Scavenge the Stars (2020) / Ravage the Dark (2021)

by Tara Sim
Series Review

**This is a series review that contains spoilers for Scavenge the Stars**

ScavengeTheStars_cover

Scavenge the Stars
ASN/ISBN: 9781368051415
Publication: January 7, 2020


Amaya is nearing her final day on a debtor ship when she saves a stranger from drowning. He gives her an opportunity to take vengeance on the man who destroyed her family but things get complicated when she starts to fall for the mark’s son, Cayo.

I’ve never read The Count of Monte Cristo so I likely missed the book’s references to the novel it is based on. Aside from this, having not read the foundational material doesn’t take away from enjoying the book. It might even be better since that means I’m less likely to compare it to what I hear is a phenomenal classic. Up until about the end of Scavenge the Stars, I felt this was what revenge novels should be like. Amaya’s chapters were my favorite, a lot darker and intriguing, while I was not nearly as invested in Cayo’s plight.


Ravage the DarkRavageTheDark_cover
ASN/ISBN: 9780753555334
Publication: March 9, 2021

Betrayed by someone she thought was more friend than foe, Amaya and her friends narrowly escape with the help of a friend. Cayo and his sister also accompany Amaya and her colleagues. While it’s difficult to tell whether Cayo and Amaya will be able to overcome Amaya’s betrayal, everyone will have to work together to save the state of Moray. 

Ravage the Dark focuses more on Cayo’s development as he searches for his place outside of his father’s household. There’s less of a focus on Amaya and she does a lot of brooding in this one–so much. Ravage the Dark is repetitive in many parts, following Cayo and then trying to figure out the source of the illness.


Characters: Amaya & Cayo

Amaya is trying to fulfill the revenge plot of her benefactor while also trying to understand why her mother gave her up to a debtor ship. Her time on the ship has stolen her childhood and hardened her to life, but has amplified her desire to protect the other children she served her time with–those too young to fight against the life their parents have given them to. There are two sides to Amaya: the hardened child slave seeking revenge on those who have wronged her and the girl who believes in love, yearning to break free of the chains of vengeance placed upon her. She is strong and full of conviction, ready to uncover what happened to her family.

While Amaya as this stronger, capable individual, Cayo is written less so. Aside from his father’s wealth and reputation, Cayo comes across as weaker in character. He is trying to overcome a gambling habit and hasn’t been able to live up to his father’s expectations. Except for loving his sister, initially his only redeeming quality, I wasn’t a big fan. Of course, he is trying to be a better person. Cayo is constantly trying to prove his worth throughout both books, but it’s not until Ravage the Dark that he slowly comes into his own. Overall, Cayo isn’t a particularly likeable character. In each other, Amaya and Cayo see qualities they desire in themselves. Additionally, in each other, they seek freedom from their obligations and even hope to find redemption.

Overall Assessment

This is a well-written duology, however, both books suffer from the same fate: a great build-up with somewhat lackluster endings. Sim does a great job of creating the world along with an intricate plot. I kept turning the pages, wanting to find out what would happen next. As I got closer to the end, however, I became increasingly frustrated. This happened with both books. I was able to forgive the ending of Scavenge the Stars, just a little, because most everything before the end was great. Also, I hoped it was building to something bigger in the next book. I was more frustrated with Ravage the Dark than I was with Scavenge the Stars. There was a character who had so much potential but was underutilized. Then, what could have been an epic ending happened outside the pages of the book! I was flabbergasted by this. Sim had me fully immersed in Amaya’s plot for revenge but the endings in both books reduced my overall enjoyment of the duology. I couldn’t return from that even though there was much to like, especially in the first book.

I Pucking Love You (2021)

by Pippa Grant
ASIN/ISBN: B091P5TKQG
Publication: April 8, 2021
Series: Copper Valley Thrusters #5

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DESCRIPTION

You know those stories where an adorably misunderstood clumsy girl needs a fake date to a wedding so she asks her brother’s best friend and they accidentally fall in love?

I wish that was the kind of life I lead, but it’s not.

I don’t need a date to a wedding. I need a date to a funeral.
Clumsy sometimes fits, but then, that’s true for all of us, right? But adorable? No. Misunderstood? Nope again. I’m just your average girl, standing in front of a funeral invitation, asking it to be a winning lottery ticket instead.

And I don’t have a brother, or a best friend with a brother available, which means I’m stuck with Tyler Jaeger.

Sure, he’s a professional hockey player who also knows advanced calculus, but let’s say we’re not compatible and leave it at that. I should know. I am a matchmaker.

Not a very good one, but that’s beside the point.

I know a mismatch when I see one.

Still, Tyler’s what I’ve got, and I am not going to this funeral solo, so he’s what I’ll take.

After all—what could go wrong at a funeral?

I Pucking Love You is a hilariously wrong romantic comedy about the world’s worst matchmaker, a hockey player with a problem he doesn’t want to talk about, and an awkward date-of-convenience that everyone would prefer to forget. It comes complete with a cat working his way through his nine lives, all the sexy times, fish and chips, and a swoony happily-ever-after. 


Copper Valley Thrusters Series
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#1
#2
#3
#4

EXCERPT

Tyler

We all have to be at practice tomorrow morning—check that, this morning, as it’s shortly after midnight—but I don’t want to go home.

I don’t want to drink. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to screw.

I want—

Dammit.

I want a bucket of greasy fried fish and chips, because it’s what my big brother used to take me to get every time he came home on leave from the Marines and got annoyed at being hen-pecked by the four sisters between us.

My car’s cold, thanks to the early November weather, and no, I’m not telling you what kind of car I drive, because yes, it very much feels like compensation tonight.

It gets me where I want to go.

That’s all that matters.

That, and getting my ass to Cod Pieces before they close for the night.

Could I stay at the bunny bar and get fried fish and chips?

