4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Young Adult

ARC Review | Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

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Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell 

Published: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Amberjack

Pages: 337

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about bloggers and the internet life, fun but serious young adult novels, mother daughter dynamics

Foodie Vibes: candy corn and a Halloween movie to watch with your not yet boyfriend 

 

Synopsis: 

Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong to your mom.

Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Amberjack, and Kara McDowell for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Just for Clicks centers around Claire, Poppy – her twin sister, and their mother. Since they were little girls Claire and Poppy have been vlogging, blogging and doing all sorts of paid sponsorships for their mom’s online brand. The blog started as a way for their mom to share their family moments with friends and also allowed her to support herself and her family after her husband passed away. 

I like that the book explores how a well intentioned start can spiral a bit out of control if one doesn’t stop to reevaluate their life choices every so often. Also the contrast between Claire not enjoying the Internet fandom and Poppy loving it, allows for an interesting multifaceted look at the internet life a s career. Neither twin is wrong, just different. It’s nice to see that there’s not the good twin, bad twin dynamic going on. I also appreciated that communication played a big role in the story. Watching the characters learn how to communicate their needs to others was wonderful. And some of the revelations … let’s just say, it keeps things interesting!

There were very few moments that I didn’t enjoy. If I’m being very critical, then some of the miscommunications or non communications became almost annoying after awhile. 

But overall, I really enjoyed this fun upbeat look into the behind the scenes world of internet fame as a career. Complex relationships, relatable struggles and a whole lot of fun. Definitely recommend!

 

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How do you deal with the downsides of blogging? 

 

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4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary romance · romance · Sports Fiction

A Season to Dance by Rebecca Heflin

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A Season to Dance by Rebecca Heflin

Published: December 13, 2018

Publisher: Rebecca Heflin Books, LLC

Pages: 336

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, sports

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: the ballet world, sweet and steamy contemporary romance 

Foodie Vibes: dark roast coffee and chocolate croissants from the local shop – a wonderful indulgence among old friends 

 

Synopsis: 

Olivia James and Zach Ryder were high school sweethearts, but at age eighteen, she left small-town Georgia for the bright lights and satin pointe shoes of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. Seventeen years later, Olivia’s come home for her mother’s funeral, nursing an injury that could likely end her meteoric dance career. Being back home stirs up old heartache, and seeing Zach again is not on her to-do list. Her best bet is get in, get out—a week at most. Then she’ll return to Chicago to rehabilitate her injury and salvage her career. But best laid plans often go astray . . .

Zach has never really recovered from Olivia’s departure, even though he always knew she was destined for fame, while he was destined for small-town life. Now Olivia’s back and he’s determined to protect his heart. But when he learns she’s staying in town longer than originally planned, Zach knows they are going to have to face the past to move on. He’s just not prepared for the beautiful woman she’s become or the effect she still has on his heart.

Small towns being what they are, Zach and Olivia are constantly thrown into one another’s paths, and it soon becomes apparent they still love each other. Will they give in to their rekindled desire and seize a second chance at happiness?

 

Review:

I won this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Rebecca Heflin and the publisher for the ebook. As always, an honest review from me. 

A Season to Dance is a sweet & steamy second chance romance set in a small but successful southern town. Olivia is a prima ballerina on break from her career of elite ballets, magazine deals and worldwide performances. Months before she tore her achilles tendon and is now currently rehabbing her injury. The uncertainty over her future in ballet makes for some great tension and lots of soul searching throughout the book. To help her along on her journey is her late Mom’s wife, high school boyfriend, and used to be enemy but now close friend. 

I liked that there weren’t many hard feelings between the characters who had conflict. They realized their hurt feelings were due to miscommunication instead of hate, and resolved their disagreements like adults. The growth in their relationships was wonderful. While the friendships are great, this is a romance novel after all. The romance was sweet and steamy, just how I like it. It’s not overly raunchy, but there’s definitely enough adult content to keep romance lovers entertained. The romance is like a good dark chocolate – rich, deep, sweet but with substance. Also the ballet world setting is perfection. The author has included enough ballet terms to make you feel as if you’re transported to the world of dance, but not so much that the non dancer will be confused. There’s also a glossary of dance terms at the end in case you want to reference it. 

