Caged Hearts by S. M Nicholas

I received Caged Hearts by S. M Nicholas as a review copy from StoryOrigin and I am thankful to them for the same.

The blurb:

Zoologist Grace Parker is better with animals than she is with people. Trust has been difficult for her ever since her boyfriend cheated on her with a mean girl back in high school. The one constant in her life has always been Mary’s Zoo. 

And Ethan Stewart.

Ethan is everything Grace wants in a guy: besides his obvious good looks, his kindness and consideration are difficult to ignore. He’s always known Grace has a unique connection to the animals, and because of him, she gets paid doing something she loves.

But being with Ethan is forbidden. In fact, dating him could have dire consequences for the zoo. On the brink of bankruptcy, the new owners want Ethan to marry their daughter. Ethan is a world-renowned zoologist, and having him not only as part of their staff but part of their family will only make them look more worthy.

Grace must come to terms with these conflicting feelings of love and loyalty if she’s finally going to open her heart to anyone who doesn’t have fur.

The story:

Grace Parker gets the job as a volunteer at Mary’s zoo. Ethan Stewart, the owner’s son manages the zoo and assigns her the job to take care of a rescued giraffe. And she makes friends with the giraffe, even gives her a name, Zulu. In the meanwhile, Ethan and Grace are attracted to each other.

But there are complications. The work code of conduct does not allow any romantic liaisons among co-workers. And Ethan is engaged to the daughter of the new owner. And then there is her ex, who wants her back.

My take:

A simple friends to lovers romance with a zoo thrown in. I loved the characters and even the secondary characters like Grace’s best friend, Ethan’s family and little Ava. The descriptions of the zoo are detailed and I felt that I was actually visiting a zoo and enjoying myself. I loved the carnival too. The language is simple and the story fast paced.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free ebook from StoryOrigin in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.

A Filthy Rich Geek’s wedding by Aarti V Raman

I received the ARC of A Filthy Rich Geek’s wedding by Aarti V Raman from the author and I am thankful to her for the same.

The blurb:

Marry in haste, repent even faster?

Zara Subramanian finally has it all.

The perfect CEO job, the perfect life and…the most devastating man who loves her to distraction.
So marrying Dev at a shotgun gala wedding should be a walk in the park, right?

Especially when all their best friends are determined to give them the wedding weekend of their dreams.

But old nightmares and regrets rear their ugly heads and make Zara question everything…including her love and commitment to the only man she’s ever loved.

Dev Banerjee is finally living his dream life.

Safe in the heart of his family, working with and loving uber-independent Zara.

Marrying her in a quick weekend production is a no-brainer for him.

But with his best friends riding him mercilessly and Zara on edge, this Filthy Rich Geek’s Wedding is in danger of being called off.

The only thing Dev knows for sure? Zara and he are made for each other.

No matter what.

Featuring the entire Filthy Rich Geeks cast and beloved characters, old and new, come celebrate a wedding to remember in this hot and angsty novella from the interconnected, steamy Filthy Rich Geeks series.

The story:

Dev is the only man Zara has ever loved. And when they got their second chance she took it. Zara is the only woman Dev loved, and he came back to life when she walked into his bar.

And then Dev proposed marriage and Zara willingly accepted much to the happiness of their families and friends.

And now, Zara is over-reacting and Dev does not understand what is happening to her, until…..

My take:

I loved the story and it was like I was revisiting the entire set of friends once again and meeting them after a year, be it Naina and Shiv; Bharat and Sophia or Kit and Lily. There was a little mention of aunty V, Ma D Sa and grandpa Subramanium. As I was meeting the characters again, I was revisiting their stories and wanted more.

I felt for Zara and understood her insecurities about marrying Dev. This story is three days long and can be finished in one sitting.

The language is simple and the descriptions detailed. I loved every bit of the story and would recommend it to everyone with a request to read the other books in the series as well.

DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.

When the Wildflowers Bloom by Rupa Bhullar

I received When the Wildflowers Bloom by Rupa Bhullar as a review copy from the publisher and I am thankful to them for the same.

The Blurb:

Don’t try to predict life, try to explore it instead. Even the roughest, most crooked trails can sometimes lead to magnificent places. After suffering public humiliation at the hands of her husband on what would have otherwise been a memorable evening, Tara Grewal, a homemaker and mother of two, finds herself thrust onto a crossroads. She cannot readily go back to the life she once knew, nor can she move forward without a career or life skills to sustain her. As she transitions from questioning her choices to surrendering to the flow of life, an unfamiliar journey leads her to her grandmother village in Punjab. Amid the simple joys of rural life, and heart-wrenching struggles of daily survival, Tara unknowingly kindle a Spark of hope. A hope that eventually lights her own fire. As she casts off the reins of the predictable and embraces change, Tara unravels her fears and motivations, reaffirming her belief in what she knew to be true—about people, about life, about relationships, and most importantly, about love. In her challenges, she finds her strength. In her escape, she finds her home. Poignant, insightful, and deeply relatable, when the wildflowers Bloom weaves together the complexities of human emotions and societal norms with beauty, sensitivity, and unfailing optimism.

