It’s only in the contrast of night, when things are darkest, that the stars shine."
It's 5 stars. No question. If I can give all the stars, I will. This left me completely speechless. You guys, you need to read this! This book completely wrecked me, then slowly built me up again. It's a story of heartache and healing, and ultimately of love. Plus, I've never read a basketball romance before, so I was so happy to read that.
Before I get into it, I have to warn readers that this book has sensitive themes that may trigger some. It is told in graphic detail, so tread lightly.
Iris and August meet just before their lives changed. They were just two college students who met at a dive bar and have a mutual love for basketball. Who both, at one point, have felt like they never really belonged. It was easy to open up to a stranger who seems to understand you more than anyone else, and that's what they did that night. There was a connection neither of them can deny, they just can't do anything because they're going on different paths in life.
While their paths go in different directions, they find out it's not as far as they thought. Their world is even smaller now, but their chance to be together seem to go further and further away.
I usually read books in one sitting, but with this one, I had to stop for a few times because I was overwhelmed with feelings. I bawled, screamed in anger and frustration, and I just had to take it all in. This book brought me to my knees.
I love Kennedy Ryan's words. They're poetry in motion. Art. She has created something so beautiful and poignant in this painful yet hopeful story. I don't think my words will ever be enough to express how much I love it. But what I can say is, I love that this author continues to use her platform to tell the stories that need to be heard. Relevant issues, the good and the bad. There is no sugarcoating the pain, and I commend her for that.
Iris DuPree is one of the strongest heroines I've ever encountered. My heart goes out to her. I adored this woman the moment we (the readers and August) met her, and she continued to impress me as I devoured each page. The world tried to beat her up, but she stood up stronger each time she fell. She is a survivor, a selfless mother, a good friend.
And August West. Wow. He's consistent, solid, strong. A rock. He proved that there are still good men out there who aren't in it to hurt you. He was steadfast in his love for Iris, and I want to cry just thinking about it. I won't even claim him as mine because I know there's no one else who would be worthy of Iris' love than August.
Their love gave me hope. It also helps that it made me swoon so bad. With the connection these two have, you won't even have any space in your heart to deny they're meant to be.
I loved Iris' relationship with her cousin and best friend Lotus. Their solidarity and deep bond. She was there when Iris needed her the most, and stayed strong for Iris when she couldn't be. Their relationship with their grandmother was beautiful.
It's so easy to judge a person for staying in a toxic or abusive relationship, and even easier to tell them to leave. We tell our friends that if that happens to us, we'll leave. It's so easy to say those things because we're not in that situation. I confess I was once guilty of thinking that way. I'm grateful for books like this and society and media becoming more vocal about abuse because then we lose the ignorance.
This is a story of love, sisterhood, heartache, healing, and hope. A story that will make your heart stop, and make it beat again. And it's a story you will carry with you forever.
Reading (or in this case, listening to) Getting Schooled by Emma Chase is like watching a person fit puzzle pieces perfectly together. There's a sense of fulfillment and content in listening to this story, one that warrants a sigh of pleasure. It's full of wonderful characters, humor, emotion, and depth. The voices of her characters spoke loud and true, and you will love them for it. I have always loved Emma Chase's words—it's smart, witty, and addictive. Getting Schooled has all of that in spades.
Garrett Daniels and Callaway Carpenter fell in love in high school, and thought they would be together forever. You'd look at them and know it's not puppy love. But distance and time apart put an end to their relationship, and they both move on with their lives—Callie in San Diego trying to make her way into the theater world, and Garrett back at home coaching his old school's football team to the top.
An incident Callie would rather not think about ever again makes her move back to her parents' house in New Jersey. She takes a temporary job at her old high school as the substitute teacher, and there she reunites with the love of her life. Garrett Daniels, golden boy and former star athlete of their school, is now the football coach of the team. They finally get their second chance more than a decade later at the very same place where it all began.
I knew from the moment Garrett and Callie talked to each other again that they were meant to be. Without a doubt. Everything about their relationship felt real to me. It was so heartwarming to see them feel and act so at ease with each other even after being apart for so long. They are each other's person. Whether they're laughing, making love, or breaking apart, it brought a tug to my heart that rarely happens when I read books. And I read a lot. I loved this couple that much.
While Garrett and Callie's reunion was central to the story, I love that Getting Schooled also highlighted what it's like to be a teacher. It was interesting to see their train of thought, the efforts they did to reach their students, their frustrations and hurt, and the joy of seeing their students grow and learn. It added so much to the story without stealing the spotlight from the romance.
WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT THE AUDIOBOOK?
Aside from the story, the narrators were fantastic! I'm a huge fan of Andi Arndt, so it's not really surprising that she did a wonderful job here. I've only listened to Zachary Webb a few times, but it still blows my mind how amazing of a narrator he is. He's amazing in acting out not just Garrett, but every single person in this book. I've never been so entertained by a narrator as much as Zachary Webber.
These two wonderful narrators brought to life a story that is already strong on its own.
This is definitely one of the most enjoyable audiobooks I've listened to. The emotions and imagery were so vivid that I felt like I was in their world. I saw the football games, sat with the students in class, watched front row as Garrett and Callie got their second chance. I laughed out loud, smiled like a complete idiot, and cried. By the end of it, I felt so full. I was ready to burst with love and emotion.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THIS AUDIOBOOK TO A FRIEND? IF SO, WHY?
Absolutely! Romance fans will enjoy this wonderfully written second chance story. It has everything I could possibly want in an audiobook, and I'm sure audiophiles and audiobook virgins alike would agree.
Tropes: Second Chance, Small Town POV: First Person, Dual POV Standalone: Yes
We finally have Nate and Rebecca's book, y'all! To everyone who has read at least one of the Brooklyn Bruisers novels, you know there's
We finally have Nate and Rebecca's book, y'all! To everyone who has read at least one of the Brooklyn Bruisers novels, you know there's something going on between the tech billionaire owner of the hockey team and his right-hand woman. Brooklynaire was three books in the making, but it was worth the wait. It was just as sweet and satisfying as I imagined it to be.
My life is constant noise... When you kiss me, everything goes quiet. That's the only time I can forget everyone else."
To first-time Brooklyn Bruisers readers, you're in for a treat! This sweet and steamy friends-to-lovers romance, with hints of angst and forbidden feelings in the workplace, is filled with all the pent-up tension two people who have been harboring feelings for each other for years can possibly have.
Tech genius and Brooklyn Bruisers owner Nate Kattenberger and his office manager Rebbeca Rowley have been working together for seven years, but for at least half those years, the two have been feeling more and more for each other. The only reason they have never once acted on it is because of their great friendship and work relationship.
When Rebecca gets injured, forcing her to take a few weeks off work, Nate does everything he can to help her feel better. And now that they've got the chance to spend time together outside of work, it's even harder to ignore the attraction and connection that's basically screaming at them.
But as mentioned above, there's a reason Nate and Becca have never acted on their feelings for so long. It might ruin their long-standing friendship and complicate their work relationship, too. And it's even harder for Rebbeca since she's working for Nate. She can't risk losing her job, especially not now that she's supporting her sister, husband and baby.
In Brooklynaire, we get to see a little more of the history between Nate and Becca, when she joined the team, and when the non-platonic feelings for each other started coming in. I loved reading about their relationship! The progression was so gradual, sweet AND sizzling with all the sexual tension.
And I just have to say this, but when heroes think their heroines are "f*ing adorable", it does crazy things to my heart. Nate is attracted to Becca, and he also thinks she's sexy, but I love it so much that he thinks she and everything she does is adorable. It's obvious how much he adores her, how he thinks the world of her, and just, ahhh. The feels!
I loved the Jane Austen references, Bingley, THE PALINDROMES!!!, the banter between them, and pretty much everything related to this couple. Nate and Becca were both lovable characters, so it was even easier to root for them. Thanks to the seven years of working together, they have formed a great bond and rapport. It was heartwarming to see how much one understood the other, they have each other's back, and that they would do whatever they can for one another. It's not an "I can't live without you", but an "I can live without you, but I'd rather not". An "I'm great on my own, but we can also be great together."
If you've read the previous Brooklyn Bruisers novels, you'll see a lot of familiar faces here. And this is set at the same time as Pipe Dreams, so yes. I guess you'll see it on the other side now haha!
Brooklynaire is a standalone, so it's not necessary to read the previous books. You don't have to worry about feeling lost any step of the way. But still, I highly recommend reading the first three books!
Tropes: Boss-Employee, Friends to Lovers, Office Romance, Sports—Hockey POV:Present: First Person, Dual POV; Past: Third Person Standalone: Yes
The Darcy Monologues is a collection of short stories told by a group of amazing JAFF authors, all starring our beloved Mr. Darcy. There was a fantastic selection of stories, the book divided into two eras—Regency and Other. I've mentioned this in my more in-depth review of the book, "each author perfectly highlighted the Mr. Darcy every romance fan grew to love—a gentleman, a dedicated brother, a good friend, and a devoted lover. A good and honest man."
I enjoyed reading this book but enjoyed it even more when I finally listened to it.
WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT THE AUDIOBOOK?
Reading The Darcy Monologues was heartwarming, but listening to it was a whole new experience. It felt more intimate, more tangible, if that makes sense. Like a real person was telling me a real story of his life. Harry Frost was a fantastic Darcy, and he was equally fantastic in portraying different characters, particularly Mr. Collins. The change in accents from Regency era to other era stories set in the USA was surprising but not unwanted. I don't know which I prefer, to be honest. And I don't know if it was just me, but his American accent sounded a lot like Henry Cavill's. I can only tell you I giggled so much when I heard it.
While Harry Frost did a wonderful job narrating all of the novellas in this anthology, the novella I enjoyed listening to the most was From the Ashes by J. Marie Croft. It was so amusing to hear a slightly intoxicated Mr. Darcy write a draft of his letter to Elizabeth the night after the Hunsford proposal. A close second was You Don't Know Me by Beau North because like I've mentioned about, the accent reminded me of Mr. Cavill's American accent. Hehe. Obviously, I'm a fan.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THIS AUDIOBOOK TO A FRIEND? IF SO, WHY?
I think lovers of Mr. Darcy will enjoy this audiobook as much as I did. Since he's fictional, this is the closest I can get to have him whispering in my ear sweet nothings and thoughts I imagined Mr. Darcy would say. It's a treat.
*Audiobook received in exchange for an honest review.
You can have all my money, Ms. Grey. Have it all. Even my soul. Your books feed it anyway; you might as well have it. Reading The Beau and the Belle brought butterflies to my stomach and a perma-smile on my face! The hero made me swoon, and the heroine made me laugh so much. Plus, it's set in New Orleans, a place I've always wanted to visit.
Remember when we were in high school and we daydreamed about crushes? The popular upperclassman, the best friend's older brother, the guy next door, all the seemingly unreachable men. How about when we made questionable decisions—decisions we cringe over when we're reminiscing about it—over those men?
Lauren LeBlanc was a senior in high school when Beau Fortier, a man in his last year of law school, rented the apartment in her family's property. She was previously focused on Preston, the most popular guy in her school's partner all-male school, but there was something so alluring about Beau. He was mature, hard-working, incredibly good-looking, and kind to her. It was inevitable she'd become infatuated with him.
While he felt a connection, Beau Fortier knew better than to encourage her feelings for him. He was eight years older, and he needed to focus on finishing law school so he could give his mother her dreams of restoring the Fortier family's prestige. Plus, he respected Lauren's parents too much.
When an event forced them to leave New Orleans and part ways, Lauren ended up with a broken heart. They didn't see each other again until ten years later when she came back to start a business and open an art gallery.
To Lauren's surprise, Beau wants her and is not subtle in wanting to pursue her. Now older, she is more cautious when it comes to Beau and won't give in easily. But Beau is nothing if not determined. He won't stop until he proves to her he's serious about her.
This is how I wanted to be touched all those years ago, and it's making me lightheaded to feel it now. Maybe's it's better this way. At 27, I can barely handle this feeling. At 17, I'd have gone comatose."
Before I wax poetic about Beau, let me just say that I adored Lauren and her POV! There was a subtle but significant change in her past to present POV that shows her growth. She's still the same in essence—funny, a little bit dorky, charming—but there's an air of maturity that didn't exist before. I also love her friendship with her best friend, Rose. Their conversations are hilarious yet so genuine and realistic; it feels like Rose is my best friend, too!
Now, off to Beau. My dear Beau. He's hard-working, thoughtful, a family man, and a complete gentleman. And he's perfected the art of slow seduction. His relationship with his mother is heartwarming, and you just know his feelings for Lauren are genuine. Gah, I love him!
R.S. Grey never fails to make me laugh out loud.I haven't read all of the author's works, but from all of the books I've read, this is her most slow-burn to date. No complaints from me. I'm a sucker for slow-burn romance!
The Beau and the Belle is a feel-good, slow-burn, second chance romance that will make you laugh and fall in love. What to expect from TB&TB: New Orleans. A gentleman hero who works hard, loves his mother, and has perfected the art of the slow seduction. A strong and relatable heroine. Sexual and non-sexual touching. Feels.
Tropes: Age Gap, Childhood Friends, Second Chance POV: First Person, Dual POV Standalone: Yes
The V Card showcases a seamless blending of the writing styles of two authors known for their tempting and hilarious novels. This story is filled with humor, and heart, with little drama and lots of steam. A perfect read if you're looking to laugh, swoon, and fall in love. Since one of the characters loves making lists, let me share my own list as to why this book was a hit for me:
REASONS WHY I LOVED THE V CARD
1. Brother's Best Friend, Friends to Lovers romance
Graham Campbell, the CEO of lingerie company Adored, was the best friend of CJ's brother Sean. They grew up together, started the company together, and were the thickest of thieves until Sean passed away. With the loss of CJ's brother and Graham's best friend, they gave their time and support to each other, eventually becoming closer than when they were young. You know Graham is never going to hurt CJ intentionally, and the love is already there between them; it just wasn't romantic before, at least not on Graham's part. I love seeing friends become more, because there's already a strong foundation and some pretty strong affection between them.
2. The pacing of the story
A 7-day tryst is a recipe for an insta-love story, but it never felt that way when I was reading The V Card. From the start of the story, you can easily tell how close CJ and Graham are and how long they've known each other, so it was easy to get swept into the romance. They didn't jump head first into falling in love but waded their way into it with their sexual and non-sexual bonding moments.
3. Perfect balance of sweet and sexy
You'd think this would be more focused on the sex, since the story is about Graham teaching CJ about it, but this book has its fair share of swoon-worthy and adorable moments between Graham and CJ. Even during their trysts, you can feel their bond and care for each other. How easy it is for them to laugh and talk about everything. I love it.
4. Caroline Jessica "CJ" Murphy
I love her. Absolutely adore her. CJ confident, sweet, caring, and has a great sense of humor. I love her shirts, quirky accessories, her own sense of style. I've read contemporary romance books where the virgin heroine is too innocent and clueless at 25 and will only become something more when she finally meets a man. CJ is nothing like that. She's inquisitive, a go-getter, and comfortable in her own skin. Plus, I love how much she loves her—and her brother's—cat, Stephen King.
5. Graham Campbell
Another hero to swoon over! Graham is a man who, as Drake says, "started from the bottom now we here". This man has been married to his job for a long time, but you know it's not about the money. He's passionate about his business, his products, and women. It's not a secret that Graham was a bit of a womanizer, but he's not disrespectful and misogynistic about it, pretty similar to Lauren Blakely's heroes. Plus, his affection for CJ is so authentic and adorable, gah. GAH. Then when the romantic feels comes pouring in, GAHHHH. I am a pile of mush. And the thing he did before the happy ending. Ahhhh. I had a stupid grin on my face during a special moment at the arena.
She's taught me something so much more vital than what I've shown her. She's taught me how it feels to fall in love."
Kudos to Lauren Blakely and Lili Valente for giving me—and I suspect, a lot of people—something I didn't know I wanted, a fantastic collaboration! I loved both their works and was more than pleased with The V Card. I'm afraid I'm spoiled now, so pretty please, with a cherry on top, won't the two of you write together again?
Tropes: Brother's Best Friend, Virgin Heroine, Childhood Friends, Friends to Lovers POV: First Person, Dual POV Standalone: Yes
Sweet, funny, and charming, An Ex for Christmas is a perfect Holiday romance read! If you're a fan of best friends to lovers romances, Hallmark movies, and Love, Actually, you'll have a hoot reading this rom-com.
Elementary school teacher Kelly Byrne loves Christmas and is as superstitious as they go. When a mysterious woman tells her she's already met The One and will be with her come Christmas, Kelly spends the two weeks before Christmas tracking her unmarried exes and checking who's naughty, nice, and The One.
While she reunites with her exes and crosses them off her list, Kelly finds herself feeling things she's never felt before for her best friend and neighbor, Mark Blakely. The chef has been her best friend since high school, and he's loved her just as long. Now that she's trying to rekindle her romance with men who broke her heart because of some old lady's prediction, he wants to do his best to make her finally look his way and see he's The One.
Kelly is endearing with her superstitious beliefs and quirks. This woman loves life and lives it with her best foot forward. She's optimistic and funny, and she loves her family. Her friendship with Mark is so easy and comfortable, and I personally understand the whole best friends to suddenly something more, so I get that she's confused on how to go next with what's happening with her and Mark. A few of her decisions frustrated me, and she could have lost Mark because of it, too.
All I want for Christmas is Mark Blakely! Such a sweetheart, that man. He's gruff and acts like he doesn't like Christmas, but the guy goes along with everything his Christmas fanatic best friend wants to do. He even shares custody over Rigby the cocker spaniel just because Kelly can only stay in their hometown on weekends. This man has been steadfast in his feelings for Kelly, and gosh I could wax poetic about him. Swoon.
And that ending. Perfect. Just perfect. I was swooning and squealing and ahhhhh. Mark Blakely, you guys. I want that man in my life.