There were very few moments that I didn’t enjoy. Actually nothing. There were a few minor storylines that didn’t add much to the book, but other than that it’s all good.

Overall, A Season to Dance is a perfect feel good romance novel for a day when you need a pick me up. I highly recommend. I really hope there is a sequel to the book. 

 

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Bookish Question:

How many of you took dance class as a child? Which types of dance? 

 

I danced for 16 years including tap, ballet, pointe, flamenco, jazz, hip hop, and contemporary.

 

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Bookish Posts · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mental health · Women's Fiction

The Best Book! | ARC Review | The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

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The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 304

Genres: contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, mental health

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books with all the feels, good representation of people on the autism spectrum

Foodie Vibes: cherry wine coolers 

 

Synopsis:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads, Tracey Garvis Graves and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

The book is absolutely amazing! There are not enough words to accurately describe how wonderful the read was, so I’m not even going to try. I will just say this: I’ve never done this before — not given a full in depth review of a book. That’s how special I found The Girl He Used to Know. But take my word for it, read this book! 

 

Do you ever feel like you don’t have the words to explain how amazing a book, movie, feeling is?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · suspense

The Light to My Darkness by Ivy Smoak

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The Light to My Darkness by Ivy Smoak

Published: September 19, 2017

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Pages: 358

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, suspense 

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: romance novels with a mix of suspense, realistic fiction, adorable family life, couples that are #relationshipgoals 

Foodie Vibes: bananas and ice cream ~ for all those pregnancy cravings 

 

Synopsis: 

My relationship with my husband has been splashed all over the tabloids ever since we first started dating. What should I have expected when I took New York City’s most eligible bachelor off the market?

But no matter how long I’m with my husband, I can’t shake the feeling that a stroke of luck brought me here. That I don’t deserve the life around me. And I swear, if one more paparazzi takes a picture of me I’m going to freaking lose my mind.

I needed to prove to myself that I’m not worthless. So I wrote a novel under a pen name, but I’ve been rejected by so many literary agents I’ve lost count. And I’m so consumed with this idea that I need more out of life that I never had a chance to see the real story unfolding around me. The story that would threaten the life I took for granted.

 

Review:

I won this ebook for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads and Ivy Smoak for the copy. As always, an honest review from me.

The Light to My Darkness is wonderful, heartfelt, passionate, and has just enough suspense. Penny is pregnant with her second child. She craves bananas and ice cream. She looks after her adorable 3 year old, Scarlett. And her husband absolutely worships her. The only difference this time around is that she has a moderate to severe heart murmur, and the pregnancy is putting added stress on her heart. 

I really liked that this romance novel features a pregnant and married woman as the main character. Not many authors do this. Their relationship is very steamy. The stress that her health condition puts on their day to day lives is also explored. The representation is great. Scarlett is also such a smart adorable kid. The suspense of Penny’s health condition and later darker elements kept me turning the pages quickly. 

However, there are a few aspects that I’m not a huge fan of. One is the manner that the couple met. Some people don’t have a problem with it, but I did. Also the last 20% of the book had a lot of information thrown in quickly. I wish that it was further explored. And the ending … let’s just say you’ll either love it or hate it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this contemporary romance featuring a strong smart woman who is pregnant. The suspense made it even better. I definitely recommend giving The Light to My Darkness a read. 

 

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If you’ve been pregnant before, what’s the weirdest food craving that you experienced?

 

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2.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Domestic Fiction · romance

ARC Review | A Sister’s Survival by Cydney Rax

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A Sister’s Survival by Cydney Rax

Published: November 27, 2018

Publisher: Dafina

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, romance, domestic fiction

Rating: 2.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about complex but strong relationships

Foodie Vibes: home cooked meal — potato salad, collard greens, cornbread 

 

Synopsis:

To keep their family ties strong, the five Reeves sisters meet regularly to give each other a reality check. But explosive family secrets begin to pour out like molten lava, and forever change all they treasure most . . .
 
