Category Archives: Pocket Star

Review: From Scratch by Rachel Goodman

from scratchTitle: From Scratch by Rachel Goodman
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 259 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A down-home, feel-good debut Southern romance, From Scratch explores one woman’s journey back home to Dallas, Texas, where her family is cooking up a plan that doesn’t quite suit her tastes…

Thirty-year-old Lillie Turner grew up with maple syrup stuck to her skin and bacon grease splattered on her clothes, courtesy of working in the family diner. Thank goodness she escaped all that when she moved to Chicago five years ago. Now a successful strategy consultant and newly engaged to a man who complements her like biscuits and gravy, she has everything she wants.

When an urgent phone call about her father’s health pulls Lillie back to Dallas, she soon learns it was a ruse to bring her home so she can run the diner she’d rather avoid and compete in the Upper Crust, an annual baking competition, with no option to withdraw. Lillie is furious and ready to run back to Chicago, but her father’s haggard appearance makes her wonder if he’s hiding something. Things go from bad to worse when Nick, her handsome ex and the only man she ever truly loved, reappears, looking as scrumptious as ever.

Lillie’s trip home forces her to question the path she’s chosen, find her place in the family she abandoned, and wonder if the life she left behind is what she really wants after all.


Full of southern charm (and cooking), From Scratch is a saucy, funny and charming second chance at love romance. This debut novel by Rachel Goodman is a fast-paced love story with an absolutely phenomenal cast of well developed characters and an engaging storyline that is sure to delight fans of contemporary romances.

Five years earlier after her relationship imploded, Lillie Turner moved from Dallas to Chicago where she reinvented herself. With her coveted promotion at work finally within reach and happily engaged to her longtime boyfriend, a health emergency with her beloved father means she must return to Dallas and face everything (and everyone) she left behind. Although dismayed to discover that her father is cooking up a scheme to have her take over running the family owned diner, Lillie is thrilled to reunite with her childhood friends Wes and Annabelle. However, she is disconcerted when she comes face to face with her ex, Nick Preston. Much to her consternation, she discovers her attraction to Nick has not diminished, and Lillie is forced to make some difficult choices about her future.

Growing up, Lillie had a pretty happy childhood but she definitely bears a few scars from her mother’s abandonment. Her dad made up for this lack as best he could and she loved working side by side with him in the diner. Her happiness was complete when she and Nick became engaged but their relationship could not withstand the rigors of Nick’s demanding surgical residency. Despite her attempts to close the growing distance between them, on the night that Lillie needed him the most, Nick’s unexpected outburst culminated with her leaving Dallas in a panic. Picking up the pieces of her life in a new place was the hardest thing Lillie has ever faced, but she is a much stronger person for making the decision to get out of an unhappy relationship and forge a new life for herself.

Her return to Dallas is fraught with tension as Lillie tries to make everyone happy. Worried about her dad, she agrees to stay until he is back on his feet. Her fiancé is understanding and supporting of her predicament but her boss and co-workers do not cut her any slack. Lillie is also saddened to learn that her friends have been keeping some pretty serious secrets from her and she is also blindsided by accusations that she did not do enough to save her relationship with Nick. Lillie begins to doubt herself but once she and Nick move beyond their initial animosity, can they make peace with their tumultuous past? And if they can, what impact will this have on Lillie’s future?

From Scratch is a captivating second chance at love romance. The characters are likable and although flawed, they grow throughout the story as they face their individual demons. The various relationships are realistically depicted and even though they have disagreements, they are quick to forgive and move forward. Rachel Goodman is an immensely talented author who brings the characters, their emotions and the setting vibrantly to life. An outstanding debut novel that I highly recommend to fans of contemporary romances.

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Filed under Contemporary, From Scratch, Pocket Star, Rachel Goodman, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: True Devotion by Liora Blake

true devotionTitle: True Devotion by Liora Blake
The True Series Book Two
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 281 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Find out if rock sensation Simon can break through tough-girl Devon’s steely exterior—if he can keep his head on straight, that is—in this second sizzling romance in the True series!

Devon Jenkins is a feisty blonde, and Simon Cole is the arrogant, sexy guitarist playing in her brother’s band. When they met for the first time, it went something like this: He hit on her, she shot him down, he made a lewd joke, she told him he was an idiot.

In the two years since then, not much has changed. From the way Simon flirts shamelessly with any set of ovaries within a 100-mile radius, Devon knows the smartest thing she can do is keep an impenetrable wall between them.

But sometimes the smart choice isn’t necessarily the right one…


True Devotion is the delightful second installment in Liora Blake’s marvelous True series featuring Devon Jenkins and Simon Cole (secondary characters from book one, True North). It is another charming romance with deliciously witty banter and smokin’ hot love scenes but it also features a thought-provoking storyline that is poignant and heartwarming.

Devon and Simon have known each other for two years and their interactions have been limited to exchanges that are witty, sarcastic and full of sexual innuendo. Believing that Simon is nothing but a flirtatious manwhore who is not looking for anything more serious than a quick lay, Devon stays away from him as much as possible. Of course, underlying all of their encounters is a simmering attraction that Devon ignores until she drunkenly propositions Simon at her brother’s wedding. Gentleman that he is, Simon politely declines her offer, but now that they have acknowledged their mutual desire, it is inevitable that they will finally act on it.

