Friday, December 31, 2021

Review: It Happened One Midnight by Saranna DeWylde

It Happened One Midnight by Saranna DeWylde
Series: Fairy Godmothers, Inc., Book 3
Publisher: Zebra
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance 
It Happened One Midnight cover
ISBN: 9781420153163
Release Date: December 28, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

CAN YOU SKIP THE STORYBOOK BEGINNING…

Novelist Juniper Blossom has romance down to a science in her bestselling books. But she’s not about to settle for just any man—a happy ending looks different for everyone, and she needs to find the guy whose idea of forever matches her own. Try telling that to her adorable, meddling grandmothers, though. If she doesn’t find a man soon, they’re going to find one for her. Which is why Juniper has prepared for a trip home to Ever After by fibbing that her sexy, smart, sweet best friend Tomas is her fiancé! He doesn’t believe in love at all, but that doesn’t matter if they’re just pretending…

ON THE WAY TO THE HAPPY ENDING?

Divorce attorney Tomas Rivera is as proud of Juniper’s authorial success as she is, but that doesn’t mean he buys into her books’ premise. His career is proof enough that true love is the real fairy tale—and everyone knows fairy tales aren’t real. But he can never say no to gorgeous Juniper, and an “engagement” might move him one legal brief closer to partner at his old-fashioned firm. Yet playing the part suddenly starts to mean feeling it, especially when a kiss just for show turns up the heat between them. Is happily ever after possible for two people who aren’t on the same page when it comes to love?

It Happened One Midnight is a best-friends to lovers story with a magical touch. Saranna DeWylde’s third Fairy Godmothers, Inc. book has all the sugar and love-powered magic and mayhem I’ve come to expect from the series, but this is one novel that might have worked better as a novella.

Juniper and Tomas have been best friends since childhood. Everything about how they act screams couple, and they acknowledge they love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together, but they’re not in love. Except with a little help from interfering…well, everybody…Tomas and Juniper start seeing each other in a new light. And once they recognize their mutual attraction it becomes a push-pull between giving into desire and standing firm on what they want. Juniper and Tomas’s problem is they want two different things. Juniper is a romance novelist who believes in love and happily ever after. Tomas is a divorce lawyer who doesn’t believe in true love or the aforementioned happily ever after. He doesn’t want he and Juniper to become like the broken couples he works with every day. Tomas doesn’t want to get married and Juniper does; both are valid. But everyone in their lives is pushing he and Juniper down the aisle; his bosses are even dangling a promotion in front of him if he gets married. The problem with this being a full-length novel is the longer things went on, the more it felt like Tomas was being bullied into love and marriage. Not wanting those things is perfectly valid and the pressure on him was so immense (especially when it came to his job) that it was uncomfortable. Yes, it’s clear he and Juniper are meant to be, and yes, he needed to come around to see all that she is to him, but it isn’t fun to see someone forced into it. The one saving grace was Juniper never pushed him to be other than he was. She was firm on what she believes and stood up for herself, but she also showed Tomas the respect of not invalidating what he believes.

As a couple, Juniper and Tomas work well and are easy to root for. They have good chemistry, their love for one another is clear. They just needed a push to go to the next step – the push being mostly bringing their lustful feelings to the forefront. It’s easy to like Juniper and Tomas, though again, I felt bad for the latter because even the town (not the residents – the town itself) of Ever After seemed to go after him because he doesn’t believe in romantic love. The obstacles are drawn out and got a bit repetitive. However, I liked the main characters and ultimately Juniper and Tomas had a satisfying happily ever after that did feel like it worked for both characters.

It Happened One Midnight is the third Fairy Godmothers, Inc. book and it can easily be read as a standalone. Juniper’s grandmothers, Petunia, Bluebonnet, and Jonquil, are as sugar-fueled and ready to interfere as ever. They’re a bit much for me at times, are a bit heavy-handed with the exposition, and their zaniness is just not my cup of tea, but that’s personal preference. Aside from the town wildlife targeting Tomas, the magical town of Ever After was as adorable as ever. I enjoy DeWylde’s spin on fairytales and it was fun to see all the popular romance tropes appear with characters who know and acknowledge those tropes.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Review: A Scoundrel of Her Own by Stacy Reid

A Scoundrel of Her Own by Stacy Reid
Series: Sinful Wallflowers, Book 3
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Historical Romance 
A Scoundrel of Her Own cover
ISBN: 9781640637696
Release Date: December 28, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled
Stacy Reid Reading Order

Lady Ophelia Darby exists in two worlds. In one, she is the impudent, willful daughter of a powerful marquess and darling of the ton. In the other, she moves through the underworld’s shadows as songstress Lady Starlight, protected only by the notoriously wealthy scoundrel Devlin Byrne. But when she stumbles upon her beloved father’s darkest secrets, the line between her two worlds quickly blurs. Now she needs the help of the one man a lady should never trust.

Devlin Byrne stands on the edge of London society, knowing he will never be accepted. No one else knows that his obscene wealth and ruthlessness aren’t without purpose. Or that his purpose has golden-brown eyes that shimmer with mischief, the palest of skin, and a lush mouth that beckons to be kissed, and deeply. But having Ophelia is only the beginning of Devlin’s plans.

It’s undeniable that Devlin Byrne is a dangerous temptation—but just as Ophelia begins to trust him, maybe even fall for him, she discovers she’s not the only one with secrets. And his would lead her down more than just the path of scandal…

A forbidden romance between an independent lady and a notorious scoundrel causes sparks to fly in A Scoundrel of Her Own. Stacy Reid’s Sinful Wallflowers are back and more daring than ever as Ophelia takes center stage.

Ophelia has been raised with all the comforts and luxuries of her station plus she has the added benefit of loving parents. Devlin scraped, fought, and with ruthless determination went from a poverty-stricken child to a wealthy and dangerous man. They couldn’t be more different and yet, they fit one another perfectly. Ophelia is bound by society’s rules, but beneath all that lies a wild heart that clamors to be free. Devlin lives among the shadows, his life shaped by a burning need stemming from an event in his childhood. Ophelia’s openness and free-spiritedness charmed me, but it was Devlin with his yearning heart that really grabbed my attention. He’s so dangerous that the common criminal will run from his name, but he’s a complete goner when it comes to Ophelia. The more I learned about Devlin and his huge heart, the more I wanted to see Ophelia throw caution to the wind and fall for him. But their class differences are so great that not even his wealth can bridge the divide. How Reid brings about the happily ever after I won’t spoil; suffice it to say she wraps everything up in a satisfying manner.

A Scoundrel of Her Own is by turns steamy and sweet. Every secret outing Devlin and Ophelia have is filled with warm, sometimes funny moments. The open and honest way they talk made me believe in them as a couple. Underneath it all is a simmering sexual tension that is wonderful to watch boil over. Devlin and Ophelia are a match for each other in every respect. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them fall in love and forge their own path. Stacy Reid’s romances never fail to make me smile and sigh and Ophelia and Devlin’s is no exception. I cannot wait to see what Reid has in store for the next Sinful Wallflower!



