Reviews: Like the Wind (J. Bengtsson) | Expiration Dates (Rebecca Serle)

Like the Wind
by J. Bengtsson
Pub: 4/16/2019
Source: Purchased
4.25 stars

When a letter from his supposedly deceased mother finds its way into his hands, life changes in an instant for international pop star Bodhi Beckett.

Reeling from the deception of those closest to him, Bodhi spirals out of control and is sent to a secluded mansion in the coastal mountains of Southern California for some rest and relaxation. But the retreat proves to be anything but relaxing when a raging wildfire sets the landscape around him ablaze.

While escaping the flames, Bodhi rescues Breeze, a quirky, pet-loving woman, and together the two fight their way to safety. In the aftermath of the fire, Bodhi and Breeze hit the road to uncover the truth about his family. What neither of them expected is to forge a powerful connection that will change their lives forever...but can it survive the real world, or will it disappear like the wind?


Most of Bodhi’s life has been spent in the spotlight – first as a child TV star and then as part of a hugely successful boy band. His complicated relationship with his manager-father is further fractured when Bodhi receives a letter from his mother, a woman he’s long believed to be dead. Retreating to a rented home to regroup turns into a nightmare when a raging wildfire sends Bodhi fleeing for his life. It’s there he meets Breeze, who is trying desperately to escape the fire with a menagerie of pets in tow. With a connection forged in fire, the two embark on a journey to uncover Bodhi’s past. When the real world descends on them, they’re forced to decide if their fledgling relationship can survive with all the world watching.

One of my favorite aspects of Bengtsson’s books is that her characters are so imminently likable. That held true for both Bodhi and Breeze and I loved following their journey – from harrowing first encounter to taking steps toward a future together. Breeze was a bit quirky and had her own past to put to rest, but it was Bodhi that captured my heart. Feeling like a bystander in his own life, the fire had him reevaluating and making changes to build the life he wanted. Bengtsson knows how to tell a story, one that always has me fully invested and living every moment right alongside the characters. This was the last of Bengtsson’s backlist titles I’d yet to read and I’ll be not-so-patiently waiting for whatever she writes next.

Expiration Dates
by Rebecca Serle
Pub: March 19, 2024
Source: Atria/NetGalley
2 stars

Daphne Bell believes the universe has a plan for her. Every time she meets a new man, she receives a slip of paper with his name and a number on it—the exact amount of time they will be together. The papers told her she’d spend three days with Martin in Paris; five weeks with Noah in San Francisco; and three months with Hugo, her ex-boyfriend turned best friend. Daphne has been receiving the numbered papers for over twenty years, always wondering when there might be one without an expiration. Finally, the night of a blind date at her favorite Los Angeles restaurant, there’s only a Jake.

But as Jake and Daphne’s story unfolds, Daphne finds herself doubting the paper’s prediction, and wrestling with what it means to be both committed and truthful. Because Daphne knows things Jake doesn’t, information that—if he found out—would break his heart.

For more than twenty years Daphne has randomly received pieces of paper with the name of the next man in her life and the amount of time they will spend together – be it one night or three months. Receiving a paper with only a name (Jake) and no date sends Daphne into a tailspin. What does it mean? Is Jake “the one”? What transpires next is not a romance, and not a love story, but Daphne’s examination of her past, and her journey toward a future of her own making.

With the intriguing premise, I had high hopes for Expiration Dates. Unfortunately, this one did not work for me at all. The frequent name-dropping of Hollywood locales and the recitation of what everyone was wearing grew tiresome quickly. Instead of giving a nod to setting and characters, it lent a feeling of superficiality to both. The flashbacks of Daphne’s prior relationships never seemed to give me any further insight into Daphne. There is a twist that comes more than halfway through the story and felt so completely out of left field. It shifted the focus with a jolt and had me wishing for a smoother transition. Lastly, there was a significant character that acted so atrociously and delivered a betrayal that was, for me, unforgivable. The blurb calls this “the romance that will define a generation.” I beg to differ.

Have you read these books?

