Romance Interlude 2.13

Look at me venturing into (sub)genres I don’t normally read! They’re not exactly hard hitting suspense novels, but a few months ago I probably wouldn’t have wanted to read any at all. Anyhow…on to more ranting and less actual reviewing. Sorry.


Cold Secrets (2017)
by Toni Anderson
ASIN/ISBN: B01N2GB6WQ
Publication: July 31, 2017
Goodreads Summary
Series: Cold Justice #7



One liner: FBI agent Lucas Randall falls for fellow agent Ashley Chen while they pursue an international trafficking ring but Chen may be hiding something that could affect the outcome of the case.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Cold Secrets. The topics made me uncomfortable but thankfully there wasn’t anything overly graphic. I liked Ashley and her sense of duty to protect people. I was often annoyed with the how much they disregarded her abilities despite the fact that she was assigned to the case and not the absent genius Alex. Ashley and Lucas also had great chemistry. Her backstory was done well but I don’t know how believable some of the events related to her would be.


Blind Justice (2019)
by Gwen Hernandez
ASIN/ISBN: B07P83PC9F
Publication: November 15, 2017
Goodreads Summary
Series: Men of Steele #5

One liner: Tara becomes a target after avenging her sister’s death and she’ll need Jeff the security specialist to keep her safe.

The book started off with Tara trying to capture the guy who essentially ruined her sister’s life and led her to commit suicide. Things quickly go awry when Tara becomes a target because she’s seen things she shouldn’t have. Once Tara becomes the target, unfortunately the book also drops quickly in quality. One moment they’re just colleagues and the next they can’t keep their hands off each other and then it’s definitely love. And, it’s also very complicated. It started off pretty interesting and was okay for a quick read, but I probably won’t pick it up again.


Spirit Bound (2011)
by Christine Feehan
ASIN/ISBN: B004IYIJA2
Publication: January 1, 2011
Series: Sea Haven/ Sisters of the Heart #2
Goodreads Summary


One liner: Russian undercover agent Stefan comes to New Haven to insert himself into artist Judith’s life to find information she may be holding onto for a past lover.

**I’m a bit all over the place with this one. Sorry!**
I started reading this one in January and had to put it away after the first chapter or so because I just couldn’t get into it. The pace was a bit slow. Then Stefan and Judith have instalove-we-are-mates attraction, and I just couldn’t do it to myself. After finally deciding to give it one more try, I found it to be better than my first attempt…after I set aside the whole instalove thing. But then…Stefan and his alpha maleness got to me at times. He went to extremes to protect Judith. What does he do that bothered me? **spoiler alert** He drugs her to knock her out so he can go do some assassin hunting. You see, he has lots of secrets and some trust issues because he’s never really been with anyone before or wanted to protect anyone before. Still…WTF, right?! Feehan writes well with lots of nice details. There’s some interesting things going on here with Sea Haven and the bond between the sisters–they each have elemental abilities too. One of my favorites is when they make it rain. I enjoyed the amount of detail that went into explaining how they all contributed to creating it. Then their conversations would just not be very interesting at all to me. Blythe is one of the sisters and her story is probably one I’d like to read but the others didn’t sound as interesting.

Romance Interlude 2.12


Air (2016)
by L.B. Gilbert
ASIN/ISBN: B01LYND5D7
Publication: November 28, 2016
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Elementals #2


One liner: Werewolf Connell tracks down Air elemental Logan because he thinks she stole his ability to shift but there is more going on here than expected.

Air was completely unexpected. Gilbert presents a paranormal romance between a were and an elemental, a human imbued with the power of air. Connell is an annoying alpha male, with his whole “you’re my woman, I must claim you” deal. I liked Logan immediately for being badass. She doesn’t just get mad, she also gets even. The mate concept is present here but at least there’s some questioning of whether they’re imagining it or not. It’s also just executed a lot better. I tried to overlook it, and for the most part I did since I liked the storyline more than in the book below, but it still sat there in the back of my mind, taunting me. (Gilbert and Lereoux are the same person. Different names just signal the level of steam. I really wished Air had been the one with more steam…heh)


Eat You Up (2019)
by Lucy Lereoux
ASIN/ISBN: 9781942336635
Publication: November 15, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: A Shifter’s Claim #2

One liner: Werewolf Dmitri unexpectedly finds his mate Nina while they’re both on a plane to Boston.

Dmitri is another alpha male (ergh…) and he becomes a caveman around Nina. He smells Nina when she boards the plane. BAM! He knows they’re mates and meant to be. They have a one night stand almost immediately except Dmitri refuses to let it be a one night stand because they’re supposed to be together forever. A lot more things happen since Dmitri is there to steal a necklace and the job ends up being a bit more than he bargained for. Dmitri and Nina have a lot of chemistry but their relationship reminded me why I stayed away from paranormal romances for a long while–two people meet and they’re meant to be because they’re soulmates. There’s no getting to know period, it’s just we’re meant to be and end of question. This whole idea of mates and knowing immediately that they belong together is one that I enjoyed when I was younger but now I need a bit more substance to the relationship before it becomes forever. It wasn’t enough for me to stop reading the book, but it was just always there in the back of my mind. I was not a fan of how it ended.


