Romance Interlude 2.9

I haven’t done one of these in a while mostly because I’ve been trying to catch up with other reviews that weren’t necessarily romances. I did get a chance to read a few new ones and reread some I never reviewed on the blog. Let’s get started!


Guarding Her Heart (2019)
by Adore Ian
ASN/ISBN: B07P16B1MD
Publication: July 16, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Braxton Arcade #2

One liner: Elle’s past catches up with her just as she finally feels like she’s found a place she can call home and a man who makes her feel safe.

This one was unexpectedly good! I should have known it would be because it was on a list of romances curated by Remarkably Lisa and another blogger. Elle and Conor are co-workers and become friends while Elle is working at Braxton Arcade. When they start acting on their attraction to one another it doesn’t feel like insta-love. The close proximity was also nice. I wasn’t a fan of Conor’s virginity fetish, but his possessiveness wasn’t as extreme as I’ve seen in other novels so that didn’t bother me as much. My higher than expected star rating comes from how well the suspense and romance are integrated. It doesn’t forgo the suspense to focus solely on the romance and then have the suspense pop up out of nowhere. Past books that have tried to blend the two have disappointed me in this area but this one did not.


Summer Spice
by Kris Pearson
ASN/ISBN: B07N8857KK
Publication: January 29, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Scarlet Bay Romance #3

One liner: Mei needs a temporary place to stay after leaving her abusive ex and Ollie, who has been in love with her for 15 years, has the perfect place for her until he can fly her out.

If you can overlook Ollie continuously referring to Mei as “Dragon Lady” or her being exotic, this is a good read. The writing is engaging and although the romance develops in the course of a few days, it gave me all the warm, fluttery feelings, again if I ignored the above. Although Mei has only just left her ex, it’s established pretty well that they’ve both always been attracted to each other. Ollie has been carrying a torch for Mei for 15 years and when he sees her again it’s clear he is still smitten. Aside from overlooking Ollie’s name for Mei, I wasn’t a fan of the reveal about why it took forever for them to get together. The ending was abrupt and I didn’t really like how it ended, aside from Ollie referring to Mei as “Dragon Lady” that is. (As you can see probably guess it was difficult to overlook…)


Sin With Me
by Rose Chen
ASN/ISBN: B01FQ6IL94
Publication: May 15, 2016
Goodreads Summary

One liner: Alicia is a serial dater and doesn’t date Asian men but Kenneth is set on her and will do his best to make her change her mind.

This was another book from the booklist curated by Remarkably Lisa. It was surprisingly good. Give me a lead like Dr. Kenneth Sin anytime! I know that in my Asian community, I have also often heard the “I don’t date Asian men” rule and I gave it the side eye here mostly because I wanted to know why first. Chen gives a reasonably acceptable, if cliche, answer–Alicia isn’t ready for commitment and Asian men seem to want more commitment than she’s prepared for. Of course, all this starts to blur with Kenneth. It’s easy to see why. First, they’re both physically attracted to each other and then they both have traits that each like in the other. Their mothers are friends and sharing a culture does make things a bit simpler. Kenneth is persistent but he also is respectful of Alicia’s wishes and I completely swooned for that. I liked the book a lot until the ending so that’s why it’s 1/2 a star lower than it should be.

In the Ravenous Dark (2021)

by A.M. Strickland
ASIN/ISBN: 9781250776600
Publication: May 18, 2021

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

I was quickly hooked as the book opened with Roven’s dad sacrificing himself to try to conceal Roven’s identity from the bloodmages sent to retrieve him and any family he might have. Some years after her father’s death, she reveals her powers to save someone. Her mistake leads to her whole world being uprooted. She is thrust into the palace and forced to conform to her new role, but she’ll stop at nothing to escape. While the book initially held promise, my hope began to unravel as I delved into Thanopolis and the palace intrigue awaiting Roven. Although there is a lot to like about the book, I couldn’t quite overcome the parts I didn’t like.

