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Romance Reviews: IT STARTED WITH A DOG, PAYBACK’S A WITCH, & A HOLLY JOLLY DIWALI

Hello everyone!  I’m back today with some October releases you’re going to want on your radar if you’re in the mood for romance.  There’s a little something for the dog lovers, something for those who enjoy a good spooky season read, and last but not least, for those who enjoy a romance that also feeds their need to travel to faraway places.

 

Romance Reviews: IT STARTED WITH A DOG, PAYBACK’S A WITCH, & A HOLLY JOLLY DIWALIIt Started with a Dog (Lucky Dog, #2) Goodreads

Author: Julia London

Publication Date: October 5, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

It Started with a Dog is the second book in Julia London’s charming Lucky Dog series. It follows Harper Thompson, a young woman trying to work her way up the corporate ladder at her job. She is currently vying for a promotion and her boss has given her the major task of opening a flagship coffee shop for their Déjà Brew brand, including promoting it and making all the arrangements for the shop’s grand opening.  While she has no time at all for romance, an accidental swapping of cell phones during a Lyft ride from hell leads her to meet Jonah Rogers, a scientist at NASA who is on sabbatical to help his family with their struggling business while his dad recovers from cancer.  As they make arrangements to meet up and swap phones back once Jonah is back in town, Harper and Jonah really hit it off and engage in a series of flirty texts all week.  Harper is already obsessed with Truck, the enormous dog Jonah has as his phone’s wallpaper, and can’t wait to meet Truck and his owner.

Once Hannah and Jonah finally meet in person, the sparks really fly as it becomes clear they have major chemistry and a shared love of dogs.  They start dating, including a date where they go to a shelter and walk dogs.  It’s all sweet and they’re so happy getting to know one another, until a major obstacle appears before them – the Déjà Brew shop that Harper is helping to launch is directly across the street from Jonah’s family business, a mom and pop coffee shop called The Lucky Star.  Can their fledging new relationship survive the strain of being rivals?

I adored both Harper and Jonah.  Harper is so fierce and determined to land that promotion. I really loved her attitude and her spunk.  I loved Jonah too, especially because of the sacrifices he’s willing to make to try to help his family, including passing up an opportunity of a lifetime at his job.  My heart broke for both Harper and Jonah when they realized they were rivals and that Harper could actually be the one to cause The Lucky Star to go under and devastate Jonah’s family.  I was so invested in them and just really wanted them to find a solution that worked for everyone.  The wondering what would happen added a nice layer of suspense to keep me turning the pages.  If you like a little drama to balance out your romance, this element of the story should do the trick for you.

I’m enjoying Julia London’s Lucky Dog series so much.  I’m a sucker for a book that features dogs anyway, and with this series, I think I have a new favorite romantic trope – dogs serving as the catalyst to bring couples together.  4 STARS

 

Romance Reviews: IT STARTED WITH A DOG, PAYBACK’S A WITCH, & A HOLLY JOLLY DIWALIPayback's a Witch (The Witches of Thistle Grove #1) Goodreads

Author: Lana Harper

Publication Date: October 5, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

Lana Harper’s new witchy romance Payback’s a Witch follows Emmy Harlow, a young witch who abandoned her magical hometown of Thistle Grove years ago in favor of the bright lights of Chicago.  Emmy left in part because a warlock broke her heart, but also because she’s tired of being looked down  upon because the Harlows are the weakest and least magical of all the prominent witch families in Thistle Grove.  Emmy wants to make her way in the world where her magic doesn’t define or limit her.

When the story opens, however, Emmy is reluctantly on her way back to her hometown.  She has promised her father she will fulfill one last witchy duty – to serve as Arbiter at the annual spellcasting tournament.  When Emmy arrives in town, she reunites with her best friend, Linden, and also becomes reacquainted with another young witch she had a crush on in high school, Talia Avramov.  Emmy is appalled to hear that the same warlock who broke her heart years ago, Gareth Blackmoore, has been toying with Linden and Talia’s hearts as well.  Gareth thinks he can do whatever he wants just because his family is the most powerful in the town, and the three witches decide it’s time to take him down a peg or two and that the tournament will provide the perfect opportunity for revenge.

I don’t want to spoil anything about the tournament but it definitely has a bit of a Harry Potter Triwizard Tournament feel to it with the three most magical families vying for supremacy.  I loved the competition itself, which was action packed and a lot of fun, and of course, the witches putting their plan of revenge into motion made it all the more entertaining.

Aside from the tournament, Emmy’s journey is also quite compelling.  Once she is back home and can feel the magic she abandoned so long ago coursing through her veins again, she becomes very conflicted about who she is and where she wants to be.  She also finds herself very attracted to Talia and is beyond excited to realize that her feelings are reciprocated.  I enjoyed watching Talia and Emmy get to know one another, especially since that relationship adds another layer of complexity to Emmy’s journey of self-discovery.

I also really enjoyed the author’s atmospheric descriptions of Thistle Grove. It’s such a magical place with the perfect autumn vibe.  It was very easy to see why Emmy was torn about leaving once she was back under its spell.

