BOOK REVIEW: House of Shifting Tides (The Kingdom of Crows #4) by Olivia Wildenstein

BOOK REVIEW: House of Shifting Tides (The Kingdom of Crows #4) by Olivia WildensteinHouse of Shifting Tides (The Kingdom of Crows #4)
by Olivia Wildenstein
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Dive into the first standalone spin-off of the bestselling series and Booktok sensation, The Kingdom of Crows. Cathal's story takes place right after the events of House of Striking Oaths and should be read in order.

TWICE UPON A TIME, A PRINCESS FELL IN LOVE WITH A BEAST.

I was reborn with no memory of my previous life and no powers, save for transforming into an aberration most wish eliminated. Among the few who don't wish me dead are the Shabbin Queen, Fallon and her mate Lorcan, and Cathal Báeinach-Fallon's father and my self-appointed sentry.

Despite my best efforts, I cannot understand why the Crow King's boorish general has decided to guard me, a woman he can barely stand to look at. I may lack education and be physically unpleasing, but do I deserve such scorn? More importantly, though, if he's repulsed by me, then why stay?

When I suggest he leave, he reminds me that he's one of the most lethal males in the realm. And while he may be that, he's also one of the most infuriating. A male who makes my blood run hot with equal measure irritation and lust.

Why must I be drawn to the brute who loathes me?

And why, when I forge a magical mind link to another male, must I keep hungering for the Crow who-finally-left?

House of Shifting Tides is a spellbinding tale of destiny, found family, and second chance romance, where blood isn't always thicker than water and where fated love consumes all.

Review:

House of Shifting Tides was an emotional and beautiful addition to the The Kingdom of Crows SeriesThose we loved and cared for got the HEA we desperately wanted, it was impossible not to cry tears of joy.  Yet, there are still other stories that need to be told, including ones who we have yet to meet.  I absolutely love this world and can’t wait to see what is in store for it down the road!  If you adore found family, second chances, and romantasy, this book is a must read!

I cant my head. “Where I belong, Dádhi Cathal?”
He blinks. Then blinks again. And then he grimaces. “Dádhi?”
“Isn’t that name?”

When House of Striking Oaths ended, we were left in a precarious position.  Everything was up in the air.  Zendaya was a shifter unlike those that had ever been seen before, and she had no memories of her life.  Starting out, we found ourselves just as lost and in the dark as Zendaya.  Not only was she trying to figure out her body, but she was struggling to even understand those around her.  While there were moments of frustration, we slowly got to watch Zendaya grow.  And I loved watching her understand the world around her.  Especially when those moments led to me laughing out loud.  And that had solely to do with a beautiful crow shifter named Cathal.

I may always belong to her, but in this lifetime, she doesn’t belong to me.

Cathal had already captured my heart in the previous books.  So, to watch him get accidentally called Daddy Crow and deal with Zendaya and her lack of memories, it was impossible not to feel the gamut of emotions.  My heart bled for Cathal and what he lost.  And while moments between them felt scorching hot, it was challenging since Zendaya didn’t understand what her actions were doing to Cathal.  I loved that we got a few chapters here and there in his POV.  Especially since Cathal was protective, loyal, loving, brave and a book boyfriend you can’t help but love!

Why do I feel so…so…restless? Why do my lids burn and my heart ache? Because I’ve lost my grip on the past, or because I fear the future?

From the moment Zendaya started thinking of Cathal as her crow, I was elated.  Yet they had an insurmountable road in front of them.  Not only with each other, but because of the world and turmoil around them.  With politics in play, characters you can’t help but hate, and motives unknown, there was a lot going on in this story.  But we also got to see so many of our favorites, and those we love!  Plus, I loved some of the twists that took place!  It made this story impossible to put down.  And I have a new favorite side character, but their name won’t be mentioned because of spoilers…. page 284 hugging is your clue if you’ve read this book!

His rough hand cups my cheek with the utmost tenderness. “Zendaya of Shabbe, you are and will always be my one and only.”
My chest heats. At first, I think it’s because I must’ve struck another bargain, but when the heat spreads, I realize it doesn’t stem from magic but from how powerfully my heart beats for Cathal.

House of Shifting Tide was laced with betrayal, love, bargains, visions, sacrifice, friendship, and some fabulous twists and turns!  I couldn’t help but feel everything the characters felt.  From frustration, to love, to even crying tears of joy and relief with them later on.  This book took us on a wild ride and I’m so thankful Zendaya and Cathal’s story was told!  I can’t wait to see what happens next in this world!

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

BOOK REVIEW: A Happier Life by Kristy Woodson Harvey

BOOK REVIEW: A Happier Life by Kristy Woodson HarveyA Happier Life by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The historic houses in the seaside town of Beaufort, North Carolina, have held the secrets of their inhabitants for centuries. One of the most enduring refuses to be washed away by the tide: What happened to Rebecca and Townsend Saint James on that fateful night of their disappearance in 1976?

