Who Rescued Who by Victoria Schade + giveaway!


Who Rescued Who by Victoria Schade | March 24, 2020

A few rough breaks lead a woman at the end of her leash to journey across the pond to fetch a suprise inheritance–but the dogs she rescues along the way have other ideas.

The plan was simple: Elizabeth would suffer through a quick trip to her late father’s family homestead in the English countryside, try not to think about how she was unjustly fired from her dream job, claim her inheritance, and hop on the next flight back to Silicon Valley where she can get her life back on track.

The plan does not include rescuing an abandoned black and white puppy. Or bonding with her long-lost aunt and uncle, their Border Collie, and their two very opinionated sheep. Or falling for the handsome local who runs the town’s craft brewery. As Elizabeth’s brief visit to Fargrove turns into an extended stay, she discovers that she has more in common with the new puppy than she realized.

From the moment I first heard about this book, I knew it was one I needed to get my hands on. I mean, come on: family secrets, the English countryside, a lost puppy?! Who Rescued Who practically screamed my name – and I’m thrilled to say it lived up to every expectation.

When Elizabeth is perp-walked out of her high profile tech job, she’s suddenly adrift and unsure of where to go. A startling phone call – from an uncle she never knew existed – sends her packing for England where she’s to claim her inheritance. Elizabeth is determined to touch down, collect the cash, and head back home where she’ll take over the techie world. Life, however, has other plans..

A grumpy coffeeshop owner. A handsome local seemingly straight from the pages of a bodice ripper novel. Startling revelations about the man her father really was before he turned his back on his home country. Two very opinionated sheep. As the days somehow turn into weeks and the weeks give way to a month, Elizabeth realizes these new plans the universe has in mind for her might not be so bad after all.

Like the rest of the world, I’m currently cooped up inside my house. Normally this wouldn’t be a major issue – I’m tailor-made for quarantine life. I’m a total homebody, unlike my coworkers, I don’t need constant in person interaction. That said, as the days wear on, I’m finding myself a little less inclined to pick up a gritty murder mystery. Maybe it’s my version of cabin fever or maybe it’s because spring is finally here and the sun has started warming my neck of the woods, but I’m gravitating toward light-hearted, easy reads.

And nothing says light-hearted like a novel set in the English countryside that features a ripped-from-a-romance-novel love interest!

There’s certainly some drama thrown in to keeps things moving (the reason Elizabeth’s father left England and never mentioned his brother, what went down that led to Elizabeth’s termination), but Who Rescued Who is just what it sounds like: an incredibly cozy story set in a picturesque English village full of livestock and puppies and shoddy WiFi. The characters are great, the relationships (familial, romance, friendships) are all excellent, there’s even a hefty dose of art piled on! If you’re going to be shut inside for weeks on end, you could do worse than this book. Who Rescued Who is a lovely, quick read perfect for a much-needed pick me up.

And YOU could win a copy!
ONE lucky winner will receive a copy of Who Rescued Who!
US only, sorry!
The giveaway will end Friday, April 3.
To enter, head over to instagram!

Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West

Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West
Pub. Date: February 4, 2020
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Berkley!)
Summary: Isobel Johnson knows helicopter parents like Julia Abbott–a stage mom whose world revolves around interfering in her children’s lives–come with the territory. Julia resents teachers like Isobel, who effortlessly bond with students, including Julia’s own teenagers, who have started pulling further away from her.

Isobel has spent her teaching career in Liston Heights side-stepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a “blatant liberal agenda,” she realizes she’s squarely in the fray. Rather than cowering, Isobel doubles down on her social-justice ideals. Meanwhile, Julia, obsessed with the casting of the high school’s winter musical, inadvertently shoves the female student lead after sneaking onto the school campus. The damning video footage goes viral and has far-reaching consequences for Julia and her entire family.

With nothing to unite them beyond the sting of humiliation from public meltdowns, Isobel and Julia will find common ground where they least expect it, confronting a secret Facebook gossip site that’s stirring up more trouble for this tumultuous, fractured school community.
Genre: Contemporary

The hallowed halls of Liston Heights High School exude an image of perfectly coiffed hair, the latest styles, and eyes on Ivy League colleges. In reality, however, helicopter parents buy their kids’ way to the top of the class and declined enrollment has the threat of layoffs hanging over the staff’s heads.

