ARC review: Catch and Release by Laura Drewry

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As the oldest O’Donnell, Ronan took on the responsibility of caring for his younger brothers after their mother left and their father drowned his pain in alcohol.  After his brothers were old enough to fend for themselves, he got out, got married, and set himself up for a great life.  Or so he thought.  Next thing he knew, Mandy had turned him into someone he didn’t recognize, and he hated what he’d become.

Back at The Buoys, his family’s fishing resort, for the filming of the reality tv series Hooked, Ronan would be happy to stay in the background.  He’d prefer it if the cameras and Hope, Hooked’s beautiful producer, would just leave him alone.  He has no desire for fame or fortune.  He just wants to get back the parts of himself that he lost.

Since his painful divorce, Ronan has been a proud member of the “catch and release” club, never staying with one woman long enough to develop any real feelings.  But there’s something so honest and unassuming about Hope that makes him let down his guard, and soon he’s falling hard. Maybe Hope could be the woman to finally convince Ronan to give love another shot.

Laura Drewry’s Fishing for Trouble series was a highlight of 2016.  Both Off the Hook and Lured In were amazing, and I loved getting to know the two younger O’Donnell siblings.  While Ronan was mentioned in both of these books, the glimpses we got of him were far from flattering.  He came across as angry, gruff, surly.  Not the kind of guy to do emotional heart-to-hearts.  Not really the romance novel lead, if you get what I’m saying.

And yes, that’s how he appears.  That’s certainly the first impression that Hope gets.  But that’s not really who Ronan is.  The real Ronan, once you strip away the heartbreak and pain of his divorce, is a sweetheart.  He’s the kind of guy that finds out what your favorite dessert is and surprises you with it after dinner.  The kind of guy to bring you a mug of tea when you’re working overtime.  The kind of guy that would protect those he loves at all costs.

Going into this book, I was sure that Ronan would be my least favorite of the O’Donnell brothers.  Turns out he’s actually the best.  Anybody would be lucky to find someone like him.

And let’s not forget Hope.  Hope, who is always prepared for any situation. Who regularly keeps safety goggles and bungee cords in her purse. Hope, who spouts off random facts when she gets nervous. Who is honest and warm and loving and still a grown woman who can handle herself.  Hope, who makes the first move, because she knows that Ronan won’t.

I loved these characters.  I know I say that about every book that Laura Drewry writes, but I just absolutely adore her characters. Can I move to The Buoys? Can I be friends with them?

Catch and Release was an amazing ending to a great series.  All three books are fast-paced, engaging reads that will easily keep you up all night.  The first two books were good, but Catch and Release is in a league of its own.  If you haven’t yet started this series, I can guarantee you that it won’t disappoint.

Final rating: ★★★★★

Thanks to Netgalley and Loveswept for the ARC!

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Book queue

I am so excited for both of these ARCs!

As you’ve probably seen, I’ve had You Don’t Know My Name on a couple of posts recently – it’s a 2017 debut that I’m really interested in checking out.  And then, of course, Laura Drewry is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve absolutely loved the first two books in her Fishing for Trouble series.  I can’t wait to dive into Catch and Release.

Big thanks to Netgalley, Swoon Reads, and Loveswept for the advance copies.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2016

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  It’s already the last one of 2016!  Today’s theme is the best of 2016.  I read a lot of great books this year, so rather than agonize over which ones to include, I’m using this as a general overview of my favorites.  In early 2017, I’ll have a more detailed list available for you, broken down by genre.

Below are Goodreads links for all titles included in the graphics:

[since you’ve been gone] [koreatown] [are you there god? it’s me margaret]
[what we saw] [the unexpected everything] [lured in] [you know me well]
[me before you] [some kind of perfect] [made you up]

What were your favorites of 2016?

ARC review: Lured In by Laura Drewry

Goodreads   Amazon

This is my fifth book by Laura Drewry, and honestly, they just keep getting better.  I read Off the Hook, the first book in this series, earlier this year and fell in love with The Buoys, the O’Donnells, and Jessie Todd.  Reading Lured In just solidified Drewry’s place on my list of favorite authors.  I will read anything that she writes, and I can guarantee that I’ll love it.

In Off the Hook, we saw Liam O’Donnell and Kate Hadley revamp The Buoys, Liam’s family’s old fishing resort, into something more.  Now, in Lured In, they’ve gotten big enough to warrant a visit from a popular fishing tv show.  Everybody’s thrilled, except for Jessie, who used to date the host and is less than thrilled at the prospect of rekindling that romance.

Jessie’s relationship with Sam ended for a reason.  More than one, actually, if she’s honest.  While Sam might be the cutest and sweetest guy she’s ever met, and while Kate and Liam might be all for their reunion (and the publicity it would bring), Jessie was never actually that attracted to Sam.  They had next to nothing in common, and the fact that he lives his life touring around on boats didn’t quite mesh with her paralyzing fear of water.

