Tag Archive for: romance

Reviews: EIGHT PERFECT HOURS & THE SWEETEST REMEDY

 

It’s the start of another new week and I’m finally sharing the last of my September ARC reviews.  I’m closing out with two great ones too, especially if you’re a fan of women’s fiction and romances of the slow-burn variety.

 

Reviews:  EIGHT PERFECT HOURS & THE SWEETEST REMEDYEight Perfect Hours Goodreads

Author: Lia Louis

Publication Date: September 28, 2021

Publisher:  Atria Books / Emily Bestler Books

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

Eight Perfect Hours is a charming and heartwarming story about the power of fate and about living your life to the fullest.  This was my first time reading a novel by Lia Louis and it was just delightful from start to finish.

The story follows Noelle Butterby, a young woman who is headed home from an event at her former college when she finds herself trapped on the interstate because a blizzard has closed the roads.  Noelle has no food, no water, her phone is dead and so is her phone charger.  She desperately needs to phone her very anxious mother and let her know that she’ll be later getting home than expected, but has no options. That is, until a handsome stranger named Sam knocks on her car window and offers to lend her his charger.  Noelle is hesitant to agree since he’s a stranger but her desperation finally gets the better of her and she takes him up on his offer.  Sam and Noelle end up chatting and bonding for the next eight hours until the roads finally open up.  They part ways without exchanging numbers, never expecting to see each other again since Sam lives in America, while Noelle is in the UK.

Fate apparently has other ideas though and Sam and Noelle keep bumping into each other in the most random of places.  Noelle is a romantic so she starts to feel like this is fate’s way of telling her Sam is the one.  I thought both Noelle and Sam were adorable together so I of course was rooting for fate to keep on pushing them together so that something could happen between them.  It’s a slow burn romance though.  Both Sam and Noelle are dealing with a lot of things personally, including parents who are getting older and starting to struggle physically and mentally, so in a lot of ways, a romantic relationship is just in the way.  Fate doesn’t care though and through every twist and turn of their lives, somehow Sam and Noelle keep finding each other.  I swear it was so cute every time it happened. They got to the point where they would just grin and shake their heads, and I would just find myself sitting there grinning right along with them.

There are definitely some more serious moments, especially as Noelle is still working through some painful memories that the school event had returned to the forefront of her mind.  Overall though, Eight Perfect Hours is just the sweetest and most heartwarming story and I highly recommend it to all of the romantics out there!  4.5 STARS

 

Reviews:  EIGHT PERFECT HOURS & THE SWEETEST REMEDYThe Sweetest Remedy Goodreads

Author: Jane Igharo

Publication Date: September 28, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

I really enjoyed Jane Igharo’s debut novel Ties That Tether. In that book Igharo delivered a heartfelt, thought-provoking, and dramatic story about a young woman caught between following her heart and meeting her family’s expectations. I was eager to get my hands on a copy of her newest book, The Sweetest Remedy in hopes of getting another equally compelling story to fall into, and I’m excited to say that Igharo delivers big!

The Sweetest Remedy follows Hannah Bailey, a young woman who is the product of an affair between her white mother and a Nigerian man.  Hannah only met her father once, when she was 9, but then he never came back.  Hannah has therefore lived her live feeling like a piece of herself was missing and wondering what was wrong with her, that her father didn’t want to be part of her life. When he passes away, Hannah is therefore pretty shocked to receive an invitation to come to Nigeria to attend his funeral and meet the family she never knew she had, including several siblings. And what a life changing trip it turns out to be.

For those going into this story looking for a romance, it’s there and while it’s lovely, it does take a backseat to Hannah’s journey.  Her journey is all about discovering and embracing her Nigerian roots, learning about her culture, and bonding with her siblings.  I really liked Hannah and felt bad for her growing up feeling like her father had abandoned her, so I enjoyed this journey for her because she got to fill in so many pieces she had always felt were missing from her life.

That’s not to say that the journey was all smooth sailing.  Some members of her father’s family were far more welcoming to Hannah than others, and there were a couple that were downright hostile, blaming Hannah for ripping their lives apart because they never knew she existed either and hated feeling like she had come to Nigeria to steal what was rightfully theirs.  It’s hard for them to believe that their father was simply trying to right what he saw as the biggest wrong of his life, leaving Hannah alone and also keeping his children apart, living as strangers.  I’m a sucker for a good family drama, so I was glued to the pages watching Hannah navigate these emotional minefields and try to win over everyone in her new family.

