His Road Home (2014)

by Anna Richland
ASIN/ISBN: B00KV5ZGPI
Publication: October 13, 2014

Last year, I found His Road Home (2014) while searching for romance novels. I was never a fan of novellas until I discovered Bettie Sharpe. With her flowery writing, Sharpe showed me novellas can be as developed and well-written as full-length novels, and, sometimes, they can even be better. This is the case with Richland’s His Road Home. I continue to be thankful that I picked it up and have since read it multiple times. At slightly over a hundred pages, His Road Home contains what some full-length novels do not: a developed plot and rounded characters with chemistry.

It’s an uplifting story of a fake engagement that turns into a wholly unexpected romance for two individuals who, despite being from the same town, may otherwise not have given each other a second glance. Because Grace is different from the girls Rey usually dates, it makes her the ideal fiancé. It seems perfectly harmless because no one outside of the situation will know about it. Living and working in Seattle, Grace is unaware of her relationship status until her sister phones. It’s an interesting predicament when the whole country knows about your relationship before you do! It was pretty amusing as Grace tries to figure out how to break the news to people that she has no idea who Rey is.

When they meet, Rey is surprised to see his fiancé has traveled across the country to see him, while Grace is looking for answers as to why she is suddenly engaged to someone she doesn’t know. Although they meet in an unconventional way (apparently one-sided fake engagements aren’t as common as romance novels tell me they are…heh), there is a spark of attraction from both sides. Grace is unprepared and should be angrier at the situation he’s put her in, but she tries to be understanding. And Rey? Well, he has no reason to get mad at Grace, who takes his lie in strides. How can you not find the woman you threw into this situation attractive when she shows up to be by your side and stays to play the part? Grace is a sweet and patient person, and I adored her. She sees Rey through this mentally and physically taxing time ahead. Rey is resilient and has a sense of humor I liked–the cheesy kind. He realizes the best thing in his life may have happened due to one of the worst moments in his life.

The circumstances under which they initially meet might sound unrealistic (it’s a romance, please let me be), but the relatively uncomplicated way their relationship develops is one I enjoyed. Where I might read full-length novels that a lack of chemistry between leads, Grace and Rey had me invested within moments of their meeting. They go from strangers to lovers over several months through text messages and a road trip back to Washington. Richland packs so much into this novel that it feels longer than it is. It’s a very good thing here because I wanted more. There are no frills and fillers, and I loved nearly every moment of it. That’s one of the beauties of novellas, they’re short and don’t have time for nonsense.

It’s a near 5-star read for me. During each read, I’m tempted to give it that extra star, but when I get to the ending, I’m reminded why I’ve been stingy with that final star. The ending was just so-so, but it has started to grow on me. If you’re a fan of romance novels, this is a soothing and uplifting one that has the potential to become a cherished favorite; it’s certainly now one of mine.

Romance Interlude 1.8

These are like the books with the pictures I grew up associating romance novels with. Set in some time period with a man, often a duke and often bare chested man, on the cover holding a woman in some salacious pose. But they’re also kind of not because there is diversity here. Someone, please loosen my corset and fan me because they’re pretty steamy.


The Duke Who Did Not (2020)
by Courtney Milan
ISBN: 9781937248710
Publication: September 22, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Wedgeford Trials #1

One liner: Woman who loves lists is enlisted by a man she likes to create a list of qualities of the woman he plans to marry.

This was a book that I really wanted to like a lot more than I actually did. I first read Milan’s Trade Me and did like it so wanted to pick up one of her more recent novels. It’s a very interesting premise, taking place in a village where Chinese immigrants reside. Chloe Fong is likeable and dedicated to her lists. She is much more serious in comparison to Jeremy Wentworth, whom she has a bit of a crush on though she tries to deny it. Jeremy Wentworth is normally my type of love interest in a novel (in real life…hehehe) because he’s funny, loves to tease, and always in a seemingly good mood but I found myself agree with Chloe that he just couldn’t seem to take anything seriously. I was irritated with him, especially because it took him forever to be honest with her about who he wanted his wife to be. I was a bit disappointed that the actual Wedgeford Trials, didn’t take a larger role in the book. I wanted to see the game play out. Overall, the writing is good but it felt overly long at times, likely due to my irritation with Jeremy Wentworth. I would still be interested in reading more from the Wedgeford Trials series though, especially with a different love interest.


The Governess Game (2020)
by Tessa Dare
ISBN: 9780062672124
Publication: August 28, 2018
Goodreads Summary
Series: Girls Meets Duke #2

One liner: After the umpteenth governess quits, a duke decides to hire an unconventional governess to oversee his wards.

This book hit all the right spots and then some. I will definitely be reading more from Tessa Dare. Chase is a womanizer and Alex fixes clocks but finds herself in need of a job so becomes a governess despite lacking any experience. Her lack of experience actually makes her perfect for the job because she is willing to go about education the girls in a different way. I loved how she goes about it. Alex is perfect for Chase because she isn’t afraid of him, despite insistence that she doesn’t want to get involved with him. She ends up tearing down some of his defenses. It’s Rosamund and Daisy, the wards Chase basically inherits, that are the highlights of the novel. The number of funerals Chase, Alex, and Rosamund, and Daisy attend are hilarious! I love the makeshift family that forms out of this.