Yes.

Will I?

No fucking way.

I’m still stewing in my own misery when the bright neon sign with the armored cod and the storefront that looks like a medieval castle comes into view at the edge of a strip mall four miles the wrong direction from my downtown condo. I roll the window down, letting in a blast of chilly air and the scent of fries.

Just in time.

I holler my order over the sound of my engine, then pull around to the window to get my fish.

Debate calling my brother in Miami.

It’s one AM. He and his wife recently celebrated their kid’s first birthday, and I think they’re working on baby number two.

If I call him in the middle of the night to bitch about how I can’t get it up, he’ll probably hang up on me, then tell our sisters.

And Mom.

She’s a professional comedienne with her own popular Netflix special. There’s no damn way I’m bothering West in the middle of the night for this.

I’ll talk to the fried fish and call it even.

Has as much personality as West had before he married Daisy.

The window swings open. “That’ll be fourteen seventy-three, please.”

My car lurches forward before I remember to put it in park, and I gape up at the woman staring down at me. “Muffy?”

My brain is playing tricks on me.

It has to be.

Because there’s no way the curvy, clumsy, smart-mouthed goddess who’s haunting my dick is standing there wearing a Cod Pieces polo and hat.

But she is.

And I swear to god, her long brown braids are recoiling in horror as her whole face twists, her lip curling, her left eye squeezing shut, before she snaps herself together. “For the hundredth time today, I have no idea who this Muffy person is. My name is Octavia Louisa Beaverhousen.”

Fuck me.

There are two of them? She looks exactly like Muffy. I’m not seeing things, and I’m not projecting just because I want my dick to work again and the bunnies made me think about screwing Muffy in the walk-in fridge at the bunny bar.

“Fourteen seventy-three, please.” She turns away as she holds out a hand, twitching her fingers like she’s waiting for cash or a card.

And that’s when I see the tattoo.

Rufus.
Her cat’s name. It’s on her wrist.

Octavia Louisa Beaverhousen, my ass. This is Muffy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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REVIEW: I PUCKING LOVE YOU


**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.**

Muffy is a matchmaker, but not a very successful one. Normally she wouldn’t set foot back in Richmond, but her best friend and business investor Veda needs her to attend a funeral. Rather than go alone, she’s desperate to bring a date along and the only choice she has is Tyler Jaeger. Tyler plays for the Copper Valley Thrusters and usually a hit with the ladies. However, he’s dealing with some interesting problems of his own so he volunteers to go as Muffy’s date, not realizing it’s a funeral. Of course, hilarity ensues.

Pippa Grant remains one of my favorite authors with her over-the-top humor. I know when I pick up one of her novels, there will be absurdity along with lots of laughs. As soon as she comes out with a new book, my spirit fingers come out and I’m reaching for it. As the newest addition to The Copper Valley Thrusters series, I Pucking Love You retains Grant’s signature humor.

I was conflicted about how much I really liked the book, much of it due to Muffy’s reasons for not wanting to return to Richmond. Muffy reminded me of Henri from Grant’s Real Fake Love but Muffy is a bit more awkward and a bit less successful. Like Henri, those who know her also are fiercely supportive of her and Muffy is also fiercely protective of them. Although Muffy presents this sort of “devil may care attitude,” she’s more vulnerable than people think, and Tyler is the perfect match for her. Having grown up with so many sisters, he’s very aware of Muffy’s needs, which includes large doses of confidence boosting and loving her for the person she is. I loved how protective over her he eventually becomes.

While it was a fun book, it was also tinged with melancholy that isn’t as apparent in the other books I’ve read by Grant. I enjoyed Muffy and Tyler’s chemistry, but I couldn’t quite overcome the bit of sadness even as the book headed towards our main couple’s HEA. I Pucking Love You is entertaining and will provide lots of laughs even though it has some sad undertones.

MINI-REVIEWS: COPPER VALLEY THRUSTERS SERIES

**With the exception of Royally Pucked, I was provided a copy of the the series as part of the promotion campaign for I Pucking Love You. I voluntarily read and reviewed each book. All opinions are my own. **

The Pilot & The Puck Up (#1)

It’s hard not to have a soft spot for The Berger Twins if you’re a fan of Grant’s books. They randomly show up in places and it can often be hilarious. Zeus, one-half of the Berger Twins, finally finds love. Despite being a tough guy, the woman he falls for, Joey/”Fireball”, is a lot tougher. I loved her right away and could tell at least one of the twins had met his match. Bailey, the caddie at the golf tournament who idolizes Joey, definitely stole my heart! Can she have her own book one day in Pippaverse? Can she be part of an all-girl hockey team? That would be awesome!

Royally Pucked (#2)

I was a bit hesitant about the book because I’m not fond of two of the prevailing tropes, royal-plebian romance and unexpected/secret pregnancy. Gracie, Joey’s sister, and Manning, Willow’s stepbrother, continue their dalliance from The Pilot & The Puck Up which leads to an unexpected pregnancy. I appreciated that the pregnancy happens early in the story, and there isn’t any kind of hiding or miscommunication between Gracie and Manning. Grant handles the pregnancy well here with both parties in-the-know and not keeping it a surprise until somewhere in the middle–thank goodness! Although I understood Manning’s predicament, I can’t say I was a fan of him to begin with so this made me like him even less. I eventually warmed to him, but he ranks low on my list of male leads from the Pippaverse.

Beauty and the Beefcake (#3)


Ares finally gets a love interest! AND he says more than a grunt or two because he gets chapters and chapters of them!! Okay…I’m kidding. He says words too. As much as I like Zeus, I’ll be honest and say that I have a soft spot for Ares. Felicity is a ventriloquist and talks a lot. She has conversations with herself in her different voices often so it’s great that she’s paired with a minimal talking, mostly grunting Ares. The book solidifies why I like Ares. He only makes the effort when he wants to and the effort he gives here is swoony when he starts catching feelings for Felicity. More than that, he understands and sees into Felicity like knowing what she’s channeling into the multiple voices for her puppets. It’s a forbidden romance–Nick his Felicity’s brother and Nick is Ares’s teammate–and I love how the sparks start slow because both are aware of the position they’re in since they both care about Nick.

