Sunday, February 28, 2016

PimpernelPimpernel by Sheralyn Pratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great read! I received a free copy in exchange for review from Inspired Kathy's Book Blasts & Blog Tours. However, this is a definite one that I would buy and hope this is a series which I will definitely follow. The Pimpernel follows the story of Jack while he is in Las Vegas investigating what an investment scheme that should have been stopped when the major perpetrator was arrested. Yet, someone is still contacting wealthy investors and convincing them to invest millions in a project that has no viability. He has traced the current activity to a genius graduate student at UNLV. As he continues to investigate things become more confusing because it is obvious that the student, Claire, has a severe case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Claire is doing her best to keep the investment scenario going despite the arrest of her cherished professor. She has to keep it going or Professor Eastman will be killed while he is in jail awaiting trial. But, there is a plan in place and as long as Claire follows the directives given by Professor Eastman he will be safe and released shortly.

Jack and his team have already crawled inside the details of this con, but, they cannot figure out why Claire would be involved. It becomes clearer when they bring her in and learn more about Claire's role. What they learn from Claire helps the team put their plan of action into place which is full of action and drawn out with more intrigue and cunning. Most of this comes from Jack because he is a magician and a master of disguise. He makes this tale a completely awesome, fun read. Each of the characters on Jack's team appear to have very interesting backgrounds, especially Margo. It is unfortunate that we did not get to see a run-in between Margo and Claire's mom like Claire had hoped to see. But, the entire experience helped Claire grow and it was great to see her get stronger throughout the book. I really hope this becomes a series.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

To Rome With LoveTo Rome With Love by Mandi Benet
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an amazing, picturesque story that I received a free copy of in exchange for an honest review. To Rome with Love is almost all based in my beloved Rome, Italy where Gaby, a renowned chef who is in the middle of a divorce, is visiting her best friend Maria. They met when Gaby was studying in Rome many years previously and have managed to stay close for many, many years despite their physical distance from each other. Gaby is spending three weeks visiting Gaby and her husband Carlo and staying in an amazing palace that belongs to Carlo's family where part of it is open to the public for viewing and the rest are private apartments. Carlo's cousin Silvio, who was also raised in the palace, lives in an apartment across the hall with his son Luca and is also recently divorced.

Maria has thrown Gaby and Silvio together under the guise of Silvio helping Gaby prepare the rehearsal dinner for Carlo's daughter's wedding. They spend a great deal of time together planning for the dinner, shopping for the dinner, preparing things for the dinner and grow closer. Gaby is still extremely shy about becoming involved with another man after being devastated by her husband's unfaithful behavior. Silvio has been dating other women longer after his divorce but he is also not interested in going into a relationship. Neither of them can deny how attracted they are to each other. But, Gaby is doing a better job of fighting it than Silvio is so Gaby spends more time fighting off Silvio's advances.

At the same time that they are falling for each other, Gaby is falling in love with Rome again. I cannot blame her for that. Rome is a place worthy of visitors' and native Romans' love. To Rome with Love is an excellent armchair travel book with wonderful depictions of the palazzo's, ancient streets, trattoria's, people and food. The reader wants to see pictures of the places and food being depicted, if not actually going to visit and finding these places and dishes for themselves. It also is a wonderful romance that shows two people who both have had heartache from relationships as they fight falling for each other even though there does not seem to be much either of them can do about it. It is also a great story about how good people can be to total strangers that just need a bit of help. Mostly, it is a story that rings very true and which I look forward to digging out and reading over and over when I want to remember Rome, Italy.

Friday, February 12, 2016

That Girl, Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice StoryThat Girl, Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Story by James Ramos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

That Girl, Darcy was a witty, angsty, fun read. I received a copy from Inspired Kathy's Book Blast and Blog tours in exchange for an honest review. It is a pretty clean or PG modern retelling of A Pride and Prejudice with the characters turned around. Darcy Fitzwilliam is a sullen, attractive, wealthy high school aged girl with a brother. Elizabeth counterpart is a high school aged young man named Elliot who has no siblings instead of the large family that Elizabeth Bennett comes from though he is very close to his first cousin, Jake. I will leave the other characterizations to each reader to determine because that is part of the fun of this book. The book takes place in the Phoenix, Arizona area and it is great to a story originally based in the countryside of England and London taking place in a city in the United States, in a high school.

