Thursday, July 21, 2016

Almost Like Being in Love by Beth K. Vogt

Let’s begin with the summary:

Winning an all-expenses paid Colorado destination wedding might seem like a dream come true for some people—but Caron Hollister and her boyfriend Alex Madison aren’t even engaged. How is she supposed to tell him she’s won their wedding and honeymoon when he hasn’t asked her to marry him? Being “perfect for one another” seems like the absolute best reason to get married. But what if their supposedly faultless relationship is merely a safe place to protect his secrets and a way to keep their families happy? After quitting her job, Caron accepts her best friend’s offer to visit Colorado. She needs to catch her breath. Who knows, maybe visiting the destination wedding site will make a future with Alex seem like a reality.

Kade Webster just landed the biggest deal of his life with his company, Webster Select Realty, participating in the Colorado Springs Tour of Homes. He never imagined he would run into the woman who broke his heart—Caron Hollister—right when his career is taking off. Seeing her again, Kade can’t help but wonder why Caron walked away from him years ago, leaving him with no explanation. When Kade learns his home stager won’t be able to help with the Tour of Homes, he vaults past all the reasons he should stay away from Caron, and offers her a temporary job helping him on the project. This time, their relationship is purely business.

Spending time with Kade has Caron questioning everything. The man intrigues her—at times infuriates her—and reminds her of what she lost. Has she been settling for what everyone expects of her? Just because others believe she and Alex are an ideal couple, does that mean they should get married? And how can Caron say “I do” to one man when she’s wondering “what if?” about another?

And now, my review:

At first I wasn’t sure what to think of this story’s heroine. She’s an adult who comes across in the beginning of the story more like a teen who is coming of age in a way. She has a very complicated relationship with her father, and I couldn’t blame her for having mixed feelings about him. As a reader, I found him very unlikable. But he’s not a main character, so I was happy to follow the other characters through the story. 

The heroine struggles with needing her father’s approval, but doesn’t realize that as a fallible human, he can’t give her what she needs.  She’s trying to find her identity, which again, struck me as coming of age, not a full-grown adult’s tale. And she seems very weak where her father is concerned. This wore on me as a reader, but I was so hooked on the story, I kept reading.  

I liked the author’s sense of humor and the way she weaved her strong subplots in with the main plot. Her main characters were well-developed, and I cared about what happened to them.

I felt the story question resolution ended the story long before the novel wrapped up, so I skimmed a bit near the end.  I wish the author well, but I would have preferred to see the romance wrap up after the subplots did. Then, I feel readers could rejoice in the heroine’s success in resolving her personal issues and her finding her HEA. As is, I kept thinking the story should already be wrapped up and for some reason the HEA wasn’t as satisfying. (Perhaps for reasons named above.) 

All that said, I will definitely read this author’s next book. I enjoy her writing as a whole, and she’s one of the authors I follow in regards to next releases.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

An Elegant Façade by Kristi Ann Hunter

An Elegant Facade by Kristi Ann Hunter

I enjoy Kristi Ann Hunter’s writing. So, I couldn’t wait to read this one for review. She is an author to watch!

Let’s begin with the summary:

Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked tirelessly to seal her place as the Incomparable for her debut season. At her first London ball, she hopes to snag the attention of an earl.

With money and business connections, but without impeccable bloodlines, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. When he first encounters the fashionable Lady Georgina, he’s irritated by his attraction to a woman who concerns herself only with status and appearance.

What Colin doesn’t know is that Georgina’s desperate social aspirations are driven by the shameful secret she harbors. Association with Colin McCrae is not part of Georgina’s plan, but as their paths continue to cross, they both must decide if the realization of their dreams is worth the sacrifices they must make.

And now, my review:

When I read Book One in this series, A Noble Masquerade, where we were first introduced to Georgiana (the heroine of this book), I didn’t think there were any redeeming qualities in this younger sister. She was rude and judgmental, superficial and selfish. But this book gives us a look inside her world, her heart, and we do find redeeming qualities there.

We begin this book, as the author’s note tells us, with a bit of overlap of Book One. At first, I didn’t mind this. I enjoyed seeing these happenings from Georgina’s perspective. But as this overlap continued for about a third of the book, I found myself experiencing déjà vu and wanting more from the story. As the author promises, we do get to dig deeper into Georgina’s world following the overlap, and since I was hooked, I devoured this novel.

Georgina is rather unlikable. And I think she realizes she comes across as harsh and unkind. Perhaps this is partly why she hides, beyond the secret she keeps. So for a while into the story, she is unapproachable. I loved watching her transformation as the truth, and unconditional love, set her free.

Colin. What a fun hero! In Book One, he’s a bit of a clown, but we find his deeper layers in this book too. He’s humble, and competent in business. And he sees past Georgina’s façade to the woman within. And wonder of wonders, he likes what he sees. He doesn’t judge her, but calls her to honesty, to come out from behind her façade. Will she do it?

I found a few POV missteps within the story, but to be fair, I read the ARC (advanced reader copy), so these may have been weeded out by the final version. Of course, Regencies are less stringent on purist POV than other genres, so perhaps this was intentional.

There were several places within the story where I laughed aloud. That makes for a fun read. 

As to whether you could read this book without having read Book One first, yes, I believe you could and not be too lost. The overlap helps, and this book focuses directly on Colin and Georgina. 

Great read!