Charming as Puck (#4)

Kami is one of Felicity’s besties and her crush on Nick is well known by all. Nick knows it to and has been known to use it to his advantage…as per Felicity in book #3. What no one at least guessed was they had an arrangement, a mutually beneficial one that Kami has decided is no longer enough for her. I love when someone realizes they deserve better than what they’ve been getting!! She asks her cousin Muffy of Muff Matches (yes, this is the introduction of Muffy of I Pucking Love You) to find her someone so she can move on from the guy who obviously doesn’t realize he is actually in love with her. If Royally Pucked contained my least liked tropes, Charming as Puck has one of my favorites (okay, this is a long one), the “I have a crush on you so I agree to an arrangement and now realize I deserve better so I break it off and try to date other people but you finally come to your senses and realize need/want me back and that you love me” trope (whew!). The nuance to this trope that I dislike is when one side heads into it with the hope that the arrangement will eventually lead to them being end game despite the understanding that a relationship is what neither wants. That’s what happens here, and so I can’t really be all that mad at Nick. BUT I still like Kami more, so I liked the groveling that happens and a jealous Nick is satisfying too.

Of the series, Kami might be my favorite female lead and Ares is the male lead I have the soft spot for. Charming as Puck and Beauty and the Beefcake are the top two contenders for the books I like best in the series. Overall, this is another fun series from Grant. If you’re fan and have read the other books, it’s a lot of fun to see cameos especially because in Pippaverse the degrees of separation are likely less than 6. Now, I need to conquer the rest of Grant’s series.

Pippaverse Throwdown: Girl Band vs Copper Valley Thrusters

Both are great, but if I had to choose between the two, I’m going to have to say I prefer The Girl Band series (you can find the reviews here) over the Copper Valley Thrusters series. I liked the stories that accompanied each of the Girl Band members and, except for maybe the first book, the books all had fairly good plots. Similar to The Pilot and The Puck Up, Mister McHottie doesn’t have a lot of plot, but they’re both fun introductions into each series. Although I generally liked all the female leads in both series, I connected with all members of the band much more, and I generally liked the men each ended up with as well. While I adore the Berger Twins and the Thrusters, my heart lies with an all girl band that covers boy bands–they just have the right stuff.


Rebelwing (2020)

by Andrea Tang
ASN/ISBN: 9781984835093
Publication: February 25, 2020
Series: Rebelwing #1

Prep school student Prudence Wu regularly smuggles out illicit materials to customers outside of the city. In her haste to complete a deal, she leaves without her partner Anabel Park and, of course, it just has to be the one where she meets with dire consequences–her customer double-crosses her, and enforcers come after her. After being unexpectedly rescued by a cybernetic dragon, Pru is forced to work for a secret organization to keep her “extracurricular activities” off her records.

The overall story and the world Tang creates is an interesting one. The story is set in an alternate United States, in a different Washington D.C., one of the last places that has yet to be consumed by a growing authoritarian regime the UCC. The efforts of a past resistance have kept New Columbia one of the last strongholds of democratic governance; it’s not only independent but thriving in the aftermath of wars fought long ago. Although a tenuous peace has been established between it and the UCC, it’s becoming more difficult to determine how long peace can be maintained. This is the world that Pru, an Asian American teen, is trying to survive in.

Pru is a tough, wise-cracking heroine, and I liked her a lot. I’m prone to liking sarcastic heroines who stand up for themselves when life tries to shove them around. It’s especially when in the face of authority that her sarcasm and defiance are entertaining. In many ways, Pru bucks the model minority myth placed on Asian Americans. She is by no means a straight-laced rule follower, but one who takes risks (i.e. smuggling censored materials like graphic novels to UCC incorporated areas). She isn’t as privileged as her colleagues but does the best she can with what she has. Sure, she might be taking calculus but things don’t necessarily come easily to her–you know, like bonding with a mechanical dragon. As a fan of science fiction growing up, Pru and Rebelwing would have been the book I needed to feel represented in the literature I was so fond of. 

While the story was promising, it was lacking in one of the elements I was most excited about: the sentient cybernetic dragon. Rebelwing is the mecha dragon that saves Pru, imprinting on Pru and leaving her in a difficult situation. While Rebelwing is pivotal to the plot, there are only glimpses of her whereas I expected more interaction and bonding between Pru and the sentient dragon. I would have gladly read on for another hundred or so pages if it meant that I got more Pru and Rebelwing together, hopefully getting a better understanding of why Pru was chosen when there were so many potential pilots such as Alex or Anabel that would have been better options. Of course, this is touched on slightly, but not near the extent I was hoping for.

While I enjoyed Pru’s story, the more interesting storylines were not that of Pru or her peers, rather it was of Pru’s mom and Alex’s uncle. Who were they in their past lives? Who are they now? Who could have they been in the present had they made different choices? The little that is revealed about Pru’s mom and Alex’s uncle, of each of their past and how those decisions shaped who they eventually became was intriguing to me. Yes, I would have settled for more reading if it meant reading more about these two as well. Or, how about a prequel novella?

Rebelwing is a fun book and packed with action. Is it good? Yes. Is the writing good? Yes. However, it left me somewhat unfulfilled due to my expectations of the Pru and dragon imprinting bond. If you’re expecting a metal dragon, you won’t see too much so it’s best to put that notion aside and soak up what you do get. If you can set that hope aside, you’ll be able to enjoy the novel a lot more. The sequel Renegade Flight was released on March 23, 2021. That will be a forthcoming review while I wait for it to arrive.

