Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS by Casey Griffin

SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS Blog Tour

SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS by Casey Griffin

SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS by Casey Griffin

4 Stars

Synopsis
At Beverly Hills High, you have to be ruthless to survive…

Adrianna Bottom always wanted to be liked. But this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Now, she’s in the spotlight…and out of her geeky comfort zone. She’ll do whatever it takes to turn the rumor mill in her favor—even if it means keeping secrets. So far, it’s working.

Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Be seen with the right people.

Kevin, the adorable sketch artist who shares her love of all things nerd, isn’t exactly the right people. But that doesn’t stop Adrianna from crushing on him. The only way she can spend time with him is in disguise, as Princess Andy, the masked girl he’s been LARPing with. If he found out who she really was, though, he’d hate her.

The rules have been set. The teams have their players. Game on.

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My Review
This book had it’s moments. Both really cute and funny, and a few that went on a bit too long. I loved Adrianna “Andy” Bottom, heir to the Bottoms Bathroom dynasty. She’s funny, quirky, and a little unsure of herself, but she’s also got a solid backbone that I loved. When her family moves from the Pacific Northwest down to Beverly Hills, subject of a new reality show based on their bathroom products, she becomes the Porcelain Princess. The victim of ridicule in her old school, she has a chance to reinvent herself in Southern California. But things go unexpectedly, hilariously wrong when on the first day of school, her new pencil skirt splits right down the back, revealing her Wonder Woman underwear for the entire world to see, literally, since the cameras are always there.

While she quickly makes friends, she sets her sights on cute, but nerdy, Kevin. Her new friend tells her that would be social suicide, so Adrianna finds a way to dodge the cameras and become someone else, someone Kevin might be interested in. The world of live-action role playing (LARPing) takes center stage as Adrianna attempts a Hannah Montana life of having the best of both worlds.

The romance is sweet and the life of a reality-TV star makes for some hysterical moments, but the LARPing was almost a distraction. I loved that side of the story, but a lot of attention was paid to the LARPing events. The first one was great. I loved seeing how their world worked, sort of like living Dungeons & Dragons. But by the third event, I found myself skimming those sections. I knew Adrianna and her friends weren’t in real danger, so the sword battles and treasure hunting didn’t hold my attention. I flipped past those, looking for the nuggets that moved the main plot along.

Plot
The plot centers around Adrianna’s relationship with Kevin with strong subplots involving LARPing and her family’s business. Themes include being true to yourself and loyalty to friends. The main plot was good. There isn’t much heat in the relationship, but it’s definitely cute and I was pulling for these two the whole way.

Characters
I liked all of the characters. Even the antagonist, the show’s camera guy, is more than a stereotype. Some seemed cardboard on the surface, but by the end of the story, it was clear what everyone’s motivations were.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Long LARPing Expeditions.
 These distracted me from the main plot too much.

2. Southern California Life. Some of it didn’t come across as authentic. Beverly Hills teens don’t take the bus. In fact public transportation in LA is pretty much a joke. I also have a hard time believing a small plumbing store could afford the rents on Rodeo Drive. And there are few empty lots anywhere in town that resemble a forest, but I could overlook most of this for the sake of the story.

What I Enjoyed About SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS
1. Adrianna.
 She was really complex. Part nerd, part cool kid, tough yet vulnerable, there was much to like about our heroine.

2. Kevin. Sometimes I wanted to shake him, other times I felt bad for him, but I always pulled for him to get the girl.

3. Comedy. The author does a fabulous job of weaving wit and humor throughout the story.

4. LARPing. While I didn’t need to read all the details of their quests, I absolutely love this idea of dressing up and becoming another character. Like Comic-Con on steroids.

5. Reality TV. I don’t actually watch any reality TV aside from competitions on the Food Network, but I loved the behind-the-scenes look at life in front of the camera.

Bottom Line
SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS is a cute, funny romance with lovable characters.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS
Author: Casey Griffin
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Pages: 354
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | KoboGooglePlay | BAM! | !ndigo | IndieBound | Book Depository

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Author Casey Griffin

Author Casey Griffin

About the Author
Casey Griffin can often be found at comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher, and photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist, and is currently busy writing every moment she can.

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Where to Find Casey Griffin
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Review – Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

4 Stars

Synopsis
Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes and keeps him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.

But Fate has other plans, and it’s not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon, they’re dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all—true love.

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My Review
One of my favorite Jennifer Crusie novels so far. The characters are the best! Min is wonderful and I love the fact that she isn’t beautiful, and that she doesn’t go through some makeover to become more attractive. I love that Cal isn’t shallow and sees the best in Min. The underlying bet is a fun thread that starts the story and is pulled through the plot to the very end. When Min’s boyfriend, David, dumps her, she’s not so much sad as she is distraught by what her mother’s reaction will be. Min has spent her entire life trying to please a woman who will never be pleased, but her mom loves David. Now with her sister’s wedding looming, she needs a date, fast.

Enter Cal. He likes to bet. So when David bets him ten dollars he can’t get “cold fish” Min to go to dinner with him, Cal takes that bet. But David takes it a step further, betting Cal he can’t get her into bed within thirty days. Thus begins a hilarious tale of two people who everyone can see belong together except the two themselves.

