Romance Interlude 2.3

Prince of the Other Worlds Series Overview
by Kara Lockharte & Cassie Alexander
Series Overall:

**Spoilers are going to run a bit rampant in this. I might also be more sarcastic than usual.**

This interlude focuses on the paranormal romance/urban fantasy series from Kara Lockharte and Cassie Alexander. It’s a quartet with an imaginative plot but also felt like a patchwork of different movies and shows. Rifts, doorways between realms, appear and monsters come into the mortal world (think Pacific Rim) while a rag tag team of paranormal beings try to prevent their entrance and the destruction of earth (think Ghostbusters without ghosts and the team is made up of a witch, dragon shifter, 2 werewolves, and a human with machine parts–pretty much a cyborg but mostly human). There is a cheese loving cat and a fire that erases memories of the supernatural as well as reverses the destruction caused by the supernatural to a certain extent (think the kids show Miraculous and Cat Noir’s miraculous who loves cheese). Of course, I didn’t mind it too much because it was good–at least in the beginning. While all this is going on human nurse Andie Ngo and dragon shifter billionaire Damian Blackwood fall for one another. It’s instalust/instalove under the guise of having found their mate with lots of open door bedroom scenes that sometimes aren’t in the bedroom at all.


Dragon Called (2020)
ASIN/ISBN: B086XLV1XQ
Publication: May 3, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Prince of the Other Worlds #1

The first book was a fun read, introducing me to Andi, Damian, and the rest of the gang. Andi’s personality shined here and she was quite witty. I immediately liked her. While life has not always been kind to her, she is not exactly the woe-is-me type and she still cares about the well-being of others. Being a nurse is a perfect occupation for her. This book had some funny scenes and I liked some of the banter between Damian and Andi.


Dragon Destined (2020)
ASIN/ISBN: B086WX1QLW
Publication: May 17, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Prince of the Other Worlds #2

The second book is more angsty with a remedied case of noble idiocy (Damian) that has now been overridden by a fear of being hurt again (Andi). What is noble idiocy you say? It’s the I love you but I’ll only hurt you syndrome which leads whoever is the noble idiot to then end up hurting who it is they love under the ruse that this is what is best even though it was to protect that individual from getting hurt in the first place. Andi is fighting her feelings for Damian and Damian is wondering why he put himself in this position. Monsters are still trying to come over from the other side(s) and Andi is still searching for her brother, although she might be getting closer this time.


Dragon Fated (2020)
ASIN/ISBN: B088C45KFP
Publication: May 31, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Prince of the Other Worlds #3

The plot thickens in Dragon Fated but it gets overshadowed by how frisky the leads are. I’m guesstimating that nearly half of the book was all sex. Just about every time Andi and Damian were together, they were going at it. I get it. After so much time away from each other (I think it’s only been a few weeks from the time they first meet in the first book), it’s natural to want to be all over each other; however, the plot is originally what led me to continue with the series and I was disappointed I wasn’t getting my questions answered.


Dragon Mated (2020)
ASIN/ISBN: B089782J7L
Publication: October 13, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Prince of the Other Worlds #4

Things got even more complicated in the final book. There were so many different things going on that it felt like the book spread itself too thin. The ending left me with more questions and the answers given to my other questions were not satisfying at all. The closure didn’t feel much like closure to me. All of a sudden people who probably wouldn’t work together were working together (what?! why?) even though the reasoning was somewhat flimsily established earlier. Sure, it’s possible that this can happen–you know, the enemy of my enemy is my friend–but I didn’t really believe it. Part of my disappointment is that I was hoping the fourth book would take a different direction. Book 3 hinted at the possibility of entering into a different realm and that doesn’t happen, so I was disappointed. Now I feel like there’s a loose ending floating somewhere.

Overall, this was an imaginative series that sets up the possibilities of additional books potentially set in different realms. It’s also possible for more Damion and Andi (Dandi? Andian?) centric stories. Despite having passed on the series a few times in my list of recommendations, I took a chance on it. I’m glad I did because at least the first two books were entertaining. I was disappointed in the last two books. I was left with an ending I didn’t really like, which then subsequently made me frustrated with the series.

QOTD: If you could…

Books/authors ask so many different questions–some are interesting, some are fun. Sometimes I pause in the middle of reading so I can reflect on a question along with the character. I like to highlight it or write down the questions so I can think some more about it later. I thought on Fridays I might share them from time to time.

If you could go back to any time, what age would you return to?