With its sigils, blood magic, and bloodlines, the magic system was primarily the most interesting part of the book. I was entranced by the complexity of the system and wanted so much more information than was provided. The powers and the role of the guardians–spirits who inhabit the world of the living and are chained to bloodmages–were fascinating. I wanted more details about the ability of guardians and how they became guardians in the first place. The process by which magic is passed from one generation was intriguing. Then there was also death magic, which was not explained very well because only those who served in the necropolis had full knowledge of what it was. Although I wanted more information, it was enough to momentarily pause my questions about how it worked. It felt like Strickland only scratched the surface of the magical system created, and more stories could be built around it in the future.

The world appeared Greek inspired from the structures to the language to the clothing but I couldn’t visualize much from the descriptions provided. The focus was mostly on the government in place and the magic system. Queer representation was present. One of the love interests Princess Lydea is a lesbian. Japha, who is the first to befriend Rovan in the palace, is non-binary, and Rovan is pansexual. While the world appears queer normative, there is still a perceived duty that individuals must procreate for it to be acceptable. Love between multiple individuals is also acceptable.

While I mostly stick to reading about monogamous relationships, the book deviates from my norm with a polyamorous relationship. I was curious to see how this would be written, and if I would be swayed to like one love interest more than the other; however, it turned out that the romance is likely one of the most disappointing aspects of the book. The problem doesn’t lie with the number of people Rovan potentially loves but in the absence of emotional depth in each relationship pursued. Lust and attraction immediately transform into deep affection with the word love easily escaping from the mouths of those supposedly having fallen into it. I, on the other hand, was still trying to understand how and when love happened. There were hardly any meaningful displays of affection and rarely passion beyond the physical to sway me of these sudden attachments. Because love serves as motivation for some actions characters take, it was difficult for me to overlook the romances supposedly taking place. Aside from familial relationships, the only relationship slightly believable to me was Japha and Rovan’s friendship. Needless to say, I was let down in the romance area. It’s certainly possible that had the book been longer the execution could have improved significantly.

The book moves at a fast pace, jumping from one event to the next. While this didn’t work well with trying to build a foundation for the story and the relationships, it worked fairly well with some parts of the final third of the book. The pace helped build momentum toward what was to come during the conclusion, but the actual ending was not as exciting as I hoped it would be. Due to the quick pace, there were limited opportunities to relish what the book had to offer, with its greatest effect being my lack of connections with many of the characters. I wasn’t invested in anyone other than Rovan, and it didn’t matter much to me what would happen to the rest.

As much as I liked the magic system, I was a bit disappointed by In the Ravenous Dark. The very beginning held a lot of promise, and I was excited to read it. The last third was also interesting. Despite enjoying parts of it, I thought it was lacking in certain areas, particularly the romance. It was difficult figuring out how to rate this because even with all the things I did like about it, I just kept thinking about how the execution was lacking. I compromised with myself and decided to put it smack dab in the middle.

Happy Endings (2021)

by Thien-Kim Lam
ASN/ISBN: 9780063040847
Publication: May 18, 2021

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

Trixie is an independent sales rep for an adult toy company but has hopes to open her own boutique. While hosting a bridal party in a friend’s restaurant, she runs into her ex Andre. Not only is he bartending the event, but he also happens to be co-owner of the restaurant. Although still on bad terms, Trixie and Andre both decide it is in their best interest to team up to continue holding joint pop-up events. She needs to be the top seller to win a $10,000 prize to open up her boutique, and he needs to make more money to help the restaurant get out of the red.

Despite my conflicting feelings about second chance romances, I couldn’t stop myself from reading Happy Endings.  The storyline sounded interesting, and there was a diverse set of characters. Trixie is Vietnamese American and originally from New Orleans, but she is now living in DC. Her best friends–the Boss Babes–are strong, independent women from diverse backgrounds. Andre is Black, and those he includes in his family circle are the aunties and uncles he grew up around. They’re a diverse bunch as well. And the food…I loved the mention of food from pho to collard greens to kimchi. Additionally, the book is sex-positive. Trixie not only loves what she does, but she also teaches sex education classes.

