Tag Archive for: romance

Review: BOOK LOVERS by Emily Henry

Review:  BOOK LOVERS by Emily HenryBook Lovers by Emily Henry
Also by this author: Beach Read
five-stars
Published by BERKLEY on May 3, 2022
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
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.

 

 

Emily Henry’s new novel Book Lovers follows Nora Stephens, a top notch literary agent in Manhattan. She’s great at what she does, has a take no prisoners attitude, and thus has earned herself a reputation as a shark in the industry.  Nora also has a softer side though, when it comes to her younger sister, Libby.  They lost their mom when they were young and so Nora has practically raised Libby.  Even though Libby is a grown, married woman with baby number three on the way, Nora still deems herself Libby’s protector and the person who fixes things so that Libby is always happy and safe.  So when Libby announces she and Nora are going to get away from New York for an adventure before the new baby arrives, of course Nora drops everything and follows Libby, to of all random places, Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, the tiny town that inspired one of Nora’s client’s most famous novels.

I really adored Nora and liked that we got to see both that tough, driven workaholic side of her personality as well as the softer, more vulnerable, yet ultra-protective side that comes out whenever she’s with her sister. You can just tell that Nora and Libby have been through a lot together and their close bond is very moving to witness. I also loved that as part of their trip to Sunshine Falls, Libby has created a “bucket list” of sorts for her and Nora to complete – wear flannel, date a local, go skinny dipping, etc.  Libby’s list lends itself to many entertaining, often laugh out loud moments as it forces Nora way outside of her comfort zone.

Watching the sisters interact was definitely a highlight of Book Lovers for me, but that’s not to say the romantic element was any less satisfying.  In fact, it was pretty spectacular, particularly if you’re into romance of the slow-burn variety with witty banter that moves from sharp and cutting to increasingly flirtatious the closer the characters become to one another.  Even though Nora wasn’t a fan at first, I really loved Charlie Lastra from the first moment we meet him, mainly because he really gives Nora a run for her money in the shark department.  He’s a broody editor type who is not impressed by Nora showing up late for their meeting and isn’t bashful about telling her this.  The fireworks between them are immediate, and even though Nora swears she can’t stand the guy, she also can’t stop thinking about him.  When he also shows up in Sunshine Falls unexpectedly and runs into Nora, the sparks just keep flying.  I loved watching their relationship grow once they each get past their initial impressions of one another.  It turns out that Charlie is actually from Sunshine Falls and is home dealing with some complicated family issues.  Henry excels at writing realistic characters with messy lives, and both Nora and Charlie fit the bill.  As the older sibling in my family, I could relate to many of the things each character was trying to work their way through.  That said, I was also very much rooting for them to team up and face life’s challenges together.

I love Emily Henry’s books anyway, but Book Lovers truly felt like it was custom-made for me.  I love New York and I love small town settings, and I get both with this book.  I also adore book loving characters and the enemies-to-lovers romance trope, and again, I get both here. Lastly and perhaps the biggest draw of all, the sisterly bond between Nora and Libby, and all of the complicated family issues facing both Nora and Charlie.  If you’re familiar with my blog and the types of books I tend to gush over, you already know that Book Lovers checked pretty much all the boxes for me. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it ultimately left me with a smile on my face.  I think Emily Henry has another winner on her hands with Book Lovers.

five-stars

About Emily Henry

Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the now-defunct New York Center for Art & Media Studies. Find her on Instagram @EmilyHenryWrites.

Reviews: THE SUITE SPOT & IF YOU ASK ME

 

How in the world is it March already?  It feels like just last week I was reading my first book of 2022 and now it’s nearly spring and I’ve read 46 books. Amazing how much reading time insomnia and cancelling your cable can get you, lol. Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well. Today, I’m sharing two more fabulous reads that straddle the line between romance and women’s fiction.  This was my second read from Trish Doller this year and she’s now an auto-buy author for me.  This was my first time reading LIbby Hubscher and I enjoyed this one so much that I’m really hoping to read her last book Meet Me in Paradise later this month.

 

Reviews:  THE SUITE SPOT & IF YOU ASK METhe Suite Spot (Beck Sisters, #2) Goodreads

Author: Trish Doller

Publication Date: March 8, 2022

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin

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

One of my first five star reads of 2022 was Float Plan, the first book in Trish Doller’s Beck Sisters series.  It was such a beautifully written story about loss and grief and about how Anna Beck finds her path forward after losing the love of her life.  That book just blew me away, so needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second book in the series, The Suite Spot, and meet Anna’s sister Rachel Beck. How did this book compare to the first one?  5 stars all the way!

Rachel Beck’s life is not going as she had hoped it would.  She’s still living with her parents and she’s a single mom dealing with a flaky baby daddy.  Rachel loves her daughter, and she loves her job as a night reservations manager at a posh hotel in Miami Beach, that is until she gets fired for telling off one of the hotel’s VIP guests when he tries to ram his tongue down her throat.  With limited prospects, Rachel decides it’s time for a fresh start and she takes a management position at a brewery hotel on an island in Lake Erie called Kelleys Island.

I really admired Rachel’s spunk and determination.  It’s not easy to just pack up and move across the country, but she knew she needed to do something both for herself and to make sure her daughter has the best possible life.  I hated that she was wrongfully terminated from a job she loved, but I was so happy for her when it becomes clear that this new job is the chance of a lifetime, definitely professionally but also personally – if she can get Mason, the sexy but moody hotel owner to open up to her.

As much as I loved Rachel, I think I may have loved Mason even more.  Under that moody exterior is a man who has suffered a devastating personal loss and is clearly still reeling from it and struggling to move forward.  As soon as the townsfolk meet Rachel, they are rooting for her to be the one to help him put the pieces of his life back together.  And I was rooting right along with them because I loved the chemistry between Rachel and Mason and I loved how they were such a great team when it came to bringing all of the details of the hotel together.  They were just so in synch with one another and I thought they really brought out the best in each other too.  Each is exactly what the other needed.

Rachel and Mason’s growing relationship had me 100% invested in the story from a romantic standpoint, and there was also plenty of angst and drama to keep me turning those pages.  I also really loved all of the scenes that dealt with the brewery and with the designing of the hotel’s interior.  Those scenes could have easily been dry and dull and pulled me out of the story, but instead, I thought the scenes were vibrant and really helped enhance the reading experience. I could practically see the beautiful rooms coming together and taste the new delicious craft beers that Mason was brewing.

I flew through The Suite Spot in just a couple of sittings and was left thoroughly satisfied by the book’s conclusion.  If you’re in the mood for an engaging and heartwarming story with a strong focus on romance, family, and how to cope with loss and grief, you’re going to want to check out The Suite Spot. 5 STARS.

