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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Romance book talk, reviews, recipes, and dog pictures

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

Currently reading

Her Other Secret: A Novel
HelenKay Dimon
Magician's Hoard (Mysterious Charm Book 3)
Celia Lake
Progress: 50%
Rogue Most Wanted
Janna MacGregor
American Dreamer: A Multicultural Romance (Dreamers Book 1)
Adriana Herrera Garibay

Kyraryker’s quotes


"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

50%

Magician's Hoard (Mysterious Charm Book 3) - Celia Lake

“She loved books. You know how some people love books for what they hold, and some people love books for the beauty of the object? She loved all the books, forever, but she loved them in different ways. The gorgeous incunabulum and the scruffiest chapbook, turning into pulp in your hands.”

Reading Update: Page 1

Magician's Hoard (Mysterious Charm Book 3) - Celia Lake

*I'm having extreme jealousy over Lillelara's strawberries and cursing my earlier cherry craving.

 

Archaeology, a bookseller, an Egyptian researcher, adventure, and magic. Can’t wait to start this one :)

 

Magician's Hoard by Celia Lake Amazon purchase link 

 

Black Forest Chocolate Cherry Smoothie recipe

Not my favorite smoothie, maybe I used too much ice? I also thought there was a bit of a chalky taste to it 

 

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

The Golden Hour - Beatriz Williams

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Was yours ever hit?”

No. Not a scratch. I suppose even bombs have a sense of irony.”

Not really,” I say. “That's just human illusion. We imagine there's an order to things, because it's too awful to consider the randomness of fate.”

 

The Golden Hour is historical fiction that mainly follows two women decades apart while slowly but surely weaving their stories together. We first meet Elfriede in a Swiss clinic where she was sent after she can't feel anything for her newborn and talks about a darkness that dwells in her. Today we would call it postpartum depression but in the early 1900s, no one quite knows what to do with her. There she meets an Englishman recouping from pneumonia and they have a soulmates connection but with Elfriede still married, they can't really act on anything.

The other woman we follow is Lulu in 1941 just as she is arriving in the Bahamas to cover gossip about the scandalous Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Edward and Wallis Simpson. There she gets caught up in possible treasonous acts and meets Benedict Thorpe, a man she thinks is more than he is letting on.

 

It's so easy and so safe to fall in love when the universe is against you.

 

While Elfriede's story is relayed from the beginning, chronologically, we start more towards the end with Lulu's story and are constantly backtracking and shooting forward to gain information on how she ends up in London with Benedict's sister, which is where we first meet her and the mysterious government agent, Mr. B. The pov changes also include first person and third person different narratives; it works to keep the two women drivers of their own stories but I can see how this could affect the flow of the story for some.

 

While Lulu and Elfriede are fictional characters, they are surrounded by real events and real historical figures of their times. World War I plays a part in Elfriede's story, affecting her life's course and World War II obviously plays a big part in Lulu's story. For the most part though, the gravitas of the Wars are kept to the outside, Pearl Harbor is discussed but being in the Bahamas during the time and lack of Internet keeps the news to feeling surreal. The focus is more microcosm and how the Wars are personally affecting these two women and how it will connect them.

 

I thought it was intriguing how the author made the Windsors, somewhat, central and key, along with the real murder mystery of Henry Oakes; little moments in history that aren't completely solved are fun to read different takes on.

 

Life is made up of these little crossroads, after all,” he said. “A million daily forks in the road.”

 

The slow weaving of Elfriede and Lulu may feel meandering for a while, I thought the latter half started to drag a bit but it was still curiously interesting to see how the author ultimately ended up placing all the characters to culminate in the ending. The ending was rushed and key emotional moments were crammed, taking away from the reader from getting time to digest and deliver a bigger impact on key moments. However, if looking to disappear for a few hours, The Golden Hour will keep you intrigued about how all these characters touch and impact each other's lives and how it could feel so helpless and hopeful all at the same time during World War I and II.

 

70%

The Golden Hour - Beatriz Williams

You know, it's a funny word, loyalty. Loyalty to what? And why? And especially how, that's the kicker. It seems to me that loyalty requires a suspension of logic, of truth even. Like faith, like superstition, a thing you cling to in defiance of what lies before you in plain sight. On the other hand---like faith or superstition, like love itself---where's the comfort in a world without it?

