BOOK REVIEW: BOOK LOVERS BY EMILY HENRY

the cover for Book Lovers by Emily Henry
  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 377 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: May 3rd 2022 
  • PUBLISHER: Berkley
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Death of parent, grief, sexual content, pregnancy

  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Well Met by Jen DeLuca, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

SYNOPSIS

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming….

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

Book Lovers is pretty much universally adored by contemporary romance readers — that I’ve seen, anyway. (This is a partial fib — I’ve seen like…two bad reviews of this book. Two out of the many, many, many good ones.) I am firmly in the holy-shit-I-adored-this-book category, in case you were wondering. Book Lovers is full of tropes, but Henry twists them on their head and pokes fun of them in the best way possible. If you’re a romance lover, you’ll see so many familiar tropes you’ll end up grinning from ear to ear as you pick them apart.

Now, this is my first Emily Henry book, so I can’t say much about her consistency, but I can say that I loved how she writes dialogue. The characters felt like real people talking — no fake plasticine layer over everything. I loved the banter between the leads, Nora and Charlie, most of all. I frequently found myself laughing out loud at some exchange between them. Their chemistry was like fire — smoky, and extremely hot.

The general plot of the book is that Nora needs to learn how to let go and not control everything — including her sister. She doesn’t want to control her sister, as much as she desperately wants to take care of her, but still. Nora is controlling. It takes three weeks in a podunk little town — and an extremely hot rival — to get her to loosen up. The scenes with Nora and Libby truly felt like real situations between sisters. The love they had for each other was extremely evident on page, and it was a joy to read.

I also love that this book did not end with Nora and Charlie expecting a baby or moving to the little town. I love that they got their happy ending where they wanted it the whole novel — right there in NYC. It just goes to show how many romance novels end with the lead couple giving up their separate dreams to live out some generic idea of happiness. Book Lovers ended perfectly, in my eyes. Five stars. Holy crap, I loved this.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at at the following links:

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

BOOK REVIEW: PARADISE LOST & FOUND BY JENNIFER KNIGHTLEY

Book cover for The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley
  • STAR RATING:  3.5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 410 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: June 14th 2022 
  • PUBLISHER: King & Knight Publishing
    CONTENT WARNINGS: PTSD, anxiety & panic attacks, mentions of surgery, sexual content

  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren, but this recommendation is a het romance.

SYNOPSIS

Falling hurts . . . even falling in love.

What happens if you meet the perfect person, in the perfect place, and then the holiday ends?

Paradise Lost & Found is the perfect beach read, exploring an LGBT romance set in a tropical paradise.

Honeymooning alone after being left at the altar, Adam Callaghan is hoping two weeks in a tropical paradise will clear his head and soothe the ache in his heart. But with the romantic setting weighing on him, Adam soon realizes he’s made a mistake. He’s about to throw in the towel when fate—and a mix up with the hotel’s reservation system—brings him together with the charismatic Kip Carter, a guest at the resort for his sister’s destination wedding. Sparks fly, and as they enjoy the island together, bringing out the best in each other and exploring emotional baggage they’ve both tried to bury deep, Adam grapples with the possibility of letting himself move on. But with the clock ticking on their time together, what will become of their burgeoning romance once their two weeks are up?

If you’re looking for a ‘slow burn’ summer romance with ‘only one bed’, elements of fake dating, and idiots in love that will make you want to dip your toes into the ocean, then this is the book for you.

If you’ve known me for awhile, you’ll know that I was hugely involved in the Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes part of the MCU fandom. I still consider myself a part of the fandom, but I haven’t written anything vaguely resembling fanfic in a long, long time. Despite that, when I found out that a fandom writer was publishing a contemporary romance book based on one of their fics, well, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Paradise Lost & Found is a cute story, it really is. Adam (the Steve replacement) has been left at the alter by Vanessa (Peggy). Instead of losing money on the honeymoon, Adam goes on his own. While there he meets Kip (Bucky), who is there for his sister’s wedding. There’s a whole debacle with a room — they end up sharing one — and well, they fall in love over the course of a two week vacation. It’s adorable. The premise is solid.