In Case You Missed It (2020)

Ros is the main character in Lindsey Kelk’s In Case You Missed It (2020), and she is constantly thinking about how good things used to be before she moved away. When this question is posed, Ros answers it quickly saying she would go back to her mid-20s.

I like to make things more complicated than they should be. The question is hard because it leaves open-ended the purpose of going back in time. Am I going back to relive it, or am I going to do things differently? (Also, can I still know what I know now? Also…But what about….hahaha) These nuances of going back in time are important because they can possibly lead to different answers. If I can only relive the past, I might say I have moments I want to relive rather than one particular age because not every day was great. However, the question asks for an age so I’ll force myself to answer with an actual age. I would relive my last year in high school when I was 17-18 years old . My senior year was a blast! This was the year I ditched class for the first time. I didn’t do anything particularly special except hang out with the person who would become my best friend. She had an open period, and I had choir so we just hung out in the computer lab. My parents, who are very strict, surprisingly let me go to prom. It was the first time I went all out and dressed up–I am very much a tshirt and jeans person. I went to the prom with the tall, good looking foreign exchange student. And then there was that stolen day with the boy I crushed on all throughout high school–the one that got away…sigh… I could relive that day over a few times.

Now, if I was able to go back but have the ability to change things, I would return to my undergraduate years. I had a lot of fun but I tended to stick with what I knew best. It wasn’t until I was finishing up my degree that I became more confident in who I was and more involved with activities and programs on campus. I would take chances and be more willing to move outside my comfort zone sooner rather than later.

If you could go back to any time, what age would you return to?

A Very Friendly Valentine’s Day (2021)

by Kayley Loring
ASIN/ISBN: B08RCZ2NK1
Publication: January 14, 2021
Series: Standalone – connected to A Very Bossy Christmas (2020)

**Jump to Review**

Get ready to spend Valentine’s Day with Eddie and Birdie!

A Very Friendly Valentine’s Day
is out today.

Goodreads
Amazon: US | UK | CA | AU

EDDIE: Cancel your dinky little roomette on the train. I’m booking us two of the big bedroom suites. 

BIRDIE: I’ll cancel it AFTER you’ve booked the other sleeper rooms. And reimburse you.

EDDIE: Don’t worry about it. Just cancel your tickets. I got this. Round trip. I’m on the Amtrak website right now.

BIRDIE: You don’t have to leave NYC when I do! You’ll hardly be able to spend any time with your Instagram girlfriend that you’ve never met!

EDDIE: It’s fine. She’ll be fine with it. Cancel your tickets.

BIRDIE: You aren’t going to stop texting me until I’ve canceled them, are you?

EDDIE: Damn right I’m not. Just do it. You can thank me later.

***

EDDIE: Um. Did you cancel your tickets?

BIRDIE: Yes, Edward. I canceled them.

EDDIE: Okay, because it turns out they only had one Family Bedroom from LA to Chicago. But the good news is I booked it for us. It’s the biggest room they had. The bad news is I booked it for us. And it’s the only sleeper room they have left now.

EDDIE: In related news, there was also only one room left from Chicago to New York. 

EDDIE: Hands up if you’re excited! *man raising hand emoji*

BIRDIE: I am so mad at you right now.

***

BIRDIE: I’ve compiled a list of ground rules re shared train bedroom. Check your email, please read carefully, and refer to it again on the ninth of February. Thank you.

EDDIE: *nerd face emoji* Received. I have some notes. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Before writing steamy romantic comedy novels, Kayley Loring got a BFA in creative writing from a Canadian university and had a fifteen-year career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles (under a different name). She mostly wrote PG-13 family comedies that studios would pay her lots of money for and then never make into movies. In 2017 she decided to move to the Pacific Northwest and write about all the fun stuff that she wasn’t allowed to write about in those PG-13 scripts. Now she’s breathing cleaner air and writing dirtier words. It’s an adjustment she’s happily getting used to.

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REVIEW

**I was provided a copy of the book by Give Me Books as part of the promotional campaign. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Best friends Birdie and Eddie straddle the line between friendship and possibly something more. While both are attracted to each other, Birdie doesn’t want to ruin a 6-year friendship and Eddie is trying really hard to stay faithful to his hot Instagram model girlfriend whom he has never met IRL. Separately, they make plans to head to New York for Valentine’s Day–Eddie to meet his girlfriend and Birdie to attend a Tedx talk–but decide to make the trip together.