Plot
The plot centers around Min’s and Cal’s relationship, the push and pull of desire and the belief that the other person is wrong for them. Min believes Cal is only trying to win the bet. Cal believes Min hates him, and considering her biting wit, it’s easy to see why. But fate throws them together over and over again and it’s cute to watch what happens. The chemistry is palpable and the situations the author puts them in are deliciously fun. The cast is large, as most Cruise novels are, and there are several solid subplots involving Min’s friends, Cal’s family, and Min’s sister’s wedding. Each subplot supports the main plot and development of the main characters.

Characters
Once again, Cruise delivers quirky, outrageous, yet infinitely loveable characters. Min is outspoken and yet has an edge of self-doubt, thanks to her mother’s constant criticisms. Cal has his own issues, although they’re more subtle. Min’s friends are all unique, as are Cal’s and no one came across as stereotypical. I adored the interaction between Cal and Min’s friends. There was just enough development in the main characters to keep the story from being too comedic, bringing a sense of authenticity to them. Even Min’s sister gets her own arc, and her parents have a small one.

Ending
At first, I felt like the ending went on way too long, but in retrospect, it was perfect. Even though the romance was resolved, there is a hilarious scene at the end that really summed up all the themes in the book. And the epilogue was a cherry on top of this yummy story.

Bottom Line
Bet Me is my favorite Jennifer Crusie book to date, with adorable characters and witty dialogue.

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Title: Bet Me
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Release Date: April 1, 2007
Pages: 432
Category: Romantic Comedy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | BAM! | IndieBound

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Author Jennifer Crusie

Author Jennifer Crusie

About the Author
Jennifer Crusie was researching her dissertation on the differences in the way men and women tell stories when she got sidetracked into writing romance novels.

Her first book was published in 1993 (which pretty much finished off any hope of her getting that PhD) and her twenty-second book, Maybe This Time, came out in August of 2010, all of which she considers a minor miracle, especially since she is also a New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller and a two-time Rita award winner.

Jenny is currently working on her new Liz Danger mystery series. She is a very happy woman..

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Where to Find Jennifer Crusie
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Young Adult Book Review – My Junior Year of Loathing (School Dayz) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

My Junior Year of Loathing (School Dayz #2) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

My Junior Year of Loathing (School Dayz #2) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

5 Stars

Synopsis
Junior year is supposed to be tough. Exams, term papers, homework, college tours, and participation in extra-curricular activities can all add up to non-stop stress. But Melinda Banner has goals to achieve and dreams to make real. This year, she’ll be unstoppable. But even over achievers need a break.

While walking in the woods to take a break from the stress of it all, Melinda meets a boy named Connor. After a few more run-ins, the two settle into an uneasy friendship, if you can even call it that.

But Connor’s closed and mysterious. Whenever Melinda asks too many questions, he suddenly has to go or is no longer interested in talking. When they’re together, she’s torn between wanting him to open up and running away as fast as she can. Still she can’t seem to shake her budding interest in him.

Connor has his own way of looking at the world, and his views often conflict with Melinda’s practical nature. Can you like someone and loathe them at the same time? Is he even worth the emotional tug on her heartstrings or distraction from all things Junior year?

And, as if she needs another project right now, Melinda starts to obsess over the abandoned estate she passes on the way to school each day. Between Connor and the old estate, Melinda’s beginning to think she’s taking on too much.

But Melinda’s smart. She finds a way to indulge her interest in the estate and fulfill her obligations. She will uncover the truth behind the aging edifice for an epic article in the school newspaper.

But when her investigation reveals a connection between Connor and a tragedy long-since forgotten, Melinda has a choice: put off her junior year achievements to save a local landmark and a boy who constantly pushes her away or put them both out of her mind for good and focus on making the grade.

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My Review
The second book in the School Dayz series, this is my favorite so far. Melinda, Sadie’s romantic rival from book one, is a smart, serious girl with goals. When her mom remarries, she moves into a virtual mansion where she’s forced to adjust to a different way of life. Her relocation also puts her squarely in the path of mysterious Connor of the Woods, a boy she meets lurking in the forested area behind her stepfather’s estate. Her best friend, Becca, begins dating Will, who pushes her to double-date his buddy, Ty. Ty is tall, cute, normal. Connor is anything but normal, but Melinda is inescapably drawn to him, setting up a showdown with her emotions. Will she choose Ty and security, or Connor and all the drama that surrounds him?

Plot
There is a bit of a mystery woven into the plot. Well, a couple of mysteries, actually. One being the secret Connor is hiding and the other is what happened behind the big wall of the old Westerly Estate. Some people say the old house is haunted, and Melinda is determined to find out what really happened. But the primary plot is the romance between Melinda, Ty, and Connor. It’s not a traditional love triangle, so if those turn you off, don’t discount this book just yet. It’s a great story, with Jennifer DiGiovanni’s signature quirky, funny characters, and lots of super sweet moments.

Characters
Once again, the author creates a cast of unique characters that are easy to love. Melinda is serious and driven with an incredible soft spot in her heart. Connor is an enigma until we find out his whole story, but he never comes across as anything other than fully developed. Will, Ty, Becca, the estate’s caretaker, Jack, and Melinda’s family all support the story. Jack in particular is an intriguing character who adds a lot to the story.

