Thursday, August 27, 2020

Isn't It Romantic?

Yours to Keep

Lauren Layne
Series: Man of the Year, #2
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
An irresistible baseball star and a resistant hometown girl stumble into love in a flirty romance by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

Pro baseball shortstop Carter Ramsey is about to be Citizen magazine’s Man of the Year, but the only title that matters to him is out of reach: World Series MVP. Benched by a recent injury, Carter retreats to his hometown to recover. His ten-year class reunion and a potential reconciliation with the sweetheart he left behind could be perfect distractions. Until another old acquaintance throws Carter a curveball.

Olive Dunn admits that her former high school science partner is still a handsome charmer. But she wasn’t swayed then, and she won’t be swayed now. Because Olive remembers Carter’s little shortcoming: he tends to bail the moment it suits him, without a backward glance. Best to keep her feelings strictly platonic while he’s in town.

Except the entitled boy she knew is a changed man: solid, reflective, and generous. As they ease back in to their familiar friendship, things take a surprising turn, and Carter and Olive must decide if what they have is a passing flirtation or a real shot at love.
After suffering a major injury, MLB star, Carter Ramsey, returns to his hometown to recuperate and contemplate his future. What he didn't anticipate was his former high school lab partner, Olive Dunn, barreling her way into his life and into his heart. 

I found this book so delightful. Both Carter and Olive charmed my pants off, and I had the best time with them. 

Carter was the golden boy, who found major league success, but he was reaching an age where success wasn't everything and was looking for more. He found it difficult to make real connections with people, and felt like when they looked at him, all they saw was Carter the baseball player. They never seemed to want to know the man underneath the uniform. There were a few times in the book, when Carter was reflecting on this and it really broke my heart. I felt his loneliness and longing, and  to me, Olive was one of the best people to fill that empty space in his life. 

Carter may have been the golden boy, but Olive enjoyed just as much status in their hometown. She was energetic and upbeat, and her rosy outlook was contagious. But for all the smiles and sunshine she left in her wake, Olive was very much on her own. She suffered through a string of failed relationships and didn't believe there was anyone out there who would want her in that way. Again, my heart broke.  

Carter and Olive were a perfect pairing. They bantered like champs, and there was also a good deal of heat between them too. I found it easy to fall under their spell and thought they were pure magic together. It was so sweet watching them slowly realize what they saw in each other. Carter was especially precious, because a man that can say such adorable and tender things will always win my heart. 

Not only were Carter and Olive fantastic, but I loved being in Haven. I am a sucker for a small town, and I found all its denizens quite marvelous as well. In the afterword, I found out that Haven was the setting of An Ex for Christmas, which is one of my favorite Lauren Layne books. Not only did I get to go back to Haven, but I got to catch up with Kelly and Mark. What a nice surprise! 

I was already reveling in all the fun, banter, and sweetness of this story when I got to (drumroll please) THE EPILOGUE! You guys know how much this girl loves an epilogue, and Layne did not disappoint me. As the cherry on top, it was a jump ahead epilogue showing me the fabulous future for this couple. To quote a popular song, their "future's so bright, I gotta wear shades." 

Overall, Yours to Keep was a hit for me. I smiled, laughed, swooned, and just felt happy as I read it. What more could I ask for? 

All Stirred Up

Brianne Moore
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Retelling
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Susan Napier's family once lived on the success of the high-end restaurants founded by her late grandfather. But bad luck and worse management has brought the business to the edge of financial ruin. Now it's up to Susan to save the last remaining restaurant: Elliot's, the flagship in Edinburgh.

But what awaits Susan in the charming city of Auld Reekie is more than she bargained for. Chris Baker, her grandfather's former protégé--and her ex-boyfriend--is also heading to the Scottish capital. After finding fame in New York as a chef and judge of a popular TV cooking competition, Chris is returning to his native Scotland to open his own restaurant. Although the storms have cleared after their intense and rocky breakup, Susan and Chris are re-drawn into each other's orbit--and their simmering attraction inevitably boils over.

As Chris's restaurant opens to great acclaim and Susan tries to haul Elliot's back from the brink, the future brims with new promise. But darkness looms as they find themselves in the crosshairs of a gossip blogger eager for a juicy story--and willing to do anything to get it. Can Susan and Chris reclaim their lost love, or will the tangled past ruin their last hope for happiness?
Once upon a time, Susan's family had a restaurant empire, but gross mismanagement following her grandfather's death had led to near bankruptcy. With only one restaurant left, Susan was determined to keep her family legacy alive, but she never planned on a blast from her past complicating things. 

I had a lovely time cheering for Susan as she attempted to salvage her family's place in the restaurant world, and here are five things I really loved about ALL STIRRED UP.
  1. It's a second chance romance, and anyone who knows me is well aware that this is one of my favorite tropes. Susan and Chris were very much in love back when Chris was first starting out. While dealing with overwhelming grief after her mother's untimely death, Susan cut ties with Chris. Their reunion was bumpy and fraught with hurt feelings and guilt, but I found myself hoping for a reconciliation the whole time. It was easy to see the spark was still there, and oh, the history they shared! There was also more to the story, and I was eager to learn each and every detail. 
  2. It's about family - both blood and found. I enjoyed getting to know Susan's family. They were far from perfect, and all seemed to still be grieving the loss of her mother in some way. It was beautiful watching them heal together and grow closer. I also adored the restaurant family. You work that hard, for that many hours, you tend to form some strong bonds. They were an interesting and eclectic bunch, who supported and encouraged each other. 
  3. I loved being in Scotland. Moore showed us some of the sights and incorporated some local color which I always appreciate. I liked the way she worked the festivals into the storyline as well. 
  4. Foodies will love the endless meals served in this book. The descriptions were mouthwatering, and there were also some really sweet food memories in there too. I got to watch Susan train a young pastry chef, concoct new and fresh desserts, and compete in a cooking showdown. I enjoyed it all, however, I wish the book had pictures and smells to round out my experience. 
  5. Though this book dealt with multiple losses, it was also a lot of fun. There were a few secondary characters who often stole the show, and I must admit, Susan's nephews provided some sweet and giggly moments for me. I was a fan of those rom-com bits that kept popping up as well. I found I smiled a great deal as I read this book, and for me, that's a win. 
Overall, I had a wonderful time rooting for Susan as she took her second chance at saving the restaurant and her second chance at getting her happily ever after. The book was fun and sweet and filled with many touching moments which left me with a smile on my face. 

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

Did you attend any of your high school reunions?
Let us know in the comments!

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