The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

33815781._SY475_After my last book, I was very excited to dive into this series. I was listening to the JAM Session podcast last week, and Amanda Dobbins recommended Royal Holiday, which she had just finished. I immediately pulled Jasmine Guillory up in Libby and realized that Amanda’s rec was the fourth book in this series. While Amanda can read novels as a one-off, that’s not my style. This is the first book in the series, so I put it on hold ASAP.

I really loved this story of a successful Black woman who meets a hot pediatric surgeon when the elevator stalls in the Fairmont San Francisco (oh, did I mention it’s half set in the Bay Area?) and agrees to be his plus-one for an awkward wedding that weekend. It goes on from there and is just delightful. There are the usual chick lit tropes (everyone can just jet off to LA or SF every weekend, they always eat out, no one has a budget, etc), but some very real moments of racism and dealing with being the only person of color in the room, at the party, etc, that I could relate to as well.

I stayed up way too late last night to read about half the book and finished the rest after work today. I can’t wait to get the next book in the series (though I have a feeling it’s more of an anthology, using different characters from the same universe than a direct sequel).

Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck

54211414._sy475_I can’t remember how this book landed on my TBR list, but it was available a couple weeks ago when I decided to search in Libby, so I grabbed it. As you know, secret princes are one of my favorite tropes and as it’s part of a series, I thought it would be nice to have a new group of books to read. Alas no.

I did not realize that this was Christian Contemporary Romance, but I see now how it got made into a Hallmark movie (I’m just surprised that Candace Cameron wasn’t the star). There was WAY too much God/Jesus talk in this book that’s supposed to be about a small town Georgia girl falling for a secret prince, who of course, can’t marry her because American, etc. His fake kingdom is also a little too silly to be believed, if only because the first King of Brighton (lovely town, everyone should visit the real thing sometime in the future) is said to have won the kingdom away from Henry VIII (not exactly a guy who would just give into the demands of a guy with a few hostages, but mmkay).

Of course, there’s also a scheming duchess, terrible paparazzi, and a national crisis (the king dies so Nate has to go home at be king) to contend with in addition to the Georgia peach he just can’t have. Susanna’s work life is also in turmoil and they never really explain why she doesn’t just go to an actual place where she could get work instead of the small island where she grew up. I wanted more from Susanna and Nate, but they don’t even kiss until the very end and spend much of the time declaring to anyone who will listen that of course, they don’t love the other one.

I kept reading because I’d given up/had to return the fourth I Heart book before I finished it (and I was getting frustrated by that one as well), so I didn’t want to give up on this one too. But not a fan.

The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal

I’ve had a little more time on my hands to read these days, but I still have trouble concentrating, so it’s hit and miss. I had this ebook for three weeks before I actually started reading it, and I really only did so because I was going to have to return it to the library.

This book isn’t as heavy as the previous one, taking place mostly in rural Scotland. Maggie is trying to heal from her ordeal in Berlin and suffers from PTSD while working to train the next group of SOE recruits. She gets caught up in another mission when she goes to visit her friend Sarah (the ballerina) who is performing in Edinburgh with the Vic-Wells ballet. The main plot wraps about about 70% through the book and you’re left wondering why it continues.

There’s also WAY TOO MUCH fanfic about the intelligence breakdown that led to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. With the exception of setting up the next book (Maggie goes to America), it had ZERO to do with Maggie’s plot and I just didn’t care. It felt like padding because the Maggie plot was pretty thin.

Maggie’s RAF ex boyfriend reappears, and it seems like they are moving towards a reconciliation. Hopefully, if that’s the case, the author will show us why we should root for them because so far, everything about their “romance” has happened off screen. We also get an update on Hugh, but he doesn’t appear, so I’m not hopeful she’ll reconnect with him.

