Hello, book lovers! If you wondering whether I’ve suddenly lost the ability to count, let me assure you, I have not! But my plans for this edition of the Fast Five Review Roundup were derailed somewhat when I stumbled upon the Brew Ha Ha series about two weeks ago and ended up binge-reading the whole lot! I couldn’t resist giving you my thoughts on the series, but that’s six books, and I already had two that were waiting for a Fast Five Review Roundup.
And then I thought, “Five, shmive. My blog, my rules.” 😁 Do with that what you will!
So here are my fast five (which may look like three, or even eight if you get them in the right light) reviews for this edition.
Amazon links are affiliate links. For full disclosure please click here.
Review #1 ~ You’re the Cream in My Coffee (Jennifer Lamont Leo)
This book has been on my TBR for a little while because I’ve read lots of positive reviews and comments since its release. Plus it’s set in the Jazz Era (1920s)—an era that is captured really well in this novel, I might add. And I have to agree with all the positive reviews that enticed me in the first place; this was an engaging read. It had a light-hearted feel to it (partly due to the conversational style of the first-person narrative and Marjorie’s gently wry sense of humour), but covers some serious topics as Marjie struggles to keep her footing and her convictions in an urbane Chicago where speakeasies abound and being labelled a goody-two-shoes pinches just a little more than it should.
And then there’s the whole matter of her impending marriage. And Peter. Or is it Jack? Despite the fact that finding out whether Peter really is Jack is the primary motivation for Marjie’s move to Chicago, the novel focuses less on the romance than it does on the lessons Marjie learns about herself and God along the way. I had most of Peter’s mysteries pegged a fair way before the end, but there were still some surprises along the way. I’ll definitely be seeking out more of this author.
I watched his retreating back. He’s not Jack, not Jack, not Jack, my brain hammered. Jack is gone. He’s dead. This P. A. Bachmann, or whoever he was, was not Jack, wavy hair and hazel eyes to the contrary. Then one split second before the stranger moved out of sight, he reached up and rubbed the back of his neck. I’d have known that gesture anywhere. And then he was gone.
Review #2 ~ Fatal Mistake (Susan Sleeman)
This book promises suspense from the very first line. And it delivers by way of a tense game of cat-and-mouse as Agent Riggins and his FBI team seek to stop the Lone Wolf from killing any more women with his ‘necklace’ bombs—in particular, Tara Parrish, who discovers the Lone Wolf’s identity in the very first pages.
That being the case, if suspense is what you’re after, this could be a good pick for you. For me, though, other aspects of the writing got in the way of my total engagement. The biggest issue was the fact that the main characters were very introspective, spending a lot of time speculating on the other main character’s motives or analysing their own motivations and emotions—which meant it often felt like we were being told rather than shown. But the romance also felt unrealistic under the circumstances (they ‘fell in love’ in just under a week, during said cat-and-mouse chase), and aside from turning to God when all of their own efforts had failed, the characters’ growth happened off-page, between the last chapter and the epilogue. A bit of a dampener for me, but I’m sure there will be many suspense lovers who will eat this one up.
If Oren could step into the hospital and come this close to her, he could certainly locate her D.C. row house and pounce.
She’d be a sitting duck. Exposed.
Her brain cleared for a moment and it hit her then. Hard.
She wasn’t safe. Not here. Not anywhere. Not as long as Oren ran free.
Review #3 ~ The Brew Ha Ha Series (Bria Quinlan)
If you love chick lit style romance then you really should give the Brew Ha Ha series a go. I discovered this series completely by chance when the prequel It’s in His Kiss came up in my Goodreads feed and the cover caught my eye. And what do you know? When I checked it out on Amazon, it was free! I snapped it up, read it on the spot, and was instantly hooked. The characters, the author’s voice, the droll and often self-deprecating humour—I loved the whole shebang and binge-read the whole series. Now that I’m finished, I’m feeling a little bereft—like I’ve just lost my new friends.
CAVEAT: This isn’t Christian fiction. While they’re definitely clean reads and the romance doesn’t go beyond sweet’n’sassy (there’s not even much kissing—focuses more on the friendship building), there are occasional comments or situations that imply these characters see physical intimacy outside of marriage, particularly within a committed relationship, as the norm. There is also a secondary character who takes an even more relaxed view, being known for his casual relationships, but he appears infrequently throughout the series.
The worst the language gets is occasional use of the word ‘ass’ (more often referring to someone being one, but occasionally referring to someone’s backside), and one of the books had a couple of instances of p*ss (book 2.5, or maybe book 3). Even using the Lord’s name in vain was very infrequent.
