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Hello, all!

Pub Date: 8-29-23
YA - Mystery

The Brothers Hawthorne- Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Grayson and Jameson Hawthorne may have grown up in the same household but weren't raised the same. From a young age, their grandfather groomed Grayson to take over the family name, instilling a fierce need to protect his loved ones. Despite their differences, the brothers share one thing: they can never turn down a challenge. When Grayson learns his half-sisters are in trouble, he wastes no time swooping in and fixing it the only way he knows how. Across the pond in England, Jameson comes face-to-face with his father and winds up playing a dangerous game after infiltrating an infamous underground gambling den. Both will face trials that will test their wills and have them confront the lengths they'd go to win.

I enjoyed The Inheritance Games series and was intrigued enough to see how this spin-off/continuation would play out. It was fun being back with these characters (Xander will forever be the highlight of the entire series for me), but I can't help feeling as if this whole thing was unnecessary. For starters, it needed to be shorter. I usually fly through Barnes' books, but this one felt like a slog. I could feel myself losing interest at times. I also kept waiting for Grayson and Jameson's storylines to connect, but they never really did, so it felt like I was reading two separate books. However, I did like getting to dive into their personalities more and seeing how their upbringings took a toll on them. While this was far from my favorite in the series, there were elements introduced that you can tell are setting up for something big to happen, and I'm interested enough to see how it plays out.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 6-6-23
Adult - Contemporary

Done and Dusted- Lyla Sage: Clementine “Emmy” Ryder has always been the one with the plan. She left her small hometown, went to college, and pursued a successful career riding horses. But after a bad fall leaves her shaken, Emmy cannot do the one thing she loves most. So she leaves everything she's built and returns to her family's ranch. Luke Brooks is known for being Meadowlark's bad boy, but Emmy knows him as her oldest brother's best friend. The pair have butted heads since Emmy was young, but something shifts when Emmy comes home. Now, the one person she can't stand is the only person who can help Emmy piece her life back together.

Now I get why all the girlies are in their cowboy romance era. It was so much fun. I loved the small-town Wyoming setting, the ranch, and most importantly, the banter between Emmy and Luke. They knew the right ways to push the other's buttons to rile them up. But once their relationship evolved, it turned into more vulnerable moments where they opened up, which was sweet. I also appreciated the mental health representation and could relate to Emmy and her panic attacks. My only issue was that the writing felt repetitive, but it's such a quick read that I could overlook it. Sage got me invested in the secondary characters as well, so I'm excited to continue the series.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pub Date: 1-16-24
Adult - Contemporary

Say You'll Be Mine- Naina Kumar: When Meghna Raman finds out her ex-boyfriend, whom she still harbors a crush on, is getting married and asks her to be his best man, she finally gives in to her mother's wishes of setting her up. What better way to show she's over her ex than to show up with another man? But when she meets Karthik Murthy, Meghna quickly realizes it won't be as easy as it seems. After watching his parents' marriage deteriorate over the years, Karthik has no desire to marry anyone. But when he meets Meghna, he can't seem to let her slip out of his life, so he concocts a plan to help them both: a fake engagement. As the pair spend more time together, Karthik can't help the feelings that begin to form for Meghna, but is it enough to change his cynical heart?

If a book has fake dating, then you can be sure I'll pick it up. I think it's so fun. I love watching two characters who are adamant that they won't catch feelings inevitably do just that. So why didn't this one do it for me? It was so boring. I didn't connect with either main character, so I wasn't invested in their relationship. It was also chock full of miscommunication, my least favorite plot device. Everything felt predictable, and the writing got to be very repetitive. It's not even that long of a book, but because I was so bored, it felt like it took an age to end. There were some cute moments between Meghna and Karthik, but most of it was a snoozefest.

Rating: 2/5


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