After a shattering revelation, youngest sister Elyse struggles to overcome the sexual abuse that nearly destroyed her. Between her tough eldest sister, Alita, and a promising fresh start with a new man, she’s finding the strength to make the most of her fierce intelligence. But Elyse still has a score to settle with the perfect sister she feels betrayed by—and she’s going after everything Burgundy can’t afford to lose . . .
 
 Coco thinks her useless baby daddy is finally about to commit—until she catches him with a woman who’s everything she’s not. As she tries to move on with her life, she can’t resist carrying out the ultimate revenge. But when she inadvertently gets caught up in Elyse’s plan, she must reveal an unforgivable truth that could crush any chance these sisters have to make things right.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Dafina and Sydney Rax for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Trigger warning: sexual assault

A Sister’s Survival has a great premise, but didn’t end up being the right book for me. I liked that the female characters had strong supportive relationships. They felt comfortable discussing times they were sexually assaulted. Another book that fits in perfectly with the #MeToo Movement. It’s rare that people feel comfortable discussing such horrific circumstances with others. So I appreciated that the book was able to shine a light on living your life after sexual assault.

However, there is so much drama. Over the top drama, which was a bit much for me. There’s also a lot of cheating on others, which I’ve stated before that I’m not a fan of. Sleep with whomever you want, as long as it’s consensual and safe, but please don’t cheat. It does show that people are human though. Another aspect that frustrated me was the lack of continuity between chapters. Information that made me question if I had accidentally skipped pages, because it wasn’t make sense to me.

Overall, a good representation of characters that I don’t often see in books. But too much drama and inconsistencies for me to really get into the story.

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · fiction · POC · romance · Women's Fiction

Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

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Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

Published: July 3, 2012

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Pages: 302

Genres: chick lit, romance, contemporary romance, fiction, POC

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: fun books that make you happy, Bollywood movies, great friends, cross continental romance

Foodie Vibes: authentic Indian treats made and enjoyed with loved ones

 

Synopsis:

Shari Jones needs to get a life. Preferably someone else’s.
Single, homeless and jobless, Indo-American Shari agrees to her best friend’s whacky scheme: travel to Mumbai, pose as Amrita, and ditch the fiancé her traditional Indian parents have chosen. Simple. Until she’s mistaken for a famous Bollywood actress, stalked by a Lone Ranger wannabe, courted by an English lord, and busted by the blackmailing fiancé.
Life is less complicated in New York.
Or so she thinks, until the entourage of crazies follows her to the Big Apple and that’s when the fun really begins. Shari deals with a blossoming romance, an addiction to Indian food and her first movie role, while secretly craving another trip to the mystical land responsible for sparking her new lease on life. Returning to her Indian birthplace, she has an epiphany. Maybe the happily-ever-after of her dreams isn’t so far away?

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Entangled Publishing, and Nicola Marsh for an ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

One word to describe this book: FUN! It’s a feel good book filled with great Indian food, romance-love and arranged, wonderful friendships, fun cultural adventures, and just enough family drama to keep things interesting. When I think about Busted in Bollywood, I am filled with images of color, Indian delicacies, and pure joy. The book version of a Bollywood movie, that I can’t get enough of.

The story is set in New York City and India, both bustling vibrant cities, perfect for this whirlwind of a story. I loved the underlying focus on true relationships – family, friendships, and romantic. It’s not just a silly book, but is filled with great depth. 

Occasionally I wasn’t sure about the main character’s relationship. And I wanted to hear more about her friend’s relationship. 

But overall a fun joyful book that I highly recommend, to put you in a good mood.

 

Have you watched a Bollywood movie before? What did you think?

3 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary romance · romance

Lighting Fire by Leslie North

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Lighting Fire by Leslie North

Published: August 14, 2018

Publisher: ?

Pages: 170

Genres: romance, contemporary romance

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: firefighter romance, adrenaline filled books

Foodie Vibes: small town diner food complete with the latest town gossip

 

Synopsis:

Sookie Logan is interested in one thing and Chase Kingston is not it. A fiercely independent helicopter pilot for the National Guard, Sookie is back in her hometown to fly her copter and help fight a fire, not to hook up with some junior firefighter from Alaska. Especially when this particular firefighter works for her brother, the one person in the world who’s let her down the most. The hunk in yellow & tan is off limits.