Unfortunately, think it could have used another pass by an editor before being published. The book clocks in at a little over 400 pages, which felt much, much longer while reading. Paradise Lost & Found is dual POV, which I normally like. However, each time the book changed POVs, there was a rehashing of what had just gone on. This was completely unnecessary and made the book much longer than it needed to be. There were also frequent UK-isms in the text, which was slightly jarring as both Adam and Kip were from the US. A few examples off the top of my head: cooling box = cooler, tin = can, whilst = while.

On the romance side of things, Adam and Kip were steamy together, with rock-solid chemistry. You couldn’t help but feel how attracted they were to each other. This part of the book was top-notch. But I do wish the steamy scenes had actually been steamy, instead there was a lot of vague references, and some fade-to-black.

Overall, Paradise Lost & Found is a cute book. Cute, but not something I’ll probably pick up again for a long while.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at at the following links:

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

BOOK REVIEW: RULES OF ARRANGEMENT BY MAREN MACKENZIE

The Rules of Arrangement book cover

STAR RATING: 4 stars
PAGE LENGTH: 344 pages
CW: Sexual content, suicide attempt, toxic friendship/relationship, death of parent
IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Always be My Duchess by Amalie Howard for the arrangement side of things, or Wolf Gone Wild by Juliette Cross for the artistic side

SYNOPSIS

A ten-page paper on the Cold War? Three hundred dollars. Need it by tomorrow? Four hundred. Want an A? Five.

Cash-strapped college senior Adelaide Wright doesn’t give discounts—she can’t afford to. Writing papers for other students is an expulsion-worthy risk, but Adelaide thinks she might actually make it to graduation day—until Declan, her art history TA, threatens to reveal her secret.

Declan won’t turn her in to the university on one condition: she must recover his stolen paintings from a notoriously cutthroat art dealer.

Jack Nolan is older, wealthy, and exacting, a power player in a world where money, sex, and high art rule. Adelaide’s only way into his exclusive circle is through an arrangement that leaves her at Jack’s beck and call. But can she handle being his arm candy without revealing her true motives? And as the chemistry unexpectedly sparks between them, is it possible that Jack isn’t quite the villain Declan described?

As Adelaide’s relationship with Jack intensifies, so do Declan’s demands. Soon the only thing holding her in place is a delicate tangle of secrets and lies that threatens to unravel at any moment… 

Rules of Arrangement by Maren Mackenzie wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. I was hoping that art would take more of a forefront here, but sadly, it really doesn’t. The art dealing world was just a backdrop to a rather steamy story. (I also somehow thought this was about an art heist? Dunno where I got that idea from.) Despite that, I really enjoyed Rules of Arrangement for what it was: a romance book with a contract.

I don’t know that I’ve ever read a contemporary romance with a contract in it, but I liked the trope in this book! I might have to seek out more like this one, to be honest.

Adelaide Wright is an excellent leading lady. For much of the story, people are telling her what to do, when to do it, why she should do it, etc. When she finally stands up for herself, it is a triumph. I loved watching her come to realize that she had the power to do whatever she wanted, regardless of the consequences. That was nice. Jack Nolan, the leading man, was frequently a horrible person. He is stubborn, he is used to getting his way, and on top of all that, he’s rich as hell. Did I end up liking him as the story went on? Yes, I did. He still drove me nuts in some scenes, though. Declan, the artist who blackmails Adelaide, was straight-up insane most of the book. The author did a fantastic job of showing him just spiraling into insanity throughout the story.

Adelaide and Jack had amazing chemistry together that you could really feel as you read. Their sex scenes were steamy, and their conversations (where they actually talked) felt real. Despite their age difference (She’s 22, and he’s…38? I think?), it felt like a definite match between them.

I really enjoyed Rules of Arrangement — I read it in a matter of hours, actually. I just couldn’t put it down!

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at at the following links:

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

ARC REVIEW: BOOKED ON A FEELING BY JAYCI LEE

The book cover for Booked on a Feeling by Jayci Lee
  • STAR RATING2.5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH:  320 pages
  • WHAT SERIES? A Sweet Mess Series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? A Sweet Mess
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: Sexual content, strained relationship with a parent
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Lizzy “Overachiever” Chung, Esq. has her life mapped out neatly:
* Become a lawyer. Check.
* Join a prestigious law firm. Check.
* Make partner. In progress.

