The Bodyguard

Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Romance
Source: St. Martin’s Press ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindgerten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

Ope’s Opinion: I am struggling writing a review for this book. This may not be fair, but because I have read Katherine Center a few times before , I had high expectations for this book. Parts of this book were very light, unbelievable and almost funny. Other parts were deep issues each of the main characters were dealing with. Some times I felt like I was being yank between a light summer read and a deeper look into two people trying to work through some issues.

There were a few things that I did like – I appreciated the bodyguard was a petite woman ( instead of a large man ), I liked that it was not insta-love and I liked that the physical relationship took time and was behind closed doors. I do enjoy the fake relationship sub-genre.

The epilogue was pretty long and included a lot more information than I felt needed.

Beach Hut Puzzle

Let’s get ready to go to the beach!

The poster was a bit on the small side.
The box of the puzzle actually helped more while putting the puzzle together.

The pieces were nice to handle.
It had more a mat finish, so the glare was not too bad.
It was a bit of a challenge, but all the little pictures inside the big picture made it easier.

Any Other Family

Author: Eleanor Brown
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Fiction
Source: G.P. Putnam’s Sons ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: The New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters returns with a striking and intimate new novel about three very different women facing an impossible question: What makes a family?

They look just like any other family. But they aren’t a family like any other – not quite. Instead, they are three sets of parents who adopted four biological siblings, committing to keeping the children connected after the death of their grandmother.

Tabitha, who adopted the twins, is the planner of the group, responsible for coordinating playdates and birthdays and Sunday night dinners, insistent that everything happens just so. Quiet and steady Ginger, single mother to the eldest daughter, resists the forced togetherness, her own unsettled childhood leaving her wary of trusting too much. And Elizabeth is still reeling from going directly from failed fertility treatments into adopting a newborn, terrified that her unhappiness means she was not meant to be a mother at all.

But when the three women receive a surprising call from their children’s birth mother, announcing she is pregnant again and wants them to help her find an adoptive family for this child too, the delicate bonds they are still struggling to form threaten to collapse. As tensions rise, the women reckon with their own feelings about what it means to be a mother and what they owe each other as a family.

Set across the span of a family vacation, one full of boisterous laughter and emotional upheaval, Any Other Family is a thought-provoking and poignant look at how families shift and evolve and a striking portrait of motherhood in all its forms.

Ope’s Opinion: I can not believe Eleanor Brown’s imagination to come up with this story. The foul language was constantly throughout this whole book – I would have enjoyed it more without the language.

The first third of the book introduced the characters and explained the situation they shared.Seeing it from the perspective of each woman made it move very quickly.

The middle third of the book had a lot of repetitive information. Elizabeth whined the whole time about the same things. Tabitha had to be in control and wanted everyone to agree with her. Ginger was my favorite – she was kind of quiet, but stood up for herself.

The last third of the book was about resolving the conflict in the relationships. The end showed them all moving forward, but didn’t exactly wrap everything up.

First Bride to Fall

Author: Ginny Baird
Publisher: Entangled Amara
Genre: Romance
Source: Entangled Amara ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Nell Delaney will do almost anything for her parents and her two sisters. But enter a marriage of convenience to save the family’s coffee shop? Too far. So Nell and her sisters strike a deal: whoever hasn’t found love in thirty days has to step up to take one for the team. The good news? Nell knows the perfect guy to fall in love with. The bad news? She’s going to have to pretend she likes the outdoors…a lot.

Adventure guide Grant Williams knows immediately that Nell is not exactly Little Miss Outdoorsy. She’s a walking natural disaster—an amazingly adorable disaster. And whoa, their chemistry is unbelievable. Everything between them is so perfect, he’s not even a little bit shocked when he starts thinking of forever…

Right up until he catches the town gossiping about the Delaney sisters’ bargain and realizes she’s just using him to win a bet. Unfortunately, his family’s unreliable reputation means he can’t just dump one of the town’s sweethearts. No, she needs to dump him. If she’s going to pretend to be the perfect doting bride, well, he’ll just pretend to be the worst bachelor on the market.

