Fumbled (2021)

by Cala Riley
ASIN/ISBN: B087PVMZQ5
Publication: February 15, 2021
Series: Quick Snap Novella

(Review at the End)

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Jude

Before training camp, I went on one last trip. Just me and the beaches of Miami without doting fans and the pressures of fame. Then I ran into Ivy, literally.

One thing led to another, and we spent a glorious week together. Then she utters the words I never wanted to hear: Just Friends.

I’m playing the best I’ve ever played, yet somehow with Ivy I keep fumbling. Our lives are worlds apart, but with each text, call, and stolen moment, my feelings for her grow. Can I keep my career and land the woman of my dreams?

Ivy

When I met Jude, I had no idea who he was to the world. He was a hot, vacation companion, nothing more. We spent one week getting to know each other, but at the end we went our separate ways as just friends.

Then he showed up back in my life. Jude Taylor, star wide receiver.

I don’t care that he’s on the TV every Sunday when I go to my parent’s house or that thousands of people worship him. I care about the man I met in Miami. I thought we could be friends, but the way he makes my heart race when the cameras are off is far from friendly. Every wink, smirk, and deep timbre of his voice makes me question why I ever wanted to be friends. Can I compromise my life plans to allow him a place by my side?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Cala Riley, better known as Cala and Riley, are a pair of friends with a deep seated love of books and writing. Both Cala and Riley are happily married and each have children, Cala with the four-legged kind while Riley has a mixture of both two-legged and four. While they live apart, that does not affect their connection. They are the true definition of family. What started as an idea that quickly turned into a full-length book and a bond that will never end. 

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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.**

Fumbled is a novella that packs nearly an entire 300-page novel worth of events into it’s limited number of pages (just over 100). This can be viewed as good or bad depending on what it is you’re searching for. Ivy and Jude meet, spend a week together, and then go their separate ways to only reconsider whether a week together was long enough. Because it’s so short, the events that occur don’t pack an emotional punch like they would if the story were a lot longer. There’s just not enough to go into detail about things that happen. There are only a few pages to spend on it, if at all, before quickly moving on to the next thing. There are a few places here and there where more than just a few pages are spent on a moment, and these allowed the ability of the authors to evoke emotion shine through. If you would like something that provides greater detail by concentrating on just one or a few significant events, that allows you to connect with the characters, this novella might not be the right one for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quick read, this book will do the job. It reads like a full length novel but the pace is so fast–everything flies by. A lot of things happen and any problems or situations get resolved quickly.


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Romance Interlude 2.7


Unexpected (2021)
by Bailey B.
ASIN/ISBN: B08KF8V9KD
Publication: February 5, 2021
Goodreads Summary
Series: N/A

One liner: Ellie/Lainey pretends to date an old friend, Asher, after her best friend, Liam, decides they should stop seeing one another because he’s in love with someone else.

I picked this up after seeing the release blitz promotion. Initially, the plot was good but the additional side plots detracted from the main story, the fake dating and the potential love triangle. I felt for the characters, especially Ellie/Lainey who was being used by someone she loved and thought loved her in return. Liam was a horrible excuse for a friend while Asher was the bad boy with a good heart. I thought there was enough of a plot present and I liked the writing enough for it to keep me invested in what was going to happen. While I understood there needed to be some kind of conflict at the end, what I thought was the the main conflict just resolved itself too easily.


Melted (2019)
by Hadley Harlin
ASIN/ISBN: B07Y5V98T8
Publication: October 8, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Cooking Up a Celebrity #2

One liner: Two celebrity chefs serve as judges on a new cooking show

This enemies-to-lovers book was good in the beginning but slowly started to lose steam as it got closer to the end. The animosity between the Hawthorne and Sophia is established quickly so when they start pulling their shenanigans while travelling and filming, it’s believable. While I liked the characters, I never quite connected to either of them as well as I hoped. They have chemistry but I’m not sure they have the chemistry that would sustain the HEA I’m supposed to believe is meant for them–the romance felt forced. The lust and hate sex made sense just not the development of their feelings.


Not Your Average Road Trip (2019)
by Cassie Mae
ASIN/ISBN: 9781101885796
Publication: August 12, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Not Your Average #2

One liner: An unplanned road trip to an audition leads to unexpected feelings between an actor and his agent.

