Monday, July 8, 2024

In a Nutshell Reviews

The Game Changer
 by Lana Ferguson
Published by Berkley on July 9, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

A hockey player and a baker shoot their shot in this steamy romance.

When a very public breakup becomes a PR nightmare for Ian Chase's team, he hopes to focus on his game, but that suddenly seem less likely than a hat trick. With his career and the team’s image in jeopardy, Ian is surprised to find a solution through none other than Delilah Baker, his best friend and teammate's little sister…who isn’t so little anymore.

Delilah Baker is known as “the darling of baking” on her local cable show, and being in the public eye is her bread and butter. But with her numbers dwindling and her producers turning up the heat, Delilah offers up the half-baked idea to collaborate with her brother’s team to entice the hockey fans of Boston to tune in to her show. Delilah thinks it will be a piece of cake—until the team sends Ian Chase, her brother’s best friend and the object of a decade-long crush that she’s never quite gotten over.

Delilah's and Ian’s teams think it’s a true win-win situation—gaining higher numbers for Delilah’s show and casting Ian in a more positive light. And viewers are eating them up like a cupcake, sparking the idea to play up their relationship for the goal of good press. With more than just their careers on thin ice, the line between what’s real and what’s for show begins to blur, but one thing’s for certain: This PR stunt will either be a total game changer—or leave them both totally pucked.

I was so excited when I saw that Ferguson was writing a book filled with my favorite tropes, and I was not disappointed. A hockey romance with fake dating and friends-to-lovers, what more could I want? Apparently, I wanted baking and cupcakes, and a precious origin story for this friendship. I wanted sweet and sexy banter and drama that comes from outside this fabulous couple. I wanted backstories with just enough pain to build character and a fun but solid sibling relationship. And you know what? I found all that in The Game Changer.

One of my favorite parts of this story was the romance. It was pretty much love at first sight when Ian promised to sit next to six-year-old Delilah on the school bus. Her affection for him grew and changed as she got older, and though they spent years apart, Ian owned a piece of Dee's heart all these years. Stuff like this makes my heart pitter-patter, and I really adored the past these two shared.

Fast forward to where Delilah has a cooking show that has been slipping in the ratings. To attract more Boston viewers, the producers pair Dee with a hockey player for a one hour special. Delilah never thought that hockey player would be her long-time crush, Ian. Ian had just returned to Boston, and so did the gossip that drove him away. In an effort to distract from that noise, he agreed to the guest spot on Delilah's show. Little did they know this would be the beginning of a fake relationship where the lines would become blurred.

There are a lot of things that happened throughout this story that captured my heart while also delivering the trifecta of laugh, smile, and swoon. I found it easy to fall into this story and root for Delilah and Ian, and I was also very invested in the family drama. Speaking of that, I thought I felt a little love connection between Delilah's brother and another character. I wonder if Ferguson would consider returning to this world. I know I would read that book. 

Overall, this was wonderful, fun, and sweet fake-dating, friends-to-lovers romance that delivered lots of laughs and feels, as well as a fantastic grand gesture that had me smiling my face off.

Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder
 by Kerryn Mayne
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 9, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Fiction

Lenny Marks is excellent at not having a life.

She bikes home from work at exactly 4pm each day, buys the same groceries for the same meals every week, and owns thirty-six copies of The Hobbit (currently arranged by height). The closest thing she has to a friendship is playing Scrabble against an imaginary Monica Gellar while watching Friends reruns.

And Lenny Marks is very, very good at not remembering what happened the day her mother and stepfather disappeared when she was still a child. The day a voice in the back of her mind started whispering, You did this.

Until a letter from the parole board arrives in the mail—and when her desperate attempts to ignore it fail, Lenny starts to unravel. As long-buried memories come to the surface, Lenny’s careful routines fall apart. For the first time, she finds herself forced to connect with the community around her, and unexpected new relationships begin to bloom. Lenny Marks may finally get a life—but what if her past catches up to her first?

Equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming, Kerryn Mayne’s stunning debut is an irresistible novel about truth, secrets, vengeance, and family lost and found, with a heroine who's simply unforgettable.

Lenny liked her routines, staying in, and keeping to herself. It was a quiet life, but she was content with it and the way everything went according to her plan. That was until she received a letter from the parole board, and her past Lenny intruded on the life she had built for herself.

I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this book. I was surprised by how dark some of the it was, but I really enjoyed getting to know Lenny Marks.

I found myself immediately drawn to Lenny. Her love of words, scrabble, The Hobbit, and routines was something I could fully embrace. In the first part of the book, Lenny was attempting to follow her foster mother's orders to make some friends. My heart went out with her as she wasted energy on the wrong people and was slow to recognize the right people. But don't worry, a fine community of supporters was assembled and just in the nick of time, too,  as that letter from the parole board triggered some awful memories.

Slowly, Lenny started to recall the trauma from her past. It broke my heart reading about what happened to her, but it shed so much light on why Lenny did the things she did. She suffered so much pain and loss at such a young age, and her only means of survival was to bury it. The tone of the story appropriately changed as Lenny worked through those painful memories, and my heart ached for her.

I have to say, Mayne slowly doled out the pieces of this story. You know early on that something major happened in Lenny's past, but I was only given bits and pieces along the way. It was very effective way to keep my interest high as I waited for the full story to be revealed, and wow! It crushed me.

For a story built on the premise of murder it had a lot of humorous and tender moments. The beginning of the book was rather light and breezy, and I was glad I got to know Lenny under those circumstances. The emotion ratcheted up slowly until Lenny was able to free herself from the grief, pain, and guilt of her past.

This was a little darker than what I usually read, but I loved Lenny and was fully invested in her healing journey. Overall, I enjoyed getting to find out how Lenny Marks got away with murder and was left with so much hope for her future.


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  1. A hockey romance + friends to lovers is an excellent combination. :) And the way Ian and Delilah had known each other since they were six? Oh, my heart!

    1. The start of their friendship was terribly sweet. It evolved as they got older and Ian became besties with Delilah's brother, but there was something special there.

  2. I'm looking forward to The Game Changer, but I still need to read The Fake Mate.

    1. The Omegaverse stuff was weird for me in The Fake Mate, but I thought the story was good.

  3. Thanks for your recommendations of these books. I look forward to reading both.

  4. Delilah and Ian sound precious! I'm looking forward to this one and more from Lana Ferguson.

    1. They were so cute together. I hope you enjoy their story.