Devon is independent, feisty and snarky, but underneath her hard exterior, she is also vunerable and a little fragile. Although she now has a successful career as a massage therapist, she still carries a few scars from her poverty-stricken childhood. An abusive relationship was the impetus for her to follow her brother to California, but she has never really dealt with the emotional fallout from her past and when things are going well with Simon, she lets her fears get in the way of her happiness.

Simon is a fantastic character. He is fun, flirty and playful but he also has hidden depths that Devon has never bothered to discover.  Beneath his surface charm is a man who has suffered a tremendous loss but he does not let this define who he is or keep him from taking emotional risks.  He is comfortable with himself and this confidence is very sexy. Simon is patient with Devon but when he needs to, he pushes her to be as honest with him as he has been with her.

The relationship between Simon and Devon is absolutely wonderful. There is plenty of chemistry between them and their encounters are lusty and playful but there is also an underlying emotional connection as well. Devon is initially uncomfortable with this unexpected closeness, but she gradually begins to enjoy this aspect of their budding romance. However, right from the start, Simon is much more invested in their relationship and it is almost painful watching Devon remain emotionally distant from him. When doubts creep in, she reverts to old habits and she comes very close to letting her unresolved issues destroy their chance at happiness.

True Devotion is a scorching hot romance that has appealing characters and an entertaining storyline. The main protagonists are multi-layered with realistic flaws and issues to overcome. It is a super sweet and delectably naughty addition to Liora Blake’s True series that old and new fans are going to love!

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Filed under Contemporary, Liora Blake, Pocket Star, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The True Series, True Devotion

Review: Feeding the Fire by Andrea Laurence

feeding fireTitle: Feeding the Fire by Andrea Laurence
Rosewood Series Book Two
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 251 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Pepper has no interest in Grant Chamberlain…until she accidentally wins him at a school auction and finds the mega-hot firefighter impossible to ignore. Find out what happens next in the second playful and sexy ebook romance in the Rosewood series!

Living in the small town of Rosewood, Alabama, hairdresser Pepper Anthony has one rule—never date a Chamberlain. She’s always said, “the only thing worse than being ignored by a Chamberlain is being dumped by one.” But Grant Chamberlain, town fireman, isn’t used to rejection, and Pepper has consistently turned him down since high school. She isn’t intimidated by his family; she’s one of the few who refuses to take their crap.

When Grant volunteers at the charity bachelor auction, to his surprise, Pepper buys him. She hadn’t meant to, but Adelia Chamberlain dropped a cold drink in her lap, sending her leaping into the air at precisely the wrong moment. Suddenly she had a massive bill to the town and Grant at her disposal. Since the money has to come from her “restore the house” fund, she decides to use Grant for manual labor instead of romantic dinners. Grant is happy to help, sweaty and shirtless, because one way or another, he’s going to get Pepper to admit she’s attracted to him. All it takes is a small spark, and soon they’ll be fanning the flames.


Feeding the Fire is a very charming enemies to lovers romance by Andrea Laurence. This second installment in the delightful Rosewood series featuring the Chamberlain clan is a very entertaining read that is sure to be a hit with old and new fans.

Grant Chamberlain has been in hot pursuit of Pepper Anthony since high school, but with one notable exception, Pepper has deftly avoided getting caught by the sexy fireman. The two indulged in a fiery one night stand, but Pepper vowed to never repeat that mistake no matter how tempting he is. But when Pepper inadvertently wins Grant at a bachelor auction and he learns her accidental bid cost her the money she saved up for the renovations on her fixer upper, he offers to help her with the work. Although Pepper would really rather not spend a week with Grant, she has no choice but to accept his help. Once Grant quits trying to charm her pants off, Pepper finds herself seduced by his sincerity and despite a few lingering doubts, the two agree to openly date. But secrets from the past intrude on their fragile relationship and Grant’s need for honesty forces him to issue an ultimatum that could destroy their chance at happiness.

Pepper and Grant are from completely different backgrounds, but surprisingly, this is not keeps them from becoming involved with each other. Pepper has long refused to date Grant because of her family’s long standing enmity for the entire Chamberlain clan. She has no idea what is behind her mother’s vehement dislike of his family, but she and her brother, Logan, take her warnings to stay away from them to heart. Another reason Pepper refuses to date Grant is his carefree approach to dating. An inadvertent discovery in his childhood left a strong impression on him and his fears from that incident make it impossible for him to commit to a relationship. He has never confided in anyone about what he learned so he has quite the reputation as a ladies’ man around town. Their one night convinced him his attraction to Pepper is very different from what he has felt for other women, but Pepper’s avoidance of him makes it impossible for him to figure out exactly what he wants from her.

The relationship between Pepper and Grant builds slowly and it is quite enjoyable watching their efforts to move past the issues that have kept them from dating. Pepper uses humor to deflect his attempts to seduce her but there is never any doubt that their attraction is mutual. Grant takes her refusals gracefully but he never resists the opportunity to try to woo her back into his bed. His tenacity is admirable and he spends quite a bit trying to understand why he is so drawn to Pepper.  Grant also takes some well-meaning advice to heart and he does not squander the opportunity to show Pepper that he is genuinely interested in her.