Let the games begin…

Ope’s Opinion: There are positive and negative things about this book. I really appreciated that this book was a clean romance and it had no foul language. On the other side, the main character Nell, basically lied to her romantic interest ( Grant )from the very beginning. She pretended to like outdoor adventures and didn’t tell him why she wanted the relationship to move forward so quickly. If you have lie, what kind of relationship is that?

Of course all the lies come out, but it sort of made me not want to route for them. I didn’t want Nell to get what she wanted because of how she went about trying to get it. This is the first in a series, I am on the fence about reading the rest of the series.

The end is typical of a romance novel. It also left things open for the next book.

When It Falls Apart

Author: Catherine ByBee
Publisher: Montlake
Genre: Romance
Source: Montlake ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Brooke Turner has always had a complicated relationship with her father. But when his health takes a turn for the worse, she drops everything to care for him. He’s her dad, after all, and he needs her. What Brooke doesn’t anticipate is the unraveling of her long-term relationship and a cross-country move to San Diego’s Little Italy.

Luca D’Angelo is the oldest of three children and a single father to a young daughter. When his mother rents the top floor of their house to Brooke, he’s angry. Who is this beautiful stranger with no ties to the neighborhood? Can she be trusted in such close proximity to his family?

As Luca learns of Brooke’s difficult journey with her ailing father, his heart softens. And Brooke, who witnesses Luca’s struggle as a single parent, develops feelings for him, too. But when it all falls apart, will love heal their wounded hearts?

Ope’s Opinion: I do like Catherine Bybee’s stories. I could enjoy them more if she didn’t use all the foul language and the explicit steamy parts. There were only a couple of steamy parts, but they were too detailed for my reading preferences.

I liked that Brooke and Luca were a team through all the hard times. They were honest with each other and kept the communication going, even when other people were not making it easy.

The ending was exactly what you would expect from a romance book – no surprises there.

The Sweetest Thing

Author: Sasha Summers
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Romance
Source: HQN Books ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: A stolen family recipe has all the ingredients to turn a rivalry into romance…

For Tansy Hill, nothing is sweeter than honey from her farm—except maybe revenge on the man who broke her heart and humiliated her all those years ago. Dane “The Viking” Knudson has been Tansy’s rival since childhood, and though he’s grown into a frustratingly handsome charmer, he’s also standing between her and the best honey award at the Honey Bee Festival, which Honey Hill Farms desperately needs to stay afloat.

Fanning the sparks that have forever flown between them, the competition is on. Sure, Tansy and Dane have plenty in common—more than they’ll admit—but Dane’s plans to expand Viking Honey are also on the line. When buried family secrets come to light, they’ll have to decide whether taking a chance on each other is worth risking the happiness they’ve been longing for.

Ope’s Opinion: If you like books where the main characters have a bit of a history, are currently enemies, and figure out they love each other – this is the book for you! Add in a lot of information about bees and honey. This small town has a lot of gossip and both families have secrets that eventually come out.

This is the book you should take to the pool to read and relax. It is a simple, easy to follow story with a lot of characters ( not too many to keep track of ) that you will enjoy getting to know. Since this is the first in the series, I am sure we will learn more about each of these characters in the coming books.

I liked that when Dane and Tansy admitted to their attraction to each other, it stayed sweet – like their honey!

Coming Soon….

…. On a Bookshelf near you!

In June I hope to read….

Publication Date: July 19, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Goodreads:

She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindgerten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

What is coming soon …. to a bookshelf near you?

Let me know – I am always looking for a good read!

The People’s Princess

Author: Flora Harding
Publisher: One More Chapter
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased

Goodreads: Buckingham Palace, 1981

Her engagement to Prince Charles is a dream come true for Lady Diana Spencer but marrying the heir to the throne is not all that it seems. Alone and bored in the palace, she resents the stuffy courtiers who are intent on instructing her about her new role as Princess of Wales…

But when she discovers a diary written in the 1800s by Princess Charlotte of Wales, a young woman born into a gilded cage so like herself, Diana is drawn into the story of Charlotte’s reckless love affairs and fraught relationship with her father, the Prince Regent.