If all goes to plan, she will check off that last box in a couple years, make her parents proud, and live a successful, fulfilled life in L.A. What was not in her plans was passing out from a panic attack during a pivotal moment in her career. A few deep breaths and a four hour drive later, Lizzy is in Weldon for three weeks to shed the burnout and figure out what went wrong. And what better place to recharge than the small California town where she spent her childhood summers with her best friend, Jack Park.

Jack Park didn’t expect to see Lizzy back in Weldon, but now he’s got three weeks to spend with the girl of his dreams. Except she doesn’t know of his decades-long crush on her–and he intends to keep it that way. She’s a high-powered attorney who lives in L.A. and he’s a bookkeeper at his family’s brewery who never left his hometown. He can’t risk their friendship on a long shot. Can he? When Lizzy decides that the local bookstore needs a little revamp, of course, Jack is going to help her bring it back to life. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to ignore there might be more than just friendship among the dusty shelves and books…

Sometimes the path to the rest of your life has been in front of you all along.

Unfortunately, Booked on a Feeling was ultimately disappointing. I actually considered DNFing around the 20% mark, because I was flat out bored. I should have just stopped reading then. Obviously, it goes without saying that it took me quite a while to care about the characters. Lizzy and Jack were interesting for about maybe a third of the novel, and then boredom came rushing back in.

This book needs another pass by with an editor, I think. The last like five percent of the novel needs to be reworked, because all it is is the ‘narrator’ telling us what’s happened. There is little to no showing going on. It’s just and Lizzy did this, and then she did that. And then she realized this, and Jack realized that. I actually ended up skimming several pages, because I was so bored my eyes wouldn’t focus. There’s so much back-and-forth (and not in a good way) in the later half of this novel. Jack wants to move to LA, Lizzy wants to move to Weldon. They switch, and Lizzy figures out that she doesn’t want to be in Weldon without Jack, etc, etc. It’s a whole thing.

This book had the potential to be cute, but it just fell completely flat. The characters had very, very little personality. In the rare instance they DID show some sort of personality, their chemistry shone. But these scenes were few and far between, when they SHOULD have been the entire focus of the novel!

And don’t even get me started on the epilogue. Highlight below for a small spoiler.

A surprise-honey-I’m-pregnant epilogue? When children hadn’t been mentioned by either character in the ENTIRE novel? Pass.

Blah. I won’t be picking up any of the other books in this series, if they’re all written like this one. Two and a half stars for Booked on a Feeling, and that’s me being quite generous.

BOOKED ON A FEELING COMES OUT JULY 26, 2022.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

TOP 6 CONTEMPORARY ROMANCES FOR BEGINNERS

Now, unlike my Beginner Fantasy Recommendation list, I can’t claim to be someone who knows the ins and outs of contemporary romance. I’ve read a fair few, mind, but nowhere near the amount of fantasy books that I’ve read! But despite that, I thought I’d put together a little list of some contemporary romances that I recommend!

Please note — these are all cis/het romances. There is queer rep in most of them, but none of the main relationships fall under the LGBTQ+ banner. In the future, I do plan to do a queer romance recommendation list!

THE FLAT SHARE by BETH O’LEARY

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

WHY THIS BOOK? I picked this book up on a whim, and ended up absolutely loving it. My favorite bit was that Leon is not your typical male lead in a romance novel. He’s a bit awkward, and his POV is written quite differently than that of Tiffy’s! If you’re looking for the feeling a there’s-only-one-bed fanfic gives you, start no further than The Flat Share!

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Flat Share
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 1
  • CW: Emotional abuse, toxic relationship, gaslighting
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: 500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan 

WELL MET by JEN DELUCA

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek. 

WHY THIS BOOK? I adore the town of Willow Creek that Jen DeLuca has come up with. Every character has their own personality, their own history, and well, it gives the books in this series a very homey feeling. I also just flat out love the setting of a Renaissance Faire! Simon is semi-based on Once Upon A Time’s Hook, too, so you can picture Colin O’Donaghue while you read…

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Well Met
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 5
  • CW: Sexual content, death, grief, mentions of cancer
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade, The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren, The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

JOSH AND HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING by CHRISTINA LAUREN

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right? 

