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Book Review + Giveaway – HOT PURSUIT (To Catch a Thief) by Kay Marie

HOT PURSUIT Blog Tour

HOT PURSUIT (To Catch a Thief #1) by Kay Marie

HOT PURSUIT (To Catch a Thief #1) by Kay Marie

Synopsis
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days meets White Collar in this sassy and sweet romantic comedy, new from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis, writing as Kay Marie.

All Jolene Carter has ever wanted is to own a bakery of her own. There’s only one problem. Her father, Robert Carter, is a world-renowned art thief and she’s, well, sort of his protégé. But he’s promised her that this next job in New York will be their last, and she won’t let anyone get in the way of her dreams…especially not the distractingly delicious FBI agent hot on her tail.

Agent Nate Parker has been on the Robert Carter case for years, and if the rumors of the aging criminal’s retirement are true, this might be his last chance to nail him. With the legacy of his late father in the back of his mind, the stakes are more personal than anyone realizes. He won’t let anything stand in the way of justice…especially not the red-headed vixen who keeps giving him the slip.

He’s a cop who’d never bend. She’s a con who’ll never break. But all’s fair in love and larceny…

 

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My Review
I love a good romantic suspense with a healthy dose of humor which is exactly what HOT PURSUIT delivers. Jolene Carter is the daughter of a notorious art thief being hunted by the FBI. All she wants is open her own bakery where she can make her coopies–cookies wrapped in pie dough. FBI agent Nate Parker just wants to nail Robert Carter. Too bad Carter’s sexy, flirty, bad ass daughter is hell-bent on making his life difficult. The two begin a game of cat and mouse that is as much fun as it is frustrating, until things shift and feelings get in the way of what both of them want. Responsibilities, desires, loyalties, and wits tangle within both Nate and Jo. Both will be forced to choose between what they want most and what they must do, with no easy out for either of them, and nothing but heartache on the horizon.

HOT PURSUIT Teaser 1Plot
The plot centers around the heist that Jo is helping her dad and her best friend, Thad, pull off, and the FBI’s attempts to catch them in the act. Central to that plot is the budding romance between Jo and Nate. The two plots are so intertwined they’re nearly one in the same. The romance drives conflict in the heist and Jo’s criminal family and her role in all of it drives conflict in their relationship.

The Characters
The characters are what sold this book for me. Not that it wasn’t a fun story, but the author made me care about the characters so much, that I wanted everything for both of them. Each has deep motivations and rich back stories that drive everything they do. At no point did I question their actions, because they remain true to themselves throughout. Jo is funny, irreverent, smart, and lonely. Nate is all about the rules and he hates everything Jo stands for, but that doesn’t stop him from falling for her after finding out what makes her do the things she does. Each wants to save the other from themselves.

HOT PURSUIT Teaser 2

Top Five Things I Loved About HOT PURSUIT
1. Jolene Carter. She’s adorably spunky, unpredictable, and just the type of person I’d love to have for a BFF.

2. Nate Parker. Sexy. FBI. Enough said.

3. Non-graphic heat. Don’t get me wrong, I love graphic sex scenes as much as the next reader, but the way the author creates sexual tension is straight out of Gypsy Rose Lee’s playbook. Always leave them wanting more!

4. Thievery. I’m not promoting lawbreaking, but I love a good heist story, along the lines of Oceans Eleven or Now You See Me. HOT PURSUIT is in the same vein, and it was pure fun.

5. Doing the right thing for the right reason. Both main characters try to walk a fine line, but in the end, they do what’s right for all the right reasons.

Bottom Line
A fun, witty, romantic comedy/adventure with lots of playful banter.