Night Revelations
by Godiva Glenn
ASIN/ISBN: B07PN6PZYJ
Publication: January 15, 2018
Series: Night Wolves #1
Goodreads Summary

One liner: Werewolf Damon meets werewolf Charlotte during a job and brings her back to be part of his pack because she doesn’t have one.

The book is slow. Charlotte’s character is very timid and also bland. She doesn’t do much but worry about her role in the pack–makes sense since she is the newbie here–and wonder whether Damon likes her or not. Damon keeps giving mixed signals–which frustrated me–so she starts a relationship with someone else. I couldn’t blame her for trying to move on, and she seemed to genuinely like Wyatt, who had no problem making it known he was interested. I dislike these love triangles and didn’t know the book would have one. It wasn’t entirely bad but would have been fine without it. The book has a predictable storyline. It’s really just a new adult novel with a paranormal disguise. I gave it the three stars because I’m glad it ended the way it did.

Caster (2019) / Spell Starter (2020)

by Elsie Chapman
Series Review

**This is a series review that may contain spoilers for Spell Starter**

Caster_cover


Caster

ASN/ISBN: 9781338332629
Publication: September 3, 2019
3h-stars

Aza is left to ensure her parents’ debt to the Tea District’s gang leader is regularly paid after her sister is killed. Although against the law, she resorts to using full magic to make money while also trying to learn what happened to her sister. When she stumbles upon an underground tournament for casters such as herself, the prize money is too much to pass up. 

Caster grabbed my attention right away. I liked Chapman’s writing style, which immersed me in Aza’s life, even though it takes place in a matter of days only. It’s an atmospheric read that will have you also thinking about the potential demise of our world. The world of Caster is dark and bleak, especially for individuals like Aza. Losing her sister and trying to protect her parents spurs Aza to put her life at risk daily by casting full magic to make ends meet. The magic system Chapman creates is a harsh one, where its use exacts a high price. Not only do casters such as Aza pay with headaches and bruises, but the earth breaks down each time. This made me question why individuals would still choose to cast. From Aza’s perspective, it’s both a matter of choice and survival, but there’s also a need to cast that is created by magic.

Aza is a flawed protagonist, which was why I was both drawn to her and struggled with some of her decisions. Lies easily leave her tongue if her survival depends on it. It isn’t necessarily that she’s only interested in looking out for herself, but her family’s well-being is also her top priority. Don’t expect her to go jumping into a fire to save someone; she’s more likely to look the other way if it means she can keep those she loves safe. I found it admirable but also winced a little each time someone’s life was forfeit because of her. While her actions throughout the book are reflective of her priorities, there are glimpses of her fighting against herself to not care about other people, showcasing that if life were different she had the potential to be the protagonist I wanted her to be rather than straddling the middle.


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Spell Starter

ASN/ISBN: 9781338589511
Publication: October 6, 2020

Aza deals with the aftermath of her decisions during the tournament. Left beholden to Saint Willow, she becomes an enforcer, shaking debtors for late payments, until it’s decided her skills are more useful in one of Saint Willow’s new endeavors. Compliance is mandatory because refusing to do Saint Willow’s bidding could spell disaster for her parents.

Spell Starter feels similar to Caster but more dangerous due to Aza’s new circumstances. Just as things seem like they can’t get any worse, they do. I thought this was clever of Chapman because her magic system already requires such a high payment. While the second book ups the stakes, Spell Starter isn’t nearly as intriguing a book because it was mostly already done (and done pretty well) in Caster. Parts of the book also feels cheaper, but it’s obvious it is meant to feel this way. If you read it, you’ll understand what I mean and that it’s not a jab at Chapman because I think she purposefully does it well. Aza’s story is still compelling, but it doesn’t hit the same way Caster does with loss and revenge at the forefront of her decision-making. 

The beginning of the book had me a bit frustrated because it didn’t make sense why Aza didn’t just think about incapacitating or even just destroying Saint Willow until it was too late. She has full magic! My best guess is the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. While she tries to protect her parents throughout both novels, it also gets tiring and even frustrating, especially in Spell Starter. I started to question their obliviousness at so much of what Aza was doing and everything else going on. They couldn’t be that unaware…could they?


Overall Assessment

Caster is a gritty duology with a protagonist who isn’t always likeable. Aza goes to great lengths to protect her parents from the district’s gang leader and to find out the circumstances behind her sister’s death. The world is a bleak one, and Aza’s decisions aren’t always ones I readily approved of, even if I understood why she made them. The duology left me in a dreary state, with a less than positive outlook, as it moved from the impact of losing a loved one to the costs of a world where magic not only destroys the user but the world. Although I enjoyed Caster more than I did Spell Starter, the series is a worthwhile read, and there’s potentially more that can be added should Chapman continue Aza’s story. I’m all in.

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.

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.

