Romance Review – HAPPY MEDIUM by Sarah Adler

Romance Review – HAPPY MEDIUM by Sarah AdlerHappy Medium by Sarah Adler
five-stars
Published by Berkley Books, Berkley Romance on April 30, 2024
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 416
Source: Netgalley
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

 

I fell in love with Sarah Adler’s style of storytelling last year when I read her debut, Mrs. Nash’s Ashes.  It was just such a fun, unique and heartwarming story and I still think about it to this day.  When a book resonates with me that much, I immediately want to read everything that author writes so of course, I had to get my hands on a review copy of Adler’s new novel, Happy Medium!  It did not disappoint either.  Happy Medium is equally unique and charming, if not more so than Mrs. Nash’s Ashes, and I enjoyed every page of it!

Gretchen Acorn is a con woman.  She pretends to be a psychic medium and is apparently pretty convincing at it because one of her wealthy clients offers to pay her $10,000 to go check out her bridge partner’s goat farm, which is believed to be haunted.  He has been trying to sell it but unexplained phenomena keep happening while potential buyers are there, scaring them off.  Gretchen knows she’s a fraud, but hey, she’s got to pay her bills, right?  And if she can help an old man sell the place and retire, even better.

Gretchen is shocked by two things when she arrives at the farm:  1) Charlie Waybill, the old goat farmer she’s expecting to meet, is actually a gorgeous grump who is actually her age, and 2) there is actually a chatty, goofy ghost named Everett there and she can both see and talk to him.  She has never been able to do that before so her mind is blown to say the least!  Everett fills her in on why he’s there and why he’s trying so hard to keep Charlie from selling the place.  When Everett tried to abandon the family farm and follow his dreams nearly a century ago, a relative cursed him. He died in a tragic accident that same day and has been haunting the farm ever since.  If the farm is sold to someone who isn’t a Waybill, the last Waybill there will suffer the same fate as Everett.  Everett scares off every potential buyer because he wants to save Charlie from his fate. Gretchen finds herself drawn to both Charlie and Everett, and when Charlie proposes that she stick around and help him save the farm if he can’t sell it, she agrees, having no idea what a life changing decision this will be for her.

I don’t know if I can fully express how wonderful this story is! I was a little nervous I wouldn’t like Gretchen since she is so morally gray, but she won me over as soon as it became clear that she really doesn’t like taking advantage of people and makes it her mission to leave them no worse off than when they first came to her.  She also endeared herself to me once she gets to the farm and starts interacting with both Charlie and Everett. She and Everett become besties and some of their banter is truly hilarious, especially some of their battles that revolve around Everett’s television addiction.  I also loved the chemistry that quickly blossoms between Gretchen and Charlie after their initial rocky start.  They’re actually a great team as they work together to save the farm, and I loved how the more Gretchen gets to know Charlie, the more she wants to save him from the curse.  Adler does a fabulous job here using the situation surrounding the curse to create a wonderful redemption arc for Gretchen.  Not only did I like Gretchen, but I ended up actually adoring her by the end of the story.

Happy Medium has a little something for everyone.  The humor is top notch, the paranormal antics of Everett are entertaining, and the personal and romantic journeys of both Gretchen and Charlie are so poignant and heartwarming.  Happy Medium is perfect for fans of enemies to lovers, grumpy sunshine, forced proximity, and of course silly ghosts and adorable goats!

 

Thanks so much to Tina Joell at Berkley for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour!

five-stars

About Sarah Adler

Sarah Adler grew up in rural South Central Pennsylvania, the land of Civil War reenactors and snack food factories. She received both her BA in History and American Studies and MA in History from American University in Washington, DC, where she focused on 19th and early 20th century U.S. culture. She currently lives in Frederick, MD with her husband and daughter. When she isn’t writing or yelling at Noodle, her very mischievous cat, to stop opening the kitchen cabinets, Sarah enjoys crocheting, going for walks, exploring used bookstores, reading, and eating baked goods.

Sarah’s debut novel, Mrs. Nash’s Ashes, was published by Berkley/Penguin Random House on May 23, 2023.

