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MommaSaysToRead

Momma Says to Read

Avid reader/reviewer and editor. I don't pull punches when I review, love it or hate it, you get what I think.

Seven Letters

Seven Letters - J.P. Monninger

Seven Letters is beautifully written, and Monninger certainly knows how to paint a scene. It actually felt like more time was spent on the setting than on the love story, or maybe it was that those were some of my favorite parts. The romance was good, not great, but good, but that could be due to a lack of connection with Kate. I just never quite warmed up to her. I've seen that this one is headed for the silver screen, so I'm anxious to see how it all translates to film. I'm hoping to find Kate a little easier to like, and I can't wait for the terrific scenery described. In the end, Seven Letters fell just short of a really good story and landed somewhere in the mid-range for me.

One Night Gone

One Night Gone - Tara Laskowski

One Night Gone is told through dual timelines. We get Maureen, a girl who went missing in the mid-80s and Allison some thirty years later trying to figure out what happened. There is a decent mystery here, but it's completely predictable, and if I was supposed to get some thriller-like vibes, I missed them. I just didn't feel that tension that should come with a thriller. What it all really boils down to is the haves and the have nots and those who dare to cross that line between them. For a storyline that has been done so many times in various forms, I would've really liked a little less predictability to make it stand out. In the end, this one was just an okay read for me.

Hat Trick #2

Goalie Interference (Hat Trick #2) - Piper Vaughn, Avon Gale

Enemies to lovers is one of my favorite romance tropes, but Goalie Interference was just an okay read for me. Ryu and Emmitt are competitors. They both want the top position, and they both want to be on the ice for the playoffs. There is some back and forth in the very beginning, but other than that, I never really got the enemies to lovers vibe. That fierce sense of rivalry is there, and they both want to win. They wouldn't be valuable players if they didn't, but I just never got that animosity that comes with being enemies. The big, angsty problem is what I expected, and we get lots of moping on both sides, maybe a little too much moping. There is some wit and fun, mostly when Emmitt and Ryu are interacting with the team, particularly Morley. I absolutely love the fun-loving Morley. Given the circumstances, the relationship isn't public knowledge, and Ryu isn't even out, but that isn't a cause for worry here, which was refreshing in this type of romance. I will add that for those who want gameplay, this one gives us plenty of that. As the team heads into the playoffs, the play gets more and more exciting, and the authors do an excellent job of drawing you into the game. In the end, Ryu and Emmitt do have good chemistry, and their story is certainly plenty steamy, but it lacks the highs and lows of enemies turning into lovers while they fight every step of the way. It is certainly worth the read, and I'll be interested to see what's next for this series - I'm secretly hoping Morley gets a turn soon. As for this one, it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, but it did keep me entertained with its engaging characters and gameplay.

Frozen Hearts #3

Arctic Heat (Frozen Hearts #3) - Annabeth Albert

Arctic Heat sounds like my kind of read, at least on the surface. In reality, the story was much too slow for me. I felt like it was unnecessarily drawn out with a lot of focus on the mundane, day to day stuff. The rescues and various maintenance tasks were interesting, but I would've much rather read about the Alaskan countryside than how many times these guys made coffee. Suffice it to say that I was bored for a lot of this one.
As far as the romance goes, it was as slow-moving as the story. I can get behind a good slow burn, but this was pushing it. I get that Quill was resistant, but it grew repetitive, and by forty percent in, I really didn't care all that much if he did give in. I think part of that comes from Owen being so pushy. Quill may not have actually said the word no, but it was implied a lot. Of course, Quill comes around, or there wouldn't have been much of a romance, but I had a hard time liking Owen.
The big problem to overcome came from where I expected, and I'm not a fan of the big changing moment used here either. Both have been done and done again. Given the length of the book, I would think a little more time could've been spent on a more original problem and on an ending that didn't feel so rushed. It felt like it took forever to get there only to be pushed through to the end.
This third in the Frozen Hearts series also gave me a few problems structurally. We get both Owen and Quill's points of view in a chapter, but there was no designation to let the reader know that, and I really didn't notice a big difference in either voice. Both of those things led to confusion about who was doing what and when. I'm an adult, I can figure it out as I read, but more than once, I'd be part way through and realize the point of view had changed.
I realize that my opinion is probably not the popular one, it rarely is, but I just found this one much too easy to set aside and even harder to pick back up.