 

Reviews:  THE SUITE SPOT & IF YOU ASK MEIf You Ask Me Goodreads

Author: Libby Hubscher

Publication Date: March 8, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

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

Libby Hubscher’s new novel If You Ask Me is a heartwarming and hilarious romance that follows what happens when a popular advice columnist finds her own life in turmoil.

Violet Covington writes Dear Sweetie, a popular advice column in North Carolina.  She doles out sage wisdom on everything from matters of etiquette to parenting to relationship advice.  When the story opens, Violet has just received the great news that her column is being considered for national syndication.  She goes home, intending to tell her husband and celebrate, only to get there and discover he’s in their bed, naked with their neighbor.  Feeling betrayed and hurt, rather than take a page from the countless times she has given advice on this subject, Violet goes off the rails, first by using her column to dole out some uncensored brutally honest advice and vent her frustration, and second, by torching almost all her cheating husband’s belongings on her front lawn.  The second one isn’t all bad though as it brings a sexy firefighter named Dez to her door.

I found Violet to be a very sympathetic character and I liked her a lot, even though some of her rogue moments had me cringing for her, knowing she would regret her actions later.  I also really loved Dez. It’s clear from those first moments with Violet that he’s a sweet and caring man, and that he’s a bit smitten with Violet even though she’s obviously a hot mess.  I was so excited for her when he stopped by the next morning to make sure she was okay and left his phone number for her.  I was rooting hard for the two of them to get together because they just seemed so perfect together, and Violet deserves so much better than a man who had the nerve to bring another woman into their bed.

As sweet as Violet and Dez’s journey to a possible happy ending is, it’s really Violet’s personal journey that drives this story.  When she goes off the rails, it is not without consequences.  There’s fallout professionally and personally because her boss is also her best friend.  The hole she digs for herself forces Violet to take a good hard look at herself and decide how she’s going to find her path forward from the infidelity, especially if she hopes to have a future with Dez.

If You Ask Me is one of those books that has a little something for everyone. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me angry at times, and I loved how hopeful it had me feeling as the story wound to its conclusion.  The writing is also wonderful, flowing smoothly so the story is an easy read, and I especially loved the entertaining excerpts we get from Violet’s Dear Sweetie column.

If You Ask Me is an enjoyable read that is sure to appeal to romance fans and to fans of women’s fiction.  4 STARS

Reviews: BY ANY OTHER NAME & A BRUSH FOR LOVE

 

I’m back today to share some reviews for two wonderful new romances that are coming out on March 1. While I’m excited to share my thoughts on these two books, I did want to take a moment to say that my heart is with the people of Ukraine.  I don’t know what the future holds for them, but their bravery and determination has really been inspirational.

 

Reviews:  BY ANY OTHER NAME & A BRUSH FOR LOVEBy Any Other Name Goodreads

Author: Lauren Kate

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Publisher:  Penguin Publishing Group

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

Lauren Kate’s new novel, By Any Other Name, follows Lanie Bloom, a young woman who chose to be a romance editor specifically because of her love of the novels of Noa Calloway. Lanie has learned everything she knows about love and romance from Noa’s books and even agreed to marry her fiancé, Ryan, because he matched all the items on a checklist Lanie made, inspired by one of Noa’s books.  Noa also happens to be a client at the publishing house where Lanie works.  Fans (and the publishing house of course) are anxiously awaiting Noa’s latest novel, but there’s a problem – the elusive Noa is four months late delivering the manuscript and no one knows why, not even her editor, who is Lanie’s boss.

When Lanie’s boss doesn’t return to work after her maternity leave, Lanie is promoted, which means working side by side with her idol Noa.  There’s one catch – Lanie only gets to keep the promotion (and probably her job as well) if she can get Noa to deliver a best-selling novel in the next three months.  Lanie is excited to meet her idol but feels like a rug has been pulled out from under her when the meeting takes place and Noa is not at all what Lanie was expecting. Once Lanie got over her initial feelings of shock and betrayal, she and Noa bonded quickly and I loved watching the two of them work together.  Noa’s issue is of course writer’s block and when Lanie hears the heartbreaking reason why Noa is struggling to write the latest book, she is determined to do everything she can to help make this book happen.

Working so closely with Noa makes Lanie reconsider some things in her own life and I really loved her journey and growth as a character.  I also loved Lanie’s passion and her big heart and was really cheering her on to break through Noa’s writer’s block. Although Lanie and Noa were my favorite characters, I also had major love for the secondary characters as well, especially Lanie’s best friends and her grandmother. They were all charming, hilarious, and the best possible support system for Lanie.

I was also a huge fan of the book’s setting, which moved from New York to Italy, two of my favorite places in the world.  Noa’s books have always been set in New York, but during their first big conversation about the writer’s block, Noa confesses that New York feels used up. I loved that Lanie was able to find a way to refresh Noa’s thoughts on New York and that we got to explore lesser known gems of the city with them.

One of the most special elements for me in By Any Other Name is Noa’s book.  We are given an inside look at the premise of the story, as well as some actual excerpts. It’s beautiful and romantic and had me wishing it was a real book so I could read it from cover to cover.

If you’re like me and you enjoy books about books, books that make you laugh as well as shed the occasional tear, stories where a character’s personal growth takes center stage and that also feature a slow-burn, low-key romance, By Any Other Name is the book for you.  4 STARS.

 

Reviews:  BY ANY OTHER NAME & A BRUSH FOR LOVEA Brush with Love Goodreads

Author: Mazey Eddings

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

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

I love stories that feature academic settings so I was drawn to Mazey Eddings new romance A Brush with Love because it’s set in a dental school. I thought this was an absolutely delightful read and found myself cheering for Harper and Dan from their first fateful meeting when Harper falls down the stairs, crashes into Dan and shatters the dental mold he has been slaving over for hours.  I don’t usually do insta-love but something about their eyes meeting during this funny, clumsy meet cute just really appealed to me and I was hooked on seeing where this first meeting would take them.

Harper has no time for romance.  She’s in her final year of school and is hoping to earn a placement in one of the top oral surgery residency programs in the country.  She’s intense and driven and dedicates all her free time to studying.  She also frequently experiences anxiety and feels like she has to be in control of all aspects of her life to keep that anxiety at bay.  Harper feels bad about crushing Dan’s project though so she volunteers to help him recreate it, but that’s it, then it’s back to studying…even though she does think he’s cute.  I really liked Harper a lot. I loved her determination and her passion for her career choice. I also felt that she could use a little more school/life balance though and that Dan might be exactly what she needs.