While I gravitated toward the book for the biracial romance and the promise of diversity, I was extremely frustrated with the central conflict that led to Trixie and Andre’s past break up. It’s one of my most despised tropes. When the multiple reasons for their breakup come to light, it still didn’t help temper my feelings because communication is key. It was severely missing from their relationship in multiple ways. Groveling would have helped a lot to bring me around to liking Andre but, alas, there was hardly any of it. Additionally, there were several things he did that led me to believe the two of them getting back together was not the best outcome.

I wished the writing had been more descriptive to evoke the images of such a beloved neighborhood or the aroma and taste of the delicious food Andre concocted. This also extends to the feelings Andre and Trixie had for one another. I never felt the emotions as much as was told about them.  I might have been more open to the second chance had the writing evoked a sense of longing between the characters to support them getting back together, which would have helped push my niggling doubts aside. Additionally, the book is a fair length but felt long-winded at times. There was a lot to like about the book, but the delivery fell flat.

Twisted Love (2021)

by Ana Huang
ASIN/ISBN: B08Y6DCS1Y
Publication: April 29, 2021
Series: Twisted #1

Free in Kindle Unlimited
Goodreads
Amazon: US | UK | CA | AU
| Universal
Also available in Special Edition Paperback
Cover designed by E. James Designs


DESCRIPTION

He has a heart of ice…but for her, he’d burn the world.

Alex Volkov is a devil blessed with the face of an angel and cursed with a past he can’t escape.

Driven by a tragedy that has haunted him for most of his life, his ruthless pursuits for success and vengeance leave little room for matters of the heart.

But when he’s forced to look after his best friend’s sister, he starts to feel something in his chest:

A crack.
A melt.
A fire that could end his world as he knew it.

***

Ava Chen is a free spirit trapped by nightmares of a childhood she can’t remember.

But despite her broken past, she’s never stopped seeing the beauty in the world…including the heart beneath the icy exterior of a man she shouldn’t want.

Her brother’s best friend.
Her neighbor.
Her savior and her downfall.

Theirs is a love that was never supposed to happen—but when it does, it unleashes secrets that could destroy them both…and everything they hold dear.

Twisted Love is a brother’s best friend/opposites attract romance with plenty of heat and no cliffhangers. Recommended for 18+ due to adult language and explicit content.


Coming Soon!
Twisted Games #2
Releasing July 29
(click for Goodreads Links)


EXCERPT

Something smelled delicious, like spice and heat. I wanted to wrap it around me like a blanket.

I snuggled closer to the source, enjoying the strong, solid warmth beneath my cheek. I didn’t want to wake up, but I’d promised Bridget I would volunteer at a local pet shelter with her this morning, before my afternoon shift at the gallery.  

I allowed myself one more minute of coziness—had my bed always been this big and soft—before I opened my eyes and yawned. 

Weird. My room looked different. No photograph prints papering the walls, no vase of sunflowers by the bed. And did my bed just move by itself?

My eyes latched onto the broad expanse of bare skin beneath me, and my stomach dropped. I looked up, up—straight into a pair of familiar green eyes. Eyes that stared back at me with no hint of the humor from last night. 

He flicked his gaze down. I followed it…and realized, to my abject horror, that I was touching Alex Volkov’s dick. Unintentionally, and he had on sweats, but still.

I. Was. Touching. Alex. Volkov’s. Dick.

And it was hard.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ana Huang is an author of primarily steamy New Adult and contemporary romance. Her books contain diverse characters and emotional, sometimes twisty roads toward HEAs (with plenty of banter and spice sprinkled in). Besides reading and writing, Ana loves traveling, is obsessed with hot chocolate, and has multiple relationships with fictional boyfriends.