If you’re looking for a fun witchy read to dive into this spooky season, I highly recommend Payback’s a Witch.  4 STARS

 

Romance Reviews: IT STARTED WITH A DOG, PAYBACK’S A WITCH, & A HOLLY JOLLY DIWALIA Holly Jolly Diwali Goodreads

Author: Sonya Lalli

Publication Date: October 5, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

Sonya Lalli’s new contemporary romance, A Holly Jolly Diwali, follows Niki Randhawa, a young woman who has just been let go from her job and is trying to figure out what to do with her life.  Niki has always considered herself a rule follower and a very practical sort of person and is really bummed that living in such a way clearly hasn’t gotten her anywhere.  She is also being gently pressured by her parents, who think she really needs to live a little and start dating. She reluctantly agrees to go on a date with Raj, a young man her parents approve of, and surprisingly, it is this young man who convinces Niki to do the most spontaneous thing she has ever done – pack her bags and head for Mumbai, India at the last minute to attend her friend Diya’s wedding.

I loved this journey for Niki because she really breaks out of her comfort zone by going on this trip.  It’s also a wonderful time for her to connect with her roots and learn more about her Indian culture and particularly about the Diwali celebration since she doesn’t really know as much about it as she feels she should.  Niki’s trip gets off to a bit of a bumpy start since she is so unfamiliar with Indian customs, but after a few awkward encounters, she starts to really embrace the experience and enjoy her time with family and friends.  I really enjoyed this aspect of Niki’s journey since it allowed me to learn about Indian culture and customs right alongside her.

My review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t touch on the romance.  While watching a band perform, Niki becomes somewhat infatuated with one of the musicians.  When an Auntie offers to set her up on a date with her son, Sam, Niki is about to refuse until she realizes that Sam is actually the hot guy from the band she was watching.  Sam and Niki cross paths later that same evening and it becomes clear that the attraction between them is mutual.  Their connection only grows when they join the married couple on the group honeymoon they have booked in beautiful Goa.  By the end of the vacation, Niki is so invested in her relationship with Sam that she’s conflicted – does she follow her head and go back home to Seattle where Raj, the perfectly nice guy her parents already like, is waiting?  Or does she follow her heart and do the less practical thing – move to London where Sam lives and start a new life there?  Niki and Sam were really cute together so I was rooting with all my might for her to follow her heart.  I always enjoy stories that involve that head vs. heart debate since it’s such a relatable situation for so many people.

I’ve been hearing good things about Sonya Lalli’s novels for a while now and was eager to try them for myself.  I’m so glad I did too because A Holly Jolly Diwali is an absolute delight! 4 STARS

Rom-Com Reviews: WITCH PLEASE and A SPOT OF TROUBLE

 

Happy Friday everyone!  Today is the start of a long holiday weekend here and I, for one, cannot wait to have a few days off to relax. Life has been pretty intense lately, so I’m all the more grateful for cute reads like the two I’m sharing my thoughts on today to distract me from real-life problems.

 

Rom-Com Reviews:  WITCH PLEASE and A SPOT OF TROUBLEWitch Please (Fix-It Witches, #1) Goodreads

Author: Ann Aguirre

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca

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

I was drawn to Ann Aguirre’s new witchy rom-com Witch Please as soon as I saw it being compared to Practical Magic meets Gilmore Girls.  Add to that comparison, a witch who has sworn off men, a man who is looking for true love but is pretty sure he’s cursed, and a meddling, matchmaking grandmother and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a very entertaining read.

Witch Please follows Danica Waterhouse, a modern witch whose magic centers around electricity and technology.  Danica and her cousin Clem, also a witch and also a technomancer, use their magic to run their technical repair shop, Fix-It Witches.  Both Danica and Clem have had bad luck in the love department and have made a pact to swear off serious relationships with men.  Flings are great, but that’s it.  This of course does not please their grandmother, who has made it her mission in life to find Danica a suitable magical husband.  Needless to say, things get awkward every time grandma shows up.

Titus Winnaker is the handsome owner of Sugar Daddy’s bakery.  Titus feels like he has been looking for love forever but every time he starts to get serious with a woman, she inexplicably dumps him.  This has gone on for so long that not only is Titus still a virgin, but he has become convinced that he is literally cursed.  He has no idea that when one of his ovens goes on the fritz and seeks service from the Fix-It Witches, that his life is about to change.

I really adored both Danica and Titus.  Danica is feisty and passionate, and she’s also very witty.  I also felt tremendous sympathy for her with respect to the tension with her grandmother.  Titus is a sweetheart too.  He’s a bit awkward but he’s so sincere about wanting to find someone to spend the rest of his life with that you can’t help but cheer him on.  He’s also got some unsettling family drama in the form of his father trying to force Titus and his sister to bond with their pregnant new stepmother.  Considering he was never around for his first family, Titus and his sister aren’t overly interested in bonding with family number 2.

Looking at everything these two had going on in their lives, I immediately wanted them to find each other.  It was clear from the first moment they met that they had off the charts chemistry.  The banter between them was both cute and hilarious and I immediately wanted more.  It’s a wild ride watching Danica and Titus get to know each other though because per her pact with Clem, all Danica wants is a one-night stand, whereas Titus is smitten with Danica from that first moment and knows she’s the one.  There’s a real push and pull between them as they both give in to and yet constantly fight their attraction to each other.

I did get a little bogged down along the way a few times.  There are some details that feel like loose ends or pieces of a puzzle and it took almost the entire story for those pieces to finally click into place and make sense.  I wanted the cute and sexy so I felt like my brain was having to work too hard to piece those elements together, haha!  There was also one character that shows up that just feels out of place and unnecessary. It turns out that there’s going to be a second book and I think he’ll feature in that one, but for this one, I was just like ‘Why are you here?  There’s already enough drama without you.”