The Lies We Tell

The Lies We Tell - Debra Webb

The Lies We Tell starts off well enough, and there is a mystery here, but for the life of me, I'm not quite sure exactly what that mystery was. Is Julian out to get Rowan? Did her mother have some involvement in it all? Was her father the man she thought he was? Oh, and then, we have two murders that have Rowan and Billy running around and asking questions. And exactly why is the undertaker so involved in a police investigation anyway? So, yes, there were questions, loads of questions with very few answers. I suppose this story is several mysteries in one with none of them getting the focus they need.
The thing is this is part of a series, and I'll admit that I didn't know that when I started reading. That said, it didn't take me long to figure it out. I'll just add here, that I would not recommend this book as a standalone. The author does give some backstory, but it's not really enough to get a good feel for what's happened so far and at the same time, it's repetitive. Yes, that left me a little befuddled too, but it is what it is. I'm not even sure how many times we're told that Julian is a prolific serial killer. I get it, this dude has killed a lot of people, and he's obsessed with Rowan. I can remember that without it being repeated. So, it's safe to say that the repetitiveness of this one annoyed me.
Quite often, I'll grab a book in the middle of the series and like what I find enough to go back and start at the beginning - Even if I don't understand everything that's mentioned in said mid-series book. That is not the case with The Lies We Tell. To sum it up, the story is convoluted, and parts of it seem to almost go in circles. I was less than impressed with Billy and Rowan who spend an awful lot of time running in those previously mentioned circles. For a smart woman, she wouldn't even remember to eat if Billy didn't constantly provide meals for her. Basing my opinion on what I've found here, I won't be bothering with earlier books in the series.
At the risk of being spoiler-ish, I'll add that Julian isn't the only serial killer I learned about in this book, so I can only deduce that Rowan is some kind of serial killer magnet. If that seems a little farfetched, I thought so too. On a positive note, one case is solved in this winding road of a story, but I still ended up with more questions than answers, and then it just ends. It's more open-ended than cliffhanger, but it felt like this whole thing was just one big set up for the next book in the series. One that I won't be bothering to check out.

What Rose Forgot

"What Rose Forgot" - Nevada Barr

What Rose Forgot sounded like an interesting mystery, and it does start off that way. However, it soon turns into something unbelievable bordering on ridiculous. I realize this is fiction, and a certain amount of leeway can be given, but this one is almost fantasy, especially since nothing short of magic could make a woman in Rose's condition bounce back so quickly. And I don't just say that because of her age. I would find it hard to believe of a twenty-year-old, let alone someone in their sixties. It's a shame because Rose was such a feisty character, and I did have a few laughs along the way. But once things started happening, most of it was just eye-rollingly off the wall. I like quirky characters, and they tend to be some of my favorites, but this one takes quirky to a whole new level. The mystery had potential, but by the time I got through Rose's many adventures, I was just over it and really didn't care one way or the other about the whodunit. 

Dine with Me

Dine With Me - Layla Reyne

Lots of food, lots and lots of food. I like food, and I realize that Miller is a chef and Clancy is along for a food-filled tour, but more time is spent on the food than on the romance. I mean, this is technically supposed to be a romance, right? Nevertheless, the first half of this one revolves mostly around the food with a little get to know you conversation thrown in as Clancy attempts to get to know Miller, who is doing his best to remain closed-off to anything personal.
Things do pick up in the second half and given the circumstances, the emotions also pick up dramatically. This is where the focus is on Miller's diagnosis and his decisions about that. Despite my feelings about the lack of romance, I still really liked both Miller and Clancy, and this part of the book certainly tugged on my heartstrings.
In the end, Dine with Me is sweet, emotional, and a little bit steamy, but between the food tour and Miller's diagnosis and determination to follow through with his plan, I feel like the romance suffered. Yes, we're told that these guys care about each other, we get Clancy's distress over the situation, and they certainly have chemistry between the sheets. But, so little time was spent on the whole falling in love that it was hard to believe it when they finally professed those feelings. We do get an oh, so sweet ending to wrap things up, but for me, it was too little too late to entirely sell me on the romance.
The book is well-written, and I'm glad I read it, but it's not something I'll remember down the road in terms of recommended romances.

Maximum Security Book 2

The Deception (Maximum Security #2) - Kat Martin

I finished The Conspiracy undecided about whether I would continue with this series and remained on the fence until I read the blurb for The Deception, which convinced me to give it a try. This one has good suspense and action, but there are also several similarities between it and the first book in the series, so it has its good and bad points.
There is more of the same in Martin's characters here. The good guys are all pretty people, for lack of a better way to say it. I'll save the lengthy descriptions on both sides, but suffice it to say the bad guys are all the opposite of the good guys. Basically, in the Maximum Security world, there are no attractive bad guys and vice versa, or that's the impression it gives. All that accomplished for me was to make the characters almost caricature-like. That's not including our romantic couple, who of course, are both sexy and hard to resist. I did like that Kate is a strong woman, and she even though she does sometimes need rescuing, she can also take care of herself.
As far as the romance, there is a lot of back and forth about where things are going for both Kate and Jason, which is common in romance. However, the angst comes from the 'I'm not good for you, so I'm letting you go to protect you,' a trope that is tired at best. Kate and Jason do have good chemistry, and I liked them together, but I lost some of that when the romance is tested in that way. The story has some good intrigue, and there is plenty of danger for this couple so that extra angst just felt unnecessary.
All in all, The Deception had its pros and cons for me, but I did like it better than the first in the series.