Top Ten Tuesday: The Outdoors Edition


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This Week's Top Ten Tuesday Topic:
The Outdoors Edition
Today's topic is all about the outdoors - cover and/or titles with things found in nature. 
I am the least outdoorsy person ever. Maybe it comes from living in Florida, where it's
blazing hot most of the year, or maybe it's just my nature (pun intended), but you won't
find me hanging around outside. I avoid the sun like the plague, I can't remember the last
time I was in my back yard (the only action it sees it when the yard guy comes once a 
week to mow it), and going on a hike sounds like a punishment. So basically, the closest 
I get to nature is through these book covers. 😄

Wild at Heart - K.A. Tucker
The Sweetheart List - Jill Shalvis
Credence - Penelope Douglas
Malibu Rising - Taylor Jenkins Reid
Fractured Sky - Catherine Cowles
Coming Home - Shelley Shepard Gray
The Choice - Nora Roberts 

Are you outdoorsy?
Or does being in nature make you 
want to run back inside? 😉

Short Take Reviews: Lost & Found series (Catherine Cowles) | Glimmers of You | Shadows of You | Ashes of You


With the recent release of Ashes of You, Catherine Cowles has wrapped up another fantastic small-town romantic suspense series. I previously reviewed Whispers of You and Echoes of You, the first two books in the Lost & Found series, and my thoughts on the remaining three books are below. Have you read the Lost & Found series? 

Glimmers of You
by Catherine Cowles
Series: Lost & Found #3
Pub: 8/1/2023
Format: Kindle
4.25 stars

Caden and Grae were the best of friends – until they weren’t. When Caden pulled away, and then moved away, Grae was hurt but refused to let it show. Their once close friendship turned into barbed teasing and snarky comments. Caden returned to Cedar Ridge just as Grae was dealing with a clingy ex. When he stepped in and posed as her new boyfriend to save her from the pushy ex, he realized they could help each other out. Her ex would move on and leave her alone, and Caden’s father would get off his back about settling down with someone suitable. When it became apparent that someone was gunning for Grae, Caden was determined to stick close and keep her safe. As the situation became ever more dangerous, their feelings for one another grew just as intense.

It’s no surprise that even the prologue of this one had me feeling all the feels. Cowles is Queen of the Emotional Prologues. I’m a sucker for a couple that has a past, and getting to watch as Caden and Grae rekindled their friendship and allowed more to develop was so satisfying. Their history lent an ease to their relationship that I loved. As always, Cowles delivered a solid suspense plot with escalating tension, red herrings, and a villain in their midst. The Lost & Found series continues to be a hit for me.

Tropes: brother's best friend, fake dating, forced proximity, hate to love, small town, romantic suspense

by Catherine Cowles
Series: Lost & Found #4
Pub: 10/19/2023
Format: Kindle
4.5 stars

Forced to flee with her young daughter, Aspen had made a home for them in the small town of Cedar Ridge. She tried to put down roots but was also ever vigilant and didn’t allow others to get too close. That changed when she had a run-in with Roan, the grumpy, taciturn Hartley brother who had long distanced himself from townspeople and family alike, living an almost solitary life. Aspen’s precocious daughter Cady immediately befriended Roan and a tentative friendship formed between Roan and Aspen as well. Roan sensed a kindred spirit in Aspen, someone who had also been hurt in the past, and he was determined to protect she and Cady at all costs. That determination was put to the test when Aspen’s past caught up with her and threatened her life in Cedar Ridge, and everything she held dear.

This was the book in the Lost & Found series that I’d been waiting for. Roan had been an enigma from the beginning and his story did not disappoint. Aspen’s easy acceptance of Roan went a long way in allowing him to lower some of his walls and start to open himself up again, both to Aspen and Cady, and his large, loving family. Speaking of Cady, the chatty six year old stole every scene she was in. From calling Roan “Mr. Grizz” (because he was like a grizzly bear coming out of hibernation) and declaring that they would be “bestest friends”, to her epic friendship with Charlie (Roan’s nephew), she was an adorable dynamo. The romance between Aspen and Roan was everything and Cowles, as always, provided the perfect balance between romance and suspense. Shadows of You is my absolute favorite in the Lost & Found series.

