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The Kissing Game

(Marie Harte Seattle Contemporary Romance #18)

2.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,815 ratings  ·  359 reviews
"I bet you a kiss you can't resist me."

Game on

Rena Jackson is ready. She's worked her tail off to open up her own hair salon, and she's almost ready to quit her job at the dive bar. Rena's also a diehard romantic, and she's had her eye on Axel Heller for a while. He's got that tall-brooding-and-handsome thing going big-time. Problem is, he's got that buttoned-up Germanic
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
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Average rating 2.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,815 ratings  ·  359 reviews

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Nilufer Ozmekik
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I literally danced, screamed and somersaulted (at least five times) with the positive energy to get an Arc Copy of romance story. But as soon as I gave a second glimpse to the blurb and read loudly about the definition of our hero: tall-dark-handsome with pale skin and blonde hair German, I rubbed my eyes several times and I thought maybe I over exaggerated my wine o’clock time but no it is still 5 p.m and I was still nursing my sixth cup of coffee (Yes! Sooner I was about to tear my clothes and ...more
Aug 20, 2019 marked it as to-read
I can't BELIEVE this book synopsis called this dude "tall dark and handsome" with pale skin and blonde hair. Where is this dark you speak of? Where is it?? ...more
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Feb 06, 2020 marked it as did-not-finish
DNF @ 20%: Unfortunately, this was a DNF for me. I really didn't like either of the characters and I found the writing to be extremely cringey and unrealistic. This was just very much not for me. ...more
Nov 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book tries to jump on the “diversity” bandwagon and fails in every sense. It’s a textbook case of white people trying to write POC and flailing. This book needed a sensitivity reader.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bwwm-interracial

𝗟𝗘𝗔𝗦𝗧 𝗙𝗔𝗩𝗢𝗨𝗥𝗜𝗧𝗘 𝗖𝗛𝗔𝗥𝗔𝗖𝗧𝗘𝗥𝗦: the white supremacists
𝗙𝗔𝗩𝗢𝗨𝗥𝗜𝗧𝗘 𝗔𝗦𝗣𝗘𝗖𝗧𝗦: The chemistry between the characters and trying to woo her.

LEAST FAVOURITE 𝗔𝗦𝗣𝗘𝗖𝗧𝗦: The rest of the book. The heroine was being terrorized by actual white supremacists who were also actively trying to recruit her blond haired, blue eyes love interest. To make matters worse, we discovered, the ring leader of the racist group has some kind
DNF at 36%

I got sucked in by that adorable cover and the synopsis promising a fun sounding, banter filled story. Sadly it didn’t come close to delivering.

I didn’t care for either of the characters. Rena and Axel both waiver so much and often to the extreme. She will be enjoying a conversation with him and then immediately think about how she wants kids and decides he’s not The One. This was on the first date. He’s prone to saying random words in German and storming off. Together there’s absolut
And the award for the most falsely advertised novel of the year goes to... The Kissing Game!

The cover says chick lit and implies diversity so, I'll tackle those two things first.

This is not chick lit. If you want a better idea of the type of ‘romance’ the book is, check out Harte’s other title covers. They all suit. This book doesn’t say it’s part of Body Shop Bad Boy or Power Up! series (oh dear) but, apparently, the same characters appear and they’re all the series are connected somewhere alo
Bonnie Wells
Feb 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arc
the stray cat and dog were the best part of this book

i don't even know where to start. first of all, this came with zero indication, until i started it, that this was set in the same world as other books by this author, because it was immediately clear upon the many, many, (so many i could not keep up) family/friends of the main characters we are introduced to that these are characters already met in other books. it didn't make the book unreadable, just the sense of missing out on something and
Steph's Romance Book Talk
DNF @32% / 1 Stars / 0 Steam Fans

DUMPSTER FIRE TRASH!! Why was this book even released! The author did zero research, had zero cultural sensitivity readers, and is living in a bubble of WHITE PRIVILEGE. I took an entire week to think about what I wanted to say in this review, and I am still speechless by how much I hated this book. Rena and Axel have a secret attraction, but they are both fighting getting together because they feel they are two different from each other.

Video review available
Feb 10, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Literally no one
TW: Rape (briefly mentioned), sexual harassment, and racism.

