One Broke Girl (Edgewood Falls #1) by Rhonda Helms
Source: e-arc provided by the author for my honest review
Anna Parker’s life disintegrates with one phone call. Her dad’s selling their ritzy New York City condo because her Wall Street banker mom emptied their bank account and ran off with another man. Which means Anna has to drop out of her elite college and move with Dad back to their small Ohio hometown. Anna’s determined to reclaim her life ASAP, so she’ll use the next few months to save money, help Dad get back on his feet, and find and confront her mom.
But Anna doesn’t anticipate things going so wrong. The only job she can get is working as a lunch lady in an elementary school. Their money-pit duplex is falling apart around their feet. And her dad is depressed without her mom, who's proving hard to find.
One bright spot in the chaos is Gavin Metcalf, a kindergarten teacher she dated when they were young teens. With his easy wit and sexy smiles, he makes her forget her stresses—and the fact that her boyfriend Steven back in New York doesn’t know the truth yet about her dire circumstances. When past and present collide, Anna has to decide where her future lies. ~ Goodreads
What I liked: Anna is such a great protagonist. Life handed her a big old bucket of lemons and she steps up to the plate and makes lemonade. Going from a life where money isn’t an issue to scrubbing floors and serving children lunch at an elementary school isn’t easy but she tackles her new circumstances head on.
What didn’t work for me: I wish we saw more of entitled Anna. Although her life isn’t easy now, she adapts pretty easily. There just isn’t a whole lot of conflict. I suppose we’re supposed to be concerned about the new love interest vs. her boyfriend form NY but you know where that’s headed right away.
I was also not a fan of Gavin, the kindergarten teacher love interest. He’s fairly one dimensional (although a good guy) and their romance goes from heated glances to one very raunchy scene that sort of left me squicked out rather than turned on. They don’t have much interaction on that front, Ann uses words like crud instead of swearing so the sex scene felt like a complete 180 and kind of forced to make this fit into the NA genre.
I HATED Anna’s parents. This is novella length so I could never get on board with forgiving them in that short of time. Those selfish people don’t deserve to have her for a daughter – even though I could understand their circumstances.
It might work for you if: If you like small town romances and a girl that really can stand on her own two feet. This was a quick NA read that has a fairly light feel even though it tackles heavy topics. It’s nice to read about characters that have to pay bills, go to school and worry about things we all have to in real life. While this story didn’t work for me, I think I might check out future books in the series because I liked the down to earth, relatable feel of the story and Anna’s friends.
Whisper to Me (Between Breaths #3) by Christina Lee
Source: e-arc provided via Netgalley for my honest review
A hot and consuming New Adult romance about a wayward musician and the one girl who keeps him grounded…
At college, Rachel has a reputation for being a sarcastic flirt with a thing for star athletes. No one at school knows that she’d had her heart ripped to shreds by her high school sweetheart, who’d driven them both off the side of the road on a borrowed motorcycle, and then abandoned her. No one knows the real Rachel Mattson—except one person…
Ever since he helped nurse his sister’s feisty best friend back to health, pierced bass player Kai Nakos has been head over heels in love. But the supposed bad boy can’t risk letting Rachel know the truth—especially now that the two of them are back in their hometown for the summer, together for the first time since the months following that fateful night. Never mind that Rachel’s ex is back, groveling for her forgiveness.
Shaken by her ex’s return, Rachel finds herself turning to the one guy she knows she can trust. Kai is willing to hide his feelings for her, just to have Rachel touch him again. After all, this is only a temporary fling. Until it becomes something more. But maybe it had been more all along. ~ Goodreads
What I liked: Rachel and Kai are wonderful characters. They’ve been through a lot, both together and separately It’s nice to see a couple with a good foundation. It helps me believe in the romance more. Kai could not be more swoony and loyal.
What didn’t work for me: This is a good story. I just think I’m done with NA and tortured pasts. Nothing about this felt new to me.
Kai and Rachel have to work on a few things from their pasts in order to move forward together and I liked how they had to stand on their own before committing but they would have these epiphanies about life and then make the same mistakes with each other. Right up until the very end and that just frustrated me.
It might work for you if: You are a fan of all things New Adult and like the friends to lovers trope. As I said, this is a good story with very likable characters – it just wasn’t a stand out to me.
If I Stay (Montgomery Manor #1) by Tamara Morgan
Source: e-arc provided by author for my honest review
Ryan Lucas would rather be anywhere but Ransom Creek, Connecticut. After losing his high-adrenaline career as a Hollywood stunt driver, he's had to tuck his tail between his legs and take up employment as a chauffeur for the Montgomerys, a wealthy hotelier family.
Amy Sanders has returned home to Ransom Creek to take over her mother's former position as nanny to the Montgomerys—bringing her close to dashing Jake Montgomery once again. She grew up with a major crush on Jake, and it's not easy to leave those feelings behind, even though her friendship with the hard-edged family chauffeur, Ryan, has a sizzling undercurrent of undeniable attraction.
Amy's determined to prove to Ryan that life at Montgomery Manor isn't all bad, but each time they draw closer Jake swoops in. Amy is torn between two men—and two worlds. And Ryan is rapidly coming to learn that if he wants to make Amy his, he'll have to prove to her that life downstairs can be everything they both want. ~ Goodreads
What I liked: Amy is a wonderful, glass half full kind of character. There are so many cynical characters these days and Amy was like a breath of fresh air. She was also a nice counterpoint to the somewhat curmudgeonly Ryan, forcing him to lighten up.
Morgan has said the Montgomery Manor series is her modernized version of Downton Abbey and I thought I would hate the wealthy Montgomery clan that both Amy and Ryan worked for, but I liked them quite a bit. I can’t wait to get to know them better.
What didn’t work: I don’t want to spoil anything but I’m not a huge fan of secrets and If I Stay has a lot of them and it took away from the main romance for me. I would have liked if the story stuck with the romance/class issues but that’s just my preference not a reflection of the writing.
It might work for you if: You enjoy lots of twists and turns with a slightly soap opera flair, class issues, a strong sense of family. This wasn’t my favorite, but I’m a huge fan of this author and will definitely continue with this series to see if click better with the other characters.