Top things I LOVED About My Junior Year of Loathing
1. The mystery. It was incorporated really well into the main plot.

2. Jack. The gruff landscaper provides some great moments with both Melinda and Connor.

3. Melinda. I love seeing more of her in this installment. She wasn’t my favorite person in My Senior Year of Awesome, but after getting her story and her point of view, I adore her.

4. Connor. The boy from the woods is strong, mysterious, caring, and more than a little hot.

5. Will. As the arrogant football player dating Melinda’s best friend, he provides some of the best comic moments.

Bottom Line
My favorite book in the series so far, includes great romance, a mystery, and fantastic characters.

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About the Book
Title: My Junior Year of Loathing
Series: School Dayz #2
Author: Jennifer DiGiovanni
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Pages: 186
Category: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Jennifer DiGiovanni

Author Jennifer DiGiovanni

About the Author
Jennifer DiGiovanni is the author of the School Dayz Series. When she’s not writing or reading, she likes to try new sports and activities from archery to ballroom dancing, with varying degrees of success.

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Where to find Jennifer DiGiovanni
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook Twitter | Pinterest
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Book Review – Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

Welcome to Temptation (Dempseys #1) by Jennifer Crusie

Welcome to Temptation (Dempseys #1) by Jennifer Crusie

4 Stars

Synopsis
Sophie Dempsey is content living a quiet life filming wedding videos until an assignment brings her to Temptation, Ohio. From the moment she drive into town, she gets a bad feeling; Sophie is from the wrong side of the tracks and everything in Temptation is a little too right. And when she has a run-in with the town’s unnervingly sexy mayor, Phineas Tucker, making a little movie turns out to be more than a little dangerous.

Yield to oncoming desire…

All Sophie wants to do is film the video and head home. All Phin wants to do is play pool with the police chief and keep things peaceful. They both get more than they bargained for when Sophie’s video causes an uproar and the proper citizens of Temptation set out to shut them down.

Welcome to temptation…

As events spiral out of control, Sophie and Phin find themselves caught in a web of gossip, blackmail, adultery, murder, and really excellent sex. All hell breaks loose in Temptation as Sophie and Phin fall deeper and deeper in trouble…and in love.

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My Review
This is a fun, fast read with quirky characters and a laugh-out-loud plot. When Sophie Dempsey and her sister head to Temptation, Ohio to help a b-list actress film a comeback, things go hysterically wrong. Everything from a phallic water tower to possible porn erupts. Throw in a mangy stray dog, the hot town mayor, and a dead body, and things go from interesting to downright complicated. Jennifer Crusie creates a place that is as screwed up as it is quaint, filled with equally messed up people, all with something to gain and something to hide.

Mayor Phin Tucker sees an uptight woman in Sophie that he can’t help but be attracted to, which means he should stay far, far away from her. Of course he doesn’t, igniting a tumultuous relationship that should remain physical, but turns into much more for both parties, despite their efforts to avoid it. There are so many great and funny twists and turns, I stayed up way too late to find out what would happen next.

Plot
This is essentially a romance, so the main plot is whether or not Phin and Sophie will end up together, but there are strong subplots involving a possible murder, the complicated relationship of Phin and his mother, the complex inner workings of the City of Temptation itself, and whether or not Sophie is making porn. All the plots are woven together expertly, resulting in a madcap story that just happens to be a romance.

Characters
The characters are the best. They are what make Jennifer Crusie’s books shine. Sophie is smart, funny, caring, and stubborn. Phin is complex, arrogant, and frustrated. The story is rounded out by a supporting cast that are a fascinating character study in small-town life.

Writing
Jennifer Crusie has a way with dialogue and character development, but her writing style took me a little bit to get used to. There’s a lot of combined dialogue and dialogue tags that I had to read more than once to figure out who was saying what. But overall, her writing is witty and engaging.

Bottom Line
Welcome to Temptation is classic Jennifer Crusie, a delightful romp with characters you can’t help falling in love with.

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Title: Welcome to Temptation
Series: The Dempsys #1
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Release Date: July 11, 2004
Pages: 416
Category: Romantic Comedy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | BAM! | IndieBound

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Author Jennifer Crusie

Author Jennifer Crusie

About the Author
Jennifer Crusie was researching her dissertation on the differences in the way men and women tell stories when she got sidetracked into writing romance novels.

Her first book was published in 1993 (which pretty much finished off any hope of her getting that PhD) and her twenty-second book, Maybe This Time, came out in August of 2010, all of which she considers a minor miracle, especially since she is also a New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller and a two-time Rita award winner.

Jenny is currently working on her new Liz Danger mystery series. She is a very happy woman..

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Where to Find Jennifer Crusie
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Book Review – Lexington and 42nd (Off Field Series) by Kim Carmody

Lexington and 42nd (Off Field #1) by Kim Carmody

Lexington and 42nd (Off Field #1) by Kim Carmody

4 Stars

Synopsis
It was meant to be the job opportunity of a lifetime.