 If you enjoy emotionally-charged stories about family, love, and finding oneself, I highly recommend The Sweetest Remedy4 STARS

Review: THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS by Ali Hazelwood

Review:  THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS by Ali HazelwoodThe Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
five-stars
Published by Berkley Books on September 14, 2021
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.

 

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood is quite possibly the sweetest, most adorable romance novel I’ve ever read.  It checked so many boxes for me (a STEM heroine, the fake dating trope, hilarious banter, and so much more) and it just had me grinning from ear to ear pretty much the entire time I was reading.

The story follows Olive Smith, a third-year Ph.D. candidate at Stanford.  Olive has just learned that her best friend, Anh, is attracted to Jeremy, a guy Olive used to date.  Anh and this guy have major chemistry but Anh doesn’t want to hurt Olive by dating him.  Olive thinks that’s sweet and is grateful to have such a loyal friend but she also knows that Anh and Jeremy would actually be perfect together.  Olive decides to also be a great friend and let Anh think she is head over heels in love with a new guy so that Anh will go for it with Jeremy.  The next time she sees Anh, Olive panics, grabs the first guy she sees and plants a kiss on him.  There’s just one problem – the guy she kisses is none other than Adam Carlsen, a rock star of a professor who also happens to have a reputation for being an ass and making his students cry.  Not exactly who Olive had in mind, to say the least, but to her utter shock, once she explains to Adam why she did what she did, he agrees to fake-date her so that Anh and Jeremy can get together.

I honestly can’t even get over how much I adored both Olive and Adam.  As we’ve established, Olive is such a lovely friend who would clearly do anything to help a friend find happiness.  I also just found her overall personality delightful. She’s smart, determined, resilient, and she’s also hilarious. Once she gets comfortable fake dating Adam, he repeatedly calls her a pain in his rear because she’s always gently mocking and teasing him about his awful reputation and of course tormenting him with her love of all things pumpkin spice, lol.  After hanging out with him just a few times, Olive has picked up on the fact that Adam is anything but an ass. He’s actually quite sweet and surprisingly soft, and she can really open up to him in ways she never has with anyone else. I loved watching the two of them interact because they really did bring out the best in each other and I loved the slight tension as they each began to realize that their feelings for each other weren’t fake at all.

Aside from the romance, the author also tackles some more serious topics, such as the challenges women face in academia, particularly in STEM.  She explores sexism, bias, and what happens when a professor grossly abuses his power. The romance definitely takes center stage and makes up the bulk of the story, but I liked having these “meatier” topics to add some depth to the overall story.

I could go on and on about how much I adored the book. If you’re looking for a charming and heartwarming romance that features lovable characters, witty banter, and fake dating, be sure to check out The Love Hypothesis.  It’s an absolute gem of a book that I will be recommending to every romance reader I know.

five-stars

About Ali Hazelwood

Ali Hazelwood is a multi-published author–alas, of peer-reviewed articles about brain science, in which no one makes out and the ever after is not always happy. Originally from Italy, she lived in Germany and Japan before moving to the U.S. to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. She recently became a professor, which absolutely terrifies her. When Ali is not at work, she can be found running, eating cake pops, or watching sci-fi movies with her two feline overlords (and her slightly-less-feline husband).

Reviews: NEVER SAW YOU COMING & PORTRAIT OF A SCOTSMAN

 

It was a short week, but boy did it feel like a long one!  I had a pretty quiet holiday weekend and therefore was able to get tons of reading done.  Thank goodness too because I have so many books to review in September.  Anyway, I’m thrilled to share my thoughts with you today on two great books I read over the holidays — the third book in a fun historical romance series called A League of Extraordinary Woman and also on my very first read from Erin Hahn.

 

Reviews:  NEVER SAW YOU COMING & PORTRAIT OF A SCOTSMANNever Saw You Coming Goodreads

Author: Erin Hahn

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

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

I was a little hesitant going into Erin Hahn’s new novel Never Saw You Coming because of its focus on religion.  I have very complicated feelings about religion myself and worried that my own feelings might get in the way and make this a less than enjoyable read for me. I was pleased to discover that the exact opposite happened – this book and its main character, Meg Hennessey, really spoke to me mainly because Meg shares many of the conflicted feelings I’ve always had so I found her very easy to relate to.

