Twisted Love (2021)

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

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DESCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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


Coming Soon!
Twisted Games #2
Releasing July 29
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EXCERPT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it was hard.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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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.**

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

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

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

My One Night (2021)

by Carrie Ann Ryan
ASIN/ISBN: 9781950443116
Publication: April 13, 2021
Series: On My Own #1

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A one-night stand is supposed to end once the sun rises. Only it doesn’t always work out that way.

I never expected this.
I didn’t want to go to another fraternity party, but when my friend pulls me in, I somehow find myself hiding in a corner with…him.
Dillon Connolly.
The smirking, so-called good guy with the shadows in his eyes.
A single glance, a sweet smile, and I let myself have one night of giving in.

I never expected her.
Elise Hoover haunts my dreams more than I care to admit. I never thought I stood a chance—until she said yes. 
When a single night turns to two, I know I’m in over my head, but somehow, she makes me believe I can have anything.
Until the sun rises, and my past along with it.
I know I don’t deserve her, but now I have to fight to keep her…or save her from myself.


On My Own Series
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Prequel: Out now
#2: June 8
#3: Sept 7
#4: Dec 7

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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REVIEW

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

Like the first book I read by Ryan, I was excited to read it because the book description was interesting. There are positive aspects to the novel, but I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted. Unfortunately, I don’t think I click very well with Ryan’s writing style, which is more a preference on my part.

The aspect I enjoyed the most was the strength of familial bonds, at least for Dillon’s family. The love the brothers had for one another was apparent and they took care of each other–Dillon never had to go it alone even if he felt like he needed to. It was nice to see he had a strong support system. Elise’s parents, on the other hand, were overbearing. I didn’t care for them very much about them when I was introduced to them. Families can be complicated, and we see just how much as the story moves forward.

I wasn’t really invested in Dillon and Elise’s relationship. The foundation for their relationship is a trope I enjoy but it never quite formed into a solid relationship for me. While it may have started as a one night stand, it eventually led to something more, but I didn’t feel a connection between them. I was told there was a connection and Elise and Dillon both voiced it but I never felt like they actually loved each other. Conversations between Elise and Dillon and even those with their friends often felt formal, sometimes even a bit stilted, and I think this added to me not being able to connect with their relationship as much as I would have liked.

While I may not have connected with the leads, those looking for new adult reads about young love and the angst that comes with it may enjoy the novel.

**Thank you to the author for providing print copy**

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.


Sweethand (2021)

by N.G. Peltier
ASN/ISBN: B08GV497WC
Publication: March 30, 2021
Series: Island Bites #1

(Review at the End)

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DESCRIPTION

After a public meltdown over her breakup from her cheating musician boyfriend, Cherisse swore off guys in the music industry, and dating in general for a while, preferring to focus on growing her pastry chef business.

When Cherisse’s younger sister reveals she’s getting married in a few months, Cherisse hopes that will distract her mother enough to quit harassing her about finding a guy, settling down and having kids. But her mother’s matchmaking keeps intensifying.

Cherisse tries to humour her mother, hoping if she feigns interest in the eligible bachelors she keeps tossing her way, she’ll be off the hook, but things don’t quite go as planned. Turns out for the first time in ages, she and Keiran King, the most annoying man ever, are on the island at the same time. Avoiding him is impossible, especially when Keiran’s close friend is the one marrying her sister, and he’s the best man to her maid of honour.

Keiran doesn’t know what to make of Cherisse now. They’ve always butted heads. To him she’s always been a stuck-up brat who seeks attention, even while he secretly harbored a crush on her. Now with Cherisse’s sister marrying one of his good friends he can’t escape her as the wedding activities keep throwing them together.

When things turn heated after a rainy night of bedroom fun, they both have to figure out if they can survive the countdown to wedding day, without this turning into a recipe for disaster.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

N.G. Peltier is an anime watching, book reading, video-game playing, story writing kinda girl.

A devourer of words and books from a young age, she enjoys writing romance and creeping people out with the Caribbean folklore stories she grew up hearing.

A Trinidadian born and raised, she currently lives in Trinidad with her mountain of ideas and characters battling each other for whose story get told next.

