Saturday, 29 June 2019

Erotic Stories fo Punjabi Widows


Author: Balli Kaur Jaswal
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: William Morrow
First Published: June 13, 2017
Opening Lines: "Why did Mindi want an arranged marriage?"

Book Description from GoodReadsA lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.

Every woman has a secret life . . .

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s "moral police." But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.


My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: I admit that I was swayed into picking up this book based on the title. But when I realized the humorous and sassy scenes were paired with a plot that includes the stories of women within Indian culture and some mystery, my interest was piqued.

I liked that the story focuses on Indian culture and older women embracing their sexuality as well as questioning why they're restricted and defined by societal rules.

But ...

the execution of these interesting ideas was weak. The story lacked depth in its characters and the issues raised (I was frustrated at the almost non-existent Brotherhood story line) and its weak dialogue didn't help matters.

Overall, this was just an okay read. I think Sonja Lalli's The Matchmaker's List hit on similar themes but with more depth and personality. With better fleshed out characters, more focus on the interesting issues raised and a less predictable plot, this book would have garnered a higher rating from me.


Thursday, 27 June 2019

Lock Every Door


Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Suspense
Type: e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Dutton
First Published: July 2, 2019
Opening Lines: "Light slices the darkness, jerking me awake. My right eye - someone's prying it open. Latex-gloved fingers part the lids yanking on them like they're stubborn window shades."

Book Description from GoodReadsNo visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid's disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew's dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building's hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.


My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: Riley Sager, he of Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied fame, is back with another suspenseful read just in time for summer. The plot of Lock Every Door is chilling, the setting unique (who doesn't love an old NYC building complete with its own secrets and gargoyles?) and it's a story that will keep readers turning the pages.

There is a delightful, pervasive feeling of menace that lingers over the story of a young woman who is offered an opportunity that seems too good to be true. Included in this increasingly creepy story are an array of unique characters, each with their own secrets and sometimes sketchy pasts, that avid suspense readers will enjoy. 

While this was a page-turner for me, I found the ending not as impressive as the journey to it (some aspects were just a little too 'out there' to be believable for me). But the fact that I still found this to be a compulsive read leaves Lock Every Door firmly in the 'very good' suspense category. While Sager touches on some bigger issues (isolation, social class …), the focus of this novel is firmly on suspense and creating a sinister vibe which it does very well.  

Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to Dutton Books for my complimentary digital copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

I Work in a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories From The Stacks


Author: Gina Sheridan
Genre: Non-Fiction
Type: Paperback
Pages: 160
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Adams Media
First Published: July 2014
Opening Lines: "A Cold War spy in desperate search of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Cuckoo Carol dumpster diving for cans ... again, and the ineveitable fact that one day, somewhere, human excrement will end up on the floor. Maybe you expect these kinds of things to happan on, say, reality TV, but you never expect this to happen in your local library. However, as any pulic librarian will tell you, happen they do!"


Book Description from GoodReadsFrom a patron's missing wetsuit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, I Work at a Public Library showcases the oddities that have come across Gina Sheridan's circulation desk. Throughout these pages, she catalogs her encounters with local eccentrics as well as the questions that plague her, such as, "What is the standard length of eyebrow hairs?" Whether she's helping someone scan his face onto an online dating site or explaining why the library doesn't have any dragon autobiographies, Sheridan's bizarre tales prove that she's truly seen it all.

Stacked high with hundreds of strange-but-true stories, I Work at a Public Library celebrates librarians and the unforgettable patrons that roam the stacks every day.

My Rating: 2 stars

My Review: As a Library Assistant myself, I was drawn to this book for obvious reasons. Non-Library folk often have no idea of the antics and varied elements that make up a Library staffer's day. So, I went into this book expecting a funny read featuring outlandish patrons and outrageous experiences, but the incidents ranged from dull to cute to silly misunderstandings to mildly funny at best (with a few that, unfortunately, felt disrespectful to some library patrons). 