The story:

Thirty eight year old, Tara Grewal, married Tej when she was twenty one. A mother of two, she is submissive and does not stand up to Tej and suffers at his hands. Until, he insults her in public and her sisters and mother support her.

She moves to her grandparent’s house in rural Amritsar and is welcomed by the caretakers with open arms. It is here that she realizes her true worth with the help of their family, friends and neighbours.

My take:

I loved the story. It has been beautifully written with realistic characters. There are so many women facing the same situation as Tara, and not many of them are as lucky as Tara to have the support of their families. I loved the relationship that Tara shares with her sisters and her mother. The supporting characters also have an important role to play in the story including the kids.

Tara’s life in the village has been described beautifully and the descriptions of the scenes is such that I could visualise almost all of them, be it the drive from Chandigarh to Kasauli or that from Amritsar to Kasauli. Some of the scenes reminded me of my childhood, especially, the patasa scene with Beeja.

The language is simple and easy to follow and the story moves at a steady pace and the importance of having a supportive family keeps getting reiterated. The book made me smile, cry and even introspect at the same time.

I loved the book and would recommend it to one and all.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.

Blight by Leena Varghese

I received Blight by Leena Varghese as a review copy from the author and I am thankful to her for the same.

The blurb:

When Inspector Indrani Sampath is handed the Jayesh Prabhakar file, it appears to be a clear case of death due to natural causes. However, Jayesh’s wife, Nita, a prominent socialite with the ‘right’ connections, demands an inquiry into the matter.

To Indrani’s dismay, even her colleagues believe that the case is headed towards being shelved with no proof, witnesses, or motive to merit a murder investigation. With the trials of the pandemic complicating matters, Indrani is aware that she has to wrap up the JP case quickly to appease the higher authorities.

Things get murky when an attempt on her life draws Indrani into a dark web of deception and crime through the streets of Mumbai, affirming her instincts that Jayesh Prabhakar’s influence extends beyond the grave.

As Indrani plunges headlong into the chase, she is forced to acknowledge that nothing is what it appears to be. Her intelligence and mettle are both tested as the truth unravels in unexpected ways.

Is the JP case an illusion that camouflages the ugly truth about human nature? Or is it a true murder that can dismantle the foundations of Indrani’s beliefs?

The story:

When the open and shut case of the death of a businessman, Jayesh Prabhakar, is handed over to Inspector Indrani Sampath, she religiously investigates all possible angles to reach the conclusion.

My take:

I loved the story. It was unputdownable and the twists and turns kept me on the edge of the seat till I realized whodunit.

The characters are realistic and relatable and their actions, so natural. The feelings of Indrani have been described beautifully and there were some scenes where I felt that even I do such things, like smiling behind a mask when I should not be doing so.

The author has described the scenes in detail and the book has a real- feel to it, what with the realistic descriptions of the Covid times that we are facing.

The language is simple and the story is fast paced. I finished the book in two sittings.

Looking forward to more cases being solved by Indrani.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.

Oh Shit! I am Hitched by Sahil Rajput

I received Oh Shit! I am Hitched by Sahil Rajput as a review copy from the publisher and I am thankful to them for the same. 

The Blurb:

Love or friendship! What will Chirag choose? What do you do if the love of your life refuses your proposal just because you aren’t from the same caste!? While love may know no religion, caste, language, or race, sometimes some people understand only this. When Chirag starts dating Pallavi in college, he never thinks he’ll have to face opposition because of his caste or faith. But when he falls in love and proposes to his orthodox girlfriend, she rejects his offer outright! Determined to win Pallavi over, Chirag soon sets out on a roller-coaster journey filled with obstacles, some of which include sacrificing his friendships. But just as he is on the verge of accomplishing his goal, the unthinkable happens… Will Chirag win his love? Will Pallavi forgive and accept Chirag? Will they get hitched?.

My take:

This is the story of Sahil Rajput, an engineering student, who falls in love with his classmate and the stars are not aligned for them- be it the caste differences or circumstances.

Written in simple English, this book has a lot of college life incidents, interspersed with friendship, infatuation, love, drama, competitions as well as hatred. these things have been written in first person from the point of view of Chirag like a diary entry. The scenes seem to be similar to a Bollywood film.

