Review: One Way Back to Me by Carrie Ann Ryan


by Carrie Ann Ryan
Series: The Wilder Brothers #1
Publication date: April 18, 2022
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
3.25 Stars

The Wilder brothers have retired from the military and as they’re forced to learn a new life, things get interesting fast in this kickoff to a brand new steamy, contemporary romance series from NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan.

One dance at a stranger’s wedding. That’s all it took for me to fall for Alexis. And then? Disaster. Another man—her boyfriend—gets down on one knee and proposes to her. I never thought I’d see her again.

Years later, I’m in desperate need of a wedding planner—not for myself, but for my company.
My five brothers and I need to get our new Wilder Resort off the ground, and Alexis is the only one savvy enough to help us.

But there’s the little matter that I still have it bad for her. Alexis has changed since the night we met. She’s gun shy. But there’s a spark between us that will not die. We both fight it, until we don’t.
Until history repeats itself. The same guy who took her away from me is back to do more damage. But this time he’ll have to go through me to get her. 


Other than the prequel to this book (A Night for Us), this was my first by Carrie Ann Ryan. I was hopeful that I would be wowed and have a new must-read author. But for the most part I was underwhelmed. Nothing was inherently wrong, but I wasn't bowled over and my thoughts after finishing were more along the lines of: well, that was okay.

Eli and his brothers have gone in together and bought an inn and winery. After being separated due to military service for most of their lives, Eli wanted something that would keep them together. When he needs to hire a wedding planner for the resort, the most qualified candidate happens to be a woman he had a brief encounter with a few years previously. The attraction is still there, on both sides, and after much push and pull, they start a relationship. But there is drama with a nearby competitor and drama with Alexis’s ex to contend with.

My random thoughts:

• Six brothers all with "E" names meant that it took way longer than necessary to keep everyone straight and remember who was who.

• It was repetitive. Evan constantly “growled”. Everything was described as “gorgeous”. And Eli and Alexis seemed to have the same conversations over and over. ("We really shouldn't be in a relationship. But I really want you." Repeat, repeat, repeat.)

• It was sometimes hard to distinguish between the main character's POV's. There wasn't a lot of distinction in the voices of Eli and Alexis. I often had to flip back to the beginning of a chapter to determine whose POV I was reading.

• When it came to the villain(s), the writing was pretty heavy handed. It was almost over the top with the way their actions were screaming: take notice, I am the bad guy!

That being said, based on the plethora of 5-star ratings on Goodreads, it looks like my issues are very much a 'me thing', so take my rating/review with a grain of salt. :) Because I'm definitely in the minority here. ⭐⭐⭐.25

Have you read anything by Carrie Ann Ryan?

Review: Keep Me Close by J.H. Croix

A brand new firefighter series from USA Today Bestselling Author J.H. Croix... available now!


by J. H. Croix
Publication date: June 28, 2022
Format: eARC
Source: Wildfire Marketing
3.5 Stars

No last names. No phone numbers. Never see each other again.

It was supposed to be simple. One night with no strings. I had just gotten the worst news of my life and wanted to forget everything.

A tall, dark and broody firefighter was perfect. Our night together was so hot, I forgot everything but the rules.

I never expected to get pregnant. It was supposed to be impossible.

All I knew was his name and the small town where I found him.

Chase & Hallie’s story is perfect for readers who love small town romance, sassy heroines, surprise/accidental pregnancy, slow burn, emotional romance with a dash of angst, oozing with swoon, and protective heroes who’ll do anything for the woman they love.

Grab Your Copy Here: 
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Hallie received some devastating news and, in an effort to step away from her real life and forget everything, she headed out of town and indulged in a one night stand. There was no denying the attraction and connection between she and Chase, but she was firm about the rules: no last names, no phone numbers, and the next morning they said goodbye. But that one night had some long-lasting consequences, namely an unplanned pregnancy. That meant returning to the small town of Willow Brook and finding Chase - and breaking the news that he was going to be a father.