Website
Facebook | Facebook Group
Instagram | TikTok | Bookbub


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.**

I enjoyed reading Huang’s previous new adult works, the If Love series, so I was excited to see her coming out with a new book. Opposites attract? Forbidden love/brother’s best friend trope? Count me in! Just as the title suggests, the book is twisted in all kinds of ways–in love, in life, in everything. While I was conflicted about the book as a whole, the parts I did like were simply titillating.

Ava is a “Pollyanna” who finds herself intrigued and ultimately falling for a dark and vengeful Eric, who explicitly tells her that she’s not his type and that she shouldn’t romanticize him. His warnings, of course, fall to deaf ears. Who would hear his words when Huang has created a seemingly unfeeling, single-minded hot male as the love interest? I’m not a fan of alpha males with their overprotective tendencies and possessiveness–all characteristics of the love interest here–but I can’t be mad at Huang because I knew what kind of love interest I was getting when I picked up the book. It bothered me, but putting that aside, Eric is hot. I mean, look at his eyes on that cover…**swoon** I also liked Ava for being such an optimistic character. She’s sweet and genuinely good-natured and is Eric’s complete opposite. While there is chemistry between the leads, I would have liked a more fine-tuned build up. I ultimately rooted for them because Eric needed good things in his life and she could possibly be that for him. There was some groveling…and that was nice.

The events of the book certainly live up to its title but not every thing seemed necessary to me. It would have been just as twisted had the book focused solely on the main plotline with a supporting subplot or two as opposed to the multitude of things that happen. The main plotline is an interesting one but sometimes I would forget what it was amidst all the other things happening. As much as I enjoyed the book when Huang gets it right–I mean, I relished those parts that I liked (one of my favorite scenes is Ava’s sudden appearance at an alumni gathering and it clearly has Eric hot and bothered)–there was also jumping from one event to the next that interrupted the overall flow of the novel for me. Some felt like unnecessary obstacles that didn’t move the plot forward nor established much about what I already knew about the characters; thus seeming more like filler than anything else. Overall, the book falls smack dab in the middle because the good stuff is really good but then it would be interrupted with other things that were not so good.

We Are the Fire (2021)

by Sam Taylor
ASN/ISBN: 9781250241429
Publication: February 16, 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.**

Children are regularly kidnapped and forced to become soldiers in an emperor’s effort to maintain his borders against a neighboring country and to ensure obedience from his subjects. Furthermore, the child soldiers are forced to wield fire through a brutal, potentially crippling, process, that not all recruits survive. Pran barely survived, but only through Oksana’s help. While most soldiers have learned to only look out for themselves, Pran and Oksana are able to rely on each other, but differing desires place a strain on their relationship. Pran wants to rebel against their commanders while Oksana dreams of returning home. 

It was difficult to find a sense of balance when I first started reading the book. It felt as though I was thrust into the middle of something I didn’t fully grasp, so I had difficulty settling into the story. Presented with many names, including those of people and places, and titles (e.g. Tuliikobrets, Nightmare, Hellions, etc.) in a short amount of time made it difficult to keep track of everything that was going on. It was also difficult to get a sense of place. It wasn’t until later that I pieced things together, but I was a bit frustrated when I finally arrived at this point. Adding the somewhat slow pace to my list of frustrations further inhibited me from being fully immersed in the book. Eventually, the book picked up right before the halfway point, both in pace and story. In particular, the multiple moral dilemmas presented added to the complexity of Pran’s and Oksana’s decisions and helped me to appreciate the book more. The action in the last half also helped a lot as well.

I didn’t particularly like Pran very much. He had an inferiority complex and also kept insisting on protecting Oksana when she was just as capable as he was. Although I gravitated toward Oksana, I didn’t fully like her either. I did like that Pran and Oksana were in an established relationship, so they weren’t in the honeymoon period. I got to see their relationship play out under stressful conditions and this created an interesting dynamic. I liked Sepp/Kati, but she doesn’t appear until a fifth of the way through the book. While a secondary character, she was the only one who seemed to have any kind of sense and was not overly swayed by her emotions. 

