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Book Review: Opening Belle


Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry– Getting rich on Wall Street would be a lot more fun if the men would keep their hands off her assets. A whip-smart and funny novel told by a former Wall Street insider who reveals what it’s like for a working woman to balance love, ambition, and family in a world of glamorous excess, outrageous risk-taking, and jaw-dropping sexism.

In 2008, Isabelle—a self-made, thirty-something Wall Street star—appears to have it all: an Upper West Side apartment, three healthy children, a handsome husband, and a high-powered job. But her reality is something else. Her trading desk work environment resembles a 1980s frat party, her husband feels employment is beneath him, and the bulk of childcare and homecare still falls in Belle’s already full lap.

Enter Henry, the former college fiancé she never quite got over; now a hedge fund mogul. He becomes her largest client, and Belle gets to see the life she might have had with him. While Henry campaigns to win Belle back, the sexually harassed women in her office take action to improve their working conditions, and recruit a wary Belle into a secret “glass ceiling club” whose goal is to mellow the cowboy banking culture and get equal pay for their work. All along, Belle can sense the financial markets heading toward their soon-to-be historic crash and that something has to give—and when it does, everything is going to change: her marriage, her career, her world, and her need to keep her colleagues’ hands to themselves.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: February 2, 2016

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: Standalone

My Rating: 3 Stars

My Thoughts: I was really excited to read this book for a couple of reasons. One- the Wall Street setting is about as far from my real life as possible. Two- the financial industry setting is my husband’s bread and butter so I was excited to see a bunch of those boring terms he’s always talking about in this book. Ha! This book was reminiscent of “I Don’t Know How She Does It” but not to the point that it felt like a copycat. 

I liked seeing the main character, Belle, try to navigate motherhood and her career. It felt very authentic and real to read about her struggles trying to balance it all. However, I really hated the character of her husband, Bruce. I mean, I really really hated him in a big kick him in the balls kind of way. He seriously detracted from the story for me. But the main reasons this book ended up at 3 stars for me is the lack of development.  There were several plot points that just felt under-developed or glossed over. The Glass Ceiling Club was one, Belle and Bruce’s marriage was another, and Henry was the third. I just couldn’t overlook the lack of depth in those story lines. 

Book Review: Legend


Legend by Sawyer Bennett– Everything is clicking for the Vengeance. We may be new, but we’re well on our way to winning the championship, and I’m having the time of my life headlining the sports media as the hottest goalie—hell, player—ever. I for one am going to live up to my name . . . because I am Legend Bay.

Dragging my ass home from the gym, I’m blinded by some gaudy, glowing holiday lights. As usual, my hot-as-hell neighbor Pepper Nantais has gone way over the top. But just as I’m about to tell her off, something else catches my eye . . . Seems like Santa left me a present, and not one I was expecting.

As life takes an unexpected turn, I realize that there’s much more to Pepper than meets the eye. Sure, she’s gorgeous. And exasperating. And her taste in decorating may be a bit . . . unique.

But beneath her carefree demeanor is a fierce determination and a heart of gold. And before I know it I’ve fallen for her. Hard . . .

Pepper is exactly the woman I never knew I needed.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: February 5, 2019

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: #3 in Arizona Vengeance series

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed Pepper’s character in the second book in the series. She was sassy and funny and didn’t take crap from anyone. Those are my favorite kinds of female characters. So I was really excited to see that she would be the main character in this next book in the series. I’m really a sucker for an enemies-to-lovers story and from the fireworks that flew between Pepper and Legend in the previous book, I knew this one was going to be good. I wasn’t expecting it to be such a deep and emotional story though. Pepper really steps up in this book and becomes the one person that Legend can count on when his life takes a very unexpected turn. She was the strength and the voice of reason when he needed one the most. I can’t wait for the rest of the books in this series!

Book Review: Don’t Wake Up


Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler– When Dr. Alex Taylor opens her eyes, she is hooked up to an IV, is bound to an operating table, and her legs are raised in stirrups. Disoriented and alarmed, she assumes she’s been anesthetized and brought to surgery after being in an accident. But the man standing over her, with his face hidden behind a surgical mask and wielding instruments, is no doctor she recognizes at the hospital where she works as a successful and respected doctor. He’s a stranger—and he’s calmly and methodically telling her how he’s about to attack her. Before Alex can even scream for help, she succumbs to another dose of anesthesia, rendering her unable to defend herself….