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

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: HOT PURSUIT
Series: To Catch a Thief #1
Author: Kaitlyn Davis writing as Kay Marie
Release Date: August 27, 2018
Genre:  Adult Contemporary Romance
Pages: 324
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Kay Marie

Author Kay Marie

About the Author
Kaitlyn Davis, a bestselling author with over a quarter of a million books sold, writes young adult fantasy novels under the name Kaitlyn Davis and contemporary romance novels under the name Kay Marie. Publishers Weekly has said, “Davis writes with confidence and poise,” while USA Today has recommended her work as “must-read romance.”

Always blessed with an overactive imagination, Kaitlyn has been writing ever since she picked up her first crayon and is overjoyed to share her work with the world. When she’s not daydreaming, typing stories, or getting lost in fictional worlds, Kaitlyn can be found playing fetch with her puppy, watching a little too much television, or spending time with her family. If you have any questions for her–about her books, about scheduling an event, or just in general–you may contact her at: KaitlynDavisBooks@gmail.com

Sign up for Kaitlyn’s newsletter to stay up-to-date with all of her new releases, to receive exclusive subscriber bonus content, and more! bit.ly/KaitlynDavisNewsletter

 

 

Where to Find Kaitlyn Davis
Goodreads │ Website | Twitter │ Facebook | Amazon | Pinterest | YouTube | Wattpad

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Giveaway
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Book Review – Love Target by Heidi Loeb Hegerich

Love Target by Heidi Loeb Hegerich

Love Target by Heidi Loeb Hegerich

Synopsis
Teenager Ingrid Liebschreiber is devastated when her parents move the family from their native Munich to Los Angeles in the late 1950s. Homesick, she accepts a neighbor’s offer to get her a job as a showgirl in Las Vegas. Intent on earning enough money to return to Germany, she must grow up quickly in the neon jungle — where she is pursued by high rollers and headliners, including a vacationing Elvis.

Life’s twists and turns land Ingrid in New York in the Swinging 1960s — where she is romanced by Armand: a strong, quiet, handsome businessman in “construction.” Most girls dream of Mr. Right, and Ingrid’s hard-won independence is challenged when she falls in love.

Will she find true romance — a man who can love her as much as she loves him? Or is “happily ever after” just a crazy fairytale?

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My Review
The book covers two plus decades of young Ingrid’s life over 400+ pages. From Germany to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Manhattan, and back to LA through Vegas, Ingrid begins as a naive teen, a pawn in scheming men’s games, eventually becoming her own woman. The story is engaging, filled with a lot of intriguing characters and historical events told through the eyes of a German immigrant. But the main character, Ingrid, lacks a moral compass most of the time, making it very difficult for me to like her. She’s loyal, but only to a certain point. She  has no qualms about sleeping with married men, although I do think she’d draw the line at a friend’s husband. And yet she has the nerve to be scorned when the same married men sleep with other women who aren’t their wives. Yeah, no sympathy from me, there.

She serves her own ends first and foremost, although, as I said, she is loyal to those she loves. Her mother, whom she calls Mutti, her close friends, the men she’s sleeping with (all of them I’m pretty sure have wives, but there might have been one or two that didn’t), and ultimately her son. But the way she lies and schemes to get what she wants for her and those she loves makes her unsympathetic. However, as much as I didn’t care for her character, I did find her absolutely fascinating and couldn’t help but read her story. I didn’t hate her, either and never found myself hoping she’d get a taste of her own medicine. But when she finally did, I didn’t feel any kind of satisfaction. I just felt sad for all parties involved.

Maybe because I was too young to appreciate the swinging sixties, barely a toddler at the height of it, I couldn’t fully engage in the world in which Ingrid inhabited. I was too young to understand how the Kennedy assassinations changed everything, or the true ugliness of segregation. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading about it.

Plot
This is almost exclusively a character-driven story. The plot is very loose. The basic story question is whether Ingrid will find lasting love before the final page. But there’s a lot that happens in the intervening 429 pages, none of it dull. The story unfolds like a great American roadtrip from the 1970s. You never know what the next day or adventure will bring, but if you’re open to anything, you might not be disappointed. Ingrid’s life wends and flows around curves, introducing her to new sights, experiences, and lots and lots of risky sex, that wasn’t really considered risky back then.

