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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.

Weekend Fling

Weekend Fling - Stacey  Lynn

Weekend Fling is a terrific mix of sweet, funny, angsty, and well, it's just plain good! Trey and Willow are so good together that it's impossible not to root for them. Willow has more than her fair share of problems to deal with, and Trey is one of those good guys who is genuinely just that, a good guy. He's also got just the right amount of stubborn to keep going after what he wants. The story does have its emotional moments and not just with the romance. It touches on a hard topic for many to discuss, and the author handled it very well while still keeping this couple and their love story at the forefront. This newest addition to Stacey Lynn's A Crazy Love series does stand on its own while still giving readers a chance to catch up with some past favorites. That said, this couple is my favorite in the series. The story is well-written, the romance is sexy and sweet, and the characters are engaging and thoroughly lovable. 

The Dead Girls Club

The Dead Girls Club - Damien Angelica Walters

One of my biggest pet peeves with books is when the blurb is misleading. I get that it should catch the attention of would-be readers, but if you tell me it's a specific thing, I darn well expect it to be that thing. The Dead Girls Club is not a supernatural thriller. Supernatural adjacent, maybe, but other than the made-up stories of one troubled little girl and another letting it get in her head, there was nothing supernatural here. Honestly, I didn't find anything remotely thriller-like either. Here's where I put in that none of that would've been a deal-breaker for me. I still could've enjoyed a good drama with some tragedy thrown in. What I got was a lengthy, wordy story that took way too long to get through. To be brutally honest, I was bored through about 75% of this one, and it was only sheer determination that made me push through to the end. I did like some of the "Then" chapters until they became repetitive with pre-teen drama and angst, but today's Heather got on my last nerve. I finally got to Becca's death, and yes, Becca had a tragic life, but when it came right down to it, I only had one thought about the night this girl died - they were young, yes, but they were old enough to know better. There are a couple of decent twists toward the end that could've been great had the book been better executed, but they were just too little, too late for me. Then an ending that was less than satisfying, to say the least, was just adding insult to injury.

All Fired Up

All Fired Up (Road to Love) - Lori Foster

This is my first read by Lori Foster, and I've gotta admit that about halfway through, I was still waiting for some romance, something other than sultry eyes and lingering looks. Seriously, we're talking somewhere around 200 pages into an almost 400-page read, and I'm still waiting for the romance to get going. However, that little annoyance was just that, a little annoyance. Because somewhere in there, while I waiting, I realized that I really liked these characters, and I wanted to know more about them. The whole Crews family is relatable and absolutely lovable. Even Elliott, who is most certainly a jerk when it comes to relationships and responsibility. Yet, somehow I still found myself rooting for him. We do finally get some romance, and yes, I felt like there could've been a better buildup, but I liked both characters enough by that point that I wanted them to be happy. The author also gives us a bit of danger, and our baddies are a bit over the top in their badness, but they did add some tension. In the end, this one was more of a family drama than romance, but I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this family. 

Wynn Hockey #3

Win Big (Wynn Hockey, #3) - Kelly Jamieson

This newest addition to the Wynn Hockey series brings us Everly and Wyatt, the good girl and the good-time guy. Except things aren't always as they seem, and there's more to both of them than what people see on the surface. This one is a bit more serious than what we've seen in the series, but Kelly Jamieson's wit is still present, especially in the banter between Wyatt and Everly. Both characters are likable and relatable, and their chemistry comes through even when they're butting heads. Win Big also focuses more on the Wynn family dynamic than the gameplay, so if you've followed the series, you get to catch up with past favorites in addition to falling in love with this couple. As this is part of a series, it should be noted that this book can stand on its own. There is a continuing story of upheaval within the family, but it isn't hard to figure it all out with the information the author gives us. There's also a handy little who's who in the front of the book to help keep the family members straight. As for this one, the story is engaging, the characters are well-drawn and likable, and it's a good mix of serious and not so serious. All in all, a solid addition to the series. 

Anything For You

Anything For You (Valerie Hart #3) - Saul Black

Anything for You was much better in the abstract than it was in reality. It had the potential to be a gritty thriller, but the writing is too detached to become invested in the story. It didn't help that I didn't like a single character in this story. Not one. For the most part, I found the story to be obnoxious, vulgar, and explicit. Now, let me say that I am not easily offended, but I didn't find any of those things to be necessary for this to be a good story. Honestly, I felt like the shock value they add ended up being detrimental. The thing with being explicit in a story like this is that most people don't need it. With the right words, an author can give just enough for the reader to imagine the gory details. And I'm here to tell you that I can always imagine it much worse than most can write it. Maybe it's just me, maybe not, but the only thing I got from reading this one was a few hours that I can't get back. It's predictable, unengaging, and well, just not good in my opinion.

