Reach the Stars – Lily Seabrooke

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
This was a cute novella from Seabrooke.

Emmy finds herself competing in a reality TV singing contest, something she never expected would be a possibility. She’s a kind, bubbly, sweet person, who stands out both for her demeanour and her talent.

Kat is a singing contest veteran. Bowled over by Emmy, she finds herself stuck with Emmy in more ways than one. She’s just there to win and go home. Not horrible, but not exactly personable either, she is the grumpy to Emmy’s sunshine.

I have to admit the premise of this confused me at first. Reality singing contests to me mean unknown singers competing for recording contracts, not people with fan bases already, or people that have competed in these contests before, so it took me a little while to catch up my thought process on this one.

The characters work well together though. i enjoyed Emmy’s eternal optimism and the banter between her and Kat. I loved the beginning of the novella, it had me in stitches which always helps!

The way the relationship develops into a semi-friendship, then them admitting their feelings for each other always plays out well on the page. I especially enjoyed the fans shipping them and the denials that they knew anything about it.

This is a nice sweet novella that works as an interesting romance, and as a nice break from other longer reads. I’d recommend to any romance fans, especially those that are fans of musician based stories.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

You Know I’d Never – Kara Lowndes

Rating: 3 out of 5.
This is another similar book to quite a few I’ve read recently – a interesting premise and full of promise, but it doesn’t quite put all the parts together to connect for me.

Janey has been stuck in Clitheroe all her life. She has a job in the local grocery store, is firmly stuck in the closet and lost the only love of her life when she made the choice to stay in their small town when her girlfriend went on tour with her band.

Elise, the aforementioned ex-girlfriend has been absent for years but is now returning to town for some benefit concerts and appears to want to do everything she can to reconnect with Janey.

It will probably sound a little silly to say this, especially as an English person, but this novella is very English in it’s attitude. I’d like to think this version of homophobia doesn’t ring true anymore but it’s still pretty common, especially in small towns and from my own personal experiences, it felt quite authentic in that regard. The descriptions of things are also very fitting for an English setting and almost had a feel of nostalgia to them for me personally.

The writing holds up pretty well but the novella length doesn’t give this story the full chance to grown in my opinion and I think I’d have liked it more with a full length and the chance to see them fall in love at the beginning. I’d be interested in more of this kind of work from Lowndes though.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Love’s Falling Star – B.D. Grayson

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I’m not completely sure what it is about this book that made me like it so much, there are some new author flaws and it has difficulties due to a lot of the main characters getting to know each other “off-page” but essentially there was something about it that just had me smiling constantly for the first 70% of the book, so I consider it a success.

Lochlan Paige is a closeted country music superstar. One of the few things she has for herself is to write at libraries, in her own little bubble with rare peace and quiet. After her latest concert, she heads to the local College library, where she meets Vanessa, a pre-med student.

After they meet a lot of the getting to know each other takes place via text message and phone calls, which as readers we don’t get much information on, so there are quite a few time skips, which I did find disappointing, but it didn’t change my enjoyment of the story itself. I can understand why it may for some readers though so you may want to take this into consideration.

I enjoyed the fact that the narrative acknowledges who Lochlan is and the impact it has on their relationship. Vanessa has her fan moments but also approaches their relationship from a pretty logical place. The development of their time together, and how it panned out narrative-wise felt believable to me, though obviously it has some sensationalist moments for effect.

My review is probably impacted by how much I loved both of the characters, rather than the writing itself, but I’m often a character-driven reader, so this isn’t much of a surprise. The ending also worked really well for me, again sticking true to the characters.

I was impressed with Grayson’s first outing, romance fans should find something they’ll enjoy in this book and I’m definitely looking forward to Grayson’s next book.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What Happened After… Celebrities Series Finale (Celebrities #5) – Nicole Pyland

Rating: 4 out of 5.
A really great ending to the celebrities series. I’ve always loved how Pyland finishes each series with a What Happened After… collection, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Usually a WHA normally includes a story for each of the couples we meet in the series, Pyland mixed it up slightly this time, doing two slightly longer stories, each mainly focussing on two of the couples, but involving all four in some way or another.

Both of the stories are seriously steamy and very enjoyable. If you enjoyed the celebrities series you’ll enjoy this. If you haven’t started the series yet, don’t start here, it contains way too many spoilers!

I received an e-ARC directly from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Last Time We Met – Maggie Brown and Leni Hanson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
This is sort of a second chance romance, I’m not sure you can call it a full-on second chance when the characters don’t really get together the first time they meet, but they do have some history so I’ll classify it that way for ease.

Merritt is the daughter of a US senator. She works for Doctors Without Borders in the trauma team, visiting some of the worst tragedies to provide emergency medical care.

Austen is an Australian rock star. She has a reputation for bedding whomever she wants whenever she wants.

The two first meet when Merritt is in College. They meet when Merritt goes to a signing for Austen and Merritt is one of those that catches Austen’s eye. They have a nice night together but for reasons I won’t get into it, it doesn’t go any further than that. This forms a brief flashback in the book, but it’s the only one, so those that aren’t flashback fans don’t need to worry.

The two meet again in Australia. Austen has returned home for a vacation, but not before she performs an important show for some diplomats. Merritt has decided to vacation in Australia after a particularly difficult spell at work, as her parents are in Australia for her fathers work.

I liked how the authors approached the two meeting again and especially liked how they interwove both MCs friends and acquaintances into this part of the book. The side characters are interesting and provide a little bit of will they, won’t they intrigue, as well as allowing us to get to know the MCs better away from each other. It also serves to help build up chemistry between the two again – something we don’t always see in second chance romances.

I liked the Doctors Without Borders aspects to the storyline. I liked that Merritt was open about how her assignments had made her feel and that she dealt with them in a communicative manner.

There’s a couple of twists in the last quarter of the book that I actually really enjoyed.

I can’t comment as to how the authors styles have combined as this is my first time reading either author, but I wasn’t able to identify any clashing styles or weird jumps on the page, so I’d say they were successful.

All in all this was an interesting read that I think wlw romance fans will enjoy.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.