Jace is headed to an audition that can potentially change the trajectory of his idling acting career and his agent Shay is accompanying him. It’s her fault they’ve been stranded, and partially his fault the company credit is no longer in her possession so with very little money, they keep heading to his audition because both their livelihoods depend on it. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong. The book is told entirely from Jace’s perspective. He often laments about what things would or should be like if it was an actual script being written and I found it entertaining. (I’m always thinking…if what just happened was a book this is how it would have ended…hehehe) We get to know Jace a lot better than we get to know Shay. Jace is a playboy–he refers to How I Met Your Mother and Barney throughout the book–and his work relationship with Shay is probably the longest he’s had with a woman. At first, I wasn’t a fan of Jace but I loved how he started seeing everything about Shay and liked her just the way she was. Shay’s character isn’t as developed, feeling almost like a generic character but I couldn’t help liking her. She puts up with Jace and knows how to put him in his place. I liked their relationship because they weren’t afraid to be themselves around each other.

Inked Persuasion (2021)

by Carrie Ann Ryan
ASIN/ISBN: 9781950443000
Publication: February 9, 2021
Series: Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #1, Montgomery Ink #16

(Review at the End)

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The Montgomery Ink saga from NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan continues with a steamy new series.

Years ago, Annabelle Montgomery married not for love but for a promise of hope. When she lost him weeks later, she told herself she never needed those sentiments again. Only when she discovers years later that her new neighbor is her late husband’s brother, Annabelle finds she can’t quite shake the emotions she’s long since buried. 

Jacob Queen vowed he’d never set eyes on Annabelle again. When they’re forced into each other’s lives once more, they realize that no matter how far they run, no distance can keep them apart forever. More than ghosts lay between them, and when they finally give in to temptation, walking away whole may no longer be an option.

Coming Soon!

#2 Releasing July 20
#3 Releasing October 26

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carrie Ann RyanCarrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary, paranormal, and young adult romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Fractured Connections, and Elements of Five series, which have sold over 3.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over seventy-five novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not losing herself in her emotional and action-packed worlds, she’s reading as much as she can while wrangling her clowder of cats who have more followers than she does.

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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.**

This is my first book by Carrie Ann Ryan. I was excited to read it because the book description was interesting. While there are positive aspects to the novel, I ultimately couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted. My favorite aspect of the book is its emphasis on family. Anabelle is the middle child being one half of a set of twins (a younger brother), with two older brothers (also a set of twins), and a younger sister. The five siblings all work together and get along fairly well. They book starts off by displaying the sibling love as Anabelle and her two older brothers discuss the partners of their younger siblings, mainly how they’re going to vet them to ensure they’re good enough. Ryan does a good job showcasing how close the Montgomery siblings are to each other and how they look out for one another. I love how they look out for one another as well.

Outside of the family dynamics is the main relationship between Jacob and Anabelle. It progresses relatively quickly from enemies-to-lovers. One moment Jacob hated her, and then the next he was fighting emotions he wasn’t supposed to feel. I liked the book and where it was heading until this happened, which felt a bit abrupt to me. There was hardly any time for them to be in a transitional period of figuring out their relationship before their relationship was heading to something more than friendship. This is more problematic for Jacob than Anabelle. While Anabelle never quite hated him, Jacob was adamant about how much he disliked her during and after his brother’s death. It wasn’t so much the writing because I generally liked the glimpses of the relationship I was getting. It had more to do with the story and how many things happened outside of the pages of the book. I’d turn the chapter and they’d apparently gone somewhere or did something. I didn’t get a chance to feel much chemistry before I was reading about Annabelle or Jacob realizing how they felt about each other. I was missing the growth and the changes that were supposed to be happening in the relationship.

The plot was a interesting and the writing kept me reading but I wasn’t a fan of how quickly the relationship moved without additional details. While the book was not a good fit for me, individuals looking for an enemies to lovers romance that is a quick read may enjoy the book.

Romance Interlude 2.6


Dirty Talk (2020)
by Ali Parker
ASIN/ISBN: B08599MMXK
Publication: February 27, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Business of Love #1

The description gives away just about every thing that happens. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if the book is able to follow through and fills it in with good details. First, I liked that Vanessa was curvy. I appreciated the plus-size representation. She starts off with low self-esteem and pretty much remains with low self-esteem all the way through. I kept waiting for her to have an epiphany that she is awesome the way she is rather than constantly thinking about how other people might see her. Then there was the radio talk show that seemed like it would play a big role but actually doesn’t. She was supposed to be a host that gave great advice but we hardly saw her in action. Additionally, there were some discrepancies in the book that confused me. Vanessa ends a chapter narrating that he doesn’t even know…O_o… but I swear she just told him a few pages ago. Then at the worst particularly moment she decided she deserved so much better than what she was getting in return. First, that needed to happen a long time ago and then I disagreed with how she handled the situation.