Even with those couple of issues, I still quite enjoyed Witch Please.  If you’re looking for a super cute witchy rom-com to ease you into the spooky season, this is a great pick!  3.5 STARS

 

Rom-Com Reviews:  WITCH PLEASE and A SPOT OF TROUBLEA Spot of Trouble Goodreads

Author: Teri Wilson

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca

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

I had no idea until I read the author’s note that A Spot Of Trouble is actually a loose retelling of the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians.  I just saw that adorable cover and that it’s written by Teri Wilson, whose books I enjoy, and I knew I had to read it.  Having this turn out to be a fresh take on one of my favorite Disney films just made it all the more appealing to me.

You guys, this one is so cute and so funny!  Here’s a quick run down of the highlights.  It has a smalltown setting with a very close knit community, the kind where everyone knows everyone else’s business.  There’s also a major rivalry between the local firefighters and police officers, which comes to a head every year during the Guns and Hoses baseball tournament. There’s also a mischievous trio of old ladies who fancy themselves matchmakers and call themselves Charlie’s Angels.  Last but not least, the stars of the story are Violet Marsh, a bubbly cupcake baker/yoga instructor who owns an out-of-control goofy dalmatian named Sprinkles, and Sam Nash, a grumpy firefighter who is new to town and who also owns a dalmatian, Cinder, who has been trained to near perfection.   Add all of these ingredients together and it’s a recipe for nonstop laughs!

The sparks flew between Violet and Sam from their very first meeting when Violet accuses Sam of dognapping Sprinkles and sends the police after him.  As the daughter of the police chief, she is firmly on the Guns side of the Guns and Hoses rivalry and declares Sam her nemesis even though the two of them are clearly attracted to each other.  Hilarity ensues when the “Charlie’s Angels” also see the attraction and start hatching various zany plans to try to force Violet and Sam together.  I loved seeing what these ladies would come up with and how well their plans really did work in terms of making Violet and Sam look past the silly rivalry and really see one another and how good they could be for each other.

I don’t want to give anything else away, but if you’re in the mood for a fun read that delivers laugh after laugh and that features an opposites-attract romance, and of course two adorable dalmatians, A Spot of Trouble should be on your reading list. 4 STARS

Review: MOM JEANS AND OTHER MISTAKES

Review:  MOM JEANS AND OTHER MISTAKESMom Jeans and Other Mistakes by Alexa Martin
five-stars
Published by Berkley Books on September 7, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Women's Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

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

 

 

I was honestly not prepared for how much I would fall in love with Alexa Martin’s new novel Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes.  I requested it for review because of the fun title, cute cover, and because I enjoyed my last read from this author, but I’m going to tell you all right now before I break it down any further, this is my new favorite book about female friendships!

The story follows two women, Jude Andrews and Lauren Turner, who have been best friends since the third grade.  Jude is a popular social media influencer whose online brand is healthy eating, pilates, and a positive attitude.  Her online life, however, doesn’t even remotely resemble her real life, where she has a toxic relationship with her out-of-work celebrity mother and where a bad decision involving the guy she was dating left her with an empty bank account.  Lauren isn’t faring much better unfortunately.  She had to abandon her dream of becoming a doctor when she unexpectedly got pregnant and even more unexpectedly, when her fiancé decided to dump her and leave her to raise her daughter all alone.  Jude and Lauren turn to each other, as they have all their lives, and decide that the solution to their troubles is to move in together and be, as they like to call themselves, “Sister Wives”!

The relationship between Jude and Lauren just really spoke to me.  Sure, the book is filled with plenty of laughs and good times, particularly surrounding a fun podcast that Lauren and Jude decide to do together, but at the heart of the story is this truly beautiful friendship.  They are each other’s ride-or-die and it shows in everything they do for each other. I especially adored how much their love for each other spilled over to Lauren’s adorable daughter, Addy.  Jude would seriously lay down her life for that little girl and it just made me smile from ear to ear every time the two of them interacted.

Although the podcast provides plenty of laughs, Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes still has its fair share of more dramatic moments.  Jude and Lauren both have personal drama that weighs on them, Lauren in the form of her ex deciding, out of the blue, that he wants full custody of Addy, and Jude in the form of a mom who is little more than a parasite, constantly coming to Jude to beg for money to finance her career comeback.  Jude is so used to putting on this happy mask for her social media followers that she tries to do it to Lauren as well, but Lauren sees through her act and forces Jude to stop keeping everything all bottled up.

I really just loved everything about their friendship and about the book as a whole.  The book, like Jude and Lauren’s podcast, very realistically explores the ups and downs women, whether they’re moms or not, go through every day and sends the message that we should all support each other.  If you’re looking for a book that explores and celebrates the bonds of female friendship and sisterhood, I highly recommend Alexa Martin’s Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes.

five-stars

About Alexa Martin

Alexa Martin is a writer and stay at home mom. A Nashville transplant, she’s intent on instilling a deep love and respect for the great Dolly Parton in her four children and husband. The Playbook Series was inspired by the eight years she spent as a NFL wife and her deep love of all things pop culture, sparkles, leggings, and wine. When she’s not repeating herself to her kids, you can find her catching up on whatever Real Housewives franchise is currently airing or filling up her Etsy cart with items she doesn’t need.

Review: THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY by Freya Sampson

Review:  THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY by Freya SampsonThe Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson
four-half-stars
Published by Berkley Books on August 31, 2021
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

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

 

 

 

The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson is an absolute gem of a book.  I’m a sucker for a book about books anyway, but throw in a charming smalltown setting, a group of feisty senior citizens determined to do whatever it takes to save their local library, and an introverted library assistant who really wants to find her voice and this book was just an all around wonderful experience for me.