Into the Crooked Place (2019)/City of Spells (2021)

by Alexandra Christo
Series Review

**Includes spoilers for Into the Crooked Place.**

**I was provided copies of both books through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed them. All opinions are my own.**

intothecrookedplace_cover

Into the Crooked Place
ASN/ISBN:  9781250318374
Publication: October 8, 2019


Into the Crooked Place (2019) invites readers into a gritty underworld through the eyes of four individuals: Wes the underboss of Creije with eyes and ears everywhere; Tavia the busker with a moral code; freedom fighter Saxony who is hiding among crooks; and warrior Karam who serves as Wes’s bodyguard. Christo has crafted a bleak world where the only thing you can trust is that the people around you are more than willing to betray you. The authorities, with few exceptions, are just as untrustworthy as the crooks they are meant to police. When Wes enlists Tavia, Saxony, and Karam, to help protect the city he loves, it’s unclear whether they can truly trust one another.

The book switches between the four main characters, interspersed with chapters told from the point of view of a few minor characters. Through their chapters, we learn about their motivations, their regrets, and their plans. We also get to see the lies they tell each other. With the book switching between the four, I didn’t feel connected to any of them, although I did gravitate toward Tavia as my favorite character. While I enjoyed the first book in the duology, it’s very much an introduction from the characters to the world, so it’s not as exciting as it could be. It’s easy to see the book is building to something possibly bigger that can’t be contained in a single volume. The ending makes up for a somewhat slow start.

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City of Spells
ASN/ISBN: 9781250318404
Publication: March 9, 2021

City of Spells (2021) is the exciting conclusion to the duology. The loss of Wes is more detrimental than expected. Tavia was said to have been the glue, but Wes was the mastermind. While Wes is left to fend for himself, Tavia, Karam, and Saxony are forced to look for allies to help bring down the Kingpin.

Because the first book already introduced the world and our characters, City of Spells doesn’t require as much time setting up what will happen here. They have to find allies and take down the Kingpin. Although Tavia and Karam maintain their status as main characters, I couldn’t help but feel they were, in many ways, relegated to the background in favor of Wes and Saxony. Karam doesn’t get to do as much except try to maintain peace between Saxony and Tavia. I wish there had been more chapters for Tavia but she doesn’t have as much to do here either so those things feed into each other. Of course, that could just be me being partial to her and wanting more pages allotted to her.

Despite a fairly straight-forward plot, there are enough twists and revelations in the book to ensure readers forge ahead; I couldn’t put it down once I got through the beginning. I can’t help but praise Christo for the ending of City of Spells: it was so good, maybe even better than the one for Into the Crooked Place.

Overall, the duology is a good read with edge of your seat action as each book heads toward their individual conclusions. There is enough world building to make Creije come alive. With a focus on the underbelly of the city, it’s difficult to fully realize the entire Creije society, its governing system, and the rest of the realms. There were times when a sense of place was missing for me. Even though both books have points where the story slows down or drags just a bit, Christo makes up for it with explosive endings–she excels at them. I was impressed with the endings for both books. Also, I don’t really talk about it for fear it might be spoilery but there is also romance and yes, I liked it. It’s only a small part of both books and doesn’t distract from main story.

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.

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.

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.

Meet Cute (2019)

by Helena Hunting
ASIN/ISBN: B07G73X7H2
Publication: April 9, 2019
Series: N/A


Kailyn is the fangirl in all of us…if we were lucky enough to have our famous crush literally fall over us and then be horrified when 1) we blurt out, “I love you,” 2) ask for an autograph, and 3) find out we share a class after this embarrassing debacle…er..meet cute, I mean. If only…right? In the present, Kailyn has successfully built her career as a trust lawyer and unexpectedly meets Dax (the aforementioned famous crush) again when he walks into her law firm seeking her help.

Sometimes there is a need for a book where it’s easy to see what’s coming, something that doesn’t pull any extra punches. Meet Cute was the right book for me at the right time. After reading so many books with “unexpected” surprises, I needed something fairly straight forward that would still provide me with zings and make me swoon. I didn’t realize that was what I needed until I started reading Meet Cute. Sometimes, things are exactly as they seem. The hero is really the hero. The villain is the villain. The butler really did do it. Kailyn is smart, doesn’t take any sh*t, and genuine in her willingness to help those who need her. Dax is a responsible and attentive individual doing what the best he can as his sister Emme’s guardian. Emme is a sweet kid trying to understand her new “normal.” All three have wonderful chemistry together. It’s easy to root for them for a happy ending.

In a time where the unexpected is expected, predictable novels like Meet Cute become the unexpected. It included many of my favorite tropes such as enemies-to-lovers, the cute kid, and a (former) idol falling in love with an average person. It’s a positive reflection on Hunting’s writing that she stirred my emotions and kept them aflutter by just greasing the wheel rather than creating something entirely different. I recommend this novel for anyone looking for a good romance without all the turbulence–it might get a bit bumpy but you’ll get to the other side just fine. It’s worth noting that I loved the epilogue–probably one of my favorites now. (I’m putting out a call for a meet cute and this particular epilogue IRL–ahem RM, ahem Jin)