**If you’ve read Rebelwing, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ve read reviews that range in ratings, from one end to the other, so I’d like to know what you think. There are different themes it touches on that I didn’t talk about in the review, but I’d love to discuss some more as well. And the ending was pretty good.**

The Secret Recipe for Moving On (2021)

by Karen Bischer
ASN/ISBN: 9781250242303
Publication: March 23, 2021


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

Senior year is off to a heartbreaking start after Ellie’s boyfriend unexpectedly breaks up with her. Forced to continue taking home ec(onomics) with her ex and his new girlfriend, Ellie sets her eyes on beating the other teams by working with her group to ensure they get the most points in the class. Initially, she doesn’t have high hopes for her group of misfits–horse racing obsessed Isaiah, tough guy A.J., and biker Luke–but she begins to change her mind once she gets to know them. They even start feeling like a family.

Change is hard but maybe it’s the motivation needed to force us to do things we normally wouldn’t do. The breakup forces Ellie to get out of her comfort zone and pursue activities she would never have thought about before or things her ex wouldn’t have approved of. As readers come to this realization alongside Ellie, they’ll cheer her on just like I did. Her growth from the beginning of the novel to the end was a mostly pleasant experience. Why only mostly? Despite knowing the break up is inevitable–it’s right there in the blurb–it’s still a pretty uncomfortable experience to read through. It can only mean that Bischer did a great job setting it up.

The best part of the novel is the camaraderie that eventually develops between Ellie and her home ec group. While the other groups in the class are cohesive from the start because most are already friends, Ellie, Isaiah, A.J., and Luke are a makeshift group. They’re individuals who don’t hang out together and probably wouldn’t have spoken to each other outside the classroom. Being forced to work as a group (I know, I know we all generally hate group work) facilitated meaningful interaction between the members in the classroom, eventually spilling over into life outside of class and even school. If we only stick to what we know and the people we know, we might be missing out on so many other wonderful things!

I enjoyed it overall. It’s a high school slice-of-life novel about growing up and trying to find your bearings after a breakup. It’s a cute, light read–something that can be quickly read in an afternoon.

The Girl Band Series (2017-2018)

by Pippa Grant
**Reviews are at the End. Click here to Jump to Reviews**

PRESENTING THE NEW COVERS FOR

THE GIRL BAND SERIES

BY PIPPA GRANT


I am an avid reader of Pippa Grant novels because they are hilarious. I think she might be my most read author. It’s a series cover re-reveal, and I was very happy to jump on board to help with the promotions through Give Me Books to celebrate. I was provided with copies of the latter three books, which did not affect my review. I’ve combined my reviews of the books, much like my romance interludes. I’ve placed them all at the end just to make it easier. I’ll also provide a side-by-side comparison of the covers as well.


Mister McHottie Ebook Cover

The best enemies make the best lovers…

There are things I hate:
Bratwurst in any form, my neighbors boinking like farm animals at 3AM, and Chase Jett.

Mostly I hate Chase Jett. It’s been ten years since he took my virginity—I’d make a bratwurst joke, but the unfortunate truth is that it would have to be a brat-best joke, and yes, it kills me to admit that—and now he’s not only a billionaire, he’s also my new boss.

Turns out our hate is mutual. And this kind of hate is horrifically twisted, filthy, and banging hot.

I just might have to hate him forever.

Mister McHottie is the hilariously sexy romantic comedy that your mother warned you about, complete with an organic happy-ever-after (or seven), a Bratwurst Wagon, ill-advised office pranks, and no cheating or cliffhangers. (Photo: Wander Aguiar)

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Stud in the Stacks Ebook CoverHe’s a librarian by day and the ideal fake boyfriend by night.

When it comes to women, I know what they want. And all day long, I give it to them. Dark, broody, and sexy? You got it. Need to laugh? I’m your guy. Desperate for something to put you in the mood? You’ve come to the right place, kitten.

Every morning when my library opens, there’s a line around the block, the ladies flocking to me in need of their next book boyfriend. I’m that dude. The one who knows his way around the romance section.

And after years of study, my skills don’t stop at the day job. Need a fake boyfriend, fiancé, or friend-with-benefits? I know that plot. I also know to keep my heart off the table, because love is only real between the pages of a book.

So when Parker Elliott needs a temporary fake boyfriend for a reunion, of course I step in. She rocks a mean guitar, she has no idea how sexy she is, and we have something of a history.

Easy, right?

Yep. Piece of cake.

Except this time, I’m actually in danger of falling in love.

Stud in the Stacks is 55,000 sexy, hilarious, sometimes embarrassing words, complete with tacos, romance novel love, unicorn parties, and no cheating or cliffhangers. (Photo: Rafa Catala)

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Rockaway Bride Ebook CoverA Rock Star Kidnaps a Runaway Bride…Kidnapping the bride seemed like a good idea at the time.

Her fiancé stole my fortune, so I stole his woman.

Tit for tat. Or tat for tit. However you want to look at it.

The one thing I didn’t expect?

Willow Honeycutt, preschool teacher, boy band super fan, is completely crazy.

And somehow she’s turned the tables on me.

Now, she’s holding me hostage, and she won’t let me go until we hit every item on her sparkly new, completely insane bucket list.

And that last item?

That last item might cost me more than any fortune.

It very well might cost me my heart.

Rockaway Bride is a romping fun romance between a down-on-his-luck rock star and a boy band-loving preschool teacher, complete with a road trip, handcuffs, and fun with nuns. This romantic comedy stands alone with no cheating or cliffhangers and ends with a rockin’ awesome happily ever after. (Photo: Furious Fotog)

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For anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of an unsolicited d*ck pic… The Hero and the Hactivist Ebook Cover

He has the muscles of Adonis, an ego bigger than the sun, and a very clear desire to get back in my pants. Which would be fantastic if he weren’t a SEAL and I wasn’t a criminal.