Ultimately, We Are the Fire was a bit of a toss-up for me. I struggled to finish the book. I was frustrated in the beginning, and it was difficult to connect with the characters. On the other hand, the last part of the book was more action-packed, and I liked the themes presented.

Romance Interlude 2.8

These interludes have turned into more of me ranting than actual reviews. I apologize profusely for that and also because it will likely remain this way. I like having these as outlets so I can shout about how much I love a book or gripe about how much a book was just okay. So far, I’ve been on a roll with romance books that are “just ok” so I’ve been doing more rereads, which means less interludes. Hopefully it will pick back up soon. If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear about them!


The Accidental Kiss (2019)
by Heatherly Bell
ASN/ISBN: B07P16B1MD
Publication: April 25, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Miracle #1

One liner: Best friends are secretly in love with each other and are unsure about whether they should move their relationship to the next step due to occupational hazards.

Friends-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes so I was looking forward to this one. The opening is hilarious because Charley is trying to chase down her foster sister’s baby daddy. The problem is that she doesn’t know who it is so she’s just tracking down men in her foster sister’s life and basically scaring the sh*t out of them. I loved the opening and thought I would really like the book but there were parts I liked a lot and others were just okay. Eventually, it started to drag just a bit. I enjoyed Charley and Dylan’s friendship. They were perfect for each other, balancing one another out, but their fears kept them apart, specifically Charley’s unwillingness to stay in one place long enough and Dylan’s fear that being a firefighter could mean leaving behind someone he loved should anything happen. The whole sunset kiss legend wasn’t something I was particularly fond of. It felt a bit cheesy to me in this context. I loved the epigraphs! Here are a few of two of my favorites: “I just don’t want to look back and think, ‘I could have eaten that’ “and “Each month has an average of 30-31 days, except the last month of pregnancy, which is 1,453 days.” Funny, right?


Dante’s Angel (2015)
by Laurie Roma
ASN/ISBN: B08K9HLS77
Publication: September 27, 2020
First Published: November 21, 2015
Goodreads Summary
Series: Breakers’ Bad Boys #3

One liner: Zoe is a musical prodigy hiding her identity in Breakers while working for and falling in love with Dante Fox.

The first half of the book was good and there was a lot of chemistry between Zoe and Dante. One of the most memorable parts of the book is the opening when Dante heads back from the gym and finds Zoe playing her violin in his bar. This set the tone for the first half of the book–lots of repressed feelings from both Dante and Zoe and a somewhat slow burn. I was on board for the majority of the book–despite some cringey/cheesy lines–but then the last portion I didn’t enjoy where the book was headed and the dialogue between Dante and Zoe also got cringier at times. The book doesn’t drag. I was nearly done with the book when I remembered to check progress.


Rush (2013)
by Beth Yarnall
ASN/ISBN: 9781940811987
Publication: October 13, 2013
Goodreads Summary
Series: Pleasure at Home

One liner: Miyuki Price-Jones is being stalked so her employer hires bodyguard Lucas Vega to protect her.

This one took me a while to finish because I kept jumping from book to book. While it started off interesting enough, I was close to DNF-ing it because it went from strangers to insta-lust in just a few pages. It’s insta-lust and not love. I know it happens but it just didn’t work well here for me. I tried setting that aside, and when I successfully did that, I could enjoy the story a lot better. Then another problem arose: there was so much going on. Not only was there a stalker, but there were protestors, Miyuki had secrets, and Lucas had some personal things going on including his family and an ex-fiance. There were not enough pages to thoroughly give attention to everything so some of these storylines didn’t go very far. When the book was solely on Miyuki and Lucas, it wasn’t bad. The storyline I was most disappointed with was Miyuki’s family secret and her relationship with her brother. One minute he was a jerk and all of sudden he wasn’t. There was a lot of potential there.