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Review: Better Off Wed by Susanna Craig

Better Off Wed by Susanna Craig
Series: Love and Let Spy, Book 3
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance 
Better Off Wed cover
ISBN: 9781516110629
Release Date: December 28, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

She’s an avenging angel…who tempts him like the devil…

If Miss Laura Hopkins desired a husband, her beauty, brains, and fortune would make it easy to acquire one. Instead, Laura prefers to put her charms to another purpose entirely. Using the alias Lady Sterling, Laura helps young women who have been mistreated or compromised by their employers. Some might see it as theft and blackmail. For Laura, it is a small measure of justice. But while in pursuit of her latest target, Laura is unexpectedly aided by a gentleman who announces that he is Lord Sterling.

As a spy for the Crown, Captain Jeremy Addison, Viscount Sterling, has been assigned all manner of dangerous missions, though none as complicated as investigating the beguiling Lady Sterling. Forced to pose as newlyweds at the home of a disreputable earl, Laura and Jeremy forge an unexpected alliance…and a passionate connection. But can such a dangerous masquerade possibly lead to a real, lasting love?

Laura Hopkins has seen numerous women mistreated by their employers and no one ever steps in. No one, that is, until her. Donning the guise of Lady Sterling, Laura gets a small measure of justice and funds for the women who have been harmed. The one thing Lady Sterling never counted on was there being a Lord Sterling.

Captain Jeremy Addison is a spy for the Crown. He’s also Viscount Sterling, which is why his superior has chosen him to bring Lady Sterling in in the hopes of using her talents for King and Country. What should be a relatively simple mission turns complicated when Laura and Jeremy are forced to pretend to be a married couple in order to take down a blackguard. Close quarters leads to an attraction that isn’t all for show…

A codebreaker more at home among books gets tangled up with a vigilante in Better Off Wed. Susanna Craig’s third Love and Let Spy novel is entertaining and easy to fall into thanks to its endearing main characters.

Laura is brave and bold; a good actress and a quick thinker who uses her talents to find as much justice as she can for women no one will stand for. Jeremy is a codebreaker not a field agent, but he cannot and will not leave Laura or the women she is trying to protect on their own. The two of them make great allies as they hunt for clues to bring down a slippery foe. Even better, they have good, solid chemistry that makes their romance engaging. It’s easy to fall into their romance because they’re such strong, noble characters. How could you not root for them? Each has a journey to go own and I liked watching them come fully into their own with each other.

Better Off Wed is the third book in the Love and Let Spy series but it can easily be read as a standalone. The series is tied together by General Scott, a man as determined to help his agents find love as he is to protect England. I’ve enjoyed every book in this series so far and Laura and Jeremy’s romance is no exception. I can’t wait to see who Craig (and General Scott) set their sights on next.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Review: Girls Before Earls by Anna Bennett

Girls Before Earls by Anna Bennett
Series: Rogues to Lovers, Book 1
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance 
Girls Before Earls cover
ISBN: 9781250793911
Release Date: December 28, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

WHAT A GIRL WANTS
To survive her difficult childhood, Miss Hazel Lively relied on two things: a tough exterior and a love of books. Now, she’s realized her life-long dream of opening a school for girls. She’s hoping the wealthy families who summer at the shore will entrust their daughters to Bellehaven Academy—and help pay for less fortunate students. All Hazel must do is maintain a flawless reputation. It’s a foolproof plan…until a handsome earl strides into her office.

WHAT AN EARL NEEDS
Gabriel Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had a monstrous headache since the day his teenaged niece became his ward. She’s already been expelled from two London schools, but Blade is determined to enroll her at Bellehaven Academy, where she’ll be out of his hair. If only he can convince the buttoned-up—and unexpectedly intriguing—headmistress to take a risk.

LEAD TO AN IRRESISTIBLE DEAL
Blade makes an offer that’s impossible for Hazel to refuse, but she has one condition: the earl must visit his niece every other week. Soon, Blade discovers there’s more to Hazel than meticulous lessons. Their sparring leads to flirtation…and something altogether deeper. But the passion that flares between them poses a threat to Hazel’s school and Blade’s battered heart. They say a good thing can’t last forever, but true love? Well, it just might…

Anna Bennett has kicked her Rogues to Lovers series with a bang. Girls Before Earls is an entertaining, fun, heartwarming read with a romance that will make you smile and sigh.

As a child, school saved Hazel Lively. Her determination, love of learning, and caring heart have her now opening her own school in the seaside town of Bellehaven. To keep her doors open and take in more girls can’t afford school, she also needs the daughters of wealthy families to attend her school. Enter the Earl of Bladenton. Blade closed off his heart after it was broken by his childhood love. But now he’s in charge of his orphan niece, a bright fifteen-year-old who keeps getting herself kicked out of London schools. Hazel’s school is his last chance, but he doesn’t expect to find the buttoned-up mistress so intriguing. And Hazel, who has closed herself off but secretly desires true love, can’t resist Blade even though his station and determination to wall off his heart make him an incompatible match. I really liked the chemistry between Hazel and Blade, enjoyed how they couldn’t resist each other because they simply fit. They come alive in each other’s company and become their best selves with each other. It’s not a smooth road to happily ever after, but the bumps in the road are worth it. Their romance is sweet, engaging, and ultimately delightful.

Bennett brings the world of Bellehaven to life in Girls Before Earls and I loved the picturesque seaside town. The supporting cast made me smile and there are characters I definitely want to see get books of their own. I really enjoyed all the female relationships in this story, both when it came to friendships and to made families. In a lot of ways, Bellehaven and some of its residents reminded me of the TV adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sanditon, which is likely why I was so charmed by it. All in all, I adored Hazel and Blade’s story and I cannot wait to see what Bennet has in store for the next Rogues to Lovers book.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Review: Not Your Average Hot Guy by Gwenda Bond

Not Your Average Hot Guy by Gwenda Bond
Series: Not Your Average Hot Guy, Book 1
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance 
Not Your Average Hot Guy cover
ISBN: 9781250771742
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A paranormal romantic comedy at the (possible) end of the world.

All Callie wanted was a quiet weekend with her best friend. She promised her mom she could handle running her family’s escape room business while her mom is out of town. Instead a Satanic cult shows up, claiming that the prop spell book in one of the rooms is the real deal, and they need it to summon the right hand of the devil. Naturally they take Callie and her friend, Mag, along with them. But when the summoning reveals a handsome demon in a leather jacket named Luke who offers to help Callie stop the cult from destroying the world, her night goes from weird to completely strange.

As the group tries to stay one step ahead of the cult, Callie finds herself drawn to the annoying (and annoyingly handsome) Luke. But what Callie doesn’t know is that Luke is none other than Luke Morningstar, Prince of Hell and son of the Devil himself. Callie never had time for love, and with the apocalypse coming closer, is there room for romance when all hell’s about to break loose?