A Very Friendly Valentine’s Day is short and sweet (short as in over 200 pages but under 300) Because it’s short, there isn’t a lot of room to digress from our leading couple. As a friends-to-lovers romance, this book hits all the good stuff from the angst of being in close quarters to the jealousy that occurs when someone tries to hit on your best friend…the one who you are very definitely not in love with. The chemistry and the angst start right away, making it easy to root for Birdie and Eddie. Missing was the endearing and very hilarious family bantering, although we hear from Eddie’s mom and his brother as well as get appearances from his cousins. However, as Eddie’s cousin Billy laments in the book, a lot of holidays like Christmas and New Year’s can be spent with family but Valentine’s Day is often about having a significant other so it makes sense that families only make brief appearances in this particular book. (Not that Valentine’s Day can’t be about friends and other relationships–I’m all for it. I’m just repeating what Billy said. Don’t shoot me.)

As a fan of rom coms, A Very Friendly Valentine’s Day is an example of why Loring has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I was reading this at 2AM because I couldn’t put it down. I had to self-ostracize to the living room because I kept laughing too much. If you’re a fan of friends-to-lovers and laughing (because laughing is one of life’s best cures!), this is the perfect novel to head into Valentine’s Day with.

Side note: As soon as I was done, I had to go reread A Very Bossy Christmas again (yup…you read that right, reread again as in I’ve already reread it a few times) because I needed some more laughs. Now that the single Cannavale brothers have had their stories, I very much need a story about Maddie’s niece Piper. I love her.

We Hunt the Flame (2019)

by Hafsah Faizal
ASIN/ISBN: 9780374311544
Publication: May 14, 2019
Series: Sands of Arawiya #1

To feed her village, Zafira dons the cloak of the Hunter to bring back meat from the Arz, a forest that ensnares all those who enter it…but Zafira returns time and again. Nasir is the Sultan’s assassin, loyally killing by request to gain his father’s approval and to protect those he pretends not to care about. Their paths cross when Zafira is tasked with retrieving a magical object to return magic to Arawiya and Nasir is sent to retrieve it from her.

It took a few false starts before I was finally able to get past the first chapter. The first part of the book is an introduction to our characters and Arawiya. Faizal creates a complex world, providing tales of its creation as well as background on events that led to the current state of the land. It was a bit slow for me but quickly picked up when Zafira sets out to retrieve the magical object. In the second half, as the search begins, the book becomes a lot more interesting; this is where all the fun starts. I couldn’t put it down after that.

Amidst the battle between good and evil is the struggle over one’s identity, and this was the more interesting fight (although not as exciting). Zafira and Nasir both have deeply held fears of not being accepted for who they are. Zafira pretends to be a hunter because she cares for her people but her good deeds wouldn’t be enough to save her if it is discovered that she is a woman. Nasir has not known love since his mother’s death. He’s been corrupted by his father who instilled in him that compassion and love are weaknesses that can only hurt him, so he hides them instead. Nassir isn’t necessarily looking for redemption as much as he is seeking acceptance for who he has become. In donning these disguises for the world, Zafira and Nasir also begin to lose parts of themselves. The journey to find the magical object presents both of them with the opportunity to choose who they want to be. Is it the disguise they wear or is it who lies underneath? Or, can they be both?

I enjoyed the novel. With the loss that many of the characters already faced, Faizal was able to beautifully capture the emotions associated with those losses into words, at times making it feel like she put my own feelings of loss onto the page as well. I found Zafira to be an admirable individual, and I really wanted to give Nasir a hug–someone, the man needs a hug! I look forward to We Free the Stars, which will be released on January 19, 2021. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping it will be similar to the last half of We Hunt the Flame.

Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood (2021)

by Gary Paulsen
ISBN: 9780374314156
Publication: January 12, 2021


**I was provided a copy of the book by the publisher through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Hatchet was a book I read for class probably when I was around 10 or 11 years old. I remember enjoying it at the time, although I remember less of it now than those books I chose to read as opposed to those I had to. The draw of this particular book was that it is a middle grade nonfiction book, Paulsen’s memoirs. It’s supposed to be a glimpse into those moments that shaped him into who he is today. How does one write a memoir that will still maintain the interest of middle grade readers? You write it exactly like Paulsen does.

The memories are carefully selected, with the first half of the book focused on only a few months of life when he was five. It’s clear this is when his love for the wilderness began and likely when he was at his happiest. It moves forward through his childhood until we meet the librarian who made an impact on his life and, finally, we are thrust forward again until he enlists in the army. 

Paulsen allows readers to serve as observers in his life like they’re reading a novel rather than someone’s memoirs. Written in the third person, it reads more like fiction than not, which I liked, but just as I settled into it like I would any other novel, I would be reminded differently: these are moments he lived through; no, this is not fiction. It’s these moments in particular that struck a chord with me. It’s also these moments when the imagery in the book is at its best. 