Tropes: grumpy x sunshine, single mom, forced proximity, broken hero, heroine in hiding, suspense

by Catherine Cowles
Series: Lost & Found #5
Pub: 2/8/2024
Format: Kindle/Audio
4.25 stars

Five years ago, Hallie escaped from a sadistic serial killer. She never knew the name of the man who found her, half frozen in the snowy woods, but she never forgot his blue eyes. They gave her hope. Years later, trying to make a fresh start, Hallie arrives in Cedar Ridge and applies for a job as a nanny. When she arrives for the interview all she sees is… blue. The eyes of the man she has never forgotten. Lawson is just as shaken to see Hallie standing before him, she and her ordeal having haunted him the last five years. Hallie is instantly a ray of sunshine in the Hartley home, providing a warm, comforting environment and a stable presence for Lawson’s three boys: sweet six year old Charlie, thirteen year old charmer Drew, and surly sixteen year old Luke. Hallie revels in being part of the rambunctious family, even as the undeniable attraction between she and Lawson grows. But the monster from Hallie’s past is closer that she could ever imagine.

It's been a long wait for Lawson’s story and it definitely delivered. We finally got Lawson’s backstory, the reason for his crippling guilt, and his desire to do right by his kids. Hallie was such a sympathetic character and I admired her strength. Still suffering from PTSD and panic attacks from her previous trauma, she worked hard to forge a meaningful life for herself and reclaim what a madman had tried to take away. It was heartwarming to see her be welcomed by the entire Hartley clan and she basked in the love and acceptance of her found family. While Lawson’s determination to keep his distance from Hallie seemed to flip in the blink of an eye (I practically got whiplash from how quickly he switched from “this can’t happen to “I’m all in”), I loved how attuned he was to Hallie, always observant and recognizing her triggers and emotional needs. I was surprised at the identity of the killer since I had discounted him earlier, and while the climactic scene at the end was over in the blink of an eye, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment. Cowles delivered a solid end to the series with an epilogue that guaranteed the Hartley family will stay with me for a long time to come.

Tropes: single dad x nanny, age gap, serial killer, touch her and die, forced proximity, found family

Do you enjoy romantic suspense?

WWW Wednesday #132 | February 21, 2024


WWW Wednesdays is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.
Just share your answers to three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you'll read next?

How is it the four day work weeks always seem so long?
I'm having a hard time believing it's only Wednesday.
Shouldn't it be Friday by now?? 😣

What are you currently reading?


Audio: Something Like Love by Piper Rayne
Kindle: Heartstopper: Volume 5 by Alice Oseman

Currently listeningI almost finished Something Like Love this morning (and was 
tempted to stay in the car and listen to the last of the audiobook) but I needed to get
into the office. This is the last in the Chicago Grizzlies series and it's been fun. 
Current progress: 94%

Currently reading: I'm not one who gravitates to graphic novels, but I do love
Heartstopper. Oseman has created something special in characters Nick and Charlie 
(and their entire friend group).
Current progress: 5%

What did you recently finish reading?


Kindle/Audio: Ashes of You by Catherine Cowles
eARC: Expiration Dates by Rebecca Serle

Recently read: Ashes of You - Wonderful end to the series Much love for the Hartley family. 4.25 stars

Recently read: Expiration Dates - Did not work for me on multiple levels. So many issues
with this one. 2 stars

What do you think you'll read next?

never know what I'm going to read next but Stay With Me, the second book in 
the Sugarland Creek series, is a strong possibility.

What are you reading today?

The Sunday Post #358 | February 18, 2024


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.


Happy Sunday, friends! How was your week? I took off Friday so I could enjoy a four-day weekend (tomorrow being President's Day). It's amazing what an extra day or two of downtime can do for you. 

On Tuesday I attended another event with author Emily Rath. It was a program at one of the local libraries and there was an interview, a Q&A session, and then a signing. Such a fun night!


BookBub shared some good stuff on their blog this week: a list of new paranormal romances, their favorite twisty thrillers, and the biggest book-to-movie adaptations coming this year.

Instead of a throwback song this week, I'm going to share this 80's movies compilation that I came across. I recognized all the scenes/movies except one. (And I have no idea why Saturday Night Fever was included since it's from the 70's.) Anyway, do you recognize all these scenes/movies? 😀


Not a thing this week.



