Sweethand (2021)

by N.G. Peltier
ASN/ISBN: B08GV497WC
Publication: March 30, 2021
Series: Island Bites #1

(Review at the End)

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DESCRIPTION

After a public meltdown over her breakup from her cheating musician boyfriend, Cherisse swore off guys in the music industry, and dating in general for a while, preferring to focus on growing her pastry chef business.

When Cherisse’s younger sister reveals she’s getting married in a few months, Cherisse hopes that will distract her mother enough to quit harassing her about finding a guy, settling down and having kids. But her mother’s matchmaking keeps intensifying.

Cherisse tries to humour her mother, hoping if she feigns interest in the eligible bachelors she keeps tossing her way, she’ll be off the hook, but things don’t quite go as planned. Turns out for the first time in ages, she and Keiran King, the most annoying man ever, are on the island at the same time. Avoiding him is impossible, especially when Keiran’s close friend is the one marrying her sister, and he’s the best man to her maid of honour.

Keiran doesn’t know what to make of Cherisse now. They’ve always butted heads. To him she’s always been a stuck-up brat who seeks attention, even while he secretly harbored a crush on her. Now with Cherisse’s sister marrying one of his good friends he can’t escape her as the wedding activities keep throwing them together.

When things turn heated after a rainy night of bedroom fun, they both have to figure out if they can survive the countdown to wedding day, without this turning into a recipe for disaster.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

N.G. Peltier is an anime watching, book reading, video-game playing, story writing kinda girl.

A devourer of words and books from a young age, she enjoys writing romance and creeping people out with the Caribbean folklore stories she grew up hearing.

A Trinidadian born and raised, she currently lives in Trinidad with her mountain of ideas and characters battling each other for whose story get told next.

She is represented by Lauren Abramo of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC

Website | Goodreads


REVIEW

**I was provided a copy of the book by the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

First, let’s admire the cover. I adore it so very much! I love the color scheme with the warm tones giving off such a cozy, homey feeling. It’s reminiscent of one of my other favorite covers, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, which exudes similar feelings but with a bit cooler tone. Just in case it wasn’t enough that Cherisse is a baker and bakes so many delicious goodies, the cover also made me crave tangerines and sherbert. (Yes, food is always on my mind.)

Did what was on the inside live up to the beauty of the outside? Yes, for the most part it does. I enjoyed the novel and liked both lead characters.

Cherisse is confident and advocates for herself. She’s smart and knows her worth so when someone like Keiran tries to minimize who she is and what she does, she is more than willing to kill with kindness. Keiran is musically talented (for the most part) and petty too. He’s a genuinely nice guy, but just not to Cherisse. This is a classic case of two nice people (friends swear they’re both great individuals) who just can’t seem to be nice to each other. For some reason, they bring out the worst in one another, and, luckily for us, we get to read about their evolution from hate to love. Being forced to work together on the wedding festivities puts them in close proximity (squee!), and they slowly, although somewhat begrudgingly, overcome their misconceptions of each other. Overcoming one’s biases is a consistent theme in the book, and Cherisse and Keiran’s evolving relationship portrays it well.

I enjoyed the antics and the development of their relationship up until nearly the end. Everything was going well until the third act conflict hit. It didn’t seem like such an overwhelming obstacle but maybe to Cherisse’s character it is. I was hoping for something just a bit…more. The solution was cute, but it was also swift and led to an abrupt ending. Also, I never used to care about epilogues but, darn it, I think I’ve gotten so spoiled with the prevalence of epilogues in romance novels that I was extremely sad there wasn’t one in here. It would have helped with the book’s ending because I really really want to know what happens next in their relationship.

There were a few things I could see coming from pages away but it did not mean I enjoyed the book any less. It was nice to bask in the feelings those moments evoked because Cherisse and Keiran had great banter often followed by inner turmoil over what they were feeling toward one another. There were a few subplots I wanted more about. They served their purpose to push the romance along but then I kept wondering what happened next. Since this is just the first book in the series, maybe I can get some closure in the next book even if it’s a quick throwaway to say this is what happened with that thing that happened in the first book.

