsChristmas Cupid by Ilsa Madden-Mills
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Dear Sneaky Santa,

I’d like to have a word about your sense of humor. Was it really necessary to stick me, a professional hockey player nursing an injury and avoiding the media, in an isolated cabin with a bratty, boot-designing princess who seems to have made it her mission to despise me? I mean, come on, what did I ever do to you?

And let’s talk about our first encounter. Was it your intention for her to barge in on me while I was enjoying a soak in the tub? It wasn’t exactly my finest moment, and I’m sure she didn’t appreciate the view of my massive body floundering around as I tried to grab a towel.

Now, I’m stuck with her, thanks to a mutual acquaintance, in the middle of a snow blizzard, navigating through bear attacks, sketchy neighbors, and whole lot of tension. I had plans, Santa, plans to escape to Cabo and forget about the world, not to be trapped with a woman who thinks I’m unworthy of her time just because she can’t stand hockey players.

Oh, and speaking of our delightful Iris, she’s stingier with her food than Scrooge was with his pennies! I’m not asking for a feast, but a guy’s got to eat! And could you possibly turn her yippy dog into a reindeer or something? It would certainly add to the Christmas spirit and save my eardrums.

I’m trying to rediscover the meaning of Christmas, and you throw me into this chaos? Is this some kind of test, or are you just having a jolly laugh up there in the North Pole?

So here’s my Christmas wish, Santa: sprinkle a bit of your magic and either get me out of here or be a Cupid and ignite a fiery, undeniable passion between us, because right now, this scenario is frostier than a snowman.

Slapshotting Through the Snow, Kyler Blanchette

Review:

Christmas Cupid was a forced proximity, heartwarming Christmas story. With snow falling, enemies to lovers and an adorable dog, this book was so easy to read in one sitting!

I pop a piece in my mouth as I lean against the island. “Come on, sweetheart. I’m too pretty to throw out like dirty dish water.”
She hoots. She actually hoots. “Hockey boys and their egos. You are pathetic.”
“Like water off a duck. And you are a bratty princess. Tell me, did those boots slide in the snow? Did you bring any real shoes?”
“I can shove this boot up your ass.”
I smile widely. Damn, I do like her spirit.

Iris’ brother was a hockey legend who let her have the cabin he had rented, so she could find some peace and Christmas joy. A year ago, the boyfriend she thought would be proposing on Christmas ended up dumping her and marrying somewhere else. And Iris had been struggling and moping around for the last year. I adored Iris right away. I loved her thoughts and that she talked to her little dog too! There were a few times I questioned her being a good dog mommy, but I still couldn’t help but like her. Especially when Iris’ alone cabin time was ruined when she walked in on Kyler taking a bath in the cabin that was supposed to be empty. Her reaction was so fabulous!

I’m not making the mistake of coming on to my teammate’s little sister, but damn if her lips don’t look so sweet…
Dragging my hands down my face, I take a deep breath. It’s cabin fever, driving me insane. That’s all.

Kyler played hockey with Iris’ brother and was offered the cabin too. He also was in desperate need of a break from his life. With a pinched nerve and surgery on the table, he was looking at being off the ice for the rest of the season. And that was eating him alive. So while my heart hurt for Kyler, I couldn’t help loving him the most. The way Kyler messed with Iris had me laughing out loud every single time he got a rise from her. Add in that he was beyond sexy without even trying, especially when he always seemed to be in some form of naked haha, and it was impossible not to fall for him. When Iris and Kyler got stuck at the cabin, because of a blizzard, I couldn’t wait to see their banter chemistry turn into more!

He’s everything I’ve sworn to avoid: my brother’s best friend, a hockey player, and definitely not my type. Yet there’s something about him that makes me feel like I’m having fun for the first time in ages.

With spice, holiday cheer, and banter, this book was so easy to devour! I loved how Kyler and Iris truly communicated and talked things out. And Rob/Puck stole the show time and again! If you’re looking for a quick read that will get you in the holiday spirit, and ends with a happily for now, this one may just do the trick!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

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