What I found most relatable about Meg is that regardless of whatever conflicted feelings she has about church and her fellow Christians, those conflicted feelings never spill over into her feelings about God.  Her relationship with God is strong; she just takes issue with those holier than thou Christians who somehow think they have the right to act as judge and juror over everyone else’s morality.  I also like that the author uses very realistic scenarios to explore Meg’s conflicted feelings.  Her feelings, for example, really come to a head when she finds herself attracted to a young man named Micah and wonders if exploring any kind of intimate relationship with him makes her a sinner.  Meg also has to contend with a parent from the church deeming her unfit to lead the church youth group because Meg has purple streaks in her hair and because the parent witnessed Micah leaving Meg’s house late at night.

I really liked Meg and felt especially sympathetic toward her because at the beginning of the story, she has recently learned that her entire life has basically been a lie and that her parents have been keeping a huge secret from her.  She runs away looking for answers, not just about religion, but really, about her entire sense of self and identity.

While I enjoyed watching Meg explore her faith and work through all the questions she has, I also really loved her growing relationship with Micah.  He too has a complicated relationship with religion and so he and Meg are able to have some pretty frank and enlightening discussions about faith and purity and sex.

I also loved that the religious themes didn’t completely take over the story, but instead meshes very naturally into the budding romance between Meg and Micah.  The author does a lovely job keeping the two parts of the story well balanced.

Overall, Never Saw You Coming is both a sweet romance and an exploration of faith that will leave readers with plenty of food for thought.  4 STARS.

 

Reviews:  NEVER SAW YOU COMING & PORTRAIT OF A SCOTSMANPortrait of a Scotsman (A League of Extraordinary Women, #3) Goodreads

Author: Evie Dunmore

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Publisher:  Jove

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

Portrait of a Scotsman is the third installment in Evie Dunmore’s entertaining historical romance series, A League of Extraordinary Women.  I’ve enjoyed this series immensely so far and this latest book is no exception.

This time around, the extraordinary woman in question is Hattie Greenfield.  Hattie is a suffragist and an Oxford scholar who is studying art.  Hattie’s desires in life are quite simple:  1) she wants to become a famous artist, 2) she wants to find a noble cause to fight for that she is passionate about, and 3) she eventually wants to find a suitable gentleman to marry.  Hattie is also the daughter of a prominent London businessman and therefore an heiress to a pretty substantial fortune.  All of this comes crashing down around her, however, when she is found in an uncompromising position with the dark and broody Scotsman, Lucian Blackstone, a business rival of Hattie’s father.  Lucian has a terrible reputation, both in business and in his personal dealings, so Hattie has set herself up for quite the scandal.  The only way to save her reputation is for her and Lucian to marry, a prospect neither of them is overly excited about but that they are both resigned to.

Thus begins a slow burn of a journey as Hattie and Lucian begin an awkward married life together.  Hattie is alternately attracted to and repulsed by Lucian, and doesn’t know what she wants from one moment to the next, and Lucian, while he’s most definitely attracted to Hattie, finds her to be a distraction from what he is really trying to do, which is seek revenge against someone who hurt him years ago.  There is a lot of sexual tension as the two of them alternate between fighting their feelings and giving in to them.  A trip to Scotland, Lucian’s homeland, really takes their relationship to the next level.  Hattie learns that there’s a lot more to Lucian than meets the eye and as they finally start to have honest heart-to-heart conversations with one another, she realizes that they may have a lot more in common than she ever would have dreamed of.

I really enjoyed watching the relationship between Hattie and Lucian grow and evolve.  There are awkward moments as well as hilarious ones, spirited arguments, and of course plenty of steamy, sexy moments as well.  There’s also a bit of politics, feminism, social commentary regarding the rich vs the poor, and a pretty solid revenge story, so basically a little something for everyone.  As with the prior two novels, Portrait of a Scotsman also appears to be well-researched in terms of events and issues of the Victorian Era.

All in all, another very satisfying installment in the A League of Extraordinary Women series.  Fans of the prior two books in the series should enjoy this one as well, as should fans of historical romance.  4 STARS.

Romance Reviews: THE HEART PRINCIPLE & THE CHARM OFFENSIVE

 

Happy Monday all!  Today I’m back with a couple of fun romances that are releasing soon.  Helen Hoang’s The Heart Principle is the third novel in her popular series, The Kiss Quotient, and one of my most anticipated reads of the year, while The Charm Offensive is Alison Cochrun’s debut queer romcom and is receiving rave reviews over on Goodreads.  I’m excited to share my thoughts on both of this books with you today!

