When I sat down to write about my best reads of 2020, I really had to pause for a bit. It has been quite a year. To be honest, I couldn’t actually come up with the proper adjective to describe it. Epic trash fire has been used multiple times, horrific doesn’t quite seem to cover it, tragic, disastrous, ridiculously bad, none of those really seem to encapsulate what an utter mess this year has been for so many of us. Books have always been a source of comfort and solace to me but during the very worst moments of this year, it felt like even the joy found in reading was crumbling under the massive pressure of 2020. For the past few years, I’ve set a Goodreads goal of 150 and each year, I’ve exceeded it. This was the first year I had to, midway through the year, edit my goal down to 140. As I sit down to write this, we’re about to say goodbye to November and I’ve just completed my 133rd book of the year, which by normal standards is definitely on the low end for me.
At first glance, this book might give off Cinderella vibes, where a down on her luck heroine meets her Prince Charming, captivates him, runs from him, and then eventually reunites before they find their HEA. But it’s so much more than that. The second book in Rebekah Weatherspoon’s Cowboys of California series places the focus on the youngest of the Pleasant brothers, Sam. The book opens right on the heels of him winning an Academy Award for acting and celebrating his big win with a night of hot sex with Amanda McQueen, the stranger he meets at an Oscars after-party. And while she knows exactly who Sam is, he has no idea that she’s assistant to rising television star, Dru Anastasia.
Editor's Note: This review is not in the same format as the rest/most of our reviews because there's no way I'm adding this to our searchable database and risking readers looking for say, Scottish romance, thinking we're recommending it.
To start this review, I actually need to go back 5 years in time, to when I read the first book in the series, The Royal We. Goodreads informs me that I liked that book well enough to give it a 4 star rating though I did not bother to write an actual review for it. There is no possible way I could ever hope to remember the plot for a book I read 5 years ago beyond the information contained in the blurb. I vaguely recall that Freddie, younger brother of and the spare to Prince Nicholas, who is the heir to the British throne, admitted his love for American commoner Rebecca (Bex) and kissed her. Bex and Nick were in love and engaged. Bex rebuffs Freddie and the book ends with them getting married while someone in their inner circle betrays them by blackmailing them over a scandalous (and untrue) tabloid story implying Bex and Freddie have been having an affair behind Nick’s back.
Recently, my nine-year old daughter and I had a very lengthy conversation over breakfast one morning. “Mommy,” she began, “are you a Kristy or a Mary Anne or a Claudia or a Stacey?” Before I could even begin to wrap my head around her question, she’d answered it herself. “I think you’re a little bit of Kristy and maybe a little Mary Anne.” My mind had caught up by then, aware that we were maybe having our very first unofficial, mother daughter book club meeting, about none other than The Baby-Sitters Club books. A staple of most young girls' bookshelves in the 80s and 90s, this series resonated with me when I was her age and watching her discover these books three decades later has made me wonder what it was about these books that appealed to me so much and how it informed my reading choices as an adult.
It’s a pretty well known fact that I dig slow burn romances. And while this book definitely qualifies as the slowest of slow burns (the two main characters don’t even share their first passionate kiss until the 77% mark), there are a few things that left me wanting more from this book.
Before I start this review, let me just share one thing about myself. I’m not particularly fond of many sports but I have been a dedicated fan of tennis for most of my life. I know the game, I know how to keep score, I know a forehand from a backhand and a dropshot from a volley. A few years ago, when sports romances were all the rage, I was a bit sad about the lack of tennis romances. So, dear reader, you can well imagine my utter joy when one of my favorite authors announced a book featuring a tennis instructor hero.
There were a lot of things I liked about this book but there were also some glaring issues I had with this book that kept me from absolutely loving it.
A delightful collection of novellas from Ruby Lang, these three stories are sweet and low angst without being overly saccharine. The novellas were previously individually released but really work well together in The Uptown Collection.
Guarding Temptation was previously published as a short story titled Resisting Desire in the Rogue Nights anthology. The new and updated version has been revised to double the original story so if you’ve already read the original version, there’s a lot more to the story of Nina and James in this novella.