Not Your Average Hot Guy is a fast and fun rom com set against the backdrop of the apocalypse. Gwenda Bond makes these two disparate things work better together than you might think, though overall I had mixed feelings about Callie and Luke’s first outing.

Callie has recently graduated from college and is back home helping her mom run their escape room business. She’s left in charge for the weekend when a Satanic cult shows up, steals a prop grimoire (which is actually the real thing), and summons the literal Prince of Hell. Luke Morningstar has been tasked with reaping the cult’s souls, but things go awry and suddenly he and Callie are teamed up and trying to stop the apocalypse. Callie and Luke are a lot of fun together. His seemingly laid-back attitude and her super trivia brain make an enjoyable pairing so I was ready to go along for the ride. The problem with them was twofold: (1) they both sounded the same so with the dual-POV it was sometimes hard to remember whose chapter I was in and (2) they both spoke and acted younger than they were supposed to be. Because of the former especially, the book fell slightly short of its premise, which was a pity.

Bond keeps Not Your Average Hot Guy hopping with all the action and I did really enjoy it even though we seemed to be moving from point to point in a way that didn’t feel wholly organic (and I can’t really say why without spoiling the story). Bond presents a lot of potentially interesting locations, both above and below, and I definitely wanted to explore them further. I struggled with putting a rating on this story because I had a lot of fun reading it, but I can’t be blinded to its flaws. At the end of the day, I found Not Your Average Hot Guy to be fast-paced, entertaining, and even with the missed opportunities there was a good amount of adventure to be had. I will absolutely be checking out Callie and Luke’s next book.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Review: The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Fiction 
The Ballerinas cover
ISBN: 9781250274236
Release Date: December 7, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Thirteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now 36 years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career––and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she's been away...and some secrets can't stay buried forever.

Moving between the trio's adolescent years and the present day, Rachel Kapelke-Dale's The Ballerinas explores the complexities of female friendship, the dark drive towards physical perfection in the name of artistic expression, the double-edged sword of ambition and passion, and the sublimated rage that so many women hold inside––all culminating in a twist you won't see coming, with magnetic characters you won't soon forget.

The Ballerinas is a study in duality; it’s beautiful and ugly, strong and fragile, perfect and messy. Rachel Kapelke-Dale brings her world of the Paris Opera Ballet to life, showing the stunning highs, the athletic perfection, along with the cost and the all-consuming nature of ballet. At the center of it all are the titular ballerinas, women of immense power who appear fragile, women who are objectified by one and all.

After thirteen years away, Delphine has returned to Paris. The former ballerina turned choreographer is eager to be reunited with her best friends, Margaux and Lindsay. Kapelke-Dale takes readers between past and present, through the blood, sweat, and tears as the students turned professional ballerinas strive to become the best of the best. The past is filled with triumph, ambition, friendship, and pain; the present with strained relationships, broken dreams, and Delphine’s desperate hope for more, though hanging over her is a secret that could ruin everything she holds dear.

The Ballerinas is atmospheric, Kapelke-Dale’s writing sucking me in even though I will admit the first half of the book is rather slow. I loved the descriptions of ballet, the beautiful and the painful moments that make up everything. The author’s love of the subject is there, even though she doesn’t shy away from the realistic moments which break the fantasy you see on stage. The objectification of women, the rampant misogyny, the imbalance of power is all given it’s due attention and it was fascinating to watch Delphine’s understanding of these topics deepen as she grows older. Even when I wondered where the plot was going, Kapelke-Dale’s writing was beautiful. Halfway through the story hits its stride and from there it’s an intense, interesting read. The characters aren’t likeable, but they’re engaging and I wanted Delphine in particular to break free and claim her power. I didn’t know where the story would take Delphine, Margaux, and Lindsay, but I was hooked and didn’t want to put it down until Kapelke-Dale spun everything together at the end.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Review: Pride, Prejudice, and Peril by Katie Oliver

Pride, Prejudice, and Peril by Katie Oliver
Series: A Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Mystery 
Pride Prejudice and Peril cover
ISBN: 9780593337615
Release Date: December 7, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Phaedra Brighton is perfectly content with her life of lecturing college students, gossiping with her best friends, and dreaming of Mr. Darcy. As a young, respected (if somewhat peculiar) English professor, her expertise lies in all things Jane Austen—but she knows that the closest she'll ever get to being a real-life Elizabeth Bennet is in her dreams.

When Who Wants to Marry Mr. Darcy, a new reality TV show, starts filming at her best friend Charlene's estate, Phaedra is intrigued. And when the producer asks her to lend her Austenian knowledge as a consultant on the show, she's over the moon. But on the first day of filming, when Charlene's new husband is found electrocuted and Charlene herself is accused of the crime, Phaedra comes crashing back to reality.

With murder on the syllabus and her best friend in dire straits, there's no Mr. Darcy around to help Phaedra—she'll have to get to the bottom of this mystery herself.
Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie meets The Bachelor in Pride, Prejudice, and Peril. Perhaps this is a combination that shouldn’t work, but in author Katie Oliver’s hands it does, resulting in an entertaining cozy mystery.

Phaedra Brighton is a professor and Austen expert, perhaps best known for teaching her classes in full Regency wear. She dreams of Mr. Darcy but knows the closest thing to Pride and Prejudice in her real life is her mother pulling a Mrs. Bennet trying to see her daughters wed. When Who Wants to Marry Mr. Darcy, a Jane Austen-inspired reality dating series, starts filming at the estate belonging to her best friend, Charlene, Phaedra is offered the job as consultant. Then during filming Charlene’s husband is murdered and evidence points to his wife as the most likely suspect. Phaedra is determined to clear her friend of suspicion and find the true killer, but as someone who is more Lizzy Bennet than Miss Marple, she’ll have her work cut out for her.

Phaedra is an entertaining heroine with just enough quirkiness to make her stand out. In the usual cozy mystery way, she takes it upon herself to investigate, frustrating the local detective with her interference and putting herself in danger. I liked the nods to Austen Oliver sprinkled throughout the story and – as an admitted Janeite – these tidbits made me smile. Phaedra has a rather extensive list of suspects to choose from during her investigation – the deceased was anything but beloved. It was entertaining watching her put the puzzle pieces together while trying to juggle everything on her plate. Information is doled out as needed in order to keep things going and while I sometimes found the reveals to be inorganic in their delivery, it didn’t pull me out of the story. Phaedra’s family and friends are all interesting and I look forward to learning more about them. All in all, I really liked Pride, Prejudice, and Peril and I’m looking forward to seeing what Phaedra gets up to next!



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Review: What the Cat Dragged In by Kate McMurray

What the Cat Dragged In by Kate McMurray
Series: Whitman Street Cat Café, Book 2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
What the Cat Dragged In cover
ISBN: 9781728214573
Release Date: December 7, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

When Paige Danvers isn't managing events for the Whitman Street Cat Café, she is busy navigating dating disasters as a single woman in Brooklyn. Urged by her boss and best friend Lauren to find a distraction from ineffectual dating apps, Paige volunteers with a cat rescue organization, where she actually meets a guy with some real relationship potential.