An Ex for Christmas reminded me of What's Your Number (Anna Faris, Chris Evans) and Love, Rosie (Lily Collins, Sam Claflin; the novel written by Cecilia Ahern), two of my favorite chick flicks. It's about two best friends whose timing is never right, and a story about the heroine who tries to look for her one true love in the wrong place when along he's right beside her. Insert hilarious/disastrous dates and antics between Kelly and Mark.
This story is full of Ms. Layne's signature humor, natural and easy banter between two charming characters, sexual tension, and the right build up. This book made me more excited for the holidays and honestly made me want to go on a chick flick marathon. If you're looking for a quick, fun, and adorable holiday romance, you'll enjoy reading An Ex for Christmas.
Tropes: Friends to Lovers, Holiday Romance, Childhood Friends POV: First Person, Female POV Standalone: Yes
R.S. Grey sure can write rom-com! The Fortunate Ones is the kind of story that creeps up on you and fully puts down its roots in your heart until you're sure it would stay there, and you don't even notice it until the deed is done. That's how I felt when I finished reading this book. The story is engaging, sexy, and hilarious, and I devoured this from start to finish.
Twin Oaks is an exclusive country club for the elite, the richest and most powerful in Austin, Texas, and Brooke Davenport is at the heart of it. She’s working there as a cabana girl until she finds a new position as an au pair and goes back to teaching Spanish or French.
What she imagined as an unimaginable time at the country club is anything but because of a certain patron. James Ashwood, a man everyone at the country club and pretty much the world fawns over. The seemingly larger than life man has caught the attention of everyone at the club, even Brooke, and when he suddenly starts talking to her, she’s pulled in a whirlwind romance with a man she knows she shouldn’t have.
He and Brooke are at different stages of their lives, and it’s hard to find a compromise for them, because no matter what happens, one of them has to sacrifice their goals to be together.
My heart belongs to James Ashwood. He’s so consistent, so steadfast in his feels. Omggggggg I might just die with the feels. At 36, he’s ready to settle down and make a home of his house. Once he falls in love, he falls hard. I was swooning so much that this man who’s been so used to being alone has fallen in love with Brooke, and gah. His love is the kind that stands through time and distance, I swear.
I can understand why it took them a while to end up together, and I’m actually happy with the path Brooke and James chose. It helped them grow more into themselves, and they ended up as better people because of it. I feel like although the two have a deep love already even at a short time, it wasn’t the right time for them. Their relationship would have been filled with resentment and regret if they started right away, and it wouldn’t bode well for them. I have to be honest and say though that it annoyed me at times when Brooke would come running back every time she pushed James away. I felt like she was stringing him along.
I was only 14% in and I was hooked with the hilarious banter between Brooke and James, and basically everyone in the story. Plus, the chemistry is amazing, it's so hard not to root for them. By the end of the story, I'm completely in love with James Ashwood (I totally get why everyone at Twin Oaks is obsessed with him! I would be if I worked there lol), I'm attached to Brooke and James' romance, and I want to read about Ellie, Brooke's sister! But mainly I want to read more about James and Brooke. Call me selfish, but I want me some more James.
The Fortunate Ones had R.S. Grey’s signature humor and fantastic banter, and while it feels familiar, it’s also more mature and a little bit angstier than her past works. I’m pretty sure I love this book as much as A Place in the Sun. The Fortunate Ones makes you laugh then punches you in the face with feels—happy and sad—before wrapping you up in love and sexual tension and the best happy feels a book can give.
Tropes: Age Gap, Billionaire POV: First Person, Female POV Standalone: Yes
It seems Elizabeth Bennet is not the only one whose “defect” is to willfully misunderstand people, as seen in Mistaken, a wonderfully weaved debut novel by Jessie Lewis.
I will try to give as little about the story to give you the chance to experience the whole story for yourself. The story starts after the Hunsford proposal, and upon reflection, Mr. Darcy talks to Mr. Bingley about his mistake in telling him Jane Bennet has no feelings for him. This persuades Mr. Bingley to go back to Hertfordshire to finally court Jane.
Jane, having been heartbroken by his leave, does not receive his addresses as enthusiastically as Mr. Bingley imagined. She has been left too long to stew in her bitterness and has become jealous of Elizabeth’s ability to charm a crowd, and it seems, Mr. Bingley.
Soon enough our beloved couple finds their way to each other and into matrimony. While they try to enjoy wedded bliss, Bingley and Jane, who exchanged vows the same day Darcy and Elizabeth did, are already on rocky terrain. This attracts trouble to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s lives.
I loved how the author managed to weave a new story out of a few characters’ traits/circumstance. Using Mr. Bingley’s tendency to be easily swayed and Jane’s heartbreak when B left Hertfordshire, two unlikely antagonists are born.
This also shows the strong contrast between the two lead couples in Pride and Prejudice. While in the original, J and B love story is seen as a more sweet and placid tale compared to E and D (not that J & B did not have their fair share of heartbreak, but you know), in Mistaken, we see a darker contrast between two couples. While one blames the world for their misfortunes, the other takes it to heart and come out better for it.
I can tell you that my heart was beating so fast and my hands were cold in indignation, heartbreak, fury, and shock over the things that happened in the story. And this is all to the book’s credit. Mistaken also made me grin, laugh, blush, and swoon. Mr. Darcy is just as devoted to Elizabeth as Elizabeth is to him.
Darcy is devoted, loyal to the core, and absolutely besotted. Elizabeth is brave, outspoken, but still so kind. I also love how their relationship as a married couple was written realistically. As in love as they were, they still had arguments just like any other couple.
I’ve read a few stories that have painted Jane and Mr. Bingley in a less agreeable light, but I believe Mistaken was fresh yet still loyal to the essence of Pride and Prejudice. I can honestly see this happening to them in a darker alternative universe.
The story is told in different perspectives, jumping not just from one character to another, but timeframes as well. While I know that can be confusing and annoying in other stories, I think the author managed to successfully use it as a way to hook readers and show us the most important details and emotions. Overall, I enjoyed reading this story and was diverted the whole way. This is longer than some variations I’ve read, but I’m glad for it. For me, each page was valuable to the story.
There are some suggestive themes, so I recommend this to a more mature audience.
My heart speeds up every time I think of Bristol and Grip, the poems, their love, and of STILL. This book made me shed so much tears—joy, pain, sadness, you name it. But it also made me smile so much. I don’t think words will ever be enough to convey my love for this series.
STILL shows us what life is like for Grip and Bristol after GRIP. Despite their busy schedules—with Grip going on tour and venturing in new projects in music and his advocacies and Bristol managing her talents into success and fame—their love continues to grow stronger than ever. While they’ve gained acceptance and support from their loved ones, there are people who still believe they don’t belong together.
This fuels their desire to make a change and use their voice to speak out even more, and Bristol supports Grip in his quest to know more and do more for his community. Insecurities, jealousy, prejudice, bias, and pain test their relationship as they continue to fight the good fight and find their happily ever after.
I love Grip and Bristol. Plain and simple. Their strength, will, and love never failed to amaze me, and I never stopped rooting for them from FLOW to STILL. Marlon "Grip" James is a man I only dream to be with. He is kind, passionate, sexy, and loyal to the core. I thought I couldn't love him even more than I did when I read GRIP, but then I read STILL and that's that.
I believe Bristol is the character that grew the most in this series. From a slightly ignorant, stereotypical woman raised in a life of privilege and wealth, she turned into a woman determined to learn about the injustices in society and color. She's always been kind and strong, but as the story progressed, I saw her strength grow tenfold as she opened up and let Grip in. My admiration for her grew even more when she fought her demons—her self-doubt, jealousy, the people who are against their relationship—and came out a better woman.
I give five stars to books that leave my heart feeling full. This series managed to do that and so much more. It sneaked its way into my heart, my mind, my soul. But STILL? STILL is now a part of me. The poetry, the pain, the love. I surrender wholeheartedly. For me, STILL deserves all the stars in the sky.
I won't get into the story too much because I want you to go in as blindly as I did. All I will say is it lifted my heart, broke it, and mended it again in the span of five hours.
Like Grip and Bristol, Ms. Ryan used her platform to speak out about prejudice and racism but still managed to tell an unforgettable love story. Thank you for fighting the good fight and for sharing Grip and Bristol's story with us.
Tropes: Celebrities—Singer, Married Life POV: First Person, Dual POV
This book is so adorable! It’s the kind of story that will make you grin and fan yourself because of the heat, pretty much like when you eat a delicious taco with the spicy salsa. Yum.
It's impossible not to approve, Mr. Darcy.
A matchmaker extraordinaire and a smart but socially clueless tech multimillionaire walk into a boba tea shop called Quickie, and it’s not a joke. When Evie “Stud Finder” Milligan’s good friend shows her the dating ad her brother posted online, Evie knows it in her heart that she has to help the nerdy hot tech mogul and prove to him she can find his perfect match better than his most trusted worldwide web can.
Dylan Parker is so sure he’ll find his future wife once he posts the ad he wrote himself, but when he receives nothing but questionable proposals from countless women (and men), he gives into his sister’s suggestion to enlist the help of her friend. When he and Evie start working on Dylan to figure out his perfect match, Dylan realizes that Evie isn’t so different from him after all. But how can he convince his matchmaker that the one he wants to be matched with is her?
