Review: Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test

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“How did you change your life when you were trapped like this?
Her history didn’t define her. Her origins didn’t define her.
At least, they shouldn’t. She could be more, if she had a chance.”

Synopsis
Khai Diep is a total catch. He excels at his job, and is a devoted friend, brother, and son. Hence the reason why his mom can’t wait to marry him off. Khai, however, has a different view on love and marriage. Because Khai processes his emotions differently, he worries he can’t feel emotions like grief or love “correctly.” But his mom is tired of waiting, so she takes matters into her own hands. She returns from a visit to Vietnam with Esme Tran who she believes to be Khai’s perfect bride. Esme knows a trip to America could help herself and her family in more ways than one. But seducing Khai proves harder than she initially thought. As she starts to fall for Khai for real, she’s determined to show him that there are many different ways to love.


The Kiss Quotient is for fans of:

  • You enjoy the mail-order bride trope/arranged marriage trope
  • You love slow-burn romance
  • You appreciate books that have inclusive characters with diverse backgrounds
  • You want to read an OWN Voices author’s work

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked:
I want to start with what I loved. I love that Helen Hoang writes inclusive characters with diverse backgrounds. Kai is on the autism spectrum (ASD), and Esme is a Vietnamese citizen who travels to the United States. These characters have vastly different backgrounds, and I appreciated learning more about their perspectives and experiences. I can’t begin to describe how amazing it is to have more representation in books and especially in romance (my favorite genre). Knowing people can find themselves and see themselves in characters is so crucial.

Also, autism spectrum disorder has a special place in my heart. My family (and myself) are all huge advocates for autism spectrum disorder awareness in honor of my cousin, Tucker, who is amazing, intelligent, caring and also happens to be on the autism spectrum. He is the youngest child to be diagnosed in the state of West Virginia (where I’m originally from). If you want to learn more about autism spectrum disorder – I suggest starting here.

Another aspect I loved was Esme’s characterization. She is a strong, independent woman and you can’t help but root for her from the very beginning. She has such a genuine heart, and her motives are so pure as she only has the best interest for her family in mind.

I also enjoyed the slow-burn build up and the sexy scenes. I think it is very clear that the author is an extremely talented writer. Slow-burn is my absolute favorite, so it didn’t bother me that it took awhile before the characters’ romance started to build. I feel like for me this makes the romance more realistic. I feel like slow-burn happens much more often than insta-love in real life.

The last thing I want to talk about is the writing. This book is full of the most beautiful, eloquent writing. I could fill this entire post with quotes that I love from this book. I really just can’t stress the pure talent seen in The Bride Test.

What I didn’t like:
Now onto what I didn’t love. I did not love that Esme didn’t seem to take a huge interest in learning or asking questions about autism spectrum disorder. After learning that Kai was on the autism spectrum, she kind of just went “ok.” Even though she was sensitive to this and had great communication on what Kai’s comfort level was, I wish she would have explicitly inquired about it further. For me this just fell a little flat. I think this also would have been a great opportunity to educate readers even more about autism spectrum disorder through Esme’s learning experience.

However, my biggest issue with the story was the “secret,” and that it wasn’t revealed until the very, very end of the book. I’m talking like the last 5-10%. This was revealed too late for me. As a result, I felt like Kai and Esme were considering a commitment with one another without even knowing each other. The secret was such a huge part of Esme’s life, and I didn’t like that it played virtually no role in Kai and Esme’s relationship until the very, very end. Perhaps I would feel differently if the reveal came earlier or more came after the reveal. It just did not cut it for me.

As a result, the romance just fell flat. I didn’t feel like there was a particularly strong friendship foundation between the two. I didn’t feel like they really knew who each other were as people because there were so many secrets or things left unsaid between them for long periods of time. I don’t want to say more because this is spoiler-free!

Overall, I’m still so happy I read The Bride Test. It’s a cute new adult contemporary with some sexy scenes for sure. There is amazing representation and diversity here, and that’s definitely something to celebrate. I thought the characters were well written, and the writing was strong. The romance just lacked a bit for me, and that’s ultimately why it fell a bit flat. I’m giving this one a 3.5/5.

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Ratings:
My overall: 3.5/5
Steam: 3.5/5
Romance: 3.5/5
Friendship: 2.5/5
Representation: 5/5

Goodreads: 4.17/5


Get More Information:
The Bride Test is Helen Hoang’s newest release and is a companion novel to The Kiss Quotient. It’s available to purchase now.