Recent law school grad Josh Harlow is putting in long hours at a Manhattan law firm as he gets over a messy breakup. When his boss requires him to do some volunteer work, Josh's sister sets him up to help capture feral cats. Partnered with Paige, Josh is insistently drawn to the dynamic event planner and sparks between them fly.

One problem: after a steamy night together, Paige discovers Josh is Lauren's brother and dating him would be a spectacularly awful idea. Particularly considering Paige's track record. They're both in too deep to walk away—but if they let the cat out of the bag, it's going to wreak havoc with friends, family, and jobs alike.

What the Cat Dragged In is a fast-paced, enjoyable romance with four-legged supporting cast members who threaten to steal the show. I adored the world of Kate McMurray’s Whitman Street Cat Café and though I threatened to be sidetracked by the too-cute-for-words felines in the book, the humans at the center of this story were just as endearing.

Paige loves her job as an events manager for the Whitman Street Cat Café. On the surface, she has it all together between her job, friends, and life. The only problem is her dating life is a disaster. Then when volunteering with a cat rescue organization she meets a guy who could be her perfect match. There’s just one problem: he’s her boss’s brother. Having gone through a bad breakup and now drowning in work as a first year associate in a big Manhattan law firm, Josh isn’t in the best place for a relationship. But Paige knocks him off his feet from the first. The two of them just fit and I absolutely adored their easy chemistry together.

Josh and Paige work as friends and lovers which makes it easy to be charmed by their romance. The conflict stems from the fact that Josh is Lauren’s brother and Lauren is Paige’s boss, friend, and the one who brought her into the friend group who is now her family. Lauren (heroine of the first Whitman Street Cat Café book, Like Cats and Dogs) didn’t come off as likeable or understanding for a lot of this story, which was a pity. But the blame for Paige and Josh’s drama can’t all be placed on her: both of them (Paige most of all) get in their own way sometimes. While I was a bit frustrated by the obstacles in the way of Paige and Josh’s happily ever after, they did make sense. The problems seem small from a reader’s perspective but they’re ones I can easily see people causing themselves in real life. Overall, I really enjoyed What the Cat Dragged In. I liked Paige and Josh, they had a fun, easy chemistry, and the cats in the book stole my heart. How is that not a recipe for a good time?



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Review: Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe by Wendy Warren

Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe by Wendy Warren
Series: Holliday, Oregon, Book 1
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe cover
ISBN: 9781335408266
Release Date: November 30, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Harlequin

Is she the one who can bring new love into his darkened heart?

As a new landlord, Dr. Gideon Bowen is more irritating than ingratiating. Eden Berman should probably consider moving. But in the spirit of the holidays—and curiosity about Gideon and his enigmatic past—Eden offers her friendship instead. As their relationship ignites, it’s clear that Gideon is more mensch than menace. With each candle of Hanukkah burning brighter, can Eden light his way to love?

It’s grumpy meets sunshine in Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe. Wendy Warren makes the enemies-to-lovers trope feel fresh and fun in this charming romance.

At thirty-six, Eden Berman is ready to find true love. She knows just the man, too, and he’s the opposite of her grumpy new landlord, Dr. Gideon Bowen. Eden has visible and invisible scars but she masks it with a sunny attitude and a determined spirit. She’s set her sights on handsome and outgoing teacher Brandon, but it’s her way-too-serious, isolated neighbor who keeps pulling her focus. Eden has a tendency to build castles in the air, but she’s a delightful heroine nonetheless. She has hidden vulnerabilities and a kind heart, both of which make her interesting. Gideon is more of a mystery for much of the book. He seems cold to others but he’s really not. He broke my heart and I enjoyed watching him come to life while not losing his quiet nature. He and Eden fit like lock and key, which made it easy for me to fall into their romance. They go from enemies to friends to more in a steady fashion and though I felt the ending was rushed, I still enjoyed their story overall.

A dash of Hanukkah spirit adds festivity and a cast of interesting, endearing supporting characters add heart. Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe is a great book to curl up with when you need to find some light in the dark.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Review: The Becoming by Nora Roberts

The Becoming by Nora Roberts
Series: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 2
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Fantasy 
The Becoming cover
ISBN: 9781250272706
Release Date: November 23, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

The world of magick and the world of man have long been estranged from one another. But some can walk between the two—including Breen Siobhan Kelly. She has just returned to Talamh, with her friend, Marco, who’s dazzled and disoriented by this realm—a place filled with dragons and faeries and mermaids (but no WiFi, to his chagrin). In Talamh, Breen is not the ordinary young schoolteacher he knew her as. Here she is learning to embrace the powers of her true identity. Marco is welcomed kindly by her people—and by Keegan, leader of the Fey. Keegan has trained Breen as a warrior, and his yearning for her has grown along with his admiration of her strength and skills.

But one member of Breen’s bloodline is not there to embrace her. Her grandfather, the outcast god Odran, plots to destroy Talamh—and now all must unite to defeat his dark forces. There will be losses and sorrows, betrayal and bloodshed. But through it, Breen Siobhan Kelly will take the next step on the journey to becoming all that she was born to be.

Return to the world of the Talamh, a world of the Wise and the Fey, of dragons and trolls; a world a fallen god seeks to destroy. In The Becoming, Nora Roberts continues to build on what she started with The Awakening, weaving a story of light versus dark. And at the center of it all is Breen Siobhan Kelly, the key to Talamh’s rise or fall, and a woman coming into her full power.

The Becoming is very much a bridge book, for better or worse Much of the story follows Breen as she continues to learn more magic, develop her craft, train to fight, and search for clues as to what her evil grandfather is planning to do next. By her side is her best friend Marco, a man who is thrown for a loop after being transported from Philadelphia to Talamh. Breen and Marco are both easy to like and their bond is one they cherish above all else. I loved their friendship and how they always supported one another. Despite being a city boy, Marco is quickly enveloped in Talamh and Breen’s friends and family become his. I enjoyed watching Breen and Marco become further enmeshed in Talamh but it did grow repetitive. As a longtime fan of Nora Roberts it pains me to say the first half of this book is painfully slow. There’s a lot of filler with small bursts of excitement as we follow Breen, Marco, and Keegan on their daily tasks. At a little over halfway the story picks up the pace, as Breen travels to the Capital. There politics and false faces add drama and interest, but the story still doesn’t hit its full stride until the last third of the book. There insidious evil creeps through and forces our heroes to come together and act. I was hooked at the end, though what occurred was still just a taste of what I hope is to come in the final book.

The Becoming isn’t a romance, but there are love stories throughout. From the slow and steady to the lightening quick, from tragic to one-sided, and more – love is the counterpart to the dark and violent elements of this story. Breen and Keegan’s romance, the one you would expect to be the most prominent, remains understated. I liked them together and I actually enjoyed that they are focused on saving the world more than exploring what they could have together. The practicality of it makes sense, though because I expect a romance when I read Nora Roberts I hope to see more sparks between Keegan and Breen in the final installment.