Dan is almost the opposite of Harper.  Although he’s her age, 26, he’s just beginning dental school, and where she’s a superstar, Dan is struggling.  He’s not doing well in his classes and he just doesn’t feel nearly as passionate as Harper does about going into this field.  We learn that he has another passion but has given it up in order to help his mother with her dental practice, which she co-ran with Dan’s father until he passed away.  I adored Dan. I loved that he was willing to make such a huge sacrifice for his mom, but at the same time, my heart broke for him since he was so clearly unhappy studying dentistry.  Meeting Harper has clearly been the high point of his time at school and I loved him all the more for him understanding how important school is for her. Even though he really likes her, he respects her wishes to just be friends

I thought the author did a wonderful job of making their budding relationship feel very realistic, especially in terms of the ups and downs.  Dan and Harper start spending a lot of time together and the more they bond, the harder it is to just stay friends.  But there’s a lot of turmoil as they are both working through personal issues in addition to just the normal school stress.  I loved how Dan was always so supportive of Harper and didn’t give up on her no matter how difficult she could sometimes make things. Dan was so good for her that I just kept hoping he would win her over for a more-than-friends relationship.

Aside from Harper and Dan, I also loved most of the side characters in this book, especially Harper’s friend group.  Her squad is filled with vibrant personality; they’re both hilarious and also just such an awesome support system for Harper.

I highly recommend A Brush with Love to anyone who enjoys a sweet, realistic friends-to-lovers romance, an academic setting, and a cast of awesome secondary characters.  4 STARS.

Reviews: DELILAH GREEN DOESN’T CARE and FULL FLIGHT

 

Hey fellow book lovers! I hope you all had a nice weekend and were able to get in plenty of reading time.  I had a pretty good weekend. We’re in a lull right now between winter and spring travel soccer so we didn’t really have anywhere we needed to be so that was nice.  Today I’m back with my last two February review books, just in time for their publication dates tomorrow.  I’ve been trying to do a better job of getting my ARCs reviewed before the publication dates this year. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep up with it, but so far so good.  Anyway, on to the reviews.  One is the adult debut from one of my favorite YA authors, Ashley Herring Blake, and the other is a YA contemporary from Ashley Schumacher, whose first novel Amelia Unabridged was a big hit in 2021. I didn’t review it on the blog but I did read it and thought it was wonderful.

 

Reviews: DELILAH GREEN DOESN’T CARE and FULL FLIGHTDelilah Green Doesn't Care (Bright Falls, #1) Goodreads

Author: Ashley Herring Blake

Publication Date: February 22, 2022

Publisher:  Berkley

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

Ashley Herring Blake’s adult debut Delilah Green Doesn’t Care follows Delilah Green, a young woman who is in New York following her dream of becoming a professional photographer.  She is finally getting noticed professionally and she’s also content with her personal life, which is filled with fun casual hookups, basically a different woman in her bed most nights.  Having been burned in her last serious relationship, Delilah has no interest in falling in love again.  She also has no interest in returning to Bright Falls, the town she grew up in.  As far as she’s concerned there’s nothing there for her. Her mom died when she was very young, and although her dad remarried, he died as well, leaving Delilah with her stepmother and with a stepsister, Astrid, who clearly doesn’t like her. For reasons Delilah cannot fathom, however, Astrid begs Delilah to be her wedding photographer and offers to pay her $10,000 to do it.  Short on cash, Delilah reluctantly agrees and mentally steels herself for a painfully awkward visit home.

Claire Sutherland is a single mom raising an 11 year old daughter.  The dad is partially in the picture but is unreliable and seemingly not up to the task of being a full time dad. In addition to all of her parental duties, Claire also runs a bookstore in Bright Falls.  For Claire, raising her daughter is her number one priority and everything else comes second, and that includes romance.  On a rare night out with her best friends, one of whom happens to be Astrid, Delilah’s stepsister, Claire’s friends tease her mercilessly about her lack of a love life and dare her to get someone’s phone number before she leaves the bar that night.  When a sexy tattooed brunette dressed all in black struts into the bar, Claire decides to make her move, not realizing that the woman she is about to hit on is none other than Delilah.

Oh goodness, where to start with what I enjoyed about this book!  I of course loved Delilah and Claire. They’re both strong women trying to make their way in the world. I also loved their chemistry, but even more so that it’s not a straightforward insta-love situation.  Instead, it’s actually super awkward, which felt so much more realistic to me.  Any attraction between Delilah and Claire is hampered not only because of Astrid and Delilah’s strained relationship, but also because Astrid’s whole circle of friends, including Claire, completely ignored or made fun of Delilah while they were growing up.  They were some of the main reasons why Delilah couldn’t wait to leave Bright Falls.  Is there any way Claire and Delilah can move past that and make a fresh start?

I loved watching Delilah and Claire navigate this journey, but even more so, I was completely engrossed by the relationship between Delilah and Astrid.  I’m a sucker for a sibling story, and man, theirs is a good one with lots of layers.  I have to admit that I kind of hated Astrid and a couple of the ladies in her circle early on in the novel, but by the end of this journey, they won me over.

With its combination of fully developed characters, riveting family drama, fun wedding antics, a lovable found family, as well as a sexy steamy romance, Delilah Green Doesn’t Care has it all.  4 STARS

 

Reviews: DELILAH GREEN DOESN’T CARE and FULL FLIGHTFull Flight Goodreads

Author: Ashley Schumacher

Publication Date: February 22, 2022

Publisher: Wednesday Books

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

Don’t let that beautiful swoony cover fool you, Full Flight by Ashley Schumacher packs an emotional punch that will make you ugly cry.  It’s a heartbreaking but beautifully written story about feeling like you’re missing half of yourself, until you finally find someone who makes you feel whole, and what happens if you were then to lose that someone…

I was drawn to this book because of its focus on high school students in the marching band.  I didn’t personally play an instrument myself but I was in the color guard when I was in high school so I felt a kinship to this entire group of kids.  The main characters, Anna James and Weston Ryan, are both members of the band, and are assigned to play a duet together.  Anna is new to the band and struggling with her half of the duet, so she begs Weston to help her since the band director is threatening to give her part to someone else.  Anna and Weston have never so much as exchanged a single word with one another prior to Anna’s request for help so it’s awkward to say the least.

Weston is the character who intrigued me the most, mainly because he just has so many layers. He has somehow earned the reputation of being a weirdo and a troublemaker, even though it doesn’t appear to be who he really is at all.  Aside from a small circle of friends, most of his fellow students don’t really have much to do with him and he feels very much out of place and alone, with music as his only solace.  Because of his reputation, he’s absolutely shocked that Anna wants his help and at first tries to push her away.