Reading Update: 20%

The Golden Hour - Beatriz Williams

World War II drama with spies, love, and royalty.

 

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams pre-order link (July 9th)

 

Vegan Creamy Garlic Lemon-Pepper Pasta recipe

(Cauliflower helps make up the sauce, wild, y'all!)

 

Unbreak Me by Michelle Hazen

Unbreak Me - Michelle Hazen

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

L.J. loves horses but opportunities to make a living training them in New Orleans are slim, so when he manages to get offered a job in Montana, he wants to take the chance. Leaving the Ninth Ward community and his mother who suffers from Lupus is hard but L.J. has a dream and when he catches sight of Andra, she starts to become a part of them.

It's been five years since Andra was kidnapped but her panic attacks haven't stopped and the only time she feels free is working with her horses. She has to fight to hire L.J. onto her father's ranch but there is something about him that calms her being in his presence.

L.J. and Andra are two souls looking to separate their pasts from their futures and through each other might just find the strength to love everything about themselves.

 

Everything that had been done to her body was public property.

 

Unbreak Me was a very character driven story focusing almost completely on the lead characters Andra and L.J. Their backstories and all the pain that came with them, matched each other even in their differences. In college Andra was drugged, kidnapped, and raped. She lives in a smaller town in Montana, so the trial and all the details were public knowledge. The townspeople know the whole story and side-eye her all the time and her own family isn't quite sure how to act around her. The author did a commendable job getting Andra's pain across the pages, the isolation, the guilt, the anger, and caged in feeling from people only seeing you one way now. Her father, brother, and bestfriend didn't quite get enough page time to be fully flushed out characters but even their absence from the pages helped to show how Andra felt alone and trapped into this new singular existence.

 

L.J. was a character who at first seemed completely affable, fun, and carefree but as we get to know him more, you see that while that is part of his natural disposition, he still works at coming off that way. He carries the pain, anger, and horror from surviving Hurricane Katrina and what it means to be a six foot five black male in America. His struggle to take care of his mother, still give back to where he comes from, and honor his own dreams was affecting. The attraction and connection he felt towards Andra seemed a bit fast or instant, in terms of the repercussions he could experience from it but their time together was slow moving and written very deliberately.

 

I don't want your daddy to be right about me, Andie-girl.” The words were so low they were no more than a rumble in the places where his neck touched her forehead.

I don't want him to be right about me, either.” she whispered back. And she didn't let go.

 

Through L.J. and Andra, this story touches a little on sexism and heavier on racism. The societal stratagems aren't expounded or deeply thought out but rather how internally racism effects L.J. emotionally and externally physically and opportunity wise. Andra's father plays a role in showing how ignorance isn't an excuse and how Andra needs to learn to see what L.J. is telling her instead of trying to explain instances away to try to make things more comfortable. While these weighty issues aren't delved very deep into, they are touched on in how though L.J. and Andra might have a connection, relationships don't happen in a vacuum, racism effects become a conflict between the two but not enough to give such a weighty issue it's due.

 

These people weren't untouched by their past, and they didn't expect her to be, either.

 

This was a very deliberately paced story with L.J. working to get Andra to be comfortable around him and be able to act on and enjoy the chemistry they had between each other. Even with a more thoughtful pace, I thought the story worked well on capturing the reader but I also thought a little latter in the second half the story started to drag and lose it's drive when L.J. and Andra were in New Orleans.

The ending was also quick to wrap up, these two had some pretty big issues laid out and the bow felt somewhat simplistic. However, L.J. and Andra were two characters that definitely pull you into their world and you'll feel for all their emotional ups and downs. There are no easy answers to hard problems but having a caring hand to hold along the way can make all the difference, and it doesn't hurt if they're a Stetson wearing man who can cook southern style.

 

She grinned, and blushed the tiniest bit. “Next time we do that, will you wear your cowboy hat?”

 

 

50%

Unbreak Me - Michelle Hazen

"When they looked at me, it seemed like the filth of what had happened was all over me." Her voice rasped against the silence in his kitchen. "I had to say, out loud in court, what Gavin did."

 

The writing style in this is very deliberate, it's stark and subtle all the same time.

Reading Update: 20%

Unbreak Me - Michelle Hazen

Oof, think I'm in for some angst-y emotion with this one.