When American Lit teacher Isobel Johnson receives a voicemail – on her home phone – she doesn’t take it as seriously as she should. A thinly veiled threat isn’t going to scare her off from doing what she loves, even as she’s accused of pushing an anti-American, Marxist agenda. She might have a much more liberal view than her fellow teachers, but she wants her students to think for themselves, whether it’s essays about “the motherhood penalty” or Nick’s possibly romantic interest in Jay Gatsby.

Julia Abbott takes helicopter parenting to the extreme. When her daughter suddenly announces she has no interest in becoming a mother, why, Julia refuses to accept it. Clearly that English teacher has been putting ideas into Tracy’s head. And so what if she marches down to the school to have a little chat with the principal about her son and how he’s paid his dues long enough (working in the prop department, no less); it’s time he has a lead role in the play. Julia and Henry practically paid for an entire wardrobe for the drama department, these things come at a price you know, it’s just the way things work – and a ninth grader isn’t going to get the part over her child.

When a video of Julia goes viral – her exuberant reaction at the cast list might look to some as though she’s punching a student, tomato, tomahto – and a secret facebook group starts gaining a following, claws come out.

First thing’s first: if you’re a reader who does not enjoy multiple narrators, Minor Dramas is NOT the book for you. I, however, live by the phrase “the more the merrier” and delighted in this robust cast of characters. Everyone from Isobel and Julia to Julia’s children and husband to a fellow parent and even the school’s principal offers up their own perspectives. Secondly, despite clocking in at just under 400 pages, Minor Dramas is an extremely fast read. As in, this would have been a one-sitting read if I hadn’t started late in the evening when I needed to be up early the next day for work. Part of the reason it reads so fast is due to the content: this is a total beach read, full of over-the-top antic of wealthy parents. The chapters are also very short, the longest ones coming in at a handful of pages. When a chapter is only a page and a half, it’s easy to whip through it in no time.

Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes was an absolute joy to read. Who’s behind the secret facebook group? Did Julia seriously just hit a teacher with her car?? What’s the big secret in Isobel’s past? Though the ending does come together a bit too neatly for my liking, I had such a blast reading this one and can’t wait to see what West writes next!

Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee

Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee
Pub. Date: February 4, 2020
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Harlequin!)
Summary: Garrett Song is this close to taking the reins of his family’s LA fashion empire…until the Song matriarch insists he marry her handpicked bride first. To block her matchmaking, he recruits Natalie Sobol to pose as his wife. She needs a fake spouse as badly as he does. But when passion burns down their chaste agreement, the flames could destroy them all…
Genre: Contemporary Romance

I was recently invited to partner with Harlequin for a series of blog tours and eagerly jumped at the chance. Although very familiar with their lines from a former bookseller standpoint, as a reader I was a bit of a newbie and looked forward to getting some titles under my belt.

Temporary Wife Temptation follows Garrett Song and Natalie Sobol: Garrett is heir to a fashion empire and it’s assumed he will one day step into the role of CEO, Natalie is an employee who spent most of her time in New York but has since returned to LA. Though they have worked closely, because they were on each end of the country they had never met in person…until now. And it isn’t long before Garrett asks for a massive favor: he needs a wife.

Garrett’s grandmother drops a bombshell when she announces the only way he’ll be offered the CEO position is if he’s married. Luckily she already has the perfect bride in mind, one who comes from a very powerful, old Korean family. A tie between the two families can be mutually beneficial. Garrett, however, doesn’t want to be pushed into an arranged marriage. Enter Natalie.

Natalie has her own reasons for accepting the offer: a temporary marriage, just long enough to get Garrett’s grandmother off his back, Natalie only needs to show up to fancy parties, definitely nothing is required of her in the bedroom. Natalie’s sister recently passed in an accident, leaving behind a newborn. Though she begged Natalie on her deathbed to watch over her daughter, the law favored the baby’s grandparents. Since then, Natalie has been doing everything in her power to prove to the social worker she’s fit to be her niece’s guardian, her parent. A loving husband can only aid her case.

Temporary Wife Temptation was an extremely short, quick read, clocking in at just over 200 pages. While this made for a record-time finish, it also led to the story suffering from a lack of substance which is a shame because fake relationships is one of my favorite romance tropes. I never got a chance to really get to know these characters. There were also numerous time jumps – by the end of the book the baby is starting to speak. These would be suddenly inserted into the chapters and were a bit jarring. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by this one!

Her Homecoming Wish by Jo McNally

Her Homecoming Wish by Jo McNally
Pub. Date: January 21, 2020
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Harlequin!
Summary: “You’re all about following the rules now?

“Pity.”