My Beautiful Enemy (2014)
by Sherry Thomas
ISBN: 9780425268896
Publication: August 5, 2014
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Heart of Blade Duology #2

One liner: A thief and a spy, former lovers, meet again nearly a decade later.

This is an example of another book I wanted to love more than I did. It made me feel all the right things but it never pushed me over the edge. It was like putting on a harness and getting ready to bungee jump only to be told you don’t get to jump. That’s right, you’ll just get to look over the edge. The sense of longing was present, wishing Catherine and Captain Atwood could reunite with one another. It’s clear they’re still not over one another, and Thomas hits this spot on. I liked Catherine and I liked Captain Atwood. The villain isn’t the most interesting or complex in the story and the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been. The book alternates between the present and the past. I found the chapters about their past to be a lot more interesting while those in the present felt more subdued.

Romance Interlude 1.7

I’m a definite mood reader. I read whatever I feel like reading at that moment, thus these random books here and there. I don’t really read an entire series unless the books feature the same characters or are not standalones or the it sounds really interesting or….just kidding. Hence, #6 from a series here, #2 from a series there, then some other book from a different series…I’m everywhere! I think that’s something I’m thankful for about romance novels. The books within a series are often interconnected but they can be read as standalone. I can just read one book and then jump ship to another series. Perfect for my many moods.


The Chocolate Temptation (2014)
by Laura Florand
ISBN: 9780988506534
Publication: January 14, 2014
Goodreads Summary
Series: Amour et Chocolat #6

One liner: Sous chef seduces the intern who is trying not to fall for his advances.

Sarah is an American intern who gave up her engineering career to become a patisserie and Patrick is the French sous chef who saw her potential. First, there’s the power imbalance that I’m not particularly found of–intern vs. boss–so I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. Their largest hurdles were themselves. If they could have talked things out, it would have been easier to bear…but it takes forever for them to get there. Patrick is frustrating because it’s he gives all these mixed signals. The best parts were their interactions in the kitchen but scenes in the kitchen became more sparse as the book came to an end. The ending was only so-so, making it feel a bit dragged out.


Crazy for the Competition (2015)
by Cindy Madsen
ASIN: B00XTX1TH8
Publication: June 9, 2015
Goodreads Summary
Series: Hope Springs #2

One liner: Competitors for a property are forced to work together and fall for each other.

It felt like I was reading a Hallmark movie (this is a compliment). Small town? Check. Leads competing over an inn? Check. Making a float? Check. I sympathized with Quinn because she tried so hard to meet her parents’ expectations, even forgoing the type of guy she normally dates to someone her parents would prefer instead. They still never seemed to be pleased with her except for dating the guy they liked who turns out to not be a great guy. Then there was this whole conversation about “it is my culture, you don’t understand” that made me go, “What? Isn’t it universal to try to respect our parents and, to an extent, try to fulfill their dreams for us?” There is a spectrum, maybe from not at all to anything and everything, about how far people might go or feel obligated to try to do that but c’mon. It wasn’t a bad read but this part made me cringe.


The Heart’s Game (2014)
by Christa McHugh
ISBN: 9781940559940
Publication: July 5, 2014
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Kelly Brothers #4

One liner: A woman’s one night stand thinks she’s pregnant with his child, but she’s actually serving as a surrogate for her brother.

One night stands that turn into more than one night, possibly a relationship are always fun. I especially like when the love interest who is all “I only do one night stands” is the one that suddenly wants the relationship. I liked the beginning of this with the Jenny being a gamer and making the first move. Miscommunication was the main barrier for between Jenny and Dan. I hate that trope so I wasn’t too fond of it. It was a pretty quick read and not too bad. This one goes into depth with a Vietnamese wedding, which I appreciated. Unfortunately, I don’t know very much about Vietnamese weddings so I don’t know how accurate it is portrayed. Originally part of my Tropeical Readathon TBR, I’m glad that I finally picked it up.


Keeping Score (2016)
by Sara Rider
ISBN: 9781501132810
Publication: November 7, 2016
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Perfect Play #2

One liner: Injured soccer player is in a battle of wills against the team physiotherapist because she refuses to have him look at an injury.

I liked Jaime’s personality. She’s the fun one. It’s not a party until she arrives. She loves her teammates and is the one who tries to motivate everyone. I loved the camaraderie between the women. Despite having an injury, she goes out of her to avoid Alex Martinez, the hot team physiotherapist. It gets pretty amusing when Alex starts messing with her back. Eventually we find out there are multiple reasons for this and why Jaime is the fun, playful one on the team. While there’s this whole keep the reader guessing about what’s going on, it was pretty predictable. Everything wasn’t too bad until probably the end, which ruined all the goodness I thought the book had going on. It felt rushed and didn’t seem plausible. Had the ending been different, I think this would have been a 3, maybe even a 4 for me.