Although, I prefer the term avenger. 

I’m a hacktivist, cleaning up the cesspool of cyberspace one scam artist and troll at a time, and I sometimes bend a few rules to get justice done.

He’s a military man with abs of glory, sworn to uphold the letter of the law no matter its shortcomings. And if he’d known who—or what—I was, I doubt he would’ve banged me at my best friend’s wedding reception.

Or come back for more.

Which is why he’s now the only thing standing between me and one very pissed off internet troll who’s figured out where I live.

I’m pretty sure he’ll get me out of this alive—and quite satisfied, thank you very much—but I’m also pretty sure this mission will end with me in handcuffs.

And not the good kind of handcuffs.

The Hero and the Hacktivist is a romping fun SEAL / Best Friend’s Brother / Robin Hood in Cyberspace romance between a meathead and an heiress, complete with epic klutziness, terrible leg warmers, and an even worse phone virus gone wrong. This romantic comedy stands alone with no cheating or cliffhangers and ends with a fabulously fun happily ever after. (Photo: Wander Aguiar)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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REVIEW

The Girl Band Series is a quartet by Pippa Grant starring each member of an all girl pop music cover band: Ambrosia (Bro/Sia), Parker, Willow, and Eloise. Each book contains Grant’s signature humor, and each book gets a little bit zanier than the last. If you’re going to read anything by Pippa Grant, you have to prepare for the absurd and suspend your belief at some things. Ha…Of course, I say it in a positive way because I enjoy her novels so much. I previously did a mini-review of Rockaway Bride, which I’ve included here and some additional words. My choice of leading men here? Definitely Knox and then the other three are a bit of toss up with Dax just slightly ahead. Overall, the series is a lot of fun, an overall 3.5 stars, but there were two that I liked more than the others.

#1: Mister McHottie

As hot as Mister McHottie is, this was probably the book I liked the least in comparison to the other books in the series. Overall, it’s still a book with parts I know I will probably reread again. Chase was a closely family friend, best friend to Sia’s twin brothers, but an incident before college involving a Bratwurst Wagon led to a bad breakup. It was funny and I laughed through most of the book but Chase and Ambrosia (Bro/Sia) had a really intense kind of love–the hate you so much I want to smash your head in then make love to you after–and I wasn’t really into it. They do have great chemistry and can be pretty hilarious when paired with her twins. The book moved so quickly, I was more than half way finished before I realized how far I was into the book.

“If you sleep with any of my friends, so help me, I will rub ghost chilis all over your mouth guard, smear Icy Hot in your cup, and I’ll call ESPN and tell them you still wet the bed.”

#2: Stud in the Stacks

Knox is the swoon-worthy kind of lead. He’s a former exotic dancer and the book opens to his hot moves. It was pretty funny. He’s a librarian and supports causes trying to eliminate literacy. He loves romance novels and he’s a blogger, Mr. Romance. Did I mention that he was a librarian? This book was great! How could I not fall for the hot librarian who advocates for romance novels and matches people with romance novels? He’s nearly perfect! I liked the plot of this one a lot and the surprises had me laughing. Parker’s vulnerability and insecurities were things I identified with so I was rooting for her to kick butt at her high school reunion, with or without Knox. I loved how Knox loved her for just being her and helped to boost her self-esteem.

“I do believe I finally understand the term hot mess. And that’s me. A total hot mess.”

#3: Rockaway Bride

Being one of the first Pippa Grant novels I read, Rockaway Bride remains close to my heart. It helped to solidify Pippa Grant as one of my favorite steamy rom com authors (the other being Kayley Loring). Being taken hostage by Dax, which quickly unravels and spirals out of hand for Dax, might have been the best thing to happen to Willow. It ends up being a trip to unleash her true self, the one who likes the bad boy and taking risks, the one she’s kept locked away so her mother would never have to worry about her. Her bucket list is insightful about who she really is and it’s also inspiring. I also cannot forget the nuns on a bus Dax and Willow encounter–who would have thought?! Ha… Of the four novels, this was probably the most consistent book for me. If it hadn’t dragged a bit at the end, I think this would have been a near 5 star for me.

“I want to be brave. And bold. I want to have stories to tell my grandchildren someday. Okay, maybe not this story, but a girl has to start somewhere.”

#4: The Hero and the Hacktivist

I liked Eloise immediately when I first read Rockaway Bride. I was excited to learn more about her after reading the the first three books. She projects this overly sexual persona but is also very secretive. She’s always propositioning the Berger Twins (Sia’s brothers), Parker’s brothers, and even Willow’s stepbrothers, but only Rhett (Parker’s Navy SEAL brother who keeps appearing out of nowhere in the second book…heh) has taken her up on her offer. The funny but albeit heartbreaking thing about this is that she’s completely surprised that he does and keeps wondering why. In this book we find out why Eloise seems to keep people at a distance, and yes, she’s the hacktivist in the title. The beginning of the book is pretty hilarious but as it began to wind down, it got more serious (e.g. bad guys looking for her, Rhett beating people up, knives in warmers). It was still funny in places, but didn’t keep the same tone it had in the beginning. I still enjoyed it, of course.

“…the closer you let people, the more they let you down and the greater possibility you’ll let them down too.”

So…how about those covers?

I appreciate the consistency the new covers bring, from the playful candy colored backgrounds to the fonts utilized in the titles. Now, it looks and feels like the books are part of a single series as opposed to being standalone novels. Random observations…For The Hero and the Hacktivist, there’s emphasis on his biceps and the addition of dog tags–here, now you’re a SEAL! And the rockstar? Let’s give you a guitar! Ha…Both covers are similar in that aspect. I think I’ll miss the old Mister McHottie cover and the Rockaway Bride cover. The first one because it’s a bit of a tease and the latter because of the mood and filter used. Otherwise, I do like the new covers.

Bet the Farm (2021)

by Staci Hart
ASN/ISBN: 9798710185599
Publication: February 23, 2021
Series: Small Town Romance

(Review at the End)

Bet the Farm is LIVE and available from your favorite online book retailer! This heartfelt, flirty story of opposites attract from Staci Hart is just what you need. Happy reading! 💕

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Description

Olivia Brent has one summer to save the dairy farm she just inherited. But there’s one problem, and it’s not her lactose intolerance.

Jake Milovic.

The brooding farmhand has inherited exactly fifty percent of Brent Farm, and he’s so convinced the city girl can’t work the land, he bets she can’t save it in a summer. 

Determined to prove him wrong, Olivia accepts what might be the dumbest wager of her life.

His strategy to win seems simple: follow her around, shirtlessly distracting her between bouts of relentless taunting. And it’s effective—if his dark eyes and rare smiles aren’t enough to sidetrack her, the sweaty, rolling topography of the manbeast’s body would do the trick.

What they don’t know: they’ll have to weather more than each other. 

Mysterious circumstances throw the farm into disarray, and with the dairy farm in danger, Olivia and Jake have to work together. But when they do, there’s more to fear than either of them imagined. Because now their hearts are on the line, and the farm won’t be the only casualty if they fail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life — a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

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REVIEW

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

Bet the Farm is a romance set in a rural farming town in California, which I thought was a nice change from most small town settings. It gives a different view of California that most people aren’t exactly used to–something other than tech, beaches, and palm trees. The plot is fairly straight forward with city girl Olivia returning home to her roots to help save the farm she recently inherited from her grandfather.

Olivia is a regular Pollyanna with her happy-go-lucky attitude while Jake is a complete grump and set against any kind of changes Olivia wants to make to the farm. I liked Olivia. Her earnestness at helping with the farm is sweet. At times, her attitude annoyed me because she would feel bad for doing something that she shouldn’t have had to feel bad about because Jake was making her feel bad. She wasn’t flawless, but she didn’t have to apologize for so many things. Unlike the typical city girl with a farm on her hands, Olivia doesn’t want to return to the city nor does she want to sell the farm. Returning to the farm is returning home for her. While Olivia wants to stay, Jake would prefer she leave back to New York and allow him to manage the farm the way her grandpa always did. Jake draws the the line at just about every corner, including drawing the line between them. Jake is so fickle, he irritated me a lot. Just about everything would set him off, and Olivia would take the brunt of it. He would do something that showed he cared and then he’d run off or get mad. Don’t even get me started on how he never really apologizes to Olivia for being such a sh*t to her–if he did and I forgot, it’s likely because it didn’t sound like he meant it at all. I’m getting frustrated just thinking about him right now!

Olivia and Jake have some shared history but it wasn’t enough for me to root for them. In fact, I was rooting for Olivia and another character in the book despite knowing he wasn’t meant to be end game. He was charming, and they had chemistry even if Olivia said she supposedly didn’t feel it. I was never quite on board with the direction of Olivia and Jake’s relationship also because they butted heads more than they got along, which isn’t necessarily bad especially if there are undercurrents of attraction. Again, while each would explain there was something there, I never quite felt it the way I felt in Hart’s other books. (Spoiler but not really a spoiler because it is a romance novel…when they’re together, they’re pretty great together but the getting there wasn’t something I entirely I found convincing…or I just disliked Jake a lot. Ha!)

Despite my frustration with Olivia, Jake, and their relationship, Hart doesn’t disappoint in her writing. It’s probably the biggest reason why I continue to read her novels. I was frustrated with her characters here but I couldn’t be frustrated with her descriptions. Some of my favorite parts in this book come from the beginning when Olivia describes riding in the car and looking out the window or the feeling of coming home and still feeling her grandfather everywhere. These were the moments I just wanted to give the book 5 stars everywhere–it was the what and the way Hart made me feel.

Bet the Farm might not be the best fit for readers looking for a bold female lead but I would recommend this book for Staci Hart fans. I’d also recommend this book for those who like small town romances with hate-to-love as a central trope.

Twist of Fate (2021)

by Tia Louise
ASN/ISBN: 9798704702146
Publication: February 22, 2021
Series: Standalone but crossover with other books

**Jump to Review**

A sexy, friends-to-lovers, second-chance romance with a twist by USA Today bestselling author Tia Louise.

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DESCRIPTION

To be “just friends” with a guy, you’ve got to follow The Rules:
Don’t touch him unnecessarily.
Don’t share your intimate dreams with him (even if he asks).
Don’t kiss him, and definitely don’t sleep with him.

Scout Dunne and I have been “just friends” since childhood.
He’s everything you could want—sexy, charming, confident—every girl’s wet dream.
Until we broke The Rules.
We broke them in the ocean, in my aunt’s bathroom, in my bed…
It was the hottest week of my life.
I’m one of the few people who knows the first-round NFL draft pick wants more than a life of sports.
Because we’re friends, right?
Not anymore.

Now he’s gone, and I’m trying to get my career back on track.
Mamma said a guy would never put your dreams ahead of his.
But the twist of fate?
It’s something you never see coming.

(TWIST OF FATE is a STAND-ALONE friends-to-lovers, single-parent romance. No cheating. No cliffhanger.)


ALSO AVAILABLE!


EXCERPT

Scout

“It’s been a long time since we danced together.”

She doesn’t look up, but her smile grows. “It was homecoming, first dance of the year.”

“And the last. I still can’t believe you didn’t go to prom with me. All high school romances end at the prom.”

Her nose curls. “We were not a high school romance.”

“We might’ve been. The high school quarterback, all around hot guy who falls for the quiet, bookish future librarian. It’s the perfect setup for a movie.”

“All-around hot guy…” Her brown eyes roll adorably, and I’m glad the tension seems to have melted. “I’m not a future librarian.”

“I know.” I think about that night. “You did promise to have my back, though.”

“Until you broke the rules and kissed me.”

“It was a really good kiss. We should try it again to see if we’ve still got it.”

She steps out of my arms. “I’ve got a job to finish. Then I’m leaving Fireside.”

“Okay.” I shrug. “I’m not going to be here for long. Maybe we could pass the time together. Hang out.” I lean down to catch her eye. “What do you say, Tink?”

“Tink?”

“Tinkerbell. You remind me of her.”

“Does that make you Peter Pan, the eternal man-child?”

“I’m no child.” It comes out a bit hungrier than I intended, and her cheeks turn red so fast.

Should I say oops? I’m sure as hell not taking it back.

“I’ve got to go.”

She does it, too. She walks off, leaving me alone on the dance floor…

© TLM Productions LLC, 2021

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tia Louise is the USA TODAY best-selling, award-winning author of super-hot and sexy romances. All her heroes are alphas with hearts of gold, and all her heroines are the smart, sassy ladies who love them.

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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.**

Twist of Fate is an appropriate title for a book that’s all about how lives can change when least expected. Sometimes the things we want will also change along with what life throws at us. The plot of the book reflects the title along these lines starting with Daisy and Scout’s relationship–or lack of one–when they unexpectedly meet each other again. The twists continue to fall like dominoes from here.

One reason I like a friends-to-lovers stories is because when characters get together at the very beginning, it never feels like their relationship is moving too fast, especially when it’s possible one is in love with the other or they’re both in love with each other right from the start. Louise sets this up really well because in the span of one week, Daisy and Scout can’t keep their hands off each other and I was all for it. There was chemistry and I was rooting for then. I did want more of a backstory about the rules they set up in high school when they kept referring to what happened, but it doesn’t take away too much from the present day storyline. There were some events in the story I wish had been given more time or better explanations. While it can be read as a standalone, there’s a time or two when there was a reference to events that happen in a related book This Much is True (Scout’s brother JR’s book) and it made me wonder what happened or if I was missing something.

Life can change at any moment, and sometimes the things we want may change too. We just need to figure out what we’re willing to do about it. The twists that befall Daisy and Scout aren’t exactly surprising but it was still an enjoyable read.

False Start (2021)

by Casey Hagen
ASIN/ISBN: B087PVMZQ5
Publication: February 16, 2021
Series: Beautifully Brutal #1

**Click to Jump to Review**

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DESCRIPTION

I’m used to being an outsider, full of self-doubt, pain, and a longing to belong.
Until I found this family, my own band of derby sisters
But when the most notorious coach in roller derby sets his sights on me, my life is thrust into chaos.
He’s a perceptive, cocky hard-ass, who’s made me his enemy, and his student.
Despite being my adversary, he’s the only man I can trust when faced with insurmountable odds, even if I hate every second he tries to bend me to his will.
Our proximity brings with it a forbidden attraction.
One that can destroy everything my team has built.
One that threatens to break me down, piece by piece
I won’t let Cain Bishop break me…at least not on the track.
But maybe…I’ll let him break my bed.

One night home and I’m obsessed with the track.
Maybe not the track itself, but her. The most compelling player I’ve ever seen.
The way she maneuvers through the pack, I can’t take my eyes off her.
She’s a fighter, battling head to head for everything she believes in.
When the odds turn against her, I’m the key to her salvation.
Getting too close could cost me everything.
But there’s no chance in hell I’ll stay away.
Not even when redemption is on the line.
Maisy Flynn is mine, even if neither one of us wants it.
Only…keeping her might mean she loses everything she holds dear.
After all I’ve done, the Devil himself would sooner see me burning on my knees at his feet than let me keep my prize.


False Start is the first book in the Beautifully Brutal series with the next books in the series coming out through 2021. The next in the series is Hip Whip, coming out in March!


EXCERPT

I slammed down a stack of cash, snatched my jacket, and stomped out of Banked Track, leaving Mayhem on her hands and knees on the bar. 

I figured I had about ten seconds tops before she scrambled off and chased me down. 

Ten seconds to get to the parking lot, get in my truck, and get the fuck out of here.

And never come to town again. 

My breath billowed before me, illuminated by the dull glow of streetlamps in the inky darkness of the frigid night. I pounded down the sidewalk, the image of her voracious eyes combing over Patti’s pictures playing through my head. 

My amusement at her climbing clean up on the counter swept away by an avalanche of bitterness for what they asked of me even without saying the words.

The bitterness of what I couldn’t give them.

But damn, I wanted to. 

Too much.

I’d stay at the farm. I’d pay whoever I had to pay for grocery delivery. We’d survive, we could just call it quality time…so much quality, Lilith would be ready to murder me, but then my nephew would be born, Jordan would get home, and I’d be on my way out of town.

“Hey!”

Six damn seconds.

I kept my pace as I whipped around, only to find her chasing me down in that sweater. 

That. Fucking. Sweater.

My pulse pounded in my ears. My nostrils flared with the ragged breath I sucked into my lungs.

It didn’t even cover her shoulders and the temperature had mercilessly dropped into the low twenties the minute the sun disappeared over the horizon. By now, we’d plummeted to the teens.

I jabbed a finger in the direction of the bar. “Get your ass inside.”

She skidded to a stop, propped her hands on her hips, and arched an eyebrow. I knew that look. Every man on the planet knew that look and all the variations whether it be aimed with stunning precision at them from a girlfriend, a sister, a mother, or a grandmother. “Excuse me?”

“You don’t have a jacket,” I said, marching back to her, my hands curled into fists because fuck if I didn’t want to haul her ass off somewhere warm and private. 