Overall, it was a good read. If you’re an enemies-to-lovers fan, this book will hit the right spots.

Firekeeper’s Daughter (2021)

by Angeline Boulley
ASN/ISBN: 978150766564
Publication: March 16, 2021

Thank you for joining me on the last day of the blog tour for Firekeeper’s Daughter! If you’re interested in hopping over to check out what other reviewers had to say about the book, I’ve included the tour list below. Also, Firekeeper’s Daughter is a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, so that’s exciting!


Now, let’s take a moment to appreciate the teasers for the book.

Teaser #1
Teaser #2
Teaser #3

REVIEW


**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Firekeeper’s Daughter is the story of a young biracial Ojibwe woman who must carry the weight of protecting her community after being asked to become an informant in a federal investigation that has the potential to tear it apart. I was left with a mix of feelings after finishing the novel, ranging from heartbreak to empowerment to grief, and even more committed to why we need more books from authors of color like Angeline Boulley.

I don’t normally read thrillers or crime-solving novels, but I like watching them. With its focus on solving crime, I was reminded of Veronica Mars–a show I loved and thought was cut short. Daunis is a smart and savvy 18-year old trying to solve crimes associated with a murder in her community; she wants to protect the people she loves. Daunis’s crime solving prowess is centered around the scientific method approach–drawing conclusions from the world to form a theory, which will then inform hypotheses that can be tested to provide evidence to support or not support the theory? Uh, yeah, I am all for this! There is a lot to digest in the beginning, with a few instances when the story becomes a bit convoluted, but it evens out a bit as the story continues. While it was slow to start, I eventually became fully immersed in the novel and Daunis’s life. Granny June was hilarious and quickly became one of my favorite characters. I loved the relationship Daunis had with many of her elders–it even made me teary. I enjoyed the richness of the culture, the respectful way in which it was presented, and the inclusion of so many stories, words, and phrases. Boulley seamlessly incorporates all these elements into the novel.

The general “whodunit” plot is as straightforward as it can be with just about anyone’s guess about who is involved, but there are so many more layers to the novel. Ultimately, it was these layers I liked reading the most. I connected with multiple themes in the book, which helped me to easily identify with Daunis’s character despite not identifying as either biracial or indigenous.  Many of her struggles are culturally cross-cutting, and I found parallels to my own life and my relationship with my cultures, including the need to keep worlds separate from one another and trying to find a sense of belonging in both places. I especially liked how unabashedly Boulley touched on the internal conflict Daunis faced in trying to determine what it meant to protect her community and how much to reveal to people who are not part of it. Boulley concludes that members of the community have the right to decide how much to share. You have the power to protect your story and your culture from those who might try to exploit it, twisting it for their purposes, and those with seemingly good intentions must especially try to understand the implications of their actions before doing anything. As Daunis states, “I’m the only one thinking seven generations ahead.”

Firekeeper’s Daughter is an example of why we need more diverse books, especially by authors of color, why we need people from our communities telling our stories. While I do not identify as biracial or indigenous, I connected to the story on multiple levels, as if many of my similar struggles were being laid bare. Authors of color understand the complexities, the intricacies that cannot be easily captured through the lens of someone just looking in. Boulley deftly explored multiple themes, including culture, acceptance, grief, and trauma, as only someone who identifies with the community she writes might be able to–I also highly recommend reading reviews by indigenous individuals who will be able to provide insight into whether this is the case or not. Individuals who enjoy crime-solving mysteries like Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars will find pleasure in reading Firekeeper’s Daughter. BIPOC readers will especially appreciate the representation in the book.

A huge thank you to the publisher for also providing a finished copy.

Accidentally Engaged (2021)

by Farah Heron
ASN/ISBN: 9781538734988
Publication: March 2, 2021


**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Reena is adamant about not marrying someone her parents choose for her. Then she meets the hot guy who just moved across the hall from her. Unfortunately, Reena finds out Nadim not only works for her dad, but he’s also the guy she’s supposed to marry. She tries to remain steadfast in her resolve to stay away from him, inadvertently preventing herself from recognizing the sparks they have. Their relationship only becomes more complicated after they pretend to be engaged so Reena can enter a cooking contest.