Romance Interlude 2.4



Happily Letter After (2020)
by Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward
ASIN/ISBN: 9781542025133
Publication: October 20, 2020
Goodreads Summary

One liner: Woman fulfills the wishes of a little girl writing to Santa Claus and falls in love with her father.

The set up is cute, and I’m a total sucker for the single parent trope but I ultimately didn’t like it as much as I hoped I would. Maybe it was all the “crazy coincidences.” I normally do not mind when there are one or two but when there are too may then it turns my brain off. A part of it was also about expectations and it was unexpected and not necessarily in the best way for me. Sadie is a likeable character, and Birdie is an adorable little girl. I liked the bond they developed. Add in Sebastian a devoted dad who puts his daughter first and we have an adorable potential family. It was a sweet story.


The Stopover (Year)
by T. L. Swan
ASIN/ISBN: B07QNKVR3N
Publication: September 26, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Miles High Club #1

One liner: A flight delay leads to a one night stand between seatmates and they meet again nearly a year later as boss and employee.

The book took off (hehe) quickly, immediately drawing me in but I became annoyed with Jim/Jay/Jamison. He’s someone who likes to be in control and wants things to go his way. When things don’t go his way, he pretty much pouts and continues to try to make things go his way anyway. He consistently ignored Emily’s protests/hesitation about certain things, and she mostly just gave in. Because Emily knows what she wants and can be assertive as well as snarky at times, Jim/Jay/Jamison is often asking her about her “b*tchy attitude.” I completely thought Emily deserved better. The book is well-paced and started out as an entertaining read but Jamison’s personality affected the experience.


Dirty Talk (2017)
by Lauren Landish
ASIN/ISBN: B078N6643J
Publication: December 26, 2017
Goodreads Summary
Series: Get Dirty #1

One liner: After phoning in to a radio show about her cheating boyfriend, Kat Snow ends up having a different kind of phone call after hours with show host Derrick King.

It’s called Dirty Talk and rightfully so. I had to fan myself a lot. WHEW!! Things get hot and heavy fast for Kat and Derrick after the initial phone call. The dirty talk is hot and the sex…yeah, that’s hot too. If you like those two things, this book is a good one to pick up BUT what I really liked about the book was it’s emphasis on communicating with your partner: talking, listening, and honesty. While I understand that romance novels (especially explicit, open door ones) are not for everyone, the book is a reminder of the many reasons that I love them. Sure, romance novels offer escape but they also provide introspection and reinforce sex positivity.

Romance Interlude 1.8

These are like the books with the pictures I grew up associating romance novels with. Set in some time period with a man, often a duke and often bare chested man, on the cover holding a woman in some salacious pose. But they’re also kind of not because there is diversity here. Someone, please loosen my corset and fan me because they’re pretty steamy.


The Duke Who Did Not (2020)
by Courtney Milan
ISBN: 9781937248710
Publication: September 22, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Wedgeford Trials #1

One liner: Woman who loves lists is enlisted by a man she likes to create a list of qualities of the woman he plans to marry.

This was a book that I really wanted to like a lot more than I actually did. I first read Milan’s Trade Me and did like it so wanted to pick up one of her more recent novels. It’s a very interesting premise, taking place in a village where Chinese immigrants reside. Chloe Fong is likeable and dedicated to her lists. She is much more serious in comparison to Jeremy Wentworth, whom she has a bit of a crush on though she tries to deny it. Jeremy Wentworth is normally my type of love interest in a novel (in real life…hehehe) because he’s funny, loves to tease, and always in a seemingly good mood but I found myself agree with Chloe that he just couldn’t seem to take anything seriously. I was irritated with him, especially because it took him forever to be honest with her about who he wanted his wife to be. I was a bit disappointed that the actual Wedgeford Trials, didn’t take a larger role in the book. I wanted to see the game play out. Overall, the writing is good but it felt overly long at times, likely due to my irritation with Jeremy Wentworth. I would still be interested in reading more from the Wedgeford Trials series though, especially with a different love interest.


