A Very Friendly Valentine’s Day (2021)

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

(Review at the end)

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

A Very Friendly Valentine’s Day
is out today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

EDDIE: Um. Did you cancel your tickets?

BIRDIE: Yes, Edward. I canceled them.

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

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

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

BIRDIE: I am so mad at you right now.

***

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

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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REVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

{preorder blitz} Unraveled (2021)

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

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

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

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

Kameron Willoughby

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

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

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

Layla Malone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


EXCERPT

Layla

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I jerk backward. “What mess?”

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

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

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

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexia ChaseMy name is Alexia Chase. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick. Dirty. Sweet. Alexia Chase Logo

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The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob (2021)

by Pippa Grant
ASIN/ISBN: B08RY8WSY4
Publication: January 7, 2021
Series: Bro Code Series #4
(Review at the end)

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Free in Kindle Unlimited

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


Bro Code Series
(click for Goodreads link)

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

EXCERPT from The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob

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

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

Yep.

Lice.

Heaven forbid we have one issue at a time.

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

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

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

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

It’s a bookstore.

Highly flammable.

Not taking chances.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You are so lucky you’re cute.”

“Do you have a vacuum?” Levi asks.

I twist my head to gape at him.

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

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

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

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

“Mama,” Hudson says, “look.”

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

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

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

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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REVIEW


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

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

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

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

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

Romance Interlude (vol. 1.4)


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow (2020)

by Laura Taylor Namey
ISBN: 9781534471245
Publication: November 10, 2020


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

After devastating changes in her life, Lila is forced to take a one-way flight to stay with her Aunt Cate in Winchester, England. Despite her initial hesitation and desire to return home to Miami, Lila starts to appreciate the town. Not only is she making new friends, but she’s also sharing her love of cooking, creating a new community that begins to rival the one at home.

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow is so many things. It’s about family. It’s about culture. It’s about loss in its many forms. It’s about reconciling the changes that come with growing up, growing apart, and ultimately growing into the unexpected. There is so much packed into this novel but it’s ultimately Lila’s resilience that will leave a lasting impact.

When we meet Lila, she’s broken and still reeling at the unfairness of being forced to spend summer away from the city and the people she loves. But little by little, through cooking and baking, she begins to carve a place for herself in a town that is so different from Miami and yet begins to call to her in a similar way. Despite the challenges and the changes in her life, she trusts in her skills, allowing her to successfully fuse English and Cuban flavors into her culinary creations. When she allows her certainty in the kitchen to trickle into the rest of her life, we finally get to see the Lila that she was…but now a bit wiser.

While it’s a guide to tea and tomorrow, I found more tomorrow than tea, and Lila’s guidance about tomorrow is immeasurable. A traditional recipe that has been perfected may produce the same flavors to a tee (pun intended…hehehe) but sometimes accommodations have to be made; experimentation may be necessary to discover new and possibly better flavors. Lila’s experiences allowed me to reflect on my own life, and I am all the better for it.

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow enfolds you like the wool knit sweaters Lila wears, warm and comforting even if a little prickly at first. Once you settle into it, you wonder how you might survive without it. When I finished reading, I felt a sense of loss in having to say goodbye to Lila and Winchester. The introspection it provided was invaluable. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend reading it with a cup of tea–my favorite, mint steeped 3-5 minutes with water at full boil–and a warm blanket, making sure a pastelito isn’t too far away.

Romance Interlude (vol. 1.3)

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Written in the Stars (2020)

by Alexandria Bellefleur
ISBN: 9780063000803
Publication date: November 10, 2020


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

Elle believes in astrology and finding her perfect one while Darcy is logical and used to believe in love but not anymore.  Although their initial date goes awry, they end up pretending to date.  Darcy needs Elle to get her brother to stop setting her up while Elle agrees so she can stop being the black sheep in the family.  Despite a rocky start and being opposites, sparks fly between them. Could fake dating actually lead to OTP status?  It’s hard to tell because it’s not like Elle notices how certain colors bring out the honey-colored flecks in Darcy’s eyes.  And, it’s not as though Darcy can’t help thinking about the way Elle’s eyes light up when she smiles.