Romance Review – THE BREAKUP TOUR by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka @berkleyromance

Romance Review – THE BREAKUP TOUR by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka @berkleyromanceThe Breakup Tour by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Also by this author: The Roughest Draft
four-stars
Published by Berkley Books, Berkley Romance on January 23, 2024
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka are one of my favorite author duos.  I really enjoyed the realistic and angsty vibes of their last two adult romances and so was curious to see what they would do with their latest novel, The Breakup Tour, which I’ve seen described several times as being perfect for Swifties. How intriguing is that?

Riley Wynn is a rising star in the music industry, who is catapulted to mega-stardom thanks to her latest album, which chronicles all of her relationships which have ended in breakups, and especially thanks to its unforgettable lead single about the one who got away.  That song was inspired by Max Harcourt, Riley’s college boyfriend and fellow musician.  When Riley’s narcissistic and very toxic ex-husband starts telling everyone that song is about him, Riley approaches Max, even though she hasn’t spoken to him in ten years, and asks if he would be willing to go public as the inspiration behind the song. Max isn’t entirely comfortable with the idea but he eventually agrees to go on tour with her and perform the song at each concert.

I wasn’t entirely convinced that this was a realistic scenario but after watching Riley and Max interact, I decided I didn’t care, haha. I’m a huge fan of second chance romances and it was clear from the moment, Riley and Max first reconnect after a decade apart, that they still have major chemistry.  I enjoyed watching them reconnect against the backdrop of the concert tour, and I especially enjoyed watching them interact as they learned to play together once again.

Now, this was definitely a slow burn romance as both Riley and Max have some personal baggage that they need to work through before they could even begin to consider a future together, but I was definitely invested enough in their journey to wait for them to figure everything out, especially since the authors write those angsty, emotional scenes so well.

When I read this, I alternated between the e-arc and the ALC (thank you Berkley Romance and PRH Audio).  The writing flows smoothly, making the e-arc a read that I breezed right through, while the ALC, which was narrated by Dan Bittner and Brittany Pressley, was a great choice too. Bittner and Pressley beautifully capture both the chemistry between the characters as well as those angsty, emotional moments, really drawing me into the story.

I think whether you’re a Swiftie or not, if you enjoy slow-burn, swoony second chance romances and are interested in a behind-the-scenes look at a concert tour, you’ll definitely want to check out The Breakup Tour.

 

Thanks so much to Kristin Cipolla for the opportunity to take part in the blog tour!

four-stars

About Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka met and fell in love in high school. Austin went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard, while Emily graduated magna cum laude from Princeton. Together, they are the authors of Always Never Yours, If I’m Being Honest, Time of Our Lives, What’s Not to Love, The Roughest Draft, and Do I Know You? Now married, they live in Los Angeles, where they continue to take daily inspiration from their own love story.

Romance Review – LAST CALL AT THE LOCAL by Sarah Grunder Ruiz @berkleyromance

Romance Review – LAST CALL AT THE LOCAL by Sarah Grunder Ruiz @berkleyromanceLast Call at the Local by Sarah Grunder Ruiz
four-half-stars
Series: Love, Lists & Fancy Ships #3
Published by Berkley Romance on January 2, 2024
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 368
Source: Netgalley
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

Last Call at the Local is the third installment in Sarah Grunder Ruiz’s Love, Lists & Fancy Ships series and it honestly might be my favorite one yet! What I love about this series is that each book makes me feel so much. Whether I’m laughing at some hilarious banter or shedding tears about a sad turn of events, my heart is just always full the entire time I’m reading. Last Call at the Local was no exception to that and I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience.

Set in Ireland, the story follows Raine, a young American woman who has run into some bad luck that has left her broke and with little more than the clothes on her back. She stops in at a pub called the Local, where she has a very one-sided conversation with the pub’s cat, Sebastian, and meets Jack, who is not only Sebastian’s charming owner but he’s also part owner of the Local.  Jack and Raine hit it off immediately and once he hears about the predicament she is in, he offers her a temporary job at the pub to help her get back on her feet.  Neither Raine nor Jack realize how life changing this chance encounter and temporary job will turn out to be.

I cannot even express how much I adored both Jack and Raine.  They were just so perfect together and it was a joy to watch them interact and explore their growing feelings for one another.  I also admired them as individuals though because they’re both facing some mental health challenges.  Raine initially comes across as a free spirit, and while she is to a degree, she is also living with ADHD, which makes it hard for her to buckle down and focus. That’s why, when we meet her, she has been working as a traveling musician all over Europe. She figured it was the best of both worlds, a way to make money from her passion for music, but also no set schedule, no boss to answer to, and no family to be disappointed in her.  Jack, on the other hand, is dealing with the challenges of living with severe OCD. Ruiz handles the exploration of both ADHD and OCD thoroughly and respectfully, and I felt like I learned so much by having access to Jack’s and Raine’s inner thoughts and experiencing ADHD and OCD from their perspectives.

