A Modern Day Arranged Marriage

Catherine Bybee’s “Wife by Wednesday” is a modern day version of a “marriage of convenience” romance. Samantha Elliot runs a matchmaking service for wealthy men looking for “suitable” women applicants from which they can select a wife. Strictly business arrangements with stringent requirements tailored to fit each client’s needs. Billionaire Blake Harrison needs a wife quickly to meet the requirements of his late father’s will and when he meets with Sam to review the applicants she’s selected, he’s already made up his mind. Sam is exactly what he’s looking for. Naturally there’s a hefty payoff involved which Sam desperately needs to pay for her sister’s stay in a long-term care facility. And they agree at the outset that the “marriage” has a one year expiration date. Problem is, their hearts don’t know about the expiration.

Bybee’s characters are well developed and not static as they continue to grow and develop throughout the story. The plot isn’t exactly original but it has a few twists that keep it interesting and the pacing is perfect. The dialogue is entertaining – witty, occasionally snarky, sometimes funny and of course there’s the romance, which is what we signed up for. The love scenes are not at all explicit, leaving most everything except for some heavy petting to the reader’s imagination.

So if you’re looking for a sweet, quick summer romantic read with a HEA, this first book in the Weekday Brides series should fill the bill. Why did I rate it only three and a half stars? As enjoyable as it was to read, it’s not very substantial and the epilogue is so sugary it makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it. Is that fair? Maybe not but it’s my call. In my opinion, better to have skipped the epilogue altogether.

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All Things Scottish With a Southern Twist – A review of “A Highlander Walks Into A Bar”

#A Highlander Walks Into A Bar” is a rollicking rom-com with a Scottish flair that’s set in Georgia. As I’m a voracious reader who lives in Georgia and loves all things Scottish, this title was a no-brainer for me. In the first book in author Laura Trentham’s new series we’re introduced to mother and daughter Rose and Isabel Buchanan who put on the annual Scottish games festival in their hometown of Highland, Georgia. On a recent trip to Scotland Rose is captivated enough by six foot tall Gareth to bring him home as a souvenir. But Gareth’s nephew Alasdair Blackmoor follows to satisfy himself as to Rose’s motives. Only he isn’t prepared for Isabel’s refreshingly quirky habit of thinking out loud and saying whatever pops into her head. When Alasdair agrees to stay a couple of weeks and help Izzy with the festival, all manner of complications arise, one of which is the magnetic attraction between them. But to what purpose when his stay in Highland is destined to be short-lived. Or is it?

Refreshingly heartwarming and sometimes laugh out loud funny, the characters are authentic and engaging. The plot is well developed with a few twists that create just enough tension and conflict to make this rom-com interesting. The pacing kept me flipping pages so that I finished it in one sitting. A delightfully entertaining read. Be sure to add it to your TBR list and mark your calendar for the release date, July 30, 2019.

My sincere thanks to Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday Musings

Noodling, time wasting, procrastinating – call it what you will but it seems I’ve done more than my share of it lately and that, and “The Mueller Report” account for the paucity of my blog posts lately. I’m just finishing up Volume One so my posts may be fewer until I work my way through Volume Two.

On the plus side, I just read “A Highlander Walks Into A Bar” a delightful romance novel by Laura Trentham. It’s one of the Highland, Georgia series due for publication July 30, 2019. So if you enjoy a romance with a Scottish flair, be sure to add it to your TBR list and watch for my review tomorrow.

Family Shapes Us – A review of “Forget Me” by Kimberley Ash

Book #2 in the Van Allen Brothers series by Kimberley Ash is more a look at family relationships than a romance. “Forget Me” concentrates on Laurel Moore’s return from NYC to her hometown to keep the family bar running after her father’s death. In so doing, she reconnects with her past love, Jonah Van Allen who has shed his “bad boy” image to become a psychologist with a PhD under his belt. While their relationship rekindles and burns brightly, both of their families are brought into the story and it quickly becomes a treatise on dysfunctional relationships: with mothers, brothers, fathers, in-laws, employees, friends….. You get the idea. A large part of the story centers around Laurel’s skills as an innovative chef and her creativity, which is evident in the dishes she whips up in her kitchen. The family dynamics and how they affect Laurel and Jonah are at least as important as the affair itself. In the midst of all the goings on, the pacing falters here and there, enough so that I kept finding things other than reading to occupy my time (heretofore unheard of). However, the characters are well drawn and the dialogue is authentic. As previously noted, the plot is tightly interwoven and aside from some steamy love scenes, it’s most definitely family centric.