While this self-proclaimed book nerd liked that Sheridan organizes her chapters using the Dewey Decimal system, overall, I wasn't impressed with this book. I just don't think it comes close to the odd and sometimes humorous interactions, questions and requests that I've personally experienced as library staff.


Monday, 24 June 2019

One Small Sacrifice


Author: Hilary Davidson
Genre: Suspense
Type: e-book
Series: #1 in the Shadows of New York series
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer
First Published: June 1, 2019
Opening Lines: "When he heard the gunshot, Alex Traynor threw himself face-first onto the pavement. He lay as flat as he could, his right leg throbbing from an old bullet would."

Book Description from GoodReads: An apparent suicide. A mysterious disappearance. Did one man get away with murder—twice?

NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling has had her eye on Alex Traynor ever since his friend Cori fell to her death under suspicious circumstances a year ago. Cori’s death was ruled a suicide, but Sheryn thinks Alex—a wartime photojournalist suffering from PTSD—got away with murder.

When Alex’s fiancée, Emily, a talented and beloved local doctor, suddenly goes missing, Sheryn suspects that Alex is again at the center of a sticky case. Sheryn dislikes loose ends, and Cori’s death had way too many of them.

But as Sheryn starts pulling at the threads in this web, her whole theory unravels. Everyone involved remembers the night Cori died differently—and the truth about her death could be the key to solving Emily’s disappearance.


My Rating: 4.5 stars

My Review: I came across Hilary Davidson back in 2014 with her book, Blood Always Tells which was an amazing, non-stop suspense read about revenge, murder and deceit. The Suspense novel trifecta.

Now, Davidson is back with the first book in her new series which continues to combine a well-paced, twisty suspense read with an engaging main character in NYPD Detective Sheryn Sterling. Sterling is a strong protagonist (I kept picturing actress Viola Davis) 





who shares narrator duties with Alex Traynor, a man she's convinced murdered a woman years ago.

The stories of these two characters balance nicely with each other making Alex much more of a main character than you'd expect. Sheryn and Alex are both interesting and complex characters who aren't without their flaws, giving them depth and believability. The only thing stopping me from giving a full 5-star review is one scene towards the end that felt too implausible to be believable.

With the addition of several well-placed twists to keep readers guessing and characters readers will connect with, One Small Sacrifice is a compelling, smart, non-stop and unputdownable read that is an impressive start to a new series from an author readers should keep their eye on.

Note: The second book in this series is due out in 2020.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Thomas and Mercer for providing me with a complimentary digital copy, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.


Sunday, 23 June 2019

The Burning Chambers


Author: Kate Mosse
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: St Martin's Press
First Published: June 18, 2019
Opening Lines: "The woman stands alone beneath a sharp blue sky.  Evergreen cypress and rough grasses abound the graveyard. The grey headstone are bleached the colour of bone by the fierce Cape sun."

Book Description from GoodReadsBringing sixteenth-century Languedoc vividly to life, Kate Mosse's The Burning Chambers is a gripping story of love and betrayal, mysteries and secrets; of war and adventure, conspiracies and divided loyalties . . .

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.

Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power.


My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: I was drawn to this book for two reasons. First, I had never read a Kate Mosse book before (Crazy! I know, right?!) and secondly, I was in the mood for an epic Historical Fiction mystery set in 16th century France - particularly one that focuses on the turbulent religious battles between the powerful Catholic Church and the Protestant Huguenots. Sounds amazing, non?

Mosse has written a lengthy but atmospheric read that brings readers into the religious fervour of the era. We witness the horrors, fear, paranoia and violence as the various factions attempt to torture confessions out of people all in the name of religion. Personally, I was in it for the History and the Mystery … and it's the mystery aspect that I felt, unfortunately, got a little ignored. 

The mystery in the blurb was intriguing but on the pages, it was the romance that tended to get more page time. Romance is wonderful (ahh, l'amour and all that), but in this case, I felt disconnected from the main characters, Minou and Piet. Their Insta-Love was hard for me to accept even though the Romeo and Juliet vibe was a nice touch within an era that had such clear-cut sides. 