Characters
The characters are interesting, even if some of them are stereotypical. Most of them are rather self-absorbed and egotistical, but that doesn’t make them boring. They’re well-developed and all serve a purpose. About the only thing I noticed that bothered with me is the way they all sounded exactly the same with the exception of the mobbed-up guys in New York. They all had the same speech patterns. They all sounded like Ingrid. And considering she was telling the story and it comes through a filter of bilingualism, it may have actually been intentional on the author’s part, but I noticed it a lot, and it took me out of the story and made me think about it more than it should have.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The story is long and it took me a while to get into it. I really became engaged once Ingrid got into her backstory in Germany. That might have been a better place to start than with her first Elvis encounter.
2. There wasn’t a lot of character growth. It would have been great in a story that was this character driven to have Ingrid grow more than she did. She was less naive by the end, more determined to get what she wanted, but I didn’t find a lot of likeable growth in her.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Love Target
1. The settings were authentic and fantastic. Either the author did her homework or she grew up in that world. After reading her bio, I’d say she spent a fair amount of time in the locales she writes about and it shows.
2. Behind the scenes experiences. It was cool to be able to see what goes on behind the Vegas shows, beyond the glitz and glamor. Those were probably some of the most fascinating parts of the story for me.
3. The social hierarchy. It was definitely a different time back then and the authenticity the author brought with societal stigmas, racism, women’s rights, and even the Manhattan pecking order was really interesting to read about, although it made me cringe at times.
4. The pacing was solid. Even though this was no nail-biting thriller, the story moved well other than a slow opening.
5. Mutti. I love her devotion to her daughter. She’ll do anything for her, as any good mother would.

Bottom Line
Love Target is an epic story of one German girl’s journey across America, from ingenuine to a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it.

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: Love Target
Author: Heidi Loeb Hegerich
Publisher: Forever Young, LLC
Pages: 439
Category: Young Adult/New Adult Historical Romance/Chick Lit
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Heidi Loeb Hegerich

Author Heidi Loeb Hegerich

About the Author
Heidi Loeb Hegerich — whom friends describe as “a hella bad bitch” — has lived in places as varied as Munich, Las Vegas, Miami Beach, New York, Los Angeles, Squaw Valley and Reno. She has worked variously as a showgirl, business executive, entrepreneur, interior designer and real estate developer. She has traveled to six of the seven continents, and vacationed in spots as different as the French Riviera, the Andes and Afghanistan. She counts among her hobbies weight training, shooting assault rifles, and racing sand rails; she found skydiving entertaining but not as much of a rush as other pursuits. A philanthropist for the arts, among other causes, Hegerich is now embarking on her own artistic quest as an author. Love Target is Heidi’s debut novel..

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Where to find Heidi Loeb Hegerich
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitte
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Book Review + Giveaway – Finding the Rainbow (Chilton Crosse) by Traci Borum

Finding the Rainbow (Chilton Crosse #2) by Traci Borum

Finding the Rainbow (Chilton Crosse #2) by Traci Borum

Synopsis
Holly Newbury’s life is on hold in the cozy English village of Chilton Crosse. While her friends are marrying, having children, and embarking on successful careers, Holly is raising her three younger sisters and working part time at the village art gallery.

Her life feels incomplete, but family is more important to her than anything. Then a film crew’s arrival galvanizes the community, and Holly becomes fast friends with Fletcher Hays, the movie’s love-shy American writer.

The production of an Emma film isn’t the only drama in town, though. Their father makes a choice that threatens everything she gave up her dreams for. Holly’s sisters endure growing pains.

And Fletcher plans to return to America as soon as filming is over, ruining any chance of their relationship blossoming further. After years of sacrificing for others, Holly must find the courage to take a risk on a future she never dared to expect.

