Category Archives: Rated B

Review: Escape to Florence by Kat Devereaux

Title: Escape to Florence by Kat Devereaux
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (’40s)
Length: 270 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


Moving between the Second World War and the present, an exhilarating debut novel in the vein of Jennifer Robson, Kate Quinn, and Natasha Lester, about two women, decades apart, whose fates converge in Florence, Italy.

Only fourteen, Stella Infuriati is the youngest member of her town’s resistance network during World War II. Risking torture and death, she relays messages, supplies, and weapons to partisan groups in the Tuscan hills. Her parents have no idea, consumed instead by love and fear for their beloved son, Achille, a courier and unofficial mechanic for a communist partisan brigade.

Then, after 1945, Stella seemingly vanishes from the records. Her name and story are overshadowed by the tragic death of her brother—until a young writer arrives in Tuscany in the spring of 2019, uncovering long-buried secrets.

Fleeing an emotionally abusive marriage and a lonely life on an isolated estate, Tori MacNair has come to Florence, the beautiful city her grandmother taught her to love, to build a new life. As she digs into her family history with the help of Marco, a handsome lawyer, Tori starts to uncover secrets of the past—truths that stretch back decades, to a young woman who risked everything to save her world . . .


Escape to Florence by Kat Devereaux is an engaging debut that seamlessly moves back and forth between the present day and World War II.

In the past, Stella Infuriati is part of the resistance in her small Italian town along with her brother, Achille.  She keeps her activities hidden from everyone including her parents. After the war’s end, Stella’s disappearance remains unsolved.

In the present, Tori MacNair returns to Florence where she spent many happy vacations with her beloved grandmother. She is also in the midst of a divorce and working a book. During her research, Tori has discovered an unexpected mystery about her grandmother’s time in Italy.

Tori and the other people she meets in Italy are very likable characters. However, her mother, sister and her soon to be ex-husband are absolutely insufferable. Tori has become a pushover who avoids conflict and she is a little quick to forgive.

Escape to Florence is an engrossing novel with a lovely setting. The Italian towns spring vividly to life in the past and the present. Stella’s story arc is incredibly fascinating as is Tori’s search for her grandmother’s connection to Italy. Kat Devereaux brings to intriguing novel to a wonderful conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Escape to Florence, Harper Paperbacks, Historical (40s), Kat Devereaux, Rated B, Review

Review: Strawberry Lane by Jodi Thomas

Title: Strawberry Lane by Jodi Thomas
A Touching Texas Love Story
Someday Valley Book One
Publisher: Zebra Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 284 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


Fans of Robyn Carr and Susan Mallery will adore this heartwarming new book from the beloved New York Times bestselling author. In a small Texas town where most families go back generations, four strangers meet and unite as they bury a father none of them has ever seen and begin slowly to piece together a bond that will not only change them, but the community for the better.

Starri Knight is a big believer in fate. How else to explain the compelling connection she feels to the stranger she pulls out of a wrecked car on the very same road where her parents died twenty years earlier? Alongside Auntie Ona-May, the only mother she’s ever known, Starri saves Rusty O’Sullivan’s life—just as Ona-May once did when Starri was an orphaned babe. But convincing Rusty he has something to live for is going to take all of Starri’s faith in miracles . . .

Like a wish he hadn’t even known to make, Starri landed in Rusty’s life, filling him with a longing for a family. . . . Then Jackson Landry, a new lawyer, turns up to present a surprise that will change the direction of his life: An inheritance from the father Rusty never knew—and the promise of the family he’d never had. It’s a lot for the hard-bitten loner to
accept as love rushes into his life . . .

A sense of duty has Rusty heading to Honey Creek to deal with his father’s estate—and find his lost siblings. But having family is one thing, learning to love them is another. Good thing new friends are by his side to help him along the way.


Strawberry Lane by Jodi Thomas is a sweet contemporary romance featuring an eclectic yet interesting cast of characters.

Lawyer Jackson Landry is still mourning the loss of his parents while struggling to settle into taking over his father’s law practice. One of his first cases involves finding recently deceased Jamie Ray Morrell’s four children. Jamie Ray was not involved in their lives, but he leaves them all his worldly possessions. Jackson stumbles across the first heir, Rusty O’Sullivan, during a storm in which Rusty has been in a serious accident. Jackson is also enchanted by co-rescuer Starri Knight but their age difference could be a stumbling block.

Rusty has been in more than his share of accidents but his multiple injuries mean a long recovery period. He is charmed by Dr. Amber Adams but since he is used to everyone leaving him, Rusty does not believe he has a future with her. He also has an added complication when Jackson finds one of his younger brothers. Will Rusty convince Amber to take a chance on love?