I loved being back in this world and was absolutely thrilled to bump into Ollie and Nina again and see what they’ve been up to.  Everything about this book was just perfect and I can’t recommend it and the whole series highly enough.  If you’re looking for a book that will leave you with a full heart and a smile on your face, be sure to check out Last Call at the Local.

 

Thanks so much to Kristin Cipolla from Berkley Romance for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.

four-half-stars

About Sarah Grunder Ruiz

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.

Romance Review – HOUSEBROKE by Jaci Burton @berkleyromance

Romance Review – HOUSEBROKE by Jaci Burton @berkleyromanceHousebroke by Jaci Burton
four-stars
Published by BERKLEY, Berkley Romance on December 12, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

Jaci Burton’s new novel Housebroke is a sweet and sexy romcom that features a millionaire who likes to buy, renovate, and sell houses, and a temporarily homeless woman with five rescue dogs who ends up living with him.

Hazel is reeling from a messy divorce that has left her broke and homeless. Some friends offer to let her stay at their house for a while, with the understanding that the house is for sale.  When Linc, the new owner, shows up unexpectedly, Hazel nearly clocks him with her cast iron skillet.  Linc wants her out of the house immediately so he can start renovating the property, but once he hears about her desperate situation, he doesn’t want to be the guy who kicks her when she’s already down so he invites her and her dogs to stay in his guesthouse.  Hazel agrees on the condition that he allows her to cook for him while she’s there.

I really enjoyed both of these characters, both individually and as a team. I loved watching the two of them bond, particularly when they were taking care of the dogs.  Linc clearly being a dog guy did a lot to endear him both to Hazel and to me, and I also loved how much he clearly admired Hazel for being so independent and that he also saw all that she had to offer. It was so nice to see, especially after knowing how awful her ex had been to her.

I also enjoyed the way Linc and Hazel’s story evolved. There was also a nice blend of sexy, spicy scenes as Linc and Hazel grow closer, as well as sweeter, more domestic scenes as the two of them, plus the dogs, fall into a comfortable, family-like routine. There’s a bit of tension, as both of them try to deny their feelings for one another, but it’s pretty obvious that fighting it is a losing battle.

And let’s not forget about those dogs.  From Penny the lovable golden retriever to Lillian the feisty chihuahua and Gordon the elderly pug, as well as a few others, the dogs really steal the show and were just a joy to read about. They are the glue that really brings Linc and Hazel together and I just wanted to adopt them all myself, haha!

This was my first time reading anything from Jaci Burton and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  If you’re in the mood for a charming romcom that features lovable big-hearted characters, both human and canine, be sure to check this one out!

 

Thanks so much to Tina Joell from Berkley Romance for the invitation to take part in this blog tour!

 

four-stars

About Jaci Burton

Jaci Burton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Boots and Bouquets series, the Brotherhood by Fire series, the Hope series, and the Play-by-Play novels. Learn more at jaciburton.com.

Romance Review – RAIDERS OF THE LOST HEART by Jo Segura @berkleyromance

Romance Review – RAIDERS OF THE LOST HEART by Jo Segura @berkleyromanceRaiders of the Lost Heart by Jo Segura
four-half-stars
Published by BERKLEY on December 5, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 357
Source: Netgalley
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan so as soon as I saw the title of Jo Segura’s debut romance novel, Raiders of the Lost Heart, I knew I had to read it! Between that title and the promise of a sexy adventure romcom featuring rival archaeologists, I knew I was in for a good time.

The story follows Dr. Socorro “Corrie” Mejía, an archaeologist who has devoted her career to studying Chimalli, an ancient warrior of the Aztec Empire, who also happens to be her ancestor.  Her dream is to someday lead an expedition into the Mexican jungle to search for Chimalli’s long lost remains.  An unexpected invitation to join just such an expedition, all expenses paid, sounds too good to be true to Corrie, but she just can’t resist if this means finally achieving her dream. To her utter dismay, once she arrives in Mexico, she learns the leader of the expedition is none other than her archnemesis, Dr. Ford Matthews.

