Romance Interlude 2.7


Unexpected (2021)
by Bailey B.
ASIN/ISBN: B08KF8V9KD
Publication: February 5, 2021
Goodreads Summary
Series: N/A

One liner: Ellie/Lainey pretends to date an old friend, Asher, after her best friend, Liam, decides they should stop seeing one another because he’s in love with someone else.

I picked this up after seeing the release blitz promotion. Initially, the plot was good but the additional side plots detracted from the main story, the fake dating and the potential love triangle. I felt for the characters, especially Ellie/Lainey who was being used by someone she loved and thought loved her in return. Liam was a horrible excuse for a friend while Asher was the bad boy with a good heart. I thought there was enough of a plot present and I liked the writing enough for it to keep me invested in what was going to happen. While I understood there needed to be some kind of conflict at the end, what I thought was the the main conflict just resolved itself too easily.


Melted (2019)
by Hadley Harlin
ASIN/ISBN: B07Y5V98T8
Publication: October 8, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Cooking Up a Celebrity #2

One liner: Two celebrity chefs serve as judges on a new cooking show

This enemies-to-lovers book was good in the beginning but slowly started to lose steam as it got closer to the end. The animosity between the Hawthorne and Sophia is established quickly so when they start pulling their shenanigans while travelling and filming, it’s believable. While I liked the characters, I never quite connected to either of them as well as I hoped. They have chemistry but I’m not sure they have the chemistry that would sustain the HEA I’m supposed to believe is meant for them–the romance felt forced. The lust and hate sex made sense just not the development of their feelings.


Not Your Average Road Trip (2019)
by Cassie Mae
ASIN/ISBN: 9781101885796
Publication: August 12, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Not Your Average #2

One liner: An unplanned road trip to an audition leads to unexpected feelings between an actor and his agent.

Jace is headed to an audition that can potentially change the trajectory of his idling acting career and his agent Shay is accompanying him. It’s her fault they’ve been stranded, and partially his fault the company credit is no longer in her possession so with very little money, they keep heading to his audition because both their livelihoods depend on it. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong. The book is told entirely from Jace’s perspective. He often laments about what things would or should be like if it was an actual script being written and I found it entertaining. (I’m always thinking…if what just happened was a book this is how it would have ended…hehehe) We get to know Jace a lot better than we get to know Shay. Jace is a playboy–he refers to How I Met Your Mother and Barney throughout the book–and his work relationship with Shay is probably the longest he’s had with a woman. At first, I wasn’t a fan of Jace but I loved how he started seeing everything about Shay and liked her just the way she was. Shay’s character isn’t as developed, feeling almost like a generic character but I couldn’t help liking her. She puts up with Jace and knows how to put him in his place. I liked their relationship because they weren’t afraid to be themselves around each other.

Romance Interlude 2.6


Dirty Talk (2020)
by Ali Parker
ASIN/ISBN: B08599MMXK
Publication: February 27, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Business of Love #1

The description gives away just about every thing that happens. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if the book is able to follow through and fills it in with good details. First, I liked that Vanessa was curvy. I appreciated the plus-size representation. She starts off with low self-esteem and pretty much remains with low self-esteem all the way through. I kept waiting for her to have an epiphany that she is awesome the way she is rather than constantly thinking about how other people might see her. Then there was the radio talk show that seemed like it would play a big role but actually doesn’t. She was supposed to be a host that gave great advice but we hardly saw her in action. Additionally, there were some discrepancies in the book that confused me. Vanessa ends a chapter narrating that he doesn’t even know…O_o… but I swear she just told him a few pages ago. Then at the worst particularly moment she decided she deserved so much better than what she was getting in return. First, that needed to happen a long time ago and then I disagreed with how she handled the situation.


Boyfriend for Hire (2019)
by Kendall Ryan
ASIN/ISBN: B07H8SVQNJ
Publication: February 19, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Escorts Inc., #1

One liner: Bridesmaid falls for the date she doesn’t know the bride hired for her.

This is a trope I can’t help reading. I was waiting for the “I do everything but this” rule…and…yes, there is one. The first time I heard the “no kissing” rule in Pretty Woman it was novel, but then it popped up in a lot of different places. When it popped up here too, I couldn’t help but cringe a little but also chuckle, giving it the “I knew that was coming” side eye. Nick is pretty much perfect and Elle is the “normal” girl who doesn’t realize how great she is who gives him all the feels that he’s been waiting for that will make him consider changing his occupation. There isn’t anything particularly new here. It’s predictable and a fairly quick light read.


That Man Next Door (2017)
by Nadia Lee
ASIN/ISBN: B076J3GXYT
Publication: October 24, 2017
Goodreads Summary
Series: Sweet Darlings Inc. #1

One liner: Woman who skips out on her one night stand finds out he’s her new neighbor as well as new co-worker.

I read a previous novel by Lee that got great reviews but I didn’t really like it. I thought I’d give another of her novels a try, and I ended up liking this one a lot more. If you’re not a fan of the virgin trope, you probably won’t like this but the premise is funny. Jan Doe, yup that’s her real name, goes on one-night stands intent on losing her virginity only to freak out and leave before it happens. This isn’t the first time that it’s happened. Matt is this genuinely sweet guy who is one of her attempted one-night stands. It’s pretty funny with all the situations Jan finds herself when trying to avoid him until finally she realizes that maybe he’s more than just a one-night type of guy. There was laughing and swooning on my end too. There’s more depth to Jan’s character than is let on by the description that added to this being 3-star read rather than a 2-star. Because of her past, she feels like the odd person out in her very large extended family. She’s still trying to figure out her place in the family so while she’s comfortable in her current position in the family-owned company, it’s also clear that she could be doing more. Matt might be able to help her understand that. This was a fun read.

Romance Interlude 2.5


The Strike Out (2021)
by Meghan Quinn
ASIN/ISBN: B08RNFL4C6
Publication: January 4, 2021
Goodreads Summary
Series: Brentwood Boys (Baseball Romances)

One liner: Holt pursues Harmony but she isn’t looking for a relationship.

Harmony and Holt have such great chemistry together. As annoying as Holt was, I had to give him credit for working so hard to get Harmony to give him a chance. While their romance is the focus, I enjoyed Holt’s conversations with his dad the most. In many of the novels I’ve been reading, the leads usually have bad relationships with their parents or their parents are no longer with him so it was refreshing to read about a healthy one. It was sweet that one of the first people he wanted to talk to about Harmony was his dad. While it was a good read, there were a few things I wasn’t a fan of…like some of Holt’s tendencies. Then there were were a few things that happened closer to the end that felt like they came out of no where.


Rules of Engagement (2020)
by J.T. Geissinger
ASIN/ISBN:
Publication: January 28, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: N/A

One liner: Quarterback looking for a wife through a matchmaking service discovers his real match might be the matchmaker.

Mason needs a wife to help him clean up his image. Despite his grumpy nature, he’s a sweetheart but not many people get to see it. Maddie is the good natured matchmaker who Mason’s agent seeks out to help find a wife. She doesn’t realize Mason’s only looking for a marriage of convenience until they finally meet and, to make matters worse, there are sparks between the two. I liked Maddie more than I liked Mason because she’s so happy all the time and she loves pink–hahaha, reminds me of me. What I liked best about her was her ability to see through Mason’s prickly nature and how she would remind him what a great person he actually is. Their bantering was top notch–so fun–and they have great chemistry. Maddie’s aunt was unexpected with her talk of auras and seances. While most chapters alternate between Maddie and Mason, I liked the additional perspectives of Maddie’s aunt and Mason’s agent from time to time.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me (2016)
by Mariana Zapata
ASIN/ISBN: B01CDDTGRY
Publication: February 28, 2016
Goodreads Summary
Series: Standalone but appearances by other characters from other books

One liner: After quitting to work for herself, Vanny’s former boss shows up at her apartment asking her to come back.

Zapata has a way with slow burn romances. She makes her readers work as much as she does her characters and the ending is so satisfying. Despite her novels being tomes, I’ve never regretted picking them up. Especially with this particular book, the first 100 pages didn’t feel like it was 100 pages at all whereas I’ve read other books that make 20 pages feel like an eternity. I liked Vanny and how she was just genuinely nice despite Aiden being Aiden. What is Aiden like? He works hard but is closed off. He never greets her despite all her attempts at being nice to him. Despite living with his teammate Zac, they can’t really be called friends either. He’s a wall (physically and emotionally) and then as soon as he does something nice, I couldn’t help but swoon. Despite being over 600+ pages, I couldn’t put it down.

Romance Interlude 2.4



Happily Letter After (2020)
by Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward
ASIN/ISBN: 9781542025133
Publication: October 20, 2020
Goodreads Summary

One liner: Woman fulfills the wishes of a little girl writing to Santa Claus and falls in love with her father.

The set up is cute, and I’m a total sucker for the single parent trope but I ultimately didn’t like it as much as I hoped I would. Maybe it was all the “crazy coincidences.” I normally do not mind when there are one or two but when there are too may then it turns my brain off. A part of it was also about expectations and it was unexpected and not necessarily in the best way for me. Sadie is a likeable character, and Birdie is an adorable little girl. I liked the bond they developed. Add in Sebastian a devoted dad who puts his daughter first and we have an adorable potential family. It was a sweet story.


The Stopover (Year)
by T. L. Swan
ASIN/ISBN: B07QNKVR3N
Publication: September 26, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Miles High Club #1

One liner: A flight delay leads to a one night stand between seatmates and they meet again nearly a year later as boss and employee.

The book took off (hehe) quickly, immediately drawing me in but I became annoyed with Jim/Jay/Jamison. He’s someone who likes to be in control and wants things to go his way. When things don’t go his way, he pretty much pouts and continues to try to make things go his way anyway. He consistently ignored Emily’s protests/hesitation about certain things, and she mostly just gave in. Because Emily knows what she wants and can be assertive as well as snarky at times, Jim/Jay/Jamison is often asking her about her “b*tchy attitude.” I completely thought Emily deserved better. The book is well-paced and started out as an entertaining read but Jamison’s personality affected the experience.


Dirty Talk (2017)
by Lauren Landish
ASIN/ISBN: B078N6643J
Publication: December 26, 2017
Goodreads Summary
Series: Get Dirty #1

One liner: After phoning in to a radio show about her cheating boyfriend, Kat Snow ends up having a different kind of phone call after hours with show host Derrick King.

It’s called Dirty Talk and rightfully so. I had to fan myself a lot. WHEW!! Things get hot and heavy fast for Kat and Derrick after the initial phone call. The dirty talk is hot and the sex…yeah, that’s hot too. If you like those two things, this book is a good one to pick up BUT what I really liked about the book was it’s emphasis on communicating with your partner: talking, listening, and honesty. While I understand that romance novels (especially explicit, open door ones) are not for everyone, the book is a reminder of the many reasons that I love them. Sure, romance novels offer escape but they also provide introspection and reinforce sex positivity.

Romance Interlude 2.2

Along with Pippa Grant, Kayley Loring is quickly becoming one of my go-to romance authors. I discovered Kayley Loring last year and have been picking up her novels here and there. Fans of romance novels cannot go wrong with reading just about anything from Loring. Because the books below are not part of an official series (at least the last time I checked), I’m calling them standalone but the characters are connected to each other and make appearances. This is actually quite timely because Loring has a book coming out on January 14 for Valentine’s Day that I am really excited about, A Very Friendly Valentine’s Day (cover reveal and blurb here). I will be posting a review for that one as well. Until then, here are mini-reviews.


Sleeper (2019)
by Kayley Loring
ASIN/ISBN: B082H3TTBJ
Publication: December 12, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Standalone

One liner: Willa has had a crush on her brother’s best friend Shane since she was a kid, and she’s just been hired to be the new nanny.

Willa is smart and has always known what she wants to do. She’s also a bit eccentric, which is part of the reason why I really liked her and also part of the reason why the kids adored her. When she and Shane meet again, there is bantering and there is a whole lot of chemistry. Shane is a great dad so I had heart eyes throughout most of the book for him. While I liked the characters, what sold me on this book is the writing. One of favorite quotes of 2020 comes from this book, and it’s beautiful. I’ll repeat it here because I really want to and I’ll be repeat this some more later too. How could I not fall more in love with Shane after this quote? (Sigh…)

“I already know that every time with her, it will be perfect, but I could do a million takes and never feel like I got it just right. Because I didn’t get to be her first. Because she wasn’t my first. But if I can be her best and last, I might come close to showing her that it’s the first time that anything I’ve ever done with a woman has felt this good and real.”


Charmer (2020)
by Kayley Loring
ASIN/ISBN: B086C9587P
Publication: March 25, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Standalone

One liner: Nico has a crush on waitress Kat and asks her and her family to go on tour with him when he realizes he doesn’t want to be away from her that long.

Charmer didn’t appeal to me in the same way as Sleeper did. I liked it, but not nearly as much. While I liked both Nico and Kat, I felt like I knew him better as a character than I did Kat. I didn’t seem to connect with their romance as much either, maybe because I kept comparing him to Shane. I know it’s unfair to Nico’s character but Shane is a lot to live up to (please see quote above for reference…hahaha). Nico is still a sweetheart though. Grammie, who also makes an appearance in Sleeper, is awesome! I love her! My favorite aspect of Charmer is probably the video diaries. I like these a lot more than the journals being kept, even those in Sleeper.


Troublemaker (2020)
by Kayley Loring
ASIN/ISBN: B08CTHDLQ3
Publication: August 13, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Standalone

One liner: Emilia finds out that the man she had a sparks with at a club and can’t stop thinking about is actually the father of one of her current students.

Before I begin, please see the quote above from Sleeper again. Please understand that this mini-review, like the one for Charmer, was also influenced by how much I enjoyed Sleeper (hehehe). I read them one after the other so that couldn’t be helped. I would rank Troublemaker to be on par with Charmer in terms of how much I enjoyed the story, but probably a little better. After reading the first two, this one was a bit of fresh air. Putting aside the whole famous director thing, I found this book to have the more realistic relationship, with adults trying to navigate an adult relationship rather than immediate sweeping off of feet. Alex’s son was pretty adorable as well. The best part is that Grammie and her awesomeness make an appearance.

Romance Interlude 2.1

Happy New Year!! Here is the first interlude of the year. I contemplated posting last Saturday but was unable to review appropriately until this week. First, it seemed like 2020 would never end and then all of a sudden it was already 2021.


RomeAntically Challenged (2020)
by Marina Adair
ISBN: 9781496727664
Publication: July 28, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: When in Rome #1

One liner: Annie takes a job in Rome and gets a surprise when the owner of her rental unexpectedly returns.

There are multiple layers to the book that I did not expect. Annie is adopted and struggles in this in-between place, wondering where she belongs. Her adoptive parents are white but she is Asian, specifically Vietnamese. While I also struggle with feelings of belonging, I balance a different in-between. As a child of the refugees, I struggle with being enough–Hmong/Asian enough and American enough. Annie’s struggle resonated with me. The book is also largely about a father who doesn’t feel like he quite belongs in his makeshift family. He shares the privilege of fatherhood with two other individuals, his best friend and his daughter’s stepfather. Here are two individuals with different struggles, both trying to figure out where they belong and finding love along the way. Despite so many different things going on, the book never feels like it takes too much on its shoulders and provides a good balance. I enjoyed it.


Love on the Ropes (2020)
by Aviva Vaughn
ISBN: 9781947420205
Publication: September 25, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Love in Action #1

One liner: One-sided work crushes end up being not so one-sided during a work retreat.

I picked up the book because the beginning hooked me. I needed to know why Clint was sitting in his car spying on Erin, wondering if Erin had moved on, and why he thought it might be too late for them. It was a somewhat sweet romance between two coworkers who were attracted to each other but I struggled with how much I liked this book. Half of the book takes place during a work retreat involving a ropes course and building team work while the other half is back at their work place. Their relationship was a bit of a slow burn, which I didn’t mind but I disliked the lack of communication and secrets. I did like Vaughn’s writing and will definitely pick up her other books but the ending was just so-so. I liked that Clint wasn’t an alpha male and how he was a bit flustered to be around Erin. It was cute.


IOU: A Romantic Comedy (2020)
by Kristy Marie
ASIN: B087WJKCG3
Publication: April 29, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Standalone but interconnected

One liner: After walking in on her cheating boyfriend and former friend/roommate, Ainsley James seeks out Maverick Lexington for a favor.

Sure, rumors are that Ainsley James is crazy but who wouldn’t be after coming home to find the two people you trust stabbing you in the back? I completely understood why she did what she did and loved that the book started with a bang…well, with flames (heh). I liked how feisty Ainsley was. Maverick grew on after I realized he wasn’t all that he seemed. My favorite part is when Ainsley goes back to her apartment to get her stuff and she takes the bread. She bought it so she’s taking it. Petty? Yeah. But I’d do the same thing if I was the one who bought the bread! I’m now sorry that I kept passing on this book when it constantly appeared as a recommended read.


Thrive (2020)
by Shain Rose
ISBN: 9780062672124
Publication: December 2, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Stonewood Brothers #3

One liner: Close friends realize they may be more than friends but different hurdles need to be overcome before they can be together.

I was hooked as soon as I started reading it. Rose quickly establishes the relationship between Jay and Mikka, and the attraction they have for one another despite both clearly trying to maintain they are just friends. I try to stay away from certain content but it wasn’t clear until a bit later into the book that an abusive relationship is one of the obstacles Jay and Mikka’s friendship has to overcome. Rose portrays what happens in an abusive relationship very well. She compares it to having an addiction, and I think in many ways she’s right. There’s the belief that it’s just a one-time thing and wanting to stop and leave but being afraid or believing it won’t happen again. One of the highlights of the novel is side character Lorraine, the owner of the bed and breakfast Mikka and Jay stay at. She tells it like it is and, like Mikka, I loved her all the more for it. This was nearly a 5-star read for me but I didn’t like Mikka’s back and forth on the status of her relationship with Jay. Additionally, I wasn’t quite sold on the ending. Overall, I liked the book and look forward to reading more by Rose. (Content Warning: It’s not immediately clear from the synopsis but there is an abusive relationship that is central to the story as well as drug addiction.)

10 Rules for Faking It (2020)

by Sophie Sullivan
ISBN: 9781250624161
Publication: December 29, 2020
Series: N/A


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

After Everly accidentally spills that her boyfriend cheated on her to thousands of listeners, she creates a list to help her win at life, or at least to help her fake it. At the same time, her boss Chris also comes up with a contest to help her find love…and to help keep her job, of course.

Grab the book for the romance and one of the sweetest, most understanding love interests readers will find (trust me when I say I can go on and on about him) but stay for Everly’s journey as she tests her boundaries and learns to accept herself for who she is. This is what will have readers connecting with and rooting for her as well as her courage to step out of her comfort zone, to stand up for herself, and ultimately recognizing she doesn’t need to be like everyone else.

It does get frustrating wondering if our leads will get together. There is quite a bit of internal dialogue from both of them about whether the other person could ever feel the same as well as denying their own feelings. Initially, it induced all these butterflies in my stomach but the butterflies started to disappear when the back and forth went on too long. However, there were still enough butterflies left over for me to enjoy the book. Overall, it’s a great read to start the new year with.

Fairy Godmothers, Inc (2020)

by Saranna DeWylde
ISBN: 9781420153149
Publication: December 29, 2020
Series: Fairy Godmothers, Inc. #1


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

Fairy Godmothers, Inc. is a cross between the movie Enchanted (fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously) and television series Once Upon a Time (beloved characters in the middle of somewhere no one really knows). Our fairy tale characters are real, and they live in a town in Missouri called Ever After. With magic depleting, a plan is hatched by three fairy godmothers to replenish it by having their godchildren, Lucky and Ransom, pretend to marry one another as a publicity stunt. Love increases magic so maybe having a fairy tale wedding will increase the number of weddings booked at the castle.

With this being the first in what looks to be a series with the same name, our fake bride Lucky and fake groom Ransom have to split the story to their “happily ever after” with introducing readers to the town and its cast of characters. Lucky has a particularly interesting backstory but it isn’t until halfway through the book that we get to learn more about her. I really wish more time had been spent on it. There’s an additional reveal that happens in the story closer to the end that I did not think was necessary to the story.

Overall, the book is entertaining, and Lucky and Ransom’s road to forever is pretty hilarious. This is a 3.5 star read for me. I liked the overall premise of the series (4 stars) but everything happened so quickly I didn’t get to spend time with our main couple as much as I wanted (3 stars).