Young or old, if you’re a fan of Gary Paulsen or his books made an impact on your life, this is a worthwhile read. Some of the content might be mature for those who are younger, but it doesn’t exactly fit into YA either. If you’re a librarian or an educator, or someone who just genuinely cares about kids, the section on the library and the role the librarian played in his life was especially meaningful. I hope the librarian knew how much she positively affected his life. It made me cry. However, I’m a pretty sentimental person and cry at a lot of things. The section reinforced why I chose to be an educator.

**1/12/2021 Update: I attended a Webinar on release day and Paulsen didn’t mention whether the librarian knew but he did reiterate her role. He said she was the difference between life and death in his life. Made me teary again.**

Girl on the Ferris Wheel (2021)

by Julie Halpern & Len Vlahos
ISBN: 9781250169396
Publication: January 12, 2021


**I was provided a copy of the book by the publisher through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Contemporary YA is not a genre I typically read unless bloggers I follow recommend it (see…bloggers are influential and contribute to the bookish world going round, woohoo!).  With a glowing review and an interesting synopsis, I may be persuaded to pick it up. I don’t know if I would have picked The Girl on the Ferris Wheel had I not had access to an ARC. I’m glad I did because Girl on the Ferris Wheel turned out to be really good.

Halper and Vlaho took me on an emotional ride while navigating first love with Dmitri and Emilia.  It reverted me to high school when insecurities were often at their pinnacle and love was thought to conquer everything.  They successfully captured the ins and outs of a relationship, from the butterflies and sparks to the tears that often accompany the anguish and confusion.  While the book focuses on first love and a first relationship, many of the messages that can be taken away from Dmitri and Emilia’s relationship is universal to all relationships: relationships are hard and communication is key.  And, oftentimes, to put our best foot forward in a relationship, we have to learn to love ourselves first.

Emilia’s battle with depression was an added layer to her character and subsequently the relationship. I thought it was depicted fairly well, providing both the perspective of the person suffering from depression as well as the person in love with someone suffering from depression.  Emilia already had a lot of self-doubts but the depression seemed to exacerbate those doubts while Dmitri kept trying to show her how much he loved her. Experience with depression allowed me to connect easily with Emilia but Dmitri provided me a glimpse of what it feels like to be the person on the other side. It can be difficult for all those involved.

(A fast list of gripes and likes.) I hated the way Emilia treated her dad, and I had to remind myself that at that age sometimes I could be a little sh*t too. Some of the things she said about her guidance counselor also annoyed me despite all the things he did for her. Yia Yia, Dmitri’s grandma, was one of my favorite characters.  Her wisdom at poignant moments in the book was greatly welcomed.  Janina exemplified what a best friend should often be, someone who is supportive and listens but willing to give a push when needed.  I was back and forth about the inclusion of Dmitri’s family, particularly his father, being racist and anti-black, because I’m not sure how much value, if any, that added to the narrative. It appeared like it was meant to add to the detail of his father being ultra conservative. There is also an abundance of Harry Potter references–not one or two but scattered in nearly every chapter.

Overall, I think Halper and Vlaho pretty much nailed it.  It’s written well and I greatly enjoyed it. There were moments that made me laugh, moments I could relate to, and moments that made me shake my head because I recalled those feelings so well. In terms of age level, it might fall at the lower end of YA but that doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be enjoyed by those older—again, I enjoyed it a lot. 

Romance Interlude 2.2

Along with Pippa Grant, Kayley Loring is quickly becoming one of my go-to romance authors. I discovered Kayley Loring last year and have been picking up her novels here and there. Fans of romance novels cannot go wrong with reading just about anything from Loring. Because the books below are not part of an official series (at least the last time I checked), I’m calling them standalone but the characters are connected to each other and make appearances. This is actually quite timely because Loring has a book coming out on January 14 for Valentine’s Day that I am really excited about, A Very Friendly Valentine’s Day (cover reveal and blurb here). I will be posting a review for that one as well. Until then, here are mini-reviews.


Sleeper (2019)
by Kayley Loring
ASIN/ISBN: B082H3TTBJ
Publication: December 12, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Name in Lights #1

One liner: Willa has had a crush on her brother’s best friend Shane since she was a kid, and she’s just been hired to be the new nanny.