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My Review
Finding the Rainbow is a return to my favorite English village, Chilton Crosse, the place I fell in love with while reading Painting the Moon. The story picks up not long after the end of Painting the Moon and is told from Holly’s point of view, Noelle’s gallery assistant. Holly dropped out of university six years before to help raise her younger sisters after the sudden, unexpected death of her mother.

Holly takes care of her sixteen-year-old twin sisters, Rosalee and Bridget, and twelve-year-old baby sister, Abbey while her father commutes to London where he runs a successful business. Assuming the roles of mother, caretaker, and older sister, doesn’t leave Holly with much time for herself, although she takes courses online and escapes to her grown up playhouse out back to read in peace.

When the BBC production of Jane Austen’s Emma comes to Chilton Crosse, Holly decides a book club centered around the same novel is a wonderful way to immerse the town into the production. Walking through town, she stumbles upon one of the screenwriters, Fletcher, and American from Texas, and coerces him into addressing the book club, launching one of the best platonic male/female friendships I’ve read in awhile. The camaraderie is evident from the start, rather than developing after the whole lust-at-first-sight thing which is common in most romances of late. This is a refreshing change from the ordinary.

Plot
The plot in Finding the Rainbow is more subtle than in Painting the Moon. Overall, it’s about Holly finding where she fits, and the romance plays a role in that, but it’s so much more than that. When Holly’s father makes a choice that changes her function within the family, she feels adrift and without purpose. This is no “I need a man to be happy” story, though. Her friendship with Fletcher is well-established before anything romantic evolves and he isn’t her saving grace. Strong subplots involve the making of the movie and a romance involving Holly’s boss, Frank. Additionally, Holly’s father, all three sisters, and even Fletcher have their own arcs.

World Building
The world building is almost stronger this time around than in Painting the Moon. Sure, we’re already well acquainted with Chilton Crosse, but Noelle was a recent transplant, whereas Holly was born and raised there. This time, we get to see it through the eyes of a lifelong resident, allowing us to gain a more intimate understanding of the village and it’s colorful inhabitants.

Characters
I love all the characters, and I think that’s where Traci Borum’s writing really shines. She creates unique, three-dimensional characters that come alive in believable ways. Each and every character is distinct, even twins, Rosalee and Bridget. Holly is not Noelle 2.0 either, nor is Fletcher a reboot of Adam.

Writing
Once again, the writing transports us to a quaint English countryside where life is slower paced and it rains. A freakishly lot. The pacing matches the laid-back lives of the characters that inhabit the pages.

Ending
I thought the ending did justice to the story, and I liked it more than the end of Painting the Moon, which I thought was well done. The characters remain true to themselves, which I think is key.

Top Five Things I enjoyed about Finding the Rainbow
1. Holly’s Personality. I love her outlook on life, the way she’s so resilient and doesn’t allow herself to wallow, even though she has plenty of reason to.

2. Fletcher. I love that he was always a friend first to Holly. He could have been the typical American guy, looking for a quick lay and short-term romance until he left, but he never went that route.

3. Rosalee. Of Holly’s sisters, she was my favorite. Her passion and tender heart made her someone I’d want to befriend if she was a real person.

4. Emma. While not my favorite Austen novel (that would be Sense and Sensibility) I do love the Jane Austen themes that wind through both of Traci Borum’s novels.

5. Grown Up Playhouses. I love how Holly turned her childhood playhouse into and adult retreat. I’d kill for someplace like that in my own backyard!

Bottom Line
Finding the Rainbow is a sweet story that is similar in some way to Painting the Moon, but has a little Notting Hill twist with a dash of The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.

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

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About the Book
Title: Finding the Rainbow
Series:  Chilton Crosse #2
Author: Traci Borum
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Pages: 300
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Traci Borum

Author Traci Borum

About the Author
Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan. She’s also an avid reader of women’s fiction, most especially Elin Hilderbrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels. Since the age of 12, she’s written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.

