My Own Bookshelves

We are passionate about what we are reading. What you will find here are thoughts from our book friends on all things in literary. In other words, #fangirl level EXPERTS at your service.

The Definition of Fflur

The Definition of Fflur - E.S. Carter First, I will allow you to let that sink in what you read above. Because truly, if a blurb checks off all my no-no rules when selecting a book, it's right there in front of your eyes.

~ It's a story of someone under the age of 25. YA and me are a no.
~ It's a story that is going to have some pretty heavy angst. No hearts and rainbow unicorns, and I'm out.

But what if I get off the high horse of self imposed pickiness and actually gave the book a chance? Seriously, didn't I JUST complain about insta-love haters in a blog post? Now, in full disclosure, I did beta read the story, and Ms. Carter gave me the opportunity to say no. Yet, I decided to take a chance on this awkward old soul who is the center of probably the most wonderful story that will grace your heart and mind. My earlier initial thoughts were radically changed:

~ It's a story of a girl trying to understand her world after it all comes apart. How it molds and shapes her as the reader experiences her life in coming of age.
~ It's a story that will evoke a lot of feelings as you read: anger, shock, sympathy, loss, understanding and most of all great love.

Many have asked and I have answered firmly: Yes, there is a HEA. I know as a reader, Ms. Carter put me through hell - read that as yes she ACTUALLY made me cry - but there is a happily ever after in the end. I would never steer my fellow book friends into a non-HEA.

But did you catch that? She made me cry. The person who watched Titanic and asked when the people drown. That piece of information should make you rethink any decision not to read this story. If someone's words can touch me so profoundly to move me to tears, it is well worth your time.

ES Carter creates a world where your mind travels there. The characters play out their lives with vivid imagery. Her words are beautiful and brilliant. As a reader, you want to reach out to Fflur, counsel her in each misstep, hold her when she breaks, and praise her when she grows resilient.

I think I'm done. Because honestly, there is nothing else that I can find that will tell you why you should read this story. It is something to be experienced, treasured, and most of all - shared with all your book friends. In short...Buy The Book.

Smiling Irish

Smiling Irish - Katy Regnery Once again Katy Regnery excites and delights me with her brand-new world of the Haven Triplets. Readers are served up a huge helping of small-town romance at its very best. Ms. Regnery is my 'go-to' when I am looking for that perfect HEA to get lost in for a few hours to escape. Oh my did I get served...

And lemme tell you, we all want a little Burr in our lives. Katy's male characters are always swoon worthy. But add in a huge dash of overprotectiveness mixed in with male vulnerability and I am SOLD ! We meet Tierney in Fighting Irish as the slightly 'nerdish' yet sassy female triplet. I knew she had a fire in her that readers had yet to uncover. Ms. Regnery didn't disappoint. She's reserved but no doormat when holding her own to the big, bad Burr. There is a a bit of mystery on how it will all unfold from the start of a 'dark, stormy night'. Never fear, although bumps on the way, story gets delivered without any unnecessary over the top angst.

If you can't tell already, I recommend this story! It's one of those delights that you can count on why we all fall in love with romance. 5 out of 5 stars

Something So Unscripted

Something So Unscripted - Natasha Madison Single dad romances are one of my favorite subgenres. What is cuter than a handsome man who will do anything for his children? Amiright? Ovary exploding reading. However Natasha Madison takes the well loved trope and adds so much more to it. Her story creates a wonderful and loving tale about finding love expectedly interwoven with the side of the story that parents undertake for their children.

First and foremost, this is a romance with a lovely HEA. The epilogue is bliss, and will delight the reader with the final sentence. How this romance struck me was the development of Denise and Zack's relationship. No need for any added relationshipy drama. They already had their emotional hands full in dealing with Jack's needs. What was lovely to see is two adults handling this attraction, running with it, because damnit, they deserve happiness too.

Something So Unscripted is a book not to be missed. As much as I loathe series jumpers, you could read as a standalone. But why!!!! Pick up the series and read them all! Are you already a fan? Add to your TBR and read it on release day :D

Until Brandon

Until Brandon - Natasha Madison To be honest, it's been while since I picked up an Until series book by ARR and read it. But as with all good series, they secretly stay with you until the characters are brought to life before your eyes again. That's the beauty of Kindle Worlds books. They remind you of the characters and stories you so loved, yet get individualized to the author who captures them. Until Brandon is a perfect blend of ARR world with a dash of hot, sexy alpha male as only Natasha Madison can deliver.