Willa is smart and has always known what she wants to do. She’s also a bit eccentric, which is part of the reason why I really liked her and also part of the reason why the kids adored her. When she and Shane meet again, there is bantering and there is a whole lot of chemistry. Shane is a great dad so I had heart eyes throughout most of the book for him. While I liked the characters, what sold me on this book is the writing. One of favorite quotes of 2020 comes from this book, and it’s beautiful. I’ll repeat it here because I really want to and I’ll be repeat this some more later too. How could I not fall more in love with Shane after this quote? (Sigh…)

“I already know that every time with her, it will be perfect, but I could do a million takes and never feel like I got it just right. Because I didn’t get to be her first. Because she wasn’t my first. But if I can be her best and last, I might come close to showing her that it’s the first time that anything I’ve ever done with a woman has felt this good and real.”


Charmer (2020)
by Kayley Loring
ASIN/ISBN: B086C9587P
Publication: March 25, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Name in Lights #2

One liner: Nico has a crush on waitress Kat and asks her and her family to go on tour with him when he realizes he doesn’t want to be away from her that long.

Charmer didn’t appeal to me in the same way as Sleeper did. I liked it, but not nearly as much. While I liked both Nico and Kat, I felt like I knew him better as a character than I did Kat. I didn’t seem to connect with their romance as much either, maybe because I kept comparing him to Shane. I know it’s unfair to Nico’s character but Shane is a lot to live up to (please see quote above for reference…hahaha). Nico is still a sweetheart though. Grammie, who also makes an appearance in Sleeper, is awesome! I love her! My favorite aspect of Charmer is probably the video diaries. I like these a lot more than the journals being kept, even those in Sleeper.


Troublemaker (2020)
by Kayley Loring
ASIN/ISBN: B08CTHDLQ3
Publication: August 13, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Name in Lights #3

One liner: Emilia finds out that the man she had a sparks with at a club and can’t stop thinking about is actually the father of one of her current students.

Before I begin, please see the quote above from Sleeper again. Please understand that this mini-review, like the one for Charmer, was also influenced by how much I enjoyed Sleeper (hehehe). I read them one after the other so that couldn’t be helped. I would rank Troublemaker to be on par with Charmer in terms of how much I enjoyed the story, but probably a little better. After reading the first two, this one was a bit of fresh air. Putting aside the whole famous director thing, I found this book to have the more realistic relationship, with adults trying to navigate an adult relationship rather than immediate sweeping off of feet. Alex’s son was pretty adorable as well. The best part is that Grammie and her awesomeness make an appearance.

Clues to the Universe (2021)

by Christina Li
ISBN: 9780063008885
Publication: January 12, 2021
Series: N/A


**I was provided a copy of the book by the author and publisher through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

(I apologize in advance for being longwinded in this review–it turned into something more like a book report…hehe)

Clues to the Universe is a slice of life novel about two seventh graders. While it deals with multiple aspects of growing up, including bullying and making new friends, it is grounded in dealing with loss. Ro and Benji are individually trying to come to terms with not having their dads around, neither realizing that maybe what they need is a peer for support along the way. A mix-up in class forces Ro and Benji to talk and become science partners, making a deal that Ro will help Benji find his dad while Benji agrees to help Ro with her rocket. Slowly, the relationship becomes more than something obligatory; it blossoms into a friendship.

Their specific situations are different–Benji’s father appears to have left of his own accord while Ro’s father died–but are also similar in many ways. Both Ro and Benji take after their fathers. Like her father, Ro has her head in the stars, and she’s trying to build a model rocket–a project they never had the chance to complete. Similar to his father, Benji loves art, and his hands can’t keep still because he’s always doodling away. They’re each trying to maintain a connection to their father in some way.

While they are somewhat opposites of each other, Ro and Benji fit together well. Benji is more likely to just go along with whatever is happening but is in many ways content in his environment. Ro is very precise, trying to maintain control over what she can while looking for that next step. It’s this latter element of being content with stability as opposed to moving forward that causes friction in their relationship. While differences may exist, sometimes it’s the differences that will foster positive growth, pushing us to be better versions of ourselves. It’s this aspect of the book that I enjoyed the most, seeing the changes in both Ro and Benji as they started spending more time together.

Another aspect of the book is Li’s ability to tease out Ro and Benji’s developing friendship through small things like who Ben thinks of when someone refers to his friend. I especially enjoyed how she anchored their individual perceptions of their friendship in the things they loved. Benji’s realization comes with his observations about characters drawn in comics but for Ro, it’s slightly different because of her personality. Being inclined toward science, observations offer her evidence to support her theories so it makes sense that the more they hang out, the more likely they can be considered friends. Other times, it has to really hit her in the face because she’s so goal-oriented, her mind on a single purpose, that she doesn’t pay attention to anything else. If the above doesn’t really do a good job of it, let me just sum it up: Li does a superb job with the characterization of her 7th grade leads. They’re both well-developed characters with Benji and Ro each experiencing growth through their new found friendship.