Quite possibly the only good thing about that relationship is that it made Jessie see that she has to get over her fear.  So she asks her closest friend and the most patient person she knows, Finn O’Donnell, to help her out.  Jessie is so comfortable with Finn that just being near him calms her down, so it’s no surprise that, slowly but surely, she’s able to dip her toes in the water again.

While helping Jessie overcome her fear and get past the events that led to it, Finn also gets to talk out some of the traumatic events in his own past.  Watching these two finally trust someone enough to open up about their deepest fears made me so happy.  They have been carrying around some demons for decades, and I loved that they were able to start moving on.

This was such a nice friends-to-lovers story.  I liked that their relationship progressed naturally.  It’s not like a lightning bolt strikes Finn and suddenly he realizes that Jessie is gorgeous.  No, these two have always felt something for each other, even if they didn’t want to admit it.  When Finn’s father was alive, he would have forbidden any kind of romance between them.  Even now that he’s gone, Finn’s brothers would give him hell for going there.  Finn’s always been a bit of a player, and his family wouldn’t want Jessie to be next in the long line of broken hearts.

But the great thing is that Jessie doesn’t really care.  She knows about Finn’s history, and she thinks he’s worth it.  She knows why he acts the way he does, and she understands that commitment might be difficult for him.  But she’s willing to risk it, because Finn is her best friend, and he’s a great person, and their connection is electric.

Jessie and Finn are some of my favorite characters in recent memory.  I always say that Drewry’s characters feel like they could be real people, but it’s even more true for these two.  They’re not pawns being moved around for the author’s amusement.  They act like real people.  Their thoughts, actions, and reactions are real.

I loved these characters, I love this setting, and I love this author.  Every book I read from her is better than the last.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Final rating: ★★★★★

For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #40: a book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free ARC!

   Goodreads   Amazon

Everything she felt was right there, splashed across his wide blue eyes: a dash of “what the hell just happened,” mixed with a splash of “holy shit, we really shouldn’t have done that,” and shaken with a double shot of “when can we do it again?”

It was a cocktail for disaster that Kate couldn’t wait to get drunk on, but— ugh, why did there have to be a “but”?

After being sidelined at work for too long, Kate happily accepts the tough job of revamping an old fishing resort in the middle of nowhere. She hopes that her boss will be impressed with her hard work and initiative and reward her with the job of general manager once the resort reopens. The information she was given told her a lot about the history and location of the resort, but nothing about the owner. She never expected it would be her ex-husband

Liam is just how she remembers: charming, funny, good looking, and incredibly frustrating. After playing professional baseball for several years, an injury forced him to take time off. Time off that he’s choosing to spend at his family’s fishing resort. He knew someone was coming in to help with the renovations, but he had no idea it would be his ex-wife.

Luckily, Kate is a professional and doesn’t let her feelings about being left in a Las Vegas motel room and receiving divorce papers by mail get in the way of doing her job. Liam, on the other hand, is less than thrilled with his decision. He knows he made a huge mistake all those years ago, and fully intends to make up for it.

This is my fourth book by Laura Drewry. I think by now I know that I’m pretty much definitely going to enjoy anything that she writes. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, and I’m pretty sure I’ll say it again: The best thing about her books is the characters. Every one of them is a living, breathing person with completely unique characteristics. They’re all complete people who don’t rely solely on their partner for their existence.

I (usually) do not like angsty romances, so I was happy to find that this is relatively low on that scale. It has just the right amount to keep things interesting, but not so much that I wanted to bang my head against the wall.

I was also charmed by Liam’s two brothers and their friend Jessie. I hope that all three get their own books in this series.

As always, a great contemporary romance by Laura Drewry.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

Thanks to Netgalley and Loveswept for the ARC!

   Goodreads   Amazon

I’m a really big fan of Laura Drewry’s Friends First series, so I was really excited to be invited to review How Forever Feels.  This installment follows Maya, who we’ve previously seen mending her broken heart after her divorce.

Maya’s got a good heart, but it’s still taken her a long time to open herself up again after finding out that her beloved husband had been cheating on her.  But now, two years later, she’s getting ready to put herself out there again… and in walks Jack, her ex-husband’s best friend.  Maya met Jack shortly before she met her future ex-husband, Will.  While she always thought that Jack was simply introducing her to Will at that long-ago party, it turns out he’d actually been flirting with her!  Jack has always harbored secret feelings for Maya, but given all that Will’s family has done for him through the years, he never acted on them. But now, with Maya feeling herself drawn to Jack as well, the two of them must figure out how deep their feelings go and whether a relationship is worth the inevitable fall-out.

When I read books by Laura Drewry, I know that I’m in for a good experience.  This is my third book by her (somehow I missed Plain Jayne, but I’ll get there eventually!) and I liked it just as much as the last two.  She has a talent for writing realistic, likable characters in unusual, yet not unbelievable situations.

The only thing that didn’t sit quite right with me was Jack’s blind loyalty to Will’s family, who seem to take advantage of and emotionally manipulate him at every chance they get.  Maybe with more backstory or flashbacks, this would have been more clear.  But aside from that, great as always.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★☆