Mackenzie Wallace hopes there’s still some bad boy lurking beneath single father Danny Adams’s upright exterior. Being the proverbial good girl left her brokenhearted and alone in the past. Now she’s back in town and wants excitement with her high school crush—not love. Dan knows their connection runs deep, despite Mackenzie’s protests. But will their new personas work together—especially when Dan’s secret is exposed?
Genre: Contemporary Romance

In high school, Mackenzie was determined to be the one her parents never had to worry about. She wore off boys, parties, sneaking into her parents’ liquor store. Instead she remained focused on her grades and being the good daughter. Especially after her brother was in an accident, a dare accepted while drunk, that claimed the life of a friend. Especially after her mother fell ill.

Now divorced, Mack is back home helping her father run the store. Only this time she’s shed her goody two-shoes image. The first person she happens to run into? Her long ago crush, her brother’s best friend, now the town sheriff. Once labeled the ultimate good girl, Mack’s first night home she’s nearly arrested when Danny mistakenly assumes she’s breaking into the store.

If Danny is surprised at Mack’s image overhaul, she’s just as shocked at his. This law-abiding, stand up citizen was SO not the boy she grew up with. Sheriff Adams – Dan – is a total 180 from Daddy, from his allegiance to his badge to his absolute devotion to his little girl.

As a newbie to the world of Harlequin titles, I’m open to everything, so when I was asked to join the tour for Her Homecoming Wish, I readily accepted. I don’t have much to say about this one: it was an easy, quick read. Unfortunately it never gripped me as much as it seemed to want to. There’s a major sub plot dealing with an opioid crisis in town that Danny feels responsible for eradicating. I didn’t care about this part at all and found myself rolling my eyes and skimming by rather than biting my nails over the town’s safety.

Another thing that stood out was Danny’s daughter. One of the first times she’s mentioned Danny makes a point to stress how much of a tomboy his daughter is, going on about how she has the bumps and cuts and bruises to prove it. Then it’s never mentioned again. Instead, another sub plot deals with a fashion show and his daughter is asked to be in it. She loses. her. mind. over the show and the dresses she tries on – the sparklier the better. It was like there were two different girls in this book: Danny’s daughter and the one he talked about.

Overall, Her Homecoming Wish was a decent read while it lasted, but ultimately one I doubt I’ll ever revisit.

January mini review round-up!

When You See Me by Lisa Gardner | January 28, 2020 Thank you to Dutton for providing me with a copy!
Detective D.D. Warren, Flora Dane, and Kimberly Quincy are back in a new thriller. Warren and Quincy have built a task force to track the digital bread crumbs left behind by notorious serial killer Jacob Ness. After a disturbing piece of evidence is uncovered, the pair bring in Flora Dane, the sole survivor of Ness’s torment, in the hopes she can assist. But when the trail leads to a tiny town deep in the mountains of Georgia, the FBI quickly realizes this isn’t the sleepy town they had expected as mass graves are uncovered and suspects begin getting picked off one by one.

I always know I’m in for a good time whenever I have a new Lisa Gardner novel. While When You See Me is technically part of a much larger series (the 11th in the Detective D.D. Warren series and the 4th featuring Flora), there’s enough background info provided regarding Flora’s past – particularly regarding her time spent as a prisoner of Ness’s – that a new reader can jump right in. Though these books are so good and so engaging it’s their loss for not starting at the beginning!

From secret tunnels to mass graves to a mute teen who knows far more than she’s letting on, When You See Me was an excellent thriller, providing a weekend full of wild rides and the twistiest of turns. You better believe I’ll be back for more!

You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley | January 7, 2020 Thank you to Berkley for providing me with a copy!
Mia Graydon’s life looks picket-fence perfect; she has the house, her loving husband, and dreams of starting a family. But she has other dreams too — unexplained, recurring ones starring the same man. Still, she doesn’t think much of them, until a relocation to small-town Pennsylvania brings her face to face with the stranger she has been dreaming about for years. And this man harbors a jaw-dropping secret of his own—he’s been dreaming of her too.

I hate to admit that my first Oakley novel was a bit of a dud. I went into You Were There Too expecting a fun, wobbly timeline tale with a touch of scifi, given the dreams Mia and Oliver have been having for years (decades, in Mia’s case). Unfortunately, that’s not what this book is. At all. In fact it seems like the book glossed over any explanation of why Mia and Oliver had been dreaming of each other for years in lieu of Mia’s multiple miscarriages and everyday life with her husband. I wanted so badly for this book to go somewhere but was ultimately letdown.