The Governess Game (2020)
by Tessa Dare
ISBN: 9780062672124
Publication: August 28, 2018
Goodreads Summary
Series: Girls Meets Duke #2

One liner: After the umpteenth governess quits, a duke decides to hire an unconventional governess to oversee his wards.

This book hit all the right spots and then some. I will definitely be reading more from Tessa Dare. Chase is a womanizer and Alex fixes clocks but finds herself in need of a job so becomes a governess despite lacking any experience. Her lack of experience actually makes her perfect for the job because she is willing to go about education the girls in a different way. I loved how she goes about it. Alex is perfect for Chase because she isn’t afraid of him, despite insistence that she doesn’t want to get involved with him. She ends up tearing down some of his defenses. It’s Rosamund and Daisy, the wards Chase basically inherits, that are the highlights of the novel. The number of funerals Chase, Alex, and Rosamund, and Daisy attend are hilarious! I love the makeshift family that forms out of this.


My Beautiful Enemy (2014)
by Sherry Thomas
ISBN: 9780425268896
Publication: August 5, 2014
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Heart of Blade Duology #2

One liner: A thief and a spy, former lovers, meet again nearly a decade later.

This is an example of another book I wanted to love more than I did. It made me feel all the right things but it never pushed me over the edge. It was like putting on a harness and getting ready to bungee jump only to be told you don’t get to jump. That’s right, you’ll just get to look over the edge. The sense of longing was present, wishing Catherine and Captain Atwood could reunite with one another. It’s clear they’re still not over one another, and Thomas hits this spot on. I liked Catherine and I liked Captain Atwood. The villain isn’t the most interesting or complex in the story and the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been. The book alternates between the present and the past. I found the chapters about their past to be a lot more interesting while those in the present felt more subdued.

Romance Interlude 1.4


Not My Romeo (2020)
by Isla Madden-Mills
ISBN: 9781542021883
Publication: August 18, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Game Changers #1

One liner: A case of mistaken identity leads to romance between a librarian and professional quarterback.

Elena mistakes Jack for the weatherman she is supposed to meet on a blind date and Jack doesn’t correct her. She’s unaware of the mix-up because she doesn’t pay attention to sports, and she also doesn’t seem to watch the news. This is especially plausible with the variety of outlets we can use to avoid all these things. The rest of the book remains as entertaining as Elena signing the NDA as Juliet Capulet. I enjoyed the book a lot and there was very little downtime. I would definitely recommend Not My Romeo.


A Lie for A Lie (2019)
by Helena Hunting
ISBN: 9781542015356
Publication: October 15, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: All In #1

One liner: Hockey team captain and graduate student unexpectedly meet again in Chicago after an unplanned tryst in Alaska.

The book starts of interesting with Rook and Lainey meeting on a plane, both on their way to Kodiak Island in Alaska. Somewhat isolated on the island, they give in to their attraction but Rook gets called away before too long. What happens on the island is probably the best part of the book. It’s after their accidental meeting in Chicago where the book begins to lose a bit of steam and starts jumping around. A lot of things happen in the last quarter of the book that should have been spaced out a lot more. While it was initially good, the ending was a bit disappointing because so many things happened when the book was wrapping up.


Pucked (2015)
by Helena Hunting
ISBN: 9780993800139
Publication: May 3, 2015
Goodreads Summary
Series: Pucked #1

One liner: Team captain has a one-night stand with new teammate’s sister and tries to pursue a relationship with her.

I liked how Hunting wrote Violet to be both loud and sexually comfortable with herself. She was refreshing as a main character. Her relationship with her step-brother was pretty endearing despite neither being touchy-feely. It was clear they were close even though neither particularly liked to express how much they cared about one another. It kind of bothered me a bit that Violet made these snarky comments about how not-so-smart her step-brother was, especially when he was super protective of her. While I liked reading Pucked, once things were resolved, it went on for a chapter or two too long. I felt the additional pages weren’t necessary and affected the overall experience so I had to drop 1/2 a star. Also, All In is apparently a spin-off from the Pucked series but I read A Lie for A Lie first.

