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


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Reviews for Upcoming Releases


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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
- 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
- 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.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Review: Love and Latkes by Stacey Agdern

Love and Latkes by Stacey Agdern
Series: Friendships and Festivals, Book 3
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Love and Latkes cover
ISBN: 9781954894617
Release Date: October 12, 2021
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Tule Publishing

You can’t make a latke without breaking a few eggs…

Batya Averman is ecstatic when a latke fry-off committee chooses her as its web designer—until she learns the event is in Rivertown, New York, the hometown she fled years ago. But she’s no longer the girl with an embarrassing history and an unrequited crush on Abe Neumann. This delicious competition is Batya’s chance to further her career, and this time she won’t run.

Abe Neumann can’t pass up the opportunity to enter the town’s latke contest. He dreams of throwing caution to the wind and leaving his accounting firm, opening a Jewish deli, and choosing his own happiness. The prize money would bring him closer to making his dream a reality, but when Batya comes back to town, Abe remembers that a deli isn't the only thing he's wished for.

When the fry-off’s celebrity host has to pull out of the competition, Batya is determined to step up to the challenge. This Hanukkah, can Abe fix the past and convince Batya that dreams, like latkes, are better when they're shared?

Love and Latkes is not a book you want to dive into when you’re hungry. A latke fry-off is only the beginning when it comes to discussions of Jewish food and I was so here for it. Yes, this is a romance, and the love story between Batya and Abe made me smile, but it was the themes of connections, history, and community through food that stole my heart.

Batya has avoided Abe ever since a declaration of feelings went wrong back in high school. Now, with celebrity host George Gold bringing a latke fry-off to their hometown, Batya and Abe can’t help but run into each other. Batya is designing the fry-off’s website and hoping for a chance to learn from Gold; she wants to grow her website and build on her dream of sharing Jewish history and culture through the lens of food with the world. Abe is an accountant who has a pop-up kosher barbeque business on the weekends. It’s his dream of opening a kosher deli and winning the fry-off would give him the chance at funds and a mentorship from George Gold.

Thrown together by the competition and their well-meaning friends, Batya and Abe can’t help but be drawn toward each other once more. I enjoyed their flirting through food (how can you resist a man who sends you thoughtful ice cream deliveries?) and it’s yet another way Stacey Agdern connects food and relationships. The Jewish representation in Agdern’s books is always top-notch and Love and Latkes is no exception. I loved the way she talked about the sharing of food, traditions, and culture. And I really loved how she seamlessly incorporated the laws of kashrut into discussions of food and cooking in ways those familiar and not could easily understand.

The second-chance romance between Abe and Batya made me smile and sigh. She’s wary, he’s eager but respectful, and the two of them click as they slowly slide into love as adults. I enjoyed the roles their friends played in bringing them together and helping them out when they needed it. Love between friends is every bit as important as romantic love in this story, which I really appreciated. All in all, I adored Love and Latkes. It’s a sweet, interesting, and engaging story that’s sure to leave you hungry for more of Agdern’s Friendships and Festivals books.



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

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Review: A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli

A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
A Holly Jolly Diwali cover
ISBN: 9780593100950
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

One type-A data analyst discovers her free-spirited side on an impulsive journey from bustling Mumbai to the gorgeous beaches of Goa and finds love waiting for her on Christmas morning.

Twenty-nine-year-old Niki Randhawa has always made practical decisions. Despite her love for music and art, she became an analyst for the stability. She's always stuck close to home, in case her family needed her. And she's always dated guys that seem good on paper, rather than the ones who give her butterflies. When she's laid off, Niki realizes that practical hasn't exactly paid off for her. So for the first time ever, she throws caution to the wind and books a last-minute flight for her friend Diya’s wedding.

Niki arrives in India just in time to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, where she meets London musician Sameer Mukherji. Maybe it's the splendor of Mumbai or the magic of the holiday season, but Niki is immediately drawn to Sam. At the wedding, the champagne flows and their flirtatious banter makes it clear that the attraction is mutual.

When Niki and Sam join Diya, her husband and their friends on a group honeymoon, their connection grows deeper. Free-spirited Sam helps Niki get in touch with her passionate and creative side, and with her Indian roots. When she gets a new job offer back home, Niki must decide what she wants out of the next chapter of her life—to cling to the straight and narrow like always, or to take a leap of faith and live the kind of bold life the old Niki never would have dreamed of.

Sonya Lalli sweeps readers away from rainy Seattle to bustling Mumbai to the beaches of Goa in A Holly Jolly Diwali. More than a romance, this is a story of our heroine, Niki Randhawa’s personal journey. It’s a love story, yes, but also a story of family, friends, culture, and finding your own path.

Niki is at a crossroads in her life at the beginning of this story. She just lost her stable, unexciting job, and is wrestling with wanting to be the “good daughter” while resenting the life her sister has by not tying herself to their parents’ expectations. After being laid off, Niki impulsively books a trip to Mumbai for her best friend’s wedding. She arrives just in time for Diwali and it’s then that her journey begins. A Holly Jolly Diwali is very much about Niki’s personal journey. She’s doesn’t know that much about her parents’ homeland and when she travels to India she’s full of questions and observations. She’s bright, inquisitive, and – most importantly – imperfect. Her experiences in Mumbai and Goa are colored by her own biases and I liked that Lalli showed Niki’s growth and recognition of that.

On Diwali, Niki is swept off her feet by Sam, a handsome musician based out of London. I liked Sam and the glimpses we saw of his character. He was funny and perfect, but Lalli kept giving out bits and pieces of Sam’s own journey and family history that made me want more. The book is exclusively in Niki’s point of view which didn’t always work because we missed out on some much-needed depth that Sam’s perspective could have helped provide. The romance was where A Holly Jolly Diwali faltered for me. Niki and Sam have instant attraction and the sweeping, rom-com type situations they find themselves in don’t necessarily made the “I love yous” feel organic. Parts of the love story felt shallow (even though I liked Niki and Sam together) and it’s possible this was on purpose to show how Niki building castles in the air was a problem. I liked that it was presented as such but there was still something missing for me in the resolution of the romance; I wanted a bit more depth to mix in with the fantasy. Still, even with this issue I liked A Holly Jolly Diwali. Lalli ended the story with a great mix of following your passion while keeping a foot in reality. I really liked where Sam and Niki ended up and I’m looking forward to Jasmine Randhawa’s story.



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.