I loved Anna, not only because she was stubborn and persistent enough to finally convince Weston to help her, but also because she flat out did not care about what other people thought about Weston.  She thinks he’s a great guy and that’s all that matters to her. She makes it her mission to make others give Weston a chance, including her parents who judge Weston very harshly when they find out their daughter is associating with him.

I really enjoyed watching Anna and Weston connect, both in the practice rooms as they worked to perfect their duet, and in their personal lives as they first become friends and then realize they feel more than just friendship for one another.  Watching their first love blossom was just so sweet and endearing, which made the tragedy that brought it all crashing down that much more heart-wrenching.   I don’t want to spoil anything but you might want to have some tissues handy.

My absolute favorite part of Full Flight is a reference to the Kauai O’o bird that runs through the entire book.  On the brink of extinction, this bird was the last of its kind and still called to its mate, ever hopeful that its mate would respond.  Weston did a school report on the bird when he was younger and felt that it was a kindred spirit.  The way the author ties this bird to Weston and Anna’s story was beautiful and heartbreaking and yet still somehow filled with hope, just like Full Flight itself.  This is a story that is going to stay with me for a very long time. 4 STARS

Romance Reviews: HOOK, LINE AND SINKER & MR. WRONG NUMBER

 

Happy Friday!  I’m back today to share reviews for two of my most anticipated romance reads of the year.  I actually have a couple more February ARCs to read and review, but my inner mood reader just wouldn’t wait for these two any longer.  So happy to report that both of these reads lived up to my very high expectations, which is always nice.  🙂

 

Romance Reviews:  HOOK, LINE AND SINKER & MR. WRONG NUMBERHook, Line, and Sinker (Bellinger Sisters, #2) Goodreads

Author: Tessa Bailey

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Publisher:  Avon Books

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

Tessa Bailey’s new novel Hook, Line and Sinker is the follow-up to last year’s popular romance, It Happened One Summer. The main characters of this installment are Hannah Bellinger and Fox Thornton, who we met in the first book.  It was pretty clear in that first book that the two of them were attracted to one another, and I loved both characters so I was very excited to head back to the small coastal town of Westport, Washington to see what, if anything, might develop between them. I was also hoping for a few glimpses of Hannah’s sister, Piper, and her significant other, Brendan, our sunshine/grumpy duo from the first book and was not disappointed.

What I found most intriguing about Hannah and Fox is how truly vulnerable they both are.  On the surface, Fox seemingly prides himself on being a ladies’ man and his reputation precedes him everywhere he goes.  The more we get to know Fox though, the more we see that Fox is actually quite uncomfortable with his reputation.  It has almost beaten him down to the point that he feels like he has nothing to offer any woman he actually cares about.  He’s also attracted to Hannah but has been warned by pretty much everyone in Westport to stay away from her, that’s she’s too sweet for a player like him. He therefore settles for a friendship with her.

Hannah also has some insecurities.  She is passionate about music and would love to pursue a career putting together soundtracks for films, but she just doesn’t feel she has what it takes.  As she tells Fox, she’s just not “leading lady” material and will always be in the background.  Fox knows about her passion for music because it was at a vinyl album convention that the two of them first bonded and he makes it his mission to get her to see that she can do anything she puts her mind to.  Hannah treasures his friendship and support, and they grow even closer when Hannah, who is planning to stay with her sister when she comes to Westport, ends up staying with Fox instead due to some logistical issues.  Temporarily living together is all it takes for their friendship to grow into something more and I enjoyed watching them navigate the waters between friendship and more than friendship.

It takes a while for Fox and Hannah to get to where I wanted them to be, but I found their friendship to be very endearing so the slow burn didn’t bother me at all.  They always have a great time together, but they are also there for each other when it counts, offering emotional and moral support as they each set out to figure themselves out and what they’re actually capable of. Just as Fox makes it his mission to give Hannah the boost she needs, she does the same for him, making it her mission to prove to him that he is so much more than just a ladies’ man with a handsome face.

Bottom line, Hook, Line, and Sinker is a slow burn romance that is worth the wait.  4 STARS

 

Romance Reviews:  HOOK, LINE AND SINKER & MR. WRONG NUMBERMr. Wrong Number Goodreads

Author: Lynn Painter

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

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

Lynn Painter’s novel Better Than the Movies was one of my favorite YA reads last year, but I think she has really outdone herself with Mr. Wrong Number, her new adult rom-com.

The story follows Olivia Marshall, a young woman who has a streak of bad luck a mile long.  She was cheated on and then dumped by her longtime boyfriend, she loses her job, and in a freak accident involving a bucket of burning love letters and a runaway possum, she manages to burn her apartment down and has to temporarily move in with her brother and his roommate, whom she loathes.  Olivia feels like she has pretty much hit rock bottom, but then life throws an unexpected twist at her in the form of a steamy text from a random wrong number.  With nothing else better to do, Olivia strikes up a conversation with Mr. Wrong Number and their exchanges form the basis of the hottest, most entertaining relationship she has ever had.

I adored Olivia. She’s hilarious, sarcastic, down to earth, and just so relatable. I love that she’s able to laugh at herself even when she’s dealt a terrible hand and that she’s even able to take her bad luck and spin it into a writing gig for herself.  Her text exchanges with Mr. Wrong Number also kept me in stitches. Without even having met, the two of them obviously had major chemistry.

I also quite enjoyed the relationship between Olivia and Colin Beck, the roommate she loathes.  Olivia’s hatred of him springs from a childhood of him mocking and teasing her.  Olivia soon realizes that Colin isn’t that obnoxious boy anymore. He has in fact grown up into a sexy beast with abs to die for, and he’s actually quite thoughtful and kind-hearted.  I loved watching the two of them realize they’re attracted to one another and then proceed to fight that attraction every step of the way.  Colin, in particular, tries hard to fight his growing attraction to her because she’s his best friend’s little sister, but then everything goes off the rails for him, when to his horror, he spots Olivia’s phone one night and realizes she’s the Miss Misdial he has been sexting with for weeks!  What’s he supposed to do now?!