Keep Me Close is the fifth entry in Croix's Light My Fire series, but it was easy to step into this world and appreciate Hallie and Chase's story as a stand-alone. There was an ease to their relationship, despite the circumstances they were dealing with, and although neither planned to be where they were at, they both acted like mature adults and talked things through. Chase stepped up immediately and made sure Hallie knew he wanted to be involved in every aspect. I loved the level of support he offered Hallie. He was dealing with his own issues, having recently learned of the half-siblings he'd never knew he had, but he was still present and supportive and wanted a future with Hallie.

While the story felt a bit repetitive at times - Hallie and Chase would have the same conversations over and over, as well as certain words/phrases being overused - Keep Me Close was a sweet and sexy romance that wasn't marred by an abundance of drama. I appreciated the lack of angst and melodrama and instead sat back and enjoyed this story of two people who came together with no expectations, but instead found their forever.

Note: I received a complimentary advance copy of this book for review. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review.


USA Today Bestselling Author J. H. Croix lives in a small town in the historical farmlands of Maine with her husband and two spoiled dogs. 

Croix writes steamy contemporary romance with sassy women and rugged alpha men who aren't afraid to show some emotion. Her love for quirky small-towns and the characters that inhabit them shines through in her writing. 

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The Sunday Post #292 | June 26, 2022


The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news: a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books, 
and share what's coming up on your blog in the week ahead.

T H E   W E E K   I N   R E V I E W
I shouldn't have complained about last week being so hot. Because Florida said, "Hold my beer" and kicked it into high gear. By Thursday of this week it hit 102 degrees (39C). I know this is Florida, but it's actually pretty rare that we hit triple digits (at least here in northeast FL). This coming week should be better (I cringe as I say this) with temps "only" around 90 all week. At this point, 90 sounds like a freaking cold front.

In Stanley Cup news, the Tampa Lightning won Game 5 Friday, and that was on Avalanche turf, in Denver. Very exciting game! Game 6 is tonight back home in Tampa. They really need to win tonight in order to stay in contention for the Stanley Cup. Go Bolts! 

If you've known me any length of time, you know I'm not a TV watcher. During hockey season I watch the Tampa Lightning games, but otherwise, I don't follow any shows, and rarely watch TV at all. That is, until I heard all the raves for Heartstopper. I watched the trailer and within minutes I had signed up for Netflix. LOL I've watched the first five episodes and... gah! Charlie and Nick - I just can't with those two! They are too precious for words and the casting could not be more perfect. Such an excellent adaptation from the books.

The news this week (in the U.S.) seemed to go from grim to downright depressing. So I'm lightening my mood with some pure pop goodness, courtesy of Debbie Gibson. Enjoy some Shake Your Love (1987).

O N   T H E   B L O G
Tuesday, June 21

Thursday, June 23

Friday, June 24

W H A T   I   R E A D

eARC: Between Hello and Goodbye by Emma Scott

C U R R E N T L Y   R E A D I N G

Audio: Under Locke by Mariana Zapata
Kindle: Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh

N E W   A D D I T I O N S

Dear Aaron - Mariana Zapata
Reason to Believe - Rebecca Yarros

Sincere thanks to Lauren @ Shooting Stars MagSuzanne @ The Bookish Libra, and Jennifer @ My Book Joy for gifting me these books! I had so much fun with this week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt (book wishes) and I enjoyed granting several wishes myself. 

T O T A L L Y   R A N D O M


Review: Between Hello and Goodbye by Emma Scott #NewRelease


by Emma Scott
Publication date: June 26, 2022
Format: eARC
Source: Valentine PR
4.25 Stars

She’s a city girl in Seattle. He’s a firefighter in a rainforest. This is never going to work…

Faith Benson isn’t your emergency contact, she’s the party-girl friend you call for a good time. The gal-pal who loves mimosas at brunch and martinis at Happy Hour. But her carefree lifestyle threatens her job at a top Seattle ad agency. There’s no one better at landing big accounts (when she shows up) but her boss demands she take a leave of absence to get her head on straight.

