3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christmas · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Holidays

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman | #Holiday #BookReview

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Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

Rating: 3 stars

Published: September 5, 2019

Publisher: Aria

Pages: 300?

Genres: romance, contemporary, holiday, Christmas

Recommend to fans of: books by the same author, winter wonderland romances, holiday romances, difficult family times with happily ever afters
Synopsis:

Christmas and romance are in the air…
It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country estate either.
So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten…?
Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!
Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Aria, and Lucy Coleman for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:
– fun, sweet wintertime romance
– Still realistic because there are some family and life struggles presented (allows the characters to be well created) but also still retains its romance novel quality
– The author writes consistently good winter holiday romances

Love:
– one of the main characters is a romance author
– Picturesque setting

Dislike:
– wasn’t as captivating for a holiday romance as I had hoped – simply put, it didn’t pull me into the story, wrap me up in the holiday feels and make me feel a part of the festive holiday season
– The family tension – there’s not a lot of it but any will always take away from the enjoyment of a book for me, due to personal triggers

Wish that:
– I wasn’t so busy so I could take time to truly enjoy this wonderful novel
– I related more to the main characters

Overall, a decent holiday romance novel but definitely not my favorite that I’ve read recently. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed another book by this same author, so I have high hopes for her next book. To be fair, I was very busy and stressed while reading this book, so I couldn’t relax and become immersed in the world like I usually do.
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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · non fiction · suspense · True Crime

Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine by Joanna Jolly | ARC #BookReview, #FirstNations #Violence #MeToo

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Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine by Joanna Jolly

Rating: 3 stars 

Published: August 27, 2019 

Publisher: Viking 

Pages: 304 

Genres: non fiction, true crime, mystery

Recommend to fans of: true crime books, learning about violence against Indigenous & First Nations women, constantly learning 

 

Synopsis:

A gripping account of the unsolved death of an Indigenous teenager, and the detective determined to find her killer, set against the backdrop of a troubled city.

On August 17, 2014, the body of fifteen-year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found in Winnipeg’s Red River. It was wrapped in material and weighted down with rocks. Red River Girl is a gripping account of that murder investigation and the unusual police detective who pursued the killer with every legal means at his disposal. The book, like the movie Spotlight, will chronicle the behind-the-scenes stages of a lengthy and meticulously planned investigation. It reveals characters and social tensions that bring vivid life to a story that made national headlines.
Award-winning BBC reporter and documentary maker Joanna Jolly delves into the troubled life of Tina Fontaine, the half-Ojibway, half-Cree murder victim, starting with her childhood on the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve. Tina’s journey to the capital city is a harrowing one, culminating in drug abuse, sexual exploitation, and death.
Aware of the reality of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Jolly has chronicled Tina Fontaine’s life as a reminder that she was more than a statistic. Raised by her father, and then by her great-aunt, Tina was a good student. But the violent death of her father hit Tina hard. She ran away, was found and put into the care of Child and Family Services, which she also sought to escape from. That choice left her in danger.
Red River Girl focuses not on the grisly event itself, but on the efforts to seek justice. In December 2015, the police charged Raymond Cormier, a drifter, with second-degree murder. Jolly’s book will cover the trial, which resulted in an acquittal. The verdict caused dismay across the country.
The book is not only a true crime story, but a portrait of a community where Indigenous women are disproportionately more likely to be hurt or killed. Jolly asks questions about how Indigenous women, sex workers, community leaders and activists are fighting back to protect themselves and change perceptions. Most importantly, the book will chronicle whether Tina’s family will find justice.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Viking, and Joanna Jolly for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:
– the background and non judgmental explanation of the life circumstances that led Tina and her family to their current life situations
– The detective who was working to solve her murder.

Love:
– the book brings to light the important topic of violence against First Nations women

Dislike:
– A possible dislike for some people (not for me though) — the descriptions of the crime and her body when discovered. This is to be expected since it’s a true crime book.
– Nothing specific to dislike, but nothing was particularly amazing either.