The story follows June Jones, a timid but lovable library assistant who works at Chalcot Library.  The library holds a special place in June’s heart, not just because she loves assisting fellow book lovers but also because for years, her mother also worked there.  Since June’s mother passed away, working at the library has been a way for June to still feel close to her.

I loved watching June interact with the patrons, especially the children, who she did everything she could to help foster their love of reading, and the elderly, who she not only helped with book recommendations but also with any technology/internet needs they have.  When the local council starts talking of closing the library as a way to save money and it appears that the head librarian, Marjorie, may be in on it and tells June she is forbidden from speaking out against the possible closure,  June is determined to do whatever she has to do to save the library, in spite of Marjorie’s warning, thus sealing her place in my heart as the beloved underdog.

I also had tremendous sympathy for June because in some ways, it seems that she is so busy trying to preserve her mother’s memory that she has stopped living her own life.  She still lives in her childhood home, hasn’t packed up any of her mother’s old belongings even though she died 10 years ago, and June has indefinitely put on hold her dreams of going to university to study writing.  Helping to save the library really seems to be the spark she needs to finally move forward and start living again.

It’s not just June fighting to save the library though.  The library’s elderly patrons spring into action, forming a Friends of the Library group to protest the closing.  I adored the members of this group so much.  They’re so much fun to read about –  all scrappy, full of wit, and just so incredibly devoted to the library.  Through their actions, it becomes clear that the library is so much more than just a building full of books. It’s a safe haven for the homeless, a place where teenagers who live in crowded homes can have a quiet place to study, a place where unlikely friendships are forged between a cranky old woman and an immigrant who is new to the area.  In short, the library is the very heart of the community.

I don’t want to say anything else that may spoil the plot, but this really is such a special story.  If you enjoy books about friendship, finding your voice and standing up for what you believe in, and of course books about books, be sure to check out The Last Chance Library!

four-half-stars

About Freya Sampson

Freya Sampson works in TV and was the executive producer of Channel 4’s Four in a Bed and Gogglesprogs. She studied History at Cambridge University and is a graduate of the Faber Academy. She lives in London with her husband, two young children and an antisocial cat. The Last Library (called The Last Chance Library on the U.S. version) is her debut novel.

Reviews: BATTLE ROYAL, HOT UNDER HIS COLLAR, & DELIA SUITS UP

Happy Monday all!  After delving into a few thrillers last week, I found myself running back to the rom-coms this week for some lighter, more upbeat reads.  I had a lot of fun with all three of the books I’m sharing with you today.

 

Reviews:  BATTLE ROYAL, HOT UNDER HIS COLLAR, & DELIA SUITS UPBattle Royal (Palace Insiders, #1) Goodreads

Author: Lucy Parker

Publication Date: August 17, 2021

Publisher:  Avon

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

Lucy Parker’s new romantic comedy Battle Royal became a must-read for me as soon as I learned that it features a reality TV baking show and two rival bakers who truly cannot stand one another.  Not only are these rivals forced to serve as judges together, but there is also a battle royal where the two rivals go head-to-head as they each try to win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design and bake a cake for a royal wedding.   This sounded like the perfect recipe (pardon the pun) for entertainment and Lucy Parker sure delivers!

I loved the main character Sylvie Fairchild from the moment she’s introduced.  She is a charming ray of sunshine and her shining personality comes through in every whimsical, often glittery, creation that she bakes in her shop, Sugar Fair.  Four years ago, she appeared on her way to victory on the reality TV show, Operation Cake, until the famous (and sexy) pastry chef, Dominic De Vere, voted her off the show and pronounced her as lacking in talent and relying on gimmicks.  When Sylvie is offered the opportunity to serve as a judge on the same show, she reluctantly agrees to do it even though it means she’ll have to deal with Dominic again.

In addition to serving as a judge on the reality show, Dominic also owns a well-respected bakery that is often used by businesses in the area and even by the palace at times. Sylvie snarks that everything Dominic bakes is beige and colorless, just like his personality.

I loved the tension between Sylvie and Dominic as the sparks flew between them.  It became clear pretty quickly that what they were feeling for each other wasn’t hate at all and it was very entertaining to watch their relationship grow and evolve, especially as they each vie for the contract to bake the royal wedding cake. It also becomes clear that they have more in common than they ever realized, particularly as it relates to loneliness and loss.

Battle Royal also features a fabulous cast of lovable secondary characters, including Dominic’s sweet sister Pet, as well as Sylvie’s coworkers at Sugar Fair, who, although they love to snark at each other all the time, are loyal to Sylvie above all else and were definitely her found family.  These characters were all so great. I became very invested in all of them and I’m hoping we’ll see them in future books since this is apparently the beginning of a new Palace Insiders series.

If you enjoy romances that feature rivals to lovers and sunshine personalities versus grumpy, Battle Royal is the book for you!  4 STARS.

 

Reviews:  BATTLE ROYAL, HOT UNDER HIS COLLAR, & DELIA SUITS UPHot Under His Collar (The Nolans, #3) Goodreads

Author: Andie J. Christopher

Publication Date: July 20, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

Andie J. Christopher’s new novel, Hot Under His Collar, is a forbidden romance, and the latest installment of her The Nolans series.  It focuses on Sasha Finerghty, an event planner with a bit of a problem.  She’s always drawn to what she can’t or shouldn’t have.  Her latest obsession with forbidden fruit comes in the form of a huge crush on Father Patrick Dooley.  She has drooled over the sexy priest from a far for a while now, but when she is paired up with him on a fundraising event to save the church’s pre-K program, her crush rises to a whole new level.