This novella has a fresh yet familiar writing style that I love and can't get enough of. With Lauren Blakely's signature humor, Stud Finder is a fun, playful read that is seeping with sexual tension and a strong connection between two extremely lovable characters.
I adored both characters, but I have a special place in my heart for Dylan, a man I think is different from the other heroes in the Big Rock world. He’s not as smooth when it comes to dating, but his efforts to win over Evie in his own way made me swoon so much.
It was a delight to read about their non-dates, the ease in their banter, and the palpable chemistry between Evie and Dylan. I had a perma-grin on my face as I read this story, I swear.
And that ending. ❤️❤️❤️ especially the last few paragraphs. Ahhhhh. That’s all I’m going to say. So sweet.
If you’re looking for a quick but incredibly satisfying read that will make you giggle and smile and feel butterflies all over, I recommend reading Stud Finder by Lauren Blakely. If you haven’t read any of her books yet and would like to dip your toes in LB’s writing style, I think this would be a lovely book to start.
And I’m sure Lauren Blakely fans will have a hoot reading this and trying to find the connection between the Stud Finder characters and the rest of the Big Rock world characters.
Now, I'm off to wallow in my cave as I wait for Mia and Patrick's story!
Tropes: Friends to Lovers, Matchmaker POV: First Person, Dual POV Standalone: Yes
If I could describe Jones and Jillian's relationship in two words, it'd be sizzling and adorable! Seriously, these two know great banter and fantastic flirting.
Since reading Most Valuable Playboy, I've been looking forward to Jones and Jillian's love story. It's obvious that Jones Beckett, the Renegades' wide receiver, has the hots for the team's amazing publicist Jillian Moore, but no one really takes him seriously on it, what with his penchant for sleeping and flirting with models and bombshells. Jillian definitely doesn't think too much of it.
Even if it were serious, nothing could really come of it, since Jillian was dedicated to her job and would do nothing to jeopardize her career and lose the respect of the team. Besides, they're going to work together to help rehabilitate his image, so Jones has to be on his best behavior. He needs to shed that playboy, wild-child image, and sleeping with his publicist would defeat the purpose.
Jones is like that charming guy in class who's popular, handsome, funny, and nice. Seems too good to be true, but people like him exist. He had a penchant for sleeping around, but he's not obnoxious, rude, or proud. He's an all-around guy—close to his family, still grounded, loves animals, good with the handy stuff heh—who's been interested in Jillian for a long time but didn't know what to do about it.
I admire Jillian's passion to her job, her relationship with her parents, and her self-control. Seriously, you guys. If someone like Jones threw himself (and his towel) at me the way he did to Jillian, I would have cracked. I also loved reading about her background, and about the things that have always been a part of her even if she grew up away from it. I won't mention too much about it since it might spoil you a little.
This book made me smile so much because first of all, it's a friends to lovers kind of story. Jones and Jillian got along, and they had fun together, even if Jillian was a bit closed off from him at first (to maintain the professional distance, of course). Second, it was adorable how much Jonas adored Jillian. Not just in a sexual way, too. And third, I loved how close they were to their respective families, how it drove them to do what they're doing
There are dogs and other adorable furry friends, half naked photoshoots, walks in the beach, and some hot tumble in the sheets—among other places *wink wink*—plus an easy and effortless banter between two likable characters. This book will make you laugh, squeal, and sigh like a lovesick fool, so if you want that wrapped up in a sports romance, you'll love Most Likely to Score.
Tropes: Friends to Lovers, Forbidden Romance, Sports—Football POV: First Person, Second POV Standalone: Yes
Dr. Neuro is an adorable, hilarious and light romantic comedy filled with fun trivia nights, spontaneous dates and sizzling sexual tension between a swoon-worthy hero and a fun and lovable heroine.
St. Luke’s Docuseries concludes with the last standalone, Dr. Neuro. Dr. Nick Raines, the Chief of Neurosurgery at St. Luke’s hospital, is happily settled in New York to be with his 10-year old daughter, Lexi. He’s making up for the time he wasn’t there for Lexi (and her mother, Winnie) when he left New York for a better opportunity in the West Coast. He’s finally making progress in repairing his relationship with his daughter, and he will do everything to make sure nothing ruins it.
So when headhunter Charlotte Hollis pays him a visit to offer him a job in a hospital in California—an offer that would make anyone see stars—Nick says no. It was an easy decision, too. He thinks his clear and blatant no would end all contact with the pretty blonde, but instead, he finds himself becoming her partner for trivia night at Cornerstone Tavern.
Sometimes, things that go too smoothly don’t stay that way forever. Just when Charlotte and Nick’s relationship is becoming more serious, there’s a possibility everything Nick worked hard for will be ruined if people in his life find out about Charlotte. Now, the decision to let her go was a no-brainer, yet it was the hardest he’s ever done.
For me, this couple was the most adorable of the three! The start of their relationship was fun and so effortless, mostly thanks to Charlotte’s bubbly personality and spontaneity. They have this kind of banter that makes you grin and an equally strong chemistry that sizzles throughout the story.
Charlotte is a breath of fresh air! Unfiltered in every way—her words, thoughts, even in bed. She never holds back. What you see is what you get from her, yet she never fails to surprise Nick. She’s exactly what he needs.
Life without Charlotte didn’t feel less colorful; it felt dead.”
Nick is reliable and consistent. I love him! A gentleman and a wonderful father to Lexi, an equally wonderful little girl. He made mistakes in the past, but he’s trying his best to become a better man. To be honest, I related more to him—a person who’s gotten used to habits and is weary to do things outside the usual—than Charlotte.
If you’ve read Max Monroe’s other books, specifically the Billionaire Bad Boys series, you’re probably not a fan of Nick. Personally, I haven’t read the series, but I believe Nick redeemed himself quite wonderfully. There are a few familiar faces here, Winnie and Wes specifically. There’s also Winnie’s brother, Remy, a guy I want to read more about.
The book had a few drama that was settled easily, so most of the story is light. Dr. Neuro is a feel-good book that will make you laugh, sigh, and maybe even tear up.
P.S. Nick is mine. (I mean, I guess we can share.)
Tropes: Friends to Lovers, Single Father POV: First Person, Dual POV Standalone: Yes; Third book in a series
I'm not exaggerating when I say this book is one of my favorite reads for 2017 and the series is officially one of my all-time favorites. Royally Endowed had me laughing and swooning a few pages in, and I can assure you, it goes on until the very last word in the story.
REASONS WHY YOU MIGHT LOVE ROYALLY ENDOWED AS MUCH AS I DID:
♞LOGAN ST. JAMES Sweet, sweet Logan. This man is like a shadow in the night. You can't always see him but he's there to make sure you're safe. I loved how he described Ellie, how obvious it was that he adored her. Seeing Ellie in his eyes was an experience that made me hope to find someone who would look at me the way James looked at her. Nothing could convince me that this man would give his life to protect her.
He had his hang ups, but he fought day in and day out to rise above what everyone expects him to become. He didn't want to end up in jail like his grandfather and father, and so he left, enlisted in the military, then eventually became one of Prince Nicholas' most trusted guards. He adored Ellie but refused to acknowledge his burgeoning feelings for reasons I can completely understand. It made me adore this man even more. But he loved Ellie, and this man loved so much.
Ellie, whom you might recognize as Olivia's little sister in Royally Screwed, is so pure and kind, but strong and sure of herself. She's a free spirit who would like to take the metaphorical lemon that is life and squeeze it for all its worth. When Olivia left to go with Nicholas, Nicholas assigned Logan (and a team of other guards) to watch over the younger Hammond to make sure she stayed safe and protected. Ellie was enamored with Logan, who was not only handsome and so beautiful to look at but was solid as a rock. She trusted him with her life, and he made sure to keep that trust. She's had feelings for him since she was seventeen, and when they moved to Wessco to be with Olivia during her pregnancy, those feelings grew more and more.
One word—swoon. The unwavering trust between them. The sizzling chemistry that grows each day. The deep connection. The slow burn. I love the strong foundation of their relationship that started when Ellie was 17 and Logan 22. The attraction has always been there, but they were friends, confidants before they finally gave in to their feelings.
♞LOGAN'S FRIENDSHIP WITH NICHOLAS
It gave me life. These two have so much respect for each other, and I love how these two would confide in each other. They see each other as brothers, with Nicholas as Logan's big brother. He looked out for James and held him in the highest regard, and gave the right push when he needed it. Nicholas is an amazing big brother, okay???
It honestly brought tears to my eyes to see more into Nicholas and Olivia's life and Henry and Sarah's. Since it was told in Ellie/Logan's POV, we got to see them in a different yet still lovely light. I missed them and was so happy to see them back. To see how close they are/have become, to see how loyal they are to each other.
I don't know if Emma Chase is writing any more books in this series, I could read about this family my whole life. The next generation Pembrook/St. James kids? Sign me up. If not, thank you, Emma, for welcoming us into this wonderful world. It was an honor to read such an amazing series that brought tears to my eyes and made my heart so full I could burst. I will cherish this series forever.