Links: visit Helen Hoang’s website; connect with the author on Facebook; connect with the author on Instagram; find The Bride Test on Amazon; find The Kiss Quotient on Amazon


About the Author: Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Jeannine Colette’s A Really Bad Idea

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Happy publication day to Jeannine Colette and her new release A Really Bad Idea. I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC from the author, and I’m so lucky because I really loved this one y’all. I finished this one so quickly y’all! It was such a sweet and heartwarming read. This was my first by this author, and it definitely won’t be my last.

Synopsis
Meadow is ready to relax and celebrate her thirty-third birthday after making it through a year of heartbreak. Her mom has other ideas. Presented with a tough conversation with her mom and with a brochure on egg-fertilization, Meadow is forced to revisit her desires about becoming a mother. That’s where Christian, Meadow’s lifelong best friend and total hottie, steps in. He suggests both the easiest and most complicated idea – that they have a baby together.

Will I like this?
You might enjoy this book if…

  • You enjoy the friends-to-lovers trope
  • You love slow-burn romance
  • You appreciate books that have real, dynamic, and well-rounded characters

You might not enjoy this book if…

  • You do not enjoy the friends-to-lovers trope
  • You prefer full steam in your romances instead of any fade-to-black scenes
  • Trigger warning: deals with issues surrounding fertility; health issues surrounding the heart

Spoiler Free Review
So much to say here about A Really Bad Idea. First things first – I loved this book. I didn’t really know too much going in (other than it was friends-to-lovers and slow-burn…my favorites). I was hooked from the very first chapter.

Meadow, our main character and narrator, is so relatable. She was funny, intelligent, flawed, and genuine. She felt like someone I could be best friends with in real life. Even better – I felt the same way about all of the characters. The author has such a talent for character creation. Every character in this book felt so real. No one was just one thing nor did anyone feel flat. Everyone had flaws, strengths, and weaknesses. This was one of my favorite parts about the novel; it made it feel so refreshing.

As for the romance, it was so strong here y’all. I couldn’t help but root for Meadow and Christian from the very beginning. I loved the slow build-up between these two. I literately couldn’t keep myself from turning the pages fast enough so I could see if they finally fell for one another. Their romance is so strongly rooted in their friendship, and that’s what made it all the stronger for me.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the fertility story line. I am happy to read about fertility, because this is something that a lot of people (both men and women) deal with. Meadow and Christian’s journey with this was educational, and I loved the awareness this book brought to the topic. Meadow was badass in her thirties, and I loved that she never gave up on her dream of becoming a mother. Meadow is officially on my list of top heroine characters of all time.

I also wanted to cry at the author’s acknowledgements at the end. Hearing her journey with her mother’s health brought back so many fond memories of me and my grandma, who also had a similar health struggle. This author clearly has such a pure and genuine heart. Y’all gotta check her out.

This book made me laugh and smile. It also made my stomach drop and it brought all the nerves. Overall, I give this a 5/5. Thank you again to Jeannine Colette for providing me with an ARC and writing all the beautiful words.

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Ratings
Goodreads Rating: 4.67
My Overall Rating: 5/5
Steam: 2.5/5
Romance: 5/5
Friendship: 5/5

Get More Info: visit Jeannine Colette’s website; connect with the author on Facebook; connect with the author on Instagram; find A Really Bad Idea on Amazon.

A Really Bad Idea is Jeannine Colette’s newest release, and it is a new adult contemporary. It released on May 14, 2019. It’s available to purchase now.

About the Author: Jeannine Colette is the author of the Abandon Collection – a series of stand-alone novels featuring dynamic heroines who have to abandon their reality in order to discover themselves . . . and love along the way. Each book features a new couple, exciting new city and a rose of a different color. A graduate of Wagner College and the New York Film Academy, Jeannine went on to become a Segment Producer for television shows on CBS and NBC. She left the television industry to focus on her children and pursue a full-time writing career. She lives in New York with her husband, the three tiny people she adores more than life itself, and a rescue pup named Wrigley. Jeannine and her family are active supporters of The March of Dimes and Strivright The Auditory-Oral School of New York.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Staci Hart’s Well Suited

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Y’all I’m back with another romance book! I have to thank Staci Hart for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Well Suited is the final book in the Red Lipstick Coalition series, although each can be read as a standalone. Prior to reading Well Suited, I had only read Work in Progress, the third book in this series. I went into this expecting a lighthearted, funny, rom com…and Staci Hart delivered. There were a few qualms I had, but overall I did have a lot of fun reading this one, and will definitely check out the earlier two books in the series.