The author does a great job getting the characters and the Pride and Prejudice storyline to work. The antagonists were sufficiently awful, especially the way high school students can be towards each other. After reading the author's bio once the book ended I could see him as Elliott and that increased my regard for this book more. The characters really came alive for me as I read the book but putting a face on Elliott actually puts a nice spin on it. Interestingly enough despite how things went with Darcy and Elliott's first meeting, Darcy's character still draws the reader to her. It could be knowing already about Fitzwilliam's character in the original story or because the reader can see the spark between Elliott and Darcy from the time they meet despite how they antagonize each other. Witnessing their relationship as it appeared to grow and change and Elliott's aha moment was great. Of course, Elliott's goofball friends only add to the story. Despite all of the bickering and mooning over girls, it is great to see a group of guys that are not the athletes, top of the food chain in high school, rich kids that are the most popular doing well and figuring life out and what to do next.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Death in the Dolomites: A Rick Montoya Italian Mystery (Rick Montoya Italian Mystery, #2)Death in the Dolomites: A Rick Montoya Italian Mystery by David P. Wagner

I really did love Death in the Dolomites! I received an early release copy in exchange for a review and I am truly sorry it took me so long to read it. I did not realize there was a previous book in the series when I started it. I had to stop and find a copy of the first book which my library borrowed a copy for me to read. I wish I had read it a long time ago because it really has kicked up my longing for going back to Italy. This time, Rick is skiing with his college buddy Flavio in Campiglio which is great because this is an actual town in Italy. The details given by the author were so vivid that I literally could see some of it in my mind while I read. I love books that do such a wonderful job with location and imagery.

While Rick was visiting Campiglio, a police detective from a nearby town comes because another American visiting Campiglio with his sister has disappeared. The other police detective requests Rick's assistance with translating to English with the missing man's sister. I love Rick. He is a regular man who has a diverse background. He has family in Rome, an uncle who would really love for Rick to become a police detective despite Rick's mom's opinion. Rick becomes deeply enmeshed in the mystery because as things go in small towns, everyone knows everyone, even the visitors. This means not much goes on with the investigation that everyone in town doesn't see or hear about. This becomes quite dangerous for Rick. I found it very interesting that everyone underestimated Luca, who was an obviously intelligent man that came to the same conclusion for who was the murder as Rick but, through different means and experiences. Flavio was also a great character in this book and I hope to see more of him in future books. I am a huge fan of the food and wine talk in the books also. It gives the reader a great experience with how it is to eat in Italy if you do things the way Italians do when visiting Italy. I look forward to the next book in this series!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Royal ChaseRoyal Chase by Sariah Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Royal chase is the next installment in the Royals of Monterra series for which I received an early release Arc from Netgalley in exchange for a review. Royal Chase is Dante and Lemon's story. Lemon and Dante are already well acquainted with each other and have actually become close friends. They appear to have strong romantic feelings for each other that we see Dante pursuing and Lemon pulling back because her fears about him are based on his terrible reputation in the media for being a womanizer. But, Lemon has been hired as the PR person for the Royals of Monterra and as such has gotten Dante involved in a search for a wife on a reality show being filmed in Los Angeles. She is there to protect his interests and control the release of information about the royal family. The show starts off with it being a secret that Dante is a royal prince. When it is apparent one of the girls vying for the role as Dante's princess knows that he is a princess and she is not shy about sharing the information which will ruin the theme of the show she is removed from the contestant list and sent home. Unfortunately, she has told two other contestants and now the show will not have the typical 25 contestants. It is about to begin recording within the next couple of hours and there is not enough time to find another contestant for the show and Lemon is sitting right there available but newly engaged.

As the show moves forward Dante goes through the dating regime for the show with the different contestants and the women are sequestered in a mansion where the filming covers how they relate to each other. Dante is pretty forthcoming with his feelings for Lemon and he seems to see Lemon's feelings for him might just be the same as his feelings. We see Lemon's struggle to determine whether she should take a risk and follow her heart with Dante or play it safe with her current fiance, Sterling, who actually does not have a good history of treating Lemon very well either. Royal Chase has some great funny moments and draws the reader into Dante and Lemon's story. It is worth mentioning there are some pretty good twists in this story also so I am looking forward to the next story in this series.

London Prep by Jillian Dodd My rating: 5 of 5 stars What a great adventure! I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book...