Written in the Stars is a charming novel that wears its heart on its sleeve.  It has all the elements of a romantic comedy with fake dating and opposites attracting.  It doesn’t pull unnecessary punches to yank the reader around.  If there is any angst, it’s short-lived.  The novel drips with such sweetness that I couldn’t read this without a goofy smile plastered on my face.  Despite being a romantic, I sometimes even had to cringe because it was so disgustingly sweet.  While it didn’t make my heart zing, there were so many parts of this that made me swoon.  I couldn’t help it because the writing is as whimsical as Elle is, creating a tone that is light and fluffy.  It’s the perfect book to read to momentarily escape the real world.  One of my favorite images is of Elle’s “stomach erupting in a kaleidoscope of butterflies” after a kiss.  Another is the blooming of love, “like stubborn wildflowers poking up through cracks in the pavement, growing where they didn’t belong.”  I really liked the emotions and images that Bellefleur evoked through her writing. I highlighted so many passages throughout the book I wish I could share them all. 

I loved Elle for being such a pure-hearted free spirit who wore her heart on her sleeve.  I cheered her on when she finally stood up for herself.  If anything, I wanted her to see that she was deserving of so much.  She is a catch, even if she doesn’t seem to think so.  I think this is why I really admired her best friend Margot who continually tried to remind her of that fact.  I also couldn’t help but like Darcy.  She seems cold but there’s something that just makes her so charming.  She puts up this “I’m perfect and have everything together” front but she’s actually pretty squishy on the inside.  She just hides it so well.  Some of my favorite parts are when she would unexpectedly say something funny and it seemed like it went against her character. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  While it didn’t give me the constant zings, it gave me moments of laughter, heart eyes, and swooniness.  For a moment, I was as much in love as Elle was.   

Jane in Love (2020)

by Rachel Givney
ISBN: 9780063019089
Publication date: October 27, 2020


**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
(Did I mention I was an Austen fan…)

Jane Austen finds herself in modern-day England after being promised that a spell will lead her to true love. She befriends Sofia Wentworth, who coincidentally is starring in a movie adaptation of Northanger Abbey, and finds a potential love interest in Sofia’s brother Fred. Just as she finally has love within her grasp, time travel deals her a harsh blow: staying means her literary works will disappear from history but returning home means she will lose a love that doesn’t exist in her time.

The beginning is a bit slow but picks up once Jane has been in the present for a while. There are multiple storylines, making it difficult for the author to allot enough time for each to appropriately play out. There’s Jane and Fred falling in love. There’s Sofia trying to figure out how to get Jane back home. Then, there’s Sofia trying to get back with her husband. At first, the latter story seems a bit out of place but Givney does successfully connect it all in the end.

With so many moving parts, I sometimes did not know what I was getting in the next chapter. A lot of time was spent on Jane’s marveling at the new world and trying to get around that I don’t think enough was spent on establishing Fred and Jane’s relationship. They do have some cute moments but I’m not sure if I could add it up to love so quickly. Their relationship felt rushed. But, that could just be the skeptic in me. Sometimes when you know, you just know I guess.

The other story I wanted more time with was that of Sofia and her ex-husband. Sofia initially came across snobbish but she quickly became a favorite character. Her personality grew on me, and she had some of the funniest lines in here. One of my favorites is probably at the hospital, and she’s talking to the doctor: “ ‘What’s the prognosis, Doc?’ Sofia asked. ‘Don’t dumb it down. I did a three-episode special-guest run on ER where I played a beautiful but troubled neurosurgeon.’” I couldn’t stop laughing. I think Sofia’s story could have been a book of its own. I would definitely pick that one up.

There doesn’t seem to be any rules with the time traveling. Jane travels through time and items travel with Jane. How does it work exactly? I’m not really sure but if you just take it as is and not ask a lot of questions, then you’ll be fine. The book is somewhat predictable as well but it doesn’t necessarily take away from being able to enjoy the book. If anything, you just have to stick through Jane seeing the modern world and once you do that, the rest is a good read (much closer to a 4 star).

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was slow to begin but once friendships were formed and love was found, I was fully immersed in the novel and invested in the relationships. The ending was expected, albeit bittersweet. Givney does an excellent job of tying everything in but it nevertheless left me a bit dejected, making me wonder if Austen’s true ending was still a happy one… because I like her and I want people I like to have happy endings.

Pride and Papercuts (2020)

by Staci Hart
ISBN: 9798695274769
Publication: October 13, 2020
Series: The Austens #5 (also connected to series The Bennet Brothers)

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

You don’t have to be a Pride and Prejudice (P&P) fan to enjoy Pride and Papercuts.  In fact, not reading P&P might even be beneficial because if you’ve read (or watched) the former, you might end up making too many comparisons and forget to enjoy Hart’s retelling on its own merit. Overall, Pride and Papercuts is better than average at 3.5 stars. 