Father Patrick was very close to his devout mother and when she passed away, he decided to join the clergy to fulfill her dying wish.  He has questioned his choice for a while now and when he meets Sasha and realizes he is physically attracted to her, Patrick becomes even more conflicted about his path in life.

Both of these characters are super likeable and it’s very clear from their early interactions that, forbidden or not, they have major chemistry.  I had a lot of fun watching the two of them trying and failing to fight their attraction to one another.  The more time they spend together planning the fundraiser, the more opportunities there are for awkward and potentially inappropriate moments.   There are also a lot of engaging and thought-provoking internal monologues as both Sasha and Patrick reflect on what it would mean if they were to try to pursue a relationship.

The only drawback for me was that this was definitely a slow burn romance and I found myself getting impatient with them dancing around one another for so long.  I just wanted them to just hurry up and get together already so it was a little frustrating.  Even with that though, Hot Under His Collar is still a pretty fun and sexy read.  3.5 STARS

 

Reviews:  BATTLE ROYAL, HOT UNDER HIS COLLAR, & DELIA SUITS UPDelia Suits Up Goodreads

Author: Amanda Aksel

Publication Date: August 3, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

Amanda Aksel’s new novel Delia Suits Up is a hilarious modern day take on popular films like Freaky Friday and Big, but instead of just swapping bodies, you also swap genders.  Delia Reese wants to make it big on Wall Street and she has the credentials to do it.  However, no matter how many job interviews she goes on, no one will hire her.  She becomes more and more convinced she can’t land a job because she’s a woman.  During a drunken round of Truth or Dare with her roommates, Delia says if she could change one thing about herself, she’d wish to be a man.  When she wakes up the next morning, she has gotten her wish, penis and all.

After Delia’s initial freakout and after she has convinced her roommates she’s really her and not some random stranger who has turned up in their apartment, Delia changes the name at the top of her existing resume to a man’s name, dresses up in her roommate’s best suit, and heads back to Wall Street to make something happen for herself.

You guys, this is such a fun and entertaining read! Delia is such a great character and her frustrations with job hunting are all too relatable.  She’s also really funny.  I laughed out loud so many times as she was trying to get used to her new body, and in particular, to her new appendage.  Some might consider the humor to be a bit crude at times since a lot of it revolves around exploring that appendage.  Crude or not, it’s pretty hilarious.

It’s not all just over-the top humor though. There’s obviously a more serious exploration of sexism in the workplace as Delia tries to break through into the “boy’s club” that is Wall Street.  Another layer is added to the story when Delia encounters her best friend Eric, who she also has a crush on, while she is dressed as a man and accidentally learns how Eric feels about her.   One of the only downsides for me was actually that I would have liked a lot more of Eric and Delia together because he was such a sweet guy.

If you’re looking for a fun and fast-paced read and enjoy movies like Big, Freaky Friday, and 13 Going on 30, you’ll want to check out Delia Suits Up3.5 STARS

Romance Reviews: Isn’t It Bromantic? & It Happened One Summer

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  It was a quiet one here, filled with lots of quality reading time.  Today I’m sharing my thoughts one two fun romance novels, one of which, Isn’t It Bromantic? was one of my most anticipated reads of the year.  Check out my reviews and let me know if you’re planning to read either of these. 🙂

 

Romance Reviews:  Isn’t It Bromantic? & It Happened One SummerIsn't It Bromantic? (Bromance Book Club, #4) Goodreads

Author: Lyssa Kay Adams

Publication Date: July 20, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley

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

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know I’m pretty obsessed with Lyssa Kay Adams contemporary romance series, Bromance Book Club, and that the latest installment Isn’t It Bromantic? is one of my most anticipated reads of 2021.

Isn’t It Bromantic? finally gives us a story featuring Vlad, aka “The Russian,” the adorable but gaseous Russian professional hockey player.  Vlad is a fan favorite, and he’s definitely my favorite character so expectations were high. I didn’t think it was possible to love Vlad more than I already did, but this book proved me wrong.  For a beast of a hockey player, Vlad is actually the softest of soft boys and quite possibly the biggest romantic on the planet.  Women love him, animals love him, and his Bromance Book Club brothers love him.  The man even writes his own romance novels!

Vlad being such a romantic makes it all the more sad that he has spent the last 6 years in a marriage of convenience with Elena, a fellow Russian and his childhood best friend.  My heart truly broke for Vlad in the opening scenes of the novel when he confesses to Elena that he’s in love with her and wants a real relationship with her, and she snubs him and tells him she’s moving back to Russia. I have to admit that this at first made me feel pretty hostile toward Elena, but once it’s revealed why she’s acting the way she does, I felt more sympathetic toward her and really wanted her and Vlad to work things out since it was pretty clear her feelings for Vlad run way deeper than she’s letting on.

I don’t want to say much else since it’s best to watch the drama of Vlad and Elena’s relationship unfold for yourself, but suffice it to say that if you’ve enjoyed the hilarious shenanigans of the Bromance Cook Club boys in the past, you’re sure to enjoy yourself this time around too. There’s also a fun new cast of secondary characters, including a sassy group of widows who call themselves the Loners and who are very protective of Vlad and the mysterious Cheese Man, who feeds Vlad’s cheese addiction.