In the end, this was a good read and I enjoyed learning more about France's history, particularly set in the area of Carcassone. And while I wasn't as taken with it as I had anticipated, I plan to read more of Kate Mosse in the future. Any suggestions about which book(s) I should start with?

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to St Martin's Press for providing me with a digital copy, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

The Stationery Shop


Author: Marjan Kamali
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 308
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Gallery Books
First Published: June 18, 2019
Opening Lines: "I made an appointment to see him."

Book Description from GoodReadsRoya is a dreamy, idealistic teenager living in 1953 Tehran who, amidst the political upheaval of the time, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood book and stationery shop. She always feels safe in his dusty store, overflowing with fountain pens, shiny ink bottles, and thick pads of soft writing paper.

When Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry—she loses her heart at once. And, as their romance blossoms, the modest little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran.

A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square, but suddenly, violence erupts—a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she resigns herself to never seeing him again.

Until, more than sixty years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did he leave? Where did he go? How was he able to forget her?

The Stationery Shop is a beautiful and timely exploration of devastating loss, unbreakable family bonds, and the overwhelming power of love.


My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: The Stationery Shop is part romance, part family drama and part historical fiction that weaves the history, political tensions, social mores, ahhmazing food and beauty of Iranian culture within an engaging and touching story. 

The story is told using two time frames. The first is set in 1953 Tehran, Iran during a tumultuous time when future of that country would be influenced by a political coup. The second picks up in 2013 Boston and continues to follow the characters. The first half of the book has a slower pace as the background is set but as the pieces of the story come together, it becomes an engaging and heartwarming story about family, culture, loss and the enduring and changing aspects of love and how societal changes influence familial relationships.

The author addresses some bigger issues that are relatable to readers. From women's changing roles, political tensions and uncertainties, traditional versus progressive beliefs and the effects of mental illness on a family. Paired with a good twist and a scene that made this reader tear up (no mean feat!), this was a wonderful read.
 

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Gallery Books for providing me a complimentary digital copy in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, 17 June 2019

A Family of Strangers



Author
: Emilie Richards
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 496
Source: TLC Book Tours
Publisher: Mira Books
First Published: June 25, 2019
Opening Lines: "What do alligator's dream about?"


Book Description from GoodReads: Could a lifetime of memories...be a lifetime of lies? All her life Ryan Gracey watched her perfect older sister from afar. Knowing she could never top Wendy's achievements, she didn't even try. Instead Ryan forged her own path while her family barely seemed to notice. Now Wendy shares two little girls with her perfect husband while Ryan mourns the man she lost after a nearly fatal mistake in judgment. The sisters' choices have taken them in different directions, which is why Ryan is stunned when Wendy calls, begging for her help. There's been a murder--and Wendy believes she'll be wrongfully accused. 

While Wendy lies low, Ryan moves back to their hometown to care for the nieces she hardly knows. The sleuthing skills she's refined as a true-crime podcaster quickly rise to the surface as she digs for answers with the help of an unexpected ally. Yet the trail of clues Wendy's left behind lead to nothing but questions. Blood may be thicker than water, but what does Ryan owe a sister who, with every revelation, becomes more and more a stranger? Is Wendy, who always seemed so perfect, just a perfect liar--or worse?

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: This domestic drama features a dysfunctional family (who has loads of baggage), a mystery and a budding romance. I like books that have a few focuses but for this book, I was in it for the mystery surrounding Ryan's missing sister.  

There were parts of the story that were interesting, and I found myself much more invested in Ryan's relationships with her nieces than I would have thought. There are some interesting characters and a good premise, but this is a much lighter read than I was expecting with the mystery, surprisingly, playing second fiddle to the other aspects of the story. Unfortunately, I guessed one of the big reveals very early on which didn't bode well for the suspense I was expecting.

I enjoyed the easy-going writing style and the humour that's sprinkled into the dialogue but felt I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if it had had a hearty edit. The story often rambles and is filled with superfluous descriptions that bog down the plot. I tended to skim these passages in search of the mystery and tension.