WHY THIS BOOK? This is one of the first contemporary romances that I ever picked up ever, and well, it’s got a huge forever spot on my list. I just absolutely adore Hazel’s entire personality. It’s not for everyone though, (surprise baby) and I realize that.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 1
  • CW: Sexual content, pregnancy
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey, 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB by LYSSA KAY ADAMS

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

WHY THIS BOOK? A difference perspective on the whole ‘romance’ genre! A group of men desperate to either seduce their wives, or gain love turn to romance novels to understand the ‘female’ mind. These books are hilarious, but also a little heart-breaking.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Bromance Book Club
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 5
  • CW: Sexual content, pregnancy, miscarriage
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey, You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

SECOND FIRST IMPRESSIONS by SALLY THORNE

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Dazzle (n): Brightness that blinds someone temporarily.

Position Vacant: Two ancient old women residing at Providence Retirement Villa seek male assistant for casual exploitation and good-natured humiliation. Duties include boutique shopping, fast-food fetching, and sincerely rendered flattery. Good looks a bonus—but we aren’t picky.

An advertisement has been placed (again!) by the wealthy and eccentric Parloni Sisters. The salary is generous and the employers are 90 years old, so how hard could the job be? Well, none have lasted longer than a week. Most boys leave in tears.

Ruthie Midona will work in Providence’s front office, and be at the Parloni’s beck and call, forever. That’s sort of her life plan. If Ruthie can run the place in her almost-retired bosses’ absence, with no hijinks/hiccups, she has a shot at becoming the new manager. She might also be able to defend her safe little world from Prescott Development, the new buyer of the prime site. Maybe after all that, she can find a cute guy to date. All she needs to do is stay serious—and that’s what she does best.

Until, one day, someone dazzling blows into town.

Teddy Prescott devotes his life to sleeping, tattooing, and avoiding seriousness. When Teddy needs a place to crash, he makes a deal with his developer dad. Teddy can stay in one of Providence’s on-site maintenance cottages—right next door to an unimpressed Ruthie—but only if he works there and starts to grow up.

Ruthie knows how this sweetly selfish rich boy can earn his keep—and be out of her hair in under a week. After all, there is a position vacant… 

WHY THIS BOOK? Teddy Prescott is a precious cinnamon roll and I will hear no further arguments. And also the supporting cast in this novel are just all *chef’s kiss*. The Parloni Sisters in particular are just…ah they’re amazing.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Second First Impressions
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 1
  • CW: Sexual content, death, panic attacks
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: THIS BOOK IS HARD TO COMP…but I’ve been reliably informed The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler is at least similar. If you squint.

SPOILER ALERT by OLIVIA DADE

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. The world may know him as Aeneas, star of the biggest show on television, but fanfiction readers call him something else: Book!AeneasWouldNever. Marcus gets out his frustrations with the show through anonymous stories about the internet’s favorite couple, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone discovered his online persona, he’d be finished in Hollywood.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s long hidden her fanfic and cosplay hobbies from her “real life”—but not anymore. When she dares to post her latest costume creation on Twitter, her plus-size take goes viral. And when Marcus asks her out to spite her internet critics, truth officially becomes stranger than fanfiction.

On their date, Marcus quickly realizes he wants more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. But when he discovers she’s Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to keep from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?

WHY THIS BOOK? Okay first off, if you’ve ever written/read fanfiction, than you will absolutely 100% without a doubt love this book. The fan representation in here is just…you can tell Olivia Dade has been a member of a fandom at some point! Secondly — holy crap does Marcus appreciate and love the hell out of April.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Spoiler Alert
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: Fatphobia, body shaming, sexual content, ableism
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Meet Cute by Helena Hunting, Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

What’s your favorite contemporary romance out there? My favorite didn’t even make this list because it’s the second in a series! So honorary mention to Melt For You by JT Geissinger!

BOOK REVIEW: IT HAPPENED ONE SUMMER BY TESSA BAILEY

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

SYNOPSIS

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart.  

Okay, this was cute. It wasn’t anything mind-blowing, though. A fun, cute little romp of a contemporary romance book. I think my reaction is probably because I wasn’t a huge fan of Schitt’s Creek. (TBF, I don’t think I made it through half of season two…idk if that changes anything.) BUT ANYWAY — I thought this was fun.

Brendan is captain of a fishing/crabbing boat up in a tiny town called Westport in the Pacific northwest. His life is incredibly structured and rigid, and when Piper blows into town, well. Everything is turned upside down and hates the change in routine and…well…he hates her at first. Piper is loud, a tiny bit obnoxious at first, and just incredibly spoiled. HOWEVER, you find out quickly that she’s not a bad person. She doesn’t think down on anyone because they’re not as lucky or well-off as her. She’s sweet, and has a big heart.