Four books in and I’m still loving the Bromance Book Club series so much.  They’re fun, sexy, and quick reads, perfect for devouring over a weekend or a day at the beach.  Here’s hoping that there will be a fifth book in the series!  4.5 STARS

 

Romance Reviews:  Isn’t It Bromantic? & It Happened One SummerIt Happened One Summer Goodreads

Author: Tessa Bailey

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

Publisher:  Avon

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

When I saw Tessa Bailey’s latest novel, It Happened One Summer, described as a Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com, it immediately landed on my must-read list. Schitt’s Creek is one of my favorite television series so I’ll admit that I was a little nervous about the comparison since it creates high expectations in the humor department for me, but I’m thrilled to report that It Happened One Summer really delivers. The Schitt’s Creek-inspired part of the story involves Piper Bellinger, a Hollywood party girl and influencer, who takes her partying one step too far and lands herself in jail.  Piper’s mother and stepfather are beyond furious at her behavior and decide to cut her off from their money and send her to live in a fishing town in the Pacific Northwest.  She’ll be living in an apartment above a bar that her father used to own and will have to fend for herself for three months.  The hope is that Piper will learn there’s more to life than parties, fashion, money, and getting likes on Instagram.

The characters in It Happened One Summer are what really made me fall in love with this story.  I honestly really wanted to dislike Piper when we first meet her, just because she comes off as such a flake, but she wormed her way into my heart almost immediately.  There’s so much more to her than first meets the eye.  She’s got a huge heart, she’s a lot stronger than she thinks she is but at the same time, she has a vulnerable side as well, particularly when it comes to her own sense of self worth. I felt so much sympathy for her when she talked about how alone she feels in Hollywood, even when she’s in the middle of a crowd.  The more I got to know Piper, the more I wanted her to find happiness in this little fishing town so that she wouldn’t return to the toxic Hollywood environment.

As much as I adored Piper’s character, I loved Brendan, the sea captain, even more.  He’s big, burly, and gruff, but like with Piper, there’s so much more to him than first meets the eye. He might be a grizzly bear on the outside, but he’s soft like a teddy bear on the inside.  Brendan’s wife Desiree died seven years ago and he now devotes most of his time to helping his father-in-law keeping Desiree’s memory alive.  In essence, Brendan himself has stopped living.  That is, until he meets Piper and the sparks fly.  From the moment the two of them meet, it’s clear they are each exactly what the other needs and I was hardcore rooting for them to get together.  I don’t want to give anything away about how their relationship progresses, but I was fully invested in every page, every scene of it, even the inevitable angsty, dramatic moments of their journey.

It Happened One Summer is a sexy, flirty, romance that will leave you feeling swoony, but at the same time, it’s a hilarious read that will have you laughing out loud page after page.  It’s truly just a delightful read! 4.5 STARS

YA Review: WHERE IT ALL LANDS by Jennie Wexler

YA Review:  WHERE IT ALL LANDS by Jennie WexlerWhere It All Lands by Jennie Wexler
four-stars
Published by Wednesday Books on July 6, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

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

 

 

Jennie Wexler’s debut YA contemporary novel Where It All Lands is one of the more unique stories I’ve read recently.  It’s a story about love, friendship, missed opportunities and second chances, and it’s about how something as simple as the flip of a coin can alter the course of a person’s journey.

The story follows three teens: new girl Stevie Rosenstein and Shane and Drew, who have been best friends forever.  Both Shane and Drew find themselves drawn to Stevie and want to ask her out.  They don’t want to step on each other’s toes though and have a girl come between their friendship, so they do what they always do when they need to resolve something and move on – they flip a coin.  Whoever wins the coin flip gets to ask Stevie out and the loser steers clear.

It’s here that the story takes a unique turn because the author presents the rest of the story in a dual timeline:  in one timeline, Shane has won the coin toss and becomes involved with Stevie and in the other timeline, Drew has won and it is he who gets to ask out Stevie. I have to admit I was a little nervous when I realized it was somewhat of a love triangle, but I really loved how the author presented the relationships in each timeline. She really fleshes out all three characters and shows how sometimes even the smallest choices people make can have a huge impact on their lives and the lives of those around them.

Even though it was the unique concept of the love triangle/coin flip dual timeline that drew me to this story, what really made me love it was the cast of characters.  I adored Stevie, Shane, and Drew.  I was particularly drawn to Stevie because she had spent her whole life moving from city to city because of her father’s job.  Every time she makes friends, she immediately has to pack up and move.  She’s lonely and at this point in her life is hesitant to even bother trying to make new friends.  I felt so bad for her and was immediately rooting for her to find some great friends and convince her dad to settle in one place so she can put down roots.

I also adored Shane and Drew, especially because of their friendship.  They’ve both been through so much and no matter what, have always been each other’s number one support system.  I didn’t want them to let a girl, or anyone else for that matter, come between them, so I was anxious to see if they would really be able to abide by the rules of their coin toss or if the tension would come to a head and cost them not only Stevie, but also their lifelong friendship.  Wexler does a wonderful job creating tension and straining these relationships to the brink.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers but I’ll say that this book also had me in tears a few times.  I just became so invested in these characters that when tragedy strikes (also presented in a dual timeline with different outcomes) I was immediately a wreck.