The book is touted as a mystery about Ryan's missing sister, but it feels like the book focuses more on a couple renewing a romance and Ryan learning how to parent her nieces. Cool Aunt points will be awarded, and, at times, the book was touching, but it doesn't make for the anticipated tension-filled read. Overall, this was a decent read for readers looking for a lighter read about a family in turmoil - in more ways than one.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Mira Books and TLC Book Tours for a complimentary advanced copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Dawn on a Distant Shore (Audiobook)


Author: Sara Donati
Genre: Historical Fiction, Saga
Type: e-audiobook
Source: Audible.ca
Narrator: Kate Reading
Length: 20 hours, 2 minutes
Series: #2 in the Into the Wilderness series
Publisher: Random House Audio
First Published in Paper: 2001
Opening Lines: "My Lord, Allow me to report success: at long last I have located the man I believe to be your cousin. He is known as Dan'l Bonner, called Hawkeye by his associates, Indian and White."

Book Description from GoodReadsElizabeth and Nathaniel Bonner have settled into their life together at the edge of the New York wilderness in the winter of 1794. Soon word reaches them that Nathaniel's father has been arrested by crown officials in British Canada. Nathaniel sets out, determined to see his father freed. Instead, Nathaniel is imprisoned and finds himself in danger of being hanged as a spy. Elizabeth soon discovers that freeing Nathaniel will take every ounce of her courage and inventiveness. Torn apart, the Bonners must embark on another voyage...this time to the heart of Scotland where a wealthy Earl claims kinship with Nathaniel's father. With this journey, a whole new world opens up to Nathaniel and Elizabeth - and a destiny they could never have imagined awaits them.

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: The Into the Wilderness series is one of my all-time favourite sagas. Filled with adventure, romance and family drama, Donati has written an engaging story that pulls readers into the lives of the Bonner family as they experience the tumultuous issues influencing 18th century North America. 

While I liked that this book takes Elizabeth and Nathaniel on a wee bit of an adventure, this wasn't my favourite book in the series. Still a great read but I think I prefer it when more of the secondary characters, namely those at Lake in the Clouds and small-town Paradise, are included in the story lines. When you start to miss characters, you know you've got a good read.

Kate Reading narrates this audiobook and does a phenomenal job. A narrator can make or break an audiobook and Reading is one of the best. She easily bounces back and forth between the characters and includes several different well-done accents, making the story and its characters quite vivid for the listener.

Fans of Outlander will particularly enjoy this series. It has a similarly addictive story and main couple and you'll find yourself immersed in the Bonner clan. What it doesn't have is the frustrating wordiness that Outlander is known for. If you can get your hands on copies of this series (sadly, they are no longer in print for paper editions!), I highly suggest diving into this memorable series.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

The Last Resort


Author: Marissa Stapley
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Suspense, Canadian
Type: e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Graydon House
First Published: June 18, 2019
Opening Lines: "He struggles to breathe. There's blood trickling into one of his eyes. His glasses are gone. He can hear the ocean rising to meet him. It wasn't supposed to be like this."

Book Description from GoodReads: The Harmony Resort promises hope for struggling marriages. Run by celebrity power couple Drs. Miles and Grace Markell, the "last resort" offers a chance for partners to repair their relationships in a luxurious setting on the gorgeous Mayan Riviera.

Johanna and Ben have a marriage that looks perfect on the surface, but in reality, they don’t know each other at all. Shell and Colin fight constantly: after all, Colin is a workaholic, and Shell always comes second to his job as an executive at a powerful mining company. But what has really torn them apart is too devastating to talk about. When both couples begin Harmony's intensive therapy program, it becomes clear that Harmony is not all it seems—and neither are Miles and Grace themselves. What are they hiding, and what price will these couples pay for finding out?

As a deadly tropical storm descends on the coast, trapping the hosts and the guests on the resort, secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested and not one single person—or their marriage—will remain unchanged by what follows.


