Monday, January 23, 2023

Review: Breaking All the Rules by Amy Andrews

Breaking All the Rules by Amy Andrews
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Breaking All the Rules cover
ISBN: 9781682815861
Release Date: January 24, 2023
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible | Entangled

Sometimes you gotta toss your whole life into a burning dumpster to find what’s most important…

Beatrice Archer has always done everything she’s supposed to —worked her ass off, ignored her non-existent personal life, and kept her mouth shut. Now she’s over it. The rat race, respectability…the underwire bras. She’s taking her life back. Starting with moving to Nowhere, Colorado to live life on her own terms.

Now Bea gives exactly zero forks. Beer for breakfast. Sugar for everything else. Baggy sweats and soft cotton undies FTW. Then a much younger and delightfully attractive cop is called to deal with her flagrant disregard for appropriate clothing outside the local diner (some folks just don’t appreciate bunny slippers) and Bea realizes there’s something missing from her little decathlon of decadence…and he might be the guy to help her out.

When it comes to breaking rules, Officer Austin Cooper is surprisingly eager to assist. He’s charming, a little bit cowboy, and a whole lot sexy. But Bea’s about to discover that breaking the rules has consequences. And all of the cherry pies in Colorado can’t save her from what’s coming…

Ad exec Beatrice Archer has had enough with the LA rat race and her misogynistic boss. She’s quit her job and – after throwing a dart at a map – moved to Credence, Colorado where she drinks beer for breakfast, has pie for dinner, and her life is all Dean Winchester and sweatpants 24/7. She’s followed the rules all her life and where has it gotten her? Now she’s determined to break all the rules and her unexpected ally is sexy cop Austin Cooper. Austin is charmed – and deliciously dangerous to Bea’s state of mind – but throwing caution to the wind she falls into his arms. But what happens when reality intrudes on the new life Bea has built?

Breaking All the Rules is zany, fun, and an all-around good time. Bea has thrown her orderly life into chaos and is embracing the messy at the beginning of this book. She’s a hoot but there’s deeper soul-searching to be done over the course of the story. Bea has lived her life coloring within the lines and it was fun to see her break out of it. She needed to find what she wanted out of life and though it wasn’t a smooth path to finding that, it was an entertaining journey. Falling for a cop ten years younger than her wasn’t even on her radar, but who could resist Austin? He’s kind, charming, and totally dazzled by Bea even when she’s got unwashed hair and is eating ice cream in her bunny slippers. The age difference between them isn’t as big an obstacle as Bea seems to think and these two soon-to-be-lovers are a great fit from the start. Their banter was fun and their romance so easy to be charmed by.

Breaking All the Rules isn’t the first book set in Amy Andrews’s Credence, Colorado but you can easily jump in here without missing anything. The town is one I’d love to live in, filled with welcoming residents and pie so delicious I was ready to salivate along with Bea. All in all, I enjoyed Bea’s journey; I was rooting for her to claim the direction her life would take, I thought her romance with Austin was sweet with a good dash of spice, the town of Credence was wonderful, and the cherry on top was one very regal scene-stealer, a snaggletooth cat named Princess.

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, January 15, 2023

Review: The Backup Plan by Jill Shalvis

The Backup Plan by Jill Shalvis
Series: Sunrise Cove, Book 3
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
The Backup Plan cover
ISBN: 9780063095472
Release Date: January 17, 2023
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

When Alice receives a call about an unexpected windfall, she’s stunned to learn the gift is a falling-apart-at-the-seams old Wild West B&B she once considered home—and she’s inherited it along with two strangers. Except they weren’t always strangers. Once upon a time, they were friends. One is her ex-BFF Lauren. The other is Knox, the only guy to ever break her heart, all while never even knowing she existed.

It turns out their lives are unknowingly entangled because they once separately helped the same woman without expecting anything in return. Years later, Alice, Lauren, and Knox are broken in their own way, with their own history—and secrets— causing them to start out on the wrong foot with each other. But according to the will, they must renovate and be partners in the inn for one year or else lose their inheritance.

Stuck together, they make a list of rules to keep the peace—rules that end up doing the opposite, but by some miracle they find what they didn’t even know they were looking for—acceptance, true friendship, and in a case (or two!), true love.

Jill Shalvis’s Sunrise Cove books are like a warm hug; they’re comforting, familiar, and cozy. The Backup Plan brings together Alice, Knox, and Lauren as three people who inherited an old inn from a woman who meant something to each of them. The three of them coming together unearths old wounds, but it also brings second chances.

Alice has the nickname “Tumbleweed” for a reason. Ever since the death of her brother she’s been rootless and has never dealt with hidden scars. Knox left Sunrise Cove after grief and loss himself, now returning with a new outlook. Lauren is the only one of the three who never left. After her boyfriend’s death the town of Sunrise Cove treated her like a widow in perpetual mourning and she has never left the comfortable bubble of the library and her usual haunts. Inheriting the inn shakes things up for all three of them.

Lauren and Alice were once best friends but when Alice’s brother/Lauren’s boyfriend died their friendship cracked. I loved watching them find their way back together. Alice wants to be standoffish but that’s to protect herself from harm. Lauren desperately wants connection and to feel alive again. It was great watching Lauren break out of her rut and Alice open up. Knox is also part of Alice opening up. Her former crush has scars of his own and as Alice learns she can be vulnerable with him, he does the same with her. Their attraction is immediate and their slide into love seamless.

The Backup Plan has friendship, love, and second chances. It’s a cozy read that you can fall into and will entertain fans of Jill Shalvis old and new. Each Sunrise Cove book stands on its own, so if you want to jump in here you’re good to go. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Lauren, Alice, and Knox’s story; it’s sweet, funny, and has a good heart.

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, January 14, 2023

Review: Exes and O’s by Amy Lea

Exes and O’s by Amy Lea
Series: The Influencer, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Exes and Os cover
ISBN: 9780593336595
Release Date: January 10, 2023
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Romance book connoisseur Tara Chen has had her heart broken ten times by ten different men—all of whom dumped her because of her “stage-five clinger” tendencies. Nevertheless, Tara is determined to find The One. The only problem? Classic meet-cutes are dead, thanks to modern dating apps. So Tara decides to revisit her exes in hopes of securing her very own trope-worthy second-chance romance.

Boston firefighter Trevor Metcalfe will be the first to rush into a burning building but the last to rush into a relationship. Love just isn’t his thing. When his new roommate Tara enlists him to help her reconnect with her exes, he reluctantly agrees. But Tara’s journey is leading him to discover his own new chapter.

The more time they spend together, the more Tara realizes Trevor seems to be the only one who appreciates her authentic, dramatic self. To claim their happily ever after, can Tara and Trevor read between the lines of their growing connection?

An avid romance reader falls for her seemingly playboy roommate in Exes and O’s. Amy Lea’s sophomore novel takes book influencer and NICU nurse Tara Chen on a journey through her exes as she tries to find love where she thinks it may have once been. Of course, the true hero is her partner in crime, roommate and commitment-phobe Trevor Metcalfe.

Trevor is a hero worth sighing over. The sexy firefighter loves deeply, is a great friend, accepts people for who they are, and has hidden scars that make you want to hug him. In other words, he’s romance catnip. I loved how he was with Tara as a roommate, friend, and finally romantic interest. He adored her for who she was and didn’t think she needed to change herself. While Trevor is guarded, Tara wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s openly romantic and wants desperately to get a romance novel-worthy happily ever after. When her grandmother marries her childhood flame, Tara seizes on the idea of going through her exes to find “The One.” Her new roommate is her sometimes-reluctant wingman. Of course, he’s also the perfect guy for her and their slow-burn romance proves it. I admit, I had a harder time getting attached to Tara because she didn’t click with me personally, but that’s really reader preference.