Even though there’s definitely quite a bit of heartbreak sprinkled throughout, overall Where It All Lands is still a heartfelt and hopeful book.  If you enjoy unique stories that feature love, friendship, trust, second chances, and possibilities, you’ll want to check out Where It All Lands.

four-stars

About Jennie Wexler

Jennie Wexler spent the first part of her career producing television shows appearing on VH1, Bravo, and The Travel Channel. She has a BA in literature/rhetoric from Binghamton University and an MA in television/radio/film from The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Jennie’s debut young adult contemporary novel will be released on July 6th, 2021. She is a member of SCBWI and lives in New Jersey with her husband, son, and Havanese puppy.

Romance Review: WHILE WE WERE DATING by Jasmine Guillory

Romance Review:  WHILE WE WERE DATING by Jasmine GuilloryWhile We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
Also by this author: Royal Holiday (The Wedding Date, #4), Party of Two
four-stars
Series: The Wedding Date #6
Published by Berkley Books on July 13, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 336
Also in this series: Royal Holiday (The Wedding Date, #4), Party of Two
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

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

 

While We Were Dating is the sixth book in Jasmine Guillory’s popular contemporary romance series, The Wedding Date. I’m a big fan of this series so I’m thrilled to report that Guillory’s latest is just as delightfully sexy and swoony as its five predecessors.  One of the things I love about this series is that even though the books are loosely interconnected and characters sometimes make appearances in later books in the series, each book still works quite well as a standalone.  While We Were Dating follows Hollywood actress Anna Gardiner and Ben Stephens, an up and coming executive at an ad agency.  For those familiar with the series, Ben is the younger brother of Theo Stephens who appears in The Wedding Party.  Theo and his girlfriend Maddie also make an appearance in this story.

Guillory always does a wonderful job of crafting main characters that are likeable, relatable, and that have undeniable chemistry between them and Anna and Ben are no exception here.  Anna has been struggling with anxiety recently and so has had to put her acting career on the backburner.  She feels ready to take on the world again and is determined to take control of both her career and her personal life and mount a comeback.  I loved Anna right away because while she may be ultra-famous, she’s not a diva at all.  While she’s clearly aware of how talented she is, there’s never a time when she tries to act like she’s more entitled than anyone else. I loved how down-to-earth she is.  She’s also funny, sexy, sassy, and smart, so there’s plenty about her to love.

Anna meets Ben when the ad agency he works for decides to make a pitch for a campaign that is going to feature Anna. Ben usually takes a backseat when it comes to pitching big campaigns like this one, but when his colleagues are delayed in getting to the pitch meeting, it’s finally Ben’s turn to shine in the spotlight.  And shine he does!  Ben is charming, sexy, funny, and he’s also very good at his job.  The chemistry between Anna and Ben becomes immediately apparent during the meeting. In fact, Anna is so impressed by Ben that she tells the campaign heads that she wants Ben’s agency but only if Ben runs the show.

I loved watching Anna and Ben grow closer and especially enjoyed that their relationship wasn’t just all about the sex.  Sure, there were plenty of swoony sexy scenes between them sprinkled throughout, but there are also many heartfelt discussions as they discuss their families as well as their own mental health struggles.  Both Anna and Ben regularly see therapists and they have some very healthy discussions about why they do.  In addition to the sexy and the heartfelt moments, there are also some downright comical moments that involve road trips, fake dating, as well as shenanigans to avoid the paparazzi.

I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m going to stop now, but as with all of the other books in this series, I just had a lot of fun reading While We Were Dating.  It’s one of those stories that just has something for everyone and it just left me feeling so content when I reached the last page.

four-stars

About Jasmine Guillory

Jasmine Guillory is a graduate of Wellesley College and Stanford Law School. She is a Bay Area native who has towering stacks of books in her living room, a cake recipe for every occasion, and upwards of 50 lipsticks.

Review: THE MAIDENS by Alex Michaelides

Review:  THE MAIDENS by Alex MichaelidesThe Maidens by Alex Michaelides
four-stars
Published by Celadon Books on June 15, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

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

 

 

I was very impressed with Alex Michaelides’ debut psychological thriller The Silent Patient when I read it last year.  It was a shocking and compelling read that I just couldn’t put down, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of his latest offering, The Maidens.  Set primarily at Cambridge University in England, The Maidens is a twisty, atmospheric psychological thriller that follows Mariana Andros, a group therapist who unexpectedly finds herself at the center of a murder investigation and becomes obsessed with catching the killer.

Mariana is a pretty complex character with a lot of layers, so having the story unfold from her perspective made for a very addicting read.  Mariana is a former Cambridge student herself and she also met her husband there, so her ties to the university run deep, especially since her husband has recently died in a tragic accident.  Mariana is still grieving and just going through the motions from day to day, so when her niece Zoe, currently a Cambridge student, calls to tell Mariana that her roommate is missing and a dead body has been found on campus, Mariana heads to the university right away.  She goes on the premise of offering comfort to Zoe, but when it’s determined that Zoe’s roommate is the victim and that she was a member of a secret all female society called The Maidens, whose members are all hand-picked by the handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor, Edward Fosca, Mariana becomes convinced he must be involved in the girl’s death, especially when it becomes clear that his only alibi are the other girls in his secret society and when another one of them turns up dead.  Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt is what drives the action in the story and makes for such an intense, unputdownable read.