The book has this almost languid, easy-going flow to it, and the characters never feel like they’re in a rush, so I never felt like I needed to rush through the book either. It was nice to not feel compelled to devour it one sitting even though that’s ultimately what I ended up doing because it was my choice (or so I tell myself). It flows so well that I slipped into Reena’s life with ease. No sooner had I begun the book than I immediately connected with Reena; she felt like a friend. She’s hypercritical of herself, mostly because her siblings are doing seemingly well even after certain setbacks in their lives (except for her perfect brother who’s never had a setback of course). On top of that, her parents can’t help but also poke at what she already sees as flaws in herself. Despite this, she still has this easy-going attitude. Her desire to find lasting love and pursue her dreams also made her someone easy to identify with.

My favorite part is when Reena asks Nadim to take care of Brian, her sourdough starter. When she returns, what happens after is pretty funny and showcases just how nice a guy Nadim is. Nadim is extremely likeable–mostly. He has such a sweet and playful disposition it almost feels like he doesn’t know how to yell at anyone. He’s also funny and, more importantly, he respects her and supports her dreams (swoon). Heron does a superb job of building chemistry between Reena and Nadim (they have a lot of it).

I thoroughly enjoyed Accidentally Engaged. The romance is light and Reena and Nadim have so much chemistry (did I already mention that?). I recommend it for those looking for a friends-to-lovers/relationship of convenience rom-com full of heart and good food–you’ll need to have munchies on hand or you’ll have to stop reading to go in search of some. Despite knowing the leads pretend to be engaged to enter a cooking contest, I don’t know why I was unprepared for the amount of cooking and baking. I was reading this in the middle of the night while craving for bread, cheese, samosas, and anything that showed up in the book. You have been warned.

{teaser trailer} Firekeeper’s Daughter (2021)

by Angeline Boulley
ASN/ISBN: 978150766564
Publication: March 16, 2021

I’m excited to be part of the Firekeeper Friday team helping Fierce Reads reveal this latest teaser trailer for YA thriller Firekeeper’s Daughter from Angeline Boulley. Thrillers are one of my least read genres because they make me antsy. I immediately want to turn to the end so I can figure out what happens but I’m making an exception for Firekeeper’s Daughter. I really wouldn’t have signed up to be part of the team if it didn’t sound good. (I’d have waited for someone to read it and beg them to tell me what happened…)

For more information on the book, check out the WEBSITE. You’ll find an EXCERPT as well as a PREORDER GIVEAWAY!

Description

Debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.

As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother.

The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.

Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.
(from Goodreads)

And if you haven’t seen the first trailer, here it is:

Girl Gone Viral (2020)

by Alisha Rai
ASIN/ISBN: 9780062877888
Publication: April 1, 2020
Series: Modern Love #2

Katrina is a former model who has since left that life behind and now tries to stay out of the camera as much as possible. After sharing her table with a stranger at a cafe, Katrina finds her privacy invaded when the whole thing is posted on social media in real-time. To escape the potential media frenzy, her bodyguard–whom she’s secretly in love with–takes her to his hometown so they can figure out her next steps.

Recently, I was skimming books I liked for my top 5 favorite romance tropes for a post and I came across Girl Gone Viral. It was one of the books I read right after overcoming a long reading slump. Skimming the book turned into a full-blown reread. I wondered if its effects on me had worn off but quickly realized I had nothing to worry about. It still put a goofy smile on my face 8 months and many romance novels later.

The Modern Love series focuses on love in the modern age with apps to swipe right, social media, and meet cutes going viral. Rai addresses the darker aspect of social media and issues around privacy. The conversations in the book surrounding this were thoughtful in presentation. It’s a bit overwhelming to know that anything you do can potentially be uploaded somewhere for entertainment. That’s always bothered me when someone is live posting as things happen to someone or to people around them. There is always the potential that your privacy is being invaded because someone decides to share a picture or a video online. Maybe sharing without audio/video and images might not be so bad but I am not a fan of sharing things that might make people easily identifiable without permission. For individuals like Katrina who value their privacy, this can be both frightening and overwhelming. It’s common decency to think twice about what or who you’re posting about.

