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Series Review: The McLaughlins by Shelli Stevens

Series Review: The McLaughlins by Shelli Stevens

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 5: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:


Synopsis for One More Round (Previously Good Girl Gone Plaid) (from Goodreads):

When Sarah Rawlings fell for her best friend’s older brother in high school, she knew he was trouble. But she couldn’t resist his pull and the sweetness she sensed underneath his protective bad boy persona. Their relationship was everything she had ever dreamed of, until she was rocked by his painful betrayal. Eleven years later, Sarah must return to Whidbey Island following her beloved grandmother’s death. She knows she must stay away from Ian, but he’s not making that easy and every time she sees him, she’s reminded of what might have been.

One look at Sarah stirs up memories regrets that still linger in Ian McLaughlin’s heart. She was the love of his life and he still can’t understand how he blew it and how she could have also hurt him so badly in return. He plans to steer clear of Sarah while she’s on Whidbey Island, but that’s impossible when she’s often at his family’s pub. Thinking to indulge in a little casual seduction for fun, neither is prepared when the embers burst into flames.

So many years and secrets separate them. Can their powerful attraction also include understanding and forgiveness?


Series: The McLaughlins
Author: Shelli Stevens
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes – though currently being republished under new names
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2013 – September 2014
Source & Format: LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers–eARC | Thank you Tule Publishing!


Disclaimer: I only read One More Round (Book #1) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I always enjoy a good second chance romance. I love the secrets and the drama often associated with them. It was the secrets in One More Round that intrigued me. Add the mix the fact that Ian is the brother of Sarah’s BFF? I’m sold. I couldn’t wait to meet these Scottish McLaughlins and learn their secrets!

What I Liked about One More Round:

–Polished Version–

This is a newly edited and reformatted version of the original story Good Girl Gone Plaid–so take that into account when reading other reviews because they might be reviewing an early version. I didn’t find any of those grammatical errors other reviewers mention.

–The Setting–

Ever since I read the Cottonbloom Series, I’ve grown to love the small town setting. I really enjoy the isolation of the world because you get a handful of characters to read about throughout the entire series. I love the weaving of everyone’s lives and secrets. While it wasn’t as strong as I liked here, it did serve as an interesting backdrop to the story.

What I Didn’t Like about One More Round:

–I Figured Out the “Big Twist” by the End of Chapter One–

I won’t lie, I did doubt myself for a second or two in the middle but it was only for a page or two.

But I went with the flow anyways because they do have a complicated past. Yet every time a new “twist” was hinted at, I correctly guessed the outcome every single time. It just took away some of the tension and anticipation of the read. I found myself getting bored.

–Ian’s Ego–

I’m all for a confident playboy hero but Ian’s confidence could take up an entire planet. It drove me NUTS how Ian would just go ahead and kiss her when she wasn’t expecting it or clearly giving him “no” vibes. (That’s their first encounter and it just set such a sour tone for me). I really struggled to see why he would give up his charmed playboys ways for Sarah.

–The Romance–

We don’t get to see a lot of their conversations because most of the time they’re so focused on the physical aspect of their relationship. I couldn’t tell you why they thought they were soul mates besides great sexual chemistry.

–Rushed Ending–

Which is why I wish the ending was expanded upon a bit or introduced earlier. I definitely would have liked that drama to be teased out more and in the first half of the novel to give some depth.

Will I Finish the Series?

I did enjoy the other McLaughlin siblings; I think Ian is the odd man out in terms of personalities. But I wasn’t a fan of the heroine for the second novel after we learn more about her so this is where I end my time with this series.

Series Rating: DNF

One More Round 2/5 | Straight, No Chaser N/A


Unfortunately, this was just too predictable for me to full enjoy and there were some aspects of the plot (and characters’ pasts) that I wasn’t I fan of.

Read if You Like: quick romance reads, family leads, Scottish heroes
Avoid if You: want surprises


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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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Single Sundays: Valentine Charms by Anne McAllister

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Valentine Charms (from Goodreads):

Twenty-three second graders were on a mission!

Her students were convinced Jane Kitto needed a man in her life. A ‘real man’ – not the Secret Admirer who had, every Valentine’s Day for years, sent her a tiny charm. Jane appreciated their enthusiasm, but not their choice. Football star Zack Stoner was the last man on earth she’d fall for. Handsome as sin, tough as nails, and more appealing than she wanted to admit, Zack made Jane want things she never imagined wanting–with him.

Zack Stoner had never forgotten Jane. When they were younger, he’d been confused, unnerved and fascinated by the sweet and generous Jane. It wasn’t all that different now, except he was a man, and knew he wanted her. But would Jane take a chance with someone like him?

Twenty-three cupids said yes.


Author: Anne McAllister
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 1, 2018
Source & Format: LibraryThing Early Reviewers–eBook | Thank you so much Tule Publishing!


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

How cute is that synopsis?! I thought it was pretty adorable which is why I put my name in for a copy over at LibraryThing for a review copy. I thought it was fun that the kids were so invested in their teacher’s love life. I also love the idea of a “loved you forever” type of second chance romance.

The Concept:

To be honest, I thought the kids were more involved with the matchmaking process. I’m not sure how they could pull that off (lock them in a classroom? write notes?), but I thought they’d have more of a hand in getting these two to finally realize their feelings. They really don’t which is a shame because the kids were definitely a highlight for me. They were so charming and they stole ever scene they were in.

The Plot:

While the story is pretty predictable I still enjoyed watching these two slowly come together. It was a sweet slow burn romance which is exactly what I wanted. Again, I would have liked more scenes with the kids but there’s enough going on to keep the story moving at all times.

The Characters:

I really liked these two! They both have some solid character development throughout the novel which is always a nice touch. We get to see some of their shared histories in the past so it was interesting to see how those particular moments influenced them going forward. I felt like they were very well rounded characters.

The Romance:

While these two shared some great chemistry, I needed a little more to convince me that they truly loved each other and not just the idea of each other. What foundations did they have to establish such an emotional connected based on a few interactions as children? We do get a few of those moments as the story progressed but I craved a little more.

My Rating: 3/5


This is a sweet romance that will capture your heart from start to finish!

Read if You Like: sweet romances, quicker reads
Avoid if You: want erotica


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