#0.5 – It’s In His Kiss – Quirky YA writer needs to take notes on a first kiss (she’s a bit rusty), but it all goes awry when random cute guy witnesses an awkward moment and holds her notebook for ransom. Super quick read, with plenty of banter and a rather cheeky and swoony hero (aka random cute guy).
Poor thing. To be weeping so openly in public. Some girl must have really ripped his heart out and carted it out the door with her. Pushing Mike’s chair out of the way, I slid over to the stranger. I laid a hand on his arm and softened my voice so no one else would hear.
“It’s okay. I’m sure whatever she said to you couldn’t be half as bad as it sounded.”
The shoulders shook harder and then slowly—so slowly—the dark head rose. Pink rimmed from crying, his chocolate eyes studied me a moment before the sound burst forth from his mouth.
The jerk! He wasn’t crying. He was laughing. At me.
#1 – The Last Single Girl – This one has the same fabulous voice, but a gentler tone to the humour as Sarah uses an e-dating service to try and find a date for New Year’s Eve–with mixed results! Luckily for her, she discovers the Brew Ha Ha coffee house in the process, even if it is a bit humiliating to have John, the owner, witness her failed dates. Fun story, sweet hero, and I loved Abby the snarky barista. Just the secondary character needed to provide extra colour to the story!
I’d considered inviting Four—I mean Hank—to a different spot to meet. Four fails in a row might be a little embarrassing. But John had been so encouraging that it didn’t seem fair to deprive him of my possible humiliation.
#2 – Worth the Fall – This was by far the funniest of the series, with some great situational comedy and some nice doses of droll banter. Losing her job, her boyfriend, and her apartment all at once is the beginning of a whole new chapter in Kasey’s life, but somehow she manages to keep coming under the radar of Officer Max Danby, whose penchant to command and control really doesn’t fit into the new life she’s planning. Love, love, loved the humour in this one! (If you want to know more about the humour in this novel, visit this post.)
“Are you following me?” Because, what else could explain this? Maybe that search I’d done for the non-profit group’s marketing plan had gotten me onto the NSA. Now they’d assigned an agent to me in local blues.
“Like that’s what I want to do with my day off. Follow around a walking felony waiting to happen.” He pulled his aviators down his nose to look at me over the top of the rim. “No offense, Tuesday. You’re cute and all, but the last thing I need is a woman whose idea of staying out of trouble is duct taping public property back together.”
#2.5 – Love in Tune – Super quick read. Apart from the association with the Brew Ha Ha coffee house, this short story isn’t really related to the rest of the series, and I could take or leave this one. Tour Logistics Manager has to track down her star and his best friend, who’s had his eye on her since the moment she started the job. Still clean, but seemed more based on physical attraction than friendship, and the humour wasn’t the same quirky humour as the other novels.
I couldn’t forget that he was my third biggest pain in the butt, the guy who made my day so much longer. But, as I stood there watching him sing—watching him watch me—I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe…just maybe.
#3 – The Catching Kind – I really wasn’t sold on the hero at first, but he turns out to be a pretty sweet guy, if a bit lost, and I enjoyed seeing both characters’ initial impressions changing as they spent more time together. Hailey and Connor are great together, whether they’re getting each other’s backs up, watching each other’s backs, or just hanging together and discovering a friendship just waiting to bloom. It’s a bit like a modern-day Pride & Prejudice in some ways, even to the point of needing to read between the lines to see the hero’s change because we don’t get his POV, but Connor is the opposite of the inscrutable Mr Darcy in personality!
Owing to the hero’s reputation, there were a few more references to casual relationships and physical intimacy outside of marriage than in the other books in the series, but only in a general sense. Still clean. And fun.
We stood there, staring each other down. Neither one of us wanted to do this, but only one of us was willing to walk away.
“One lunch,” he pushed. “I’ll have someone deliver whatever you want. We’ll chat. I’ll win you over.”
He gave me what I could only assume was his Disarming Smile.
Consider me armed.
#4 – The Proposing Kind – This is a fun follow-up to The Catching Kind, continuing Connor and Hailey’s story. Hailey’s left wondering whether Connor’s rambling, half-coherent conversation with her one morning means she’s actually engaged, and the emergency meeting she calls with her friends is…underwhelming. Doubts assail, her emotions see-saw as only a chick-lit heroine’s can, and Connor wins mega points for being one sweet hunk of a guy. And you seriously do not want to miss this proposal! Another fun, clean read, although it can be inferred that there is now a physical relationship between Connor and Hailey, as he sometimes stays at her place.
Jayne and Abby handed out the drinks and sat down, everyone looking at me expectantly as if I was just going to dive into the point.
“I might be engaged!” Okay, so I was going to dive right into the point.
You’d think an announcement like that would merit some type of reaction.
Wait for it…wait for it…wait for—