Boyfriend for Hire (2019)
by Kendall Ryan
ASIN/ISBN: B07H8SVQNJ
Publication: February 19, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Escorts Inc., #1

One liner: Bridesmaid falls for the date she doesn’t know the bride hired for her.

This is a trope I can’t help reading. I was waiting for the “I do everything but this” rule…and…yes, there is one. The first time I heard the “no kissing” rule in Pretty Woman it was novel, but then it popped up in a lot of different places. When it popped up here too, I couldn’t help but cringe a little but also chuckle, giving it the “I knew that was coming” side eye. Nick is pretty much perfect and Elle is the “normal” girl who doesn’t realize how great she is who gives him all the feels that he’s been waiting for that will make him consider changing his occupation. There isn’t anything particularly new here. It’s predictable and a fairly quick light read.


That Man Next Door (2017)
by Nadia Lee
ASIN/ISBN: B076J3GXYT
Publication: October 24, 2017
Goodreads Summary
Series: Sweet Darlings Inc. #1

One liner: Woman who skips out on her one night stand finds out he’s her new neighbor as well as new co-worker.

I read a previous novel by Lee that got great reviews but I didn’t really like it. I thought I’d give another of her novels a try, and I ended up liking this one a lot more. If you’re not a fan of the virgin trope, you probably won’t like this but the premise is funny. Jan Doe, yup that’s her real name, goes on one-night stands intent on losing her virginity only to freak out and leave before it happens. This isn’t the first time that it’s happened. Matt is this genuinely sweet guy who is one of her attempted one-night stands. It’s pretty funny with all the situations Jan finds herself when trying to avoid him until finally she realizes that maybe he’s more than just a one-night type of guy. There was laughing and swooning on my end too. There’s more depth to Jan’s character than is let on by the description that added to this being 3-star read rather than a 2-star. Because of her past, she feels like the odd person out in her very large extended family. She’s still trying to figure out her place in the family so while she’s comfortable in her current position in the family-owned company, it’s also clear that she could be doing more. Matt might be able to help her understand that. This was a fun read.

Unraveled (2021)

by Alexia Chase
ASIN/ISBN:B08P5SPHPD
Publication: January 28, 2021
Series: The Everyday Hero World

(Review at the end)

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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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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.**

Unraveled is an instalust, opposites attract novel about grumpy firefighter Kameron Willoughby who temporarily relocates to the small town of Sunnyville, California and meets pocket full of sunshine Layla Malone. Kameron’s past with women prompts him to dismiss Layla as well as her positive outlook on life but he can’t stop thinking about her…and all the things he’d like to do to her. Although Kameron’s gruff exterior should be a turn off to Layla, she can’t seem to stop thinking about him either.

The lust is immediate, starting as soon as our leads meet one another. A few pages in and Kameron is already thinking things he shouldn’t whereas Layla is immediately attracted to him although not so much to his personality. I wasn’t bothered by the instalust but I didn’t feel much chemistry between Kameron and Layla beyond the initial attraction they had to one another, which could likely be attributed to the somewhat superficial interactions they had with one another before feelings got in the way. Because of a lack of chemistry, I wasn’t as invested in their relationship. The pace of the book is similar to the lust between Kameron and Layla, scorching fast. There are a few cute scenes. I think the beginning with the mother duck and ducklings stopping traffic was likely my favorite. I wasn’t a fan of Layla needing saving multiple times, which then required Kameron to repeatedly step in. If it was established early on that she was klutzy before Kameron’s appearance, I think I wouldn’t have minded as much. Readers looking for a quick, light read to start off the year may enjoy Unraveled.

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.

Romance Interlude 1.7

I’m a definite mood reader. I read whatever I feel like reading at that moment, thus these random books here and there. I don’t really read an entire series unless the books feature the same characters or are not standalones or the it sounds really interesting or….just kidding. Hence, #6 from a series here, #2 from a series there, then some other book from a different series…I’m everywhere! I think that’s something I’m thankful for about romance novels. The books within a series are often interconnected but they can be read as standalone. I can just read one book and then jump ship to another series. Perfect for my many moods.


The Chocolate Temptation (2014)
by Laura Florand
ISBN: 9780988506534
Publication: January 14, 2014
Goodreads Summary
Series: Amour et Chocolat #6

One liner: Sous chef seduces the intern who is trying not to fall for his advances.