I don’t want to give anything away but what a ride! The shenanigans, the miscommunication, it’s the perfect blend of high drama and humor as we journey to the end to see if there’s the possibility of a happy ending for Mr. Wrong Number and Miss Misdial.  I loved every page of this book and devoured it in a day. I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve laughed out loud so many times while reading a book – Mr. Wrong Number was pure joy for me and left me all the more eager to read more from Lynn Painter. 5 STARS

Reviews: ONE NIGHT ON THE ISLAND & THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMES

 

Hey everyone!  I hope you all had a nice weekend. Did anyone watch the Super Bowl?  I had it on as background noise while I was blogging but wasn’t really rooting for anyone this year.  It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through February and that Valentine’s Day is upon us, but here we are.  Today I’m sharing reviews for two outstanding books that I was fortunate enough to read last week.  I was having a busy, draining week because of work so it was lovely to have two 5 star reads round out my week for the better.  One Night on the Island is the third novel I’ve read from Josie Silver, and Jennifer E. Smith is a new-to-me author.

 

Reviews:  ONE NIGHT ON THE ISLAND & THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMESOne Night on the Island Goodreads

Author: Josie Silver

Publication Date: February 15, 2022

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

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

Josie Silver is the queen of writing beautiful, heartfelt stories and her latest novel, One Night on the Island, is exactly that.  It features a young woman named Cleo, who writes a popular dating column for a British publication.  Her column follows her as she searches for her soulmate. Thus far her journey has been entertaining but unsuccessful, and now that she is about to turn 30, her boss thinks now would be a great time for Cleo to do something special for her column to mark the occasion.  The boss’ idea of something special is to send Cleo to Salvation, a remote island in Ireland, on a mini sabbatical of sorts, where she can relax, re-energize, and basically fall in love with herself. The culmination of this journey would be a self-coupling ceremony where she marries herself, to signify that she’s at peace with herself and happy she’s single.

Cleo isn’t completely sold on the self-coupling idea but decides time for self-care in a remote location might not be such a bad thing.  That is, until she discovers that the cabin she is supposed to be staying in has been double-booked and there’s no where else to stay on the tiny island.  Great…how is she supposed to embark on a journey of self-reflection and self-love with an unwanted roommate, especially when that roommate is a handsome American photographer named Mac who gets under Cleo’s skin from the first moment they meet?

I really loved the chemistry between Cleo and Mac.  There are some hilarious moments between them as they verbally sparred over who was most entitled to stay in the cabin and when they resort to drawing a chalk line through the center of the cabin to carve out space for themselves.  But it’s not all humor between these two.  Mac is separated from his wife, on the verge of divorce, and is missing his kids like crazy.  He’s pretty heartbroken and has no idea what his future is going to look like. He has, on the surface, come to Salvation to photograph the island for an exhibit, but he’s also there to do some soul searching.  In spite of their initial animosity toward one another, Cleo and Mac begin to talk and realize that their reasons for being on the island aren’t so different.  I really loved once they made it to this part of their relationship and began to grow closer.

While Cleo and Mac and their growing relationship definitely stole my heart, I was also completely enamored with all of the residents of Salvation.  They’re basically one big extended family and they welcomed Mac and Cleo with open arms.  The sense of community and how they were all there for one another just made my heart swell.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous that the self-coupling aspect of the story would be a little hokey, but Silver pulls it off flawlessly and it ended up being one of the most moving and magical moments of the whole book for me.  The rugged terrain of Ireland didn’t hurt either, adding so much atmosphere and beauty to the moment.

If you enjoy heartwarming books that feature both a romance as well as an intimate personal journey for its characters, I highly recommend One Night on the Island5 STARS

 

Reviews:  ONE NIGHT ON THE ISLAND & THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMESThe Unsinkable Greta James Goodreads

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

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

The Unsinkable Greta James is the first novel I’ve read from Jennifer E. Smith and boy does it pack an emotional punch!  It follows successful indie musician Greta James as she takes a week-long Alaskan cruise with her estranged father.  The cruise was meant to be a 40th wedding anniversary trip for Greta’s parents, but Greta’s mom passed away unexpectedly.  When her father announced he was going on the cruise anyway because the trip meant so much to his wife, Greta reluctantly agrees to accompany him so that he won’t be alone with his grief.

The complicated dynamics of the relationship between Greta and her dad captivated me from the start.  It’s clear that they love each other immensely and would do anything for each other, as is evidenced by Greta agreeing to be stuck on a ship with her dad for a week. But, that said, it’s equally clear that the relationship is very strained and that much of the strain is due to Greta’s dad not approving of her career in music. I immediately became invested in them mending their relationship, especially seeing how much they were both hurting over the loss of Greta’s mom.  Whether they realize it or not, they need each other more than ever before.

Greta’s journey in this book isn’t just about repairing her relationship with her dad though. It’s also a journey of healing for herself.  Her mom was her biggest fan, attending her rock concerts and holding up a sign that read “Greta’s Mom” on it.  Knowing that she would never again see her mom’s face and sign in the crowd again emotionally wrecked her and she actually breaks down on stage in the middle of her first performance after her mom’s death.  The moment went viral and she received a lot of bad press over it, to the point where she doesn’t even know if she has a career anymore.  She’s at a crossroads and trying to figure out how she can move forward.

I adored Greta and was 100% in her corner as she navigates her way through the minefield of pain and grief that surrounds her. I became especially enamored with her when a teenage girl recognizes her on the ship and tells her that she plays guitar like Greta and wants to be just like her.  They share several scenes throughout the book and it’s so sweet to see Greta take the time to mentor this girl even with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

The Unsinkable Greta James is one of the most moving books I’ve read in a while.  It’s a sad but hopeful story and it really made me think a lot about the importance of family and the power of healing. I will also freely admit that I cried my eyes out several times, especially as I approached the final heartwarming moments of this beautiful story. It’s one that is going to stick with me for a while, no doubt about it.  5 STARS

Reviews: SOMETHING FABULOUS & GETTING HIS GAME BACK

 

Happy Friday all!  I’m so ready for the weekend but first I want to share reviews for a couple of romances that come out this week that you’re going to want to add to your TBR.  One is from a recent favorite author of mine, while this other is a wonderful debut.

 

Reviews:  SOMETHING FABULOUS & GETTING HIS GAME BACKSomething Fabulous Goodreads

Author:  Alexis Hall

Publication Date: January 25, 2022

Publisher:  Montlake

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

I’m a relatively new fan of Alexis Hall’s, having read and loved two of his most recent novels, Boyfriend Material and Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake.  He has such a knack for creating lovable characters and putting them in hilarious predicaments that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his latest book, Something FabulousSomething Fabulous is a Regency romance but it’s not like any Regency romance I’ve ever read.  I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so hard while reading a book. On Goodreads, Hall describes the book as such: “It’s a big gay regency romp about an overly dramatic beautiful rainbow sunshine unicorn and an overly dramatic demisexual grumpy duke, going on a cross-country chase.”  That description is spot-on and I can’t improve upon it.

