Review // Keepsake, Lessons Learned, & The Naughty, The Nice, and The Nanny

June 19, 2023

I've read quite a few books and need to actually get my reviews of them out there, so here are three books that I enjoyed reading. Two of these are from my TBR and one was a recommendation by the lovely Nadine @Nadine's Obsessed with Books. Thanks for that btw.

Ok, here goes...

Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

My Rating - ★★★
Standalone - True North #3
Release - October 25, 2016
Genre - Small Town Romance
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - 3 out of 5 / descriptive with a few scenes
Format - ebook from Amazon
Length - 314 pages

There's a first time for everything.

Lark Wainright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he's good for much more than farm labor.

There’s something about tragic characters that makes me immediately love a story… and Lark and Zach were easy to love.

Lark was known as a ‘wild child’, but a trip to make lives better turned into a nightmare. Now traumatized, she’s desperate to put on a happy face for everyone. Fake it ‘til you make it and all that. Zach had been booted from a cult. He was new to life on the outside and had to overcome feelings of inadequacy and his fear of abandonment. Together, they were just barely holding on.

I enjoyed the way the author wrapped these characters with so much feeling. I’m a huge fan of the Shipleys and while I’m unsure if there are books about them (this is the 3rd book in the series after all), I want their stories. They gave Lark and Zach such a great foundation for their relationship. If I’m ever down and out, or just plain sad, I want a family like this one at my back.

My only real complaint was that there wasn’t much going on for most of this book. They woke up, milked the cows, ate breakfast, picked apples, sold apples, ate a huge dinner, went to bed, woke up, milked the cows, ate breakfast… Lark had nightmares, Zach gave her comfort, they had feelings for each other, had sex a few times, but for the most part, I was a witness to the tedium of their everyday lives.

Lessons Learned by Marie James

Lessons Learned by Marie James

My Rating - ★★★1/4
Standalone - Mission Mercenaries #1
Release - October 13, 2022
Genre - Dark Romance / enemies to lovers
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - 4 out of 5 / explicit with several scenes (and some triggers)
Format - ebook borrowed from Kindle Unlimited
Length - 235 pages

Despite having a previous connection, I’ve hated Lauren Vos since the day she stepped over my bleeding body and left me for dead.

We were never meant to be. She’s an undercover FBI agent, and I’m a mercenary that goes where the highest bidder takes me.

After seeing each for the first time in years, she thinks we can just pick up where we left off, but the man she once knew died long ago.

What I didn’t know is that the man I became after her betrayal was the man she needed all along.

I feed on her urgency for degradation, but heaven help me, it may be the death of us both.

I reached the end of this book and still don’t know what to think. I didn’t like the characters, and yet, they had me hooked! I couldn’t look away from the hot mess they were or the catastrophe they had created out of their lives.

Angel was a mercenary. Once he was full of heart, but being left for dead changed things. It made him harder, colder, less caring. So why did Lauren affect him so much?

Lauren was an FBI agent who was willing to put herself at the heart of true danger to save lives. Little did anyone know… she was desperate to feel used, abused and humiliated. She lived to be trampled on and assaulted. They fed her in ways they would disgust most people. Why did Angel give her everything she could ever need?

If the FBI hires agents like Lauren, I feel sorry for the federal justice system in America. She was all kinds of messed up. She wasn’t stupid, she had resources, but she did nothing to help herself. She made excuses and she frustrated me. And Angel… dude had so much to offer and I often found myself wishing he wouldn’t offer them to Lauren.

Yeah, it’s all messed up. And yet… I’m probably going to read the next book in the series. Go figure :)

The Naughty, The Nice, and The Nanny by Willa Nash

The Naughty, The Nice, and The Nanny by Willa Nash

My Rating - ★★★1/2
Standalone - Holiday Brothers #1
Release - November 4, 2021
Genre - Small Town Romance / forced proximity / single parent
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - 3 out of 5
Format - ebook borrowed from Kindle Unlimited
Length - 165 pages

One week with one little girl—an angel, according to my staffing agency. Acting as the short-term nanny for a single dad should have been an easy way to make some extra cash. Until I show up for my first day and face off with a demon disguised as a seven-year-old girl wearing a red tutu and matching glitter slippers.

Oh, and her father? My temporary boss? Maddox Holiday. The same Maddox Holiday I crushed on in high school. The same Maddox Holiday who didn’t even know I existed. And the same Maddox Holiday who hasn’t set foot in Montana for years because he’s been too busy running his billionaire empire.

Enduring seven days is going to feel like scaling the Himalayas in six-inch heels. Toss in the Holiday family’s annual soiree, and Christmas Eve nightmares really do come true. But I can do anything for a week, especially for this paycheck, even if it means wrangling the naughty, impressing the nice, and playing the nanny.

This was a sweet, small town, ‘ohmygosh my first crush is back AND he’s hot AND he’s my new boss AND his daughter is precious’ kind of romance. From the wonder that was the Holiday family (like seriously, can I join?) to the easy buildup of what grew between Natalie and Maddox, I was entertained. One, I love when I can actually enjoy a character with my name. I think this is the first time that has happened. Two, Violet… I loved the way she was described and I couldn’t get enough of the relationship that Natalie built with her.

You want a sweet read with a swoony kind of love? You can’t go wrong with this book.


  1. Lovely reviews you have here. Sorry to hear that none of these really worked for you super great. Devney Perry can be a hit or miss for me. Sarina Bowen does do quite a bit of splice of life, its why I do those in audiobooks or they go to slow for me haha I can see why you had issues with that James, the heroine would drive me a bit nuts too.

    1. Thanks Renee! They were alright, obviously, but each of them needed a little something... I don't even know what, to get me there. I'm definitely going to give each of these authors another shot though :)

  2. There ARE lots of Shipley books! Bittersweet is Griffin, Speakeasy is May, Heartland is Dylan, and Waylaid is Daphne BUT all the books in between are great, too. I love the Rossi family that shows up in some of them.

    1. I'll definitely be trying another of these books. I really loved the Shipley family. Their dynamic seemed to feed this story and of course I want more :)


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