Sarah is an American intern who gave up her engineering career to become a patisserie and Patrick is the French sous chef who saw her potential. First, there’s the power imbalance that I’m not particularly found of–intern vs. boss–so I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. Their largest hurdles were themselves. If they could have talked things out, it would have been easier to bear…but it takes forever for them to get there. Patrick is frustrating because it’s he gives all these mixed signals. The best parts were their interactions in the kitchen but scenes in the kitchen became more sparse as the book came to an end. The ending was only so-so, making it feel a bit dragged out.


Crazy for the Competition (2015)
by Cindy Madsen
ASIN: B00XTX1TH8
Publication: June 9, 2015
Goodreads Summary
Series: Hope Springs #2

One liner: Competitors for a property are forced to work together and fall for each other.

It felt like I was reading a Hallmark movie (this is a compliment). Small town? Check. Leads competing over an inn? Check. Making a float? Check. I sympathized with Quinn because she tried so hard to meet her parents’ expectations, even forgoing the type of guy she normally dates to someone her parents would prefer instead. They still never seemed to be pleased with her except for dating the guy they liked who turns out to not be a great guy. Then there was this whole conversation about “it is my culture, you don’t understand” that made me go, “What? Isn’t it universal to try to respect our parents and, to an extent, try to fulfill their dreams for us?” There is a spectrum, maybe from not at all to anything and everything, about how far people might go or feel obligated to try to do that but c’mon. It wasn’t a bad read but this part made me cringe.


The Heart’s Game (2014)
by Christa McHugh
ISBN: 9781940559940
Publication: July 5, 2014
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Kelly Brothers #4

One liner: A woman’s one night stand thinks she’s pregnant with his child, but she’s actually serving as a surrogate for her brother.

One night stands that turn into more than one night, possibly a relationship are always fun. I especially like when the love interest who is all “I only do one night stands” is the one that suddenly wants the relationship. I liked the beginning of this with the Jenny being a gamer and making the first move. Miscommunication was the main barrier for between Jenny and Dan. I hate that trope so I wasn’t too fond of it. It was a pretty quick read and not too bad. This one goes into depth with a Vietnamese wedding, which I appreciated. Unfortunately, I don’t know very much about Vietnamese weddings so I don’t know how accurate it is portrayed. Originally part of my Tropeical Readathon TBR, I’m glad that I finally picked it up.


Keeping Score (2016)
by Sara Rider
ISBN: 9781501132810
Publication: November 7, 2016
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Perfect Play #2

One liner: Injured soccer player is in a battle of wills against the team physiotherapist because she refuses to have him look at an injury.

I liked Jaime’s personality. She’s the fun one. It’s not a party until she arrives. She loves her teammates and is the one who tries to motivate everyone. I loved the camaraderie between the women. Despite having an injury, she goes out of her to avoid Alex Martinez, the hot team physiotherapist. It gets pretty amusing when Alex starts messing with her back. Eventually we find out there are multiple reasons for this and why Jaime is the fun, playful one on the team. While there’s this whole keep the reader guessing about what’s going on, it was pretty predictable. Everything wasn’t too bad until probably the end, which ruined all the goodness I thought the book had going on. It felt rushed and didn’t seem plausible. Had the ending been different, I think this would have been a 3, maybe even a 4 for me.

Notorious (2020)

by Minerva Spencer
ISBN: 9781496732835
Publication: November 24, 2020
Series: Rebels of the Ton #1


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

At her age, Drusilla is considered an old spinster. It also doesn’t help that she is an independent, progressive woman who has no plans to get married. Plans change, however, after her reputation is tarnished and she becomes engaged to her best friend’s brother to protect it.

The book is generally written well. There are a few surprises that made for an interesting story and allows the reader to keep pressing forward to find out what will happen next. Many readers will find this to be an enjoyable book because it does have its moments, but I do not think it was a good fit for me. I had high expectations for the novel but was left disappointed. It became difficult to finish reading when it was clear Drusilla was relegated to a supporting character in Gabriel’s story as opposed to sharing a leading role with him. He often dictated and she had to respond to him.

The summary of the book paints Drusilla as a liberal thinker, shunning the expectations of marriage and creating a group that takes up social causes. In the first half of the book, she at least seems to be that person. She banters with Gabriel while trying to hide her feelings about him. She doesn’t mind that people are aware of her ideologies. By the second half of the book, she is boxed into the role of a wife and the independent thinking woman disappears. The Drusilla we are left with is one who pines after Gabriel and who continually reminds herself that he doesn’t love her. So much unnecessary angst and frustration for the characters and the reader could have been prevented had Drusilla and Gabriel just talked to one another.

