“Melanie Harlow never fails to deliver a beautifully crafted, emotional story that leaves my ‘happily ever after heart’ satisfied.” —Helena Hunting, New York Times bestselling author
I’m a full-time single dad to three daughters and CFO at Cloverleigh Farms. I don’t have time to fall in love—I’m too busy trying to run a business, keep the red socks out of the white laundry, and get the damn pillowcases on without owing a dollar to the swear jar.
Sure, Frannie Sawyer is beautiful and sweet, but she’s twenty-seven, the boss’s daughter, and my new part-time nanny—which means she’s completely off-limits. It’s bad enough I can’t stop fantasizing about her, what kind of jerk would I be if I acted on the impulse to kiss her?
(Exactly the kind of jerk you’re thinking.)
Actually, I’m worse than that—because I didn’t stop with a kiss, and now I can’t stay away. She makes me feel like myself again. She reminds me what it’s like to want something just for me. She’s everything I ever needed, but nothing I ever imagined.
I’m a former Marine. I should have had the strength to resist her from the start.
But I didn’t. And now I have to choose between the life I want and the life she deserves.
I’ve been waiting on writing this review about Lea Coll’s Only with You. As I’ve read some of the earlier reviews, I felt, honestly, like I was missing something. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the basic premise of this story: a young woman trying to move away from the confines of her father’s purvey of her life (especially because her father is self-absorbed and cruel), a hero with tragic past who has struggled to truly live his life in the shadow of that tragedy, and new beginnings. All of these were the highlights of this story. As Cade and Hadley grow and move closer to each other, this book’s strength is clear. Even more, Lea Coll has situated it in one of my favorite areas of the U.S. I adore Annapolis and Baltimore, so walking these places with Cade and Hadley reminded me why I love this part of the Eastern Seaboard.
Yet, there were parts of this story where I struggled. For one, there is an unevenness in the storytelling. What I mean by that is one minute Cade is “all in” and the very next he is out. Hadley feels as through Cade won’t be able to love her as he did his deceased wife, but the next line is her submission to him. Now, I know some of you will say…but “Professor A” this is romance, they become overcome by their chemistry and lose their self-reflection on the romance. I’ve read that often in other stories who write it well. They give those moments space to breathe, but Coll doesn’t quite do that. It makes the reader feel as though they have whiplash from the quick change of pace. Secondly, I am not a personal fan of repetition. When an author has to continuously remind us of the challenges facing the hero and heroine either personally or together, it reads like filler. And this tended to happen quite a bit in this story.
Overall, I appreciated Cade and Hadley’s story. As these two find their happy ending, you cheer them because they struggle to find it. And many of Coll’s early readers LOVE this story. For me, though, it was difficult because the story felt slow. If you love two people working to find their HEA after personal tragedies and challenges, then you’ll like Lea Coll’s Only with You.
Who doesn’t love a grumpy hero and “good girl” heroine who isn’t such a “good girl?” Add in a marriage of convenience and some serious $exy scenes, and you’ve got the deliciously decadent Making Whoopie by Erin Nicholas. This book is the third book in the Hot Cakes series, and quite frankly, it’s her steamiest. It is also, in my estimation, my favorite thus far. Why?
Grumpy hero Grant. Honestly, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think Grant might be on the spectrum. The guy has issues with feelings, while also being brilliant at helping people live their best lives fiscally. Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite realize that he isn’t living his best life until he becomes obsessed (yes…I think he’s a little addicted) with Josie. In the best kind of trope, grumpy Grant becomes tamed by sweet girl baker Josie, and it’s glorious.
Josie is much more complicated than we assume. Obviously in the first two books of the series, Sugarcoated and Forking Around, Josie is an ancillary character whom we know little of. In this book, we come to realize that Josie is a baking genius AND she’s the most self-effacing heroine. Actually, she might be tied with Jane in Forking Around. In fact, this seems to be the case with Nicolas’s heroines. Their lack of selfishness works nicely with the alpha-esque natures of their heroes.
The story is poignant in its portrayal of the difficulties of working for a small business. Nicholas does a nice job of showing the challenges associated with maintaining a profitable margin which oftentimes means forgoing benefits, and perks come in the flexibility of schedule and stronger relationships between employees. Additionally, through Grant’s characterization, Nicholas shines a light on the plight of women in finding success. Both of these messages offer a gravity to a seemingly sweet story.
Making Whoopie is probably my favorite thus far. However, Cam and Whitney’s story is next and Erin Nicholas teases it in this story. In fact, that is my biggest criticism of this story as there is a large part of it that provides some background for their book, which suggests that Making Whoopie might have been shorter without their struggles. This crossover of stories feels more significant than in the first two books. I would have liked Cam and Whitney’s story teased more towards the end of the book instead of throughout it. Yet, it did its job in that it piqued my interest in book 4. In the end, though, Nicholas does what she sets out to do: offering a romance that fogs your glasses and tickles your heart.
New York Times Bestselling Authors Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland
It started out like any normal day.
Then the fender bender happened.
The guy I collided with drove an expensive car and was drop-dead gorgeous. Too bad he was also a total jerk. We argued over whose fault it was and any other thing that came out of his condescending mouth.
Eventually, the police came and we went our separate ways. The insurance companies would have to figure things out. I had a job interview to get to anyway—one I was excited about.
Though that excitement changed to disappointment the moment the person interviewing me walked in. The guy from the accident.
Yeah, so I didn’t get the position.
The problem was, I really wanted it. No, I needed it. Anything to get me out of my current career and back into working with kids.
So, even though Hollis LaCroix was as intimidating as he was devastatingly handsome, I went back to see him and begged for a chance.
To my surprise, he gave me a shot taking care of his troubled niece.
At least my attraction to him wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. I wasn’t about to jeopardize my job or the strong bond Hailey and I formed.
But resisting the magnetic pull between us wasn’t that simple. (Then there was our little underwear game—don’t ask.)
We continued to flirt without crossing the line—until it finally happened.
This is the part of the story where we fall in love and live happily ever after, right?
Well, life has a way of throwing some major curveballs.
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance.
She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.