Romance Interlude 1.3

I am thankful for…college campus romances. There are so many of them out there, and I am not complaining. So many are sports themed! And again, I’m not complaining. I am not athletically-gifted but I sure am glad there are romantic leads who are.


The Deal (2015)
by Elle Kennedy
ISBN: 9781775293934
Publication: February 24, 2015
Goodreads Summary
Series: Off-Campus #1

One liner: Hockey player asks music major to help tutor him in exchange for getting her crush to notice her.

I read this back in August and enjoyed it. I didn’t realize just how much I liked it until I found myself rereading my favorite parts throughout summer and into fall, even rereading the entire book more recently. Garrett ended up being this really sweet guy and I liked Hannah a lot. It was fun to see Garrett fall over his feet for this girl who didn’t really care who he was. I liked her immunity to Garrett’s charm…until she wasn’t. (I mean, a girl can only take so much swooniness.) There are several subplots but they do not take away from our central couple, instead enhancing the relationship. (Content Warning: The characters share their personal experiences with rape and abuse. A minor character we meet closer to the end is also in an abusive relationship. I didn’t expect this so it was a bit jarring at first.)


The Setup (2020)
by Meghan Quinn
ISBN: 9798684487699
Publication: September 10, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Baseball Romances

One liner: Meddling moms set up their college-aged kids who are both athletes at the same university.

The book started out really good. Initially irritated with his mom, Lincoln becomes more enamored with Indie the longer he hangs out with her. Indie, on the other hand, remains insistent about not starting a relationship and concentrating on soccer despite their mutual attraction. That’s also why they seem perfect for each other–they’re both focused on their athletic careers. I loved Lincoln and as much as I liked Indie, I could not get past how unhealthy she was for him. I also disliked the multiple time jumps at the end of the novel. This is a book that I would have given a higher rating but aspects of Indie’s character and the ending just wouldn’t allow me to give it. (Just thinking about it is sort of bringing my mood down. I liked the beginning so much.)

**Quick note: I Hate You and I Promise You don’t seem to fall into an official series but both take place at the same university with leads that show up in the other’s book. They can be read as stand-alone but just know you’ll see cross-appearances.


I Hate You (2019)
by Ilsa Madden-Mills
ISBN: 9781085802116
Publication: August 20, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: N/A **

One liner: After a public break-up, exes realize they aren’t over each other.

While I enjoyed it when I was reading it, I couldn’t remember much of it after. I needed to skim it again to recall what happened, which isn’t really a good thing especially since I read it so recently. Despite liking each other, Blaze and Charisma are commitment phobic. This gets revealed as we learn more about them on their way back to each other, going from lovers to enemies to friends to lovers again. The book was good but I’m not sure this is one I would read again. It had its moments but nothing that made my heart ZING!!! I do like Madden-Mills’s writing and will likely be reading more from her (obviously…see book below…hehehe).


I Promise You (2020)
by Ilsa Madden-Mills
ISBN: 9798694398961
Publication Date: October 8, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: N/A **

One-liner: Quarterback finally finds the girl he’s been searching for since freshman year but neither makes a good second impression on the other.

I liked that Dillon wasn’t necessarily this smooth talking playboy, although he is most definitely a playboy. When he finally meets Serena again after three long years, he’s pretty much all in but still gives her space to figure out if this is what she wants. I’m happy to announce he is not an alpha male that grunts and pulls Serena every which way he pleases. (Woohoo!) Serena’s still getting over a bad breakup and is hesitant to get into a relationship. Her quirk is that she spouts random facts–I know more about Oreos than I ever really wanted to know. As her Nana says, “it grows on you.” I can’t say the book left me with zings but it was an entertaining read that helped passed the time.