Category Archives: Avon

Friday Feature Review: The Second Chance Store by Lauren Bravo

Title: The Second Chance Store by Lauren Bravo
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary, Friendship, Fiction
Length: 444 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


If clothes can get a second chance, why can’t we? Brimming with life, love, and the stories bound up in even the most everyday items, The Second Chance Store is a tale of friendship, loss, and dusting yourself off and starting over—a novel filled with humor and a testament to the enduring power and joy of charity shops.

City dweller Gwen feels like she’s living a secondhand life. She’s thirty-eight, perpetually single, and in dire need of a dentist’s appointment. Her friends are busy procreating in the country, and conversations with her parents seem to revolve entirely around hedge borders and the trash pickup schedule. Above all she’s lonely. But then, isn’t everyone?

Then she’s let go from a job she drifted into a decade ago and never left, and Gwen realizes it’s time to make a change, starting with cleaning out her apartment. In the charity shop where she literally and metaphorically unloads her baggage, she discovers a group of weird and wonderful people devoted to finding a new home for donated items that have lost their use elsewhere. Gwen volunteers there—and finds a new home for herself among her fellow workers while discovering joy in the untold stories of secondhand things.

Now it’s time for Gwen to get out of her life in pause, and to find a way to move forward with bravery and humanity—and more regular dental care.


The Second Chance Store by Lauren Bravo is a lovely novel of new friendships and beginnings.

After losing her job, Gwen Grundle takes stock of her life which comes up lacking. Deciding to make changes, she begins volunteering at a local charity shop. Gwen works with an eclectic group of people where she also finds unexpected connections and friendships. She also reflects on her strained relationship with her parents. Will Gwen find the impetus to pick up the pieces of her life and find happiness? Or is she doomed to repeat the mistakes of her past?

The novel’s pacing is a little slow as Gwen struggles to find the energy she needs to move forward after losing her job. Two unexpected plot twists offer the reasons for how she ended up in her current situation. Gwen is not the most likable character but the people she meets at the charity shop are quite interesting. In between chapters are short vignettes about the objects that end up in the charity shop. While the importance of these detours is not always apparent, they do play a vital role in the unfolding story. The novel ends on an uplifting note that readers will appreciate.

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Filed under Avon, Contemporary, Friendship, Lauren Bravo, Rated C+, Review, The Second Chance Store

Review: Unladylike Lessons in Love by Amita Murray

Title: Unladylike Lessons in Love by Amita Murray
The Marleigh Sisters Book One
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Romance
Length: 319 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


Amita Murray takes us on a journey from the pleasure gardens of society to the dangerous streets of 19th century London, in this spectacular romantic debut by an unforgettable new voice.

“Women mind their reputation if they want to marry. I don’t want to marry.”

As the eldest daughter of an English earl and his Indian mistress, Lila Marleigh knows what it’s like to be an outsider from “polite” society. As children, she and her sisters were wrenched from their home and sent to England, never quite accepted by those who claimed to care for them. Now Lila has set herself up as hostess of an exclusive gaming club, charming the ton that flocks to her establishment each night, though it shuns her by day.

One night, Ivor Tristram comes barging through her door, accusing her of being his father’s mistress. Lila defies his expectations at every step and convinces him to navigate London’s rat pits and pleasure gardens with her, in her quest to solve a violent crime.

As they set out together to uncover the truth, an irresistible passion ignites that will shake them to the core. Lila must fight to protect those she loves, yet the biggest threat is to the sanctity of the heart she has guarded so carefully all her life.


Unladylike Lessons in Love by Amita Murray is a delightful historical romance which features an intriguing mystery.

Lily Marleigh is the illegitimate daughter of an English earl and his Indian mistress. Following the deaths of her parents, she and her sisters are sent to England to live with his estranged wife (weird, huh???).  Now in her late twenties, Lily is a strong, independent woman who is unconcerned about her reputation. She runs a salon which is popular among the peerage and she has no desire for marriage. Lily can sometimes be impetuous but her heart is the right place. When someone from her childhood needs her assistance, Lily does not hesitate to jump into the fray. Even if it means she must join forces with Ivor Tristram.

Ivor have the highest opinion Lilybut he agrees to help her find out the truth about her friend’s plight. His viewpoint of Lily is colored by his concern for his mother and his father’s history of marital misdeeds. Ivor has worked hard to turn around his family’s fortunes and he continues to work hard. Despite his better judgment, Ivor is determined to see his commitment through in helping Lily uncover the truth for her friend.

The sparks fly between Lily and Ivor right from their first meeting. Given what he thinks of her, Ivor is not exactly thrilled with his fascination with Lily. And Lily is a bit dismayed by her attraction to Ivor. Yet they try to put their feelings to the side as they work together. As they spend time together, they begin to realize they might have misjudged one another.

Unladylike Lessons in Love is an engaging romance with a diverse cast of characters. The storyline is multi-layered and compelling. The mystery aspect is perfectly balanced with the romantic element of the plot. The various characters are well-developed and quite charming. Lily and Ivor’s romance is both sweet and steamy with little conflict until late in the story. With unexpected twists and turns,  Amita Murray brings this marvelous historical romance to a heartfelt conclusion. This first installment in Marleigh Sisters series will leave readers impatiently awaiting the next installment.