 

Unbreak Me by Michelle Hazen pre-order link (Aug 13) 

 

Garlic Butter Italian Sausage Sandwiches recipe

(I used turkey sausage and used Italian seasoning)

 

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Fix Her Up: A Novel - Tessa Bailey

4.7 stars

 

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

They could be friends, him and Georgie. That’s what was wrong. He didn’t want one—especially her. She was too young, too positive, and too related to his best friend.

 

Starting off the Hot and Hammered series, Fix Her Up is a perfect sweet and hot summer read. Georgie has been in love with her brother's bestfriend Travis ever since she can remember but has never been able to get him to see her any other way, she can't even get her family to see her as an adult. When Travis comes back to his hometown, Georgie can't stand seeing him depressed over having to retire from baseball because of an injury and decides to try some tough love.

Travis' father always said he'd never amount to anything and even though he's won the World Series, Travis is back right where he started. After living the flashy life as a star baseball player, Travis is struggling with who he is now. His bestfriend Stephen's little sister is pushing him to put the bottle down and clean his apartment and all the while Travis can't stop thinking about how sexy she has become.

Georgie and Travis are sick of being stuck in a box and so they make a plan to fake date to get people to see them a different way, but there will absolutely be no real feelings, nope, nope, nope.

 

But the more she got to know Reality Travis, the more Fantasy Travis started to fade, leaving this real, breathing, complicated man in his place. He appealed to her even more. So much more.

 

I thought this story was an absolute delight, a perfect summer read. Georgie was a combination of sweet, goofy, determined, and vulnerable. She works as a party clown, which doesn't help getting people to see her as an adult, and wishes her family would see her more than the “baby” of the family. I thought the author did a good job moving Georgie from childhood infatuation to getting to know Travis on a deeper level to make her love for him seem more solid. Georgie finds Travis sexy and grew up starry eyed over him but as she deals with his grumpiness, depression, and abandonment issues, the reader can see a stronger foundation start to grow.

 

Travis was the perfect amount of grumpy and soft towards Georgie, he's never blatantly mean towards her and I delighted in seeing him starting to crack against his will. He's about five years older than Georgie, so he was off playing baseball when she grew up and when they meet up again, he firmly tries to put her in the no touch little sister friend zone. He fails at this and it is not only because he finds her attractive but because she reaches him and connects with him in a way no in his life ever has.

 

Travis and Georgie's chemistry, rather it be friendship or sexual, popped off the pages and I loved every second they made me smile or sent a tingle down my spine. There was a little bit of abruptness to their first sexual encounter and from there, it's on with these two. You'll get a kissing in the rain moment that morphs into a Georgie on her knees in a dugout, along with some other heat inducing scenes. For a sexy summer read, I thought there was a good balance between sex scenes and relationship building; the author doesn't completely abandon the emotional aspect.

 

Seeming at odds with himself, he eventually wrapped an arm around the small of Georgie’s back, tugging her into the warmth of his chest. “A few minutes won’t hurt,” he muttered, seemingly to himself.

She nuzzled into his chest hair to hide her smile.

 

The fake relationship plot doesn't happen until a little later in the book and you kind of have to just go along with it for the sake of the story. There was also a mini-subplot mainly involving Georgie, her sister, sister-in-law, and a friend where they form a “Just Us League”, a group of women supporting each other to accomplish their dreams, that came off a bit series baiting. It was a way to introduce and get to know some secondary characters that will probably get their own stories later on. It wasn't intrusive and actually added some nice women bonding time while flushing Georgie's character out more but it was also obvious as series baiting.

 

I thought Travis' relationship with Stephen could have been shown more and the issues he had with his parents definitely was missing some depth but even though Travis and Georgie's relationship moves a wee bit quickly, they still felt true. There were times were it came close overly focusing on Travis being so much more experienced than virgin Georgie but stopped shy of being harped on. These two were there for each other and the way Georgie sunshines her way into Travis' grumpiness, “forcing” him to commit some seriously sweet actions was at turns adorable and sexy.

 

This girl could make a man crawl and had no idea.

 

The ending wrapped up far too quickly, in regards to a last minute mess up by Travis and having no epilogue. However, thinking of Travis and Georgie embarking on their new adventure together, left a smile on my face. I'm also dying for Rosie and Dominic's story, a highschool sweetheart couple that has lost their connection, there is a scene between the two that will have everyone turning into a thirst factory for their book. As a summer read Fix Her Up excels, sweet, vulnerable, hot, and oh so sexy.