The Becoming moves the overarching plot of the Dragon Heart Legacy series forward but on its own it’s a book I liked but didn’t love. I enjoyed my time in Talamh, liked watching the characters grow and relationships develop, but the pacing made the story drag a bit. I am, however, very much looking forward to seeing what comes next as Breen and all those who stand with her in the light take on pure evil.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Review: All the Feels by Olivia Dade

All the Feels by Olivia Dade
Series: Spoiler Alert, Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
All the Feels cover
ISBN: 9780063005587
Release Date: November 16, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, Gods of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he's dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.

Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to mention his Cupid fanfiction habit.

When another scandal lands Alex in major hot water and costs Lauren her job, she’ll have to choose between protecting him and offering him what he really wants—her. But he’s determined to keep his improbably short, impossibly stubborn, and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. And on a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves: anything at all.

An impulsive, sexy television star meets his match in a no-nonsense therapist in All the Feels. Olivia Dade’s second Spoiler Alert novel features two likeable characters who are easy to root for, but the romance missed the mark for me.

Alex is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s so loving, protective, and open it’s easy to fall for him. He’s got sex appeal in spades and loves the spotlight, but somehow his need for attention isn’t annoying because he’s got charm and a good heart. He’s open about having ADHD, which I really appreciated. But Alex’s impulsivity is threatening to derail his career and his showrunners have hired a minder. Enter Lauren. She’s a former ER therapist hired to keep Alex in line. Alex may have a good heart but his unfiltered mouth leads to some backhanded compliments (they make sense in his mind but since Lauren isn’t in his mind it’s cringe-worthy). Lauren is smart, sensible, and caring. She isn’t beautiful and Dade doesn’t mask the cruelty someone who looks like Lauren faces. Though Lauren spends a lot of the reacting to Alex, when we do see her independent character she’s really interesting and I enjoyed her personal journey.

I loved Alex and Lauren’s chemistry at the start. Their banter is fun, his provoking and her shutting it down made me smile. They also take care of each other and learn about one another which I really enjoyed. I loved them as friends, but when All the Feels turns to lust the story just didn’t work for me. I really liked Lauren and Alex individually and as friends but I didn’t feel any romantic chemistry from them. When things heated up it felt inorganic, which was a letdown. From there, the story rockets from lust to love which felt forced, even taking into consideration Alex’s open, emotional nature. It’s a pity because after finishing Spoiler Alert I was really excited to read Lauren and Alex’s story. In the end, I had mixed feelings about All the Feels. I really liked Lauren and Alex, enjoyed their friendship, and loved Alex’s relationship with his castmates, but the romance wasn’t my cup of tea.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Review: The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams

The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
The Fastest Way to Fall cover
ISBN: 9780593101926
Release Date: November 2, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Britta didn’t plan on falling for her personal trainer, and Wes didn’t plan on Britta. Plans change and it's unclear if love, career, or both will meet them at the finish line.

Britta Colby works for a lifestyle website, and when tasked to write about her experience with a hot new body-positive fitness app that includes personal coaching, she knows it's a major opportunity to prove she should write for the site full-time.

As CEO of the FitMi Fitness app, Wes Lawson finally has the financial security he grew up without, but despite his success, his floundering love life and complicated family situation leaves him feeling isolated and unfulfilled. He decides to get back to what he loves—coaching. Britta’s his first new client and they click immediately.

As weeks pass, she’s surprised at how much she enjoys experimenting with her exercise routine. He’s surprised at how much he looks forward to talking to her every day. They convince themselves their attraction is harmless, but when they start working out in person, Wes and Britta find it increasingly challenging to deny their chemistry and maintain a professional distance.

Wes isn’t supposed to be training clients, much less meeting with them, and Britta’s credibility will be sunk if the lifestyle site finds out she’s practically dating the fitness coach she’s reviewing. Walking away from each other is the smartest thing to do, but running side by side feels like the start of something big.
The Fastest Way to Fall is a delightful, emotionally honest romance. From coach/trainee to friends to lovers, Britta and Wes’s journey was lovely to watch unfold.

Britta is an assistant at a lifestyle website, wanting that promotion to writer. She’s got the talent but she has equally talented competition. There’s one writer spot open and she’s going for it by writing about FitMi, a fitness app that supposedly has trained coaches and a healthy mentality. Britta is fat and owns it; she loves her body and doesn’t think that wanting to get fitter has anything to do with not loving herself or how she looks. Wes is the CEO of FitMi and he’s in a rut at the beginning of the story. He’s got the financial stability he’s always craved, having grown up in an unstable home with an addict mother. But sitting behind a desk isn’t for him so he decides to get back into coaching. Britta is his first client and the two of them have fun banter from the very start. I loved watching them text through the app and I can’t count the number of times they made me smile. It’s not long before they’re getting into ethical grey-zones, each keeping their jobs a secret when they meet to train in person. There’s push-pull as each is afraid to go for what they want, but it’s clear these two fit like lock and key, making it easy to root for their romance.

What stood out to me the most was the way author Denise Williams gave a strong core of emotional honesty to Britta’s journey. She loves herself and the way she looks, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be hurt, can’t have moments of doubt or have her self-esteem dinged up. Britta has her ups and downs in a realistic way that’s sure to be relatable to many. I really loved her personal journey and enjoyed seeing her confidence increase, watching her fall in love with fitness, and all without feeling like she needed to change how she looked or acted. Wes finds Britta hot from the first and I loved that he saw and appreciated her for all that she is. He has his own hurdles to overcome but Britta is there to support him as much as he is her. It’s a great give-and-take that makes the story all the stronger.

The Fastest Way to Fall has fun banter, a slow burn romance you can cheer for, and a happily ever after that will make you smile. I adored Britta and Wes and I can’t wait to read more of Denise Williams’s work!



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Review: The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton: Lady Whistledown’s Official Guide by Julia Quinn
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical 
The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton cover
ISBN: 9780063216013
Release Date: November 9, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo
Julia Quinn Reading Order

A collection of the most dramatic, romantic, and memorable quotes from the charming characters of the Bridgerton world, The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton is the perfect gift for fans of the Bridgerton series and the groundbreaking Shondaland/Netflix adaptation. With her signature wink and nod, Lady Whistledown herself will act as readers’ familiar and trusted guide, introducing each character’s most memorable quotes.

Each chapter in the book will highlight a different character from the Bridgerton series and include a new introduction from Lady Whistledown, quotes from the character, and things other characters have said about them over the course of the entire series. Fans will get a 360-degree view of each of their favorite personalities, with new commentary and takeaways from Lady Whistledown.