Audio/Kindle: Ashes of You by Catherine Cowles - 4.25★
Kindle: Pucking Ever After: Volume II by Emily Rath - 4.5★



eARC: Expiration Dates by Rebecca Serle
Audio: Something Like Love by Piper Rayne


Nothing this week.



The Sunday Post #357 | February 11, 2024


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.


Happy Sunday, friends! How was your week? It was a busy week at the office and I was so worn out and dragging by Friday. I was like, bring on the weekend!

I was watching the Tampa Bay Lightning game Wednesday night when one of my favorite players had a bad fall after taking a hit from one of the opposing team's players. It was immediately obvious it was bad and he was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Turns out both bones in his lower leg fractured. I was heartsick watching it and I feel terrible for the poor guy. He's surely done for the season so I guess we'll see how the team adjusts without him. 😟

I am loving this Taylor Swift-inspired Super Bowl commercial. And the fact that it's a real-life dad and daughter... I'm done. Just go ahead and hand me a Kleenex. 

For those of you in the U.S., do you plan on watching the Super Bowl tonight? Who are you pulling for you? Or are you more like, "oh, is there a game today?" 😄 My team didn't even make the play-off's so I have no stake in the outcome, but I would like to see the Chiefs win. I like Patrick Mahomes. And, while I wouldn't consider myself a Taylor Swift fan (I do like her music), I think she and Travis Kelce are adorable together. So there's that. lol

Since it is Super Bowl Sunday, this week's song seems kind of obvious. The only question is: which team will be singing it? 😉


Tuesday, February 6

Thursday, February 8



Audio: Like the Wind by J. Bengtsson - 4.25★
Kindle: Something Like Lust (Chicago Grizzlies #2) by Piper Rayne - 4.25★


Audio: Letters to Molly (Maysen Jar #2) by Devney Perry


Trade Paperback: Ashes of You (Lost & Found #5) by Catherine Cowles



Reviews: Ready or Not (Cara Bastone) | The Memory of Us (Dani Atkins)

Ready or Not
by Cara Bastone
Pub: February 13, 2024
Source: Random House/NetGalley
4 stars

Eve Hatch lives for surprises! Just kidding. She expects every tomorrow to be pretty much the same as today. She loves her cozy apartment in Brooklyn that’s close to her childhood best friend Willa, and far from her midwestern, traditional family who has never really understood her. While her job is only dream-adjacent, it’s comfortable and steady. She always knows what to expect from her life . . . until she finds herself expecting after an uncharacteristic one-night stand.

The unplanned pregnancy cracks open all the relationships in her life. Eve’s loyal friendship with Willa is feeling tense, right when she needs her the most. And it’s actually Willa’s steadfast older brother, Shep, who steps up to help Eve. He has always been friendly, but now he’s checking in, ordering her surprise lunches, listening to all her complaints, and is . . . suddenly kinda hot? Then, as if she needs one more complication, there’s the baby’s father, who is (technically) supportive but (majorly) conflicted.

Up until this point, Eve’s been content to coast through life. Now, though—maybe it’s the hormones, maybe it’s the way Shep’s shoulders look in a T-shirt—Eve starts to wonder if she has been secretly desiring more from every aspect of her life.

Over the course of nine months, as Eve struggles to figure out the next right step in her expanding reality, she begins to realize that family and love, in all forms, can sneak up on you when you least expect it.


When a one night stand leads to an unplanned pregnancy, Eve is thrown for a loop. With two failed relationships behind her and stagnating in an unfulfilling job, parenthood wasn't exactly part of plan. Add to the mix Eve's best friend (Willa), who was dealing with fertility issues, and her decidedly lukewarm response to the news, plus the revelation that the baby's father (Ethan) had a serious girlfriend... and Eve was left feeling even more conflicted. Enter Shep, Willa's brother and Eve's lifelong friend. As Shep became her main source of emotional support, Eve navigated pregnancy, new career options, and an evolving relationship Ethan.