As she reads the diary, Diana can see many parallels with her own life and future as Princess of Wales.

The story allows a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life in the palace, the tensions in Diana’s relationship with the royal family during the engagement, and the wedding itself. 

Ope’s Opinion: I do not usually read historical fiction, but I like reading about the Royals, so I picked this up. It is a fiction book, but it is based on a lot of facts.

It was really interesting to see how Charlotte’s life and Lady Diana’s life were so similar. Makes me wonder if all the Royals are similar. I had not heard of Princess Charlotte before, so that was interesting – except for the fact that she repeated several times how she felt about Frederick. I was a little disappointed that I did not learn anything new about Lady Diana.

The Lies I Tell

Author: Julie Clark
Publisher: Sourcebooks Lankmark
Genre: Thriller
Source: Sourcebooks Landmark ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Two women. Many aliases.

Meg Williams. Maggie Littleton. Melody Wilde. Different names for the same person, depending on the town, depending on the job. She’s a con artist who erases herself to become whoever you need her to be—a college student. A life coach. A real estate agent. Nothing about her is real. She slides alongside you and tells you exactly what you need to hear, and by the time she’s done, you’ve likely lost everything.

Kat Roberts has been waiting ten years for the woman who upended her life to return. And now that she has, Kat is determined to be the one to expose her. But as the two women grow closer, Kat’s long-held assumptions begin to crumble, leaving Kat to wonder who Meg’s true target is.

The Lies I Tell is a twisted domestic thriller that dives deep into the psyches and motivations of two women and their unwavering quest to seek justice for the past and rewrite the future. 

Ope’s Opinion: The Lies I Tell was a great read. I enjoyed the story line in The Last Flight better. Again this story had two woman at the center of it – both strong woman dealing with very different, difficult circumstances.

I admit that the first couple of chapters I wasn’t sure where the story line was going. But very quickly we were made aware of most of the secrets that drove Meg to do what she was doing. Seeing all it all from both Kat’s and Meg’s perspectives made the story intense and move very quickly.

The ending was not what I was expecting and is still leaving me think… is this how it should end in real life? I like that I am still pondering it.

Meant To Be

Author: Emily Giffin
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Romance
Source: Purchased

Goodreads: The Kingsley family is practically American royalty, beloved for their military heroics, political service, and unmatched elegance. When Joseph S. Kingsley III is born in 1960, he inherits the weight of that legacy. Growing up with all the Kingsley looks and charisma, Joe should have no problem taking up the mantle after his father’s untimely death. But he is also a little bit reckless, and can’t seem to figure out how to channel the expectations of an entire country.

No one ever expected anything of Cate, on the other hand. She, too, grew up in a single-parent household—just her and her mom scraping by in their small apartment. As a teenager, though, Cate is discovered for her looks. Modeling may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited. Before too long, her face is everywhere, though she is always aware that she’d be a pariah in her social circles if anyone knew her true story.

When Joe and Cate’s paths cross, their connection is instant. What remains to be seen is whether their relationship will survive the glare of the spotlight that follows Joe everywhere. And just as they find themselves in the make-or-break moment, the tragedy that seems to run in Joe’s family right alongside all that privilege will repeat itself.

In a beautifully written novel that recaptures a gilded moment in American history, Emily Giffin tells a story of a love that may or may not have the power to transcend circumstances that seem arrayed against it… and the difficulty of finding your way to the place you belong.

Ope’s Opinion: The first thing this book makes me want to do now is go look up Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s and see how close this story is to her real life. This would have been a really good story even if it was not based on their lives. My only complaint and what kept this from being a five chair book was the explicit sexual details. The details did not add anything to the story of their relationship.

The story written from both Cate’s and Joe’s perspectives moved it at a quick pace. Even though some things were repeated it was so you could you see them from each of their sides.

The epilogue was a perfect way to end the book. It wrapped things up the way you wish real life had happened.