Brandon is just a man with needs and a business to run. No muss no fuss. Until the day Aurora walks in and he finds his BOOM! Like all Mayson men, once the BOOM hits, they are not taking no for an answer. I could continue on, but why spoil this enchanting and steamy short story.

PS: Super kudos to Ms Madison for giving the readers dual epilogues!
4.5 out of 5 stars

White Knight

White Knight - C.D. Reiss I know that some of my followers are going to say I'm broken. This is the second book in a series where I, the Series Referee, say, "Nah, go ahead. This can be standalone."
I know.
But it's true.

I find that if the writer has the ability to provide just enough backstory to any re-occuring characters for a new reader to not get lost, I'll bow to recommendation for standalone. However, for this series, although interconnected, CD Reiss makes a mark in each subgenre that is a delight to the fan. As everyone is well aware, I am a huge sucker for second chance. So I'm going in that this is trope I'm a fan and can't wait to see the characters journey.

And Catherine & Chris have such a unique and touching second chance that you don't want to miss. And I do ramble on at the blog here:

Just take my word for it: Read the other - pick up this book. Hesitant in picking up the others but would love a unique spin on second chance, do not hesitate to one click. 5 out of 5 stars.

Sky's the Limit

Sky's the Limit - Elle Aycart I received this book as a gift. Normally, I enter giveaways for authors 'new to me'. To be honest, I've read and enjoyed Elle's books before- its's been a loonnnng while. Her stories are sexy and funny and always have some underlying issues dealt in realism. However, Elle is my 'Before BookFriends' author, so following her and clicking got buried under the avalanche of recommendations.

Fast forward: I won Sky's the Limit book and made it my 10hr plane ride read. It is everything I wanted. It was funny and slightly out there at times. It's two people who believe they are not meant for each other but somehow are the right fit. And figure that out that they belong together. The secondary characters are hilarious and you can't help but actually learn to love their brand of craziness. She made me remember why I LOVED Heavy Issues amongst others in the Bowen Boys.
But... most importantly she tackled an issue with grace and perfection.

My 'hard limit' on books that tackle mental health issues. Its been my world for so long I feel the need to escape. And then I start to analyze how the author addresses the issue. So, yes, Sky's touches on depression but does so without using the topic unnecessarily.

So this gift brought me a return to an author who's writing I love.
5 out of 5 stars.

Fighting Irish

Fighting Irish - Katy Regnery I've been caught up in the world of stretching my reader's legs and going outside of my carefully designated box. Although many of these books, I've enjoyed. But I didn't know I was ready for my hearts and flowers HEA read until I picked up and devoured this story.

Katy is one of my 'go-to'. She writes stories that appeal to my heart when I just want a romantic read. Rory and Britt's story was the magic I needed and can't wait for more. I'd shelf this under 'second chance' with adding - catching the one that you let get away. Usually these stories, its the H or h that allowed the other to escape. But in the case of Rory and Britt, it was their teenage hearts and circumstances that didn't allow them to connect. But as adults they form first a friendship that blossoms into love in the best of ways.

Besides a love story, you get the insight into family and what it means to have a close relationship with all the ups and downs. I can't wait for siblings, Tiereny and Ian, stories. I can already see a binge until I'm done once they go live.

If you are a fan of Katy's Blueberry Lane series, you'll find the same quirky, lovable and strong characters we found in that world. If you are new to Katy and love a romantic story, one click today and expect to devour the story. 5 out of 5 stars


Havoc - Debra Anastasia This book was completely unexpected. And not in a bad way. I had read Mercy and had expectations for this force of a man we were introduced to. What the reader gets is more action packed suspense than I ever expected.

The reader is introduced to the hard life of foster living and yearning for some semblance of family from the lead characters. You hope their lives turn to the positive. And for them they do, in only a way people on the fringe can. However, as their lives take a darker turn living on the edge, the risks increase. But what about the romance?

It is subtle. Not the long distance yearning we found in Mercy. This is a painful look of unrequited love and how a wake up call can make you relook at your life. It's a wide ride. Full of drama packed action. If you love dark, gritty characters with a heroine who kicks EVERYONES ass, don't pass by having some Havoc in your TBR.

