Us, Again by Elle Maxwell

us again

Us, Again is a standalone, contemporary second-chance romance and the debut novel from author Elle Maxwell. I couldn’t stop reading it – both main characters, Graham and Mackenzie, will stay with readers long after the final page.

5 years ago, Mackenzie Thatcher and Graham Wyatt were young teenagers in love. The high school seniors were dreaming up their future together, when two weeks after graduation Graham’s parents were killed in a car crash. Unable to cope with the loss and grief, Graham turns to drugs and alcohol, keeping secrets from Mackenzie. While purchasing pills from his dealer one evening, Graham finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and a man is shot right in front of him, landing him in prison for 5 years as an accessory to the crime. At this point, Mackenzie’s heart and future plans with Graham are shattered. She wonders if he ever really loved her at all, if he was able to keep such  major secrets from her. Determined to ward off relationships, Mackenzie moves on, growing a thicker skin and attitude along the way. Now she lives with a roommate, her hilarious Latina best friend Marisa, and has a job in social work, which is tough but rewarding. Her love life is rather nonexistent, because though she tries not to, she is always comparing them to Graham, the one who will always have her heart. Super sexy, alpha male Graham is released from prison and he has one goal in mind – find Mackenzie, apologize, tell the truth, and do whatever it takes to win back her trust. However, Mackenzie’s a lot stronger than she was 5 years ago, but every bit as beautiful to Graham. Getting her back into his arms and heart is going to be a lot more work than he thought. Good thing he doesn’t give up on a challenge. I won’t give up any more of the plot, but trust me, you’ll love it! Elle Maxwell has nailed the second-chance romance story with steamy romance and a bit of suspense/danger thrown in for good measure. I can’t wait for her next book!!

Thank you to the author for the chance to read an Advanced Review Copy and provide my honest review.

us-again-promo-aesthetic-grid-frames.png

A Lie for a Lie by Helena Hunting

mail

Librarian Laura’s Review

A Lie for a Lie is the first book in the new All In series by Helena Hunting. A remote cabin setting in Kodiak Island, Alaska. A sexy, alpha male hockey player on a solo fishing trip. An anxious, beautiful young woman working on her thesis.  Chicago based, professional hockey star and team captain, Rook “Rookie” Bowman wants to just be a normal guy for a few weeks, away from the media and the ladies throwing themselves at his feet. While he enjoyed it for a while, a few quiet weeks to be himself is really tempting. He flies out to Alaska for an annual fishing trip with his brother, but this year his brother’s wife is expecting a baby and Rook ends up solo. It would have been the first trip to the cabin with his brother since their father passed away. His plans of actually being alone change dramatically when a beautiful woman literally falls into his lap on the plane. And the best part of all, she has no idea who he is. He doesn’t want Lainey to know about his drama-filled past, or to be starstruck for his wealth, so he tells a little white lie about his background, using his parent’s alpaca farm as inspiration. It’s only a matter of time, however, before the truth comes out.

Lainey is researching dolphin mating behavior on Kodiak Island, Alaska, working on her third thesis. She is the youngest of 7 children and her parents treat her as such, questioning all of her decisions and sheltering her as much as possible. A comical mishap with a scarf propel Lainey right into the lap of a very handsome and charming Rook on the plane. He then acts as a security teddy bear for her anxiety during a turbulent ride out to Kodiak Island. As fate would have it, Lainey’s broken-down, cobweb-filled rental cabin turns out to be only a few miles from Rook’s Alaskan vacation home – a mansion as far as I’m concerned. After a pulse pounding storm and a leaky roof bring poor Lainey back to the safety of Rook’s arms and home, he encourages her to move in with him for the duration of her stay.  Thus begins a 4 week long, blissful honeymoon-esque trip for Lainey and Rook. Everything is roses for the young researcher and hockey megastar, until a family emergency calls Rook back to Chicago very abruptly. Unfortunately, Lainey knows him as “RJ”, an alpaca farmer, and is therefore unable to find him once she returns home. After Rook leaves, a huge storm cuts the power to the cabin, leaving him unable to call Lainey and get her number so they can reconnect.

Flash forward to a year down the road, after both Lainey and Rook have sulked and reminisced over one another, fate intervenes again. Rook is attending a birthday party for a teammate’s son at the aquarium where Lainey is working. He would recognize her voice from anywhere and can’t believe his luck for a second chance. But , how can he tell Lainey who he really is, a famous, filthy-rich hockey superstar, without losing all of her trust and a chance for a future together. To liven things up a little more, Lainey has a lie of her own, and it’s a big one. You’ll have to read it and find out. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I loved this book and can’t wait for the next book in the series. Helena Hunting is skilled at hitting readers right in the feels, and for that I thank her. H squared will always be one of my favorites!

Thank you to Montlake Romance for providing me with an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

alfal - RB banner.jpg

A Lie for a Lie, an all-new sexy second chance romance from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is available now!

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KeBlqZ

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/ALieforLie

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2MTMWOC

Audio: https://amzn.to/2KM4CZF

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2MJpbIG

About Helena Hunting 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

 Connect with Helena

Instagram: http://instagram.com/helenahunting Twitter: https://twitter.com/HelenaHunting
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/Zt1xm5
Facebook Fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/385795934890523/
Website: http://www.helenahunting.com/

Never miss an update! Subscribe to Helena’s mailing list:
http://bit.ly/2MlRKq6


Blackberry & Wild Rose by Sonia Velton

9781538507759_1faedOriginally published in Library Journal, May 2019.