Exes and O’s reminded me a lot of the Anna Faris-Chris Evans movie What’s Your Number? and that was fun. Tara’s journey through her exes was entertaining even though the real starring part of this book were her scenes with Trevor. All in all, I enjoyed Exes and O’s because Trevor had me totally hooked and Tara did grow on me, quirks and extra-ness and all. I’m very much looking forward to see what Amy Lea has in store for the Chen sisters’ friend Mel.

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, January 2, 2023

Best Books of 2022

2023 is here and I cannot wait to see what awaits (it has to be better than the past few years, right?)! But before I dive into a year of wonderful new reads and re-reads, it's time to look back at my 2022 year in books. In 2022 I read 100 books, including a few re-reads that I fell in love with all over again. I tried 29 debut/new-to-me authors and discovered some wonderful authors whose backlists I cannot wait to dive into. And finally, I participated in my lucky thirteenth A to Z Reading Challenge, a fun challenge that usually leads me to at least a couple of books I might not have moved to the top of my TBR pile otherwise.

I read a number of excellent books last year, but below are my top three reads of 2022. All of the books on this list were first-time reads because re-reads are generally books that are already favorites of mine.

Wit and Sin Best Books of 2022

Wit and Sin's Best Books of 2022

So This Is Ever After cover
1. So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens
My Review

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Storm Echo cover
2. Storm Echo (Psy-Changeling Trinity, Book 6) by Nalini Singh
My Review
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Hook, Line, and Sinker cover
3. Hook, Line, and Sinker (Bellinger Sisters, Book 2) by Tessa Bailey
My Review

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Sunday, January 1, 2023

2023 A to Z Reading Challenge

I've had a blast doing this challenge for the past few years and I can't resist doing it again. I've discovered a few now-favorite books I might not have otherwise noticed because of this challenge :)

Challenge details:
- Duration: January 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023
- Read 26 books which titles begin with the letters of the alphabet.
- You may ignore articles like A, An and The at the beginning of the title.
- For the letter X, any book title with the letter X in it is acceptable if you can't find one that begins with X.
- Please only list books you have read. You can read them in any order.
- A book only counts once, so you can include a re-read the first time you read it.

Challenge Completed on 12/24/23

My List:
Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley – 2/4/23
Backup Plan, The by Jill Shalvis – 1/15/23
Codename Charming by Lucy Parker – 8/4/23
Duchess Takes a Husband, The by Harper St. George – 5/27/23
Exes and O’s by Amy Lea – 1/14/23
For the Love of the Bard by Jessica Martin – 6/20/23
Ghosted by Amanda Quain – 7/23/23
Highland Beast by Heather McCollum – 5/11/23
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy – 3/2/23
Judgment in Death by J.D. Robb 12/24/23
Knowing Zip by Cynthia Sax – 12/24/23
Lady Knows Best, The by Susanna Craig – 4/23/23
Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The by Agatha Christie – 1/13/23
Never Fall for Your Fiancée by Virginia Heath – 3/19/23
One Duke Down by Anna Bennett – 2/18/23
Pasties and Poor Decisions by Molly Harper – 1/20/23
Questionable Client, A by Ilona Andrews – 12/18/23
Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway, The by Ashley Schumacher – 3/16/23
Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey – 2/12/23
There Should Have Been Eight by Nalini Singh – 11/21/23
Unfortunately Yours by Tessa Bailey – 6/10/23
Very Sexy Christmas, A by Karen Erickson – 12/24/23
Wolf and the Wildflower, The by Stacy Reid – 2/20/23
XXL by Kate Hunt – 1/19/23
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria – 1/8/22
Zena’s Zing by Brynn Hale – 12/24/23

2023 New (to me) Author Challenge

I've done this challenge for the past twelve years and discovered some amazing authors along the way (not hard to believe since I've read 680 debut/new-to-me authors in that time). It's fun for me to look back on these lists, especially when I see authors who are now auto-buys for me.