This book might appeal more to young adults as it would be what they would have experienced in college. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a free book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.

The Long Road Home by Sapna Bhog

 

Losing the boy she loved nearly destroyed MEHAK KHANNA. But letting him in a second time can be more dangerous for her. Rishi Sehgal has left a steady stream of broken hearts in his wake and if Mehak is not careful then she may just end up becoming the next victim of his dashing charisma. But Rishi is everywhere with his charm, his wit, and that devastating smile. Now Mehak has to fight a daily battle to not fall for him again.
RISHI SEHGAL has never forgotten Mehak, the girl who broke his heart when he was very young. Thanks to her, he has his rules—no relationships, no staying the night, and no promises. But all his hard rules fly right out of the window when Mehak returns into his life. Now Rishi has to decide if he can open his heart to Mehak a second time. 
Some things, however, are written in the stars and sometimes you have to move beyond the past and choose to believe in love.
However, what destroyed their relationship the first time will once again test their love. Will they survive a second test, especially with Mehak’s life on the line? Will Rishi and Mehak learn that true love is worth fighting for?
Find out more in this tale of young love and second chances.
Book Links:
Goodreads

Book Trailer:

Meet Mehak Khanna from The Long Road Home

Calm, poised, a woman of few words and a complete introvert, MEHAK KHANNA, works as the Director of Graphic Design in QubeCore. Her corkscrew curls are a cause of dissent between her mother and her, but Mehak is done with going for hair straightening treatments ever again in life. Her one experience was a disaster which she’s happy never repeating. 
At 29, Mehak has only one aim in life which is to succeed at her job. Her work is her religion and her life is set on the right path or so she thinks, until a chance meeting at her workplace with Rishi Sehgal changes everything. He’s the first boy she ever loved and who crushed her heart so many years ago. 
But this time around being with him feels different. He seems changed and the more she meets him, the more she realizes that maybe she ought to forget and forgive.
About the Author:
Sapna Bhog is an author from India who writes contemporary and historical romance novels. As a self-proclaimed die-hard romantic, her books are filled with swoon-worthy heroes and feisty heroines who clash all the time, but do get their happy ever after. Sapna has always surrounded herself with books and when she is not writing she is reading. Originally from Dubai, she now lives in Western India with her husband, kids and a Siberian Husky. Sapna gave up a successful IT career and took a foray into writing and has never looked back since. Her favourite pastimes are reading, writing, traveling and shopping—not necessarily in that order. She loves to hear from readers. So do give her a shout on
Sapna on the Web:
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Taco Truck Takedown: Clean, Small Town Romantic Comedy (Schooled on Love: Clean, Southern Romantic Comedy) by Kaci Lane

I received Taco Truck Takedown: Clean, Small Town Romantic Comedy (Schooled on Love: Clean, Southern Romantic Comedy) by Kaci Lane as a review copy from StoryOrigin and I am thankful to them for the same.

The blurb:

As much as she loves his tacos, she hates him even more.

Hadi just landed her dream job as principal of her alma mater. Now, she’s on a mission to squash the small-town rumor that she got the job due to her pedigree. Only one thing stands in her way of success . . .

Tacos To-Go.

Literally . . .

The food truck is in her way. Thanks to ex-MLB star, Christopher Cruz, who parked it in plain sight of the school campus, calling all staff and students over with his irresistible guacamole.

Too bad he’s even more irresistible than his tacos.

But Hadi can’t get caught up by his big biceps and salesman smile. She has a school to run and needs to prove her worth in this position.

Not to fall in love with the hometown hero.

The story:

Hadi Rodgers is back in her home town as the Principal of her high school. She wants to remove the Taco truck that comes every Tuesday because things kind of go crazy during the lunch break. Only to find that the truck is owned by Christopher Cruz, an ex-MLB star, with whom she had clashed in High School.

And then she gets the news that the school is losing its funding. how does she plan to save the school? And how does Christopher come in?

My take:

A cute, short story of two people who grew up together in a small community. The characters are well developed and I loved the easy banter between them. There was a little description of their childhood and high school days. 

The language is simple and the story is a fast paced clean romance. 

This is the first story that I read by this author and I plan to read more from her.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free e-book from StoryOrigin in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.

Spotlight: The Maharaja’s Fake Fiancee by Alisha Kay

A scandal-averse Maharaja.
A free-spirited actress.
What do you get when you throw them together and add a fake engagement to the mix? 
Either a match made-in-heaven or a royal disaster…

Nivy Sharma knows exactly what she needs – the freedom to be herself and follow her passion. Guess what she doesn’t need? A tailor-made husband.