I really thought going into this that I probably wouldn’t like Piper because of how she’s talked about in the official blurb. As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I hate books about awful people. But that’s not Piper at all, and I’m so, so glad. She kinda slowly comes into herself, but the whole time she’s doing what she can to help people. Brendan is a big ol’ teddy bear of a man and I love him. He was so totally head-over-heels for Piper in the most adorable way. Not to mention these two were hot, hot, hot together. Tessa Bailey is known for the steam, and boy howdy does she deliver.

Three and a half-ish stars. I recommend if you’re looking for something fun that doesn’t make you think too hard!

BOOK REVIEW: WELL MATCHED BY JEN DELUCA

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Well, that was a goddamn delight. I blasted through this in a matter of hours, because I desperately needed something I didn’t have to think about too much. Well Matched absolutely delivered. It was so much fun, without being overly cheesy or ridiculous.

This entry into the Well Met universe is about Emily’s sister, April, and the kilt-wearing hottie, Mitch. It starts out with some fake-dating to appease family members, and ends up with a hot friends-with-benefits situation that totally devolves into actual love. C’mon, I’m not about romance novels without HEAs. Of course this one ends happily, of course they end up together.

And MITCH AND APRIL ARE SO CUTE TOGETHER. Mitch is totally head over heels for her and she has no idea until close to the end of the novel. She’s blind, obviously, because his feelings for her so totally blatant you could see them from outer space. In a good way. At first sight, Mitch is a bit of a himbo, but once more is revealed about him through the story, it’s clear he’s much, much more than that. He’s an intelligent man who absolutely cares about his students, and the people in his town. I loved him so much. Best part of the book.

April, on the other hand, I wanted to shake silly. GIRL, YOU WANT TO STAY. YOU WANT MITCH. JUST GIVE IN. But that’s par for the course for me and contemporary romance heroines.

If you’re looking for something fun, and easy to read, I absolutely recommend the Well Met Series!

ARC REVIEW: JUST LIKE MAGIC BY SARAH HOGLE

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Group for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Bettie Hughes once knew the comfort of luxury, flaunting a ridiculous collection of designer shoes and a stealthy addiction to CBD oils. That is, until her parents snipped her purse strings. Long obsessed with her public image, Bettie boasts an extravagant lifestyle on social media. But the reality is: Bettie is broke and squatting in Colorado, and her family has no idea.

Christmas, with its pressure to meet familial expectations, is looming when a drunk Bettie plays a vinyl record of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” backwards and accidentally conjures Hall, an unexpectedly charming Holiday Spirit in the form of a man. Once the shock wears off, Bettie knows she’s stumbled upon the greatest gift: a chance to make all her holiday wishes come true, plus a ready-made fiancé.

But as the wiles of magic lose their charm, Bettie finds herself set off-kilter by Hall’s sweet gestures. Suddenly, Bettie is finding her heart merry and light. But the happier she gets, the shorter Hall’s time on earth grows. Can Bettie channel the Christmas spirit and learn to live with goodwill toward all men? Or will her selfish ways come back as soon as the holidays are over? 

DNF at 37%.

I tried, I really, really did. The premise has the possibility to be adorable, but the reality of it was a little too cheesy for me. I don’t mind silly or even just plain goofy, but this was bordering on ridiculous.

The main character, Bettie, accidentally summons a human-version of the Holiday Spirit. This spirit goes by the name of Hall. He is…basically Buddy the Elf, but on steroids. He’s innocent, has magic, and is trying his best to turn Bettie into a good person. Now, some of that would be fine, but Hall is almost child-like in his innocence. Like to the point that I wondered how he was going to turn into a love interest at all. I genuinely couldn’t see past that, and that’s one of the bigger reasons I gave up on this book.

The other reason I DNFed is that almost every OTHER character in this book — including Bettie — is an awful, self-centered mess. I cannot stand books where every character is horrible. Her entire family is horrible. Literally, every single person in her family is just awful. Bettie is trying to use Hall and his magic to get famous again, to get back at everyone who has ‘wronged’ her, when its her own damn fault that she’s in the situation that she’s in.

Blah.

JUST LIKE MAGIC WILL BE RELEASED OCTOBER 4, 2022.

Preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE