Hey everyone!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  It was gloomy and rainy here all weekend so I spent most of it napping and reading.  Today I’m back to share my thoughts on two April releases from Berkley Romance.  One is a solid debut, while the other is another entertaining read from an author I’ve been enjoying the past couple of years.



Author: Katie Shepard

Publication Date: April 25, 2023

Publisher:  Berkley Romance

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


Bear With Me Now is Katie Shepard’s debut novel.  and it’s one wild ride!

When we first meet Teagan, he has just been released from the hospital after suffering a severe panic attack. His sister Sloane thinks some quality time out in nature is just the thing to help Teagan clear his head and so takes him to a wilderness retreat in Montana. Teagan immediately decides he isn’t comfortable with group therapy and instead decides to wander off and enjoy a solitary hike.  It is here where he is nearly eaten by a bear and where he is saved from this fate by the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, who just happens to be the retreat’s handywoman, Darcy.

Darcy and Teagan hit it off right away and he starts spending most of his time working out in nature on the grounds with her. There are lots of rom-com worthy moments as they get to know each other better, including plenty of witty banter that often had me laughing out loud.

The novel has plenty of serious moments too though as it explores Teagan’s panic disorder, including what is causing his panic attacks as well as the embarrassment he feels about them.  Somehow everyone at the retreat thinks Teagan is in rehab for alcoholism, for example, and instead of setting the record straight, he instead decides to hide the truth from them all, including Darcy.  The lie spirals to the extent that he actually hires Darcy to come home to NYC with him as his sober companion. While their personal relationship heats up here, it becomes clear that Teagan’s lie is unsustainable. I was not a big fan of the deception anyway so I was rooting for him to come clean to Darcy before he wrecked everything between them.

Both Teagan and Darcy are immensely likeable characters, and I liked how Shepard allowed their vulnerabilities to shine through, making them all the more realistic and relatable.  While Teagan is struggling with his mental health, Darcy is also struggling to get her life on track, thanks to her parents wrecking her credit, her ex stealing her car, and most importantly, thanks to dyslexia making it nearly impossible for her to finish her college degree and land her dream job as a park ranger.  I loved that the bond Teagan and Darcy forged was strong enough that they each were more focused on helping the other in spite of their own problems.

With its blend of heartfelt and hilarious moments, Bear With Me Now is a fantastic debut and I look forward to reading more from Katie Shepard. 3.5 STARS


Reviews: BEAR WITH ME NOW & JASMINE AND JAKE ROCK THE BOATJasmine and Jake Rock the Boat Goodreads

Author: Sonya Lalli

Publication Date: April 18, 2023

Publisher: Berkley Romance

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


I’m always in the mood for a good enemies to lovers story and Sonya Lalli did not let me down with her latest contemporary romance, Jasmine and Jake Rock the Boat.

When we first meet Jasmine, her life is kind of a mess.  She has just broken up with her loser boyfriend for the third time and has moved in with a friend.  She has a good job but somehow still has no money, and as much as she would love to have a close relationship with her parents, that situation is a mess too.  Her parents, as well as most of their South Asian community, view Jasmine as a bad girl and openly criticize her life choices and her “old maid” status since she is over 30 and has yet to land a husband.  In what can only have been a moment of insanity, Jasmine agrees to go on an Alaskan cruise with her parents and dozens of others from their community, not realizing that it’s actually a cruise for seniors and that she’ll be surrounded by meddling Aunties and Uncles at every turn. The only other person even close to her age on the trip is Jake, a handsome but arrogant young man who is traveling with his dad.

Lalli gets me invested in this couple immediately by revealing that Jake and Jasmine have history.  Jasmine actually used to babysit Jake when they were younger.  Now Jake is all grown up and he is clearly attracted to his former babysitter.  Reverse age gap romance anyone?  Jasmine finds Jake to be incredibly annoying and tries to avoid him as much as possible at first, but being stuck on a ship, their paths cross way more than she would like.  Although they are initially reluctant to hang out, they soon realize that they enjoy each other’s company and have more in common than they thought. I thought their scenes together were really sweet and that they made a pretty great team.

What I really enjoyed about this story is that even though it’s technically a romance, there’s still a pretty major personal journey for Jasmine.  While Jasmine can admit that she really is attracted to Jake, she fights the idea of getting into a relationship with him.  She has too much going on in her own life and really needs to sort herself out rather than just jump from one man to the next.  Jasmine’s journey on this cruise is more about finding herself and redefining her relationship with her parents and her community than it is about finding love, and I loved the growth she experienced throughout the story.

Full of heart, wonderful character development, and a sweet slow burn enemies to lovers romance, Jasmine and Jake Rock the Boat makes for a delightful read.  4 STARS

8 replies
  1. Lark
    Lark says:

    Bear With Me Now is one I want to read. From the cover to the plot it just sounds like fun. 😀

  2. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    I am looking forward to Lalli’s book. Her books have gotten more and more romantic, and I love it.

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