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Filed under Amita Murray, Avon, Historical, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Marleigh Sisters Series, Unladylike Lessons in Love

Review: Falling Hard for the Royal Guard by Megan Clawson

Title: Falling Hard for the Royal Guard by Megan Clawson
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 380 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


Love is in the heir in this royally good rom com – perfect for anyone who likes relatable heroines (with great hair), hot and aloof book boyfriends (with great hats), near misses, almost kisses and a corgi or two.

Despite living in an actual castle, happily ever after is evading Margaret ‘Maggie’ Moore.

From her bedroom in the Tower of London, twenty-six-year-old Maggie has always dreamed of her own fairy-tale ending.

Yet this is twenty-first century London, so instead of knights on white horses, she has catfish on Tinder. And with her last relationship ending in spectacular fashion, she swears off men for good.

And then a chance encounter with Royal Guard Freddie forces Maggie to admit that she isn’t ready to give up on love just yet… But how do you catch the attention of someone who is trained to ignore all distractions?

Can she snare that true love’s first kiss… or is she royally screwed?

A right royal rom com, perfect for fans of Red, White and Royal Blue and The Royal We.


Falling Hard for the Royal Guard by Megan Clawson is a contemporary British romance with a delightfully unique setting.

Twenty-six-year-old Margaret “Maggie” Moore is stuck in a dead-end job and currently living with her dad after finally leaving her ex-boyfriend, Bran. She is easily distracted, anxious and completely lacking in self-worth. Instead of confronting people and issues, Maggie runs away and privately bemoans her fate to her beloved cat. Will an unexpected meeting with a Royal Guard lead to love?

Freddie is the Royal Guard in question and he runs so hot and cold, it is impossible to guess how he feels about Maggie. He does introduce her to his fellow Guards so that is a big plus since Maggie finally ends up with friends her own age (since she usually hangs out with her dad and his friends). They are also instrumental into convincing her to give on-line dating a chance (gah!).

Falling Hard for the Royal Guard and Maggie are a bit of a hot mess. Maggie is a frustrating character with questionable judgment and work ethics. Freddie has a lot of potential but he is dealing with the weight of parental expectations. Maggie and Freddie eventually get their respective lives together but it would have been much more enjoyable if their romance had been given more time on page.  What really saves the book is the characters’ personal growth, the excellent setting and Megan Clawson’s exceptional attention to historical details.

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Filed under Avon, Contemporary, Falling Hard for the Royal Guard, Megan Clawson, Rated C, Review, Romance

Review: The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander

Title: The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 326 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A heartwarming literary-themed novel about a woman who turns an ordinary red phone box into the littlest library in England and brings together a struggling town.

A little red telephone box full of stories, a chance to change her life…

Jess Metcalf is perfectly content with her quiet, predictable life. But when her beloved grandmother passes away and she loses her job at the local library, Jess’ life is turned upside down.

Determined to pick up the pieces, Jess decides it’s time for a new beginning. Unable to part with her grandmother’s cherished books, she packs them all up and moves to a tiny cottage in the English countryside. To her surprise, Jess discovers that she’s now the owner of an old red phone box that was left on the property. Missing her job at the local library, Jess decides to give back to her new community—using her grandmother’s collection to turn the ordinary phone box into the littlest library in England.

It’s not long before the books are borrowed and begin to work their literary magic—bringing the villagers together… and managing to draw Jess’ grumpy but handsome neighbor out of his shell.

Maybe it’s finally time for Jess to follow her heart, let go of her old life, and make the village her home? But will she be able to take the leap?


Set in a darling English village, The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander is a charming novel of new beginnings.

Following upending life events, Jess Metcalf impulsively purchases a cute cottage in a rural village. She is nervous but determined to make the most of her move. Her closest neighbors are grouchy single dad, Aiden Foxworthy and his twelve-year-old daughter Maisie. Unlike her usually cautiousness, Jess begins to make friends and puts down roots in the community. But will an unexpected development threaten her newfound happiness?

Jess is still mourning the loss her grandmother Mimi. However, after the lending library in the phone booth is open, she finds signs of Mimi that comfort her and other community members. Jess is delighted by her new friendships with retired Diana and overwhelmed mum Becky. Her acquaintance with Aiden is off to a rocky beginning but sparks begin to fly when they spend time together. But Aidan’s life is somewhat complicated so is there any chance of a future together?

The Littlest Library is an uplifting novel with a wonderful sense of community. Jess is a wonderful lead character but she is emotionally guarded.  The secondary cast of characters are electic yet immensely appealing. The storyline is engaging with realistic issues for Jess to overcome. Jess and Aidan’s understated romance is sweet but strewn with seemingly impossible obstacles. The rural village springs vividly to life and adds another dimension to the unfolding story. Although Jess’s eventual quandary is predictable this does not lessen overall enjoyment of  this sparkling novel by Poppy Alexander.