Tropes: Forbidden Romance, Royalty, Age Gap POV: First Person, Dual POV Standalone: Yes
Fun, sweet, and a whole lot of laughs, Mr. Right-Now is every fangirl’s dream come true. This book will make your mouth water for reasons that involve food and a very sexy man!
We all swooned over our favorite celebrities back in high school—A-list actors, rock stars, and the fan favorite, boy band members. Then maybe meeting them and making them fall in love with us, as you do. Our heroine in this story has been through that, too; the only difference is she’s actually met her favorite celebrity because he’s her next door neighbor and her best friend’s big brother. Not that her fantasies came true when she was in high school, of course. On that score, we’re on even ground.
When a famous TV chef opens a new bakery near Maggie Hayes’s bakery in Brooklyn, her business fails and she goes back to Philly to lick her wounds and regroup. Just when she thinks she’s reached the lowest of lows, she bumps into Drew Delaney, former boy band heartthrob and the man of Maggie’s teenage fantasies… while her face is getting intimate with a phallic-shaped cake.
Despite the less than cute meet-cute, the two hit it off and are mutually interested in hot fun. Maggie isn’t sure she’s ready for something so serious after she had her heart broken when her business failed, but as she spends more time with Drew, she’s having more doubts of leaving Philly for New York again.
This book has flirty banter, dirty talk, and sweet, sweet conversations (often involving actual sweets). Drew and Maggie have an instant connection and palpable spark that goes deeper and more intense as they get to know each other more than they did when they were kids.
I couldn’t resist Drew Delaney! The man knows how to get to your heart and into your panties. He’s sexy and fun and will do anything for Maggie. And the man is genuinely nice. Nothing better than a genuinely nice man who can sing, dance, and talk dirty.
And Maggie is amazing. I admire her resilience after that bump in the road. She does have moments of self-deprecation, but she continues to keep her head up and work hard to reach her dream. And her pastries? Yum! I want some!
Mr. Right-Now is a quick, light, and fun story packed full of fun scenes and sexy times to keep you entertained the whole journey.
I kinda want to read about Drew’s sister, McKenna now…
What happens in Bora Bora doesn’t always stay in Bora Bora. Hooking Up by Helena Hunting is a hilarious romance packed with heat, a little bit of drama, and heaps and heaps of sexual tension.
A wedding is supposed to be one of the bride’s most unforgettable events, but Amalie Whitfield’s wedding is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. While she’s waiting for her husband at their reception, he’s busy getting his knob polished. To make things worse, the whole reception area can hear it because his moans and grunts are being blasted all over the room.
To top it all off, when she jumps the first man she sees, which was coincidentally her best friend’s boyfriend’s brother and her husband’s cousin Lexington Mills, she gets rejected. Everything is a mess and Ruby suggests she take a break from it all, to go on that honeymoon without her cheating SOB husband. So she does.
She flies to Bora Bora, only to bump into the same guy she jumped after her wedding day. Lexington knows he shouldn’t flirt with Amie, much less sleep with her, but he feels a connection with her, a connection he felt back when he met her on the same day Armstrong swept her off her feet. Apparently, Amie feels the same way because soon enough they give in to the pull and have the time of their life in Bora Bora.
While they know what they have is more than sex, they can’t act on it just yet because Amie is still technically married. Armstrong refuses to sign the annulment papers and is being difficult as always, and they know things would be worse if people find out about their holiday affair.
Lex is ready to go all the way but something is holding back Amie. She’s been burned before and is afraid to get burned again.
It’s so interesting to see this Amie from the Amie in Shacking Up. Armstrong did a number on her because he repressed her wild and fun nature. Now that she doesn’t care what her d*ckhead future ex-husband thinks, she can go back to being the wild Anarchy Amie her best friend Ruby knew her. I do think she needs to be more careful with her liquor. Girl gets out of hand when she’s had one too many glasses. I love that Ms. Hunting’s heroines, Amie included, are so confident in their sexuality and are not afraid to explore it.
I want a guy who wears cute socks like Lex. I want a guy who’s caring and considerate and cocky like Lex. I want Lex in my life. That man knows how to use his mouth and hands, and he knows how to use his heart, too. He adores his mother, thinks about others’ feelings before his own, and once he’s in, he’s all in. He reminds me a lot of Mr. Darcy, my numero uno.
His relationship with his cousin Armstrong reminds me so much of Mr. Darcy and Wickham’s relationship in Pride and Prejudice, and now that I think about it, Armstrong’s a lot like Wickham, too. They grew up together almost like brothers, but competitiveness, spite and just a difference in attitude ended their relationship. While the one who looks like a bad boy actually has a heart of gold, the other only has the appearance of goodness.
I enjoyed this book but I have to say not as much as Shacking Up. While I don’t blush away from steamy scenes—I love it!—I think this one had a tad too much. It came to a point that I skimmed over some scenes already, hot as they were. And they were definitely hot. I wanted to see more connection between Lex and Amie outside the bedroom or wherever they choose to do the nasty, so that’s why I slashed a half star in my rating.
Other than that, Hooking Up was a very enjoyable read. It’s got Ms. Hunting’s signature hilarious and raunchy banter, confident heroines and the most swoon-worthy heroes.
Oh, and on the last note, someone needs to neuter Armstrong and keep him in a crate. Seriously. I wanted to join in on the d*ck kicking and punching.
Tropes: Forbidden Romance POV: First Person, Dual POV Standalone: Yes
North to You is a sweet story of food, love, family, and second chances that will touch your heart and make your mouth water.
Ten years after she moved out of town with her sister, Camille Marino is back in the Bay Area with a food truck that is slowly building their reputation and gaining loyal customers. While she and her best friend, Jaz, are scoping out the competition at the local food festival, Camille bumps into her childhood crush, Andrew Bautista.
Andrew Bautista is in town for a month to mend things with his father before he leaves for his deployment in Iraq. Instead of a month to relax and catch up with his family, he is dragged in to help renovate the family restaurant and be there for the grand reopening. Things are still testy between father and son, and when a food truck parks in front of their restaurant, Drew has no choice but to help his father crush the competition.
It’s a pleasant surprise when he finds Camille in his arms, but he sees it as an opportunity to catch up with his high school sweetheart and spend time with her again. When he finds out that the competition is none other than Camille, he’s going to have to choose between her or his family.
This book made me giggle like a schoolgirl. Seriously, you guys. Drew and Camille’s romance is so sweet! These two have history and a connection that never really went away. I had so much kilig while reading each interaction between them. Drew was persistent in his pursuit, but he was always the perfect gentleman, and ugh honestly, it made me gush and swoon.
All of the characters were likable, Drew and Camille especially. They both have crosses to bear, but they’re strong and determined to succeed in their endeavors.
Camille is kind, mature, and reliable, but Jaz and her sister both agree she needs to let go. After their parents died and their nonna a few years later, Camille took the role of parent/guardian to Ally. With responsibilities all around her, she never really had time or energy to “let go”. It was nice and sweet to see her finally relax with Drew.
I have so much love for Drew. I related so much to him, with his relationship with his family and his reasons for leaving the nest. He’s also sweet, funny, and affectionate. Plus he’s such a gentleman!
Ms. Marcelo was able to portray such a genuine depiction of a Filipino family—strict and overbearing but well-meaning and caring parents, and close ties with immediate and extended family. Despite the close relationship between family members, sometimes feelings and emotions aren’t the easiest of subjects. It’s why the scene between Drew and his father made me tear up. Those emotional confrontations don’t usually happen, so when they do, it opens up the flood gates.
Food, family, and love. Those three always go hand in hand in a typical Filipino family dynamic. You can’t have one without the other.
My high rating did not come from my bias towards the Filipino aspect of the story, although it’s what peaked my interest. North to You had the perfect mix of the light and fluffy, and the heavy and steamy. The food—Italian and Filipino—made my stomach rumble. And the ending left me happy and satisfied.
North to You is the first standalone in the Journey to the Heart series and is told in alternating POVs. Foodies and romance lovers will definitely enjoy this fresh, light, and heartwarming story.
Just an FYI: the rough translation of kilig is *feels*.
There was never a dull moment reading this book! Fantastic banter and chemistry, great pace and flow, a wonderful and relatable heroine and a guitar-playing Irishman who will melt your heart with his music and accent. Plus, it's a slow burn, marriage of convenience romance, so duh. Of course, it's a win for me.
Holland Bakker had no idea she'd go from admiring the uber-handsome and talented busker she dubbed as Jack at the subway to actually talking to him and getting to know him, let alone marrying him, but that's what happens. She wants to do something to help her uncle Robert, the man who gave her a job in Broadway—all backstage since she's not as musically talented as her uncle—and when an incident happens that might leave his play hanging, she knows she's found a way to actually do something.
Ugh. I’ve married him, and he has no idea I’ve been writing Holland/Hot Busker fic in my head for months.”