I was happy to return to this universe, though it was a little hard to get into the WWII mindset with all of the craziness happening in this country this weekend. I’ve got the next “I Heart” book from the library, so I hope that will be a nice distraction from …. *gestures at everything.*

Breaking the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli

So things have changed a little since the last time I posted. I hope to get back to some of my normal posting soon (like updating my 1980 challenge, which is a lot easier to complete these days than say my 40-for-40 challenge), but I finished my first book in nearly two months, so I thought I should post while I’m still feeling it. I hope you and yours are well and you’re making it through this crazy quarantine time. Some days are better than others, which is probably always true, but these days there’s not much else to think about (except for…*gestures wildly at everything*).

46028668._SY475_I’ve been a fan of Jennifer Iacopelli’s writing for nearly a decade as she was one of my favorite fanfic writers for one of my early 2010s guilty pleasure shows that doesn’t really hold up in the later half of the decade for a lot of reasons. She’s written novels before, but when I heard that she was finally writing a gymnastics novel, I was SO IN. I immediately requested it on Libby.

I was all set to read it on the plane either to Paris or from Paris. However, on the way to Paris, I spent more time trying to sleep without touching things and on the way home, I was just really anxious to land back in the US with the world falling apart around me. I started it once I got home and began my quarantine a few days before everyone else in the City, but the library loan ran out before I could finish it. That’s not a knock on Iacopelli’s writing; I couldn’t really concentrate on anything in the early days of our stay-at-home order. Immediately, I put in back on hold and six weeks later, it became available this weekend. In the last couple of days, I finished devouring this novel, and I’m kinda mad it’s over.

Breaking the Fall follows one elite gymnast on the cusp of the 2020 Olympics, when scandal rocks the national team (shades of 2016). Audrey Lee is kind of an Aly Raisman type, who is the anchor of the team and the captain without trying, who shocks everyone who isn’t paying attention with her success. Nothing is easy when everything you know has been taken from you and yet, you’re still expected to go out there and achieve your dream. Plus, there’s a cute boy who likes you. I flew through the second half of this book after dinner, and even though you’re pretty sure how it’s all going to go down, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

It was the perfect balm for a world gone topsy-turvy, giving just enough gymnastics to keep me happy, while really delving into what sports, friendship, and positivity can do for you, in a non-cheesy way. I loved it.

I Heart Paris by Lindsey Kelk

After receiving a small raise last week, I immediately booked a trip to Paris.

To be fair, I’d been mulling over this trip during a break at work to visit a dear friend who is working on her master’s degree, but once I heard about the raise, it pushed me over the edge. Basically, what I’m saying is though Angela Clark annoys me at times, I kinda get her impulsiveness thing.

(Also weird – last month I went to Los Angeles (Book #2), I’m heading to Paris (Book #3) next month and then to Las Vegas (Book #4) the month after that. Not on purpose, but just coincidence. I don’t have any current plans to head to London (Book #5), but it is my favorite place, so hmmm….)

20422324Anyway, when I realized the next I Heart book was set in Paris, I pulled it up immediately. It’s a quick read and Angela is a little less annoying than usual, if only because most of the bad stuff that’s happening to her actually isn’t her fault this time. She still drinks way too much and spends way too much money on stupid stuff. (Seriously, if I hear about her stupid Marc Jacobs handbag one more time, I’m going to throw something!) Angela’s boyfriend gets invited to play a festival in Paris and invites Angela to go with. At the same time, she gets a big meeting with the head of the company who owns the magazine where she works which gets her an article in this universe’s version of Vogue. Her suitcase gets blown up at JFK (which she finds out at CDG), leaving her without her MacBook charger, borrowed clothes, make up, and research for the article.

While this would be enough to make anyone crazy, she’s more concerned that her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend is back on the scene and now he’s being distant than her work project. I have to keep reminding myself that Angela is 27, so she’s kinda ditzy sometimes because I spent most of the book wanting to shake some sense into her. There are so many things that she’s “hopeless” at – like reading maps, working technology, doing research, stopping herself from spending money she doesn’t have on clothes she doesn’t need, telling her boyfriend the truth…it wears.

There are some actual consequences to her actions this time, which is a nice change of pace, even if everyone is telling her not worry about it. It’s a quick read and I like that I can dip my toes back into this universe every once in a while, but I definitely need a break before the next book. I’ve loaded up my TBR queue with a bunch of Paris books, so get excited!