Wish that:
– It held my attention more. The overall topic is interesting, but not phenomenal in the presentation.
– The story had lived up to its potential. It was such a complex, informative, must be discussed story, but overall it read as a little boring, especially for a true crime mystery book.

Overall, an okay book about an important but terrible event that occurred in real life. I’m so glad that Tina Fontaine’s murder is being discussed in the context of violence against First Nations women. An important topic, but unfortunately this book doesn’t do it justice in my opinion.

 

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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · feminism · history · non fiction · Uncategorized

The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home by Heath Hardage Lee | ARC #BookReview

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The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home by Heath Hardage Lee 

Published: April 2, 2019 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 336

Genres: non fiction, history, feminism 

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: books about strong military wives 

Foodie Vibes: coffee and a freshly baked coffee cake to offer guests even when you’re grieving the loss of your husband —- because you have to be a good Navy Wife

 

Synopsis: 

The true story of the fierce band of women who battled Washington—and Hanoi—to bring their husbands home from the jungles of Vietnam.

On February 12, 1973, one hundred and fifteen men who, just six years earlier, had been high flying Navy and Air Force pilots, shuffled, limped, or were carried off a huge military transport plane at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. These American servicemen had endured years of brutal torture, kept shackled and starving in solitary confinement, in rat-infested, mosquito-laden prisons, the worst of which was The Hanoi Hilton.

Months later, the first Vietnam POWs to return home would learn that their rescuers were their wives, a group of women that included Jane Denton, Sybil Stockdale, Louise Mulligan, Andrea Rander, Phyllis Galanti, and Helene Knapp. These women, who formed The National League of Families, would never have called themselves “feminists,” but they had become the POW and MIAs most fervent advocates, going to extraordinary lengths to facilitate their husbands’ freedom—and to account for missing military men—by relentlessly lobbying government leaders, conducting a savvy media campaign, conducting covert meetings with antiwar activists, most astonishingly, helping to code secret letters to their imprisoned husbands.

In a page-turning work of narrative non-fiction, Heath Hardage Lee tells the story of these remarkable women for the first time in The League of Wives, a book certain to be on everyone’s must-read list.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Heath Hardage Lee for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • I could see this making a good movie. 
  • Different women and their personalities represented 
  • Recognize some of the POWs as future politicians 
  • A not too political look at the Vietnam War 

Love:

  • The feminism
  • The wives went from shutting up, behaving themselves, and being good Navy Wives to forces of nature changing thoughts and minds during the Vietnam War #BadAssLadies

Dislike:

  • Many parts are boring and drawn out – the first 1/2 of the book 

Wish that: 

  • It was not as underwhelming 
  • Got to the interesting parts quicker 

Overall, a good interesting book about the strong women whose husbands were POW/MIA soldiers during the Vietnam War. It’s a heartwarming story about a terrible event, but the details don’t interest me that much. 

 

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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

The Perfect Alibi by Phillip Hargolin | ARC #BookReview

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The Perfect Alibi by Phillip Hargolin

Published: March 5, 2019 

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Pages: 320

Genres: mystery, thriller 

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: science and tech heavy mysteries 

Foodie Vibes: coffee to keep you awake to find out what happens 

 

Synopsis: 

A young woman accuses a prominent local college athlete of rape. Convicted with the help of undisputable DNA evidence, the athlete swears his innocence and threatens both his lawyer and his accuser as he’s sent to prison. Not long after, there’s another rape and the DNA test shows that the same person committed both rapes—which is seemingly impossible since the man convicted of the first rape was in prison at the time of the second one. Now, the convicted athlete, joined by a new lawyer, is granted a new trial and bail. Shortly thereafter, his original lawyer disappears and his law partner is murdered.