The Challenge: Read 20 or more books this year by authors you’ve never read before.
Dates: January 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023

My list:

1. Author: Alexis Daria
Title: You Had Me at Hola (Primas of Power, Book 1)

2. Author: Kate Hunt
Title: XXL

3. Author: Molly Harper
Title: Pasties and Poor Decisions

4. Author: Lucy Worsley
Title: Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman

5. Author: Loan Le
Title: A Pho Love Story

6. Author: Aubrey Gordon
Title: “You Just Need to Lose Weight”: And 19 Other Myths About Fat People

7. Author: Jennette McCurdy
Title: I’m Glad My Mom Died

8. Author: KJ Charles
Title: The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen (The Doomsday Books, Book 1)

9. Author: Ashley Schumacher
Title: The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway

10. Author: Virginia Heath
Title: Never Fall for Your Fiancée (The Merriwell Sisters, Book 1)

11. Author: Audrey Bellezza
Title: Emma of 83rd Street

12. Author: Emily Harding
Title: Emma of 83rd Street

13. Author: James Clear
Title: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

14. Author: Jessica Martin
Title: For the Love of the Bard (Bard’s Rest, Book 1)

15. Author: Daniel Haack
Title: Prince & Knight (Prince & Knight, Book 1)

16. Author: Maxwell Maltz
Title: Psycho-Cybernetics: Updated and Expanded

17. Author: Jennifer Wilck
Title: Home for the Challah Days (Holidays, Heart and Chutzpah, Book 1)

18 Author: Laura Moher
Title: Curves for Days (Big Love from Galway, Book 1)

19 Author: Erin La Rosa
Title: Plot Twist (The Hollywood Series, Book 2)

20 Author: Cynthia Sax
Title: Knowing Zip (Cyborg Sizzle, Book 8.5)

21 Author: Brynn Hale
Title: Zena’s Zing (Babes in Toyland)

22 Author: Lex Croucher
Title: Gwen & Art Are Not in Love

23 Author: Jenny L. Howe
Title: On the Plus Side

Books I've Read in 2023

For the past thirteen years I've kept track of the books I read and it's been quite a fun project. I read so much that everything tends to blend together in my mental library and it's fun to look back and see what I've I've read, loved, and want to re-read (and - on the rare occasion - want to avoid). Plus, it's great to share and compare lists with other book bloggers.

This list is only of books and novellas I've read and finished (though if I read an entire anthology, I list only the anthology title). The books are listed in the order I read them and if I write a review for a book I link it here as well.

There are sure to be many wonderful stories on the list, but the ones with a ** by them are ones I highly recommend.