This is a story about two lonely individuals who didn’t realize how much they needed support and understanding from someone with similar experiences and unexpectedly found solace and strength in each other. Individuals who have experienced any kind of loss, not just that of a parent, will be able to relate to the heartbreak and yearning as well as to asking questions that don’t necessarily have answers.

{preorder blitz} Unraveled (2021)

What could possibly happen when the girl always full of sunshine meets the town’s grumpy new fireman?

Find out in Alexia Chase’s new novel Unraveled, set to be released on January 28.
Preorder your copy today.

Goodreads
Amazon: US | UK | CA | AU

Alexia Chase’s Unraveled is a fast-paced, emotionally charged, sexy, contemporary romance written in K. Bromberg’s Everyday Heroes Worlds project.

Can a man who’s been burned find love with a woman who’s full of sunshine and happily ever afters? 

Kameron Willoughby

His mom walked out the door when he was twelve and never looked back. That was Kameron’s first taste of a woman letting him down, but certainly not the last. 

Over the years, he’s caught his high school girlfriend with his best friend. And his last girlfriend used him to humiliate another woman. To say he’s bitter and looking to lick his wounds is an understatement. 

When his cousin offers him a place to stay in Sunnyville, he jumps at the chance. Little did he know, he’d meet Little Miss Sunshine herself. 

Layla Malone

She’s looking for Mr. Right, and he has some big shoes to fill. The men in her family have loyal hearts and a helping spirit. The biggest complaint people have about her is that she’s always rushing off to rescue someone. Why’s that such a bad thing? 

The first time she meets Kameron, she’s wrangling ducklings when one accidently falls into a rainwater drain. 

Kameron couldn’t be farther from what she’s looking for. He’s grumpy, doesn’t like animals, and thinks she’s a do-gooder. Every time they meet, she’s jumping headfirst into helping someone, and he’s lecturing her on taking unnecessary risks. 

What happens when two people, who have nothing in common, keep getting thrown together? 

One thing that’s soon apparent – they have an undeniable scorching chemistry that has them both unraveling. 

Will they stay enemies? Do they have more in common than they think? 

Can Layla show Kameron that there’s light after the darkness? Or will Kameron destroy Layla’s belief that life is sunshine and rainbows? 

This story is filled with breaking preconceived notions, resolving miscommunications, learning to appreciate your past, and healing old wounds. 

There’s also some duck wrangling, cat rescuing, sexy firefighting, and an eighty-year-old man’s rushed delivery to a nursing home before his erectile dysfunction medication wears off. 

Are you ready to enjoy the next Everyday Hero? Kameron’s one Grumpalicious fireman. 


EXCERPT

Layla

Between Gertrude and I, we manage to corral three of the baby ducks into the park as several customers file out of the café to cheer me on. 

I lean down and swoosh my arms in the air as another puffball waddles toward the yellow center line. “Oh, no, you don’t.” 

At my exaggerated movements, the duckling shots into the grass like a fox is hot on his tail feathers. “Good job, little one.”

By now, cars on both sides of the road have come to a complete stop. Mayor Winston steps out of his Cadillac. He leans against the door with his arm resting over the top edge. “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”

I swipe a strand of hair out of my eyes, but it continues to swirl. “Yes, it is.”

He chuckles as Gertrude darts to the side of the road and frantically quacks at a duckling that has wandered down the cement gutter. “She sure has her hands full with this batch. I don’t think they’re going to make it.”

“You and me both,” I sigh in utter frustration. There’s no time to make idle conversation. I jog to catch up with them before another unsuspecting driver ends up running over the little family. 

Not that there’s anywhere for vehicles to go. The road to the south is blocked by the Mayor and a couple other drivers who’ve stopped to chat with him. And from the north, a large 4×4 is angled sideways to block traffic. 

I squint. Who’s that? I don’t recognize the vehicle. Before I can catch a glimpse of the driver, the pipsqueak on the loose slips between the rails of the drain grate and disappears. 

“Oh, shit.” My heart skips a beat. I run to the covered trench and stare inside with my co-parent quacking and fluttering her head from side to side. How am I going to get you out of there? 

“What are you doing?” A deep voice booms from behind me.

My mouth drops, and I pivot on my heel. Holy hotness, Batman. The man, who has apparently emerged from a monster truck with dual tailpipes, strides across the pavement. 