I was angry for Corrie on so many levels.  She is clearly the expert on all things Chimalli so how could this guy be chosen over her to lead her dream expedition?  Not only that but we also learn that he broke her heart when they were in grad school together and he stole a fellowship that should have been hers. Needless to say, I was all aboard the Let’s Hate Ford Train when we first meet him, haha!  Ford eventually won me over though because it’s clear that he cares about and respects Corrie even in the face of their long-standing rivalry.

Corrie was truly the star of the show in this book. I loved watching her prove what a badass she is over and over again.  One of the other characters in the book refers to her as Lara Croft and I thought that comparison was perfect!  Ford is a great character too, much more sensitive than I was expecting him to be and clearly dealing with some issues of his own that are weighing him down.  I really enjoyed watching Corrie and Ford interact.  It’s clear that they have some pretty sizzling chemistry and I loved watching them work together, growing closer with each passing day, all the while trading some pretty hilarious banter because they’re both so darned competitive and can’t resist trying to outdo one another.

If you like a bit of action and adventure to balance out the romance and the more emotional moments of a story, you’ll definitely enjoy the actual expedition, which has plenty of twists, turns, excitement and danger to keep things interesting and keep Ford and Corrie on their toes.

Raiders of the Lost Heart is a fun, sexy read that also has a lot of heart. I loved it and look forward to reading more from Jo Segura.  If you like adventure romcoms, badass STEM heroines, enemies-to-lovers and forced proximity romances, you’re going to want to pick up a copy of this one.

Thanks so much to Kristin Cipolla from Berkley Romance for the invitation to take part in this blog tour!

four-half-stars

About Jo Segura

Jo lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and needy, but lovable, doggo Henrik (Swedish Vallhund—look it up, they’re adorable).

Her favorite season is Fall, though the color change in the PNW isn’t quite as beautiful as it is in her home state of Ohio. Jo loves cooking, though her favorite thing to eat (aside from potato chips) is pho, which she’s unsuccessfully tried to make three times. Her drink of choice is either a Gibson or a Bloody Mary, though lately she’s been experimenting with mezcal. She also loves puzzles, hiking, and karaoke.

Jo’s stories feature strong, passionate heroines and draw upon aspects of her life, such as her love of good food and great cocktails, dancing, her Mexican heritage, and her fascination with archaeology which inspired her debut romcom, RAIDERS OF THE LOST HEART, to be released December of 2023 by Berkley Romance.

Jo is represented by Eva Scalzo of the Speilburg Literary Agency.

Romance Review – THE FAKE MATE by Lana Ferguson @berkleyromance

Romance Review – THE FAKE MATE by Lana Ferguson @berkleyromanceThe Fake Mate by Lana Ferguson
four-stars
Published by BERKLEY on December 5, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

 

 

Thank you so much to Berkley Romance for the free e-copy of The Fake Mate and to Kristin Cipolla for the invitation to take part in the blog tour for this book!

I had never read a shifter romance prior to The Fake Mate, but after reading and loving Lana Ferguson’s spicy debut, The Nanny, I knew I wanted my first experience reading about shifters to be written by her.  I made the right decision too.  Not only is it a shifter romance, but it also features two of my favorite tropes, fake dating and grumpy-sunshine so I was definitely in my happy place reading this one.

The story follows Mackenzie (Mack) Carter and Noah Taylor, two wolf shifters who also happen to be doctors working at the same hospital. After a long string of disastrous dates, Mack has decided she is done with men for a while but is constantly having to dodge her grandmother, who is determined to find Mack a husband. As much as Mack loves her grandmother, she can’t take it anymore and during one particularly awkward conversation with her, blurts out that she is seeing Noah Taylor, the first man who happens to walk by while she is talking and absolutely the last man she would actually want to date. Desperate times call for desperate measures though, right?

Noah is dealing with a similarly sticky situation. He has hidden the fact that he is an Alpha male for years because of the stigma that surrounds that designation.  When someone sends an anonymous tip to the hospital board, Noah has to either come clean to the board and risk his future or else convince them that he is nothing to worry about because he has a mate.  When Mack approaches him to see if he would be willing to help her out, Noah, although shocked, reluctantly agrees since it sounds like this arrangement could solve both of their problems.