The Wife and the Widow by Christian White | January 21, 2020 Thank you to Minotaur Books for providing me with a copy!
Set against the backdrop of an eerie island town in the dead of winter, The Wife and The Widow is an unsettling thriller told from two perspectives: Kate, a widow whose grief is compounded by what she learns about her dead husband’s secret life; and Abby, an island local whose world is turned upside when she’s forced to confront the evidence of her husband’s guilt. But nothing on this island is quite as it seems, and only when these women come together can they discover the whole story about the men in their lives.

HO. LY. COW. I picked this one up anticipating a juicy domestic drama just perfect for a snowy Pittsburgh weekend. What I got was SO much more and I’m delighted to have read this one! This will be the mini-est of mini reviews because I refuse to spoil anything here, you’ll thank me later. A wife and a widow, each dealing with their own personal tragedies are ultimately brought together to learn the full truth about the men they married? This one was brilliantly clever and I look forward to checking out White’s other novel!

Cub by Cynthia L. Copeland | January 7, 2020 Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with a copy!
Twelve-year-old Cindy has just dipped a toe into seventh-grade drama—with its complicated friendships, bullies, and cute boys—when she earns an internship as a cub reporter at a local newspaper in the early 1970s. A young female reporter takes Cindy under her wing, and Cindy soon learns not only how to write a lede, but also how to respectfully question authority, how to assert herself in a world run by men, and—as the Watergate scandal unfolds—how brave reporting and writing can topple a corrupt world leader.

Based on the author’s own childhood, Cub explores 12-year-old Cindy’s childhood as she battles 7th grade in the 70s. Suddenly her best friend wants to hang out with the uber popular (but mean) girls. Cindy’s mother loves to curl her hair, but Cindy wants to let her hair down as straight hair becomes trendy. She becomes close to a boy at school and goes to a dance with him. When she admits to her English teacher she would love to become a teacher someday, Cindy’s asked if she ever thought of being a writer. From there, Cindy is introduced to a young reporter for the town paper and tags along to council meetings, parades, school board showdowns. While this was an easy and quick read – I personally would have loved for a reporter to take me under her wing when I was Cindy’s age! – I don’t see this appealing to its target audience, at least not all the Watergate and town finance talk.

Witness Protection Widow by Debra Webb

Witness Protection Widow by Debra Webb
Pub. Date: January 21, 2020
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Harlequin Intrigue!)
Summary: After Allison James finally escapes her marriage to a monster, she becomes the star witness in the case against her deceased husband’s powerful crime family. Now it’s up to US Marshal Jaxson Stevens, Ali’s ex-boyfriend, to keep the WITSEC widow safe. But as the danger escalates and sparks fly, will Jax be able to help Ali escape her ruthless in-laws?
Genre: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense

In my bookseller days, we sold Harlequins by the truckload – especially during sales. Back then, I thought they were novels geared toward much older ladies who preferred their romances to be a little over-the-top (vikings with hearts of gold, ruthless Scottish lords who can be changed by fair maidens…though I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the number of billionaires with secret babies). Still, I thought these were books for a certain audience and that was that.

Recently I was approached about partnering with Harlequin on several of their imprints and decided maybe I wrote these books off too soon, maybe I should see what all the fuss is about, and happily signed up.

Allison James was orphaned by her mid-20s and not long after became a widow, suddenly a member of two clubs no one wants to be a part of. Unlike other widows, however, Allison wasn’t devastated by her husband’s death, murdered at the hand of his father. Sheltered growing up, Ali saw graduation as her chance to experience the world and shortly after college took a job at a nondescript company and settled down with a man who lavished her with expensive gifts and exotic trips. Little did she know that business was merely a front and that loving husband of hers? The son and heir of a powerful crime family.

With her husband dead, Ali fled, making her way to FBI headquarters to tell her story. As the trial of her ex-father-in-law looms just a few days away, Ali’s witness protection cover couldn’t be more vital. Unfortunately, the US Marshall tasked with guarding her has been involved in a car accident (bad luck or something more devious?) and a new Marshall is given the job, Jax Stevens…Ali’s ex-boyfriend.

What Harlequins lack in size, they make up for in drama. Witness Protection Widow had it all: second chance romance, crime bosses, family tragedy and illness, fleeing an abusive relationship. Though it was half the size of a novel, I never felt the story suffered and, in fact, moved along at a brisk pace the entire time!