But when a date intended to just make her brother’s blood boil turns into much more, Sookie and Chase give in to their raging attraction. Both agree it’s a quick fling—something that will last only as long as it takes to knock down the flames threatening her town. Leaving Chase behind will be as easy as leaving her hometown was the first time. No attachments.

No regrets.

Chase wasn’t looking for a hook-up and definitely not with his boss’s little sister. Besides, Chase isn’t about to fall for Sookie. Their “relationship” is all about the great sex, thank you very much—he’s been burned in the past and there’s no chance of a repeat. No way. Not even if Sookie is starting to get under his skin and he can’t seem to get that little firecracker of his head.

Just when Chase is beginning to believe they may have something real, the demons he’s been fighting for years come back with a vengeance, making a future between the two as unpredictable as the fire they’re fighting. As the fire rages on, will Sookie and Chase douse their own flame? Or realize they’re meant to face any inferno together?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Leslie North and the publisher for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Lighting Fire is a quick intense steamy read. Sookie and Chase meet while fighting an intense wildfire. Sparks fly but they are determined to not get involved for a multitude of reasons. 

The setup is fairly typical not that it’s a bad thing, but I was hoping for a bit more depth and less cliches. I think my main critique is that Chase is such an arrogant player. And the male ego between him and his boss, also Sookie’s brother, is ridiculous. Let women make their own choices without men being possessive and judge about it. Even though Chase has another side to him, it’s still not enough to make me fully enjoy the story. 

The romance is almost as hot as the forest fire burning outside though. Chase is a very attractive firefighter. Need I say more? Sexy times are also very intense and well. done. But they’re broken up by a lot of drama, brooding and male possessiveness. 

A book with mixed elements for me. Some good, some okay and some problematic. If you want a quick steamy read, then Lighting Fire is for you. If you’re looking for a bit more depth and in line with feminist ideals, then maybe consider something else. 

 

What are your hard stops when reading a romance novel?

3 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mystery · POC · Urban Fiction

New Release | Triple Threat by Camryn King

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Triple Threat by Camryn King 

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: Dafina Books

Pages: 320

Genres: contemporary fiction, urban fiction, POC, contemporary romance, mystery

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to: readers who want a behind the scenes look at fame in the elite sports world, fans of indecent love gone wrong, Law and Order SVU, justice

Foodie Vibes: healthy fueling meal of salmon, green salad and whole grains — prepared by a personal chef

 

Synopsis:

Mallory Knight knows all too well how perfect lives can be illusions. And after surviving an elusive stalker and a wrenching investigation, this determined journalist wants to profile someone whose life is an open book. Superstar athlete Christian Graham seems to be the real thing—and he’s the kind of honorable, understanding man Mallory never thought she’d find. He also knows rejection and loss…and their instant attraction burns too hot to resist. Until she gets a strange anonymous lead. Until her instincts uncover secrets that make every generous public gesture seem like a lie—and turn every seductive touch into a trap. Now, with her career and reputation on the line, Mallory won’t stop pursuing the truth—even if real justice devastates everything she can’t afford to lose…

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Dafina Books and Camryn King for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Triple Threat is the story of a journalist trying to investigate the death of her best friend. It was ruled a suicide after some sloppy police work, but Mallory knows better. The evidence doesn’t add up. She uses her resources and skills learned during her career to obtain justice for her friend.

It took me awhile to get into the story. The first 50 pages or so, I didn’t really care about it, but the story and characters slowly grew on me over time. Also there are a lot of people/circumstances that are interconnected but the connections weren’t made clear until later on in the book. The more I know, the more I enjoyed it. Also, certain characters’ disregard for women definitely bothered me. He wasn’t all bad though.

Now onto the positives. The book gives a behind the scenes look at very successful professional athletes. Specifically the world of basketball. Showing the good an athlete can do with their fame was great. The mystery aspect was intriguing too. It reminded me of an episode of Law and Order SVU. So definitely a plus in my book!