Faith heads to the remote Hawaiian island of Kauai, far away from the vices that get her in trouble. But a twisted ankle on Day One requires rescuing by a man who is vice personified—a gorgeous firefighter who awakens feelings in her heart she never knew existed.

Asher Mackey doesn’t get involved with beautiful tourists beyond taking them to bed and then watching them leave his tiny island. He’s devoted his life to the safety and care of everyone around him…except himself. Until he meets Faith Benson, the city girl whose vibrant, inner beauty shines a light on the dark corners of his life, showing him how safe—but empty—it truly is.

Despite their best efforts to keep their distance, Faith and Asher fall hard and fast, but there’s an ocean between them. Both are building their lives on opposite sides of the Pacific while their feelings for each other grow more profound and undeniable by the day.

Something has to give.

When Asher receives devastating news, he and Faith have to decide once and for all to entrust their hearts fully to the other or return to their safe—but separate—worlds. Because neither can endure much longer, living somewhere between hello and goodbye.

Between Hello and Goodbye is a contemporary romance about love, loss, and experiencing life in all its facets. It deals with sensitive topics that may be triggering for some readers.

Download today or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited


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Party-girl Faith Benson is at a crossroads. The talented advertising executive can clean up her act and accept a partnership at her firm, or they’re ready to cut ties. When her boss demands that she take some time off to reevaluate, she heads for the island of Kauai, ready for self-reflection and enlightenment – on her own terms, of course.

Asher Mackey is all about control. Since childhood circumstances forced him to act as parent and sole support to his younger brother, Asher is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Determined to control every potential outcome, and protect his small circle of loved ones, he lives constantly with the fear that he will lose that control and fail the ones he loves the most.

"We're not even sleeping together. What are you getting out of this deal?"


I sat back in my chair. "Me."

"Yeah, Faith." His gaze grazed over me, then met my eyes with an intensity that was full of depth and heat. "I get you."


When Asher and Faith meet in Kauai, the attraction is instant. But Asher doesn’t do relationships, and Faith has sworn off men while on her Hawaiian exile. But they can’t seem to stay away from one another and by the time Faith leaves to return home to Seattle, they are faced with impossible decisions. Their lives are polar opposites: Asher is a firefighter and has no intention of leaving the secluded island and the brother he adores; Faith craves the big city and her high-powered career.  Time apart makes them both question what they really want, and what they’ll sacrifice to have it.

"I can't help myself around you. I know, rationally, we're different people. There's a literal ocean between us, and yet... " He reached across the table to take my hand. "I don't see how this can go anywhere, but the last fucking thing I want to think about is saying goodbye."


As with all of Scott’s characters, Faith and Asher are complicated and flawed. The journey and growth of both characters was written so deftly and felt so realistic. Theirs was a complicated love story that traveled a bumpy road. It showed that falling in love is only half of the story. When that love was tested, it was impossible not to feel the turmoil and the heartache right along with Asher and Faith.

Emma Scott has her own brand of emotional story telling and it’s done to perfection in Between Hello and Goodbye. Scott does not shy away from tragedy and its aftermath. While there is devastating loss and grief, Scott also provides a reminder that even after the darkest of days, there is still light, love, and joy. With an epilogue that provided many happy tears, I highly recommend this remarkable story.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary advance copy of this book for review. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. 