 

Romance Reviews:  THE HEART PRINCIPLE & THE CHARM OFFENSIVEThe Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient, #3) Goodreads

Author: Helen Hoang

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley

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

With his tattoos, motorcycle, and his ultra-kind heart, Quan Diep stole my heart in Helen Hoang’s debut romance The Kiss Quotient even though he was only meant to be a secondary character.  I adored his character so much and was thrilled to learn he would be featured in Hoang’s new novel, The Heart Principle.

The Heart Principle follows a young woman named Anna Sun.  She is a gifted violinist who is suffering from burnout that is the result of the pressure of her own success.  When a well known composer writes a piece of music specifically for her to play, Anna finds herself completely incapacitated and unable to play the piece no matter how many hours a day she tries to practice it.  Anna has hit a wall and doesn’t know how to move forward.  As if her career struggles aren’t weighing her down enough, her personal life has taken a hit as well.  She has been expecting her longtime boyfriend to propose to her any day now and instead he tells her he would like to have an open relationship for a while first, to see other people and just make sure they’re really right for each other.  Anna is of course hurt and furious, although she doesn’t tell him that, and decides that if he’s going to date and sleep with other people, so is she.  That is, if her anxiety and panic attacks don’t get in the way. This is where she crosses paths with Quan and their journey together begins.

I adored Anna.  She’s such a sweetheart and I hated that she was going through so much, especially since it was clearly draining her both emotionally and physically.  I also really hated her boyfriend and practically jumped for joy when Anna and Quan find each other on a dating app.  It’s obvious from their very first conversations that they have so much chemistry and I just loved how patient and understanding Quan was when it came to Anna’s struggles with anxiety.  He feels such a strong connection to her and just accepts her exactly as she is.  It was so sweet watching the two of them grow closer as the story progressed.

What surprised me about this book was how sad the overall story was at times.  It’s a beautiful story and a special one but it also just covers so many heavy topics. In addition to Anna’s struggles with anxiety, there’s also toxic relationships, cancer, the death of a beloved family member, and more.  It was definitely not the cheerful story I would have expected based on the cover.

Even with it being a lot sadder than I was expecting, I still loved The Heart Principle overall, especially because it also has growth and healing, and ends on such a positive and uplifting note.  If you’ve enjoyed Hoang’s first two books, you’re sure to love this one as well.  I also highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance with relatable characters who face very realistic challenges.  Read the first two books in the series though so that you meet Quan and his cousin, Michael, who also makes an appearance in this book.  4 STARS

 

Romance Reviews:  THE HEART PRINCIPLE & THE CHARM OFFENSIVEThe Charm Offensive Goodreads

Author: Alison Cochrun

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Publisher:  Atria Books

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

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun is a heartwarming romance that features a sexy but awkward tech guru named Charlie who is in serious need of an image revamp.  He chooses to do this by playing the part of Prince Charming on Ever After, a popular reality TV dating show.  It is there he meets the other star of this book, Dev Deshpande, a producer on the show who is tasked with making Charlie less painfully awkward and stiff when he’s on screen.

While the reality TV dating aspect of the show was a lot of fun and filled with plenty of hilarious antics, what really made this story shine for me was the bond that immediately forms between Charlie and Dev.  Dev is so sensitive to Charlie’s OCD, anxiety and awkwardness and really does everything he can to put him at ease and keep him calm. Dev is also a romantic who believes in happily ever afters and that he can help Charlie find love.  As the filming of the show progresses, however, it becomes clear that Charlie has forged more of a meaningful connection with Dev than he has with any of the women vying for his affections.  What does this mean for Charlie and his image rehab and what does it mean for Dev and his job?  He’s supposed to be helping Charlie find love, not fall in love with Charlie himself.

This was such an adorable romance.  Both Charlie and Dev are sweethearts and it’s impossible not to root for them to just put themselves out there and go for their happily ever after.  I also enjoyed that the story also had a nice balance of weightier topics to complement the romance:  self-doubt, discovering one’s sexual identity, mental illness, rejection, and an exploration of the often toxic nature of reality TV, just to name a few.

The only real issue I had with this book was that the pacing was a bit slow for me in the first half.  I think it’s mainly because once I became invested in Charlie and Dev, I just wanted them to get on with it already and so the reality TV filming just felt like it was distracting me from what I wanted.  That’s just a me thing though because I get impatient sometimes when the romance is a slow burn.  The ending of the story is so precious and so satisfying, however, that it totally made up for the slow-ish beginning.