The book tracks the original well, integrating new elements into the original plot quite nicely.  There were points when I wondered how an incident would fit in, but Hart managed it seamlessly.  In particular, Lydia is now Luke and married (see Coming Up Roses) so I wondered what would happen to Wickham but this was resolved satisfactorily.  Hart infuses enough of her flair to make the story her own. Like many of her other novels, the imagery and the evocation of emotions is present (these are largely why I am a fan of Staci Hart and continue to read her novels even if I haven’t loved all of them).  While I came here for the romance between Liam (Darcy) and Laney (Lizzy), it was the bonds between siblings and the commitment to family that I truly took away from the novel. Of course, this isn’t to say that readers will be disappointed in the romance.  This is an enemies-to-lovers novel after all, and it checks all the right boxes: bickering, angst, and desire.

***The remaining is the comparison I couldn’t help but make.***

I found the elements outside Liam and Laney’s relationship to be the real standouts of the novel.  Hart’s Georgie is the most welcomed change. Georgie is a combination of two characters, Bingley (Darcy’s best friend) and Georgiana (Darcy’s sister).  I always felt Georgiana was a missed opportunity in Austen’s novel. She was treated delicately with nothing much to do but this iteration of Georgiana is one I like much better. Georgie still loves her brother but she isn’t so fragile that something like seeing Wickham again could break her.  While Georgie still listens to Liam, they are at least on a more equal footing than they were in P&P. 

Georgie and Liam’s relationship, one of respect and adoration, demonstrates Hart’s strength in writing strong familial bonds.  Like Georgie and Liam, Jett and Laney are quite close, likely even closer than P&P’s Jane and Lizzy. The lengths they’re willing to go to for one another made me root for their HEA even more.  I did wish more time was spent showcasing Mr. Bennet’s fondness for his daughter.

More difficult for me to enjoy or settle into was Liam and Laney’s relationship. I did like Laney and felt she was an accurate depiction of present-day Lizzy. I liked Liam as well–I really liked being able to see into his head– but I’m not exactly sure how I feel about them together. They verbally sparred so often it became difficult for me to believe they could be attracted to one another despite each repeatedly noting how they were attracted to the other.  While P&P has less interaction between the leads (as compared to Pride and Papercuts) it still creates this slow burn that makes hearts race when Darcy unexpectedly confesses, Pride and Papercuts’ leads, more often than not, left me frustrated. The consolation, however, was how much I liked them working together when they could overlook one another’s perceived faults. Of course, I’m also quite aware that I hold Lizzy and Darcy in a special vault in my heart.  I may have made Lizzy and Darcy too much to live up to.  But, it’s also possible I would still feel this way about the book even if I wasn’t a P&P devotee.

Coming Up Roses (2019)

by Staci Hart
ISBN: 9781082579479
Publication: August 1, 2019
Series: Bennet Brothers #1


I’m an Austen fan so you’ll probably see Austen-related titles here and there. If you’re a Pride and Prejudice fan, you may want to check out Hart’s Bennet Brothers series.  This isn’t a retelling of P&P—that’s a separate book called Pride and Papercuts—but a contemporary reimagining of the Bennet sisters as brothers, flipping genders with the exception of Elizabeth (Laney in the series).  Luke returns home after a whirlwind marriage and divorce to help revive the family business, Longbourne Flower Shop.  Luke is Lydia’s male counterpart, and this is the story of Lydia after her divorce to Wickham. 

Hart manages to remain true to Lydia’s original character.  Luke is fun, flirtatious, popular among the opposite sex, and a bit insufferable. (Sounds like Lydia, right?) Similar to Lydia, Luke is fickle in his emotions and jumps headfirst into situations without really thinking things through.  Luke is steady in his devotion once he realizes what or who he wants, and it could be argued that Lydia also has this quality—she did fall for Wickham and commit to him.  Luke puts his energy into winning over Tess, an employee of the flower shop and a former friend—yes, this is an enemies to lovers story. Unlike Lydia, Luke can recognize his foolishness and is more than willing to try to fix his wrongdoings. Luke is a more mature Lydia.

Luke is more likable than Lydia will ever be, but I never quite rooted for him—he was just okay. I would have liked a lot more bantering between Luke and Tess to build their chemistry with each other. It started to lose a bit of steam once our lead characters got together (this is both a spoiler and not a spoiler because it is a romance novel after all). I think what did it for me was that the problem that arises between our leads and its resolution is predictable.  

This is an interesting take on P&P, giving life to the other sisters, or brothers in this case. I liked the premise of the series but didn’t find this particular story to be compelling.  I liked it enough to finish reading it but it wasn’t a page-turner. If you’re a P&P fan, it is an acceptable book to pass the time, to see Hart’s take on Lydia and how Lydia potentially matures, but you’re not missing much if you pass it up.