Emma Scott is a USA Today and Wall St. Journal bestselling author whose books have 
been translated in six languages and featured in Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, New York Daily News and USA Today's Happy Ever After. She writes emotional, character-driven romances in which art and love intertwine to heal, and in which love always wins. If you enjoy emotionally-charged stories that rip your heart out and put it back together again, with diverse characters and kind-hearted heroes, you will enjoy her novels. Visit

Review: Hidden Waters by Catherine Cowles

I am so happy to be taking part in the blog tour for Hidden Waters! Catherine Cowles is quickly becoming a go-to author for me and Hidden Waters is a great example of why. 

by Catherine Cowles
Series: Tattered & Torn #3
Publication date: June 21, 2022
Format: eARC
Source: Social Butterfly PR
4.5 Stars

My family tried to break me. But, somehow, I made it out alive, even though the wounds from that survival are forever carved into my bones. Now, my only wish is for…normal. To know what it’s like to have friends, a job, a home.

The last thing I want is for my new roommate to see the scars I’m so desperate to keep hidden, especially not the ruggedly handsome man who steals my breath and sends my heart into overdrive.

But something tells me that Beckett has demons, too. I see it in the shadows haunting his gorgeous eyes and the way he looks at me with gentle understanding.

As our unlikely friendship becomes so much more, forces from my life slink out of the shadows. And we could both lose everything we’ve fought so hard for—down to our very last breaths.

Hidden Waters, an all-new touching and heartfelt friends to lovers, small-town romance from bestselling author Catherine Cowles, is now available!


Grab your copy today!


Amazon Worldwide:

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After a lifetime of fear and abuse, living under the iron rule of her father, Addie found the strength to escape. But while her surroundings may have changed, in many ways she was still in a prison. Still fearful and distrustful, Addie kept to herself, was wary of the motivations of others, and avoided new situations.

Appreciate the kindness but never let yourself rely on it because it will likely disappear one day – Addie


Beckett, the oldest Easton son, had returned to Wolf Gap after years away. Crippled with guilt over his sister’s kidnapping years ago, Beckett chose to leave Wolf Gap as soon as he could. After spending years abroad, providing medical care in far-flung and often dangerous locations, he is back in his small hometown to take over the local medical practice.

Addie and Beckett find themselves as roommates which lead to a tentative friendship. Beckett recognized immediately the telltale signs of abuse in Addie’s past. His gentle patience with her melted my heart. (Like when he suggested they have a code word. “A word that you can say, and I’ll freeze and then back off. If I do anything that scares you or makes you nervous, just say… oh hell, I don’t know. Say ‘purple elephant,’ and I’ll be totally under your control.”)

I knew something about taking a trek through hell. And the last thing I wanted was for the woman with the haunting eyes and the gentlest spirit I’d ever seen to have visited that demon-filled desert. – Beckett


Addie has been a secondary character in both previous books in the series (Tattered Stars and Falling Embers) and I knew her story would be an emotional one. My heart broke for Addie’s desire to just be “normal.” To be able to get a job, to not flinch at someone’s touch, to not be looked at with pity. While Addie may have been broken, she was no victim. I loved her for her strength and resilience, and I cheered for her every time she pushed herself and had a small success.  Every time her past reared its ugly head, she had to force herself not to cower, not to waver, but to press on and keep moving forward. Beckett was an amazing support for Addie. They formed a connection as friends and while Beckett was helping Addie with so many firsts (first time having Chinese take-out, first time getting her driver’s license), she was also a support for him, helping him overcome his own demons. Their relationship built so slowly and so organically, and it was beautiful to watch it unfold.

The more I got to know Addie, the more I saw her resiliency and strength in action, the more I hated the world that had tried to break her. - Beckett


Hidden Waters was an emotionally riveting story of two people who helped heal one another. Catherine Cowles wove together so many elements and formed a story that I loved. A guarded heroine, a compassionate doctor hero, a small town setting, romance, suspense… it all combined in a way that captured my heart, had me feeling the tension, and shedding some tears. All that’s left to say is: if you haven’t started this series, what are you waiting for? ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

Note: I received a complimentary advance copy of this book for review. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review.


Writer of words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially her dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and finally decided to write down some of her own stories. When she's not writing she can be found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true crime podcasts, or searching for her next book boyfriend.

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