When her meddlesome mother tries to throw her into the arms of a mom-approved suitor, Nivy runs the other way. 

Right into the arms of the man who shattered her heart.
His Highness Veerendra Singh can recognise a pain-in-the-ass when he sees it. Especially when it falls into his arms.
Even if said pain-in-the-ass has legs that go on forever and lush lips that just beg to be kissed, Veer vows to run the other way. As he did once before…
But, when the marriage-minded princess of Tejpur sets her sights on him, Veer runs back into Nivy’s arms to propose a fake engagement.
When ‘fake’ starts to feel very real, Nivy and Veer have to decide what is important… long-held prejudices or the chance for a life with the only person they’ve ever loved.
Will this be their second chance at love or will their broken past ruin their hope for a shared future?

Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com

Releasing 10th March! PREORDER Today!

Read an Excerpt from The Maharaja’s Fake Fiancée

His Highness Veerendra Singh looked at the girl lying unconscious in his arms and his heart skipped a beat. Once, he had dreamed of just such a moment, when Nivy would swoon into his arms and he’d rescue her from a monster. He wondered if he’d stepped into a time machine and travelled backwards, because the last time he had seen that lovely face had been five years ago. Nivy had since scraped the dust of Devgarh off her heels and never looked back.
“Veer, what did you do to her?”
He looked into the accusing eyes of his sister and scowled.
“I didn’t do anything.”
“Zombie’s your dog, and if he scares someone to death, that’s your fault,” she argued.
Veer looked at the unconscious girl critically, and then he looked at his sister.
“She doesn’t look dead,” he said with a straight face.
“That’s Nivy, you dolt. I’m surprised you didn’t recognise her, considering how you watch every movie of hers from the first row.”
Veer shook his head at the utter lack of respect and wondered if he could get away with dunking her in the palace pond. Probably not, he thought regretfully. 
Sisters were a cross one had to bear with a smile, especially if one was the head of a respectable royal family. Even if he was sorely tempted to land Jessie a swift kick in the butt, he would grit his teeth and ignore the brat, for he didn’t like to distress his mother. 
Meanwhile, Nivy moaned softly, and to Veer’s horror, the sound went straight to his groin. To make matters worse, he realised where his hands had landed when she fell into his arms. The left one was directly under her breast, and the right one was on her curvy butt. He was aware of a sudden need to clench his fingers.
Veer took in a deep breath and tried to channel his thoughts into less lewd directions, but her citrusy scent invaded his senses. As he stared at Nivy, her lips parted and she moaned again. There was a tiny mole on her upper lip that simply begged for a closer inspection. 
Jessie cleared her throat.
“I don’t think she needs mouth-to-mouth,” she said, dryly.
Veer realised that he had been bending over Nivy’s prone body. Damn that trouble-making mole!
He jerked his head back, and nodded to the butler hovering discreetly.
“Munshi Ji, please bring us a chair,” he said, with a glare at his sister. 
“No, wait! You need to take her to my room,” squeaked Jessie.
Veer looked at her suspiciously. His sister had that look on her face which she got when she was up to something.
Also, why was Nivy not waking up?
As if on cue, she moaned again, and Veer gritted his teeth. He needed to drop this inviting little bundle right now, before he embarrassed himself.
“A chair will do, Jessie.”
His sister put her hands on her hips.
“And which medical university did you graduate from, Your Highness? Stop playing doctor and just carry Nivy to my room, if you please,” she snapped.
 Veer rolled his eyes.
“What’s going on, Veer? Is that Nivy? What happened to her?”
Veer stifled a groan, as he turned to his mother who had just walked out of the ballroom where she had been wooing some miserly royals into loosening their purse strings.
“Yes, that’s Nivy, Ma,” said Jessie
“And what is she doing in Veer’s arms?”
Veer opened his mouth to explain, but his pest of a sister beat him to it.
“He was just carrying her upstairs to my room.”
“You can’t expect me to carry her up three flights of stairs, Jessie. Unless you really want my spine to telescope. Is that your grand plan?”
Jessie drew in a sharp breath and stared at him in horror.
“Veer! Did you just call Nivy fat?”
An icy voice echoed her question.
“Yes. Did you?”
Veer looked down, right into a pair of furious brown eyes. Thickly lashed and luminous. But, furious.
Meet the Author:

Alisha Kay is a Delhi based writer, who writes romances set in India.
She doesn’t hold with the concept of damsel-in-distress, which is why her heroines are spunky women with a sharp tongue and the ability to rescue themselves. Her heroes are hot men who are woke enough to find that independence irresistible. 
The Maharaja’s Fake Fiancée is Alisha’s first book.