Well Suited is the story of Katherine and Theo, who meet through Amelia (one of Katherine’s best friends) and Tommy (Theo’s brother) when they all go out for a night of dancing. Surprisingly, Katherine and Theo hit it off and end up spending the night with each other. Afterward, Theo is determined to keep their connection, but Katherine is determined to leave it in the past. Until she finds out she’s pregnant. Theo is determined to show her that they are well-suited — to co-parent, to be friends, and to be together.

You might like this book if:

  • you enjoy romantic comedies
  • you are fan of the accidental pregnancy trope
  • you enjoy female protagonists that have a unique point of view with a strong voice

You might not like this book if:

  • you dislike the accidental pregnancy trope
  • you dislike books where a majority of the conflict comes from characters’ lack of communication

I want to start with what I liked about Well Suited. My favorite thing about Well Suited was Katherine’s voice/perspective. Her voice was not one that I have seen in the romance genre before, and it felt refreshing. I loved that she did not act like a stereotypical female protagonist that we’ve come to expect in a romance. She prided herself on her independence and self-sufficiency. Her relationship with Theo was one of want, not of need.

I also enjoyed Theo’s characterization. From the very beginning he was passionate about becoming a parent and co-parenting. He never doubted his role in the baby’s life or the kind of father he wanted to be. What is not to love about that?

Now onto some of my qualms with this story. I first have to mention that on the whole, I am not a fan of the accidental pregnancy trope. 90% of the time a novel has this trope, I find  myself not connecting as much with the story. This time was not an exception. There is something about this trope that makes the relationship feel so forced (I mean it kind of does force it realistically, so this makes sense) that just turns me off to the story. However, this is just a personal taste “issue” with the book that you probably won’t have if you are a fan of the trope.

Another element that I wasn’t crazy for was some of the dialogue. While I loved Katherine’s character (how formal and rigid she was), it made for some awkward dialogue. While I can appreciate that her character was formal, the dialogue felt so rigid and just…unrealistic. It didn’t really make for a romantic comedy vibe (in my opinion). I cringed at times hearing how she talked about the pregnancy process and just some of her vocabulary in general felt so unnatural. It just brought me out of the romantic comedy mindset a little.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. It was great to see how Staci Hart ended the series, and I enjoyed reading through Katherine’s perspective. I related to her a lot in the way that she was closed off and required control due to her upbringing. I would say to pick this one up if you’re looking for a rom-com. I will be checking out the earlier books in the series. I gave it 3/5.

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Well Suited is new adult romance, and it is the fourth book in the Red Lipstick Coalition series. It was published on May 2, 2019. It is 217 pages and has a 4.47 rating on Goodreads. As of 5/5/19, it is on Kindle Unlimited.

get more info: visit Staci Hart’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find Well Suited on Amazon

 

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Elle Kennedy’s The Risk

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Alright, y’all – I loved this one. I’ve been eyeing up The Risk for quite some time now. Elle Kennedy is one of my favorite New Adult authors, and I fell absolutely in love with her Off Campus series. So I was super excited for her new series, Briar U. The first book in the series (The Chase) was also really good (hopefully will have a review on that one up soon!), but this one (the second) was amazing.

spoiler free review: There was a lot that I loved. First, Brenna was an amazing heroine. She was so confident and headstrong, and I loved that about her. Her perspective felt honest and refreshing. Jake is probably one of my favorite heroes (although basically no one can top Garrett from The Deal – sorry). Enemies-to-lovers tropes are always one of my favorites. Throw in some hockey, fun friendships, fake dating, and complicated family back stories and I am all in. Essentially this book was witty, fun, and it made my heart swoon. I think one of the reasons that I loved this one even more than the first in the series is that this book was somewhat slow-burn. Not as slow as say a Mariana Zapata book, but I loved the build up between the two characters and the push and pull of their friendship. Overall, I give this one a 5/5.

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get more info: Visit Elle Kennedy’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find The Chase on Amazon; find The Risk on Amazon; find The Deal on Amazon

If you’re looking for more on Elle Kennedy – read my mashup contemporary authors post.

The Risk is the second book in Elle Kennedy’s Briar U series. It is classified as New Adult. The Risk can be read as a standalone; however, I would suggest reading The Chase first so you’re introduced to all of the characters (and get to read another fun romance). Elle Kennedy is set to release the third book in the series, The Play, on October 7, 2019.

spoilers ahead: I really loved the chemistry between Jake and Brenna. I am an (admitted) sucker for the fake relationship trope, so as soon as Brenna proposed that her and Jake fake dating for her job – I was sold. There was something just…magnetic about the push and pull between them.