Outside of the bedroom, the most we get from Drusilla is excitement when Gabriel accompanies her to the seamstress. We see a spark of who she used to be toward the end, but by that time I was already frustrated. It was infuriating to see her turn into one of her greatest fears. She stopped standing up for herself, going so far as to take the blame for some of Gabriel’s flare ups and hardly ever demanding an apology. We don’t see her do anything about the social causes she claimed to care about despite her insistence earlier on that she be able to continue to do so should she and Gabriel be married.

Then the book shifts focus to Gabriel, despite alternating viewpoints, leaving us to accept this new version of Drusilla. If there is one thing that I dislike, it is how female leads like Drusilla go from independent to complacent as soon as they are paired up, which feels completely out of character. I would have been more understanding had I seen it coming, and the expectation was that she would change for marriage. The argument could be made that it was the time period and this should have been expected, but Drusilla verbally fought against this. After giving up on Drusilla, I found Eva becoming an interesting character but by the time she became interesting, the book was already coming to an end.

Individuals may be able to pick Notorious up and enjoy it, especially if this is a time period that is of interest to them. It is fast-paced, filled with unexpected twists. On the other hand, if individuals are looking for a strong, independent female lead promised in the summary, they may be left disappointed. I’ll be honest, I had high expectations for this book and I’m still reeling from the disappointment.

Romance Interlude 1.1

I read romance novels like how I breathe, inhaling them for my survival. As noted in a prior post, I like the guaranteed HEA and the zings that come when our romantic leads fall in love. Romance novels also serve as a bit of a palate cleanser when I find myself in a book coma after reading my other favorites, SFF novels.

I often read several romantic titles in a week and haven’t been able to properly provide much feedback other than ratings or noting them as “read,” so decided wrap ups (when possible) might be helpful. These will be mini-reviews of books that might have made me swoon or made me shake my fists in the air and everything else in between. Be forewarned, these will probably be more gushing or griping–reactionary and maybe less review-y. I do promise to try to remain as sensical as possible.

This inaugural post is filled with bad boys, some more likeable than others.


Rock Strong (2015)
by Virna DePaul
ISBN: 9781947419629
Publication: June 22, 2015
Goodreads Summary
Series: Rock Candy #2

One Liner: Music school graduate and bad boy frontman fall for each other.

One of my favorite tropes is when opposites attract. Liam Collier is immediately attracted to the band’s cellist Abby Chan who is “different from the other girls.” (I know, I know…this one can be an *eye roll* sometimes.) He immediately tries wooing her but keeps screwing up even when he gets the girl–which pissed me off but made for good groveling. While I liked Abby, Liam only had moments–sometimes he was sweet and other times I didn’t understand what Abby saw in him. I connected with Abby’s character and didn’t mind Liam’s groveling too much. The more I think about it, the more I waver between a 3 and 4 so 3.5 it is–I really dislike Liam’s behavior. (Content warning: Cheating but it’s not over the top. I hate cheating and would likely have stayed away if I knew ahead of time.)


Sing to Me (2019)
by Ketley Allison
ISBN: 9781706902706
Publication: November 14, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series:

One Liner: Rockstar hires new nanny and fights their mutual attraction.

I’m a sucker for kids and single fathers. I immediately liked Harper (the new nanny). She made such a great first impression on me and on Rex–late for the interview and soaking wet from the rain while still unafraid to go up against a scowling potential employer who tries questioning her abilities. Rex loves his daughter a lot, which always makes my knees go weak. Rex was immediately physically attracted to her and tried fighting his attraction (well, they both do) but I would have liked some more development before he jumped into it especially because of his reasons for needing a new nanny. I liked Harper’s backstory and found it unique among the romance novels I’ve read this year. (I haven’t read very much so it might not be that unique but just my first brush with it.) Rex’s life is complicated but he sure knows how to make grand gestures.


Riot House (2020)
by Callie Hart
ISBN: 9798639801532
Publication Date: April 29, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Crooked Sinners #1

One Liner: Campus bad boy makes claim on new girl but ends up falling for her.

I can see why it’s rated highly by readers, and I can also understand why many reviews gush about how good the book is…(here it comes) BUT I couldn’t stand male protagonist Wren Jacobi. He was supposed to be this mysterious, brooding (maybe even misunderstood?) individual. In the beginning, I didn’t mind but then it just kept going on and on. I got so irritated with his attitude that I couldn’t take it anymore. For some reason, Elodie Stillwater couldn’t help but be attracted to him. I have no idea why because he is such a d*ck. (Yup, I had to go there.) The best part of the book was the end (certainly not because it finally ended–I’m not being sarcastic either). I wish this subplot had been a larger focus of the book. I would have probably enjoyed it more. Despite my dislike of the male lead, it is well-written and I will probably pick up something from Hart again.