There are also a few secondary story arcs in addition to the romance between Pepper and Grant. That pivotal moment from his childhood continues to have a big impact on Grant and he is a stickler for honesty and although he kept quiet about what he uncovered, he abhors secrets. This becomes a huge stumbling block for him and Pepper after a shocking revelation from her mother makes Pepper the keeper of information that she is unable to share with anyone. A surprising resolution from a peeping tom storyline highlights how damaging even innocent secrets can be and this becomes the catalyst for Pepper’s family to disclose closely guarded information to one another. But the implications from these long held secrets extend beyond their family and this eventually causes serious problems for Pepper and Logan.

Feeding the Fire is an excellent addition to the Rosewood series. The characters are very endearing, the storyline is engaging and the romance is sweet yet sexy. Andrea Laurence again perfectly captures all the subtle nuances of small town life which makes it a fun place to visit. Definitely looking forward to next installment in this terrific series.

My reviews of the other novels in the series can be found HERE.


Filed under Andrea Laurence, Contemporary, Pocket Star, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Rosewood Series

Review: Facing the Music by Andrea Laurence

facing musicTitle: Facing the Music by Andrea Laurence
Rosewood Series Book One
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 250 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In this sizzling and hilarious contemporary e-book romance, pop sensation Ivy Hudson returns to her small town to face her ex. Only trouble is, she made her Taylor-Swift-like career with the hit song “Size Matters”—and the football hero has had to live it down ever since.

Five years ago, high school sweethearts Ivy and Blake’s relationship imploded and both their lives were changed forever. Ivy became a rock star and Blake lost not only his dreams of a successful NFL career, but his reputation. Ivy’s angry song about their breakup, called “Size Matters,” hit the top of the charts and Blake became a national laughingstock. He’s salvaged his career and returned to Rosewood to be the high school football coach, regaining his status as town hero and leading the boys to the state championships.

When a tornado whips through town and destroys the high school gymnasium and stadium, a committee is formed to help rebuild and plan some charity fundraisers. Blake’s grandmother requests that Ivy return to Rosewood for the events. Forced back together for the good of their hometown and their careers, Ivy and Blake have no choice but to put aside their differences, stop running from their pasts, and finally face the music.

For fans of Kristen Proby and Colette Auclair, Facing the Music hits a perfect balance between small-town romance and big-time success. Follow Ivy and Blake as they fall back in love and figure out what does matter in the end…

The Review:

Facing the Music by Andrea Laurence is a such a fun read! A wonderfully unique storyline, delightful characters and laugh out loud humor are just a few of things that make this romance such an outstanding read.

Ivy Hudson’s relationship with Blake Chamberlain ended when she discovered him in a compromising position and in the aftermath, she channeled all of her hurt and anger into the song that launched her singing career.   In the years since, her numerous breakups have continued to inspire her most popular songs but her latest breakup song results in a major public backlash against her. Needing a retreat from the public eye and generate some positive publicity, Ivy reluctantly returns to her small home town to use her celebrity status to help raise much needed funds for the high school’s new gym. Much to Ivy’s dismay, Blake figures prominently in the upcoming fundraising efforts and the passage of time has done nothing to dim her hurt or diminish their smoking hot desire for one another.

Ivy is a wonderful character and it is such a joy getting to know the woman behind the successful career. She has never forgotten her humble beginnings and she is still very down to earth. Her anger and hurt over Blake’s betrayal have not lessened with time but she is able to put aside her feelings for the sake of the fundraiser. Despite her successful career, Ivy has a few insecurities that a nemesis from her childhood exploits at every turn.

Ah, poor Blake. His mistake in judgment all those years ago indirectly destroyed his career and he is just now finally beginning to bounce back when Ivy returns to town. He readily admits that Ivy’s anger and hurt are justified but he also unfairly blames her for his football career crashing and burning. When he and Ivy can no longer avoid one another, they have a long overdue discussion about their notorious past and agree to leave the past behind.

The reconciliation between Ivy and Blake does not happen overnight and this makes the resolution of their past more believable. In the beginning of the story, they are both a little immature but over the course of the story, they each do some much needed growing up. This leads to a deeper connection between them as they get to know one another again. Their romance has a few bumps along the way when an adversary continually sabotages Ivy’s self-confidence and Ivy reverts to old behavior instead of talking things out with Blake. The part of the storyline with the vindictive foe takes a little too long to resolve and eventually becomes repetitious.

Facing the Music is a very entertaining novel with an all star cast of engaging characters, plenty of Southern charm and an exceptional storyline. The romance between Ivy and Blake is playful, flirty and quite sensuous and their banter is quite humorous. Overall, it is a thoroughly enjoyable story and fans will be thrilled to discover Andrea Laurence plans to revisit the small town of Rosewood in the very near future.


Filed under Andrea Laurence, Contemporary, Facing the Music, Pocket Star, Rated B, Review, Romance, Rosewood Series