From Daphne, to Simon, to Penelope, to Colin, fans will enter the Bridgerton world in a completely new way with a fresh and intimate perspective of each character. Readers will relive the twists and turns of the books, taking (or not taking) the advice on love, family, etiquette, and fashion from the most beloved and unforgettable voices from Bridgerton. With an introduction from the creator of the Bridgerton world and #1 NYT Bestselling author Julia Quinn, The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton is a highly designed keepsake and unique addition to the Regency-set series.

The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton is a fun treat for fans of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. It’s a compendium of quotes from the series spotlighting each of the eight Bridgerton siblings plus Kate, Penelope, Simon, Violet, and Lady Danbury. I loved the collection of quotes from the books and was interested to see what Quinn would pick out to highlight each character. Each character is introduced with a new column by Lady Whistledown, but aside from that the text is all pulled from the Bridgerton series (plus one Rokesby book).

If you’re looking for some insight into Bridgerton the show on Netflix, this is not that. Aside from Quinn’s introduction, The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton is entirely focused on the books themselves. If you haven’t read the series I don’t think this collection will have the impact for you that it did for me (especially as you get farther down the Bridgerton sibling line to characters who are not heavily featured in season one of the television show). I delighted in revisiting my favorite characters in this format and I highly recommend this for anyone who loves the books and wants to have a collection of quotes to simply pick out and enjoy whenever the mood strikes. The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton serves as a lovely reminder of all the things I love about the Bridgertons, their relationships (romantic and familial), and Quinn’s sparkling prose.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Hollywood Heroine by Sarah Kuhn

Hollywood Heroine by Sarah Kuhn
Series: Heroine Complex, Book 5
Publisher: DAW
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Hollywood Heroine cover
ISBN: 9780756416515
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Over the years, the adventures of superheroines Aveda Jupiter and Evie Tanaka have become the stuff of legend--and now they'll be immortalized in their very own TV show!

The pair head to LA for filming, but Aveda struggles to get truly excited. Instead, she's preoccupied wondering about the fate of the world and her role in it. You know, the usual. Now that Otherworld activity has been detected outside the Bay Area, Aveda can't help but wonder if the demon threat will ever be eradicated.

When the drama on set takes a turn for the supernatural, Evie and Aveda must balance their celebrity commitments with donning their superhero capes again to investigate. And when the evil they battle reveals a larger, more nefarious plot, it's time for the indomitable Aveda Jupiter to rise to the occasion and become the leader she was meant to be on a more global scale--and hopefully keep some semblance of a personal life while doing so.
Superheroines Aveda Jupiter and Evie Tanaka are back, facing demons and possibly vampires in Hollywood Heroine. Every time I enter Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex world I am ready for an action-packed good time. Kuhn did not disappoint, blending action and some humor with weighty, real-world problems.

I frickin’ love Aveda. She has got the biggest heart and is so earnest, so determined to solve every problem she can that it’s impossible not to love her. Is she perfect? Not by a long shot. But she is always growing, always trying to do better and not steamroll people; even when she makes mistakes they come from the best of intentions. But Aveda is running herself into the ground. She never takes a break and more importantly, feels like she can’t. Hollywood Heroine addresses racism, the pressure Aveda faces as a powerful Asian American woman in the media, an aggressive mean girl who knows just how to twist the knife, panic attacks, and the fear of change. Aveda is deeply afraid of losing those she loves the most and she bottles up her emotions, throwing herself into being everyone’s champion. My heart broke for her and how hard she was trying and I wanted her to let her loved ones take care of her for once. I also wanted her to see how much she was loved and supported. Aveda’s relationship with her husband, Scott, was a storyline that had me absolutely glued to the pages of this book. Kuhn doesn’t take it easy on Aveda in this book but that’s what makes the story so satisfying. I was rooting for Aveda every step of the way and though I won’t spoil what happens I loved how the ending turned out.

It wouldn’t be a Heroine Complex book without some creative supernatural plot and this time it’s something that seems vampiric. I loved watching Aveda and her ever-expanding circle of friends put the pieces together. The action sequences are exciting and I enjoyed watching the mystery unfold. But what really grabbed me the most about Hollywood Heroine were the emotional moments, which is why I recommend being familiar with Tanaka/Jupiter and co. before jumping into this story. I love seeing how far all the relationships have come, how all my favorite characters have grown over the past five books, and I cannot wait to see where Kuhn takes them all next!



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Review: Archangel’s Light by Nalini Singh

Archangel’s Light by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter, Book 14
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Male/Male Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy 
Archangels Light cover
ISBN: 9780593198148
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Nalini Singh Reading Order

Nalini Singh returns to the world of the Guild Hunters for the most highly anticipated novel of the beloved series—a love story so epic it’s been half a millennia in the making…

Illium and Aodhan. Aodhan and Illium. For centuries they’ve been inseparable: the best of friends, closer than brothers, companions of the heart. But that was before—before darkness befell Aodhan and shattered him, body, mind, and soul. Now, at long last, Aodhan is healing, but his new-found strength and independence may come at a devastating cost—his relationship with Illium.

As they serve side by side in China, a territory yet marked by the evil of its former archangel, the secret it holds nightmarish beyond imagining, things come to an explosive decision point. Illium and Aodhan must either walk away from the relationship that has defined them—or step forward into a future that promises a bond infinitely precious in the life of an immortal…but that demands a terrifying vulnerability from two badly bruised hearts.

Archangel’s Light is a story of love, friendship, and a bond greater than anyone could imagine. I’ve been waiting for years for Illium and Aodhan’s book and these two angels take such an emotional journey I devoured this book in one sitting, unable to put it down until I reached the very end.

The biggest question longtime Aodhan/Illium fans will want to have answered is “Is this a romance?” Yes and no. It’s an epic love story spanning half a millennia and the beginning of a romance I desperately hope will be continued in the next book. Nalini Singh has earned my trust as a reader so I’m confident we will see more of their romance and because of that confidence I was completely satisfied with this love story as the foundation of the romance.

At its core, Archangel’s Light is about Illium and Aodhan’s bond. Singh takes us from the moment they meet all the way to the present and the “yesterday” chapters are absolutely necessary to establishing just how all-encompassing their love is. We see the fun moments of mischief as children, the heartbreaking moments of loss Illium goes through, the horrors of what was done to Aodhan, and the support and love of those who are their family born and made. Through it all, Aodhan and Illium are together in a way that defies description and I wouldn’t dream of spoiling readers’ enjoyment by trying to go into detail.

Aodhan and Illium’s bond is fragile at the beginning of this book in a way it never has been. Aodhan is spreading his wings and Illium’s need to protect those he loves is stifling Aodhan’s need to grow. They love each other, but they’re also hurting each other by not being able to understand what the other needs and why. Illium has lost those he loves the most and he has a crushing need to give, protect, and hold on to those people. Aodhan feels stuck in a cage, feels like others – Illium in particular – are treating him like he’s broken and has not recovered. I hated seeing them at odds and how much it hurt them to be so, but it had to be done for them to confront the past and present and become who they want to be separately and as a couple. I loved their journey, how they are truly matched and perfect for one another in every way. The love story runs through this entire book but the romance only starts at the very end. And oh, did that ending make me want more.