I will say that I wanted to bang my head on something when Brenna gave the bracelet to Jake’s friend assuming she would just give it to him…arg!! His friend’s motives were questionable at best and I was having anxiety thinking the bracelet wouldn’t make it to him. Luckily it worked out, but Brenna was so naive in that moment and I was screaming.

I honestly just can’t say nice enough things about this one. I love Elle Kennedy and think she’s an amazing writer. I cannot wait until her new release in October. GO BUY THIS BOOK!

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: P. Dangelico’s Nothing But Trouble

Nothing But Trouble is my first read from P. Dangelico, and I found that I really like her writing style. Thank you to Netgalley and the author for allowing me to read an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.

Nothing But Trouble follows two leads – Alice and Reagan. Alice is an aspiring filmmaker and she’s busting her butt to make her experience at Malibu University a successful one. Unfortunately for Alice, her experience gets a bit more difficult after a near-collision with a car results in her having a severely sprained ankle (and that’s one emergency room visit she cannot afford). Did I mention Reagan, future med-student and water polo star, was driving? Desperate to make things right, Reagan is determined to make Alice’s life easier until her ankle heals. Will Reagan change his stance on being anti-relationship for his senior year? And will Alice let down her guard enough to see if this really is a case of opposites attract?

spoiler free: So this is a cute new adult romance. It has the recipe to make it successful. A compelling story that forces the two leads together, slow-burn romance, college sports, and a case of complicated, intense family dynamics. This definitely was not a surface level new adult contemporary for me. That is usually one of my biggest gripes – that I don’t feel connected to the characters because there is a lack of emotional depth. That was not the case here. Both characters, but especially Reagan, had a complicated backstory and damn the ending was very emotional. It’ll yank at anyone’s heartstrings.

Overall, this is a 3/5 for me. I liked the story and I loved the emotional depth that P. Dangelico poured into her characters. I love that this is a series, because I didn’t feel like the side characters really had a chance to shine – so it’ll be nice to get to know them more throughout the series. The reason why this isn’t rated higher is for two reasons. There were two instances in which the hero character, Reagan, behaved in a manner that I just could not get behind. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I just wasn’t pleased with some of his actions and especially not at the last 5% of the book. But, overall, if you’re looking for a new adult romance with some substance, I would check this one out. I will definitely be reading more P. Dangelico in the future.

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get more info: visit P. Dangelico’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find Nothing but Trouble on Amazon

Nothing but Trouble is the first book in P. Dangelico’s new series Malibu University. It is a new adult romance, and it publishes on March 26, 2019. It is available for pre-order now.

spoilers ahead: Ok so let’s talk about the vague events that I mentioned above that held me back from loving this one. One was the scene in which Regan kisses a rando purposefully, in front of Alice to make her jealous/to see if she cares(?) This just felt so silly to me. I think it was clear that she showed up to the party for him so the added kiss felt unnecessary. I know it technically wasn’t cheating…but I didn’t like it anyway.

However, the bigger issue I had here was the ending. *smacks head with palm* Yikes. The hero character disappears for four months. The only goodbye he gives the heroine is a note. Bigger yikes. Then he comes back and she forgives him after about thirty seconds. Biggest YIKES. I’m all for the downfall moment right before the characters get back together again and even I love some groveling from time to time. But here…it just felt so unnatural for your boyfriend to basically disappear for four months, and then you’re just like ok cool you’re back. Alice was so strong in the beginning of the book, and I felt she lost some of that in the end. Of course I wanted her to forgive him/for them to get back together. I just didn’t want it to happen so fast/easily.

Anyway – those are my two issues with this one! I still liked Nothing But Trouble overall and will be checking out more of this author in the future.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. Netgalley and the publisher were kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: R.S. Grey’s Make Me Bad

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I was so fortunate to receive R.S. Grey’s newest release as an ARC. I’ve been sitting on this review for a week and I’m so happy to announce it is finally out!

It’s Madison’s birthday, and her only birthday wish is for her life to have some excitement. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been so vague, because her life gets a whole lot more exciting after an introduction with the town’s wealthy, “bad boy,” Ben. Madison is tired of living her life by the safe harbor, so she asks Ben to help her break out of her shell – to make her bad.

spoiler free:  Make Me Bad had me hooked from the very first chapter, or more accurately, the very first sentence. R.S. Grey is one of my auto-buy authors. I know when I’m reading one of her books I’m getting a witty, laugh-out-loud, steamy book with great emotional depth. R.S. Grey is rom-com at its absolute best, and Make Me Bad was no exception. In fact, this is my favorite R.S. Grey book to date. Ben is so swoon-worthy.  Madison’s character growth was amazing! I was her biggest cheerleader. I saw so much of myself in her. Add in a slow-burn romance and a little bit of danger – I’m sold.