Now, the granddaughter they never knew, Keaton Smith, is desperate for a fresh start. So when her mother needs someone to put her childhood home in Beaufort on the market, she jumps at the chance to head south. But the moment she steps foot inside the abandoned house, which has been closed for nearly fifty years, she wonders if she’s bitten off more than she can chew. Wading through the detritus of her grandparents’ lives, Keaton finds herself enchanted by their southern traditions—and their great, big love. As she gets to know her charming next-door neighbor, his precocious ten-year-old son, and a flock of endearingly feisty town busybodies, Keaton begins to wonder if the stories she has been told about her grandparents are true.

Keaton’s grandmother, Rebecca “Becks” Saint James’s annual summer suppers are the stuff of legend, and locals and out-of-towners alike clamor for an invitation to her stunning historic home. But, in the summer of 1976, she’s struggling behind the facade of the woman who can do it all—and facing a problem that even she can’t solve.

As Keaton and Becks face new challenges and chapters, they are connected through time by the house on Sunset Lane, which has protected the secrets, hopes, and dreams of their family for generations.

Review:

A Happier Life was a story that wove together the past and the present.  It had elements of mystery and was laced with friendship, fresh starts, and love.  This was my first book by Kristy Woodson Harvey, and I enjoyed how easily I was swept away by this story.

This is actually the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.  I’m reeling as I look around at the wood-paneled walls, the dark cabinets.
It’s like everyone walked out of here almost fifty years ago, locked the door and never came back.

Within those first few chapters I was hooked and already laughing.  I loved going on an adventure with Keaton Smith.  She was broken-hearted, without a job, and took on helping her mom and Uncle to get their childhood home ready to sell.  Yet she never even knew it existed.  And that was just the first unknown she would stumble upon.  Keaton found herself in an adorable small town with all the charm.  And I loved how the townspeople opened their arms to her. Keaton started picturing her life very differently from where she thought it would lead.

The realistic part of me knows that there’s no job for me here, no future. But the romantic part of me is wondering how I will possibly ever leave.

A lot of that had to do with her single dad neighbor Bowen and his adorable 10-year-old son Anderson.  It was impossible not to fall for both of them.  Even if Bowen was a little apprehensive at first.  But their kindness to Keaton was heartwarming.  And I loved how they welcomed her dog Salt too!  This was such a feel-good story, that had me rooting for Keaton and Bowen’s happily ever after.

Where the sky meets the sea.

This story also had chapters from the past, with Keaton’s grandmother and grandfather.  How they fell in love.  And what led to Keaton’s mom and brother being the way they were.  Mystery slowly started to seep into their story and we were given all the clues and eventually the answer.  Yet I didn’t feel as connected to Rebecca Saint James, aka Becks, as I did with Keaton.  Plus there was a sadness that radiated through their lives that the reader can’t help but feel too.

“What are you doing?” I ask, stupidly, my mouth suddenly dry.
He studies my face, as if reading it, and puts his hand under my chin. “Giving you a reason to stay.”
Butterflies explode in my chest as his lips meet mine, as he wraps his arms around me.  In his kiss, I feel all the things he hasn’t been able to say to me.

This women’s fiction, small town romance, that also had chapters from the past was a  heartwarming read.  One of my favorite parts was the boat date, it was magical, beautiful and their chemistry was smile worthy.  If you’re looking for a book to bring to the beach, this may be the one for you.

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

BOOK REVIEW: Happy Singles Day by Ann Marie Walker

BOOK REVIEW: Happy Singles Day by Ann Marie WalkerHappy Singles Day by Ann Marie Walker
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Single and proud of it! Oh, oops…

As a Certified Professional Organizer, everything in Paige Parker's world is as it should be. Perfect apartment, perfect office, perfect life. And now, the perfect vacation planned to celebrate Singles Day. After all, what's better than celebrating her pride in being single? Because who needs a man anyway? They have zero taste in quality television, leave the toilet seat up, and sleep with your best friend. No thanks. Her life is fine just the way it is.

As the owner of a now-dormant bed & breakfast, single dad Lucas Croft finally has some peace and quiet. It's only him and his five-year-old daughter, which is just the way he likes it. Because who needs a woman anyway? They nag you to clean up your stuff, want the toilet seat put down, and expect the dishes to be done the same day the meal is cooked. No thanks. His life is fine just the way it is.

But when Paige books a room that Lucas' well-intentioned sister listed without his knowledge, their two worlds collide. If they can survive the week together, they just might discover exactly what they've both been missing.

Review:

Happy Singles Day was a forced proximity, opposites attract, single dad adult romance that was such an adorable story!  With all the small-town charm, an adorable little girl, and a bed and breakfast that I would love to visit in person, this story was beyond entertaining!  I listened to the audio and flew through it way too fast!  

Paige Parker was a breath of sunshine.  She was so likable, and I adored listening to her thoughts.  Whereas Lucas Croft could be such a grump!  He had a jaded past and I loved watching him work his way to healing.  Btw I loved that he got a Friends reference!  In the beginning, I loved Paige and Lucas’ animosity towards one another.  But as each day passed, watching that animosity slowly turn into a friendship was heartwarming.  Yet with every moment, there was an electricity that ran between them.  And the dog scene and then s’mores moment?!  Aww, I loved it so much!