I’m all about a good grumpy-sunshine romance so I was enamored with the two main characters as soon as they were introduced. Valentine Layton is an ultra-reserved Duke who is intent on doing his duty at all costs, even if it means marrying Arabella Tarleton, a woman he really has no romantic interest in, just to carry out his father’s wishes.  Valentine comes across as a stuffed shirt who could really use a good roll in the hay, and it becomes obvious early on that it’s not Arabella who gets under Valentine’s skin, it’s her twin brother, Bonaventure or “Bonny,” who is just as much of a ray of sunshine as his nickname makes him sound and who pretty obviously has a massive crush on Valentine.  Valentine initially thinks Bonny is a pain in the rear but the two of them are forced to work together to find Arabella, who is so repulsed by the idea of a marriage of convenience with a man she doesn’t love, she runs away in the middle of the night.

I don’t want to spoil what happens when Bonny and Valentine embark on this cross-country chase, but let me just tell you, hilarity ensues. Basically, they’re one step behind Arabella throughout the chase and she plants outrageous lies about Valentine everywhere she has been, so that trouble is waiting for him every time he stops somewhere she stopped and inquires about her. There were a couple of times I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes.

There are also some tender moments and some super steamy ones as Bonny and Valentine finally start to acknowledge their feelings for one another.  I loved watching the two of them grow closer.  The banter is still there so most of these scenes are still quite funny, but they’re also pretty touching as well. There are also a few more serious moments as Valentine reflects on his own sexuality, what is socially expected of a man in his position versus what he realizes he actually wants for his life.

Something Fabulous is not exactly what I was expecting going in, but I still thought it was a very entertaining read.  The humor is silly and over the top at times, think Monty Python or The Princess Bride when you start reading and you’ll have a pretty good feel for the overall tone of the book. If you’re looking for a read that is pure escapism in its silliest form, grab yourself a copy of Something Fabulous4 STARS

 

Reviews:  SOMETHING FABULOUS & GETTING HIS GAME BACKGetting His Game Back Goodreads

Author: Gia de Cadenet

Publication Date: January 25, 2022

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Dell

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

Getting His Game Back is a contemporary romance and it’s also Gia de Cadenet’s debut novel.  Based on the cover, I was expecting a rom-com, but while it does have some humorous moments, this is a more serious love story that tackles some pretty big topics, like mental health, the challenges interracial couples can face, and even gender stereotypes.

It follows Khalil Sarda, a young man who has been dealing with depression and seeing a therapist.  He’s feeling much better than he did a year ago and is hoping to leave his depression in the past as he focuses on his chain of barbershops and thinks about dating again.  A self-professed ladies’ man, Khalil thinks the dating will be the easiest part of his recovery, that is, until Vanessa Noble walks into his shop and sets his heart aflutter.  Vanessa is a career-driven Black woman working in the male-dominated tech industry.  She has no time for romance because she’s too busy stomping on every stereotype that gets thrown at her.  That is, until fate and a fire at her favorite hair salon, sends her running to Khalil’s shop because she desperately needs her hair done prior to a huge presentation. Vanessa has no interest in dating anyone who isn’t Black because of some bad past experiences, but after chatting with Khalil, she has to admit the temptation is there.

I really enjoyed watching Khalil and Vanessa get to know one another.  Both characters are so likeable and they’ve both been burned by past relationships, so I liked that hint of vulnerability we see as they consider the possibility of romance with one another.  I especially liked the frank discussions they have with one another about interracial couples.  Even though he looks white, Khalil is actually French-Algerian and the product of an interracial relationship himself so he knows firsthand the challenges Vanessa speaks of and the microaggressions that have been directed toward her.  I also thought the author did a wonderful job exploring Khalil’s depression and the impact depression can have on a person and on all their relationships.  I loved the respect and support Vanessa and Khalil showed one another, and I especially loved that Vanessa doesn’t let Khalil push her away when his depression resurfaces and threatens their relationship. They’re a team in every sense of the word, and I was 100% invested in their relationship and hoping they would find their way to a happy ending together.

While not the rom-com I was expecting, Getting His Game Back is still a satisfying read and a wonderful love story that I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys romances that explore weightier topics.  4 STARS.

Reviews: WEATHER GIRL & MADE IN MANHATTAN

 

Hey everyone, hope your week is off to a great start.  It snowed 14 inches here last week and since we don’t really do snow well here in central Virginia, the whole area was pretty much shut down all week.  I work from home so it didn’t impact me too much, plus it made for a great excuse to cozy up in front of the fire with some wonderful books, two of which I’m sharing reviews for today.

 

Reviews:  WEATHER GIRL & MADE IN MANHATTANWeather Girl Goodreads

Author:  Rachel Lynn Solomon

Publication Date: January 11, 2022

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

Rachel Lynn Solomon’s latest contemporary romance, Weather Girl, follows Ari Abrams, a young Jewish woman whose lifelong fascination with the weather has landed her a dream job as a TV meteorologist.  Working alongside her longtime idol, legendary Seattle weatherwoman, Torrance Hale, Ari’s job is everything she ever hoped it would be.  That is, with one exception:  the unbearable tension in the workplace between Torrance and Seth, who happens to be the news director at the station as well as Torrance’s ex-husband.  The two of them are constantly at each other’s throats, making everyone around them feel awkward and uncomfortable, including one of Ari’s coworkers, sports reporter Russell Barringer.  Unable to take it anymore, Ari and Russell cook up a scheme to get Torrance and Seth back together.  Adult version of The Parent Trap, anyone?

I had a lot of fun with this story.  Ari and Russell are both such likeable characters and I enjoyed their attempts at nudging Torrance and Seth back together, especially since it became clear that the two of them were also growing closer along the way.

I also just loved how realistic and relatable Ari came across, particularly when it came to her struggles with mental health.  Ari suffers from depression but has also struggled with the fear that no one would like her if they knew of her depression.  Her way of coping with that has been to keep her depression and therapy a secret, put on a happy face and be a walking ray of sunshine to everyone around her.  It was clearly not healthy and in fact, was downright exhausting at times, because all Ari really wanted was to feel like she could be herself.  Could Russell finally be the one who gets her to let her guard down?

Speaking of Russell, I really loved this guy and honestly found him to be more realistic than most of the male leads I’ve read about in romance novels.  He’s a Jewish single dad and he hasn’t been on a date in at least five years.  Russell also struggles with his weight and so doesn’t really think of himself as a “catch” for any woman. I liked that sense of vulnerability about him, and I also liked that the more he and Ari hung out together, the more it was clear what a great match they could be because, even though their matchmaking schemes weren’t exactly professional, they really did bring out the best in each other.