Sometimes clown energy catches up to me and I read books without checking out GR ratings. I wish I had known about this book before being lead astray by the cute cover.

My main issue with this book (and there are plenty) is that it was deemed appropriate to include white supremacists as the main issue involving a Black woman and a German man!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT????? Rena is Black and has to deal with a white supremacist coming into her
Mindy Lou's Book Review
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I've been following along with these families and friends for a while now. I'm the kind of reader who loves when characters constantly show up in book after book, so I can easily say that I really enjoyed seeing everyone again.

I've gotten to know both Rena and Axel as side characters. I'm always amazed how different a side character from a previous book can be once they become a main character. Axel was a very good surprise. I adored him in this book.

You get a lot of Axel's pov. The way he fee
Lana لانا  (Bibliomedico)
I have read this book as a standalone ( Without reading any of Marie Hart previous books ) , Maybe that's the reason , I actually didn't enjoy this story at all , I was super confused most of the time.

There weren't many character explanation, even for the main characters .

If you haven't read the previous books in the series , personally , I don't recommend reading this one alone .

Axel and Rena love story was OK , not fascinating , didn't enjoy their scenes that much .
For Me , The best thing abou
Amber Medley
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
This really wasn't it for me. I didn't like the set up or way they went into this relationship. I really couldn't get with the writing. The diversity seemed forced, inauthentic, and clearly written by someone that isn't actually ... aware of the represented communities. I found this utterly forgettable which is unfortunate ...more
'The Kissing Game' just didn't work out for me at all, made all the more so disappointing because of a lively blurb and a promising plot of two pining individuals who just couldn't quite get their game up. 

But it was precisely this that got the ball rolling too slowly, with German phrases tucked neatly into every conversation Axel had with people and we're talking a hell lot of supporting cast members, their names and their relations and their quirks to grace the pages from the very start. 

It wa
3.5 stars

If you have read Marie Harte’s McCauley Brothers and Body Shop Bad Boys series, then you know that this book is a long time coming. Readers have been begging for Rena to get a book and now that she finally got one, I couldn’t be happier.

I had some high expectations with this book because I was such a big fan of the original McCauley Brothers series. I really felt like Harte was able to capture a lot of the same elements of that series, but also give Rena her own story that was uniq
Ivy Deluca
Feb 10, 2020 marked it as dnf
Unfortunately, this is a tale of a blurb gone wrong. I'm all for the nerdylove vibes. I'm all for awkward hero crushing on heroine. But the book that I actually read? Did not match this at all. Between the physical descriptions being off (way off) and a story that centers on racism yet advertised as a rom-com, and doing it all poorly, it just fell flat.

I had heard that the blurb didn't match the book, but in the interest of due diligence and looking into it myself, I did read to about 30% or so
Feb 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance, quick-reads
"I bet you a kiss you can’t resist me.”

I really adored the start of this! It was super cute, but the second half kinda let me down. I was expecting more to the actual kissing game, but it was such a tiny part of the book.

Our heroine, Rena is a romance lover and is dreaming of her happily ever after, so she pushes Axel away because she doesn't think he's serious about her. Axel is this big, scary german guy who is not great at comminicating and has been crushing on Rena for nearly a year, so he
Jan 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book is advertized as being a standalone, but I quickly realized it had to be a sequel of sorts, because it referred to a whole cast of characters as if they'd already been introduced. This was very confusing at first and it made it a little difficult to get into the book. As a rule, I try not to read series out of order, so I didn't appreciate this.

While there were aspects of this book that I enjoyed, the interactions between the two MCs just filled me with secondhand embarrassment, they f
Tiffany PSquared
Have you ever just wanted to write a one-word review? I often wonder if my conscience would allow me to do it. If it did, my review for The Kissing Game would be: meh.

I had no preconceived notions going into this cute-covered romance. It's my first by this author, so I had no idea what to expect or what I'd be getting into.

Turns out, although the premise was entirely appealing, the actual story was less than it had the potential to be. However, if you are looking for a quick, VDay-themed, sexy-i
Cassidy Steinke
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
The writing was so awkward and the characters not likable. I found myself wincing at a lot of the things that came out of Axel's mouth. No thank you. ...more
Mar 27, 2020 marked it as nope
Note to avoid this title as it’s a white author writing an interracial romance that focuses on racism and black pain, that’s being sold as a Romantic Comedy. Ugh!
Alyssah Roxas
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book was cute and entertaining! I love the romance dynamic and the spicy parts are VERY SPICY!!!!