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Ice Angels: A Sweet Small-Town Romance (Wintervale Promises Book 4) by Melodie March

I received Ice Angels: A Sweet Small-Town Romance (Wintervale Promises Book 4) by Melodie March as a review copy from StoryOrigin and I am thankful to them for the same. 

The blurb:

Claudia Monroe is a former prima ballerina, producing a show based on her years with a prestigious ballet company.

After a disaster with one of the show’s actors, the director decides to film some scenes in Wintervale, Claudia’s hometown. It has been ages since she went back to Vermont and is surprised to find one of her best childhood friends, Reid Burnett, is still there. When everything else in her life is chaos, Reid offers an unexpected port in the storm. But can they just pick up where they left off after so many years apart?

Reid Burnett is a former pro-hockey player who returned to his hometown of Wintervale after a career-ending injury. 

Now the owner of The Skate Escape, Wintervale’s ice rink, he is settling into a life out of the spotlight but finds that something is missing. When his middle-school crush, Claudia Monroe, comes to town unexpectedly, Reid wonders if that something he was missing is actually a someone…

‘Ice Angels’ is a 39k word, standalone romance with a guaranteed happy ending and the beautiful bloom of love in a Wintervale spring!

The story:

Claudia Monroe and Reid Burnett grew up in Wintervale and were attracted to each other. But they never expressed their feelings. Then, Claudia left town to pursue a career in ballet and Reid went on to become a pro hockey player.

Now, Claudia is retired and is producing a show about her ballet years, and has to visit Wintervale to shoot some scenes depicting her childhood. She runs into Reid, who had to retire from the professional scene because of an injury. He is back in Wintervale and is now the owner of the ice rink. 

Can they start from where they left off?

My take:

Second chance romances, best friends to life partners and small tow romances are my favourites.

I loved this second chance small town romance between two best friends who had left the town to pursue their dreams: one to become a ballerina and the other to play hockey. The story is well written in third person. The language is simple and the story is beautiful and fast paced. 

I loved the characters, they are flawed and realistic. How they could not express their feelings for each other in high school was very beautifully portrayed. The secondary characters are supportive and friendly and understanding. 

This is the first book by the author that I have read and I plan to read more books from her. Though I read this book as a standalone, I did not feel lost, and I plan to read more books in the series.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free e-book from StoryOrigin in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.

No time for Mistletoe (The No Brides Club Book 18) by Christina Butrum

I received No time for Mistletoe (The No brides Club Book 18) by Christina Butrum as a review copy from StoryOrigin and I am thankful to them for the same.

The Blurb:

Marissa Erickson is excited to organize a Christmas event for the nonprofit where she works. That is, until her boss mentions getting to meet her often-discussed—and entirely non-existent-fiancé. Asking her ex-boyfriend to pose as her fake fiancé might not be the wisest thing she’s ever done, but he’s the only one who knows her well enough to pull it off.

Cowboy Derek Hartman was devastated when Marissa left him and their small town behind for the big city. He couldn’t have been more shocked to get a message from her, and he almost ignores it completely. He has a ranch to run, after all. But Marissa needs him, and he’s never been able to tell her no.

When Derek comes to New York to save the day, the two discover their friendship never faded. In fact, their fake relationship suddenly feels a little too real. The attraction they once felt can’t be ignored, and long-forgotten feelings aren’t so forgotten.

Especially when they share a kiss—just for show—under the mistletoe.

The story:

Marissa Erickson moves away from her hometown in Iowa after the death of her parents and takes up a job in New York. And because she thinks that her boss would prefer someone stable, so she fibs a lie and creates a non-existent fiancé, Kevin, having a high profile job. one lie leads to another and she cooks up stories about her fiancé. Unknown to her colleagues, she is a member of the No Brides Club and meets with them every week. In the process of moving, she leaves her best friend and childhood sweetheart, Derek, behind. Also because Derek has to look after his ranch with his father.

Now, she is asked by her boss to arrange a party for Christmas and bring Kevin along. And Marissa calls up Derek and asks him to pose as her fiancé.

Will Derek agree? And what will happen to their relationship now?

My take:

I loved this second chance small town romance. Small towns hold a special place for me maybe because I have grown up in one. And Second Chances, I just pick them up.

This story is about high school sweet hearts who go their own way, one to pursue her dreams and the other does not stop her from following them. And then he supports her in her lies as well. I loved the characters, Derek more than Marissa. The secondary characters are supportive and friendly and understanding. 

The story is well written in a simple language and is fast paced. 

This is the first book by the author that I have read and I plan to read more books from her and also more books in the series.