Running through the present day storyline is also the newest mystery of what the crazed archangel Lijuan left behind in her wake. Aodhan is acting as Archangel Suyin’s second and he and Illium are tasked with finding out what happened in an eerie hamlet near Suyin’s base. The mystery and the horrors they uncover help drive both this story and the overarching Guild Hunter novels forward and it will be interesting to see what happens next, particularly in China. I absolutely loved Suyin and her friendship with Aodhan and I do hope we get to see the newest archangel more.

Archangel’s Light is epic in every sense of the word. Singh truly makes Illium and Aodhan shine by diving so deeply into their lives. Their love story is captivating, emotional, and beautiful to watch unfold; I cannot wait to see what comes next for Adi and Blue!



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Book Reviews: Holiday Romance

Below is a master list of my holiday romance reviews. These review links are organized by holiday (if a book covers more than one holiday it will be categorized by both). Within each holiday books are organized first by anthologies/multiple author books, then alphabetical by author.

Note: The review links will open up in a new tab/window.


Click to jump to a particular section:

New Reviews

Reviews for Upcoming Releases

Holiday:
New Year’s
Valentine’s Day
Mardi Gras
St. Patrick’s Day
Passover
Fourth of July
Halloween
Diwali
Thanksgiving
Hanukkah
Christmas


New Reviews

- The Rivals of Casper Road (Garnet Run, Book 4) by Roan Parrish
- Holiday Heroine (Heroine Complex, Book 6) by Sarah Kuhn

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Reviews for Upcoming Releases

Available September 27th:
- The Rivals of Casper Road (Garnet Run, Book 4) by Roan Parrish

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New Year’s

- The Bite of Silence (Biting Love, Book 3) by Mary Hughes

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Valentine’s Day

- Velvet Valentines (Club Velvet Ice, Book 2) by Violet Summers
- The Story of Us by Teri Wilson

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Mardi Gras

- Mardi Gras by Lacey Alexander
- Mardi Gras Magic by Remy Richard

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St. Patrick’s Day

- Irish Kiss (Kissin' Cops, Book 1) by Christa Paige

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Passover

- Matzah Ball Surprise by Laura Brown

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Fourth of July

- Fireworks by William Cooper
- Star Spangled Kiss (Kissin’ Cops, Book 2) by Christa Paige

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Halloween

- All I Want for Halloween by Marie Harte
- Better than a Sale by Chris Owen
- The Rivals of Casper Road (Garnet Run, Book 4) by Roan Parrish
- It’s a Wonderful Fright by Veronica Wilde

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Diwali

- A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli

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Thanksgiving

- Her Naughty Holiday (Men at Work, Book 2) by Tiffany Reisz

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Hanukkah

- Miracles and Menorahs (Friendships and Festivals, Book 1) by Stacey Agdern
- Love and Latkes (Friendships and Festivals, Book 3) by Stacey Agdern
- Carol of the Bellskis by Astrid Amara
- Eight Erotic Nights by Catrina Calloway
- The Hanukkah Surprise by Rebecca Lynne Fullan
- Holiday by Candlelight (Sutter Creek, Montana, Book 3) by Laurel Greer
- Secret Light by Z.A. Maxfield
- One Hot December (Men at Work, Book 3) by Tiffany Reisz
- Eight Days Ablaze by Angelia Sparrow
- Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe (Holliday, Oregon, Book 1) by Wendy Warren

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Christmas

- Black Point Christmas (Black Point, Book 5) by A.J. Llewellyn and D.J. Manly
- Christmas on Main Street by JoAnn Ross, Susan Donovan, LuAnn McLane, and Alexis Morgan
- A Clockwork Christmas by Stacy Gail, PG Forte, Jenny Schwartz, and JK Coi
- A Highlander Christmas by Dawn Halliday, Sophie Renwick, and Cindy Miles
- His for the Holidays by LB Gregg, Harper Fox, Z.A. Maxfield, and Josh Lanyon
- Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Suzanne Enoch, Amelia Grey, and Anna Bennett
- The Magical Christmas Cat by Nalini Singh, Erin McCarthy, Linda Winstead Jones, and Lora Leigh
- Men Under the Mistletoe by Ava March, Harper Fox, Josh Lanyon, and K.A. Mitchell
- Mistletoe Christmas by Eloisa James, Christi Caldwell, Janna MacGregor, and Erica Ridley
- Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney
- Snowy Night with a Stranger by Jane Feather, Sabrina Jeffries, and Julia London
- Small Town Christmas by Jill Shalvis, Hope Ramsay, and Katie Lane
- What Happens Under the Mistletoe by Sabrina Jeffries, Karen Hawkins, Candace Camp, and Meredith Duran
- A Yuletide Kiss by Sabrina Jeffries, Madeline Hunter, and Mary Jo Putney
- Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 4.5) by Jennifer Ashley
- A Mackenzie Clan Christmas (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 8.5 & Book 11.5) by Jennifer Ashley
- The Boss Who Stole Christmas (Reindeer Falls, Book 1) by Jana Aston
- Bound by Tinsel by Melinda Barron
- Kiss Me at Christmas (Playful Brides, Book 10) by Valerie Bowman
- I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Adrianna Dane
- Screw Santa (Who Needs Christmas?, Book 1) by Joyee Flynn
- Mistletoe at Midnight by LB Gregg
- Royal Holiday (The Wedding Date, Book 4) by Jasmine Guillory
- Have a Harpy Holiday (Archangel Series, Book 5.5) by Stephani Hecht
- Blood and Holly(The Drone Vampire Chronicles, Book 1.5) by Stephani Hecht
- A Cherished Christmas (The Drone Vampire Chronicles, Book 6) by Stephani Hecht
- Once Upon a Christmas Eve (Maiden Lane, Book 12.75) by Elizabeth Hoyt
- Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas (Perfect Fit, Book 1.5) by Sugar Jamison
- The Heiress and the Hothead (The Sinful Suitors, Book 1.5) by Sabrina Jeffries
- 'Twas the Night After Christmas (Hellions of Halstead Hall, Book 6) by Sabrina Jeffries
- Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor, Book 1) by Lisa Kleypas
- A Wallflower Christmas (The Wallflower Series, Book 5) by Lisa Kleypas
- Holiday Heroine (Heroine Complex, Book 6) by Sarah Kuhn
- A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli
- Hunk for the Holidays by Katie Lane
- The Dickens with Love by Josh Lanyon
- Icecapade by Josh Lanyon
- Kelsey’s Present by D. J. Manly
- Arrested Holiday by Lissa Matthews
- I Heard Him Exclaim by Z.A. Maxfield
- His Christmas Pleasure (Scandals and Seductions, Book 4) by Cathy Maxwell
- A Seduction at Christmas (Scandals and Seductions, Book 1) by Cathy Maxwell
- Merry Christmas, Paige by Mackenzie McKade
- An Improper Holiday by K.A. Mitchell
- Try As I Smite (Brimstone Inc., Book 4) by Abigail Owen
- One Hot December (Men at Work, Book 3) by Tiffany Reisz
- Christmas in Lucky Harbor: Simply Irresistible/The Sweetest Thing (Lucky Harbor, Books 1 and 2) by Jill Shalvis
- Under the Mistletoe (Lucky Harbor, Book 6.5) by Jill Shalvis
- Merry Christmas, Baby (Lucky Harbor, Book 12.5) by Jill Shalvis
- Mistletoe in Paradise (Wildstone, Book 5.5) by Jill Shalvis
- The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay, Book 2) by Jill Shalvis
- Chasing Christmas Eve (Heartbreaker Bay, Book 4) by Jill Shalvis
- Hot Winter Nights (Heartbreaker Bay, Book 6) by Jill Shalvis
- Wrapped Up in You (Heartbreaker Bay, Book 8) by Jill Shalvis
- Joys of the Season: An On Fire Christmas by Drew Zachary