Funny, heartwarming, and touching, The Charm Offensive is sure to please romance fans who enjoy books like Red, White, and Royal Blue and Boyfriend Material.  4 STARS

Romance Review: WAIT FOR IT by Jenn McKinlay

Romance Review:  WAIT FOR IT by Jenn McKinlayWait for It by Jenn McKinlay
Also by this author: Paris Is Always a Good Idea
four-half-stars
Published by Berkley Books on August 10, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance
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.

 

 

Jenn McKinlay’s new romance Wait for It is one of the most delightful books I’ve read so far this year. I’m pretty sure I had a smile on my face almost the entire time I was reading it.  It follows Annabelle Martin, a young woman who loves her job working as a freelance graphic designer but who has grown tired of the cold and dreary Boston winters.  She also has not one, but two ex-husbands even though she’s only in her twenties. Annabelle just really needs a change.  When her best friend Sophie offers her the job of a lifetime to come and work for her in Phoenix, Arizona, Annabelle jumps at the chance.  There’s just one drawback – based on his endless notes about rules, rules, and more rules, her anonymous landlord appears to be a cranky “Get off my lawn!” kind of guy.  Even though her friends warn her against approaching the guy, Annabelle considers herself a charmer and is convinced she can win him over so he’ll relax the rules.  She has no idea what she’s in for…

Enter Nick Daire, said landlord, who actually isn’t an old curmudgeon after all, but instead is a gorgeous young man who has recently suffered a stroke and is wheelchair bound.  Nick used to be a successful businessman but this stroke has really done a number on him both physically and emotionally, and so he has chosen to live as a recluse, shutting out almost everyone he knows.  Nick didn’t even want to rent out his guest house but was talked into it by Sophie’s husband, who Nick owes his life to. Nick can’t wait for his tenant to move out in six months and has absolutely no intention whatsoever of interacting with her.  He has no idea what he’s in for…

I can’t even express how much I enjoyed watching these two characters.  I loved watching their relationship grow from little snarky letters taped to doors to them finally meeting in person and bonding over of all things, a stray tuxedo cat Annabelle has named Sir.  It was so clear to me from the moment we meet each of them that they’re perfect for each other and I just couldn’t wait for them to figure it out too.

I also really enjoyed the journeys of personal growth both Annabelle and Nick experience.  They both have plenty of flaws that they need to work on, like Annabelle’s need to “mother” the men she dates and Nick’s fear of appearing vulnerable in front of anyone, even those who love and care about him.  I love watching characters really learn from their mistakes and grow, and both of these characters do.  Wait for It does explore some weighty topics with respect to mental health, but the author does a wonderful job balancing this more serious topic with the lighter romance.

If you’re looking for a fun and sweet romance that will leave you with a smile on your face, check out Jenn McKinley’s Wait for It. You won’t be disappointed!

four-half-stars

About Jenn McKinlay

Jenn McKinlay is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of several mystery and romance series and will be debuting a stand alone romantic comedy in July 2020 entitled PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets and her husband’s guitars.

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

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.

Romance Reviews: TO SIR, WITH LOVE & ONCE UPON A ROYAL SUMMER

Happy Monday!  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two fantastic contemporary romances that I devoured this weekend.  This was my first time reading a novel from Lauren Layne even though I’ve wanted to for ages, and this was my second novel from Teri Wilson, whose novel The Accidental Beauty Queen I fell in love with a couple of years ago. Also, how cute are these covers together? I just noticed they’re color-coordinated as I was putting this post together, lol.

 

Romance Reviews:  TO SIR, WITH LOVE & ONCE UPON A ROYAL SUMMERTo Sir, with Love Goodreads

Author: Lauren Layne

Publication Date: June 29, 2021

Publisher:  Gallery Books

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

I’ve been wanting to read one of Lauren Layne’s contemporary romances for a while now, and when I saw her latest book, To Sir, With Love, being compared to You’ve Got Mail, one of my favorite films, I knew this was the book for me.

The premise of the story is a fun one.  Main characters, Gracie Cooper and Sebastian Andrews, meet on a dating app and really hit it off.  They haven’t exchanged real names, only referring to themselves as Sir and Lady, and have not met in person, but they regularly correspond through the app and it’s clear they have great chemistry.  There’s just one catch.  Gracie and Sebastian do know each other in real life, and Gracie can’t stand Sebastian.  She thinks he’s nothing more than a greedy corporate big shot who is trying to force her to sell her family’s struggling champagne business.

I had so much fun reading this story.  I loved the contrast between the friendly and flirty messages Sir and Lady send to one another versus the outright sparks that fly between Gracie and Sebastian every time they interact.  I also loved watching Gracie’s feelings toward Sebastian evolve as she gradually starts to realize he isn’t the monster she had made him out to be in her head.  I love a good enemies to lovers story so I was completely invested in the changing status of their very entertaining relationship.