She is represented by Lauren Abramo of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC

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REVIEW

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

First, let’s admire the cover. I adore it so very much! I love the color scheme with the warm tones giving off such a cozy, homey feeling. It’s reminiscent of one of my other favorite covers, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, which exudes similar feelings but with a bit cooler tone. Just in case it wasn’t enough that Cherisse is a baker and bakes so many delicious goodies, the cover also made me crave tangerines and sherbert. (Yes, food is always on my mind.)

Did what was on the inside live up to the beauty of the outside? Yes, for the most part it does. I enjoyed the novel and liked both lead characters.

Cherisse is confident and advocates for herself. She’s smart and knows her worth so when someone like Keiran tries to minimize who she is and what she does, she is more than willing to kill with kindness. Keiran is musically talented (for the most part) and petty too. He’s a genuinely nice guy, but just not to Cherisse. This is a classic case of two nice people (friends swear they’re both great individuals) who just can’t seem to be nice to each other. For some reason, they bring out the worst in one another, and, luckily for us, we get to read about their evolution from hate to love. Being forced to work together on the wedding festivities puts them in close proximity (squee!), and they slowly, although somewhat begrudgingly, overcome their misconceptions of each other. Overcoming one’s biases is a consistent theme in the book, and Cherisse and Keiran’s evolving relationship portrays it well.

I enjoyed the antics and the development of their relationship up until nearly the end. Everything was going well until the third act conflict hit. It didn’t seem like such an overwhelming obstacle but maybe to Cherisse’s character it is. I was hoping for something just a bit…more. The solution was cute, but it was also swift and led to an abrupt ending. Also, I never used to care about epilogues but, darn it, I think I’ve gotten so spoiled with the prevalence of epilogues in romance novels that I was extremely sad there wasn’t one in here. It would have helped with the book’s ending because I really really want to know what happens next in their relationship.

There were a few things I could see coming from pages away but it did not mean I enjoyed the book any less. It was nice to bask in the feelings those moments evoked because Cherisse and Keiran had great banter often followed by inner turmoil over what they were feeling toward one another. There were a few subplots I wanted more about. They served their purpose to push the romance along but then I kept wondering what happened next. Since this is just the first book in the series, maybe I can get some closure in the next book even if it’s a quick throwaway to say this is what happened with that thing that happened in the first book.

Overall, it was a good read. If you’re an enemies-to-lovers fan, this book will hit the right spots.

Accidentally Engaged (2021)

by Farah Heron
ASN/ISBN: 9781538734988
Publication: March 2, 2021


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

Reena is adamant about not marrying someone her parents choose for her. Then she meets the hot guy who just moved across the hall from her. Unfortunately, Reena finds out Nadim not only works for her dad, but he’s also the guy she’s supposed to marry. She tries to remain steadfast in her resolve to stay away from him, inadvertently preventing herself from recognizing the sparks they have. Their relationship only becomes more complicated after they pretend to be engaged so Reena can enter a cooking contest.

The book has this almost languid, easy-going flow to it, and the characters never feel like they’re in a rush, so I never felt like I needed to rush through the book either. It was nice to not feel compelled to devour it one sitting even though that’s ultimately what I ended up doing because it was my choice (or so I tell myself). It flows so well that I slipped into Reena’s life with ease. No sooner had I begun the book than I immediately connected with Reena; she felt like a friend. She’s hypercritical of herself, mostly because her siblings are doing seemingly well even after certain setbacks in their lives (except for her perfect brother who’s never had a setback of course). On top of that, her parents can’t help but also poke at what she already sees as flaws in herself. Despite this, she still has this easy-going attitude. Her desire to find lasting love and pursue her dreams also made her someone easy to identify with.

My favorite part is when Reena asks Nadim to take care of Brian, her sourdough starter. When she returns, what happens after is pretty funny and showcases just how nice a guy Nadim is. Nadim is extremely likeable–mostly. He has such a sweet and playful disposition it almost feels like he doesn’t know how to yell at anyone. He’s also funny and, more importantly, he respects her and supports her dreams (swoon). Heron does a superb job of building chemistry between Reena and Nadim (they have a lot of it).

I thoroughly enjoyed Accidentally Engaged. The romance is light and Reena and Nadim have so much chemistry (did I already mention that?). I recommend it for those looking for a friends-to-lovers/relationship of convenience rom-com full of heart and good food–you’ll need to have munchies on hand or you’ll have to stop reading to go in search of some. Despite knowing the leads pretend to be engaged to enter a cooking contest, I don’t know why I was unprepared for the amount of cooking and baking. I was reading this in the middle of the night while craving for bread, cheese, samosas, and anything that showed up in the book. You have been warned.