Overall some hits and some misses with Triple Threat. Great representation of professionals in an urban setting.

 

How far would you go to find justice for your friend?

 

————————————–

 

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance

ARC Review | No One Like Me by Heather McGovern

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No One Like You by Heather McGovern

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: Lyrical Shine

Pages: 266

Genres: romance, contemporary romance

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: feel good romance, realistic romance

Foodie Vibes: coffee and chocolate croissants 

 

Synopsis:

In the quaint mountain town of Windamere, North Carolina, the three Sargent sisters are determined to make their hotel and winery, Chateau Jolie, a success. And one by one, they’re finding that nothing pairs better with new beginnings than unexpected love…

The downside of living in a charming small town is that it’s impossible for Brooke Sargent to avoid anyone. Especially someone as big, handsome, and friendly as Trevor Bradley. At his brother’s wedding, they flirted and danced…before Brooke recalled that she’s not ready to trust any man after her divorce, let alone one who’s the competition. Her family’s struggling chateau is planning to host the local senior prom—without the Bradley family’s renowned Honeywilde Inn muscling in and stealing the glory.

Trevor has thought of no one else since the night he and Brooke connected. Even though she shot him down—hard—he’s seen the warmth beneath her guarded facade. Working together, they could give the high school students a spectacular prom. Navigating the rough terrain of Brooke’s business, while proving himself to his own siblings, won’t be easy. But Trevor loves a challenge—especially one that could win him the woman he can’t stop wanting . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Lyrical Shine and Heather McGovern for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

No One Like You is a sweet and sexy contemporary romance story that features an iconic moment in a teen’s life the high school prom. Except the main characters aren’t in high school anymore. They own hotels and wineries nearby and are begged to host the local prom after their venue couldn’t anymore. Trevor and Brooke end up planning the event together, despite some ups and downs. 

I like that there’s some history between the two. They had met at a wedding months prior and there was some obvious attraction. So it’s not some brand new whirlwind romance. It took some time and is built off mutual trust and understanding. My kind of novel. The locales don’t hurt either. Gorgeous wineries, hotels, and gardens set the scene for a lovely romance. I especially like the couple. They’re both private people by nature. Also the actual planning of the event was really fun to read about. 

However, their family’s backstory at times was a bit vague and confusing. With it being such an important part of the book, I wish it was a bit more figured out. But with a romance it’s easy to overlook those aspects as a reader. 

Overall a lovely romance that I would love to read more of, in the series. A serious but feel good read. 

 

What was your favorite prom memory?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christmas · contemporary fiction · Holidays · Short Stories

ARC Review | Christmas in Cape Cod by Nan Rossiter

Answer me this: 

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? 

 

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Christmas in Cape Cod by Nan Rossiter

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: Zebra

Pages: 79

Genres: Christmas, holiday, short stories, contemporary fiction

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: feel good holiday reads, the true meaning of the season, short stories for a bad day 

Foodie Vibes: mulled wine, homemade Christmas cookies

 

Synopsis:

With Christmas just around the corner, Asa Coleman has his hands full keeping up with his young son Noah’s rambunctious spirit. Whether he’s playing Santa or keeping a furry surprise under wraps, the joy Asa feels in Noah’s delight is all he could ask for as a single father. His best friend Maddie Carlson has been more than helpful throughout the season’s sometimes overwhelming rush of activities, and she can’t help but see how well she fits into their lives. But as always, something holds Asa back from accepting the happiness he deserves. Except this year, when it’s time to open gifts, something special might surprise them all . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Zebra, and Nan Rossiter for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Christmas in Cape Cod is the perfect short book to curl up with after a stressful day during the holiday season. The story takes place on Christmas Eve and Day. It’s such a perfect feel good holiday read, that you can’t help but be in a better mood after reading. The author shows us the true meaning of the season with these characters. Filled with all the quintessential holiday activities: baking homemade cookies, mulled wine, leaving food for Santa, going to church, exchanging gifts, and decorating the Christmas tree, you can’t help but enjoy yourself. So I say get a cup of hot cocoa, a few Christmas cookies and curl up with this great book on a chilly night. 

 

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