When Sparks Fly (2021)

by Helena Hunting
ASIN/ISBN: 9781250624703
Publication: September 21, 2021

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

With a title like When Sparks Fly, I expected sparks and passion between main characters Avery and Declan, but there were fewer than I hoped. It’s a good book, and there’s nothing inherently bad about it, we (the book and I) just didn’t have the kind of sparks I expected.

Best friends Declan and Avery navigate their changing relationship after an accident leaves Avery dependent on Declan and brings the two closer in proximity than usual. I adored their relationship right away because they were completely attuned to each other, as best friends usually are, from sharing a love of sports to knowing one another’s favorite foods. Although both have firmly friend-zoned each other, stolen glances suggest the lines aren’t as rigid as they appear to be. Had it not been for the hints of long-buried attraction, I would have been perfectly fine with their relationship remaining platonic. Avery is very much “one of the guys” and doesn’t stereotypically abhor anything feminine. Being “one of the guys” and getting one’s nails done are not mutually exclusive, so it was very much appreciated to see the stereotype rebutted here. Declan is a playboy and has never had any meaningful female relationships, his relationship with Avery being an exception. Aside from his playboy ways, he’s caring and loyal to the people in his life, except when he isn’t, and Avery gets into a car accident. Because of his immense guilt and, of course, affection for his best friend, he steps in as her caretaker. It’s the perfect setup for friends to become lovers.

The romance was a little disappointing. The sexual tension begins building after Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, but the sparks don’t turn into fireworks. I was hoping for something fierier than what I got, which is not what I am used to with Hunting. Romances in her previous books I liked always had some amount of longing that helped to bolster the impending romance. When the couple finally got to together, there was a sigh of satisfaction. The romance here is more slow than slow burn. When they finally got together, there lacked emotional fanfare, and I produced a sigh of relief–“took long enough” as opposed to a contented “finally.” The slow nature of their relationship might be a product of their friendship and their experiences with relationships, but I don’t know if I can believe that transitioning from friends to lovers would feel as uneventful.

From a technical standpoint, all the events of the book fall in line with each other. It’s planned well with nearly flawless execution. Similar to Hunting’s other books, it all leads to a logical conclusion, even if there are surprises along the way. I’ve come to appreciate this about Hunting’s writing, and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy her books so much. From an affective standpoint, this particular book lacked the romantic tension and the emotional entanglements I often look forward to. Sometimes it was difficult to get through because the pacing varied. It took me a long time to make it halfway and once I did, I wasn’t sure if I would make it to the end. The ending itself is sweet, but it also continued far longer than I expected.

**Sidenote: I’ve never heard of hobbyhorse but I had an inkling from the description of what it might be. I watched some videos on YouTube and the individuals are agile and jump so friggin’ high! I surely would not be able to do what they do. They prance and jump these things that are nearly as tall as they are. I don’t know how these people do it.

Good Luck Charm (2018)

by Helena Hunting
ISBN: 9781538760154
Publication: August 7, 2018

One of the most difficult parts of second chance romances is how the feelings you used to have betray you when you see one another again. It’s over, maybe it’s been a long time or maybe it was just moments ago, yet just the sight of the other person can stir your heart, your memories. Unbidden. Ethan and Lilah are caught in this position when, after eight years, they finally see one another again. When they broke up, it wasn’t because love disappeared. It was due to circumstances. He was away at college and headed for a professional hockey career, and she was still trying to finish high school to be with him. He was an ass and broke up with her over the phone–yes, that needed to be said–then ceased speaking to her again. Even after eight years, no one else has ever fit, or felt, quite right. This is their potential second chance.

When I first read Good Luck Charm, I was disappointed because I disliked the trajectory of the storyline. The romantic tension was immediate, and it was obvious feelings were still there. They moved on with their lives or at least tried, but a single touch was still enough to ignite a spark.  I wanted more of the chase, a lot more groveling, and then a happily ever after that made up for a failed first time. I got one out of the three. At first, it was infuriating on my part. I wanted him to suffer some more but what was the use of the chase and groveling if she already knew she still loved him–to have him suffer of course, but she loved him enough not to do that. Argh! I couldn’t stop thinking about the book. It was as though I didn’t really give it a chance to be better.

A few days ago, I gave Good Luck Charm a second chance, and I was well-rewarded this time around. Because I was wrapped up with what I didn’t get, there were things I missed that I caught this time, moments that hadn’t stuck out to me before. I better understood Lilah’s mixed emotions and her struggles as well as her concerns over her new relationship with Ethan. The story isn’t just about getting a second chance but ensuring the second chance would work. The HEA here required more time to work toward because second chances carry with it new and old fears, new and old expectations. For their love to win, Ethan and Lilah would have to face each of this head-on. They needed to work through the problems that could lead to their eventual downfall if not heeded early on. Although Hunting didn’t give me more groveling, she provided patience and understanding. She provided maturity and well-needed introspection.

I enjoyed Good Luck Charm much more this time, changing it from 3 stars to 4 stars. Like Ethan and Lilah, it wasn’t about my lack of affection for the book; that was very much present even if I didn’t realize it. I had a chance to set aside elements I wanted in a second chance romance, choosing to look at the pieces already there, and watched as they fell into place. Did I wish the chase was longer? Yes. Did I still want more groveling? Yes. But, I was also able to appreciate it for its own merit. Some books deserve second chances; I’m glad I gave a second chance to this second chance romance.

Meet Cute (2019)

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


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

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

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

Romance Interlude 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.