The muscles in his shoulders and neck ripple with each movement. When did superheroes start wearing low-hung jeans and wifebeaters? I swallow over the dry ball of lust in my throat and straighten my back. “Gertrude’s baby duckling fell into the drain.”

He yanks the sunglasses off his face, and the darkest pair of brown eyes stare at me in utter disbelief. Then, he glances in all directions. “And that warrants this mess?”

I jerk backward. “What mess?”

“This.” As he waves his hand in a circle in front of him, his eyes flash with contempt. “You’re holding up traffic. All the lookie-loos are out gawking. And the Mayor’s over there holding an impromptu press conference.”

I spin around to see Mayor Winston grinning from ear to ear as he uses his hands to talk. Tracie Atherton and Max Parson have their cellphones up as they appear to be recording his conversation. Welcome to Sunnyville, California. 

“Then, move on.” I shrug. “It doesn’t have to be your business.”

The man purses his lips. “Yes, it does. We received a call at the fire department, and I’m the lucky one who got the assignment.” 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexia ChaseMy name is Alexia Chase. 

I specialize in quick, dirty, and sweet short stories and novellas with some novels for your reading pleasure. I write for busy working mothers who admire and acquire books that provide the full escape of a novel but don’t have a lot of time. 

More importantly, I offer insta-love, smutty sex, and swoon-worthy moments that will leave you with a flushed face and a giddy smile. Quick – pray no one is watching and wondering what in the hell is wrong with you because no one else looks that happy. 

People who have read my books have the following to say: 

“This insta-love story is extremely funny, a quick read and just filled with so much good and filthy stuff. I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone that likes Alexia Chase or is just thinking about picking one of her books up for the first time. Just make sure you are reading this where you can laugh out loud and get a crimson face when you read the erotic sex scenes.” LF Books 

“I’ve read a lot of books written by Alexia Chase; she has done a great job at writing another good short story; she is one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to read more of her books.” Jeanne Richardson

My writing gives busy women that sixty-minute escape they need when they can’t afford a trip to the Caribbean with their secret lover, Dimitri.  My Soul Sisters don’t even have time to get away from the kids to take a shower. 

Quick. Dirty. Sweet. Alexia Chase Logo

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The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob (2021)

by Pippa Grant
ASIN/ISBN: B08RY8WSY4
Publication: January 7, 2021
Series: Bro Code Series #4

**Jump to Review**

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You don’t know me, but you do know me. I’m your neighborhood hot mess single mom, doing my best to keep my head above water while running my little slice of heaven and keeping my youngest from shoving marbles up his nose, which is exactly what he’s doing the first time Levi Wilson, pop star god, world’s sexiest man, and my all-time number one celebrity obsession, walks into my bookstore.
 
Related: I’m writing this from beyond the grave, because I’ve died of mortification and am now residing in an alternate universe.
 
I have to be.
 
Because Levi Wilson came back.
 
And we had a moment.
 
Like, a moment moment. The kind that makes me remember that adult pleasure isn’t all about hoping the lock holds in the bathroom so your kids don’t interrupt on the rare occasion you feel like taking an extra-long mommy-time shower.
 
So when he proposes a no-strings fling?
 
Count. Me. In.
 
Thrill of a lifetime, right?
 
Surely, nothing will go wrong…
 
The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob is a rockin’ fun, sexy romantic comedy featuring a celebrity panty-melter who doesn’t know what he’s been missing, a sassy single mom hanging on by a string, three adorable children who would never burst in on a woman when she’s on a toilet (ha!), and shameless ovary-busting moments between a guy who never thought he’d be a dad and a family who thought they got along just fine without him. It stands alone and comes complete with a happily-ever-after (though you’d never go wrong to read the other Bro Code series books first).


Bro Code Series
(click for Goodreads link)

Bro Code #1
Bro Code #2
Bro Code #3

EXCERPT from The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob

One day. I would like to go one single day without someone in my orbit making a poor life decision.

“Stop squirming,” I order my four-year-old son, who should be at preschool, but who’s been banished for the week because of lice.

Yep.

Lice.

Heaven forbid we have one issue at a time.

Adding to my list of issues? Being that mom who can’t get her shit together while Levi Flipping Wilson is watching. And not only watching, but actively engaging in trying to help. “Hey, bud, I bet I can hold still longer than you can. Wanna see?”

I know my agenda on any given day will include interruption for something my children do that I never would’ve expected in a million years, but that’s a lot easier to deal with when I don’t have an audience.