My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: The Last Resort is a character-driven story that focuses on the crumbling relationships of several couples who attend a two week relationship boot camp at a secluded, luxury resort in the Mayan Riviera in a last ditch attempt to save their failing marriages. The retreat is lead by powerhouse couple, Miles and Grace Markell, who appear to have the perfect relationship themselves. But as the days progress, the struggling couples end up getting much more than they bargained for when unorthodox therapy methods and an impending tropical storm unearth secrets, deceptions and manipulations leading to a tension-filled ending. 


This was a well-paced story (which I read in less than a day) that engaged me throughout with a solid plot, interesting characters, a great baddie readers will love to hate and an enjoyable Big Little Lies vibe. The only issue I had was that the format took a bit of getting used to. It blends different points of view with celebrity news releases and an interview between an unidentified man and woman. Why this format was used becomes clear to readers towards the end but initially I found it a little confusing. 

Overall, this was an entertaining read filled with deceit, secrets and an exciting whodunnit. With its beautiful tropical setting, The Last Resort would make an excellent holiday or summer read. 

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Graydon House via NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

The Lightkeeper's Daughters



Author: Jean E. Pendziwol
Genre: Historical Fiction, Canadian
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 320
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Harper Collins
First Published: July 4, 2017
Opening Lines: "The black Lab is aging. His arthritic legs stiffly pick their way along the well-worn path, stepping carefully over roots and carrying his stout form between the trunks of spruce and poplar."

Book Description from GoodReads: Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth's eyes have failed. No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family—a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father's journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.

With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenager performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together. Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own—to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.

As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed. While the discovery of Morgan's connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is.

My Rating
: 2.5 stars

My Review: This atmospheric read brings readers to the north end of Lake Superior - a beautiful part of Canada that is described in great detail for the reader. This is a story about a long-hidden secret surrounding the daughters of a lighthouse keeper which is told via two different time frames.

This book received a lot of praise from other readers and had an interesting premise but didn't live up to its hype for me. Lake Superior herself was my favourite character while the human characters felt contrived as did the coincidences within the slow-moving plot that felt too convenient to be believable. I'm sad to say I skimmed much of the last half of the book when the plot became unnecessarily complicated and convoluted leading to a revelation that was lackluster.

Unfortunately, I never felt absorbed into the plot or its characters. My review goes against the general grain of reviews so while this wasn't a good pick for me, I think this may be better for readers who enjoyed The Light Between Oceans.


Thursday, 6 June 2019

The Bride Test


Author: Helen Hoang
Genre: Romance
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 296
Source: Local Public Library & GoodReads Giveaway
Series: #2 in the Kiss Quotient series
Publisher: Berkley
First Published: May 7, 2019
Opening Lines: "Khai was supposed to be crying. He knew he was supposed to be crying. Everyone else was. But his eyes were dry."

Book Description from GoodReadsKhai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

My Review: A few months ago I read The Kiss Quotient and even though I'm not a romance buff, I adored it. Sweet with a hearty dose of make-me-blush sexy sassiness! Things got hot-hot-hot but it was the connection of the characters, and a story centred around an autistic main character, that made that book for me.

The Bride Test is the second book in the Kiss Quotient series but can easily be read as a standalone. It also features an autistic main character but this time it's a male character, Khai Diep and it's his love life and family connections that are the focus of the book.

This is a sweet, engaging story but I'll admit that I felt less of a connection to Khai and Esme and struggled to feel their chemistry. I enjoyed Esme's quiet strength and perseverance but the way she blended into American culture so seamlessly and quickly felt contrived.

There are some strong secondary character - namely Khai's mom and brother, Quan (* silently hoping he's the focus of the upcoming third book*) to round out the cast and fans of the first book will get all atwitter (like I did) at the mere mention of Stella and Michael (the main characters of The Kiss Quotient) in one scene.

This is an enjoyable read and while Khai and Esme didn't quite have the magic I had expected, this is an entertaining romance that would make an excellent summer read. I also applaud the author for writing stories featuring an underrepresented group of people and showing that not all people on the autism spectrum are the same.


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