Review: Recipe for Persuasion (The Rajes #2)

Title: Recipe for Persuasion (The Rajes #2)
Author: Sonali Dev
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors comes another, clever, deeply layered, and heartwarming romantic comedy that follows in the Jane Austen tradition—this time, with a twist on Persuasion.

Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She’s a chef, what’s the worst that could happen? 

Rico Silva, that’s what.  

Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster. 

FIFA winning soccer star Rico Silva isn’t too happy to be paired up with Ashna either. Losing Ashna years ago almost destroyed him. The only silver lining to this bizarre situation is that he can finally prove to Ashna that he’s definitely over her. 

But when their catastrophic first meeting goes viral, social media becomes obsessed with their chemistry. The competition on the show is fierce…and so is the simmering desire between Ashna and Rico.  Every minute they spend together rekindles feelings that pull them toward their disastrous past. Will letting go again be another recipe for heartbreak—or a recipe for persuasion…? 

In Recipe for Persuasion, Sonali Dev once again takes readers on an unforgettable adventure in this fresh, fun, and enchanting romantic comedy. 

Review:

Ashna Raje is the chef and owner of Curried Dreams, her father’s restaurant. The restaurant is failing, so when her best friend offers her a chance to be on the new reality show Cooking with the Stars, she decides she must do it to get the money for the restaurant. Rico Silva is soccer player who went into an early retirement following a knee injury. When he finds out that Ashna is going to be a chef on Cooking with the Stars, he knows he must be the celebrity to cook with her. He wants to get the closure from their relationship that ended suddenly 12 years ago when they were teenagers. The tense competition brings back their feelings, opening up many old wounds.

I read Persuasion by Jane Austen years ago. I loved the book. This story is a great retelling, like the first book in the series, Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors. It’s an updated version of the classic Austen story, with more contemporary themes.

This story was much darker and more serious than Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors. There are some trigger warnings that should be included, such as suicide, substance abuse, and rape. These things were addressed, though they didn’t directly happen in the story. It was realistic to show these things happening, even though they were upsetting to read. The characters hadn’t addressed these things in the moment that they happened, due to the stigma around mental health problems. Those were tense moments in the story, and made it a much more serious book.

This is a great Persuasion adaptation.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

Other Books in the Series:

Have you read Recipe for Persuasion? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Sister Dear

Title: Sister Dear
Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: MIRA
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Beauty. Wealth. Success.

She’s got it all.

And it all should’ve been mine.
 

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.

Review:

Just before her father dies, Eleanor overhears him say that he isn’t her father. She’s left with just the name of her real father. She follows him and discovers his family. When he doesn’t want anything to do with her, she reaches out to his daughter, Victoria, to design her website. Eleanor doesn’t tell Victoria that they’re sisters while becoming friends with her. Eleanor wants to steal the successful life Victoria has, which Eleanor could have had if her real father had acknowledged her.

This story started out as an intriguing thriller. It took a little while for the real suspense to start. The middle of the story seemed like a light romance, with Eleanor getting into a relationship with her neighbour. In the last quarter of the book, the pacing sped up, becoming a suspenseful page turner.

I was so shocked at the ending. Looking back on the notes that I had written while I read it, I had gotten the story completely wrong. The ending made sense, but it was unexpected. I’m always pleased when I’m surprised at the ending of a thriller.

This was a great, slow burn thriller.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

About the Author:

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing, and is now the author of The Neighbors and Her Secret Son. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty-second commute.

Have you read Sister Dear? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Summer Villa

Title: The Summer Villa
Author: Melissa Hill
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: MIRA
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Three women. One summer reunion. Secrets will be revealed…

Villa Dolce Vita, a rambling stone house on the Amalfi Coast, sits high above the Gulf of Naples amid dappled lemon groves and fragrant, tumbling bougainvillea. Kim, Colette and Annie all came to the villa in need of escape and in the process forged an unlikely friendship.

Now, years later, Kim has transformed the crumbling house into a luxury retreat and has invited her friends back for the summer to celebrate.

But as friendships are rekindled under the Italian sun, secrets buried in the past will come to light, and not everyone is happy that the three friends are reuniting… Each woman will have things to face up to if they are all to find true happiness and fully embrace the sweet life.

An epic summer read about food, friendship and the magic of Italy, perfect for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Susan Mallery.

Review:

Six years ago Kim, Collette, and Annie ran away from their lives and ended up in the same villa in Italy. They didn’t know each other and came from different countries: the U.S., England, and Ireland. Though they had different backgrounds and different reasons for wanting to escape their lives for a few weeks, they all connected that summer. Now it is six years later and Kim is hosting a grand reopening of the same villa, which she has transformed into a wellness retreat. It seems like the perfect time for the three women to reunite, but they each bring their own personal problems back to Italy, where it all began.