As someone relatively new to the world of Harlequins, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but am thrilled to add a new one under my belt. Witness Protection Widow is the fifth book in Webb’s Winchester, Tennessee series, but I had no trouble following along with this one and feel it works just fine as a standalone.

Blog Tour: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Pub. Date: January 21, 2020
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Wednesday Books!)
Summary: Pepper’s family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, Jack’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
Genre: YA, Contemporary

After their tiny burger joint blew up to nationwide popularity (currently the fourth largest fast food chain in the US with sights on going global), Pepper’s family packed up and left Nashville for the bright lights of New York. At least, it should have been her entire family. One extremely amicable divorce left her dad back in their once-cozy apartment where he genuinely wanted to run their flagship location. It wasn’t long before Paige’s relationship with their mother deteriorated and once she left she college, she was gone, leaving Pepper alone in a too-big, too-glamorous New York sky rise apartment to deal with her ultra elite school (her grades back in Nashville were always great, but the competition is fierce here; one night of slacking off can mean the difference between getting into an Ivy League school) along with running Big League Burger’s Twitter account.

From the moment he was born (eleven minutes after his brother), Jack has always come second. Ethan is outgoing, charismatic, uber popular. Despite having the same face, it’s Ethan everyone knows. Even at Girl Cheesing, their family’s deli, Jack is the one expected to run the register, wipe down tables, even take over one day. Although Jack absolutely loves the deli, his true passion lies in developing apps. His latest, Weazl, is an anonymous chat platform only accessible by those with an email address for his school. Once signed up, members are given an animal for their username, and no one knows who they’re talking to…unless randomly selected by the app to reveal identities. Weazl is Jack’s pride and joy, but no one knows – especially not his brother.

Despite being a New York staple for decades, Girl Cheesing only has a few hundred Twitter followers, nothing like the several million Big League Burger can claim. That is, until BLB announces a new grilled cheese sandwich that’s a little too similar to one off the Girl Cheesing menu, right down to its name. One off-the-cuff Tweet suddenly sparks a viral Twitter war between the two restaurants, a fast food David & Goliath story. Each Tweet racks up hundreds of new followers for Girl Cheesing, suddenly there are hashtags for each side, requests from journalists for comments, bloggers offering their own opinions. All the while, Pepper and Jack have no idea who they’re truly duking it out with.

Tweet Cute immediately caught my eye when I first heard about it. It sounded not only super timely, but also, well, cute. And it is. The reader can instantly sympathize with Pepper and Jack: although her family is loaded, Pepper is thrown into this elite world where her fellow classmates have make-up artists on speed dial and $200 an hour math tutors. A far cry from her worn-out cowboy boots and beloved Monster Cake, a delicious monstrosity of literally any – and every – candy and sweet in the cupboards. Jack is desperate to be seen, not mistaken for Ethan, but actually recognized as his own person.

Through Weazl, Wolf and Bluebird have formed an easy friendship. In reality, however, Jack and Pepper are anything but. After Jack offers to take on his brother’s dive team captain responsibilities (organize a fundraiser, set a schedule with the swim team’s captain – Pepper – for lane use), the pair begin an uneasy acquaintance that, over time, slowly develops into a full-fledged friendship. Until Pepper leaves her phone unlocked one day and Jack sees a drafted Tweet from BLB’s account.

Tweet Cute clocks in at over 360 pages and the story feels it. Although I was enjoying the book, every time I would check my progress, I couldn’t help but feel shocked to see I had only moved forward a percent or two. There’s definitely a fair amount that can be edited…starting with the Tweets. Yep. The whole reason the book exists! Instead of being jokey and in good humor, some of the tweets came off as brutal and vicious, turning downright malicious by the end. As a McDonald’s and Burger King competitor, Big League Burger would have had ample resources at their disposal to hire an entire team to run their social media. It struck me as odd that Pepper, the founder’s 17-year-old daughter, would be the one seemingly forced to keep up with it, particularly once it clearly began affecting her grades. Although Girl Cheesing had been around for decades, it was still a family-run deli, so it made complete sense for Ethan and Jack to be the ones handling what few Tweets the account had. Also, to go back to BLB, at one point the account is hacked on a Friday. Again, this is a nationwide chain that is in talks to take their burgers to the international market. Their tech guys? Shrugged it all off and said it can wait until Monday. Um.

While Tweet Cute had me scratching my head a few times and felt overly long, I did enjoy reading it. The romance between Pepper and Jack – and their couple name, PepperJack – really was cute and the desserts Pepper and her sister bake sounded downright heavenly. To the point where I wished the book included recipes!