Robin Lockwood is a young lawyer with a prestigious small law firm and a former MMA fighter who helped pay for Yale Law School with her bouts. She is representing the victim of the first rape for her civil lawsuit against her rapist, who is now convinced the rapist is stalking her and trying to intimidate her. At the same time, another client is up on a murder charge—one that should be dismissed as self-defense—but the D.A. trying the case is determined to bring it to trial. Now she has to mastermind two impossible cases, trying to find the hidden truth that links the two of them.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Minotaur Books and Phillip Hargolin for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • The premise reminds me of an episode of Law and Order SVU 
  • Short chapters: makes it easy to put down the book
  • Heavily features DNA, science and other tech — while these are not a new phenomenon, the book keeps it fresh and interesting
  • The drama, deception, lying and greed makes for an intense book

Love: 

Dislike:

  • There’s almost too much drama – which almost makes me ambivalent to the supposed to be “riveting revelations” 
  • Didn’t keep my focus well (To be fair: I was tired while reading some of the book, but that wasn’t the entire reason for difficulty focusing.)
  • The story bounced from one mystery to the next very quickly – not a fan of this

Wish that:

  • It lived up to the hype I’d created in my head

Overall, another mystery/thriller that was enjoyable but left me a little disappointed. 

 

Who else is a fan of Law and Order SVU?

#OliviaBensonIsGoals

 

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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · Uncategorized

Otherwise Engaged by Lindsey Palmer | Release Day #BookReview

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Otherwise Engaged by Lindsey Palmer 

Published: February 26, 2019 

Publisher: Skyhorse

Pages: 304

Genres: romance, chick lit, contemporary fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: character studies, women whose lives aren’t happily ever after

Foodie Vibes: wedding cake tasting and then hitting the local bar afterwards 

 

Synopsis: 

Life is sweet for New Yorkers Molly and Gabe: They’re young, in love, and newly engaged.

But when Gabe sells his first novel—a thinly-veiled retelling of his wild love affair with ex-girlfriend Talia—and it becomes a national sensation, Molly can’t help but feel like the third wheel. To make matters worse, Talia reappears in Gabe’s life, eager to capitalize on the book’s success and to rekindle what she had with Gabe… at least, that’s how it seems to Molly. But even more concerning? Gabe doesn’t seem concerned at all. Instead, he’s delighting in his newfound fame and success.

Jealous, paranoid, and increasingly desperate, Molly starts to spin out of control. Her social life, work life, and love life all go to pieces. As fact and fiction, and past and present, begin to blur, Molly realizes the only way out of this downward spiral is to fight her way back up. But what—if anything—will be left of her life and her relationship when she arrives?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Skyhorse, and Lindsey Palmer for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:

  • The character of Sam – she’s unsure about life, but she tells it like it is
  • It’s a character study
  • The storylines with Molly’s mom — so sweet!
  • Watching a far from perfect relationship unfold

Love:

Dislike:

  • Gabe’s book — the writing is so cringe worthy
  • Doesn’t go very in depth into so many hard hitting topics such as uncertainty in relationships, becoming a mother, addiction, medical fraud, and more. There’s so much potential to really understand the characters’ feelings about experiences about these struggles.
  • People cheating on each other — ahhhhh, one of the things I really dislike in books 

Wish that: 

  • Molly had just finished reading Gabe’s book, because then maybe she wouldn’t have freaked out so much
  • I liked more of the characters. None of them really resonated with me, and I wanted to shake them out of so many of their bad actions.
  • Was marketed correctly – I thought I was getting into a fluffy romance novel, but that wasn’t the case.

Overall, I feel like this is either a book you’ll love or go “meh” about. I’m in the later category. For me it’s less about the quality but more about the fit between the book and reader. 

 

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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · history · non fiction · science

The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World by Paul Morland | ARC #BookReview

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The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World by Paul Morland 

Published: March 5, 2019

Publisher: Public Affairs 

Pages: 352 

Genres: non fiction, science, history

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: being a lifelong learner, sociological, political and cultural impacts on populations over time

Foodie Vibes: the precious potato that fed or sometimes starved so many people in Ireland 

Synopsis: 

