I’ve been trying to limit my time on social media and that has allowed me more reading time. After I got off track with my ARCs I made sure to read some over the weekend. Since last week I read 4.5 books. Here’s some thoughts about them.
Team Player by Juliana Keyes– I closed out my Keyes binge by finally reading this book that has been on my TBR for several months. It’s a baseball romance. The heroine works in the PR department for a baseball team. The hero is a short stop on the team the heroine works for. They connect when Gwen has to provide talking points to the coach. Ty is a “player” who isn’t interested in relationships. Of course, they end up in one. Ty says some stupid shit and Gwen isn’t there for it and I really enjoyed that.
There is the issue of them working together and that becomes a major conflict for them. There are some interesting secondary characters that perhaps Keyes will write about some day. I found this story enjoyable, but it wasn’t as compelling and memorable as Time Served or In Her Defense. Gwen is a perfectly likable heroine and after reading Rachel & Caitlin recently, I wanted to see more of that from Keyes.
Piece of My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn– I have read every story in this series and I wanted to complete the series. It was about what I expected. I feel like Jacquelyn intends to give an emotionally deep story but it ends up being only superficially deep. The black moment that almost breaks them felt contrived and emotionally manipulative.
CW: domestic abuse depicted on the page.
The sub-plot of the best friend being a victim of domestic abuse was weird and also superficial. I know this is fiction but neither of the characters who wanted to help Hailey ever mentioned contacting an organization that helps victims of domestic abuse. Again this is fiction, but many people find themselves in this position and even a weirdly placed item or note in a book may be helpful.
Sarai’s depiction as Jewish felt very one note. She doesn’t go to Temple, but she keeps kosher. There was little mention other than that how faith may or may not play a role in her life.
The best part of this book is that there was very minimal mention of Shane, the zero, from Unbreak My Heart, book one in this series.
30 Dates in 30 Days by Elle Spencer– I LOVE a good online dating story. Seriously, I don’t understand how in 2019 with the prevalence of online dating and apps, it isn’t more of a thing in romance. But that’s neither here nor there. This is a f/f story and I was excited to see how this story would come together. But, I found the attraction between the two main characters to be lacking. There was some tension but I was getting tired of them not acting on it. I made it to 44% and still hadn’t learned the terrible, awful reason why Rachel, one of the heroines, doesn’t want to commit. If I am to believe in the love story, I need to understand the motivation behind what is keeping them apart. And how that will eventually bring them together. But without that information, I was no longer invested in their story and had to DNF.
Must Love Coffee by Sarah Mayberry– This is a novella based on a two people who meet after they try to one up each other as best customer at their favorite coffee spot. It was a cute read, but overly competitive love interests don’t usually work well for me. But this was short enough that it worked fine. If you’re a Mayberry fan and have been waiting for something new from her, I think you will enjoy this quick read.
The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller– At first glance there is nothing about this cover that would make me this book is for me. I don’t read horror and I hardly read historical. But a few weeks back I saw someone on the Twitter talking about this book. The blurb refers to it as a “Gilded Age romantic comedy.” I knew I needed to step out of my normal reading bubble and give this a try. It was worth it.
CW: References to domestic abuse, ghosts/supernatural forces, shitty parents.
The heroine Alva is a widow who has returned to New York after living in Europe for ten years with her husband who has passed away. She has been the subject of ugly rumors about her. She purchases an old house in the country and it going to rehab it and write a book about it. (Gilded Age fixer-up)
The hero, Sam is a swoon worthy scientist. When he learns that Alva’s home is rumored to have ghosts, he wants to study the house. For science. But Alva is having no parts of it.
Alva married young. Her parents were terrible. Her husband was terrible and did not value Alva as a person. No one has ever loved her or taught her that she is worthy and deserves love.
Sam comes from a tight knit, if a little over the top and eccentric family. Sam and his whole family see women as equals, which this is not common for the time period, 1875. Sam is incredibly kind but persistent with his affections for Alva. Sam continues to show up for Alva and earns her trust and her love. I really loved this pairing. Sam nevers gives up on Alva, even when it seemed like Alva gave up on them. I really recommend this book. I know it has a high price point, especially for a debut, but I think it is worth it. Here are some quotes to help you make the decision.
Sam to Alva while talking about his family.
You’re the Samuel Moore. The Moore Conduit. The Moore Rail System. The Moore lantern.” “Actually, I only invented two of the Moore lanterns,” Sam said. “There are four. My parents have one apiece.” “And your parents! I met them! John Moore!” Sam grimaced. “Yes, it’s a shame he’s so much more famous than she is. It’s a travesty, actually— she’s every bit as important, but no one seems to care. Does this mean you’ll let me look at your house?”
Sam to Alva-
“Let me be clear,” he said. “I do want to use your house. I’m hopeful I can either convince you or irritate you or charm you into letting me do so. But whether you do so or not is entirely your decision, and I’m not going to fly off the handle if you refuse me. Even if you never let me in that house again, I’ll continue to think you’re a charming, funny, intelligent woman whom I like and respect very much.”
“This isn’t about real life. Real life is people leaning on each other when things are hard. It’s loving each other so much there’s no question about facing things together. It’s fighting for each other and with each other and being damned grateful for every morning you wake up together. I’ve seen real life, and it’s not what you’re choosing. You’re choosing fear, and control, because you don’t want to get hurt again.”
Alva to Sam-
“No one’s going to hurt you,” he heard himself say. “I’ll see to it.” She laughed, but it sounded empty and mean, as if she was mocking herself. “I’ve been rescuing myself for a while, Professor Moore. It’s just… I’d rather not add ghostly specters to my enemies.”
“What are you afraid of?” His voice was soft, warm. Confident that, whatever the problem was, he could fix it. A simple question, with a simple answer: everything. She was afraid of the whole jagged-edged world, with its trapdoors and sticky webs and predators whose claws never released their prey.
And in case you need more convincing, here is a quote that made me swoon.
There was nothing to be done— he was in love with her, he always would be, and that was that. She was his person. If she was complicated, then he loved her complications, too.