My thanks and appreciation to Net Galley for providing an ARC and the opportunity to submit a pre-publication review of “Forget Me”.

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Romance Done Right – A review of “Dance With Me” by Kristen Proby

I’m happy to report that Kristen Proby is back on track doing what she does best. Romance. “Dance With Me” is twelfth in the “With Me in Seattle” series and I’m so glad I didn’t desert. Yeah I know. How could I even consider it, right? But a couple of titles in another series fell way short of the mark for me so I’m happy that I stuck it out and waited for this one.

In “Dance With Me” we get to know singer/dancer/songwriter and performer extraordinaire Starla (NLN) and Detective Levi Crawford of Seattle PD. It had taken months for Levi to get past what turned into a one night stand with Starla. Later she turns up living across the street when her doctor insists on a three month hiatus from touring and performing. When she reconnects with Levi, the attraction has lost none of its electricity. It still sizzles. But Starla has acquired a stalker and Levi is determined to protect her now that he’s found her again.

I’m a diehard romance fan and Proby delivers this time with a thriller plot that really cranks up the heat. The attraction between Levi and Starla was already near boiling and with threats on her life, the gauges are firmly in the red zone.

The dual POV narrative is delivered in alternating chapters by Starla and Levi and the plot is meaty enough to sink your teeth into. Even though we were introduced to this duo earlier, we really get to know them and their backstories clue us in on their motivations. So if you enjoy reading hot, tear up the sheets love scenes, you’re in for a real treat. Pure escapism at its best. Five sizzlin’ stars.

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The Battle for Jerusalem – A review of “Where the Desert Meets the Sea” by Werner Sonne

Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine so I was intrigued at the prospect of a tale set in Jerusalem in 1947. “Where the Desert Meets the Sea” involves the bond between two women, an Arab and a Jew. I had only a very basic knowledge of the time surrounding Israel’s establishment as a state but nothing about the conflict itself and this book did a fair job of enlightening me about some of the struggles, especially the ongoing guerrilla warfare in Jerusalem for control of the city state. Each side felt its claim to the territory was valid and neither was willing to cede what they considered already theirs. However, NATO said otherwise.

While Werner Sonne’s book is factually accurate from a historical perspective, the characters are somewhat one dimensional except for Dr. David Cohen. We get a much deeper look at what makes Cohen tick than we do at anyone else. What is disappointing is the missed opportunity to plumb the depths of a relationship between the Arab nurse Hana and Judith, the young Jewish survivor of Dachau. More’s the pity that Sonne didn’t delve too deeply there.

The writing itself is clean and relatively uncluttered but it’s also soulless. In my estimation, author Sonne took a pass on a rare opportunity. Kudos to Steve Anderson for an exemplary translation. Three and a half stars.

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Friends Make the Best Lovers – A review of “Imperfect Match” by Corinne Michaels and Melanie Harlow

Who doesn’t love a friends-to-lovers romance? But when they’re best friends there’s so much at stake if the lovers part goes south. In “Imperfect Match” Willow Hayes is in line to take over her mother’s matchmaking business. So why not set up her best friend on a date? Reid Fortino seemingly has all the desirable attributes a girl could expect so it should be easy peasy to match him up with a date. Only Willow didn’t expect the green-eyed monster of jealousy to rear its ugly head at the prospect of seeing Reid with another woman.

Co-authors Corinne Michaels and Melanie Harlow dished up a feast of fresh, witty dialogue that had me grinning and laughing out loud and the characters are so well drawn they seem like our friends too. The only fly in the ointment is Willow whose dithering and negative self-talk gets old fast, so much so that it occasionally borders on paranoia. Reid on the other hand seems embarrassingly normal at first but his flaws eventually come to light too. When the lovers discover that their hopes and dreams for the future not only don’t merge, they wildly diverge, it creates a chasm that seems impossible to bridge. If only they can find some common ground that will allow them to meet in the middle. Can’t best friends do that when the stakes are so high? You’ll have to read it to find out. I can promise you’ll love it. Four stars.

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