Calvin McLoughlin has been staying illegally in the US since he graduated, hoping he'd reach his dreams in New York. Four years later, an opportunity finally comes knocking on his door. Unfortunately, his decision to stay illegally bites him in the a** and he can't accept the part to play in one of his favorite plays on Broadway. But then the pretty girl he kind of saved at the subway, who is coincidentally related to the man behind the play, offers to marry him, and the rest is history.
I've never met anyone who loved my playing enough to want to put a ring on it.”
I love Calvin and Holland, both as individuals and as a couple! Holland is a twenty-five-year-old woman who hasn't figured out how to do what she wants to do in life. She put everyone in her life first and did everything she can to help them. She did a lot of growing up in this book, and I'm so happy she did! Calvin knows what he wants from the very start and is passionate about his dreams and music. While it looks like Holland gave more to help Calvin reach his dreams, I think Calvin helped her just as much. He pushed her to step out of her comfort zone and encouraged her to pursue writing, her real passion.
I love that the whole applying for a visa thing did not go on the back burner like some marriage of convenience novels of this nature tend to do. We saw how nerve-wracking it is, saw what Holland and Calvin needed to do—the forms, the interviews, everything. And most importantly, we saw how difficult and emotionally taxing it is for the couple. Because of that, I felt more connected to them as a couple and as people.
It's pretty light throughout the story, but there were a few angsty scenes here that made my heart ache. Fauxmances and marriages of convenience tend to become messy when lines are blurred and people involved in the arrangement aren't sure if it's still just a purely business deal or a gateway to happily ever after. Since Calvin and Holland are practically strangers, there are a lot of things they don't know about each other, things they might not understand at first.
It's not as steamy as this duo's previous works, but it's still filled with sexual tension and its fair share of bedroom antics, if not sweeter than the others. The feel of this book is more similar to Dating You/Hating You, the book they released before Roomies, than Beautiful Bastard, but the humor, great flow and character dynamic, and a writing style that's entertaining and addictive is still very present.
Roomies is a sweet, fun, and romantic read that was perfect to end the year on a high note. I know there are still a few days to go before we say goodbye to 2017, but this book definitely made my year in book blogging a more fun one.
Special mention to Robert and Jeff Okai for being amazing uncles to Holland. I love their family dynamic, Holland and Robert's especially.
Tropes: Marriage of Convenience, Celebrities—Broadway POV: First Person, Female POV Standalone: Yes
We have another fun, sexy, and hilarious book from Lauren Blakely! The Knocked Up Plan will leave you laughing, swooning, and falling in love with its great plot, perfect pacing, and an engaging story from start to finish.
TOP 5 REASONS WHY THE KNOCKED UP PLAN IS A FIVE-STAR READ
1. Hilarious banter and effortless sense of humor A few pages in and I’m already laughing so much! These two romance and sex experts who get along really well can flirt each other and keep the sexual tension and humor perfectly balanced. It’s an innuendo minefield, but like Blakely’s previous works, not once have I thought their humorous exchanges about tadpoles and cupcakes were juvenile.
2. Fur babies and human babies We don’t have to have baby fever to find them irresistible. Aside from Nicole’s obsession with babies and her goal to have one, she and Ryder are great parents to their own fur babies. Nicole has Ruby, an Irish Setter mix, while Ryder has Romeo, a Border Collie. I tend to like people with pets more. So these two went up my favorite couples list just from their status as fur parents. Haha!
3. Nicole is a strong, confident, and endearing woman She knows what she wants and will do it whether or not there’s a man beside her to do it. But even if she decided to go on an independent route to have her baby, she’s still a romantic and will always be a champion of the happily ever after. And you can see with her interactions with her family and friends how great of a woman she is. She’s sweet, funny, and can stand on her own.
4. Ryder is sexy, charming, and swoon worthy As Nicole’s counterpart in the romance expertise department, Ryder used to give amazing advice to win a girl’s heart. After his seemingly perfect marriage crashed and burned, Ryder closed his heart to anyone, becoming a commitment-phobe. Despite his issues with romance, he’s charming and sexy without looking or acting like a douchebag. Then when things started changing for him and Nicole, swoon alert!!!
He’s sweet, caring, and protective. He’s thoughtful and considerate. I could wax poetic about this man all day, I swear.
5. Friends to Lovers Romance “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage…” Obviously, things didn’t work out that way for Nicole and Ryder, and you know what, it’s what I loved the most about these two. They started out as colleagues and good friends who think highly of each other. Ryder agreed to become her sperm-donor in exchange for her help with a column he needed to do to keep his job. Ten dates for a baby? Sure.
With the baby-making and dates for Ryder’s segment on their horizon, we all know love is bound to follow.
The Knocked Up Plan is definitely a top read that romance readers and fans of Lauren Blakely will enjoy and love!
Tropes: Pregnancy, Friends to Lovers, Office Romance POV: Dual, First POV Standalone: Yes
And we have another winner with Most Valuable Playboy! Fake relationship+Childhood friends+Friends to Lovers= Swoon. I loved the characters, adored their banter, and just about died at the teasing, flirting, and sexy interludes. I’m a happy, happy girl.
Cooper Armstrong is finally the first-string Quarterback on the Renegades, his football team that’s having a winning streak, and he’s 100% focused on staying that way. He and his closest friends on the team made a pack to follow the superstitions they believe is helping them win, and whether he believed in superstitions or not, there’s no harm in doing it. Cooper’s superstitious practice? Staying celibate for the whole season.
When the team's yearly bachelor auction for charity arrives, Cooper's previous reputation as 'Most Valuable Playboy' has come to bite him in the butt. After having heard of the previous winners' past experience with Cooper, The Renegades' owner's sister wants to bid for him and make the most of every penny she'll spend on him.
Fortunately for Cooper, hair stylist Violet Pierson, his childhood friend, is there to save the day and bid against the woman, with his permission to use as much of his money it would take to win him over. What started out as a simple cop-out turned into something so much more when they had to pretend to be in a relationship. The night ends with a mind blowing kiss on stage in front of the whole audience.
Instead of ending the ruse that night, they both realize the relationship would benefit them both—Violet's salon has had a boom in new clients since their 'relationship' has gone public, and his manager thinks it would help his reputation for when the team considers renewing his contract.
But what starts out as pretend turns into so much more when they feel the attraction they've always ignored when they were younger.
This book made me so happy! It's a light read with amazing banter and a sizzling slow burn that made me hold on to each page, each word, and each dialogue between Cooper and Violet. Their friendship and the sexual tension between them leaps off the page, having been written so vividly by Ms. Blakely.
We have two lovable characters who are both dedicated to their professions. Cooper is 100% focused on his goals and his team. Violet is admirable in her successful business, confidence, and kind personality. Their chemistry is sizzling, their banter fantastic (it made me grin so much!), and their friendship solid.
And it's not just the main characters I loved! I'm not even exaggerating when I say I loved every single character in this story. Cooper's mom, Violet's sister, Cooper's teammates, his publicist. They're all amazing without looking two-dimensional. Although the story is focused on Cooper and Violet's romance, Ms. Blakely still managed to give life to these characters. I hope she writes more about the other members of the Renegades.
If you enjoy hilarious sports romance with a side of fake relationship and the childhood friends trope, Most Valuable Playboy is for you.
Tropes: Fake Relationship, Childhood Friends, Friends to Lovers, Brother's Best Friend, Sports—American Football POV: First Person, Male POV Standalone: Yes
If this Mister Romance business was legit (maybe it is and I'm just not cool enough to know) and I paid for his service, I would have been ruined for all men forever.
Eden Tate is desperate to move up from writing click bait and puff piece articles to writing the serious stuff. When she hears about a juicy rumor involving society ladies and a man called Mister Romance, she snoops around to get a scoop.
Rumor has it, society women are paying a hefty amount to make their dreams and desires come true—five thousand dollars for a date with a man they called Mister Romance. Not everyone can acquire his services, only the lucky few who received a referral.
Through snooping, Eden finds a lead and goes undercover to find out more about who this Mister Romance really is. Thing is, Max Riley, the man behind Mister Romance, is a step ahead of her and turns her down. Eden is persistent and with TK, Max agrees with her request for a tell-all… for one condition. She has to go on three dates with him. If he can convince her that what he’s doing isn’t bad, she must drop the article.
The pacing was lovely (HELLO, SLOW BURN), and the dates more so. It was romantic, swoon-worthy, and hot as hell. I’ve never read anything like this book before, and I don’t think anything will be like it again.
I fell for Max more and more each date and have gone to the point of no return after the dates. Seriously. I love that man. For someone who fulfills women’s fantasies for a living, he’s in touch with reality. He’s aware that some of the fantasies aren’t exactly healthy (like when a guy immediately resorts to violence when he’s jealous), so he tries his best to portray roles that can still make his clients feel beautiful and loved without romanticizing anything toxic.
Although some of the things Eden did bothered me (her ways to get information couldn’t exactly be called ethical), I admired her for her resilience and passion. Cynical to the core, she couldn’t see any good in what Max was doing. It was heartwarming to see her open up and lose her guard.
Mister Romance is the first standalone in the Masters of Love series and is told in the female POV. This book was funny, surprising, sweet, and was so much more than I expected.