Jesse Stone #18

Robert B. Parker's The Bitterest Pill - Reed Farrel Coleman

I've loved Jesse Stone's laid-back attitude, at least until it's time to be not so laid back, for years. I was introduced to him first in the movies with Tom Selleck, which led me to the books, and I was forever hooked. Jesse's story continues through the words of Reed Farrel Coleman, and I love that he holds true to the wonderful character first brought to life by Parker. There is one big difference, Jesse's sober now and trying to remain so. I realize that Jesse's sobriety is a source of contention for some, but I don't see it that way. For me, a character needs to continue to grow and evolve, and an honest effort at sobriety seems like a natural progression for the character.
I missed the last book in the series, so the addition of Jesse's son was new to me. That's where this book first got a little personal for me. I grew up in a situation very similar to Cole's, except I was older than Cole by the time I met my father. So, I'm always interested in how these situations play out on the page. Based on my own experiences, the interactions between Cole and Jesse ring true. They're still getting to know each other, and Cole is still learning to trust Jesse as well as learning that everything he thought he knew wasn't exactly how things were. I liked the progression for the father and son, and I enjoyed the addition of Cole's character.
The Bitterest Pill tackles the growing drug problem, specifically the opioid crisis and how it gets a hold on small towns everywhere. The web of players on that side of things was complex and held my interest as well as kept me guessing about a particular player in the game. There are red herrings, and there's also more than one possibility for who it could be. And here I will admit that I was wrong. I had my guesses, and while this one didn't exactly come out of nowhere, that person wasn't even on my radar. Of course, we get plenty of Suit and some of Molly as the case moves forward as well as Jesse relying on some help from a known criminal, which, again, rings true to the character.
In addition to a solid mystery and some page time with some series favorites, Coleman gives us a touch of romance for our favorite police chief. One that comes with some migivings, and we all know Jesse's penchant for wanting answers. I won't go into details on that so as not to give spoilers, but I felt like things happened the only way they could have given the circumstances.
In the end, there were a lot of players in this deadly game as the opioid crisis hits Paradise with a vengeance, and the story moves along with a steadily rising tension that explodes into an edge of your seat conclusion. However, I will add that when you think the dust has settled on this particular addition to the Jesse Stone series, it really hasn't. There's a bit more to the story. I don't know if there's another Jesse Stone book planned, but I sincerely hope so, and I certainly recommend this one.

The Long Call

The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) - Ann Cleeves

The Long Call turned out to be a really long read for me, mostly because I kept setting it aside for something more interesting. The writing is stilted and there are odd phrasings and some out of context sentences here and there that add to that stilted affect. Like one lengthy paragraph about Jen's kids and child minders that ends with a sentence about Jen still having sexy dreams about one child minder and his 'tight bum.' Umm... Ok, maybe that was an attempt at giving the reader some insight about Jen, but it just left me confused about its relevance to anything in the story, including the paragraph it accompanies.

This is a police procedural, so I didn't expect much in the way of those edge of your seat moments that make a good thriller, but I found most of this book just plain boring. It did have potential but most of that got lost in the slow pacing of the story. 

On a positive note, there is a lot of diversity, which is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned. That said, this one got a little over the top with the characterizations of people. The protagonists are all open-minded and completely accepting while everyone else needs an attitude adjustment because their beliefs are just wrong. I'm about as open-minded as it gets, but I realize that it's rarely so black and white where people are concerned. This book gives voice to the idea that there is no gray area, and it started to feel more like a soap box than a story. 

This is my first experience with Ann Cleeves, and I find myself quite underwhelmed. This isn't a story I would recommend and given my feelings about this one, I don't see any reason to continue with the series.

Milo Weaver Book 2

The Nearest Exit - Olen Steinhauer

After reading the first Milo Weaver book, I quickly jumped into this one. My hope was that the author was finding his footing and laying the groundwork for a compelling spy series and things would pick up with this book. Instead, I found more of the same, loads of lengthy dialogue, repetitiveness, and bits of action followed by page after page of slow-moving story. The story has great potential but seems to always stay just this side of the compelling read that it could be. I'm two for two now on this series that can't seem to cross over into something memorable, something that would make me want to continue on. As it stands, I'm on the fence about the series and its main character, so I think I'll be taking a break before considering the next Milo Weaver story.