Velton’s intriguing historical fiction spotlights both the successes and hardships of Huguenot silk weavers in 18th century England. Young and alone, Sara Kemp, arrives in Spitalfields, London. She is soon swept away to the Wig and Feathers tavern by a forceful brothel proprietress, thus beginning a dangerous, dismal life of prostitution. Esther Thorel, the wife of one of the finest master silk weavers, offers Sara a position as lady’s maid and a fresh start away from her unsavory past. Esther, a painter, longs to design silks, but her husband Elias dismisses her talent while resenting her barrenness and inability to provide a son to teach his trade. Enter Bisby Lambert, an exquisitely talented journeyman commissioned by Elias to weave his masterpiece on the Thorel’s attic loom. As the weaving begins to take shape, the tumultuous Thorel household, full of secrets and longing, begins to unravel.  The story unfolds in alternating points of view between Sara and Esther, women of vastly different life circumstances who are both harboring secrets. VERDICT: Fans of Tracy Chevalier and Jennifer Chiaverini will be captivated by Blackberry & Wild Rose for its atmospheric, historically-rich drama and forbidden romance.

 

Something Like Breathing by Angela Readman

9781911508304_fea99Originally published in School Library Journal, February 2019.

Gr 9 & Up: Readman’s debut novel unfolds in 1950’s Scotland, weaving together mystery and magical realism surrounding two young girls on a remote island. Lorrie’s family moved from England to help her aging grandfather, Grumps, in the family whiskey distillery. At once intrigued by her shy next door neighbor, Sylvie, whose life seems fairly uneventful due to her mother’s extreme rules. Sylvie is fascinated by kisses, keeping a secret scrapbook from her protective, prying mother. An unlikely friendship between the two young girls develops, providing a bit of happiness for each, though their family lives are far from happy. As Lorrie and Sylvie spend more time together, it becomes apparent that Sylvie and her mother are hiding a secret. Strange occurrences like Lorrie’s father’s disappearance and a miraculous healing of a young boy involved in an accident leave Lorrie and the town wondering about the friendly, yet strange Sylvie. VERDICT: Readers will enjoy the unique plot and vividly drawn characters of this atmospheric, coming of age story, though pacing is slow at times.

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman

9781250140708_05103

Originally published in Library Journal, January 2019.

Loigman’s second novel follows Jewish sisters Ruth and Millie Kaplan from their childhood in Brooklyn to adulthood living at an armory base in Springfield, MA. The eldest by three years, Ruth is held to almost impossible standards, while Millie, with her striking looks and pleasing manner, gets away with most anything. Possible male suitors for Ruth always end up pursuing the younger, more beautiful Millie. After their parents die unexpectedly and Millie loses her husband, Lenny, the sisters end up together. Ruth’s husband, Arthur, is an army officer allowing Ruth a prestigious job in payroll, while Millie becomes a soldier of production in an armory factory. Resentment and jealousy intensify as Millie again becomes the beloved center of Ruth’s social circles. Then a stranger arrives and long-buried secrets are revealed, leaving the sisters a chance at a hopeful future. Unfolding in alternating points of view, Loigman provides a behind-the-scenes look at women fighting their own wars at home. Readers will enjoy the heartfelt picture of women’s daily life during wartime through the eyes of two unique, extraordinary sisters. VERDICT: Recommended for historical fiction fans of Pam Jenoff and Kate Morton.

The Competition by Cecily Wolfe

thecompetition

Originally appeared in School Library Journal, November 2018.

Grade 7 & Up: A diverse cast of characters take part in the Penultimate, an Ohio state writing competition, where 100 teens battle for a full college scholarship. Mary Sofia (a Latina) lives in a shelter. Her mother blames her for the unforgettable, tragic night her abusive stepfather was killed by her older brother Matias, as he protected Mary Sofia. She longs to visit Matias in prison, missing him dearly. Michael, Caucasian, is an introvert who excels at swimming and writing, who is instantly attracted to Mary Sofia. Camera who is shy and biracial carries a secret of being sexually assaulted during a party. Raiden is a Chinese American teen who dreams of becoming a nurse, though his father would rather he be a doctor. The four young people conveniently pair up into couples, forming a foreseeable cozy group for the remainder of the story. One of the contest themes is writing about “a defining moment,” which forces both Camera and Mary Sofia to finally come to terms with their painful pasts. The story line is realistic with hints of tame romance. After an unlikely turn of events for the new friends, the predictable yet hopeful ending offers each an unexpected chance at a brighter future. Compared to other realistic teen fiction, Wolfe’s second novel falls short in pacing and writing quality. Themes of friendship and typical teenage behaviors are represented well. VERDICT A strictly additional purchase.

The Latecomers by Helen Klein Ross

9780316476867_f37acOriginally published in Library Journal, October 15, 2018.

In her third novel, Ross (What Was MineMaking It) weaves a tale of the wealthy Hollingworth family and a secret that spans five generations. Rich historical details bring time periods to life from early 1900 wartime to the Great Depression and all the way up to September 11, 2001. Bridey, age 16, leaves Ireland with her sweetheart, Thom, hoping to marry in America. Thom perishes of ship fever, leaving her alone and pregnant. She gives the infant up for adoption, working in a factory until she meets Sarah Hollingworth and becomes a maid at the family’s lavish estate in Wellington, CT. Sarah, who lost her mother at age 12 and then took care of her siblings, marries Edmund, but is unable to have children of her own. Readers will come to know the infant as Vincent and follow him until his adult years. Vincent’s granddaughter, Emma, loses her own father when the twin towers collapse, a repeating pattern of tragedy for the Hollingworth family. Family drama unfolds in alternating viewpoints; the characters are linked across time periods, as they navigate poverty, loss, loneliness, and heartbreak. VERDICT: Fans of historical sagas will enjoy this dramatic tale.