This was such a fun romance to read! Ferguson does a fabulous job with both the grumpy-sunshine and the fake dating tropes. I loved the initial snarky banter between the two of them and thoroughly enjoyed watching them get under each other’s skin.  My favorite part of a fake dating relationship is when those fake feelings give way to something real and Ferguson handled this aspect so well. I adored watching Mack and Noah really start to open up to one another. That bond of trust that starts to build up between them is everything and I just ate it up!

The Fake Mate is full of humor and heart, as well as a heavy dose of spicy shifter love. It was everything I hoped my first time reading a shifter romance would be and more!

 

four-stars

About Lana Ferguson

Lana Ferguson is a sex-positive nerd whose works never shy from spice or sass.

When she isn’t writing—you can find her randomly singing show tunes, arguing over which Batman is superior, and subjecting her friends to the extended editions of Lord of the Rings.

Lana lives mostly in her own head, but can sometimes be found chasing her corgi through the coppice of the great American outdoors.

Lana hopes to give the world all sorts of sexy stories between two dummies sharing a single brain cell—but until then: practice safe text, use commas.

Lana is represented by actual angel and anxiety-wrangling aficionado, Jessica Watterson at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Lana’s profile art was designed by mooncrabdesigns.

Review: GUY’S GIRL by Emma Noyes

Review:  GUY’S GIRL by Emma NoyesGuy's Girl by Emma Noyes
four-half-stars
Published by BERKLEY on October 24, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

Thank you so much to Berkley for the free copy of Guy’s Girl and to Yasmine Hassan for the opportunity to take part in the blog tour for this book!

Guy’s Girl is Emma Noyes’ adult debut novel and wow, does it pack an emotional punch!  I was sold on the book as soon as I read the first line of the synopsis:  “The boy who couldn’t love and the girl who wouldn’t.”  I felt myself getting invested in the characters as soon as I read that line and knew I had to find out more about Ginny and Adrian.  I became all the more invested when I read the author’s note and learned just how much of her own personal experience was the basis for Ginny’s journey.  While I’ve not personally struggled with an eating disorder, I’ve known a few people who have and appreciated that this book gave me a little more insight into what my friends might have been going through on their path to recovery.

The story is presented across multiple timelines and I thought this was such an effective way to follow Ginny’s journey.  The path to recovery is rarely ever linear and the author uses the multiple timelines to show Ginny at various points in her life and her successes and setbacks with respect to her eating disorder.  Ginny also struggles with anxiety, which has only compounded the problem over the years and led to her feelings of self-doubt, as well as her feelings that no one could possibly ever love her.  Ginny’s journey over the years is a heartbreaking one at times, full of raw emotion.  I definitely shed a few tears watching her struggle and make frustrating choices that sometimes just didn’t make sense,  but I loved Ginny and these struggles and poor choices made her feel all the more real to me, and I was fully invested in seeing her journey through to the end.

While Ginny’s journey to recovery takes center stage, I also enjoyed the exploration of her personal relationships.  As the title states, Ginny is a guy’s girl.  She has always found it easier to make friends with guys and loves that their friendships are usually drama free, as long as there’s no romance involved.  When she meets Adrian, however, that line gets blurred because Ginny feels so much more than just friendship for him.  Adrian is battling his own personal demons though and has no interest in romance.  He believes it isn’t worth the heartache he witnessed his own mother experience, and therefore, refuses to let love in.  While both Ginny and Adrian clearly need to work through their own issues before a healthy relationship is possible between them, I still love watching the two of them together.  I would definitely consider the romance a slow burn but watching Ginny and Adrian grow to become each other’s biggest supporters is just beautiful to watch.

Guy’s Girl is a powerful story that is also beautifully written, filled with raw emotions that just felt so authentic.  It’s an emotionally heavy read at times, but it’s also a story that is filled with healing, hope, and love.

 

 

four-half-stars

About Emma Noyes

Emma Noyes told her mother she wanted to be an author when she was six. She grew up in a suburb outside Chicago and attended Harvard University, where she studied history & literature. She started her career at a beer company, but left because she wanted to write about mermaids and witches—eventually publishing her first YA fantasy series, The Sunken City. She now lives in Chicago with her Swedish boyfriend and miniature Pomeranian. Guy’s Girl is her adult debut. Learn more online at www.emmavrnoyes.com.