It is of course a wild, twisty, and suspenseful ride as we follow Mariana on her quest. I loved how unpredictable the story is. It took me in directions I never expected to go and kept me guessing to the very end. As intoxicating as the murder mystery itself was though, I was also very much drawn to both Mariana and to Fosca. I love it when a thriller has complex characters to complement its complex plot.  Mariana is such a sympathetic character because she has experienced so much loss and is obviously still trying to cope. Being surrounded by university memories of her dead husband has to be so overwhelming and in some ways, I think she tunnel visions on the murders as a distraction from her own pain.  Fosca, on the other hand, is fascinating in his own right because he’s so charismatic.  Students line up for a chance to sit in on his lectures and the young women he chooses for his special society are clearly willing to do anything for him.  The subject matter he is so passionate about also ties quite closely to the manner in which the girls were murdered. Is it a coincidence or is this guy’s charm all an act to cover up something sinister?

I don’t want to give anything away with respect to the murders, but if you’re looking for an atmospheric psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and that has an almost Gothic feel to it at times, be sure to check out The Maidens.

four-stars

About Alex Michaelides

Alex Michaelides was born and raised in Cyprus. He has an M.A. in English literature from Trinity College, Cambridge University, and an M.A. in screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The Silent Patient was his first novel and was the biggest-selling debut in the world in 2019. It spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list and sold in a record-breaking forty-nine countries. Alex lives in London.

Romance Reviews: VERY SINCERELY YOURS & LOVE SCENES

Happy Friday everyone!  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two romance novels that I think are going to find their way into a lot of beach bags this summer because they are both truly delightful.

 

Romance Reviews:  VERY SINCERELY YOURS & LOVE SCENESVery Sincerely Yours Goodreads

Author: Kerry Winfrey

Publication Date: June 15, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey follows Teddy Phillips, a young woman who is going through a rough patch.  Her longtime boyfriend has just unexpectedly dumped her and kicked her out of their home.  After spending so many years catering to this man’s every whim, Teddy feels like she doesn’t even know who she is without him.  She spends most of her days working at a vintage toy store and engaging in her biggest guilty pleasure, watching a local children’s show that is hosted by a sexy Mr. Rogers type named Everett St. James.  Of course Everett is easy on the eyes but what Teddy really loves about his show is how kind and respectful he is to all of the children who send him letters looking for advice.  When Teddy decides to take a chance and send him a letter herself, she has no idea how much her life is about to change.

I swear this book was like catnip for me.  I loved every page of it and just couldn’t get enough of both Teddy and Everett.  They’re both just such sweet, soft, adorable characters and as soon as I met each of them, and especially as soon as Everett wrote a response to Teddy and they basically became flirty email pen pals, I knew they would be perfect for one another. Their emails truly gave me life as I was reading.  They’re filled with witty banter, good advice from Everett, as well as humorous sign offs that made me laugh out loud.  The more Teddy and Everett wrote to each other, the more I was rooting for them to find their way to each other in person.

It’s not even just Teddy and Everett that made Very Sincerely Yours such a wonderful read for me; it was also all of Teddy’s friends.  She has such a lovely and supportive relationship with the owner of the  toy store.  They’re more like mother-daughter than boss-employee and I really enjoyed their friendship.  I also adored Teddy’s roommates, who were her best friends prior to her relationship with loser guy.  He basically monopolized her attention to the extent that she drifted apart from her besties, but they were right there for her every step of the way after she got dumped and they really helped her pick up the pieces and get back to living her life and having fun.  It was just so nice to see Teddy surrounded by so much love and support.

Very Sincerely Yours is one of the most delightful romantic comedies I’ve read so far this year.  It’s a gem of a book that is sure to put a smile on your face.  5 STARS!

 

Romance Reviews:  VERY SINCERELY YOURS & LOVE SCENESLove Scenes Goodreads

Author: Bridget Morrissey

Publication Date: June 22, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

Love Scenes by Bridget Morrissey follows Sloane Ford, a young actress who hails from Hollywood royalty.  Everyone in her family works in film and they’ve decided to work on a project together, a WWII era romance, and although they wanted Sloane to play the lead, she declined because it conflicted with work she was doing on a TV series.  When her character is abruptly killed off, Sloane’s mother offers her a job as a producer on their film, but doesn’t tell her they’ve cast Joseph Donovan, her arch nemesis and the man who almost derailed her acting career, to play the male lead.  Oh boy, what has Sloane gotten herself into?

I really enjoyed the chemistry between Sloane and Joseph from the moment they come face to face on the movie set.  It’s clear that there is some loaded history between them, and it’s also clear that they have feelings for one another, whether they want to admit it or not.  Joseph knows how awful he was to Sloane the last time they worked together and he really wants to make amends.  Sloane was recently dumped by her musician boyfriend and is completely off the whole idea of love. But when she steps on the movie set, and the female lead is abruptly fired and Sloane is asked to fill in, the more she works with Joseph, the more she realizes she doesn’t hate him as much as she thought she did. I really liked both Sloane and Joseph a lot and wanted her to give him a chance to prove he has changed.

As much as I enjoyed the evolving relationship between Sloane and Joseph, what I loved most about this book is Sloane’s family.  They’re such a fun, tight-knit, and quirky group and I love watching them all interact as they worked together on the film.  The egos, the personalities, the ex-husbands and ex-wives who are still very much part of the family, etc. were just so entertaining to watch and I loved how vividly and realistically the author brings this family to life. I especially loved the relationship between Sloan and her sister Tyler, who is also directing the film.  The two of them are very close and actually used to make home movie versions of their favorite films for fun when they were kids.  I love a good sibling relationship and watching these two sisters work and grow together just made for a lovely read.

Love Scenes is a fun read that is filled with romance, family, and all the drama you could ever expect to find on a movie set and then some! It’s also a wonderful story about second chances that will warm your heart.  4 STARS.