An unrelated but no less enjoyable romance takes place at the local hospital. Emergency room nurse Emma Sumers visits her old friend Heath Allen Rogers’ hospital room every evening when her shift has ended. He is experiencing unexpected health issues and Emma takes every chance she gets to spend time with him while hoping Heath will soon fully recover.

Strawberry Lane is a delightful romance with (mostly) interwoven storylines. The various characters undergo tremendous growth as they find cherished friendships together and love. While some of the couples’ story arcs are not completely wrapped up, hopefully readers will get the opportunity to revisit them in future installments in Someday Valley series. This wonderful romance is sure to be a hit with old and new fans of Jodi Thomas.

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Filed under Contemporary, Jodi Thomas, Rated B, Review, Romance, Someday Valley Series, Strawberry Lane, Zebra Books

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: Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley

Title: Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 328 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A reality star and a cupcake-baking football player pretend to be a couple in order to save his bakery in this sweet and sexy romance from Jamie Wesley, Fake It Till You Bake It.

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

Fake it Till You Bake It is a sweet confection of a novel, the perfect story to curl up with and enjoy with a cupcake on the side.


Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley is a delightfully cute romance.

Football player Donovan Dell co-owns a cupcake shop with his two teammates, Nicholas Connors and August Hodges. After a great opening, business has dropped off and with football training season approaching, they are trying to figure out how to regain their momentum.  When Donovan hears a customer’s uncomplimentary remarks about Sugar Blitz, he cannot resist trying to change her mind. They definitely start off on the wrong foot which makes it extremely uncomfortable when that customer turns out to be Jada Townsend-Matthews and she is his newest employee.

Jada has not quite figured out what she wants to do with her life. When things do not  turn out as planned with the reality show, she heads home to San Diego to lie low and decide what to do next. Jada is a bit of a disappointment to her über successful parents and she struggles with her self-esteem. She is not certain how working with Donovan will help her (or him) but she turns out to be an asset to Sugar Blitz.

Donovan is not just playing at being a business owner. He knows his football career has an end date and he is planning for his future. Donovan is not exactly thrilled that Jada is working at Sugar Blitz but he also cannot stay away from her. While she has surprisingly good ideas for bringing customers to the bakery, Donovan is also drawn to the vivacious beauty.

Fake It Till You Bake It is a heartwarming romance with a great cast of characters. Donovan and Jada are wonderfully drawn with realistic flaws. The storyline is engaging but it is slow for the first half of the story. While they both undergo personal growth, it is Jada who grows and matures as she finds her career niche.  Jada and Donovan’s fake relationship has plenty of sparks which makes it pretty inevitable that they try to turn their romance into a real one.  Less certain is if their relationship has staying power but never fear,  Jamie Wesley brings this charming romance to a very happy conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Fake It Till You Bake It, Jamie Wesley, Rated B, Review, Romance, St Martin's Griffin

Review: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin

Title: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Suspense
Length: 334 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Kate McLaughlin’s Daughter is a thrilling YA novel about trying to right deadly choices that were never yours to begin with.

Scarlet’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known—until she does.

When the FBI show up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice—go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.


Daughter by Kate McLaughlin is a brilliantly clever young adult novel.

Seventeen-year-old Scarlet Murphy is an excellent student who chafes against her mom Gina’s strict rules.  Scarlet suffers from anxiety and sometimes turns to unhealthy ways to manage it. But when the FBI shows up on their doorstep, her typical worries fly in the face of discovering the truth her mother has been keeping from her. Scarlet is the daughter of prolific serial killer Jeffrey Lake and her mom was married to him while he was actively kidnapping and murdering young women. Lake has been on death row for several years and now that he is dying, he will only reveal the names and locations of his other victims to Scarlet. Wrestling with her conscience, Scarlet decides to meet with him so the families of the victims can put their loved ones to rest. But does Lake have any intention of living up to his end of their bargain?

Scarlet’s horrifying visits with her father are juxtaposed against her introduction to grandparents and other family members. Despite her anger at her mother for keeping her past a secret, she relies on Gina’s support after Lake’s vile revelations. Scarlet is grateful for her new friendships with FBI Agent Andy Logan’s kids, Darcy and Luke. Agent Logan also gives her advice that help provide a new perspective on the secrets she has recently learned.

Daughter is an engrossing young adult that is very suspenseful. Scarlet grows and evolves throughout her sometimes-contentious meetings with Lake. She is also more understanding of her mother’s past behavior while also being a little angry about Gina’s deception. Lake is a thoroughly reprehensible man who is not to be trusted under any circumstances. Kate McLaughlin brings this thought-provoking novel to an unexpected yet satisfying conclusion. Recommended for older teen and adult readers.

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Filed under Contemporary, Daughter, Kate McLaughlin, Rated B, Review, Suspense, Wednesday Books, Young Adult

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