I’m back today with some of my final January reads.  I don’t know about you all, but my 2022 reading year is off to a great start.  So far I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read and have no DNFs.  Today’s review post is unofficially the “Elle” edition since both author’s first names are Elle (I didn’t even notice that until I started putting this together, lol).


Reviews:  FINLAY DONOVAN KNOCKS ‘EM DEAD & GOOD GIRL COMPLEXFinlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead (Finlay Donovan, #2) Goodreads

Author:  Elle Cosimano

Publication Date: February 1, 2022

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead is the second book in Elle Cosimano’s new series “Finlay Donovan” which follows the misadventures of author and divorced single mother, Finlay Donovan.  For those who haven’t read the first book yet, Finlay finds herself accidentally hired as an assassin when a woman overhears her and her agent discussing the plot of the thriller she is writing.  The woman thinks Finlay is the perfect person to “off” her husband and practically starts throwing money at her.  Finlay could really use the cash, and thus begins a surprisingly hilarious journey into murder-for-hire, organized crime, and all the while, Finlay is still trying to write her book.

This latest book opens with Finlay learning that someone out there actually wants to murder her ex-husband. As much as she hates Stephen, she doesn’t want her kids to lose their Dad and so she makes it her mission to find out who is responsible and convince them to call off the hit.  This sends her on a dangerous yet surprisingly comical adventure, full of twists and turns, that takes her, amongst other places, way closer to the Russian mob than she would ever wish to be.

It’s hard to talk about details from the story without spoilers and I definitely don’t want to spoil the plot as it pertains to her ex-husband.  I’ll just say that I adore Finlay. She’s sarcastic and funny, quirky as heck and very resourceful, and she has clearly learned a lot from writing her crime thrillers.  It impresses me how she and her roommate/nanny, Vero, constantly get themselves into dangerous and often ridiculous predicaments, but somehow always manage to get themselves right back out of trouble.   I’m also a big fan of Vero and was pleased that we got to learn a bit more about her in this book.

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead is well-plotted and fast-paced, so much so that I flew through the book in just a couple of sittings.  The Finlay Donovan series may involve serious topics like murder-for-hire and organized crime, but it’s truly one of the funniest and most entertaining series I’ve ever read.  I really hope there will be more books in this series because I need more of Finlay and Vero. What a team they are!  4.5 STARS



Author: Elle Kennedy

Publication Date: February 1, 2022

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Good Girl Complex is the first installment in a new contemporary romance series by Elle Kennedy. I tend to gravitate to books with small town and/or university settings and this book has both.  I also typically enjoy romances that feature the good girl/bad boy dynamic so Good Girl Complex just seemed like it would be a great fit for me.

Local bad boy Cooper Hartley is tired of the rich “clones” who invade Avalon Bay to attend college every year and act like they own the community and everyone in it.  One night, at the bar where he works, he witnesses one of them forcing himself on a waitress. When the clone won’t take no for an answer, Cooper intervenes and ends up punching the guy. Rich boy whines to the owner and gets Cooper fired, which only fuels Cooper’s hatred of this guy and everyone like him. Cooper learns the guy has a girlfriend and decides he’s going to steal her right out from under the guy’s nose. Cooper’s quest for revenge doesn’t go exactly as planned, however, because when he meets the girlfriend, whose name is Mackenzie (Mac), he realizes that she’s not at all like her boyfriend and his kind, and Cooper wants to be friends, maybe even more than friends, with her.  But can any kind of relationship survive between them if the truth about his revenge plot comes out?

I loved both Mac and Cooper right away so it was very easy to become invested in their journey.  Both characters are flawed and come across as very realistic and relatable because of those flaws. Yes, Mac comes from money, but she is also an entrepreneur and a self-made millionaire.  It’s an impressive accomplishment, particularly for someone her age, so it shocked me to learn that neither her parents nor her boyfriend Preston support her in this endeavor. They have her life mapped out for her and there’s no room on that map for anything that doesn’t revolve around her mother’s charity work and becoming Preston’s wife. Mac has always just gone along with what they’ve dictated, not wanting to upset anyone.  But when she meets Cooper and they start talking, Mac suddenly realizes there’s more to life than pleasing everyone else. It’s a true awakening for her.

I also loved that as much as Cooper teaches Mac about being her own person and not letting anyone hold her back, Cooper also learns a lot along the way, particularly about passing judgment on an entire group of people just because he has had a few bad experiences.  I also love that there’s so much more to him than his bad boy reputation and that he and Mac aren’t very different from one another, despite their different backgrounds.  I enjoyed watching them interact – whether they’re being sassy, supportive, or sexy, their chemistry was off the charts.  They made such a great couple that I was truly on the edge of my seat waiting for the truth about the revenge plot to smack them both in the face and hoping that they could survive it when it did.

Good Girl Complex is a great start to Elle Kennedy’s new series and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys watching characters figure out who they’re meant to be as well as who they’re meant to be with.  4 STARS

24 replies
  1. Genesis @ Whispering Chapters
    Genesis @ Whispering Chapters says:

    I actually just dnf’d a book yesterday. But overall, it’s been a great reading month! Good Girl Complex is on my list! I love Elle Kennedy. It’s interesting how Mac has made it big on her own and her family aren’t supporting her. That must seriously suck!
    I’ll have to check out that Elle Cosimano book. The premise sounds very interesting.

  2. Hena Tayeb
    Hena Tayeb says:

    This is the second blog I read today that was reviewing a Finlay book.. I have them on my wishlist for some time now.. hope to read them soon.

  3. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books says:

    Funny about the “Elle edition.” Weird how that worked out! I’ve read a few by Elle Kennedy (mostly those that she co-wrote with Sarina Bowen but I decided to skip her latest. I’ve found myself less and less interested in books that focus on college-age characters, and wanting more characters that out beyond college and more settled. (Not sure I’m explaining that well.) Still, it sounds like Kennedy created some very relatable characters with Mac and Cooper. I’m glad you enjoyed the series starter!

  4. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    I liked these two as well, and Mac were very impressive. Not just her ambition and business savvy, but also the bold moves she made with respect to her family and her future.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I agree. Her family and that boyfriend of hers were just infuriating, so I was so glad to see that growth in her as she took control of her own life.

  5. Lindsey @ Lindsey Reads
    Lindsey @ Lindsey Reads says:

    Oh the first Finlay Donovan book has been on my TBR for ages, I need to get to it because this second installments sounds awesome too! Good Girl Complex is on my TBR too, so glad to hear you enjoyed it. I’m definitely looking forward to reading some more Elle Kennedy

  6. Literary Feline
    Literary Feline says:

    I am glad you loved Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead too! It was so good. I just love Finlay and Vero. Good Girl Complex sounds really good as well. It’s one I hope to read at some point.

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