Blog Tour – IRIS KELLY DOESN’T DATE by Ashley Herring Blake @berkleyromance

Blog Tour – IRIS KELLY DOESN’T DATE by Ashley Herring Blake @berkleyromanceIris Kelly Doesn't Date (Bright Falls, #3) by Ashley Herring Blake
Also by this author: How to Make a Wish, Girl Made of Stars
four-half-stars
Series: Bright Falls #3
Published by BERKLEY, Berkley Romance on October 24, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, LGBTQ, Romance
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

 

Thank you so much to Berkley Romance for the free copy of Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date and to Kristin Cipolla for the invitation to take part in the blog tour for this book!

Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date is the third installment in Ashley Herring Blake’s Bright Falls series. I have loved every book in this series and every wonderful character we’ve met along the way so I couldn’t wait to dive in and finally get to know more about Iris.

When we meet Iris in this new book, she has embarked on a new career as an author of romance novels.  Her debut novel went well, but she is struggling to write her second book and her own lackluster love life might be part of the problem.  While Iris is thrilled that Astrid, Delilah, and everyone else in their friend group has found love, she often finds herself the odd man out, so to speak.  One night, she decides to forget all of her troubles and heads to a bar in Portland.  She meets, and is immediately attracted to, a sexy stranger named Stefania, and the two of them really hit it off.  Instead of the hookup Iris was hoping for, however, the night ends in disaster.  What Iris doesn’t realize at the time, however, is that Stefania is about to become a very important person in her life.

Following her agent’s advice to get out there and do something to take her mind off her writer’s block, Iris decides to try out for a local play that is a gender-bent retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.  When she finds out who is playing the lead, Iris can barely believe it.  It’s Stefania, whose real name turns out to be Stevie, and it becomes apparent that Stevie has told everyone involved with the play that she and Iris are dating.  Stevie begs Iris to go along with it, so as not to embarrass her in front of everyone, and Iris decides to play along, figuring this ought to at least spark some ideas for writing her novel.

I loved this book so much!  In spite of their failed one night stand, it’s obvious that Iris and Stevie have major chemistry.   Iris is a fun and confident bisexual woman, but in this book, we finally get to see a vulnerable side to her that we haven’t seen before.  Stevie is a former actor who has been dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, and the two of them were just so messy and flawed and  honestly just perfect together.  It was wonderful watching their relationship transform from fake to real, and to see how much they grew to care for, respect and support one another. Some of their more in-depth conversations about things they have gone through just really tugged at my heartstrings because it really made their relationship feel so authentic.

It wasn’t just all heartfelt, vulnerable moments between these two characters either. There was of course plenty of steam and humor, plus several fun appearances by the other members of Iris’ friend group.  It also didn’t hurt that Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Shakespearean comedy. Watching Iris and Stevie actually act out scenes from that play was just icing on what was already a fabulous cake for me.

Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date is another immensely satisfying and heartwarming installment in the Bright Falls series.  I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys sapphic romance, fake dating, and stories that feature fabulous friend groups/found families.

 

 

four-half-stars

About Ashley Herring Blake

Ashley Herring Blake is a reader, writer, and mom to two boisterous boys. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching and loves coffee, arranging her books by color, and watching Buffy over and over again on Netflix with her friends. She’s the author of the young adult novels SUFFER LOVE and HOW TO MAKE A WISH.

Blog Tour Review – BETTER HATE THAN NEVER by Chloe Liese @berkleyromance

Blog Tour Review – BETTER HATE THAN NEVER by Chloe Liese @berkleyromanceBetter Hate than Never by Chloe Liese
four-half-stars
Series: The Wilmot Sisters #2
Published by Berkley Romance on October 10, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Retelling
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

Thank you so much to Berkley Romance for the free e-copy of Better Hate Than Never and to Tina Joell from Berkley Romance for the invitation to take part in the blog tour for this book!

Better Hate Than Never is the second book in Chloe Liese’s The Wilmot Sisters series. I adored the first book in the series, which is a modern day retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and was over the moon to learn this latest book is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, which is one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies.  Hearing that this is also Liese’s steamiest book to date only further added to the appeal!

