Dani is a Book & Wine Pairing Blogger from the mountains of West Virginia. She loves to read anything she can get her hands on while sipping on a glass of wine and snuggling with her fur-babies.

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REVIEWS! - ROMANCE
 
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Spring has sprung and Romance is in the air! With this weeks reviews you’ll find the following: some swoony, some funny, and some just short of the mark, but all are romances (in some essence of the word.)

So sit back, and take a look at this week’s romantic line-up:

📚Daphne Dubois’ Only the Beginning (2018 Contemporary Romance)
📚Leddy Harper’s The (Half) Truth (2019 New Adult College Romance)
📚Adriana Locke’s Tumble (2019 Romantic Comedy)
📚Elinor Lipman’s Good Riddance (2019 Women’s Fiction Rom-Com)

From one bookaholic to another, I hope I’ve helped you find your next fix.
—Dani


Only the Beginning 

By Daphne Dubois

 
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Publication Date: April 25, 2018
Genre: Adult, Women’s Fiction Literature, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis:

After a heartbreaking betrayal, Melissa Legacy shuns romance. So when her best friend joins the Lovers Oasis website and fears her fiancé will find out, Melissa agrees to meet the anonymous Romeo, prepared to explain her friend’s change of heart—then she sees him.

Failing restaurant entrepreneur, Craig Wheaton hasn’t been home since his mother’s tragic death. Now he’s back to confront his demons and stand beside his brother as best man. Dreading the reunion, he agrees to meet his avatar lover, but at the last moment he reconsiders the arrangement—until he lays eyes on her.

When Craig assumes Melissa is his online consort, she impulsively plays along, resulting in an afternoon of unexpected intimacy. But with Melissa using her friend’s identity and Craig dealing with a family fallout, is a future together impossible, or will they discover that love at first sight is Only the Beginning?

Goodreads

Purchase:

Amazon / B&N / Kobo

Review:

Only the Beginning  is a a cute romance that has just about every known romantic plot in it, including an Oh-sorry-to-have-run-into-you-knocking-you-to-the-ground / Love-at-first-sight-but-we-won’t-realize-it-until-the-end meet-cute. But don’t let these common romance novels antics dissuade you from picking Daphne Dubois book up!

While Only the Beginning may have all of those romance plots in it, Dubois did a wonderful job at making them all new and fresh rather than seeming old and dry. The constant change in perspective of the story line helps keep the reader in a constant state of wonder - reading to the breaking point of a change-of-events, only to have the next chapter begin from the other person’s point-of-view, and a few steps back. This constant flip-flop keeps the reader on their toes, transforming the escapades and tricks from the usual mundane to fun and flirty.

Craig and Melissa essentially meet because of an online messaging forum called Lovers’ Oasis. I feel like not many people are are logging into online forums to anonymously chat and hook-up anymore, so I did find to be a bit old and dated. (But then again, maybe that’s because I’m married, and I’m not experiencing this myself. Please tell me if I’m wrong…) But other than that dated feel to the book, I found Only the Beginning to be a pleasurable and easy romantic read that warmed the heart.

 

Dani's Score out of 5: 🍾🍾🍾🍾


The (Half) Truth 

By Leddy Harper

 
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Publication Date: February 19, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, College, Romance

Synopsis:

Tatum Alexander is so close to realizing her dream of becoming a sous chef she can taste it, but working at her ex-fiancé’s restaurant with his new girlfriend was never in her career plan. To save face and prove she’s moved on, Tatum cooks up a lie that she’s in a relationship with her best friend’s superhot cousin. There’s just one problem: Jason only recently moved to town, and he has no idea they’re already “dating.”

Jason’s a recovering ladies’ man who shouldn’t be on the menu, but that doesn’t mean he’s immune to Tatum’s quirky charm. Giving her lie a kernel of truth, they decide some no-strings-attached fun between the sheets can’t hurt. But as Tatum’s forced to keep making up stories to cover her original fib, she has a hard time separating what’s real and what’s fake—including her feelings for Jason.

With too many tales spun, Tatum can only watch in horror as her collection of yarns begins to unravel, leaving everyone she cares about feeling betrayed. After so many lies, will it be too late to set the record straight? And more importantly, will she be able to convince Jason there’s truth in their love?

Purchase:

Amazon / B&N / IndieBound

Review:

Leddy Harper’s The (Half) Truth is a great read! It’s fun and quirky, awkward and romantic. By far one of my favorite (fun) romances I’ve read.

Harper has a way with picturing something in her head and making you see it just as clearly in your own mind with her beautiful imagery. Adjectives are great when used in moderation, and Harper shows the curve of a smile, the grass-green sparkle of an eye, and the trail of a finger so perfectly that you can see them; you can feel them.

Tatum Alexander’s extremely awkward way of handling stress gives this love story a breath of fresh air, making all of the serious life lessons something not to stress over but to sigh and laugh at. Add in Jason Watson’s womanizing history and change of heart and you have a recipe for a zesty and flirty rom-com! Fans of the more serious romance novels will enjoy it, too, though, with it’s real life heartache and life-altering decisions. And while it’s not overly done, the sex scenes are quite hot, too!

The (Half) Truth was entertaining and delightful. I found myself staying up until 2 am, and getting up a couple hours earlier just to read before life started. I found ways to squeeze reading it into every crack of my day because I couldn't wait to find out what Tatum would get herself into next and how Jason would help her laugh it off. And I cannot suggest it enough to anyone who needs a little laughter (and spice) added to their life.