If matchmaking a la The Parent Trap, a realistic exploration of a person coping with depression, excellent Jewish representation, and a friends-to-lovers romance appeal to you, Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon needs to be on your must-read list. It’s the fourth novel I’ve read from Solomon, and it’s definitely another winner for me.  4 STARS.

 

Reviews:  WEATHER GIRL & MADE IN MANHATTANMade in Manhattan Goodreads

Author: Lauren Layne

Publication Date: January 18, 2022

Publisher:  Gallery Books

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

As soon as I saw that Lauren Layne’s new contemporary romance, Made in Manhattan, was being advertised as a modern-day reverse My Fair Lady, I knew I had to read it.  I’m a huge fan of My Fair Lady, the musical and the film, so I’m always up for a fresh take on an old favorite.

Made in Manhattan follows Violet Townsend, a young woman born and raised in the wealthy, privileged Upper East Side of Manhattan.  Violet is an expert when it comes to knowing what to say, how to act, and what to wear in all elite social settings.  Violet also loves to make people happy, especially Edith, who while not a blood relative, has practically raised her since Violet’s parents and grandparents all died when she was much younger.  Edith runs a successful international corporation and has been troubled by the fact that she has no living family to take over the business when she retires, that is until she learns that she has a grandson named Cain Stone she never knew about.  Edith is determined to groom Cain to take over the business, but there’s just one problem: Cain, who hails from New Orleans, is about as rough around the edges as they come.  With his long hair, scuffed boots, faded jeans, and a vocabulary that consists largely of the four-letter ‘f’ word, Cain doesn’t exactly fit in with NYC’s elite. Edith enlists Violet to help give Cain a Manhattan makeover.  Less than thrilled at the prospect, Violet reluctantly agrees because she just can’t say no to Edith. Unfortunately for Violet, Cain is even less thrilled at the prospect.

As with the original My Fair Lady, there are just sparks flying everywhere between Violet and Cain as soon as the makeover commences.  Cain is impossible, fighting Violet every step of the way, and Violet becomes more and more frustrated. She can’t understand why he even bothered to come to New York if he’s not willing to do whatever it takes to become CEO of the company that is pretty much being handed to him.  Cain, on the other hand, can’t understand why Violet, or Duchess as he refers to her, has nothing else better to do with her time than treat him as a human mannequin.  While I found all the awkward, snarky banter at the beginning of their relationship quite entertaining, what I really enjoyed was watching their relationship evolve as they got to know each other better and could look past their initial impressions of one another. It becomes all too clear that the two of them have the hots for each other, whether they want to admit it or not.

The only thing better than watching their relationship evolve was watching Violet herself evolve.  She really does start to question what she is even doing with her life and why she feels the need to be such a people pleaser all the time, even if it makes her miserable in the process. The more time she spends with Cain, the more she finds herself willing to step out of her lifelong comfort zone and try new things.  It’s as if she’s undergoing just as much of a transformation as Cain is, and I loved to see it.

Made in Manhattan was everything I could have wanted from a My Fair Lady-inspired book and then some. I flew through the pages in less than a day and was sad when the story was over, even though the ending was immensely satisfying.  4 STARS.

Romance Reviews: THE LOVE CON & THE ONE NIGHT

 

Happy Monday all!  Just a few more days until Christmas and I’m thrilled to finally be able to say that I have made through the last big work deadline of the year and can now relax and enjoy myself until January.  And of course, read more books. 🙂  Later in the week, if I have time, I’ll probably be posting some quick reactions to the holiday novels that I’ve read so far this season, and then next week I plan to do a quick wrap up of the books from my own shelves that I’ve managed to read this year since that has been such a big goal of mine.  Today though, I’m sharing my thoughts on my last two December review books, both of which I enjoyed immensely.

 

Romance Reviews:  THE LOVE CON & THE ONE NIGHTThe Love Con Goodreads

Author:  Seressia Glass

Publication Date: December 14, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

The Love Con by Seressia Glass is a delightful new rom-com that follows Kenya Davenport, a young woman whose passion is creating intricate cosplay costumes.  While it’s just a hobby now, Kenya is determined to win the reality contest, Cosplay or No Way, and turn her hobby into a career.

When the book opens, the contest is well under way and Kenya has just been named as a finalist.  She thinks she has the contest in the bag until the final challenge is announced and she learns that she is supposed to work in tandem with her significant other to create costumes for an iconic duo.  There’s just one problem – Kenya is single and so has no significant other.  When asked for the name of who she’ll be working with, Kenya panics and blurts out the first name that comes to mind, Cameron Lassiter (Cam), her roommate and longtime best friend.

Kenya and Cam were of course my favorite part of The Love Con.  I loved Kenya’s strength, her determination, and her passion. She’s also funny and sassy, and just a joy to follow as she follows her dreams.  I also loved Cam from the moment we meet him.  He’s such a sweetheart and I adored how supportive he was of Kenya and how protective he was of her. Even though Kenya was beloved by most of the TV audience, for example, she still had her share of online trolls who didn’t seem to like that she was a strong, independent black woman and they frequently made disparaging comments about everything from her appearance to her personality. Cam gets so upset by this that he creates an anonymous account so that he could defend her honor.  Not that she couldn’t defend herself if she felt the need to, but I just thought it was sweet that he cared so much.

I also enjoyed watching the two of them work together throughout the last round of the contest.  Even though they were supposed to be pretending to be a couple, they hardly had to pretend at all because they had such amazing chemistry.  What we learn early on though is that some of Cam’s chemistry with Kenya is because he has secretly been in love with her for ages and he’s hoping that this whole fake dating scenario can finally help him make the move with Kenya from friends to lovers.  The author did a lovely job of not only showing us how Cam and Kenya’s relationship changes as they work in close quarters for the contest, but also giving us some really cute glimpses into how they first became friends in high school.

The actual contest was entertaining to read about as well.  I don’t know much about cosplaying or costume design so it was pretty fascinating to see just how much work goes into designing and constructing a costume.

If reality TV contests, fake dating, and friends-to-lovers romances are your catnip like they are mine, The Love Con is a book you’re going to want to add to your reading list. 4 STARS.

 

Romance Reviews:  THE LOVE CON & THE ONE NIGHTThe One Night Goodreads

Author: Meghan Quinn

Publication Date: December 14, 2021

Publisher:  Montlake

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

The One Night by Meghan Quinn is a fun holiday-themed novella that centers on the lead-up to a one night stand between a recently divorced man and his ex-wife’s best friend.  And while it might just be a novella, it’s still packed full of what I love most about Meghan Quinn’s novels, namely laugh out loud humor and steamy romantic scenes.