Happy Singles Day would make for a fabulous beach read!  So, if you’re looking for a closed-door romance, with a wonderful happily ever after, definitely add this one to your list!  I enjoyed how the narrators brought the story to life and look forward to reading more books by Ann Marie Walker!  

BOOK REVIEW: The Marriage Game (Marriage Game #1) by Sara Desai

BOOK REVIEW: The Marriage Game (Marriage Game #1) by Sara DesaiThe Marriage Game (Marriage Game #1)
by Sara Desai
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A high stakes wager pits an aspiring entrepreneur against a ruthless CEO in this sexy romantic comedy.

After her life falls apart, recruitment consultant Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco. But in the eyes of her father, who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, she can do no wrong. He would do anything to see her smile again. With the best intentions in mind, he offers her the office upstairs to start her new business and creates a profile on an online dating site to find her a man. She doesn’t know he’s arranged a series of blind dates until the first one comes knocking on her door…

As CEO of a corporate downsizing company Sam Mehta is more used to conflict than calm. In search of a quiet new office, he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he's forced to share his space with the owner's beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.

Review:

With an enemies to lovers vibe, and forced proximity, The Marriage Game was a lot of fun!  I listened to the audiobook and was swept away.  From the beginning, I found myself laughing.  I absolutely adored Layla Patel!  She was someone I would want to be besties with.  And the moment Sam showed up on the pages and stepped in to help out, I was a goner!  Layla and Sam together were everything…. fighting over the office, going over her resume, attending dates together, I loved every minute of it!  The tension between them was alive and intense.  I had so many favorite moments and Layla’s family and Sam’s friends just added another layer that made their story leap from the pages.

“It also says here that you’re a good girl.” His voice dropped to a sensual purr and he leaned toward her. “Are you a good girl, Layla? You seem very bad to me. If you need a husband who can keep you in line, you’ll have to up your game.”

Yet I did have a hiccup.  After 75% something happened, but I don’t know all of the details.  And questions about that weren’t brought up, so there were no answers.  It left my gut churning with the what ifs.  The story closed with a fabulous ending, yet the unknown about something just hit me too hard.  Regardless, I will definitely be trying another book by Desai, and I hope I love every part of it!

BOOK REVIEW: The Next Best Fling by Gabriella Gamez

BOOK REVIEW: The Next Best Fling by Gabriella GamezThe Next Best Fling by Gabriella Gamez
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Two broken hearts decide that the best way to get over their first loves is with a no-strings-attached relationship in this spicy and charming debut romance.

Librarian Marcela Ortiz has been secretly in love with her best friend for years—and when he gets engaged, she knows it’s long past time to move on. But before she gets the chance, she has a bigger problem to contend with in the form of Theo Young, ex-NFL player and older brother of the man she’s in love with. When she discovers Theo's plans to confess his feelings for his brother’s fiancée at their engagement party, Marcela is quick to stop him—despite how tempting it is to let him run away with the bride-to-be. She manages to convince Theo to sleep off his drunken almost-mistake at her place and when they arrive at a family brunch the next day together, everyone wrongly assumes they hooked up.

Since Theo needs a cover for his feelings for the bride and Marcela needs a distraction from her unrequited feelings for the groom, they decide to roll with the lie. Until one late night at a bar, they take it a step further and discover a layer of attraction neither realized existed. Soon, they find themselves exploring the simmering chemistry between them, whether in library aisles or Marcela's bed. There are no boundaries for the rebound relationship they form—just a host of complicated feelings, messy familial dynamics, and uncovered secrets that threaten to tear them apart before they can even admit to themselves that their rebound is working. Maybe a little too well.

Review:

The Next Best Fling was an adult romance that had elements of fake dating, sports romance, and a love square in the pages.  This story was a quick read that you could easily binge on the beach.

He wants the bride, she wants the groom.  But what if all they really want. . . is each other?

Theo Young was an ex-NFL player whose brother was getting married.  And he was in love with the bride to be.  Marcela Ortiz had previously dated the groom, was besties with him, and she was still in love with him.  This setup for a drama filled book.  Yet when everyone assumed Theo and Marcela were together, they went with the farce.  And end up trying not to fall for one another in the process.

“You’re not awful.” His fingers brush my hair away from my tear-stained face. “We’re in the same boat. And it’s gonna sink no matter who knows.”

I adored Theo; he was sweet, kind and had a huge heart.  Marcela had a lot of internal thoughts that I felt like I could skim.  I just couldn’t connect with her all the way.  Especially since she kept truths from Theo, whereas Theo laid his cards toward the bride on the table.  Yet Theo and Marcela’s moments together were steamy and fun.  I liked how they tried to put one another’s nerves at ease while forming what felt like a true friendship.  

I never saw him coming.

With adorable dates, spicy scenes, and heartfelt conversations, this book had a lot going for it!  But with all the drama, which was considerable, there were also self-sabotage moments that just didn’t sit well with me.  Plus, there was an epilogue at the end, but I felt like there wasn’t any part of their future secured.  It felt more like an additional chapter.  While this book didn’t necessarily resonate deep within my heart, I feel like plenty of people will still adore this story!

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

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