 

Dani's Score out of 5: 🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾


Tumble
(A Dogwood Lane #1)
 

By Adriana Locke

 
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Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humor

Synopsis:

After being burned by her dream job in New York City, sports journalist Neely Kimber suddenly finds herself jobless and paying a long-overdue visit to her hometown in Tennessee. Her plan? Relax, reset, and head back up the corporate ladder. There’s just one unexpected step. Neely’s back in Dogwood Lane for barely a day when she sees the man she ran from nine years ago: the bad boy next door who was her first kiss, her first love, and her first heartbreak.

Devoted single dad Dane Madden knows he hurt Neely in the worst way. He’s got a lot to make up for. And as passionate as their reconnection is, it’s a lot to hope for. Having her back in his arms feels so right. But falling in love all over again with a woman who wants to live a world away is bound to go so wrong.

What’s it going to take for Neely to give him—and Dogwood Lane—just one more chance?

Purchase:

Amazon / B&N

Review:

Adriana' Locke’s Tumble is a cute southern romance with a lot of heart. But Neely Kimber and Dane Madden’s relationship reminded me a lot of Melanie and Jake’s relationship from Reese Witherspoon’s rom-com Sweet Home Alabama though.

While Neely and Dane aren’t husband and wife like Melanie and Jake, you still have a girl form NYC returning to her southern home and falling for her ex all over again. Granted Locke’s story involves a child, while Witherspoon’s did not, the similarities between the two stories felt too close for me to really feel like I was reading something new, and that was disappointing. What was even more disappointing for me was the fact that Tumble was so highly anticipated for the romance community, that I became very excited for it, but was let down in the end.

I won’t say that Locke’s story isn’t good, because it is. She writes extremely well and knows how to tell a story with beautiful imagery. Her characters were deeply developed, and played off of one another very well. Overall, the story of Neely and Dane is a good one, I just wish it would have been a little more unique.

 

Dani's Score out of 5: 🍾🍾🍾


Good Riddance 

By Elinor Lipman

 
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Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Humor

Synopsis:

The delightful new romantic comedy from Elinor Lipman, in which one woman’s trash becomes another woman’s treasure, with deliriously entertaining results.

Daphne Maritch doesn't quite know what to make of the heavily annotated high school yearbook she inherits from her mother, who held this relic dear. Too dear. The late June Winter Maritch was the teacher to whom the class of '68 had dedicated its yearbook, and in turn she went on to attend every reunion, scribbling notes and observations after each one—not always charitably—and noting who overstepped boundaries of many kinds.

In a fit of decluttering (the yearbook did not, Daphne concluded, "spark joy"), she discards it when she moves to a small New York City apartment. But when it's found in the recycling bin by a busybody neighbor/documentary filmmaker, the yearbook's mysteries—not to mention her own family's—take on a whole new urgency, and Daphne finds herself entangled in a series of events both poignant and absurd. 

Good Riddance is a pitch-perfect, whip-smart new novel from an "enchanting, infinitely witty yet serious, exceptionally intelligent, wholly original, and Austen-like stylist" (Washington Post).

Goodreads

Purchase:

Amazon / B&N / BAM / Kobo / Google Play / IndieBound

Review:

Good Riddance is one of those books that I can see being turned into a movie. Mae Whitman would play the part of Daphne, the MC. Rebel Wilson, the part of crazy-neighbor, Geneva. And Lucas Till would play the role of Jeremy? I don’t know, I’m still questioning the male lead role, but the ladies I could see playing these roles as plain as day, as if the parts were written for them. And seeing how (it seems) that author Elinor Lipman is such a big fan of the TV show Riverdale, I can see why she would want to write something that would maybe, eventually make it to the screen.

SIDE RANT: On the Riverdale note, I, too, am a fan of the show. I both liked and disliked the constant mention of the show and it’s characters, but for the life of me, I couldn’t place “Timmy” at all. So, I’ll admit, I did totally IMDB the show, looking for a “Timmy” which does not exist, but please, if you can figure out who “Timmy” is referring to, because it’s totally going to annoy me until I re-watch every single episode until I find him. Then, maybe, I’ll have Jeremy’s actor nailed down! END SIDE RANT.

However, that being said, I don’t think this novel should be made into a movie in the slightest. While I did find myself LOL-ing several times while reading, I often found myself either bored or annoyed. Daphne was too whiny (not a reflection of Mae Whitman, FYI), and I found the dynamic between Daphne and Geneva, and Daphne and Jeremy to be very out there (both of which usually make a good movie.)

On top of that, the story of “the yearbook” in question never really comes completely to fruition, and I felt that someone like Geneva never would have given up as easily (whether if that is to finish what she started or to just badger Daphne about it.)

Last note to make about this book is that while it is classified as a “romance,” I have a very hard time classifying it as such myself. “Humorous Literature?” Yes. But “Romance?” Definitely not. Yes, there is a love interest/relationship, several actually, but not in the “Literature Romance” sense. So if you’re looking for that, this is not your book. If you’re looking for something to LOL to, then this one will give your your chuckles.

 

Dani's Score out of 5: 🍾🍾🍾



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Pair Them All With: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

A fresh, juicy wine with vibrant acidity and plenty of weight and length on the palate. Ripe, tropical fruit flavor with passion fruit, melon, and grapefruit. Classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc aromas of lifted citrus, tropical fruit, and crushed herbs. Pairs brilliantly with fresh oysters, asparagus, lobster, or summer salads, and of course these romantic reads!

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Have a book you’d like to suggest or one you’d like me to review? Please feel free to leave your comments down below.



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