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Disclosure Notice: In accordance with FTC Guidelines, I would like everyone to know that while I do purchase my own books quite frequently, you should assume that each book reviewed here at Wit and Sin was provided to the reviewer by the publisher or the author for free.

Review: The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley

The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley
Series: The Wild Wynchesters, Book 2
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Female/Non-Binary Historical Romance 
The Perks of Loving a Wallflower cover
ISBN: 9781538719541
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

As a master of disguise, Thomasina Wynchester can be a polite young lady—or a bawdy old man. She’ll do whatever it takes to solve the cases her family takes on. But when Tommy’s beautiful new client turns out to be the highborn lady she’s secretly smitten with, more than her mission is at stake…

Bluestocking Miss Philippa York doesn’t believe in love. Her heart didn’t pitter-patter when she was betrothed to a duke, nor did it break when he married someone else. All Philippa desires is to decode a centuries-old manuscript to keep a modern-day villain from claiming credit for work that wasn’t his. She hates that she needs a man’s help to do it—so she’s delighted to discover the clever, charming baron at her side is in fact a woman. But as she and Tommy grow closer and the stakes of their discovery higher, more than just their hearts are at risk.

A master of disguise who wants to be loved for their true self finds love with a bluestocking society miss who years for more in The Perks of Loving a Wallflower. I’ve been waiting for Tommy Wynchester to get the happily ever after they yearn for ever since they first gazed longingly at Philippa York in The Duke Heist and Erica Ridley delivered.

Philippa is a bluestocking who has never felt love or desire, so she is less than thrilled her mother is absolutely determined to see her married off. Her mother is so overbearing she takes up more page time than I would like but it definitely highlights what Philippa is up against. After turning down a duke her mother is threatening to disallow Philippa’s bluestocking club which is the only thing that brings her joy. Then a mystery falls into her lap and she and her friends need the help of the scandalous Wynchester family. Philippa has long envied the Wynchesters their freedom and adventures and I wanted her to have that for herself. Philippa is smart and determined but she has blind spots that cause her to not see the damage she can do. I liked that she was imperfect and I liked even more that she eventually learned from her mistakes.

Tommy can don any guise and enjoys getting lost in a character, but what they really long for is to be loved for their true self. Tommy is a rake who gave up their flirtatious ways the minute they first saw Philippa. Tommy is so head-over-heels for Phillipa they’ll do anything for her, but even so it broke my heart to think that Tommy would give up what they want for someone else. There is so much to love about Tommy, whose heart is as big as the ocean and who is clever, funny, and incredibly interesting. Tommy didn’t have as big a personal journey as Philippa but I liked that they learned to not accept less than they deserve.

The romance between Tommy and Philippa is slow burn but it worked exceptionally well. Philippa is demisexual and I liked how her passions slowly awakened as she fell for Tommy. And Tommy, who so easily flirts with women, struggles due to being so far gone over Philippa, eventually finds their footing. It’s not an easy road for the two of them between Mrs. York’s interference and Philippa being unwilling to see outside the roadmap of her life that was laid for her. Every obstacle in their path was worth fighting to overcome and I was rooting for Philippa and Tommy every step of the way.

The Perks of Loving a Wallflower is the second book in the Wild Wynchesters series but it can easily be read as a standalone. I adore the close-knit, wildly unique Wynchester family and how much they love one another. I also really enjoyed Philippa’s bluestocking friends and hope to see more of them. All in all, I greatly enjoyed Tommy and Philippa’s story and I cannot wait to see what Ridley has planned for Graham Wynchester!



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Review: Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca
Series: Well Met, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Well Matched cover
ISBN: 9780593200445
Release Date: October 19, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A pretend relationship gives two friends more than they bargained for in a Renaissance Faire rom com filled with flower crowns, kilts, corsets, and sword fights.

Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell.

Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire—a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she'll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what's real and what's been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship.

As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch's family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch's girlfriend again...and it doesn't feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans—and open her heart—for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.

Jen DeLuca takes the fake relationship trope and makes it feel fresh and fun in Well Matched. I’ve been waiting for Mitch and April’s story since I saw their instant chemistry in previous Well Met books and DeLuca did not disappoint.

I liked April well enough in Well Met and Well Played, but she grabbed my interested the second we got her point of view. I loved that she’s an introvert, hates being gossiped about, and is a bit in her shell at the start of this book. At forty, the hardworking single mother and soon-to-be empty-nester is ready to leave the small town she raised her daughter in and start living her life for herself. She’s never regretted putting her daughter first but she’s had a set plan for herself for some time. In order to sell her house, she needs to do some minor renovations, so it seems like a perfect opportunity to get some help when Mitch asks her to pose as his girlfriend in front of his family. Mitch is her opposite in many ways. The outgoing, friendly gym teacher and coach who never seems to take life too seriously and is a total player who looks red-hot in a kilt would never be the guy for her, even if he weren’t nine years younger. Except somewhere along the line between pretending to be in a relationship and actually spending time together, April and Mitch are drawn to each other. Attraction, friendship, and seeing beneath the surface make it impossible for them not to fall for each other. Except their friends-with-benefits relationship can never become something lasting…can it?

If April is the slightly grumpy one, Mitch is the sunshine one in this pairing and oh man, did I love him. Mitch is sexy as sin and can work a kilt like no one else, but that’s not what makes him special. He’s got a kind heart and cares deeply, which made me smile and sigh. Then there are the hidden vulnerabilities that come from his family thinking less of him because of what he does. April sees Mitch for all that he is and as she does so she starts to come out of her shell. I loved her relationship with her daughter, Caitlin, but it was even better to see April slowly put herself out there. She didn’t have to change who she was but her life grew as she did. I hated to put Well Matched down because I was so into April and Mitch’s romance and April’s personal journey. Whether you’re new to DeLuca’s books or are already a fan of Willow Creek and its delightful Ren Faire, this is a romance that will make you smile. I finished Well Matched a well-satisfied reader and I cannot wait to see what DeLuca comes up with next.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.