Overall, this is definitely a 5/5 read from me. But, don’t take my word for it. Go and read it yourself!

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R.S. Grey is the USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels, including The Foxe and the Hound. She lives in Texas with her husband and two dogs, and can be found reading, binge-watching reality TV, or practicing yoga! Make Me Bad is R.S. Grey’s newest novel, and it released on March 7, 2019.

get more info: visit R.S. Grey’s website; sign up for the author’s newsletter; connect with the author’s Facebook group; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find Make Me Bad on Amazon

If you want to hear more about why R.S. Grey is one of my favorite new adult authors, read here.

spoilers here: I can’t get over the beginning few chapters of this book. The fact that Madison being held up at gun point still managed to be funny to me says something about the quality of R.S. Grey’s writing. Plus, one of Madison’s first thoughts was to protect her new book, and I’ve never related to a character more.

I loved Maddie’s character arc. I love how she realized that she didn’t need anyone else to make her into the person she wants to be. She has that power within her all on her own. Very empowering message. Plus, the epilogue just filled my heart. It is seriously so sweet.

Overall, I can’t recommend Make Me Bad enough. A full 5/5 rom-com. If you’re looking for more R.S. Grey recs, start with Hotshot Doc, Arrogant Devil or The Foxe and the Hound – three of my favorites. Stay tuned for a future post where I blog a mashup post (quickly) reviewing all the R.S. Grey books!

What rom-coms are you reading? Did y’all enjoy Make Me Bad?

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Dana Mason’s Accidental Groom

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I was able to read my first Dana Mason book this week thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture who provided me an advanced copy of Accidental Groom in exchange for my honest review. Thank you, thank you!!

Accidental Groom is the first book in the Accidental Love series. This book tells the story of two strangers – Kelley and Mac. Their connection to one another is instant and their chemistry is pretty off the charts. Both leads have somewhat intense backstories, yet they are drawn to each other. Their relationship begins with a fun “no strings attached” weekend together. But, 24 hours after arriving – they’re (accidentally) married. Enter the will-they-or-won’t-they.

Ok there was a lot that I loved here. First, the novel was well written and the dialogue was fun and felt very fresh. There were bits of dialogue that I actually found myself laughing out loud. My favorite thing about Accidental Groom though was Mac’s backstory. It felt so refreshing to have a male love interest with a complicated backstory, especially one that I can honestly say that I haven’t seen in new adult romance. I loved the way that this particular issue was explored throughout the book and how it attributed to both characters’ growth. The backstory wasn’t a quick fix and it was something Mac took responsibility of his past and the decisions that he made. (I don’t want to spoil it – it was great going in and not knowing!)

I am very curious to see who the second book in the series is going to be about. I’m hoping it’s Mac’s sister. (*fingers crossed*) I will definitely be continuing this series and keeping Dana Mason on my radar. Overall, this one gets a 5/5 from me.

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Accidental Groom is a new adult contemporary, and it releases on April 2nd, 2019. It is available for pre-order now.

get more info: Visit Dana Mason’s website; Pre-order Accidental Groom on Amazon; connect with the author on Twitter; connect with the author on Facebook; connect with the author on Instagram

spoilers ahead: Ok so first I wanna say that I totally bought in to the (somewhat) insta-love. Sometimes this can bother me in a story, but here I was all in. I think one of the reasons why is that the author wrote it so well. I loved the scene where Mac leaves to go get food, but basically he’s just having a panic attack. He loves Kelley, but it takes him awhile to understand these feelings are love. I love that he shows that he’s overwhelmed – he’s not freaking out because he doesn’t want/love her, he’s just dealing with an overwhelming change in life.

I also love how the author handled Mac’s alcoholism. The scene where he picked up the drink – ugh I felt like my heart was pounding. I loved how she wrote the scene where he tells Kelley that it’s his responsibility and no one is responsible for his relapse. He just really owns his shit, and it was so refreshing. The scene where he calls his sponsor – the way the author writes his tone of voice, his actions – it all felt so real. I have unfortunately seen addiction first hand, and I could really relate to this scene.

Overall – this was a complex new adult contemporary. It’s steamy, it’s romantic, but it’s also filled with complicated characters. It mimics life in the best way. Please give this one a try – go and pre-order it! Let me know if you’ve read any other Dana Mason books.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. Netgalley and the publisher were kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.