Yes & I Love You (2021)

by Roni Loren
ASN/ISBN: 9781728229614
Publication: March 2, 2021
Series: Say Everything #1


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

Being bullied in school and living with a neurological disorder has rendered Hollyn Tate with a lack of confidence and severe anxiety in the presence of strangers, preventing her from meeting new people and making meaningful relationships outside of her existing ones. This all begins to change when Jasper Deares, the new hire at WorkAround’s cafe, enters the picture. Jasper is an aspiring actor who needs help with his career endeavors. When Hollyn’s boss requires her to start putting videos on her popular blog or risk losing her job, Jasper might just be the person she needs.

Yes & I Love You is a light romance with flawed characters and an abundance of positive messages to live by. Hollyn’s blogging allows her to do what she loves, giving her a platform to showcase how smart and witty she is but it also protects her from interacting with people. She needs an extra push to find her voice outside of her very popular online persona Miz Poppy. While she would like to meet people and be “normal,” her social anxiety and her self-consciousness over having Tourette’s serve as barriers. Jasper is a nice, aspiring actor looking for his big break. He has a strong tendency to want people to like him, a disposition he attributes to being a foster child, and he also has ADHD. He gives off the perception that he doesn’t have his life together, and to an extent, he doesn’t, but he is doing what he loves, so what “together” means can be subjective here as well as what “normal” actually is. Despite a disastrous beginning, their relationship is one filled with positive reinforcement. I loved the positive messages relayed throughout their relationship with each other–messages I needed to also hear.

I appreciated the neuro-diverse representation. While I can’t speak to how authentic the Tourette’s representation is, the depiction of social anxiety is done fairly well. Different people will have different experiences and symptoms, but I was able to relate to some of what Hollyn experienced. While improv might not be the solution for everyone, and it doesn’t necessarily “solve” Hollyn’s social anxiety nor is it meant to, it does help push her to take small steps to become more comfortable with who she is around strangers. Little steps and a willingness to try, along with people who support you, can help make a difference.

While I enjoyed the book, it would have been nice to see more of Hollyn’s relationships outside of Jasper. For instance, I wanted more of Andi, the talkative podcaster who researches serials killers in an office close to Hollyn. (The next book is her book) At one point, a girl’s night is planned, and then it never comes to fruition on the page nor do I hear about it again. I liked Fritz, Jasper’s friend, and it would have been nice to see a potential friendship established there as well.

Overall, this was an enjoyable romance. I was rooting for Hollyn and cheered when she made the first positive steps toward creating the connections she was looking for and the life she wants.

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)

Free in Kindle Unlimited
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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)

Free in Kindle Unlimited
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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)

Free in Kindle Unlimited
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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)

Free in Kindle Unlimited
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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.

The Knockout Rule (2021)

by Kelly Siskind
ASN/ISBN: 9781988937168
Publication: February 24, 2021
Series: Showmen Series (they’re all standalones though)


**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.** (I liked it so much I couldn’t help but buy a print copy of the book…just saying.)

For the first time in a long time, Eric finally feels seen by someone outside of his family. His temporary physiotherapist Isla loves poetry and sees him as the linguist he is, not just his boxer persona Brick Smash. She likes his intellect a lot more than what he does in the boxing ring. Because Eric doesn’t know if she likes him, he’s been hesitant to do anything about his feelings. Unfortunately, his manager and friend Preston is interested in her too. Eric winds up caught in the middle when Preston suddenly asks him for help “wooing her.” Because the book alternates between the leads, it’s pretty clear who Isla likes, but choosing him goes against what she believes in. Isla struggles with trying to figure out what she should do: give in to her feelings or give in to her feelings. Sometimes, it’s not your head at war with your heart, but your feelings at war with each other.

I was excited to read The Knockout Rule and didn’t realize it was the fourth in the Showmen series until about halfway through. I hadn’t connected well with the female lead in the prior book The Beat Match, so I’m glad I didn’t have that hanging over me, potentially biasing how I might have perceived this book early on. You do not need to have read any of the other books because they are all standalones. The Knockout Rule was completely unexpected and comes close to being a 5-star read for me.