This story alternated perspectives between then, six years ago, and now in the present. It also alternated between each of the three women. Things were slowly revealed in each timeline, but some details were held until the end, which built up the tension and surprise. I was shocked at some of the twists that I didn’t see coming.

One thing that this story demonstrated is how things in life can change so quickly. The women were struggling with life before they went to Italy the first time, but they each had life changing events happen there. These events changed the course of their lives in ways that didn’t seem possible at the beginning. This shows that even if you think you’re going through a difficult time in the present, there is no way to predict how your life will change years from now.

I really loved this story!

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Summer in Sorrento by Melissa Hill

The Temptation of Gracie by Santa Montefiore

About the Author:

MELISSA HILL lives in south Dublin with her husband and daughter. A USA TODAY and international #1 bestseller, she is the author of 13 novels, including The Gift of a Charm and A Gift From Tiffany’s. The Gift of a Charm was a USA TODAY bestseller. Hailed “the queen of the big plot twist,” she combines all the warmth and humor of contemporary women’s fiction with plots that keep readers guessing from page to page. Melissa also cowrites forensic thrillers with her husband, Kevin, under the pseudonym Casey Hill, featuring crime scene investigator Reilly Steel. For more information, visit www.caseyhillbooks.com.

Have you read The Summer Villa? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Sweeney Sisters

Title: The Sweeney Sisters
Author: Lian Dolan
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

An accomplished storyteller returns with her biggest, boldest, most entertaining novel yet—a hilarious, heartfelt story about books, love, sisterhood, and the surprises we discover in our DNA that combines the wit of Jonathan Tropper with the heart of Susan Wiggs.

Maggie, Eliza, and Tricia Sweeney grew up as a happy threesome in the idyllic seaside town of Southport, Connecticut. But their mother’s death from cancer fifteen years ago tarnished their golden-hued memories, and the sisters drifted apart. Their one touchstone is their father, Bill Sweeney, an internationally famous literary lion and college professor universally adored by critics, publishers, and book lovers. When Bill dies unexpectedly one cool June night, his shell-shocked daughters return to their childhood home. They aren’t quite sure what the future holds without their larger-than-life father, but they do know how to throw an Irish wake to honor a man of his stature.

But as guests pay their respects and reminisce, one stranger, emboldened by whiskey, has crashed the party. It turns out that she too is a Sweeney sister.

When Washington, DC based journalist Serena Tucker had her DNA tested on a whim a few weeks earlier, she learned she had a 50% genetic match with a childhood neighbor—Maggie Sweeney of Southport, Connecticut. It seems Serena’s chilly WASP mother, Birdie, had a history with Bill Sweeney—one that has remained totally secret until now.

Once the shock wears off, questions abound. What does this mean for William’s literary legacy? Where is the unfinished memoir he’s stashed away, and what will it reveal? And how will a fourth Sweeney sister—a blond among redheads—fit into their story?

By turns revealing, insightful, and uproarious, The Sweeney Sisters is equal parts cautionary tale and celebration—a festive and heartfelt look at what truly makes a family. 

Review:

Bill Sweeney was a famous literary author. When he dies suddenly of a heart attack in his sleep, he leaves many secrets for his three daughters to discover. When his will is read, they learn that he had another daughter, who is older than them and was their next door neighbour while they were growing up. He also left a mysterious memoir that is to be published after his death. The sisters have to unravel their father’s secrets, while also dealing with personal problems.

Serena, the half-sister of the Sweeney girls, found out about her relation to Bill Sweeney through an online DNA test. She ended up being a match for one of the Sweeney girls, so she knew she must be his daughter. That also uncovered her mother’s affair with Bill, which was strange since they didn’t have a relationship after that affair even though they lived next door to each other for years. I’ve read many articles about the popular online DNA tests that have revealed that family members aren’t actually related. It’s creepy that this is a common occurrence, but that makes this story timely.

This story had a third person omniscient narrator. That means that everyone’s thoughts were told in the narrative. This was a unique way to tell the story because none of the characters could have secrets from the reader, including the minor characters. The story was still suspenseful, because Bill had secrets, and he wasn’t present in the narrative since he had already died.

This is a great story!

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

About the Author:

Lian Dolan is a writer and talker. She’s the author of two Los Angeles Times best-selling novels, Helen of Pasadena and Elizabeth the First Wife published by Prospect Park Books. Her next novel, The Sweeney Sisters, will be published in 2020 by William Morrow. She’s a regular humor columnist for Pasadena Magazine and has previously written monthly columns for O, The Oprah Magazine and Working Mother Magazine. She’s also written for TV, radio and websites.