When she comes to on a gurney, she finds herself surrounded by her colleagues and immediately reports the attack and rape. The police are skeptical of her bizarre story. And after a physical exam reveals no proof of any attack, even her boyfriend has doubts. Despite Alex’s adamant claims, no one believes her, leaving her to wonder if she has, in fact, lost her mind.

Until she meets the next victim.

Genre: Thriller

Published: February 5, 2019

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: Standalone

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: I literally read this book in one night. I could not put it down and I stayed up way too late to finish it. The opening scene of this book really made me squirmy. I could imagine waking up in Alex’s predicament and not knowing how or why or who. I was hooked from that one scene. I was invested in Alex’s story and angry on her behalf when nobody believed her story, not even the people closest to her who should have been immediately in her corner. I flip-flopped so many times in this story- was it this person, did it even happen, is she crazy, maybe it’s this person. I honestly had no clue until the big reveal at the end. The author did a great job of keeping the story flowing at a good pace and keeping the tension high. 

I found this book to be completely unpredictable and engaging. I didn’t know which characters were sincere and which ones were playing a part. By the middle of the book I was suspicious of pretty much every character, trying to find the flaws in their action and stories. That made for an intense read but it also made it hard to connect with any one character or root for them. The one real negative in this book for me was the female police officer. She detracted heavily from the story for me because of her almost pathological need to discredit Alex. She didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story and her hostility was never explored enough for me to understand her actions. Still a good read and one that I recommend. 

Book Review: Pull Me Close


Pull Me Close by Sidney Halston– Katherine: I thought I could enjoy a night out like a normal person. I thought I could handle the flashing lights, the pulsing music, the crowded dance floor. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After having an anxiety attack and passing out during my sister’s engagement party at Panic, I wake up in the arms of the hottest guy I’ve ever seen. Nick Moreno’s no gentleman. But he might just be the man I need to help me take control of my life.

Nick: When I hear there’s some random girl passed out in the back room of my family’s South Beach nightclub, I’m pissed. My dad’s already behind bars and we can’t afford any more bad press. But after giving her a lift—literally—back to her apartment, I stop seeing Katherine Wilson as some random girl. She’s gorgeous, vulnerable, and braver than she knows. And when we kiss, all I want to do is pull her close and promise that she’ll always be safe in my arms.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: October 26, 2016

Acquired: TBR List

Series: #1 in The Panic series

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: If you’ve ever suffered from a panic attack of an anxiety disorder then you will understand this book. The author did a really really good job of portraying the symptoms in a very realistic way without downplaying or over-dramatizing them. Most books either gloss over the reality or dramatize the character straight into the psych ward, both of which are very annoying to people who have suffered from these medical conditions.

This story shared the reality of the main character, Katherine, lived with all the time after a very significant and traumatic event earlier in her life. The author also gave a very realistic look at the process to treat and overcome a mental disorder- believe it or not, the love of a hot alpha male alone does not fix those things! I know, gasp! I loved Katherine’s character- she had sass and spunk despite her reality and she truly wanted to get better. Nico was a great partner for her- he had enough alpha in him to make her feel safe but enough compassion to help her heal in her recovery. They were a great pair. As someone who has dealt with an anxiety disorder for years I really enjoyed this story and I’ll definitely read more in this series. 

Book Review: The Military Wife


The Military Wife by Laura Trentham– Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husband, Noah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.

Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children under foot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.

In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.

In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts?

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: February 5, 2019

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: #1 in Heart of a Hero series

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: I’m a real sucker for military romance stories, probably because my dad was army and it’s the life I knew as a kid. This story was an emotional journey between a war widow and her deceased husband’s best friend. I liked that it wasn’t a fluffy read. The story line touched on some real issues going on within military families including PTSD, death, loneliness, and the pain of moving on. 

Harper is raising her son, Ben, alone after the death of her husband. She is trying to move on with her life and one of her first actions towards her new life is to open a coffee shop dedicated to employing military wives. She is helped by one of her best friends, Allison, who is dealing with her own husband’s devastating and scary PTSD. Harper needs to use money given to her by Noah, her husband’s best friend and fellow SEAL, after her husband’s death to start her business. When she seeks him out she doesn’t expect how it will change her life. I really enjoyed the build up to their relationship. It was emotional and full of layers, including guilt and fear. Their romance was bittersweet and uncertain at times as they both tried to move on from the past to embrace their future together. The story was well-paced, fully developed, and very realistic.