Within the first few pages, I knew I would like Isla. She’s smart, witty, and funny. Like Isla, I was unsure about what to expect of Eric so was surprised to find out he was more than his boxing persona. He is a linguist–my cousin who is also linguist said I have to let you all know that Eric is a master of tongues (heh…linguists are great wingmen/wingwomen for each other)–and enjoys poetry. While he may have enjoyed boxing once, he now does it solely to help his family with their financial struggles. Eric and Isla are moderately complex characters with compelling backstories making it all the easier to root for them to find the ending I was hoping for.

While I’ve never seen Cyrano de Bergerac, I’ve read enough about it to feel like I have. (Quick summary: Two men in love with the same women but one has a large nose so he is self-conscious about. He writes love letters for the other guy to woo her.) I can’t help but jump at any opportunity when this is the leading trope in a novel. Eric’s role as Cyrano doesn’t get as much page time as I hoped, with Preston only popping up when seemingly convenient to move the story forward and disappearing just as quickly. Although I was disappointed by this eventual revelation, the play at least stays relevant in that Cyrano’s nose, here Eric’s boxing, is actually the bigger barrier. The potential for romance between our leads is complicated by this fact. In the beginning, I wondered how Siskind might work this out when Eric’s life revolved around boxing, and Isla was determined to root it out of her life. Ultimately the solution is one that Siskind set up rather well, maybe even a little too easily.

The central romance is a lot of fun with leads who somewhat become friends before they become lovers. However, it’s hard to say whether they were ever really friends in the first place because the chemistry is nearly always present and both recognize the possibility of feelings beyond friendship almost right away. As noted by a review on Chonky Books (it’s a really great review so should also check it out), some of it is fueled by lust and I agree. They do, however, still have enough of a connection that it’s easy to see the jump into what both claim is love. And Eric in love…some of the words out of his mouth made me melt. Eric and Isla are at ease with one another, and their shared love of poetry make them compatible partners who not only appreciate one another’s physical attributes but also their intellectual ones as well.

This leads into what was probably my favorite attribute of this entire book. Siskind successfully wooed me with the written word. I’ve gone back to read my abundance of highlights a few times over, always pausing momentarily to soak in the words, to ruminate in the feelings they evoke. Then there are the poems Siskind includes that are so simple yet feel so profound. At times I was elated, and other times I was left bereft. In this way, this book was also unexpected. I need more poets in my romance novels if it will always be like this.

Original Photo by Enache Georgiana on Unsplash

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.

Love at First (2021)

by Kate Clayborn
ASN/ISBN: 9781496725196
Publication: February 23, 2021


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

After inheriting his estranged uncle’s apartment, Will returns to the apartment and unexpectedly meets Nora, the girl he saw only once but never stopped thinking about. Will doesn’t understand why his uncle would leave him the apartment and immediately makes it clear that he has no plans to live there, instead opting to turn it into a vacation rental. Nora and the rest of the building residents are vehemently against this, so Will finds himself at odds with the girl he never forgot. Despite their feud, Nora and Will are constantly thinking about the other as well as hoping to catch a glimpse of the other.

I’d been reading so many books where things between the leads get hot and heavy fast, where emotions (and limbs) just fling off the pages, that I’d forgotten what a slow, subtle romance could do, what it could feel like. It didn’t immediately take hold of me, and my interest may have waned a bit in the beginning, but then I began to fall into its rhythm–slow and steady. Rather than an onslaught of passion, it was whispers of attraction. It was the little things Will and Nora noticed about one another–a thumb silently rubbing a palm, the pink indentations from wearing glasses–that slowly seeped its way in. Before I knew it, I was smiling, and then there were flutters, the zings appearing and multiplying as Will and Nora gravitated toward one another despite their current predicament. The book left a lasting impression, one filled with a long sigh of contentment.

This is a slow read, but one that is so good. If you have the patience and the time, you’ll be rewarded with a quiet romance filled with quirky side characters–Dr. Gerald Abraham was my absolute favorite. The story alternates between Will and Nora so you know exactly how they feel about one another, how each struggles with their feelings, and why the problem isn’t necessarily one easily contributed to just communication. They’re both still processing grief in their own ways. Nora is protective of her found family but also resistant to change. Will hides his wounds and is hesitant to start a relationship despite how attracted he is to Nora. There are things each has to work through before they can decide what the next step is. Clayborn’s beautiful prose provides us a snapshot into their lives and I am so glad got to read it.