 

She’d set out on a sneaky mission to make Travis believe in himself, but he’d slowly been doing the same for her. They’d been doing it for each other, hadn’t they?

70%

Fix Her Up: A Novel - Tessa Bailey

“I’m ready.” The world tilted when Travis picked her up by the waist, tossing her into the center of the bed like she weighed less than a feather. 
He crawled slowly up her body. “No. You aren’t.”


Y'all, this is the perfect summer book, sweet and sexy as hell. This is probably going to get close to 5 stars from me. 
Think Hate To Want You but way lighter on the emotional angst & family drama, more cuteness

30%

Fix Her Up: A Novel - Tessa Bailey

"Seriously, Travis was the reason she couldn’t hear “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” without getting horny.

I don't know if it because the MN Twins are having a great season or the fact that this is hitting my personal sweet spots - little sis/bestfriend, grumpy guy/sweet positive woman, a little goofy/a little emotional, but I had to force myself to shutdown my Kindle last night. #GrumpySweetness

Reading Update: Page 1

Fix Her Up: A Novel - Tessa Bailey

I’m loving that the series name for this is “Hot and Hammered”!

 

This one sounds cute, excited to start reading and digging into my dessert. 
Happy hump day!

 

Fix Her Up Tessa Bailey pre-order link (Jun 11)

 

No-Bake Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake recipe

 

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

The Friend Zone: the most hilarious and heartbreaking romantic comedy of 2019 - Abby Jimenez

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

The Friend Zone is a debut with chapter switching povs between the heroine and hero, laughs, serious life issues, and a easy paced flow. Kristen suffers from uterine fibroids that cause her to have long heavy periods with extremely painful cramps and other intensified pms symptoms. Even though she feels she would eventually want children, her medical condition makes it implausible, so she is considering a hysterectomy. She's currently dating Tyler, a Marine overseas who is not planning on re-enlisting and coming home to live with her. Tyler doesn't want kids, so even though Kristen isn't sure she loves him, she thinks they are a good match.

Josh just broke up with his girlfriend and is moving from South Dakota to California to work with his bestfriend Brandon, they're fireman. He comes from a large family, six sisters, and has always wanted kids. He's not looking to get into a relationship until he feels settled in but Brandon's fiancee's maid-of-honor captures his attention.

 

Fine. Stay. But don’t go catching feelings. I mean it. We are not a thing. Got it?”

Using me for sex. Got it.” He pulled me closer and kissed my shoulder.

Stop!”

Good night.”

I could tell he was smiling.

 

Kristen and Josh definitely have chemistry on the pages, they have similar tastes, attitudes, and sense of humor; I enjoyed the playfulness between the two. There's a little bit of love triangle with Kristen dating Tyler but being extremely attracted to Josh. At first I liked how the author didn't immediately demonize Tyler, but about halfway through Kristen gets an easy out solution and the love triangle conflict lost a lot of its umph.

 

The main conflict of the story is Kristen knowing that she probably will never be able to have children, knowing Josh wants them, and so feeling she isn't good enough to be with him. Kristen is a sassy, tell it like it is character, easily discussing or mentioning her period issues but clams up and refuses to tell Josh that it could lead to her never having children. This creates a situation where Kristen is constantly pulling Josh in, because she is incredibly attracted to him and doesn't want to admit to herself that she loves him, but then harshly emotionally pushing him away, it started to get a bit exhausting and annoying. Lack of communication becomes part of the premise of the story and with two leads who otherwise have no problem communicating, it felt somewhat forced.

 

Josh for his part, plays a pretty understanding sensitive guy. He constantly bends and makes way for Kristen's needs, so often and completely that while he is definitely sweet, I didn't feel they had an equal relationship, how was Kristen meeting Josh's needs? Kristen is twenty-four and Josh twenty-nine, I felt this had a bit of a New Adult feel to it, Kristen came off young and immature at times and Josh felt a bit stand-in for Fairy Tale Submit To All Your Wants and Desires placeholder hero.

 

But being with her wasn’t even something I had to think about. I did want kids. But I wanted her first. Everything else was just everything else.

 

I thought it was great that the author showcased Kristen dealing with the health issues she did, we don't often get to read heroines with these issues but the ending had a bit of a surprise to it that I know will leave some readers feeling betrayed, it almost felt like a bait and switch to me.