I’d say “move over, Gabriel Scott” but I love that man to bits. So, scoot over a little, Sunshine. Finn is joining you in my top Kristen Callihan book boyfriends!
It wasn’t love at first sight for photographer Chester Copper and quarterback Finn Mannus on their first meeting. A feat considering Finn was in the nude, posing for her. But after the photoshoot, the two surprisingly become friends and enjoy each other’s company.
Even with the attraction and chemistry palpable between the two, Chess is reluctant to jump into bed with him. She wants a relationship, and Finn doesn’t seem the type to want to be in one. So, they stay friends, even though Finn wants to prove to her he’s not a bad bet.
Days pass into weeks. Before I know it, Finn has become a fixture in my life.”
Their relationship changes from friends to roommates when Chess loses her home and Finn offers her a place to stay. Then from roommates to fake boyfriend and girlfriend, Chess joins Finn in his home in California for Thanksmas, where their relationship finally changes from fake boyfriend and girlfriend to real boyfriend and girlfriend.
Kristen Callihan has mastered the wonderful art of build up and sexual tension. The pacing was perfect, and just what I was looking for in a contemporary romance read. She made me fall in love with the characters as they fell in love with each other. Eased me in slowly then drowned me in the love, affection, and FRIENDSHIP between Finn and Chess. She definitely knows how to write a good book boyfriend and how to write it well.
I have a lot of love for this couple. I love their banter and flirtations and loved their friendship and natural chemistry. They’re both likable characters who are strong on their own and even stronger together. Chess is a fierce woman who has the wit and temperament that perfectly complements Finn’s. She keeps her cards close to her chest but would give her whole heart for those she loves the most. And I love her sense of humor! As you can see, so much love. Haha.
And Finnegan Mannus. This man. I am so in love with him it’s insane. This man turned me into nothing but mush. He’s sweet, funny, thoughtful, and everything I want in a book boyfriend. Plus with that face and body, he’s pretty much cemented his position in my top 10 book boyfriends of all-time. My cheeks still hurt from smiling too much.
Finn, what am I going to do with you?” His smile is an easy glide, but his eyes hold mine a beat too long. “Keep me. I’m pretty sure I’m good for no one else.”
And two words—delayed gratification. It was a pleasure watching these two get to know each other, become friends, and fall madly in love. There’s no insta-love here. The attraction, yes. But their story had the perfect build up I was looking for. I love it! Plus their banter was ace. I’m going to re-read this book over and over again.
The Hot Shot is the fourth standalone in the Game On series told in alternating POVs. It’s a perfect balance of sweet, funny, hot, and downright swoon-worthy with a strong and admirable heroine and an unforgettable hero. 5 stars for sure!
I am in love with the hero! I love an alpha as much as the next girl does, but there’s just something about an adorable, sweet, nerdy guy like Andrew that makes me grin and swoon.
Andrew moves to a new university after an ordeal at his old school. His dad wants him to take a break and stay at home, but Andrew wants to get it over with and finish his degree. The move was a little last minute, so his room isn’t the biggest (and he’s going to live with European girls from the women’s basketball team), but it’s not all bad. He’s got a new job for the summer working at Friendly’s as a fountain boy.
Sadie’s been working long enough at Friendly’s to move past working over the fountain, but when Gus hires a new guy, she’s left to train him. Sure he’s a looker, but his cheerful personality and his ability to put his foot in his mouth annoyed her… at first. Soon, she finds herself smiling because of him.
Andrew wants to be friends. Even more. Definitely even more. But with secrets Sadie wants to keep as secrets, it will be hard to open up to the man who’s made her feel happier than she’s been in a long time.
It’s interesting to see a bit of reversal in the personalities of the MCs compared to the ones I usually read. With most of the books I’ve read, especially New Adult novels, it’s usually the guy with the heavy past, and it’s the woman who helps him move past it.
Andrew is a bit of a nerd/geek but is very charming. Think Charles Bingley or Peeta Mellark a la Josh Hutcherson. He loves to study, has a box of calculators, has a life-size cutout of Derek Jeter, and he reminded me a little of a happy-go-lucky golden retriever. A guy who easily gets along with everyone. Meanwhile, Sadie is closed off and doesn’t trust easily. She has the people who know her and they’re the people she trusts; she doesn’t care to open up to anyone else. Her experiences in the past have left her a little jaded and guarded, and it took a while for her to warm up to Andrew.
I have my people. Anyone else in the mix will just throw my life into a tailspin.”
I wasn’t too much of a fan of Sadie’s pity party and her decisions to keep things from Andrew until it was too late. As much I disliked her decisions, I do understand the feeling of being lost, of being in her early twenties and having no clue what to do with her future. Sadie kept on acting like she’s alone or like no one’s there for her, but the truth is, she has an amazing support system. She may not have that with her family, but she’s got friends who’ve been there through thick and thin and who would want her to stand up and dust herself off.
Even Tucker, her ex-boyfriend. I really like how he was portrayed because although he isn’t right for Sadie, the author didn’t turn him into a bad guy; or at least an antithesis of Andrew. True, he’s more serious and has a bit more “bad boy” than Andrew’s adorable “boy next door” personality, but he cares for Sadie and is actually a pretty decent guy. My heart melted for this guy in a heartwarming moment between him and Sadie. I hope he finds happiness, too! I’d read the sh*t out of that book.
Despite my reservations with Sadie, I still cheered for her. I was so happy when her best friend, Samantha a.k.a. Smilly, gave her the talking to that was overdue. Plus, her chemistry with Andrew is so tangible, and ugh they’re so sweet together. It was easy to see they were compatible and good for each other.
After their ordeal, I think I fell in love with Andrew even more. Seriously. He’s the type of man I’ll easily fall in love with in real life. He can be a little corny at times and can get enthusiastic over the things he loves (like baseball and gnocchi), but can get down and dirty in bed. He’s sweet, funny, and oh so thoughtful. I love this man!
Co-Wrecker is a new adult contemporary romance told in alternating POVs. It has its fair share of pain and angst, but is sprinkled with humor, swoon-worthy moments, and downright sweltering heat. This hero will make you laugh and giggle and ugh the feels this man has given me. It’s a lot.
Extra Credit was my first Poppy Dunne novel, and it definitely won’t be my last. This book is absurd! And I mean that in the best possible way. My stomach still hurts from laughing too much! It was just what I needed to lighten up my recently dull days. I swear I was grinning and laughing from start to finish. It was a good thing I was reading this alone and in the confines of my home; wouldn’t want the neighbors to think I’ve gone crazy.
Substitute theater teacher Chelle Richardson is almost twenty-nine, but she still doesn’t have a stable teaching position. She’s currently teaching at a hippy sort of elementary private school for the sons and daughters of the rich and famous in sunny Los Angeles where the kids are actually enthusiastic about theater, and the teachers are focused on spiritual cleansing. If she doesn’t want to move back with her parents when she turns twenty-nine, she’s going to need that tenure.
She meets Will Munroe III on a trail in her morning jog, she pegged him as some handsome yet douche-y rich guy, a dime a dozen in LA. When she sees him again, it’s in in a parent-teacher meeting caused by a ten-year-old girl and Beyonce. Will is actually the father of one of her adorable students, Amelia. Lusting over a student’s parent is pretty much forbidden in the teaching world, but a pancake breakfast and a socially conscious rendition of Oliver Twist for the school play later, and the two are getting to know each other more. Personally and intimately.
It’s like being led along in a fairytale, an LA fairytale where the enchanted forest is all exposed brick and casual bongo music, and the enchanter is a fabulously attractive man with a lot of cash and a pinch of arrogance.”
It had everything I was looking for in a rom-com—the meet-cute, an awkward yet lovable heroine, a hot, sweet, and six-feet tall of man candy who talks dirty and is an amazing dad (!!!!!!!!), some sexy times here and there, witty banter and hilarious inner dialogue, and a steady pace. It was a hoot getting to know Chelle, Will, adorable little Amelia, Chelle and Will’s canine companions, Archie and Bruno, among others. The side characters were pretty interesting too. Suzonne, Will’s ex-wife who lives in a yurt and talks to goat spirits, Chelle’s parents who had amazing jobs, Emery, Chelle’s friend at school, and the other staff.
And you know what, it’s so refreshing to read about a Los Angeles that’s not just about the glitz and glamour. It was fun to read about the quirkier and more chill parts I got a glimpse of when I visited. Alternative lifestyles, the fads, and just the plain weird. I loved it!
Extra Credit is a standalone rom-com told in alternating POVs. It’s a quick, fun, and entertaining read filled with humor, sweetness, and craziness all packed together in one hilarious book. If you haven’t read any of Poppy’s books like I have before reading Extra Credit, you’re missing out.
And I don’t think I haven’t said this enough—there’s just something about men who are great with kids that’s hot. So a good-looking and devoted single dad? I’m dead. My ovaries are dead.