Lian is the producer and host of Satellite Sisters, the award-winning talk show she created with her four real sisters. On Satellite Sisters, she’s interviewed everyone from Nora Ephron to Madeleine Albright to Big Bird. Satellite Sisters began life as a syndicated radio show and is now a top-rated podcast for women. The recent book by the Satellite Sisters, You’re the Best: A Celebration of Friendship, is popular with book clubs.

Lian graduated from Pomona College with a degree in Classics. She lives in Pasadena, California with her husband, two sons and a big German shepherd.

Have you read The Sweeney Sisters? What did you think of it?

Review: In Five Years

Title: In Five Years
Author: Rebecca Serle
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canda
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 10, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.

But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.

After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.

Review:

Dannie has her life planned out for the next five years. Everything is going exactly as planned when she lands her dream job and gets engaged. However, she has a dream that she wakes up in a strange apartment with a strange man exactly five years later. She thinks it must be a dream, until she meets that man. She becomes conflicted between following her trajectory or continuing toward the life she saw in her future.

My feelings toward Dannie’s situation kept changing throughout the book. At first, I was sure that the future Dannie saw wouldn’t happen. She was meant to be with David and live in their dream apartment. However, something happens halfway through that changed my mind about the future. Suddenly, Dannie’s goals didn’t seem as certain as they did at the beginning.

I read a book last year, where the author spoke about the invisible staircase. We think that we can see the direction that our life is heading, but the future is actually an invisible staircase because we can’t see what will happen. When we go through hard times, we think it will stay that way forever, but we can’t predict what will happen in the future. We only realize this when we look back a few years and realize we have changed a lot in that time. I was reminded of this idea throughout this book. Dannie thinks she can see what she’s planned for the next five years, but then she sees that she will be in completely different circumstances in five years. It also brings up the question of fate, and whether we can change things that will happen or if they are planned out, even if we try to take a different route.

I loved this book and I highly recommend it!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

Have you read In Five Years? What did you think of it?

Review: Darling Rose Gold

Title: Darling Rose Gold
Author: Stephanie Wrobel
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sharp Objects meets My Lovely Wife in this tightly drawn debut that peels back the layers of the most complicated of mother-daughter relationships…

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

Review:

Patty was sent to prison for poisoning and abusing her daughter, Rose Gold. She made her daughter and everyone else believe Rose Gold had been sick her whole life, but it turns out she had been poisoning her. Now she has gotten out of prison, and her daughter welcomes her into her home, where she lives with her newborn baby.

This story follows two perspectives. Patty tells her story right as she’s gotten out of prison and moved in with Rose Gold. Rose Gold tells the story of what she was doing during the five years her mother was in prison. Their stories often conflicted, so I was curious to see what would happen in the end. The Rose Gold that Patty described in the present didn’t sound like the same Rose Gold who was telling her part of the story. These conflicting narratives kept up the tension and mystery of the story.

Many parts of this story were devastating and difficult to read. Patty treated Rose Gold horribly by poisoning her for years. It was almost hard to believe she could get away with it for so long, but there was a real mother who did that to her daughter. It made the story even more sad, imagining that this happened in real life.

The story didn’t end the way I thought it would. I was surprised at the way it all turned out. This was a very suspenseful story!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey

Have you read Darling Rose Gold? What did you think of it?

Review: The Honey-Don't List

Title: The Honey Don’t List
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 24, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.

From the New York Times bestselling author behind the “joyful, warm, touching” (Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author) The Unhoneymooners comes a delightfully charming love story about what happens when two assistants tasked with keeping a rocky relationship from explosion start to feel sparks of their own. 

Review:

Carey works for a designing couple, Melissa and Rusty. She is Melissa’s assistant. Her and James, Rusty’s assistant, join Mel and Rusty on their book tour. The problem is that Rusty is having an affair. Carey and James have to work together to make the tour run smoothly, making them closer to each other.

There was actually a lot of tension in the story, even though it was a light romance most of the time. Some of the chapters, alternating between Carey’s and James’s perspectives, ended with their police interviews. The actual incident that they were being interviewed about isn’t revealed until the end of the book, which kept up the tension. I didn’t think the incident was as big a deal as the police interview made it seem, especially since they moved on pretty quickly after the fact.

Carey had a condition I had never heard of before. She had dystonia, which is a condition that affects the muscle movement in her hands. That condition played into some of the decisions that she made in the story.

Sexism in the workplace was also an important part of the story. Even though Carey had worked with Melissa for a decade, she wasn’t given the same privileges as James, who had only worked for Rusty for two months. This was addressed a little in the book, but this is an important problem in the world that I’m glad was included.

I really enjoyed this book!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Have you read The Honey-Don’t List? What did you think of it?