Milo Weaver Book 1

The Tourist - Olen Steinhauer

It's been quite a while since I've curled up with a spy novel, so maybe I'm out of the loop on the genre, but The Tourist left me somewhere in the fair to midland range. There's a lot of dialogue and the story is repetitive at times, plus there are several things that seem to rely on everyone, including Milo, being either oblivious or not very bright, both of which seem out of sorts with a spy novel. In the end, The Tourist left me wanting more - more action, more intrigue, more tension, just more. It isn't a bad story, but it isn't a particularly great one either. 

The Whisper Man

The Whisper Man - Alex North

There has been a lot of hype about this book, and maybe I let that build up my expectations, maybe I've just read too many similar stories, or maybe it's just that this one wasn't for me, but The Whisper Man left me thoroughly underwhelmed. The premise is sufficiently creepy, but the story is dreadfully slow and repetitive. It does pick up a bit in the second half but all too soon, it slows back down. On top of the slow pace, it's also rather predictable. Again, that may be because I've read so many thrillers. There is an interesting touch of the supernatural that I would've liked to have seen explored, but we're just left with hints of that angle. I did finish the book but sat it aside several times, and it was a lot easier to set aside than to pick back up. In the end, I was bored more often than not and found this one severely lacking in the building tension of a good thriller. My opinion of this one is certainly far from the average, but it is what it is. I certainly liked the idea of this book much better than the reality of it. With all the hype and hoopla, it's darn near impossible to go into this one blind, but that would be my recommendation and hopefully you'll fall into the large number of readers who enjoyed The Whisper Man more than I did.

Shacking Up #5

Handle With Care - Helena Hunting

I've enjoyed each book in this series of standalones, but Handle with Care is my absolute favorite. Lincoln and Wren are so much fun! If you look up book boyfriend in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure you'll find Lincoln Moorehead's picture. He's a little grumpy, a lot sexy, and everything that his lech of a brother is not. The brothers are complete opposites, and our heroine, Wren, is charged with handling them both. And handle them, she does. In Wren, Helena Hunting has given us a leading lady who is strong enough to take care of herself while still projecting femininity. She knows how to get the job done and doesn't care to get her hands dirty to accomplish her goals. The story is high on wit and humor and low on angst, making it perfect for a relaxing weekend read provided anyone around doesn't mind the many times you burst out laughing. It's loaded with terrific characters that keep the pages turning. Even the ones you really want to punch in the mouth - Ahem, Armstrong! I love that we see a couple of past favorites from the series, yet the book still stands on its own. All of that makes for a great story, but the best thing about this one is our romantic couple. Even before they seal the deal, Lincoln and Wren are two of best characters I've come across in romantic comedy. Both are likable, they have great chemistry, and they just mesh. Even when they're butting heads over everything from haircuts to tuxedos, these two just work. I don't know if the author has another book planned for this series, but I hope to see our bad boy, Armstrong meet his match. Whatever she does next, Hunting has set the bar high with this one. 

Hopeless Romantics #1

On the Corner of Love and Hate - Nina Bocci

On the Corner of Love and Hate felt more like women's fiction to me than romance except that it's more fluff than fiber where the storyline and characters are concerned. That's not necessarily a bad thing, we could all use a little fluff from time to time, but the romance here is a slow burn - like the flame is barely there type of slow. I expected an enemies to lovers story, but I never really got that from Emma and Cooper. They do have some fun banter, and we're told that there were some sparks in the past, but I just didn't see much chemistry between them. They could've ended up just good friends, and I would've been fine with that. I do like small town stories and on that, this one delivers. The town is charming, and the characters are quirky and fun. I even enjoyed the politics and Cooper's double-dealing opponent made for an interesting bit of trouble in the mayoral race. I did have one pet peeve with this book, and that was the random 'Emma thoughts' that would pop up. At first they were amusing and even cute, but after so many, it was more distraction and started to wear at me. Fortunately, those do fizzle after a while and they don't happen as often in the last half of the book. In the end, this one wasn't quite what I expected or hoped for, but I did enjoy meeting the characters of Hope Lake, and I will check out other books from this author.

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days (Devil You Know) - Kerrigan Byrne

How to Love a Duke In Ten Days opens with an intense scene that certainly pulled me into the story. From that point, I had to know what would come of Alexandra and what her future would hold. We do know a bit of that going in just from reading the blurb, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Kerrigan Byrne balances darkness and light so well, and she draws her characters equally well. There's no sitting back and watching this one unfold. The writing style pulls you in and makes you experience the emotions along with the characters. The chemistry between Alexandra and Piers is off the charts and I love that Alexandra is such a strong woman. The story is almost fairy-tale like, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.