A few things about Girl Gone Viral make it stand out among the romance novels I’ve read. Girl Gone Viral remains one of the most racially/ethnically diverse romance novels I’ve read up to date. One would think the diversity that exists in the real world would be reflected in the more books being published, but that isn’t the case. Katrina is biracial, half-White and half-Thai, and Jas is Punjabi but also with Mexican heritage. They’re both considered non-traditional leads in a romance novel, which shouldn’t be the case but is. Jas’s family is one of my favorite parts of the book. His entire family including mom, dad, brother, and Grandpa are all likeable. Although Jas’s relationship with his family is somewhat strained, they all love each other dearly. The person he seems to get along the least with is his grandpa but it’s mostly because they’re both so much alike.

The romance itself is another aspect of the novel I adored. A lot of my original review posted on Goodreads still rings true, especially as it relates to the progression of Katrina and Jas’s relationship. It isn’t all passion and hormones. Their romance is slow but they both have this sweet innocence that makes it so easy to root for them. They’re both adults but lack more recent relationship experience. Both constantly wonder and second guess about whether the other person feels at all the same because they don’t believe their feelings are returned. I thought it was endearing. They’re always thinking of each other as well. Katrina wants to do things for Jas, and Jas always tries to make sure Katrina has everything she needs. How more thoughtful could two people be? The ending remains as sweet as ever.

It might not necessarily be for everyone because the beginning is slow but it’s worth it to get to the end. It’s a well-written novel with a diverse cast of characters with two endearing leads suffering from what each believes is unrequited love and are caught in a slow-burn romance. Alisha Rai knows how to bring on the zings while also addressing meaningful topics like romance in the age of social media and viral posts. I am looking forward to her next installment of the series with First Comes Like out on February 16.



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.

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow (2020)

by Laura Taylor Namey
ISBN: 9781534471245
Publication: November 10, 2020


**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

After devastating changes in her life, Lila is forced to take a one-way flight to stay with her Aunt Cate in Winchester, England. Despite her initial hesitation and desire to return home to Miami, Lila starts to appreciate the town. Not only is she making new friends, but she’s also sharing her love of cooking, creating a new community that begins to rival the one at home.

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow is so many things. It’s about family. It’s about culture. It’s about loss in its many forms. It’s about reconciling the changes that come with growing up, growing apart, and ultimately growing into the unexpected. There is so much packed into this novel but it’s ultimately Lila’s resilience that will leave a lasting impact.

When we meet Lila, she’s broken and still reeling at the unfairness of being forced to spend summer away from the city and the people she loves. But little by little, through cooking and baking, she begins to carve a place for herself in a town that is so different from Miami and yet begins to call to her in a similar way. Despite the challenges and the changes in her life, she trusts in her skills, allowing her to successfully fuse English and Cuban flavors into her culinary creations. When she allows her certainty in the kitchen to trickle into the rest of her life, we finally get to see the Lila that she was…but now a bit wiser.

While it’s a guide to tea and tomorrow, I found more tomorrow than tea, and Lila’s guidance about tomorrow is immeasurable. A traditional recipe that has been perfected may produce the same flavors to a tee (pun intended…hehehe) but sometimes accommodations have to be made; experimentation may be necessary to discover new and possibly better flavors. Lila’s experiences allowed me to reflect on my own life, and I am all the better for it.

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow enfolds you like the wool knit sweaters Lila wears, warm and comforting even if a little prickly at first. Once you settle into it, you wonder how you might survive without it. When I finished reading, I felt a sense of loss in having to say goodbye to Lila and Winchester. The introspection it provided was invaluable. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend reading it with a cup of tea–my favorite, mint steeped 3-5 minutes with water at full boil–and a warm blanket, making sure a pastelito isn’t too far away.