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Filed under Avon, Contemporary, Poppy Alexander, Rated B, Review, The Littlest Library, Women's Fiction

Review: Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Title: Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey
Bellinger Sisters Series Book Two
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man…

King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time—in bed and out—and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?


Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey is a charming friends to lovers romance. Although this novel is the second installment in the Bellinger Sisters series, it can be read as a standalone.

Hannah Bellinger lives with her wealthy family and works in L.A. as a production assistant. She has a long-term crush on co-worker and has her sights on moving to music production. After helping her sister Piper renovate the family bar in Westport, WA, Hannah has maintained a fun, music-filled texting relationship with fisherman, Fox Thornton. When the current project she is working on moves to Westport, Hannah and Fox discover there is more to their friendship but will they act on their simmering attraction?

Fox has a reputation as someone who likes to have a good time. He has also done everything he can to live up to his love ‘em and leave ‘em reputation. Fox’s friend and owner of the fishing boat he works on would like to give him more responsibility, but he fears his lifestyle will impact his ability to lead the crew.

Piper stays with Fox while in town which provides them to learn more about one another. Piper is surprisingly protective of Fox during some encounters with the townspeople. She also gathers her courage to assert herself more at work but whether or not this will alter her career path is up in the air. Meanwhile, Fox struggles to with low self-worth as he contemplates a future with Piper and possible opportunities at work.

Hook, Line, and Sinker is a marvelous slow-burn romance. Hannah and Fox are appealing characters with relatable flaws. The banter between the various characters is laugh out loud funny. The storyline is well-developed but a little slow paced at times. Although the conflict is somewhat predictable, this does not lessen the overall enjoyment of the story. Tessa Bailey brings this endearing romance to a completely satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Avon, Bellinger Sisters Series Book Two, Contemporary, Hook Line and Sinker, Rated B, Review, Romance, Tessa Bailey

Review: Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Title: Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
Written in the Stars Series Book Three
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ+ (F/F), Romance
Length: 380 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Following Written in the Stars and Hang the Moon, Lambda Literary Award winner and national bestselling author Alexandria Bellefleur pens another steamy queer rom-com about former best friends who might be each other’s second chance at love…

Margot Cooper doesn’t do relationships. She tried and it blew up in her face, so she’ll stick with casual hookups, thank you very much. But now her entire crew has found “the one” and she’s beginning to feel like a fifth wheel. And then fate (the heartless bitch) intervenes. While touring a wedding venue with her engaged friends, Margot comes face-to-face with Olivia Grant—her childhood friend, her first love, her first… well, everything. It’s been ten years, but the moment they lock eyes, Margot’s cold, dead heart thumps in her chest.

Olivia must be hallucinating. In the decade since she last saw Margot, her life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. At almost thirty, she’s been married… and divorced. However, a wedding planner job in Seattle means a fresh start and a chance to follow her dreams. Never in a million years did she expect her important new client’s Best Woman would be the one that got away.

When a series of unfortunate events leaves Olivia without a place to stay, Margot offers up her spare room because she’s a Very Good Person. Obviously. It has nothing to do with the fact that Olivia is as beautiful as ever and the sparks between them still make Margot tingle. As they spend time in close quarters, Margot starts to question her no-strings stance. Olivia is everything she’s ever wanted, but Margot let her in once and it ended in disaster. Will history repeat itself or should she count her lucky stars that she gets a second chance with her first love?


Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur is an entertaining second chance romance. Although this newest release is the third romance in the Written in the Stars series, it can be read as a standalone.

Margot Cooper is the last of her friends to find love. Although she is mostly happy with her life, she is feeling like a fifth wheel and occasionally left out. Margot is the best woman for her friend Brendon’s upcoming wedding and she is shocked when the new events planner walks in. She knows Olivia Grant very well since they were best friends until their friendship ended after they spent one steamy week together a decade earlier. When Olivia needs a place to stay after a problem at her apartment, Margot invites her to stay with her. But her plan to keep things platonic between them is immediately tested once Margot realizes she is still intensely attracted to her former bestie. Will she be able to resist acting on her attraction?

Olivia is well aware Brendon’s wedding will either make or break her career. So, she is not going to allow her feelings for Margot get in the way of planning the perfect wedding. Since Olivia does not have anyone to stay with, she accepts Margot’s offer to become her roommate. Olivia has many wonderful traits but she is a bit of a pushover and a people pleaser. Will this come back to haunt her as she and Margot decide to give in to their very mutual desire?

Count Your Lucky Stars is a funny romance with a great cast of characters. Margot and Olivia are interesting characters but their unresolved issues continue to plague them. The storyline is engaging but the continued miscommunications become frustrating. The pacing is also rather slow. The love scenes between Margot and Olivia are blazing hot, very detailed and take place over several sizzling pages. Old and new fans of Alexandria Bellefleur’s Written in the Stars series will enjoy this laugh out loud romance.

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Filed under Alexandria Bellefleur, Avon, Contemporary, Count Your Lucky Stars, F/F, LGBTQ, Rated C, Review, Romance, Written in the Stars Series