Kristen ends up getting magically pregnant to their surprise

(show spoiler)

There was also an ending heavy emotional situation that came off feeling somewhat manipulated, it was shocking but I wasn't completely invested in the secondary character because they weren't fully fleshed out and it ended up feeling more set-up for the second in the series than adding to the emotional fabric of this story.

 

Overall, this author has a very easy reading style that does keep you reading the pages. There was some “cool girl” vibes going on with Kristen that I could have done without, women who eat cheeseburgers aren't necessarily cooler than those who don't; comes to close to the manic pixie girl vibe promoting for me. The main conflict of the story ended up feeling bait and switch, Kristen's push and pull with Josh started to drag, and there was some layers and depth to characters I was missing that kept me from fully sinking into the story. This is an author I'm going to keep an eye on though, there's some charisma to her writing.

50%

The Friend Zone: the most hilarious and heartbreaking romantic comedy of 2019 - Abby Jimenez

He was like that puppy that you swear will never sleep in the bed.

Reading Update: Page 1

The Friend Zone: the most hilarious and heartbreaking romantic comedy of 2019 - Abby Jimenez

So, the author of this has a cupcake shop, Nadia’s Cupcakes, near me. I bought a cupcake and a pupcake to take a picture with the book but Raiden (he starts humping when I walk in the door with their pupcakes) and I were so excited to eat them, that it wasn’t until an hour later that I realized I’d forgotten to take the picture.

 

Enjoy this fiesta chicken instead. And yes, I did eat dessert before my supper.

 

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez pre-order (June 11) link 

 

Fiesta Chicken Casserole recipe

 

Tailspin by Sandra Brown

Tailspin - Sandra Brown

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Tailspin is a suspense ride from start to finish, the story takes place over a 48hr period, most of it in just 24hrs. Rye is a retired Air Force pilot dealing with guilt over a crash he felt he could have prevented from happening. He now is a “freight dog” flying for a cargo company and when the weather turns extremely foul, he's the only one willing to fly a black box to a doctor in Georgia.

Brynn is the doctor that shows up to pickup the mystery cargo but a plane crash and unconscious air traffic controller, there is a lot to explain to the cops. Especially when Rye and Brynn go on the run as life and death hang in the balance.

 

He was in this damn thing whether he wanted to be or not.

 

A standalone that keeps the pace up, Rye was a calm, cool, character that anchored the story. His background is hinted at and through his thoughts, actions, and feelings, the reader gets a pretty good idea of what emotional turmoil is affecting him. When he finally tells the story to Brynn, he almost works through the guilt at the same time and it felt like a quick resolve for an issue that had previously drove his character actions.

 

I wish we could have gotten more of Brynn's background, she didn't feel like a completely flushed out character. In order to keep some mystery to the story, Brynn's thoughts and reason for actions is kept veiled. When we reach around the half-way point, her reasons are revealed and we get to know her a little better. The side tangent with her father helped humanize her and was a great little emotional additive to a heavy action plot.

 

She gave him a murderous look, which only caused him to grin.

 

As this takes place over two days, the romance doesn't really have time to fully develop. Brynn and Rye are pretty much together from the beginning to end but the on the run aspect really does dominate this. I thought the first half was a bit hard to get into, as I mentioned, to keep the mystery up, the author leaves some motivations and explanations veiled. This caused me to be confused by some of Brynn's actions, not buy into why Rye would keep it a secret what caused him to crash, and how all the character pieces fit into the puzzle. The second half was easier to get into the flow, with some key information revealed, characters began to make more sense. There were multiple povs, the senator and his wife, the two goons, the two police detectives, and Violet, Brynn's patient. For the most part, I liked this, it gave a better rounded out look into the story and helped place all the moving pieces.

 

He sighed. “You're gonna make me come after you, aren't you?”

If you want me, it's required.”

 

The ending was somewhat messy with betrayals and finger pointing whirling around to and from everyone; there was a truly unnecessary double cross that clogged up the end and only was surprising because there wasn't any character ground work for it. I wish things could have slowed down for the romance between Rye and Brynn, their love wasn't truly felt but the plot and action dictated the pace. If looking for lighter on romance depth but an on the run with some emotional depth occasionally popping up, Brown's writing is always worth a read.