A dazzling new history of the irrepressible demographic changes and mass migrations that have made and unmade nations, continents, and empires
The rise and fall of the British Empire; the emergence of America as a superpower; the ebb and flow of global challenges from Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Soviet Russia. These are the headlines of history, but they cannot be properly grasped without understanding the role that population has played.
The Human Tide shows how periods of rapid population transition–a phenomenon that first emerged in the British Isles but gradually spread across the globe–shaped the course of world history. Demography–the study of population–is the key to unlocking an understanding of the world we live in and how we got here.
Demographic changes explain why the Arab Spring came and went, how China rose so meteorically, and why Britain voted for Brexit and America for Donald Trump. Sweeping from Europe to the Americas, China, East Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, The Human Tide is a panoramic view of the sheer power of numbers.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Public Affairs and Paul Morland for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • a wonderful mix of sociological, economic, political, cultural and science’s effects on population changes throughout history – Fascinating!
  • Can tell the author is knowledgable and passionate about the topics
  • Has me looking at history in a new way
  • Views the population changes in a new and completely interesting way

Love:

  • Readers can learn a lot from the book.

Dislike:

-Some sections didn’t interest me or were repetitive (This could definitely be a personal preference, and may not be the case for you.)

Wish that:

  • There was more science based information. Based on the book description, I expected a better balance of science and history. 

Overall, an interesting and educational book that’s filled with so much information. The author makes the topics accessible. 

 

Which do you find more interesting: history or science?

#ScienceNerd all the way!

 

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3 Star Books · Book Reviews · Medical · non fiction · psychology

Conquering Stress and Fears: A Treatment Guide for Anxiety and Trauma-Related Disorders by Gustavo Kinrys M.D. 

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Conquering Stress and Fears: A Treatment Guide for Anxiety and Trauma-Related Disorders by Gustavo Kinrys M.D. 

Published: August 10, 2018

Publisher: Boston Press Group

Pages: 240

Genres: non fiction, psychology, medicine

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: natural and alternative methods to cope with stress and anxiety, learning to better cope with life

Foodie Vibes: healthy foods and chamomile tea to relax

 

Synopsis: 

When you realize that anxiety, stress and even fear permeate every aspect of your life, you begin to wonder how you can eliminate these all-encompassing feelings. How can you reclaim those precious minutes of your life and become truly at peace with your mind? Conquering Your Stress and Fears by Dr. Gustavo Kinrys, M.D. quickly and easily guides you through the various options for tackling these feelings naturally, before you turn to conventional medications and treatments. From the nuances of supplemental approaches such as herbs or vitamins, mindfulness meditation and even emergent technologies, Dr. Kinrys

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Boston Press Group and Gustavo Kinrys M.D. for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • Comprehensive overview of the topics discussed with more details for each
  • Easy to read and access the information: broken down into small segments with the chapters and a summary chart at the end of each chapter as well
  • Herbal remedies to help reduce anxiety – common, generally safe herbs to try such as chamomile, lemon balm, valerian, lavender
  • Easy to go back and review information at a later date
  • Meditation and mindfulness: different types of each are introduced and discussed

Love:

Dislike: 

  • Chamomile is suggested to help with IBS — Not really true. Only if it’s in an oil form, because chamomile tea is high FODMAP which is know to trigger symptoms in many people with IBS 

Wish that:

  • The information is more well rounded, not mainly focused on more medical based options for anxiety
  • More focus on therapy and behavioral techniques to first treat anxiety
  • Some of the wording was changed, as it read strangely. 

 

Overall, the book is a good comprehensive overview of many topics. It’s great for learning but you will probably need more information and research before implementing some of the techniques. If you’re looking for more food and herbal remedy based solutions for stress and anxiety, the book will be helpful. 

 

Question:

What types of alternative remedies have you used to deal with stress? I.e.: essential oils, mediation, herbal supplements, etc. 

 

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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry | Release Day

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Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry

Published: January 15, 2019

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 320

Genres: thriller, mystery 

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: psycho ex-girlfriends, the #MeToo Movement, revenge

Foodie Vibes: takeout delivered by a delivery app service 

 

Synopsis:

Dana Diaz is an aspiring stand‑up comedian—a woman in a man’s world. When she meets a tough computer programmer named Amanda Dorn, the two bond over their struggles in boys’ club professions. Dana confides that she’s recently been harassed and assaulted while in L.A., and Amanda comes up with a plan: they should go after each other’s assailants, Strangers on a Train–style. But Dana finds that revenge, however sweet, draws her into a more complicated series of betrayals. Soon her distrust turns to paranoia, encompassing strangers, friends—and even herself. At what cost will she get her vengeance? Who will end up getting hurt? And when it’s all over, will there be anyone left to trust?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Amy Gentry for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

I’m going to try a bit of different review format for this book review. Let me know what you think of it. Thanks!