Anything You Can Do is a hot, hilarious, and addictive enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy about childhood rivals, Daisy Bell and Lucas Thatcher. After years in college, med school, and residency, Daisy is back in Hamilton, Texas, to take over the only family practice in town. She’s worked hard to be where she is, and now that she’ll soon take over Dr. McCormick’s family practice, nothing will get in the way of that. Right before she starts her practice, her best friend and Lucas’ sister, Madeleine, drops the bomb and tells her that not only is Lucas back in town, he’s going to work at the same practice as Daisy.
Daisy always thought she’s the only one taking over the family practice, and she still plans to go that way. Now the two are back at it again, but this time, instead of grades and sports, they’re fighting over the sole ownership of the practice.
The days go on where the two try to one up each other. Like when they were kids, sparks fly when they’re sparring, but this time there’s an almost suffocating sexual tension hovering above them. It only takes 24 hours in a room together to make them give in.
This book left me grinning and laughing like a total whacko! Anything You Can Do had R.S. Grey’s effortless humor and engaging narrative that had me hooked. I loved the long foreplay between the two, and the tension was sizzling!
It reminded me of The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, another story I’ve absolutely loved! The couple’s antics are hilariously absurd, but it was entertaining to see them go head-to-head.
Both MCs were likable, but Lucas Thatcher now has a special place in my heart. He’s confident, smart, and he’s a freaking doctor who wears Clark Kent glasses! Plus he’s sweet, charming, and hot as f*k. This man just made me swoon!
Daisy pretty much goads Lucas into their fights because it’s what she’s known to do her whole life. It was a relief to see her go to her senses about why she’s been fighting Lucas so much.
Love and hate aren’t so very different, right? To love someone is to strive to be a better person for them, and isn’t that what our hateful little competition has been about the whole time?”
I was laughing and giggling throughout the story, but the epilogue pretty much killed me with its sweetness! It was so right.
The story was mostly told in Daisy’s POV, but we get a glimpse of Lucas’ thoughts through his unsent e-mails. If you’re looking for a light, fun, and sexy hate-to-love romance with witty banter and amazing sex, you’ll definitely enjoy Anything You Can Do!
Good Boy is a fun and sexy sports romance filled with chemistry, hilarious banter, and lovable characters. We have a charming and irresistible hero who LOVES DOGS and a strong, admirable, and relatable heroine.
Event planner and maid-of-honor Jess Canning has succeeded in planning the wedding of the year for her brother Jamie Canning and his partner Ryan Wesley (Him series). But now that she’s finally proven to her family she can actually do something and not mess it up, she realizes event planning is not for her. Now she has to think of a way to break the news to her family and avoid the flirtations of the best man, Blake Riley, a man she was intimately acquainted with a while ago, all the while making sure the wedding and reception go perfectly well.
NHL player Blake Riley loves riling up his J-babe. After their mindblowing night a few months back, he wants to do it again but she’s done. She wants nothing to do with him and pretends that night never happened. When Jess moves to Toronto to go to nursing school, he sees it as his chance to make her realize she wants him as much as he wants her. Unfortunately for Blake, Jess has no time for distractions and wants to focus on her studies. But everyone knows how determined of a man is Blake Riley.
I love the progress of their love story. From a one night stand, friends with benefits to friends to lovers. Their relationship is so adorable but so hot at the same time! Does that make sense??? Jess spent most of the time dismissing/avoiding Blake’s advances after their one night stand, but Blake is persistent. He backed off a little when she asked him, but it was then they became closer, the relationship gaining more substance. It wasn’t just physical anymore but so much more.
Oh man, I love Blake. He's a hilarious, hot af family man and a great athlete. He's like an overexcited puppy who just wants to lick and love you all the time. Heh. But seriously, I have a perma-grin on my face right now. He's persistent but not annoying. It's hard to get annoyed at him because he's so sweet, funny, caring and cuddly and sexy and ugh I love him.
He laughs the way he lives his life—loud and fierce and without inhibition."
He may seem like a shallow easy-going fellow, but this man has so much layers. A past experience with an ex made him prefer encounters with no strings attached. Despite that experience, he's still considerate of that person and everyone else's feelings instead of his. It showed how selfless he is, how kind of a person he really is and ugh feels.
Blake's not the only character I love. Jessica is a relatable woman, very realistic, and I love that while she's a confident woman most of the time, she's still so unsure of herself. I'm all for the confident woman who's figured it all out, but it's so nice to read about a character like Jess. I could relate to her situation with the family—the black sheep in a family of achievers. It took her a while to discover what she wants, and now that she's finally found it, she's questioning herself if she can really do it, if she's not really a f*ck up like she thinks everyone thinks.
I want to cry because they're so cute and I'm so lonely and oh god where's my stuffed toy.
If you're looking for a book with hilarious banter, some drama perfectly added in the story, and great chemistry between the romantic leads, then you might just enjoy Good Boy as much as I did.
Tropes: Friends to Lovers, One Night Stand, Friends with Benefits, Brother's teammate, Sports—Hockey POV: First Person, Dual POV Standalone: Yes
Sophie Darling is on a flight to London for a job interview, and it seems luck is going her way when she gets upgraded to first class. She also gets seated next to someone who could be on the cover of GQ.
Handsome, English, but standoffish, Gabriel "Scottie" Scott, the manager of one of the biggest bands in contemporary music, finds himself seated next to a bubbly and vivacious blonde on a seven-hour flight. Even after paying for two seats, he has no choice but to sit next to Sophie on the way to London. Curse his luck. He's deathly afraid of flying, and now a beautiful but annoying/entertaining woman will become witness to his breakdown.
In the span of a seven-hour flight, Sophie manages to cuddle with Gabriel (blame it on the turbulence), flirt with/annoy him, and find out that he is her potential boss, which is also news to Gabriel. Fast forward to Sophie getting the job. She tours with Kill John and Gabriel in their European leg, and Gabriel proposes an arrangement that would benefit them both. Sleep together each not. Not sex, just sleep. They've been having trouble sleeping lately, and have only slept peacefully when they were together. And so they sleep together while they both fight the attraction and sexual tension that's so thick and sharp, it could cut glass.
I love this book. I'm still buzzing from the high I got from reading this. I liked what I read about Gabriel Scott in Idol, but I completely fell in love with him in Managed. This book is one of my top reads this year. Kristen Callihan wrote this romantic masterpiece with amazing characters, the perfect slow burn, and a swoon-worthy relationship. I want to read it over and over again!
Now let me tell you more about the things I loved about the book:
Gabriel Scott. Oh man, he's ruined all men for me. I am a sucker for the brooding leading men who are actually cuddly teddy bears who will give you the world if he lets you in his. He is every bit the English gentleman with his perfectly-tailored suits, penchant for tea and pudding, and proper English manners. He appears cold and unapproachable––an impenetrable wall––and he may have made a grown man cry, but he's more than meets the eye. His past broke my heart and his present made me love him even more. And he's a complete and utter romantic. I'm swooning right now.
The world can fuck off when I'm with Sophie Darling. There is only us. I don't have to be anyone but Gabriel."
Sophie Darling. I've never related to any characters as much as I did with her. She's a happy-go-lucky girl who lives life by the day, but sometimes she can't help but worry if she's defective because she's not like the rest. Plus we have a similar job. Kind of.
Her past career has traumatized her, and she still carries that weight of the guilt on her shoulder. You wouldn't think that with how she acts. She's a ball of sunshine, but she won't let anyone treat her like sh*t. I love her!
And she's part-Filipino!!! Granted, her mother is half, so she's like 25% Filipino, but hey. I'm all for that! And Lumpia? Lumpia is life.
Plus, she's hilarious!
He's an arrogant assmunch...And why the hell does everyone call him Scottie? The name doesn't fit him at all. Beelzebub would be better."
Their relationship. A-freaking-dorable! They seem like polar opposites; while Sophie lives life by the day, Gabriel spends his planning it. Truth is, they have a lot in common than they thought. They're also attuned to each other's needs, it made me melt!!! Gabriel doesn't have to tell Sophie anything, but suddenly she's there and she's helping him and making him feel things, therefore making me feel things. And I love how Gabriel is when he's with Sophie. Swoooon! Their banter's pretty hilarious, too!
Me: Your sarcasm smells of slain interns' blood and the souls of missing record execs. Sunshine: False. That is what I eat for breakfast. Keep up, Darling."
Their first time. Oh my gosh. What a scene. It was a slow build up, and the story was filled with the perfect balance of sexual tension and sweet little moments. I wanted to celebrate when I finally read their first time. It was perfect.
The camaraderie between Kill John, Libby, Gabriel, Sophie, and Brenna. They're always there for each other and they're a family––with the exception of the romantic relationships, of course. I also love how Jax looks out for Sophie and how much they understand each other. But Kill John and Gabriel wins best bromance ever. They're such adorable idiots when they're together! I love them!
The pace and voice. I breezed through this book. I had no idea hours had passed by because I was so invested, so immersed in the story. I didn't feel rushed, and I was so entertained by both Gabriel's and Sophie's POVs. PLUS THE ENDING omg. It was beautiful.
So, it's safe to say I love this book. I'll recommend this to any romance novel lover, especially to those who have a weakness for the secretly romantic brooding man and a feisty and amazing heroine.