Only I couldn’t trust myself alone with her. Warm and private meant giving in and tearing off every last shred of clothing so I could fuck her until neither of us could stand. 

Glowering down at her, I put every bit of anger and frustration into the force of my words, not caring if they hurt her, because they were the only way to save us from absolute disaster. “Get. Your. Ass. Inside.”

Better to hurt her now before the stakes got higher. 

Before feelings got involved.

Look at me pretending like they hadn’t already. 

We’d been nothing but feelings since our eyes met during her bout. We’d been adding good old-fashioned dry logs to that flame ever since, building the kind of heat that didn’t flash and die, but simmered, building a base of coals so damn hot it reached into the shadowed recesses of our lives.

“Not until you agree to help us.” Her chin wobbled as she shivered before me. She clamped down her teeth, but the telltale tremble of her teeth trying to chatter in the blistering cold was there.

“Goddammit.” I yanked my jacket off, wrapped it around her, and held it together so she couldn’t shrug it off. “I’ll walk you home. Which way?” 

She tried to yank away from me. “I don’t need you to walk me home; I need you to train us on your track.”

I curled my fists tighter into the soft leather, shaking her with every bit of resentment coursing through me, making her rock on her heels before holding her steady. “No.”

“Why not?”

“You damn well know why not.” I growled. There’s no way she didn’t know. 

And the fact that she did made it damn near impossible to look her in the eye at times.

“You didn’t do it,” she said quietly. “What they say about you. You didn’t do it.”

The calm confidence of her words only fueled a dormant rage, now burgeoning inside me again since waking up the minute I rolled into Galloway Bay. I wouldn’t stand here while she looked at me with softness, caring, the hushed tone of her voice reverent, like I was some kind of hero. 

Not when all I had was a legacy of mistakes that brought others pain.

I tugged her against me. “You don’t know a damn thing about what I did or didn’t do,” I said, seething with the fine edge of anguish cutting through me. “What I’ve cost the people I love.”

My gaze dropped to her full pink lips and I closed my eyes. Her mouth wasn’t mine to taste, should never be mine to taste, and if I took, it would only prove what a selfish bastard I really was. “You’d do good to trust your instincts about me, Mayhem.”

She turned her face up to mine. Unflinching, she stared me straight in the eye without so much as a blink. Full of stubbornness and ready for confrontation, she took me head-on. “The funny thing is, I do,” she said with quiet finality. 

Her eyes dropped to my mouth and I fought the urge to waver. I hung my head and turned away from her, away from temptation.

How many more times would I scour my soul and find scraps of shredded honor before I ran out completely?

“You didn’t do it. I don’t know why you don’t shout it from the damn rooftops. I don’t know why you didn’t defend yourself, maybe it’s time to—”

I pierced her with a scowl. “Leave it alone,” I bit out the words in harsh warning. Fury pounded in time with the ripple of my beating heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USA Today Bestselling author Casey Hagen pens her snarky, passionate stories from the salty air of Kennebunk, Maine. She’s a born and raised Vermont native, a New England girl to the core, with Ben & Jerry’s in her heart and real Vermont maple syrup pumping through her veins.

She’s the proud mother of three girls and a first-time grandma with an insatiable addiction to Fall Out Boy and the new Taylor Swift album, Folklore, because…AMAZEBALLS, and a new, rather concerning obsession with tattoos and piercings. Can you say “cool grandma?”

The inked and pierced grandma spends her time tucked away in her office, coated in cat hair, alternating between tearing her hair out trying to find the perfect words and being one step ahead of her three scheming fur babies she is positive are plotting her demise with every swirl around her ankles at the top of her office stairs.

She loves writing stories about real people, with complicated histories, relatable everyday problems, and giving them the hard-won happily-ever-afters they deserve.

And she thanks every last one of you who picks up one of her stories.

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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 would be a Hallmark movie if Hallmark movies were about a roller derby team with a fiery-tempered tattooed protagonist trying to save a community program while having sexy times with her hot coach. And the hot, sweltering kisses they share…whew! I can’t forget those either. Maisy is the tough but well-loved (at least by those who know her) protagonist who has finally found her family in her roller derby team after losing her mother as a teen. Cain returns to Galloway Bay to help his sister with her pregnancy but isn’t prepared to stay any longer than necessary in the town that shunned him. They quickly inspire lust in each other, and their love of roller derby brings them together.

In the first half of the novel, I was trying to connect to a sport I was unfamiliar with along with Maisy and Cain. I couldn’t connect with their potential relationship very well because the lust was immediate and I was afraid it would head into insta-love territory without establishing anything beyond physical attraction. Their attraction is acknowledged as lust, which I was grateful for, and then I came around to their chemistry when they finally started working on the same roller derby team–simply just making googly eyes at each other wasn’t enough for me to establish much. I don’t know very much about roller derby but by the second half of the book, I was invested enough in Maisy and Cain to do a little bit of research. I watched a few videos to visualize and understand the sport better and it helped me connect better with the story and with them.

I enjoyed reading a sports novel that wasn’t about hockey or football and focused on a women’s team. The camaraderie between the women was something I liked reading and helped to establish why Maisy saw them as her family. I enjoyed Hagen’s writing a lot. I read 100 pages and felt like it was less than half. Her writing is descriptive and evokes images and so many emotions. One of my favorite lines toward the beginning of the book is when Cain explains how Maisy getting to close to him would be problematic, leading to opening up a part of himself that he kept hidden because “it rivaled the force of any turbulent storm-ravaged sea crashing relentlessly against a rocky coast. Cracking open that well of pain, anger, and resentment would flood everything and everyone in its path.” Even if I wasn’t yet sold on Maisy and Cain’s attraction to each other, I was hooked because of Hagen’s writing style. I liked the book and recommend it for those looking for a romance centered around a nontypical sport with leads that are rough around the edges.

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.