Trigger Warning: sexual assault, domestic violence, murder

Like:

  • Good representation of women in comedy
  • Presents information and an opportunity to discuss different types of sexual violence
  • The twists & turns are timed very well
  • A high intensity thriller
  • Use of up to date technology in crimes
  • Main character: Dana

Love:

Dislike:

  • Revenge because of being sexually assaulted
  • Most of the plot was about getting back at the men  — made me feel incredibly uncomfortable
  • Beginning: lots of information presented all at once and seemed forced
  • The cold realization that the characters, and readers, have at the end

Wish that: 

  • There was a less intense way of proving the men sexually assaulted them
  • We were about to explore more about Dana’s relationship with her mom and other close friend
  • I could feel less uncomfortable about the main plot line, of revenge

 

Overall, a revenge thriller that will keep you reading, but if you’re like me make you feel very uncomfortable. Well written, action packed, and interesting. 

 

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Bookish Question:

Is it okay to like a character who does bad things?

 

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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · suspense · thriller

ARC Review | Watching You by Lisa Jewell

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Watching You by Lisa Jewell 

Published: December 26, 2018

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 320 

Genres: thriller, suspense, domestic fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: weird creepy unspoken about vibes in a whole community 

Foodie Vibes: tea and crumpets – a proper snack for a proper community neighborhood 

 

Synopsis: 

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Lisa Jewell for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Watching You is a unique book. Not quite what I expected. I thought I would be reading a mix of suspense, psychological thriller and domestic fiction. While it has some of those aspects, it tends to be more random pondering of the neighbors about other neighbors with a bit of suspense thrown in. 

I spent a good portion of the book wondering what was the point of the story. Eventually the different plot lines came together to create a fairly good conclusion. The people of the community are all a bit odd. They give an authentic feel to the story while keeping the underlying uncertainty to the book. I didn’t relate completely with one specific character, but a little piece of each one. And I think other readers will also find someone to connect with. 

The one thing I didn’t get was why was everyone so obsessed with Tom Fitzwilliams? He didn’t seem to be that great of a guy to me. 

Overall, a unique book written about ordinary people. Less suspense and more strange pondering about the neighbors. But somehow the author makes it all come together to make it work. 

 

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How many of your neighbors are you friends with? Or even friendly towards?

 

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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christmas · contemporary romance · Holidays · Medical · romance

New Release | The Army Doc’s Christmas Angel by Annie O’Neil

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The Army Doc’s Christmas Angel by Annie O’Neil

Published: December 1, 2018

Publisher: Harlequin Medical Romances 

Pages: 256

Genres: contemporary romance, romance, medical, holidays

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: sweet holiday romances with a medical setting, caring people

Foodie Vibes: hot chocolate with marshmallows 

 

Synopsis:

Letting go of his past…

…to embrace their future!

In this Hope Children’s Hospital story, pediatrician Dr. Finn Morgan keeps himself fiercely private—after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he pushed everyone away. So his unexpected attraction to colleague, physiotherapist Naomi Collins, infuriates him! Something in her stunning eyes tells him she’s a survivor too. Christmas is a time for healing, maybe they’ll both find what they’ve both been looking for—in each other’s arms…

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Harlequin Medical Romances, and Annie O’Neil for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

A story about kind medical professionals, the holidays, and romance will almost always make for a nice read. I enjoyed the book but didn’t love it. The main characters were great – caring, competent, and complex. However, I never really got into the book. Maybe because the writing makes me very aware that I’m reading words instead of fully pulling me into the story. To be fair, I was very tired while reading this book so my focus wasn’t as great as usual.

There’s plenty of holiday spirit packed into this fairly short read. If you like medical romances that are great for the holidays, consider giving The Army Doc’s Christmas Angel a read. 

 

Share your favorite holiday beverage in the comments.

 

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