The characters were adorable and it was an entertaining book to read.
Smart Women Read Romance
Don't read if you don't want SPOILERS.

So, lots of issues at play here.

This is marketed as a standalone, yet around 15 characters from previous novels (I haven't read but I checked) appear and act like I should already know them.

The heroine is a "romantic" because she has stacks of romance books and Valentine's Day is her favorite holiday ever *sigh*. She can't understand why she can't find love, yet she is offended that the hero only asks her for coffee as a first date.

The heroine is also the
Nour Mazen
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
It's been a while since I read a book that portrays family bonds soooo well. I love the fact that this book wasn't just simply a 'romance', and not 100% centered around our two MCs. The secondary characters were amazing, the friendships in here were so enjoyable, the romance itself was so cute.

Though my only problem was the whole Valentine's day thing. It was kind of throwing me off a little bit. I just didn't feel it was a necessity in the book and it was just there for the sole purpose of fulf
Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
Rena Jackson and Axel Heller have been dancing around there attraction for close to a year but during that time Axel lost his beloved mother and Rena has been working to over her own hair salon, but Axel is back and determined to win Rena over. Problem is Rena has decided she wants a man who is in it for the long haul; she wants marriage, babies, and a happily ever after and she doesn’t think Axel wants that in his life.

I’ll admit as one of Ms. Harte’s long time readers I’ve wanted this story to
Anne Z.
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
The thing that surprised me the most prior to starting the book was the amount of bad reviews. Did you all read the same book I did? Are you sure? Usually I am sitting here having to write: "why on earth did you all like that?". I am SO EXCITED to be able to the opposite for once :) The Kissing Game was adorable! Perfect? nope. But who cares? I would read it again!

First of all we got the Giant, the Ice-Viking, the Prince Charming of my dreams, Alex Heller! The guy is not easy to love or to unde
Kate ✨ is a dreamer
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
2 stars!

Read my full review and others like it here on my blog

I'm reading The Kissing Game, amongst others, for a vlog of me reading a handful of popular romance releases. This was the first book I read for the vlog and I have to say... we're not off to a good start. The Kissing Game follows Rena, a dive bar employee nearing her last day to open her own hair salon, and Axel, a regular who Rena's been waiting to ask her out for about a year. 

I would first like to point out that after finishing t
Thi (booked4theweekend_)
I honestly am having a hard time with my review for this book. While the Kissing Game managed to make me laugh, I wasn't able to connect with any of the characters. They all appeared very one dimensional, and because of that- it essentially fell a bit flat for me. The author also dabbled in POCs and racism. I didn't like how it was written, but I can appreciate the thought the author put in for that. Overall, a super quick steamy romance read. ...more
Pelusa Rivera
Feb 05, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the book, however I have a lot of reviews that readers were not happy about the secondary characters, and yes this is written as a standalone however we do have a lot of again the secondary characters were characters of previous book, and since I read those and enjoyed those I liked touching base with them. We have Rena which I remembered here from Donavan's book and was wondering when she would get hers and she finally got. Rena is a romance reader and lover of the genre so she dreams ...more
Mel (Abookishaddiction) Ruiz
Didn’t get better. This wasn’t my favorite and I could have gone without reading it.
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Important:: Marie Harte is NOT active on GoodReads, so to contact her, please use her website at

Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte has over 100 books published with more constantly on the way. She’s a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town

Other books in the series

Marie Harte Seattle Contemporary Romance (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • The Troublemaker Next Door (The McCauley Brothers, #1)
  • How to Handle a Heartbreaker (The McCauley Brothers, #2)
  • Ruining Mr. Perfect (The McCauley Brothers, #3)
  • What to Do with a Bad Boy (The McCauley Brothers, #4)
  • Test Drive (Body Shop Bad Boys, #1)
  • Roadside Assistance (Body Shop Bad Boys, #2)
  • Zero to Sixty (Body Shop Bad Boys, #3)
  • Collision Course (Body Shop Bad Boys, #4)
  • A Sure Thing (The Donnigans, #1)
  • Just the Thing (The Donnigans, #2)

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