Secrets of Spring

Secrets of Spring - Julie Solano If you are looking for a book series for a 12-17 reader in your circle of friends, pick up this series from authors Julie Solano and Tracy Justice. There are themes that are permeate today that are mixed in with mystery and friendships. The message is there without being preachy by beating the reader over the head. Storyline develops in a group of like interested teens meet over their love of sports but end up with solid foundation for lasting friendship. However, like any good fiction, they add in a bit of mystery to keep the reader interested in the story from start to finish.

Disclaimer: I will admit I may have a soft spot for this story that may lead my review to bias. If you know the authors, you'll understand this series is an ode to the area we live in and most importantly, the teens that grace their lives daily. Recognizing this characters and scenes brought a smile to face as a read.

So, what am I doing reviewing a young adult book? I know. But on occasion I branch my read adventures out to do something different. In recommending this book to an audience based on the rhythm of storyline, language level, and themes, this fits in the young adult/teen bookshelf nicely. For those who think I only read romance, I wouldn't consider this in romance. Just as Twilight without the vampires or Perks of Being a Wallflower but add in sports, there is budding relationship but isn't the only thread the fiction carries. For readers of any age that enjoy these themes and genre, try out the series today.
Overall Series Stars: 4.0

Something So Irresistible

Something So Irresistible - Natasha Madison I am seriously considering a new shelf. I seem to be drawn to men who are seemingly the growly, grouchy bears. The jerks we love to hate and love. And Mad Max is not an exception but the definition of the rule.

I believe that if we aren't, we all want to be a little bit of Max. Protective, driven, loyal and sincerely wishing we can say exactly what is on our minds. And we'd all need an Allison. Someone to temper the bluntness and soften the edges. It's their characters - how they love to hate each other before they can learn to love each other that drives the reader to turn the pages. Their chemistry is undeniable and leaps into our hearts.

Now, series police here: I pretty much insist that you at a minimum read book 2 (Something So Perfect) first before diving in. Max's character ARC really starts there along with Allison and the entire set of secondary characters involved. I think to truly appreciate the journey starting with book 1 is on your to-do list.

You don't need to be a fan of the hockey world or any sport to appreciate thestory. Natasha Madison gives the readers a full scope romance that embraces humor, tension and chemistry for a perfect to add to your TBR. 5 out of 5 stars


Aiden - Melanie Moreland Readers get a sneak peek with the prologue of Aiden in book 1- Bentley. Just so all my book friends are clear:


A Crazy Christmas

A Crazy Christmas - B.  Cranford In all honesty, this is one author that just gets better and better with every story. A Crazy Christmas does not disappoint. If you've read The Brightest Star and A Little Bit Crazy, this is one holiday story not to be missed.

So, let's cover that tidbit for a second. I am serial holiday romance reader. I like the 'cheese'. This time of year, it's all about finding your HEA and getting that cavity reading adventure. I mean the cheesier the better.

Okay fans, you won't find it in this book and I couldn't be happier.

Ms Cranford gives us the stress and joys that this holiday season delivered with heart. These characters you've gotten to know and they continue their quirks in this tale. Whether it's finding the perfect gift or finding their normal, you feel immersed in their world and grinning when you reach 'The End'.

Fans of B. Cranford's debut duet are going to be ecstatic for this enchanting and honest tale. Once you finish, you'll find your heart filled with joy as we see these couples navigate the crazy of the season.

5 out of 5 tree-topping stars

Capitol Promises

Capitol Promises - Rebecca Gallo First off, yes you must read Presidential Bargain first. NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS. Now, that's out of the way and you've read book one, you'll want to read book 2. Although I warned that there was a 'sorta' cliff depending on whether or not you took into account the epilogue, book two picks up right where one left off and prepare to hit the ground running.

What I have learned with debut authors that I enjoy their first release, they improve with writing and gain their stride in the voice of their storytelling. Ms. Gallo didn't let me down. The in-depth connection to the characters was strengthened in Capital Promises. You got more understand of what was driving the MC as they tackle the hurdles of Washington DC. However, Jameson did not lose his 'damn jerk' hero status. And Georgie strengthening as a female lead to show women don't have to bulldoze to have power. The story was well paced and gave the reader what I would say was the best HEA the characters could have.

If you love a story with something you can sink your teeth into without feeling preached at or drowned in details, the duet by Ms Gallo is an engaging read. I'm pleased I took a chance and expect each novel she writes will have us turning the pages wanting more. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Countdown to Midnight, a holiday novella

Countdown to Midnight, a holiday novella - Katy Regnery Once again Katy Regnery gifts readers a story they can delight in. As I sit here contemplating my review, there is a burning question that comes to mind: Series, Standalone or Introduction read? What if I said yes to all three?