It turned out to be so much more…

At the age of twenty five, Emma Lexington takes off to New York on a once in a life time twelve-month job exchange with the New York Warriors. Determined to make the most of the opportunity, she prepares herself for life in the big apple—fast paced, exciting and a whole lot of fun. What she hasn’t prepared for though, is meeting him.

The charming Will Jensen is in the prime of his playing career. As the star quarterback for the Warriors, his carefree, football centric life is thrown into disarray when he meets Emma, the beautiful, easy going Australian girl who joins the Warriors staff.

Unwilling to throw her professional reputation away on a fling with the playboy quarterback, Emma turns down Will’s advances, even though she can’t deny the attraction she feels for him. Their pull toward one another grows, but it takes a near disaster for Emma to finally give Will a chance.

Getting together might have been hard, but figuring out how to stay together will prove even more challenging as Emma must decide between conflicting loyalties.

Lexington and 42nd is a fun, sexy romance, set in the exciting world of the NFL in the fabulous city of New York..

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My Review
Lexington and 42nd is an engaging contemporary romance with likeable characters and a believable plot. The heroine is a strong, independent female, and her hero is an alpha male at the height of his NFL career. It has all of the elements for the genre: the meet, the instant attraction, the slow and steady build to acting on that attraction, the inevitable break-up, and the ultimate HEA. There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking here, but if you want a sexy, fun read, pick this one up.

Plot
Emma Lexington is on loan to the New York Warriors NFL team for the season as part of a program involving her organization in Australia. Will Jensen is the Warriors’ star quarterback and completely off limits to Emma. And Emma is off limits to Will, which of course makes both of them irresistible to each other. There’s so much room for conflict with this tale of forbidden romance and the author does a compelling job with it.

Characters
Both Emma and Will are very endearing and it’s clear early on they belong together. They’re both fairly well-developed, but lack extreme depth. Neither has any life-altering backstories. They’re both pretty emotionally healthy and just have different priorities and communication issues they need to overcome in order to get that HEA.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The story took a little while to develop. At 444 pages, it’s on the longish side for a contemporary romance, and some of it could have been cut early on to keep the story moving at a faster pace.
2. This is just a personal thing, but Will’s number is 42. Quarterbacks in the NFL are usually under number 20 with running backs and D-backs in the 40s. Now Will could have had a reason for having that number, and teams are pretty accommodating when it comes to their star players, but without an explanation on why he had that number, it bugged me throughout the book.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Lexington and 42nd
1. Emma’s Australia-ness. After hosting two Aussie exchange students, there is just something so charming about an Aussie and it came across in Emma’s personality in spades.
2. Football. I’m an 18-year season-ticket holder with the San Diego Chargers and we almost never miss a home game. I loved reading about the football side of things. Other than Will’s jersey number, it came across as spot on.
3. Angsty romance. The angst didn’t really kick in until near the end, but that’s my favorite kind of romance and it made up for the slow start.
4. New York City. One of my favorite places to visit. Don’t think I could live there, but I never get tired of visiting.
5. The ending. Nice wrap up.

Bottom Line
An engaging contemporary romance with adorable characters in a big city setting with NFL players.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Lexington and 42nd
Series: Off the Field #1
Author: Kim Carmody
Pages: 444
Category: Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | !ndigo | Powell’s | BAM!

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Author Kim Carmody

Author Kim Carmody

About the Author
Kim Carmody lives in a beach side suburb of Melbourne, Australia. She trained as a classical dancer, yet somehow ended up working in the sports industry, where she met her now husband.

Lexington and 42nd is her first novel.

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Where to find Kim Carmody
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – Holding Court by K.C. Held

Holding Court Blog Tour

Holding Court by K.C. Held

Holding Court by K.C. Held

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…

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My Review
Reading Holding Court was an absolute blast. The characters are quirky and adorable, the story is hysterical, and the mystery is just good plain fun. Jules has a strange gift that her best friend calls psychic Tourette’s syndrome or PTS. She blurts out things that seem to not make any sense, labeling her the weird kid at school. But her ability makes her perfect to play the Mad Maid of Kent in the Tudor Times dinner theater where she pretends to be a psychic and her blurting disorder is just right for the part.

Her long-term crush and his perfect-in-every-way girlfriend also work there, forcing her to spend more time than she’d like with the happy couple. And she can’t even hate the girlfriend because she’s one of the few people at school who hasn’t ostracised Jules for her PTS. But when bodies begin to pile up in the castle, Jules doesn’t know who to trust and the race is on to find out who’s offing the staff.

Plot
The plot centers around the mysterious disappearing body in the castle, but there is a romantic subplot involving Jules pining for Grayson who has a flawless girlfriend, Bree. The mystery definitely takes center stage, but the romance is cute and sweet and definitely adds to the story.

Characters
The characters are easily the best part of the book. They’re so entertaining. Jules is particularly likeable as the insecure blurting psychic with the crush on the unattainable boy. Her whole family is just as unusual and adorable, as is her best friend, Cami, the only person outside her family who seems to really get her. The colorful characters at Tudor Times rounds out the cast in delightful fashion, making it nearly impossible to figure out whodunit, because they’re all a bit wacky.

Writing
The writing is a blast. Debut novelist, K.C. Held, has a way of storytelling that is engaging and hysterical. Her main character is witty and charming, whether she’s blurting or trying to process the latest calamity to befall her.

Ending
There were a few surprising twists, one that I never saw coming!

What I Loved About Holding Court
1. The humor. There were many laugh out loud moments.
2. The characters. They were all unique and amusing, even the seedy ones.
3. The mystery. The disappearing body added a fun twist to this teen murder mystery.
4. The romance. While subtle, it was threaded throughout the story and kept me wanting to know what would happen.
5. Gran. She was a breath of fresh air as Jules’ temporary guardian while Jules’ mother is overseas on business.

Bottom Line
A delightful teen murder/mystery, filled with zany characters and laced with a sweet romance.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Holding Court
Author: K.C. Held
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 352
Category: Young Adult Mystery/Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo | Entangled

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Author K.C. Held

Author K.C. Held

About the Author
K.C. HELD was born and raised in California with stopovers in Honduras, Mexico, and France. Married to her high school sweetheart, and mom to two avid bookworms, she holds an MFA in costume design and is an accomplished seamstress with a background in opera, theater, film, and television. Although she once spent a summer working in a castle, there were no dead bodies involved.

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Where to find K.C. Held
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook Twitter | Tumblr

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Book Review + Giveaway – Dog Collar Knockoff (Lucie Rizzo Mystery) by Adrienne Giordano

Dog Collar Knockoff (Lucie Rizzo Mystery #2) by Adrienne Giordano

Dog Collar Knockoff (Lucie Rizzo Mystery #2) by Adrienne Giordano

4 Stars

Synopsis
Catering to the pampered paws set took Lucie Rizzo from unemployed to entrepreneur. With her dog walking/chic pet accessory business on the verge of success, Lucie’s ready to make a name for herself. One not tarnished by her dad’s mobster rep.

When an art deal she brokered between clients turns suspicious, it’s up to Lucie to sniff out the truth. She might not know the difference between Monet and Manet, but Rizzos are no strangers to jail time—and Lucie refuses to be someone’s prison bitch.

Unless that someone is a tall, blond and Irish cop. Detective Tim O’Brien certainly knows how to get Lucie hot under the rhinestone collar. And with her on-again-off-again relationship with Frankie Falcone currently off, O’Brien isn’t shy about making her feel wanted, mafia ties and all. Even joining her crack—or crackpot—team on the trail of two paintings with equally shady origins.

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My Review
The second book in the Lucie Rizzo mystery series picks up not long after the end of the first one, but a lot has happened in that time. Lucie and Frankie are broken up, this time at Frankie’s insistence. Lucie’s budding business of dog walking and high-end pet accessories is taking off, so much so, she’s hired an assistant. Her young apprentice is an art major and notices some famous paintings hanging in the homes of Lucie’s clients, raising concerns about their authenticity. Most of the book centers around this mystery, especially with her on-again-off-again relationship with Frankie in the off position. But the young, hot detective who helped her out in the first book is still hanging around, and his interest in Lucie might not be one-sided.

Plot
The mystery is the main plot and it moves much faster than in the first novel. And while the author lets on pretty early what’s going on, there were a couple of really good unexpected twists. Lucie’s love triangle is a strong subplot and particularly well done. I neither love nor hate love triangles as a whole, but I do loathe poorly executed ones. Luckily that’s not the case here. Both guys have merit and both are easy to love. Lucie’s conundrum is wholly believable.

Characters
I love that both Lucie and Frankie went through some character development in this book. In a lot of mystery series’ the characters are stagnant, but not with this series. The cast is still a lovable bunch of colorful goofballs, but they’re more meaty than stereotypical. Lucie is introspective and knows she has a bunch of stuff to figure out, and it’s great that she doesn’t take the easy way out. Of anything.

Ending
I didn’t seen the ending coming and I’m happy with the way this chapter of Lucie’s life is wrapped up. I’m fully onboard with the Lucie Rizzo Mysteries now and looking forward to the next one.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Lack of grippiness.
 If that’s even a word. I never really felt like Lucie was ever in any danger. It’s a fun read, but a little more edge-of-your-seat moments would have made this a real page-turner.

What I Enjoyed About Dog Collar Knockoff
1. The pacing.
 This second book in the series moved at a faster clip than the first, which made it a fun, fast read.
2. Chemistry. As much as I loved the Lucie/Frankie chemistry in the first book, I can’t deny she and Tim have their own sizzle. Adrienne Giordano writes a really believable love triangle.
3. The dogs. In the first book, I almost thought there were too many dogs. I mean, she’s a dog walker, but I still felt like I spent an inordinate amount of time reading about dogs taking a dump. This time, I actually looked forward to Lucie’s time with them. They’ve grown on me the way my own four-legged friend has. The one we got for the kids who has decided I’m his person and I’ve reluctantly accepted that.
4. Ro and Joey. These two will either kill each other or wind up together. If Joey was taking bets on his own life, the odds would be 50/50.
5. The mystery. The mystery was very different than the first one, and was well executed, which isn’t always easy to do.

Bottom Line
The second book in the series is even better than the first and I’m looking forward to the release of the third.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Dog Collar Knockoff
Series: Lucie Rizzo Mystery #2
Author: Adrienne Giordano
Publisher: SilverHart Publishing
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Pages: 221
Genre: Cozy Mystery/New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo

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Author Adrienne Giordano

Author Adrienne Giordano

About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery. 

She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier).

She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. 

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Where to Find Adrienne Giordano
Goodreads | Website | Newsletter | Street TeamFacebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Book Review + Giveaway – Doing it for Love (All About Love) by Cassie Mae

Doing it For Love Blog Tour
Welcome to the blog tour for Doing it for Love, the first book in the contemporary romantic comedy series, All About Love, by Cassie Mae. See below for my review, information on the books, buy links, and details on her giveaway.

Doing It for Love (All About Love #1) by Cassie Mae

Doing It for Love (All About Love #1) by Cassie Mae

4 Stars

Synopsis
Cassie Mae’s charming, sexy new novel, perfect for fans of Emma Chase, puts a steamy twist on modern love as one bride-to-be tries to put the spark back in the bedroom—by any means necessary.

Elizabeth Fanning’s life looks pretty perfect, judging by the diamond ring on her finger. Her fiancé, Landon, is sweet, handsome, and hilarious. The trouble is, before they’ve even tied the knot, their sex life has gone from mind-blowing to “meh”—and Liz isn’t ready to be part of an old married couple. After a cathartic call to her best friend, Liz comes up with a brilliant idea. She and Landon may never be able to re-create the magic of their first time, but how amazing would their wedding night be if everything below the neck was off-limits until then?

Liz thinks it’ll bring them closer together. Landon’s convinced she’ll cave first. So they raise the stakes: Whoever lasts longer gets to pick their honeymoon destination. With her heart set on the Bahamas and Landon fighting for snowbound Utah, Liz simply has to win. But pretty soon, her body is screaming for attention, and Landon’s never seemed so far away. Has Liz’s experiment backfired? Losing their little competition would be frustrating—but the one thing she can’t afford to lose is him.

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My Review
I adore Cassie Mae’s writing. She creates such fun, relatable characters with wit and wisdom, and Doing it for Love is no exception. I immediately loved Liz and Landon and could relate to their bet. Every bride wants her wedding night to be special, especially if she’s been living with her husband-to-be. Watching them try to break the other, nearly succumbing to temptation, was hilarious, and the moments with Landon’s family were laugh-out-loud funny. There were so many great scenes — from Liz’s compensating for lack of sex by overindulging on chocolate and not fitting into “the” wedding dress, to Landon’s best friend raiding their refrigerator for things to be used as special effects in Landon’s zombie comedy film.

Plot
On the surface it’s about who is going to cave first, Liz or Landon, with the prize being either a tropical honeymoon or one spent in frigid Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. But in reality, it was more of a character-driven story, and that’s fine because the characters are outstanding. What was missing for me, though, was a deeper level of conflict. The love between Liz and Landon is unique and I can understand the author didn’t want to totally rock that boat, but when I read the the blurb, I expected more…fireworks or something. At no point did I ever believe that Liz was going to lose Landon.

Characters
Every character in this story shines. Liz and Landon are so well-developed, they felt real, like the kind of people I’d totally want to hang out with. Liz’s best friend, Theresa, is equally interesting, and I’m hoping we get her story next! Landon’s parents and sister are fun and completely well-rounded, and believably flawed. The rest of the cast feels as if they truly exist outside the story and aren’t just there to serve a purpose, and that is the mark of brilliant characters.

Top Five Things I Love About  Doing it for Love
1. Liz and Landon. Their relationship comes across as so authentic and real, I never doubted these two belonged together.

2. The bet. I love that they tried to see who could go longer without sex, like Seinfeld’s “The Contest” taken to its extreme! So many great moments came out of this.

3. Zombie comedy. The movie is only a minor subplot, but I learned enough about it to know I’d go see it in a heartbeat if it was real.

4. Landon’s parents. They are the in-laws you love to hate.

5. The ending. It’s everything I’d hoped it’d be and more.

Bottom Line
Doing it For Love is a wonderfully funny, engaging contemporary romance with infinitely likeable characters.

Disclaimer
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Title: Doing it For Love
Series: All About Love #1
Author: Cassie Mae
Publisher: Random House/Loveswept
Pages: 287
Category: Contemporary Romantic Comedy/Chick Lit
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Cassie Mae

Author Cassie Mae

About the Author
Cassie Mae (who dawns the name Becca Ann on occasion) is the author of a few hundred… okay, maybe not that many… books. Some of which became popular for their quirky titles, characters, and stories. She likes writing about nerds, geeks, the awkward, the fluffy, the short, the shy, the loud, the fun.

Since publishing her bestselling debut, Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend, she has published and sold books to Random House, Swoon Romance, and Spencer Hill Press. She has a favorite of all her book babies, but no, she won’t tell you what it is. (Mainly because it changes depending on the day.)

Along with writing, Cassie likes to binge watch Teen Wolf and The Big Bang Theory. She can quote Harry Potter lines quick as a whip. And she likes kissing her hubby, but only if his facial hair is trimmed. She also likes cheesecake to a very obsessive degree.

Where to Find Cassie Mae
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Young Adult Book Review – Love Spell by Mia Kerick

Love Spell by Mia Kerick

Love Spell by Mia Kerick

4 Stars

Synopsis
Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance César, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.

As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.) However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.”

But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.

An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.

Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.

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My Review
There are so many things to love about Love Spell, but Chance César wasn’t one of them. At least not for me. The story follows Chance as he meets and then falls for Jasper Donahue, who Chance immediately starts calling Jazz. He and his best friend, Emmy, put together a plan for Chance to win Jazz’s heart. And that pretty much sums up my issues with Chance. He doesn’t know Jasper and decides not only to call him Jazz, whether or not Jasper likes it, but to pursue him without even knowing if Jazz is into guys. Plus, Chance constantly talks about his own awesomeness.

Aside from not liking Chance, I got a kick out of the story. It’s filled with quirky characters, witty banter, and real issues faced by teens, including gender identity, bullying, and falling in love. All of it is approached with heart and humor, making it impossible not to love the story despite not loving the main character. But then that was how A Confederacy of Dunces played out for me, too.

Plot
The plot centers around the romance between Chance and Jazz and the plan that Chance and Emmy come up with to get Jazz to fall for him. It’s hysterical as Chance tries to take the advice from a woman’s magazine on winning the heart of a guy and apply it to his situation. There are many laugh-out-loud moments involving scents and flavored lip gloss. The entire time, we’re left guessing whether or not Jasper is even interested in boys, right along with Chance.

Characters
The characters are what really make this story work. Even though Chance is abrasive, I cannot deny that he’s interesting. Emmy, his best friend, has her own language and is constantly making up new catchphrases, like pie stroll, which is doing something even easier than a cakewalk. Jasper is equally interesting as the potential love interest who doesn’t know what to make of Chance.

World Building
The brightly colored world that Chance and his friends inhabit feels like something straight out of a Bryan Fuller television series — I half expected Lee Pace to make a cameo. Although the book is light-hearted, author Mia Kerick does a great job of handling the more serious subjects, like bullying.

Top Five Things I enjoyed about Love Spell:
1. Emmy’s catchphrases. Everything from dooza-palooza to sick- awesome made this such a fun read.

2. The plan. Watching Chance trying to implement the plan was absolutely hilarious.

3. Jasper. I love him. Everything from how great he is with his little sister to how he treats Chance makes him one of the best characters in the book.

4. Emmy. She can be annoying at times, but you never doubt her loyalty to her BFF, Chance (aka Channy).

5. Chance’s sense of style. I may not like his personality, but I have to admit, the dude’s got style!

Bottom Line
Love Spell is a romantic comedy with a hilarious cast of characters and colorful dialogue that made me laugh out loud.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Love Spell
Author: Mia Kerick
Publisher: CoolDudes Publishing
Release Date: June 1, 2015
Pages: 146
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Mia Kerick

Author Mia Kerick

About the Author
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Where to find Mia Kerick
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter
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Book Review – Sammy’s Hill (Samantha Joyce) by Kristin Gore

Sammy's Hill (Samantha Joyce #1) by Kristin Gore

Sammy’s Hill (Samantha Joyce #1) by Kristin Gore

4 Stars

Synopsis
Comedy writer and middle daughter of Al Gore, Kristin Gore has written a funny and moving debut novel about life on Capitol Hill as seen through the eyes of Samantha Joyce, a twenty-six year old health care analyst to Ohio Junior Senator Robert Gary.

Hard working, idealistic, extremely competent as well as neurotic and prone to daydreaming, Sammy, as she’s known to her friends, has little time for anything, much less a relationship. But in the midst of lobbying and late-night dinners at the office, she meets Aaron Driver, who is hot, smart, and sweet, and who, after a night of binge drinking at a bachelor party, proclaims his love for her.

But how will Sammy balance her seventy-plus hour weeks with her budding romance, while keeping her best friend’s slimy boyfriend from hitting on her, and making time for family, who insist her outfits match the centerpiece.

My Review
This debut novel by the middle daughter of former Vice President, Al Gore, is a hilarious, witty, page-turning comedy with a sliver of politics running through it. Twenty-six year old Samantha Joyce is a newly arrived staffer for the junior Senator from Ohio with expertise in health care. Released in 2005, the topic was timely with health care reform front and center, but it’s still as fresh ten years later as it was back when I first read it.

Sammy is idealistic, nervous around members of the opposite sex, a little neurotic, and forever hopeful. As she works on the issues for her boss, she tumbles into a romantic relationship. While billed as chic-lit, this is more than that. It’s equal parts politics, which no doubt Kristin Gore has the experience to accurately portray, and lighthearted romance. I loved the story, the politics, and the characters. I’m looking forward to picking up more by Gore.

Plot
The main plot is Sammy’s goal of getting health care reform passed, but a strong subplot is her romance with Aaron Driver, and both are done really well. It’s definitely a fun, light read that moves quickly. The political process is interesting, even if it’s told in a humorous way. Well, let’s face it, politics is pretty much a joke in this country anyway.

World Building
Set on Capitol Hill, Kristin Gore has a solid handle on the world she’s set her story in. Considering her parentage, it’s understandable. I love her witty take on D.C, the procedures, and the political infighting.

Characters
Sammy is quirky in the best sense of the word. I know a lot of people have compared her to Bridget Jones, but she’s really her own kind of awesome and she comes off adorkably so. The rest of the cast is just as delightful, but much less neurotic.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Sammy’s Hill
1. Sammy’s quirks. She worries about everything and anything, including things that probably would never happen to anyone, but that’s all part of her charm.

2. Capitol Hill. The setting is as fascinating as the characters and often just as colorful and off-balance.

3. Health care. Because even after the Affordable Care Act, it’s still an important topic.

4. Politics. I’m a political junky, so the wonky plotline was pure confection.

5. Aaron Driver. He’s one of the really good guys and it’s nice to see that guys don’t have to be total alpha male types to get the girl.

Bottom Line
Sammy’s Hill is a quirky political romantic comedy with fun characters and a timeless plotline.

About the Book
Title
: Sammy’s Hill
Series: Samantha Joyce #1
Author: Kristin Gore
Release Date: June 15, 2005
Pages: 336
Category: Romance, Mystery, Chick Lit
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Author Kristin Gore

Author Kristin Gore

 

About the Author
Kristin Gore is an American author and screenwriter. She is the second daughter of Al and Tipper Gore.

Gore has published three novels, Sammy’s Hill (2004), Sammy’s House (2007), and Sweet Jiminy (2011). She co-wrote the screenplay for the 2015 film Accidental Love, and the narration for the 2007 documentary Arctic Tale.

She was also a writer for the animated sitcom Futurama and the long-running sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live.

Where to Find Kristin Gore
Goodreads | Facebook

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Book Review – Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum) by Janet Evanovich

Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum #2) by Janet Evanovich

Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum #2) by Janet Evanovich

5 Stars

Synopsis
Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is still learning the ropes at her cousin Vinnie’s bail bond office, so when she sets out on the trail of Kenny Mancuso–a suspiciously wealthy, working class Trenton boy who has just shot his best friend–the stakes are higher than ever. That Mancuso is distantly related to vice cop Joe Morelli–who is trying to beat Stephanie to the punch–only makes the hunt more thrilling….

Taking pointers from her bounty hunter pal, Ranger, and using her pistol-packing Grandma Mazur as a decoy, Stephanie is soon closing in on her mark. But Morelli and his libido are worthy foes. And a more sinister kind of enemy has made his first move…and his next move might be Stephanie’s last.

My Review
Two for the Dough is even more fun than it’s predecessor. Now that Stephanie has one mystery solved, she feels a little bit more confident about her job as a bounty hunter for her cousin Vinnie. Because the characters and circumstances are already established, this installment focuses more on the adventures surrounding Stephanie’s latest case.

There are more hijinks, goofiness, and laugh-out-loud moments, the best of which occurs when Stephanie invites coworker, Ranger, over for a family dinner and Grandma Mazur opens her mouth. I enjoyed watching Stephanie try and fail over and over, each time with hilarious results. Things are heating up with Joe Morelli, too, but these two still have a long way to go before they approach anything even close to resembling an adult relationship.

Plot
The plot centers around the mystery and finding Kenny Mancuso. But because this is Stephanie Plum, nothing is ever simple. Nothing goes according to plan and everyone and everything, including Stephanie’s own ineptitude, gets in the way. Throw in not one, but two hot guys, and this is a steamy, spirited page-turner that kept me laughing.

World Building
Once again, Evanovich’s depiction of Trenton, New Jersey comes alive with colorful characters and vivid locales in larger than life form. I have no doubt Stephanie’s version of bailbondsmanship isn’t quite the world that Dog the Bounty Hunter inhabits, but there’s just enough realism to keep it from being cartoonish.

Characters
It’s fun to see some actual character development in a light-hearted mystery like this. It’s not a lot. I mean, it’s not like Stephanie suddenly gets responsible and becomes a kick-butt bounty hunter, but there is some growth. Plus we get to see more of some of the more interesting characters, particularly Grandma Mazur. Even Ranger, as tight-lipped as he is, opens up a little this time around more.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Two for the Dough
1. Grandma Mazur. She’s a kick in the pants. You just never know what’s going to come out of her mouth next (and I’m not talking about her dentures.)

2. Stephorelli. Okay, it’s my own “ship” name, but it was either that or Morellanie. Whatever you call them, these two are either perfect for each other or will end up killing one another.

3. Ranger. His one word responses say more than a dozen words strung together. He is the epitome of cool.

4. Trenton, NJ. It might just be a town, but it is somehow also becomes a character in the story.

5. The bad guys. Because even they are about as competent at their badassery as Stephanie is at catching them.

Bottom Line
Two for the Dough is a solid follow up in an entertaining, light-hearted mystery series, and it’s even funnier than its predecessor.

About the Book
Title
: Two for the Dough
Series: Stephanie Plum #2
Author: Janet Evanovich
Release Date: July 15, 1999
Pages: 336
Category: Romance, Mystery, Chic-Lit
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Janet Evanovich

Author Janet Evanovich

About the Author
Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

Where to Find Cindy Ray Hale
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

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