1. You Had Me at Hola (Primas of Power, Book 1) by Alexis Daria
2. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot, Book 4) by Agatha Christie
3. Exes and O’s (The Influencer, Book 2) by Amy Lea
4. The Backup Plan (Sunrise Cove, Book 3) by Jill Shalvis
5. XXL by Kate Hunt
6. Pasties and Poor Decisions by Molly Harper
7. Breaking All the Rules by Amy Andrews
8. Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley
9. Secretly Yours (A Vine Mess, Book 1) by Tessa Bailey
10. Sleep No More (The Lost Night Files, Book 1) by Jayne Ann Krentz
11. One Duke Down (Rogues to Lovers, Book 2) by Anna Bennett **
12. The Wolf and the Wildflower by Stacy Reid
13. A Pho Love Story by Loan Le
14. “You Just Need to Lose Weight”: And 19 Other Myths About Fat People by Aubrey Gordon **
15. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
16. The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen (The Doomsday Books, Book 1) by KJ Charles **
17. Encore in Death (In Death, Book 56) by J.D. Robb
18. The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley Schumacher
19. Never Fall for Your Fiancée (The Merriwell Sisters, Book 1) by Virginia Heath
20. Spell Bound by F.T. Lukens
21. Angels Fall by Nora Roberts (re-read) **
22. What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon
23. What Happens in the Ballroom (Designing Debutantes, Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries
24. Playing it Tough (Sydney Smoke Rugby, Book 8) by Amy Andrews
25. The Lady Knows Best (Goode’s Guide to Misconduct, Book 1) by Susanna Craig
26. In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune
27. The Bride Wore White (Burning Cove, Book 7) by Amanda Quick
28. Highland Beast (Sons of Sinclair, Book 4) by Heather McCollum
29. Identity by Nora Roberts **
30. Emma of 83rd Street by Audrey Bellezza and Emily Harding **
31. The Duchess Takes a Husband (The Gilded Age Heiresses, Book 4) by Harper St. George
32. B’Nai Mitzvah Mistake (Last Girls Standing, Book 1) by Stacey Agdern
33. Unfortunately Yours (A Vine Mess, Book 2) by Tessa Bailey
34. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
35. The Sweetheart List (Sunrise Cove, Book 4) by Jill Shalvis
36. For the Love of the Bard (Bard’s Rest, Book 1) by Jessica Martin
37. Prince & Knight (Prince & Knight, Book 1) by Daniel Haack (Author) and Stevie Lewis (Illustrator)
38. The Dane of My Existence (Bard’s Rest, Book 2) by Jessica Martin
39. Business or Pleasure Rachel Lynn Solomon
40. Psycho-Cybernetics: Updated and Expanded by Maxwell Maltz
41. What’s a Duke Got to Do With It (Synneful Spinsters, Book 2) by Christina Britton
42. Resonance Surge (Psy-Changeling Trinity, Book 7) by Nalini Singh
43. Not That Duke (Would-Be Wallflowers, Book 3) by Eloisa James
44. The Fatal Flying Affair (Lady Hardcastle Mysteries, Book 7) by T.E. Kinsey
45. Ghosted by Amanda Quain
46. Codename Charming (Palace Insiders, Book 2) by Lucy Parker **
47. Home for the Challah Days (Holidays, Heart and Chutzpah, Book 1) by Jennifer Wilck
48. The Highlander’s Secret Avenger (The Brothers of Wolf Isle, Book 4) by Heather McCollum
49. Curves for Days (Big Love from Galway, Book 1) by Laura Moher
50. Witches Get Stuff Done (Starfall Point, Book 1) by Molly Harper
51. A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel (The Doomsday Books, Book 2) by KJ Charles
52. My Rogue to Ruin (The Wild Wynchesters, Book 4) by Erica Ridley
53. Bare Essentials by Jill Shalvis and Leslie Kelly
54. Body at Buccaneer’s Bay (Secrets and Scrabble, Book 5) by Josh Lanyon (re-read)
55. Lament at Loon Landing (Secrets and Scrabble, Book 6) by Josh Lanyon
56. Death at the Deep Dive (Secrets and Scrabble, Book 7) by Josh Lanyon
57. Never Rescue a Rogue (The Merriwell Sisters, Book 2) by Virginia Heath
58. Highland Surrender (Sons of Sinclair, Book 5) by Heather McCollum
59. Payback in Death (In Death, Book 57) by J.D. Robb
60. Legacy by Nora Roberts
61. Plot Twist (The Hollywood Series, Book 2) by Erin La Rosa
62. Inheritance (The Lost Bride Trilogy, Book 1) by Nora Roberts
63. Do Your Worst by Rosie Danan **
64. There Should Have Been Eight by Nalini Singh
65. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (re-read) **
66. Born to Be Badger (The Honey Badger Chronicles, Book 5) by Shelly Laurenston
67. A Lady’s Rules For Ruin (The Lions and the Lilies, Book 2) by Jennifer Haymore
68. A Questionable Client (Kate Daniels, Book 0.5) by Ilona Andrews (re-read)
69. A Very Sexy Christmas by Karen Erickson
70. Judgment in Death (In Death, Book 11) by J.D. Robb (re-read) **
71. Knowing Zip (Cyborg Sizzle, Book 8.5) by Cynthia Sax
72. Zena’s Zing (Babes in Toyland) by Brynn Hale
73. The Dickens with Love by Josh Lanyon (re-read)
74. Gwen & Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher
75. On the Plus Side by Jenny L. Howe