As a series, this is definitely a must read for fans of the Blueberry Lane series. The story concludes our much needed HEAs for the Story sisters with insight on the connection to the Atwell family. As always, Ms. Regnery blesses the reader with both back story and current to have you connect. You walk away at the end content and happy to say goodbye to our beloved series.

As a standalone if you are fan of second chance romance, this novella gives you two stories with different backstories for a satisfying read. Elizabeth's tale theme is 'misunderstanding' whereas Jane's is 'the one that got away'. With each heroine's story, Ms. Regnery delivers both backstory to not have an unfamiliar reader feel lost, and the connection story is never rushed. Both Elizabeth and Jane are strong female leads and there counterpoints in Merit and Amity are perfect blend of alpha-y male goodness. The reader also is given just enough heat to turn it up and feel the passion. If you are looking for that quick, feel good holiday read while catching a flight, you will not be disappointed.

If a reader is looking for an introduction, this would be definitely a recommendation from me for someone unfamiliar with Katy's writing or wanting to test the waters before diving in the entire series. The novella covers a complete story without needing to have the experience of reading the others. There are no obvious spoilers (at least for this reader) that would ruin the experience of the other novels.

As followers of my reviews should know by now, I'm a very HUGE fan of Katy Regnery's stories. She writes without raking me over the angst and delivers a HEA I need. But for me, I tend to grade novellas on a harsher curve. It's difficult to deliver a complete for me, and I hate feeling abandoned if I can't continue on quickly. However, this gem ticks off ever necessary box I require. Never rushed to completion, understood the characters, some witty mixed with sweet banter - this story delivered it all. 5 out of 5 stars


Thresholds - Kate Canterbary This is a MUST read for any fan of the series. This is definitely not to be skipped. You need to add it to your eReader and just devour it. If you aren't a fan, dust off your copy of Underneath It All and get to reading. Kate has this phenomenal ability to paint your imagination with a tale that will engage you from book to book. You never feel on repeat; always feeling each story is fresh insight to have you in falling deeper in love with the characters she has created.

I devoured this story in hours. Readers get the full holiday treatment of only what a Walsh Family Christmas can be. We hear from all our favorite family members and then some. Kate Canterbary is an amazing storyteller. Her voice carries the novel with multiple POVs as the reader is watching each day unfold. You stayed glued to the screen and lost in their world- happily. I see this as a holiday favorite I return to again and again like my binge watching of Love Actually.

For more obnoxious fangirling and all the reasons to read this book, check out my blog review at My Own Bookshelves


Bentley - Melanie Moreland This story made me fall in love with romance genre all over again. It's something about a well crafted story that complete immerses and surprises you with every turn. And Ms. Moreland delivers again with humor, tension and heart gasps - you know those swoon moments with every chapter.

This story begins as you would expect. Bentley is driven. In his drive, you see a man who sees the world as his oyster and is willing to make a pearl from hard work. He's focused. Then Emmy steps in and he can't avoid the gravitational pull she has on him.

“What happened to me being an ass?”

“Oh, I still think you are, but you have a great smile when you relax. So, let’s try this again.” She raised her hand higher. “Hi, stranger, sitting at my table. I’m Emmy.”

She is sassy and smart. She is goodness and light to his world. She isn't part of his plan. But damn if he doesn't feel compelled to make her a place there. Their love story is one that you want - no need - them to have a HEA.

But it's not just the primary characters that draw you into the story. Once again, Ms Moreland has interesting and delightful secondary characters you wish to know more about. Their presence isn't just to add color to the emotional love story but breathes into each plot turn with necessity. Emmy, Cami and Dee have a girlfriend bond that's all things you want good in your tribe. Whereas the men of BAM - Bentley, Aiden and Maddox - seriously. This bromance is panty melting, ovary combusting stuff. Melanie Moreland's shining talent is in her male characters and she delivers what her readers expect and more.

Bentley can be definitely read as a standalone. However, I dare the reader who reads book 1 and isn't the least bit interested in the next two. Just not possible in my eyes. If you've never read Ms Moreland, this is where her story telling shines and you want to gobble up all her catalog.

5 plus out of 5 stars

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