I really enjoyed everything about this book. While the story contains many references to the original play, Liese does a wonderful job creating a fresh and unique enemies-to-lovers story. In her story, the protagonists, Katerina Wilmot and Christopher Petruchio are childhood enemies who have now grown into adults, and if possible, hate each other even more.  Their friends and family know they could actually be pretty great for one another if they could just get past the old flames of hatred, but Katerina and Christopher aren’t having it.  That is, until one drunken moment when Katerina confesses to Christopher that she only really hated him because she thought he hated her first.  After hearing this, Christopher vows to find a way to make peace with Katerina once and for all, but Katerina isn’t sure she buys his new act. Can Christopher win her over?

The banter between Christopher and Katerina was what really stole the show in this story. I found myself outright cackling at them several times as I was reading because they were both just so good at pushing each other’s buttons. Liese’s dialogue is sharp, witty, and just filled with clever barbs.  The romance is a slow burn one, but I was so thoroughly entertained by the banter that the story just flew by.

Not only was I thoroughly invested in the budding romance between Christopher and Katerina, but I also thought Liese did a wonderful job creating such well developed characters.  I was especially a big fan of Liese’s mental health rep in Better Hate Than Never. One character suffers from chronic migraines and panic attacks, while the other is dealing with ADHD, and Liese portrays each of these conditions thoughtfully and accurately.

If you’re a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope and are in the mood for a steamy, slow-burn romance, be sure to pick up a copy of Better Hate Than Never. You won’t regret it!

four-half-stars

About Chloe Liese

Chloe writes romances reflecting her belief that everyone deserves a love story. Her stories pack a punch of heat, heart, and humor, and often feature characters who are neurodivergent like herself. When not dreaming up her next book, Chloe spends her time wandering in nature, playing soccer, and most happily at home with her family and mischievous cats.

Chloe is represented by Samantha Fabien at Root Literary.

Blog Tour – FAKING CHRISTMAS by Kerry Winfrey

Blog Tour – FAKING CHRISTMAS by Kerry WinfreyFaking Christmas by Kerry Winfrey
five-stars
Published by BERKLEY on September 26, 2023
Genres: Fiction, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 288
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

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

 

Thank you so much to Berkley Romance for the free copy of Faking Christmas and to Tina Joell for the invitation to take part in the blog tour for this book!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m a huge fan of holiday reads and that I also love Kerry Winfrey’s books so I was over the moon to learn her newest novel was a holiday romance.  Faking Christmas is an enemies to lovers romance that also features fake relationships and the coziest of Christmas vibes.  I devoured this book in a day and adored every page of it!

The story follows Laurel Grant, who works as the social media manager for Buckeye State of Mind, an Ohio tourism publication.  When she landed this job, Laurel unintentionally led her boss, Gilbert, to believe she owns Meadow Rise Farm, which is actually owned by her twin sister, Holly.  She thinks nothing of this little white lie until Gilbert’s wife dumps him right before Christmas and he invites himself to the farm to partake in all of the holiday festivities that Laurel has chronicled in detail on the farm’s social media page as if she were the one hosting them even though she can’t even make Easy Mac without creating a kitchen hazard. Now all she has to do is switch places with her sister and pretend she is basically the Martha Stewart of the Midwest. Oh and that she is married to Max Beckett, a man she has loathed ever since she met him at her sister’s wedding.  What could possibly go wrong?

Everything about this read was pure perfection to me! Laurel is such an endearing character that I couldn’t help but root for her to somehow pull off this crazy plan.  I also loved how Laurel’s sister, Holly, was immediately onboard like “Sure, let’s do this. I’ll find you a fake husband!” Her cooperation provided the setup for the perfect blend of hilarious romcom antics, that snarky banter that goes hand in hand with enemies to lovers romances, and all of the festive and cozy holiday vibes.  The chemistry between Laurel and Max was also off the charts, so if you like a little sizzle in your holiday romances, Winfrey has you covered there as well.  Lastly, there’s even a lovely found family feeling as Laurel’s family practically adopts Gilbert to infuse his broken heart with a little holiday cheer.

If you’re looking for a delightful, feel good romance to add to your holiday TBR, you’ll definitely want to check out Faking Christmas!

 

 

five-stars

About Kerry Winfrey

Kerry Winfrey is the author of the adult romantic comedies WAITING FOR TOM HANKS, NOT LIKE THE MOVIES, VERY SINCERELY YOURS, and JUST ANOTHER LOVE SONG, as well as the teen romantic comedies LOVE AND OTHER ALIEN EXPERIENCES and THINGS JOLIE NEEDS TO DO BEFORE SHE BITES IT. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her family.