The story follows Cooper Chance (Coop), a recently divorced man, whose parents are so determined to get him to move on and find a new love, that they dress up in their most festive Christmas attire and take their son barhopping.  Their philosophy is that if their son won’t go looking for love, then they’ll act as his wingmen and bring love to him. Coop’s parents are hilarious, steal every scene they’re in, and I just adored them.

The bar they end up in brings Coop face-to-face with someone he wasn’t expecting to see, Nora McHale, the best friend of Coop’s ex-wife.  Nora has come to the bar, not looking for love, but rather to just have a drink and relax alone after an exhausting day of work. But not even Nora can resist the charms of Coop’s parents and soon she finds herself chatting with Coop and enjoying it way more than she expected to. Neither Nora nor Coop can believe how well matched they seem to be, but both wonder if they would be crossing a line they shouldn’t if they act on their attraction.

I loved the chemistry between Nora and Coop.  Their flirty banter was so cute and I really enjoyed watching them each see the other in a whole new light.  I also thought Quinn did a wonderful job of combining their increasingly steamy attraction to one another with very realistic internal monologues of doubt about whether or not they’re doing the right thing, if a relationship between them could even feasibly be possible.

The one thing I didn’t like about The One Night is that it actually ends on a cliffhanger.  I practically screamed when I got to the end because I wanted so much more of Nora and Coop.  Thankfully I soon learned that The One Night is also a prequel to Quinn’s upcoming novel, The Reunion, which focuses on Coop’s parents and their fiftieth wedding anniversary party.  So not only will I get to see what’s going on with Nora and Coop, but I’ll get to see more of Coop’s adorable parents. Win, win!

If you’re in the mood for a fun, flirty holiday-themed rom-com and don’t mind a little cliffhanger at the end, I highly recommend The One Night4 STARS.

 

Romance Reviews: THE SINGLES TABLE & LOVE AND LET BARK

 

Is it me or are the weeks just flying by?  It feels like I’m going to blink and it will be 2022. Thankfully my last work deadlines of the year are fast approaching and then I’ll be able to enjoy some downtime over the holidays.  Today I’m reviewing two more fabulous romance novels, both from Berkley.  I’ve had such wonderful luck with Berkley’s romances this year (I think almost my entire Best of 2021 list is from them)  and today’s books continue that trend.

 

Romance Reviews:  THE SINGLES TABLE & LOVE AND LET BARKThe Singles Table Goodreads

Author:  Sara Desai

Publication Date: November 16, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

I don’t know if a free-spirited lawyer shooting an obnoxious former military security specialist in the rear end with a paintball technically counts as a meet cute, but it was definitely enough to have me fully entertained and invested in seeing what happens between the protagonists of Sara Desai’s latest romance, The Singles Table.

After a bad break up, attorney Zara Patel has decided she’s done with trying to find love for herself. Instead, she’s going to focus on her career and on what she believes is her special gift, matchmaking. She plans to help her friends find romance during the wedding season and prides herself on her success record when it comes to matching guests at the singles table.  That is, until she meets sexy but surly Jay Donovan, a security specialist with no time or interest in finding romance.  Jay, a former military guy, is all about order, staying focused and working hard on his business.  He has no idea that a paintball to his rear end during a pre-wedding paintball match is about to turn his world upside down.  When Zara and Jay keep finding themselves at the singles table at wedding after wedding and Zara brags to Jay about her matchmaking prowess and confesses that she’s a little obsessed with celebrities, they end up making a little wager.  If Zara can find Jay a match, he’ll introduce her to some of his celebrity clients.

Zara has this vibrant, larger than life personality that Jay can’t help but be captivated by, no matter how much he tries to tell himself she’s just annoying and too chaotic for him.  And even though Jay comes across as rigid and gruff when she first meets him, Zara finds herself seeking him out at every wedding.  I’m a sucker for a grumpy/sunshine romance so Jay and Zara’s often hilarious interactions were like catnip for me and I loved watching their relationship evolve, especially since they have such amazing chemistry and the more Zara interacts with Jay, the more she starts thinking maybe she doesn’t want to match him up with someone else.

Sara Desai’s The Singles Table was such a fun read. Jay and Zara’s journey, the festive wedding celebrations, and the meddling aunties who hound Zara throughout the wedding season, all made for such a delightfully entertaining and heartwarming read.  If you’re in the mood for a grumpy/sunshine romance, The Singles Table is the perfect match for you.  4 STARS

 

Romance Reviews:  THE SINGLES TABLE & LOVE AND LET BARKLove and Let Bark (Hearts of Alaska #3) Goodreads

Author: Alanna Martin

Publication Date: November 30, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

Love and Let Bark by Alanna Martin is the third book in her contemporary romance series, Hearts of Alaska.  I’m freely going to admit that I was drawn to this book by the adorable husky puppies on the cover and the promise of a snowy Alaskan setting.  I didn’t even realize it was part of a series, but thankfully not having read the first two books in the series didn’t hamper my enjoyment of this latest installment at all.

When they were younger, Lydia Lipin and Nate Porter were secretly friends in spite of their families’ century-long feud. They soon developed more than friendly feelings for one another, but frustrated that he would never be able to have Lydia openly in his life because of their families’ dislike for one another, Nate decides he needs to leave town.  Years later, Nate comes back to his hometown, and as soon as he sees Lydia again, he realizes that time apart has done nothing to dull his feelings for her.

Lydia has always played the role of the responsible and reliable daughter.  She dutifully takes over the family business when it’s time, and she always puts the needs of others above herself, including her sister, who decides she’s in love with and wants to marry a Porter and doesn’t care about the feud.  Even though it’s incredibly stressful, Lydia spends much of her time running interference between the two families so as to spare her sister the stress.  When she sees Nate again, however, Lydia realizes she still has feelings for him and becomes frustrated with the state of their families and the peacemaking role she has been forced into.

Lydia and Nate were both such sweet, likeable and sympathetic characters.  It was so obvious how much they love each other and that they were both heartbroken when it didn’t work out the first time.  They were stuck in such a horrible and awkward situation that wasn’t even of their making.  I loved that they have the opportunity for a second chance at love and was really rooting for them to just tell off their families and run away together.

The husky puppies were of course adorable little scene stealers and the snowy Alaska setting was the picture perfect background for this delightful, feel-good story.  If you’re a fan of second chance romances, I highly recommend Love and Let Bark. 4 STARS.