This was my first from Bastone and there was a lot to enjoy. Eve's conflicting feelings about impending motherhood felt realistic and made her all the more relatable. Ethan's struggle to accept his new reality while placating a jealous girlfriend and Willa's inability to fully support her friend due to her private challenges add layers that complicated matters, but never felt like unnecessary drama. But the shining star was Shep: the too-precious-for-this-world man who stocked Eve's refrigerator, gave foot rubs, bought a bicycle with a baby carrier, and provided unwavering support. While the middle of the story seemed to lag a bit and make the book feel overly long, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the true-to-life characters created by Bastone. This is one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

The Memory of Us
by Dani Atkins
Pub: February 15, 2024
Source: Aria/NetGalley
4.5 stars

If you can't trust your head, can you trust your heart?

If she had been found moments later, Amelia's heart would have stopped and never recovered. Instead she was taken from the desolate beach to the nearest hospital just in time to save her life. When her sister Lexi arrives from New York, Amelia's heart is beating, but the accident has implanted a series of false memories. These memories revolve around a man named Sam, and a perfect love story that never existed.

Determined to help her sister, Lexi enlists the help of Nick, a local vet who bears a striking resemblance to Sam. Together, Lexi and Nick recreate and photograph Amelia's dream dates in the hopes of triggering her true memories.

But as love starts to stir between Lexi and Nick, they must navigate a complex web of emotions. How can Lexi fall for Amelia's dream man without hurting her sister?

Sisters Lexi and Amelia had always shared a special bond. When Lexi received the devastating call that Amelia was found unresponsive and is now hospitalized, she immediately left her life in New York City and returned home to Somerset. Reuniting with Amelia was bittersweet because as relieved as she was to see her sister, Amelia's repeated questions about her husband Sam's whereabouts were troubling to say the least. Because Amelia was not married and Sam did not exist. Intent on helping Amelia by any means possible, Lexi meets Nick, a man who looks exactly like Amelia's drawings of Sam. Lexi embarked on a journey to recreate Amelia's "memories" with Sam by staging photographs with Nick, hopeful that they would somehow jolt Amelia from her confabulation.

I was immediately intrigued by the premise of the story but it was the execution that brought the characters to left and dealt an emotional punch. The bond between the two sisters was something magical (in more ways than one), and the relationship that formed between Lexi and Nick was heartwarming and gave meant-to-be vibes. I sat back in wonder as the story unfolded. Like a movie, I watched each scene play out and I was completely invested. Atkins delivered a few twists that I did not see coming and by the end I was shedding tears and smiling, despite my battered heart. This is not my first from Atkins (I enjoyed the equally moving The Story of Us) and it will certainly not be the last.

violence/death (mostly off page), physical abuse (off page)

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Novellas


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This Week's Top Ten Tuesday Topic:
Favorite Novellas
Today's topic is actually quick reads, or books to read when you're short on time. I'm going to simplify that title and just call it what it is: my favorite novellas. I know some people don't care for novellas and avoid them, even when they're part of a series. Not me. I love a good novella, especially when it's tied to a favorite series. Here are some of my favorites.

Forever Wild by K. A. Tucker (Wild #2.5)
I loved this visit with Calla and Jonah.
That One Night by Emily Rath (Jacksonville Rays #0.5)
The prequel novella that started my obsession with the series.
Timeless by Devney Perry (Lark Cove #5)
A perfect end to the series.
Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid
TJR packed a punch in just 88 pages.
Point of Origin by Rebecca Yarros (Legacy #0.5)
Loved this prequel novella - so emotional.
Pucking Ever After: Volume 1 by Emily Rath (Jacksonville Rays #1.5)
Six chapters spanning four years - this novella delivered everything I wanted.
Epic by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy (Him #2.5)
I will forever and always read anything about Wesmie.
Come With Me by Brooke Montgomery (Sugarland Creek #0)
The prequel novella was a perfect introduction to the series. Loved it.
Ignite by Rebecca Yarros (Legacy #0.75)
While not as emotional as Point of Origin, I still loved being in the Legacy world.
Coming Home by Kennedy Ryan
This audio-only novella was quintessential Kennedy Ryan.

Do you have a favorite novella?