The Family Upstairs

The Family Upstairs - Lisa Jewell

I realize that I'm in the minority on this one, but The Family Upstairs just didn't do it for me. It's told from three perspectives, which wouldn't be a problem except that one of those perspectives is written in first person while the other two are in third. I understand the reasoning behind it, but that doesn't change the fact that it was a distraction for me. There are a fair amount of characters to keep up with, but they are distinctive enough to keep them sorted in my mind. The problem is that the story gets bogged down in unnecessary mundane details. I can appreciate well-drawn characters and painting a picture to show where they're coming from so the reader can get to know them, but this goes a little too far with that - so far that the three characters the story focuses on start to drift away from the plot at times. This one still could've been an okay story for me, but the more I read, the more I felt like it just didn't live up to its potential. This book had the potential to be an excellent dark and gritty story, but it's stretched to the point of being convoluted, and that was just disappointing.  

Once Upon a Cowboy Christmas

Once Upon A Cowboy Christmas - Soraya Lane

The title of this one led me to expect both a cowboy and a Christmas romance, a second chance romance at that. Other than the story taking place at Christmastime, I never really got the holiday vibe with this one. And Cody does not feel like a cowboy. He's around the horses while he's home, and his childhood home is a ranch, but Cody is a businessman through and through. Regardless of the picture on the cover, I just never pictured him with the Stetson or any of the things I'd expect of a cowboy. The romance is a second chance for Cody and Lexi, but we're told more than we're shown so it's not easy to get behind these two as a couple. There are several secondary characters, and the author does a solid job of giving each of them a distinctive voice, so there's no confusion about who is who. The shining stars in this one were Cody's dad and Lexi's son. I absolutely loved Walter and Harry, and they are what kept me reading until the last. They both stand out in every scene they're a part of, and you can't help but love them. I really would've liked a bit more development of our couple and the romance, especially since that should've been the focus of the story, but it is what it is. In the end, this one was just okay for me. 

Clean Slate Ranch #4

Lucky Break - A.M. Arthur

Lucky Break is part of the Clean Slate Ranch series, and while past characters are in this one, it can stand on its own. That said, this book drove me crazy. The pacing is incredibly slow, like moves as a snail's pace slow for about two-thirds of the way through. In fact, I set this one aside several times and even thought about giving it up more than once. I felt like I was just meandering along waiting for something to happen. I did like Robin's patience with Shawn, and both guys had their own issues to work through, but the many what-ifs began to grow tedious long before anything substantial happened between this pair. Even after they decide to explore their attraction, the doubt continues, and it continues some more. Yes, I completely get that Shawn had plenty of reason to be insecure, but his inner monologue of doubt about the relationship was repetitive and after a while, annoying. But here's the thing - these guys talk about a ton of stuff, they talk about their feelings, about their experience or lack of in Shawn's case, about family, and so on. They talk about everything except the important stuff, and when that stuff is all revealed, none of it is anything that would break them up. In fact, anyone who would leave someone over the things these guys are dealing with wouldn't be worth the time or trouble. So, in the end, I just didn't get it. This one could've easily been cut in half, and we still would've gotten the meat of the story, and the angst level would've been significantly lower. I have no problem with angsty romances, but this felt like angst just for the sake of angst. I read the last book in this series and liked it enough to continue with this one, but I think this may be the end of the Clean Slate Ranch series as far as I'm concerned. 

All In Book 1

A Lie for a Lie - Helena Hunting

This author is a hit or miss for me, and A Lie for a Lie falls somewhere in the middle. It's not a bad story at all. In fact, it's a pretty good story except that it goes on a lot longer than I cared for given the very low angst level. There are certainly causes for angst, and Lainey does a fair bit of clinging, crying, etc, but things are resolved much faster than I would've expected given the length of the book. Now, there's nothing at all wrong with a low angst story, but I don't expect them to be quite as slow-paced or drawn out as this one. I just kept waiting for something substantial to happen to warrant the build-up, and then that something does happen but it's like it's all just okay. I'm trying to be vague here so as not to give spoilers, but with what happened in RJ's past, I just expected more when Lainey reveals her secret. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't care for Lainey's clinging and crying, especially the frightened rabbit she was in the beginning, but her past does explain that. In the end, the characters were likable, and the book is well-written - two things I've come to expect from Helena Hunting. As far as the story - I didn't hate it, but I didn't particularly love it either, landing me somewhere in the fair to middlin' range. As I said, this author is a hit or miss for me, so I suppose this one really isn't either of those - or maybe it's a bit of both? Either way, I will check out whatever Hunting does next. 

Ice Hard

Ice Hard (New York Nighthawks #2) - Tracy Goodwin

This couple was great together, and it was easy to get behind this romance. Until it wasn't. The story was maybe a little drawn out in the middle, but that wasn't a dealbreaker for me, especially since I liked the couple. Then things started going downhill. The family drama in the last third or so of the book just didn't feel necessary. Cami had enough issues to work through, and the whole scene with her family felt like drama for the sake of drama. That's the point when the relationship started going downhill. Cami lost something, at least for me. The relationship angst comes from Cami's decisions, and since I'm trying not to give spoilers, I'll just say that her explanation to Nick was probably one of my least favorites in romance. The result was that I spent the rest of the book, which should've been all about the making up and happy ever after, just wishing Nick would walk away. In the end, what started as an engaging romance wound up being just an okay read for me. 

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.