Sunday, August 7, 2022

BLOG TOUR - Love, Lists & Fancy Ships #s1 & 2

Title:   Love, Lists & Fancy Ships
Author:  Sarah Grunder Ruiz
Series:  Love, Lists & Fancy Ships #1
Publisher:  Berkley Books
Genre:   Romance
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   336
Date of Publication:   November 23, 2021
My Rating:   5 Stars 


Sometimes a yacht, a bold bucket list, and a kiss with a handsome stranger are all a person needs to dive into the deep end of life.

For the last year, yacht stewardess Jo Walker has been attempting to complete a bucket list of thirty things she wants to accomplish by her birthday. Jo has almost everything she's ever wanted, including a condo on the beach (though she's the youngest resident by thirty years) and an exciting job (albeit below deck) that lets her travel the world.

Jo is on track until a family tragedy turns her life upside down, and the list falls by the wayside. But when her two nieces show up unannounced with plans to stay the summer, they discover her list and insist on helping Jo finish it. Though the remaining eight items (which include running a marathon, visiting ten countries, and sleeping in a castle) seem impossible to complete in twelve weeks, Jo takes on the challenge.

When she summons the courage to complete item number five--kiss a stranger--and meets Alex Hayes, all bets are off. As her feelings for Alex intensify and Jo's inability to confront difficult emotions about her family complicates her relationships, she must learn to quit playing it safe with her heart before she loses what matters most.

In this emotionally-riveting story, Jo Walker starts off bound and determined to complete her bucket list over the summer, as she is about to turn thirty. Life has been pretty good for Jo most of her life, now with a great job and a nice condo, but her family has experienced a great loss, and the stages of grief have been difficult to manage. Jo’s two nieces, Mia and Kitty, are spending the summer with her and they are also suffering the pangs of grief, but the three of them are very close and summer should be fairly enjoyable.  

Jo had managed to get most of her bucket list completed, but the loss that her family experienced had made it impossible for her to continue. But, she is determined, and with the girls help, along with best friend Nina, she just might finish her list. The very next thing on her list is to kiss a hot guy. A hot guy in a bar. BFF Nina pushes her on, and this is when she meets Alex Hayes, and gets that kiss, a kiss that ended up being fantastic. One less thing on her list to complete. The girls meet another girl their age named Grayson, and then they soon meet Grayson’s dad, none other than the hot guy from the bar! 

The cover might make this book look like it is a romcom, but it couldn’t be further from that. In fact, it is more along the lines of a women’s fiction with romance. I say this because this book touches on some very serious subjects, including the loss of a family member, dealing with grief, and other family issues. However, it also has the romance that has begun to bloom between Jo and Alex, and this brings hope and light to a time in her life and this ends up bringing her true joy.  While there is undeniable chemistry between Jo and Alex, he also has his own baggage that comes into play.

What a very wonderful story. A story that brings a lot of emotion, making it necessary to have a tissue nearby, and one that will make any reader truly connect with all of the characters. I loved the role that Nina played in this story, which made me quite happy to already have book number two ready to read. 

Although this was not a review copy, I was so very happy to have read it and it is one of the best books that I have read in 2022 thus far. 

* * * * *

Title:   Luck & Last Resorts
Author:   Sarah Grunder Ruiz
Series:  Love, Lists & Fancy Ships #2
Publisher:  Berkley Books
Genre:   Romance
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   336
Date of Publication:   August 9, 2022
My Rating:   5 Stars 


They have a second chance at love, but there are some rough seas ahead in the new contemporary romance from the acclaimed author of Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships.

Commitment-phobe Nina Lejeune lives by two rules:
1. Always have fun.
2. Don’t rely on anyone but yourself.
The first rule is easy; the second, she’s only broken once.

Ten years after fleeing home, Nina is the chief stewardess on the super yacht Serendipity, single by choice, and perfectly content with how life has turned out.

But Nina’s ex-coworker and old flame, Irish chef Ollie Dunne, isn’t so happy with the status quo. One year after leaving yachting, he’s returned as the Serendipity’s chef with an ultimatum: if Nina continues to deny she’s in love with him by the end of this charter season, he’ll go back to Ireland for good.

Nina and Ollie’s shared secret from their past threatens to shipwreck not only their relationship, but the entire boat. But as their connection grows amidst chaotic guests and crew drama, could there be smooth sailing in their future?


This delightful series has already introduced Nina LeJeune and Ollie Dunne, A couple who have had an on again off again romance for years. Nina is a chief stewardess on luxury yachts and she has often worked with Ollie, who is a talented chef. Over the years, the two have become very, very close, but they break up almost as much as they make up. What was it that keeps their relationship from remaining on solid ground?

Different from the first book in the series, this book takes place in two time frames, both the past and the present. Present day, Ollie joins the current yacht season and will be working with Nina over the next four months. During this season, he is determined for Nina to make a final decision about their tentative relationship. The snippets of the past shows how they met and the ups and downs of their relationship. 

One thing is made very clear in this emotive read, Ollie and Nina truly love one another. And they both know it. However, Nina has her reasons for not allowing things to go further than they have for the ten years or so that she has known and loved him. Although if readers read the first book in the series, There is a lot that readers don’t know about Nina and Ollie. This second book delves much deeper into Ollie and Nina‘s past.

Each of our characters has their own baggage, and just as the first book in the series touched on very serious subjects, this one does as well. The subject that this one deals with is mental health, and how it affects at least one of our characters. I love that Sarah Grunder Ruiz is not afraid to touch on serious subjects in a romance novel. A romance novel that makes you root for all of the characters. Feel their pain. Feel their joy. Feel their growth. Very well done! 

Just as the first book in the series brought about a happy ending, this one does as well, but not without its trials. What a delightful journey to see what it was that made this couple find their way to a happily ever after. Can this book work as a standalone novel? Most definitely. But Nina is such a strong, compelling character that getting to know her in book number one definitely paid off for me.

Until these two books in this series, Sarah Grunder Ruiz was an unknown to me. But now I have found two of my favorite books of this year and an author that I am definitely eager to follow. It surprises me that she is a new author, and I only say that because of the fabulous storytelling, writing, and compelling nature that both of the books in the series have provided me. I am eager to read the next book in this series.

Many thanks to Berkley Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy my YouTube video review - 


Sarah Grunder Ruiz is a writer, educator, and karaoke enthusiast. Originally from South Florida, she now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and two children. She holds an MFA in creative writing from North Carolina State University, where she now teaches First-Year Writing. She is the author of two novels: Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships, and Luck and Last Resorts.

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