In addition to the relationship between Gracie and Sebastian and their alter egos, Sir and Lady, there’s also a big focus on family that I loved.  Gracie’s two siblings feature prominently as they are also part owners of the family business, even though they’ve pretty much abandoned Gracie to run it alone while they live their own lives.  There’s a bit of family drama around that, but I did love the bond between these siblings and how they’re able to come together and have an honest and supportive discussion about what to do when it becomes clear the store may not make it.  There’s also a wonderful cast of secondary characters who work in the shop with them, as well as Gracie’s neighbor Keva, a quirky chef who pops in at all hours. They all add an extra layer of fun and humor to the story.

There’s also a very important message about the importance of living your own life and following your dreams and passions.   Gracie didn’t want to let her father down since it was his dying wish that they keep the business in the family, but it was his passion, not hers. Gracie’s struggle with that is a struggle I think many readers will relate to.

I truly loved everything about To Sir, With Love, from its Manhattan setting to waiting with anticipation to see what would happen once Gracie and Sebastian realized their connection through the dating app.  The reading experience was everything I hoped it would be and more and I look forward to reading more from Lauren Layne. 5 STARS

 

Romance Reviews:  TO SIR, WITH LOVE & ONCE UPON A ROYAL SUMMEROnce Upon a Royal Summer: A delightful royal romance from Hallmark Publishing Goodreads

Author: Teri Wilson

Publication Date: June 15, 2021

Publisher:  Hallmark Publishing

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

The tagline on the cover of Teri Wilson’s new contemporary romance, Once Upon a Royal Summer, describes it as “A theme park princess. A real-life prince.” As a Disney fanatic and a romantic at heart, I couldn’t resist the story’s premise and its promise of a modern-day fairy tale.  And boy does it deliver!

Wilson grabbed my attention and my heartstrings from the opening pages when we meet Lacey, who works at Once Upon a Time theme park in Florida as Princess Sweetpea.  We learn that Lacey’s mom passed away when Lacey was seven and that one of the few joys she had during her mom’s many hospital stays were princesses who would come around and visit the children to keep their spirits up.  Lacey remembers how special they made her feel and now she wants to pay that forward by doing her best to make special moments for as many children as she can. I had tremendous sympathy for her for losing her mom so young and I just loved how big-hearted she is.

Our real-life Prince Charming, Prince Henry of Bella-Moritz, is also a lovable character.  Henry has brought his young daughter, Princess Rose, to Florida to celebrate her birthday and to let her have a few days where she can just be a normal little girl, without all the pressures of being a Royal, which have already started to bear down on her.  When Lacey first meets Henry and Rose, she has no idea who they are.  All she sees is a girl who loves princesses and a single dad doing his best to give his daughter the time of her life.  Henry’s devotion to his daughter just melted my heart and I just knew from the moment we met him that he would be perfect for Lacey. I was so happy to see sparks between them as soon as they met.

After their initial meeting, Lacey is informed who Henry and Rose are and is charged with giving these VIP guests a magical vacation. I adored watching Lacey spend time with Rose.  She brings out the best in her and also makes her happy in a way Henry hasn’t seen since Rose’s mom died.  And she does the same with Henry. Henry and Lacey share so many sweet, romantic and flirty moments. At first neither of them can tell if it’s just the magic of the theme park or if there’s really something between them, but the answer soon becomes clear and I was loving every minute of it because I’m just such a sucker for the royal falling for a commoner trope!

There’s so much to love about this story beyond just Lacey, Rose, and Henry.  I also really enjoyed the magical, romantic setting, which is split between the theme park and Henry’s charming kingdom of Bella-Moritz.  It’s a picture-perfect backdrop for romance.  I also loved the fabulous secondary characters, including Ava, Lacey’s best friend who works as  Little Red Riding Hood at the theme park, and Ian, Prince Henry’s bodyguard, who is like an uncle to Princess Rose and who according to Ava, looks like a long-lost Hemsworth brother.  The Queen is also a pretty great character as she struggles between what is “right and proper” for royals, but is also a caring mother and grandmother who just wants her son and granddaughter to be happy and loved.

If you’re into modern-day fairytales that will warm your heart and leave a smile on your face, I highly recommend Once Upon a Royal Summer.  I devoured the story in less than a day so it’s a perfect choice to throw in your bag for a weekend at the beach or to read poolside.  4.5 STARS

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.