Especially an audience made up of one famous man whose songs get me through the day—and night—when I don’t have enough free focus to read or listen to an audiobook, and who keeps stealing glances at me like he’s trying to figure out what kind of rabid creature I am. Normally, customers aren’t allowed back in the stockroom with me, which is where I dragged Hudson when I realized what he’d done to his nose, but leaving Levi out there with the customers who’d figured out who he was seemed like a bad idea.

Especially when his date skewered me with a look that clearly said get him out of here or I’ll burn this place down.

It’s a bookstore.

Highly flammable.

Not taking chances.

Especially if there was a reason they were looking at maternity and early childhood development books. His date doesn’t look pregnant, but god knows that’s when pregnancy is hardest.

Hudson finally stills, and I manage to smear a little more Vaseline gently around his nostril. “How did you get a marble in your nose?”

“I pushed hard.” He beams. “I gots stars in there too.”

I squeeze my eyes shut and count to two, because I know if I get as high as three, he’ll find a way to suck the marbles deeper into his sinus cavities, and I don’t know how a doctor will get that out without having to cut his nose open, and oh my god, he’s four and he’s about to be disfigured for life because I thought he’d actually sit still and listen to Yasmin reading books for neighborhood storytime while I re-stocked a few shelves.

“How many stars?” I inquire through clenched teeth.

“Four. Or maybe seven. Or maybe one. I forgets.”

“You are so lucky you’re cute.”

“Do you have a vacuum?” Levi asks.

I twist my head to gape at him.

He shoots a help? look at his date, then shrugs at me. “If he won’t blow it out, maybe you can suck it out. Like with one of those sucky tools the dentist uses.”

“That’s…possibly not a terrible idea.”

“Happens on occasion.” He grins, which makes my heart basically stop because he’s stupidly gorgeous.

I could stare at him all day, but I have a preschooler with marbles up his nose to attend to.

“Mama,” Hudson says, “look.”

He scrunches his nose, which makes his nostrils swell, closes his mouth, and blows, and one shoots out and lands on Levi’s shoe.

My son has just snotted my favorite musician’s Italian leather loafers.

“I win! I holded still!” He breaks into his preschool dance routine, but the poor kid got his moves from me, which means to a casual observer, he probably looks like he’s having a seizure while choking on a piece of gum and tripping over barbed wire.

Levi Wilson, however, is not fazed. He squats down to Hudson’s level. “Rematch.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pippa Grant is a USA Today Bestselling author who writes romantic comedies that will make tears run down your leg. When she’s not reading, writing or sleeping, she’s being crowned employee of the month as a stay-at-home mom and housewife trying to prepare her adorable demon spawn to be productive members of society, all the while fantasizing about long walks on the beach with hot chocolate chip cookies.

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REVIEW


**I was provided a copy of the book by Give Me Books as part of the promotional campaign. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

In prior posts, I’ve gushed about how much I enjoy Grant’s books. They’re hilariously absurd with a lot of heart, and there is more than one of her male leads I will gladly accept as my book boyfriend–Beck Ryder currently reigns supreme. The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob and Levi is not an exception to this. Surprisingly, it started off relatively tame. (I KNOW RIGHT?!) No burning fires, no jilted brides, and no kidnapping. (WHAT?!) It was sweet, saccharine even, and I found myself “teeheeing” within the first few pages of the book.

Grant sure knows how to capture the feelings of meeting an idol you adore…in the most mature, non fangirl way of course…of course. Okay, there is inner fangirling (just breathe) and also the horror when sh*t hits the fan at the same time. HA. She manages to get in some hilarious moments throughout the book, but I liked this book particularly for its heart. I don’t know how she does it. Just when I think I’ve read all there is, Grant concocts something that makes me laugh or something that turns me into a puddle of goo.

I enjoyed the chemistry between Levi and Ingrid. Ingrid’s kids are her world but they can be a handful. Levi is patient and adores her kids. Ingrid isn’t as confident in herself as she used to be, but Levi looks at her like she’s the best thing in the world. (Sigh…Can someone look at me like that?) It isn’t a passionate, off the charts whirlwind romance. It’s better. It’s the kind that seeps into your skin and crawls into the corners to fill the holes you didn’t know you had. Yup, I’m pretty sentimental so there were quite a few times that I had to dab my eyes.

If 2020 was a difficult year, and you’re looking for something to help you start 2021 on a happy note, pick up The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob. While #4 in the Bro Code Series, it can be read as a standalone but you’d be doing yourself a favor in reading all the books. (Book boyfriend Beck Ryder’s book is America’s Geekheart, Bro Code #2)