Traci also adores all things British. She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater–must be all those dreamy accents! Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it’s the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to “look up, slow down, enjoy your life.”

Where to Find Traci Borum
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

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Giveaway
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Book Review + Giveaway – Painting the Moon (Chilton Crosse) by Traci Borum

Painting the Moon (Chilton Crosse #1) by Traci Borum

Painting the Moon (Chilton Crosse #1) by Traci Borum

Synopsis
When Noelle Cooke inherits a quaint English cottage and an art gallery from her famous Aunt Joy, she welcomes a departure from her San Diego routine.

But the lure of the Cotswolds, combined with a locked cottage room and a revealing journal, entice her to stay and discover more, including a way to save the gallery from financial ruin. And that means remaining in England.

When her childhood sweetheart, Adam Spencer, begins work on a restoration project in Noelle’s village, their friendship blossoms. But as her feelings for Adam deepen, she struggles with memories of what might have been and yearns for a future once thought lost.

Faced with a life-altering revelation Aunt Joy took to her grave and a wrenching choice regarding the man she loves, Noelle could lose far more than her heart.

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My Review
For a San Diegan who loves England enough to consider moving there, Painting the Moon spoke to me in more than ways than one. I had to Google pictures of the Cotswolds, but once I did, I knew I’d be all over that opportunity if I was Noelle. Noelle is in a dead-end job, although she lives on the beach, so that’s almost a wash. But she has no love life and a jerk of a boss, so not sure the beach house wins out any more. When her great aunt passes away, leaving her entire estate to Noelle, she flies to England to handle the legalities.

The longer she’s in the English countryside, the less she’s in a hurry to return to her mundane job and her dreamy beach house. Her aunt’s cottage with all of its divine charm is a pretty good substitute. But it rains a lot in England, so we’re back to even. Until Noelle discovers a secret stash of never-before-seen paintings by her famous-artist aunt, and suddenly Noelle has more money that she knows what to do with.

Having spent her summers visiting her aunt and grandmother in her teens, Noelle rekindles her childhood friendships with her two best British friends, Jill and her teenage crush, Adam Spencer. Noelle realizes she still has feelings for Adam, but he’s engaged to someone else. Still, the draw of Chilton Crosse is stronger than San Diego and she decides to stay. The story unfolds slowly, like a lazy summer day, as Noelle adapts to her new life, and uncovers more secrets her aunt has kept hidden away for decades.

Plot
The main plot is likely the romance between Noelle and Adam, but the mysteries around Aunt Joy are almost neck-and-neck with the romance. The romance is subtle and there is almost zero heat, but there is a sweetness that more than makes up for it.

World Building
The author does an incredible job with scene setting. She places the reader in the heart of the small village outside of Bath. It’s easy to picture the sights, hear the sounds, smell the fresh air. She captures a small village atmosphere that feels like something right out of Waking Ned Devine.

Characters
The cast is intriguing, everyone from Noelle, the transplanted American, to the town full of eclectic characters, to childhood besties Jill and Adam, and even Aunt Joy, who we only know through her journal entries and paintings. There’s a complexity to each one, even Mac the caretaker, that makes the story come alive in a colorful way.

Writing
The writing is fluid and nuanced, painting the scenery with words and placing three-dimension characters in that scenery to act out a layered story. The book seems to straddle the fence between woman’s fiction and literary, never quite landing on either side of that fence, making it unique.

Ending
The ending wraps up all loose ends in a satisfactory way, bringing closure to the story in the way you’d close the door of your English countryside cottage at the end of the day and plop down on your favorite couch with a cup of tea. It’s soothing, comforting, and warm.

Top Five Things I enjoyed about Painting the Moon
1. Joy’s Paintings. The story of Joy’s hidden past, revealed through paintings was a clever tool for working in backstory, one I’ve not seen used before.

2. Adam. From unsure teen to rekindled love interest, he has this adorkable vibe about him that I love.

3. Jill. She’s fun, spunky, outgoing, the yin to Noelle’s yang in all the right ways.

4. Mac. There’s so much to love about this affable, yet sometimes cantankerous, Scotsman.

5. Joe’s Pub. This is the quintessential small English countryside village gathering place where everyone really does know your name.

Bottom Line
I very much enjoyed Painting the Moon. It was a lazy stroll through a lush field on a warm summer day.

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

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About the Book
Title: Painting the Moon
Series:  Chilton Crosse #1
Author: Traci Borum
Release Date: June 7, 2014
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Traci Borum

Author Traci Borum

About the Author
Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan. She’s also an avid reader of women’s fiction, most especially Elin Hilderbrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels. Since the age of 12, she’s written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.

Traci also adores all things British. She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater–must be all those dreamy accents! Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it’s the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to “look up, slow down, enjoy your life.”

Where to Find Traci Borum
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

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Giveaway
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Book Review – Such a Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb

Such a Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb

Such a Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb

Synopsis
In this warm, funny, thoroughly candid novel, acclaimed author Cathy Lamb introduces an unforgettable heroine who’s half the woman she used to be, and about to find herself for the first time…

Two years and 170 pounds ago, Stevie Barrett was wheeled into an operating room for surgery that most likely saved her life. Since that day, a new Stevie has emerged, one who walks without wheezing, plants a garden for self-therapy, and builds and paints fantastical wooden chairs. At thirty-five, Stevie is the one thing she never thought she’d be: thin.

But for everything that’s changed, some things remain the same. Stevie’s shyness refuses to melt away. She still can’t look her neighbors’ gorgeous great-nephew in the eye. The Portland law office where she works remains utterly dysfunctional, as does her family—the aunt, uncle, and cousins who took her in when she was a child. To top it off, her once supportive best friend clearly resents her weight loss.

By far the biggest challenge in Stevie’s new life lies in figuring out how to define her new self. Collaborating with her cousins to plan her aunt and uncle’s problematic fortieth anniversary party, Stevie starts to find some surprising answers—about who she is, who she wants to be, and how the old Stevie evolved in the first place. And with each revelation, she realizes the most important part of her transformation may not be what she’s lost, but the courage and confidence she’s gathering, day by day.

As achingly honest as it is witty, Such A Pretty Face is a richly insightful novel of one woman’s search for love, family, and acceptance, of the pain we all carry—and the wonders that can happen when we let it go at last.

My Review
There were many things to like about this story. Stevie is delightful and surrounded by a colorful cast that plays more like a sitcom than the tragic story it is. In fact, it alternates between humor and gut-wrenching anguish at a manic pace. The story opens with a horrific tale of loss at the hands of her mentally ill mother. As the story progresses, Stevie must come to accept her past if she’s going to move forward and have a future. And with any luck, that future might involve hunky neighbor, Jake.

Plot
The plot is jagged. It moves in so many directions, it’s hard to keep straight at times. First, there’s the overarching plot of Stevie dealing with her demons. After feeding her grief and guilt with comfort foods, she balloons to over 300 pounds and has a heart attack at the age of 32. That’s the wakeup call she needs to lose  the weight and transform herself on the outside. But the biggest issues are the wounds no one can see, the ones she does everything to hide. Then there’s the subplot with Jake, another with a coworker, another one with her art and still another with the family drama. At times it feels like there are too many balls in the air, until it becomes clear they’re linked. Once Stevie learns how to cope with her past, everything feels a bit like a juggling act.

Characters
This is a character-driven story and Stevie’s character is solid, deep, and authentic. But many of the other characters are not. Some feel like cliched stereotypes that are so over the top, they’re completely unbelievable.

Bottom Line
The story was good, but could have been so much better with a stronger supporting cast.  But Stevie kept me coming back. I loved her and I wanted to see her succeed.

Title: Such a Pretty Face
Author: Cathy Lamb
PublisherKensington Books
Pages: 481
Category: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble