Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
📖 Q: do you have a favorite royal couple? I’m team Harry + Meghan all the way!
The stunning cover of American Royalty—& the premise, of a white future prince of England & current duke falling in love with a Black American rapper named Duchess—had me pressing request on this one really fast.
While the basic premise is great (with a nod to Harry & Meghan), the book’s celebration of a female rapper also trying to amp up her skincare line is something worth cheering for, & there are some 🔥 sex scenes (including 🍑 action!), I also feel like things between the leads moved quickly & the hero sometimes comes across as judgmental & uptight (& not in a way that I appreciate).
Rapper & businesswoman Dani “Duchess” is in England to perform at a memorial concert for the King. Pretty much immediately Duke Jameson acts like a jerk, mainly because he judged her based on her music videos & because he’s secretly so attracted to her.
Forced proximity fans might rejoice when they realize they’re going to be spending so much time together on Jameson’s estate…
I noted what does & doesn’t work me earlier but on the whole this book just feels uneven to me.
On one hand Jameson can be an awkwardly adorable & cerebral beta hero; on the other, he makes weird, sexist judgments about how much cursing he might expect from Dani based on how she’s dressed (like women might be expected to curse more or less just because of how they’re dressed), as an example.
The couple doesn’t meet until 27% in which feels late to me, then they get physical a little too fast for me, & then there just isn’t enough emotional intimacy to have me falling in love.
But this was a fast read for me, largely because I found Tracey Livesay’s writing to be entertaining & enjoyable to consume & I had a lot of fun meeting Dani.
In the end this wasn’t an unqualified win for me but I’ll definitely try Livesay’s writing again!
3.5 ⭐️. Release date: 06/28
Thanks to the author for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
📖 Q: are you a true crime fan? I don’t read or watch a lot of it but I would like to check out I’ll be Gone in the Dark one day!
Tessa Bailey is one of those authors I’m so grateful for. Mostly because she consistently delivers blisteringly hot romances with typically smooth heroes who are rendered BEWILDERED by the depth & power of their totally unexpected feelings for the heroine. Bewildered I say.
My Killer Vacation offers both of those things in spades with second grade teacher Taylor going on a vacation with her brother, realizing someone at the beach house they’ve booked has been murdered, & encountering the bounty hunter / private investigator asked to check into the case, a hottie named Myles, as she tries to do her own murder solving.
Though the narration was at times a little stiff for me—mostly in the beginning—& the mystery could have been a little tauter, this book delivers where it counts: it’s a sexy, escapist read that I enjoyed soo much (& honestly that counts extra right now).
There’s one scene toward the beginning of Taylor & Myles’s acquaintance where he licks her stomach (!) & one memorable scene in a church. Plus more.
Tessa adds to the sexual chemistry burning up the pages by giving me more of what I want: Myles is supposedly worrying about Taylor catching feelings after sex but instead after their first time she’s casual & he’s like WHAT, DIDNT THAT ROCK HER WORLD TOO? I eat that up.
Not to mention the ending, which is just superb as far as gestures are concerned.
This isn’t a total, unqualified 5 ⭐️ for me, especially if I consider it as a romance with a mystery. But it is sooo good & sooo fun to read—& I’m thankful to Tessa for delivering another book that put a smile in my lustful heart 😆—so after waffling a little it’s 4.5 ⭐️ from me!
Release date: 06/06
Thanks to the publisher & Edelweiss for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
I grew up loving Julie Garwood’s historicals & I really wanted to like Grace Under Fire, her upcoming romantic suspense release, but this one just doesn’t work for me on multiple levels.
The MCs Isabel Mackenna, a recent college graduate, & Michael Buchanan, who’s no longer a SEAL & currently in between jobs, have had a mildly antagonistic relationship before reconnecting at the beginning of the story. They’ve only met once, at Isabel sister’s wedding (to Michael’s brother) & they didn’t hit it off.
But things are *a little* friendlier now, if only because Michael comes to Isabel’s rescue when she saves a man’s life & shoots another man who shoots at her first.
What follows is quite a lot. The plot of this one feels pretty sprawling to me, with Isabel becoming a singing superstar, traveling (including to Scotland to get her inheritance), trying to avoid being killed, & more.
While I can love a clueless hero &/or an alpha hero & I’ve loved some of Garwood’s other heroes, Michael frequently comes across as excessively so. There isn’t enough for me to love about him & his tone or comments in some moments are grating.
The characterization of Isabel sometimes grates too. It feels like she’s often oblivious & not in a way that the book itself is aware of. She frequently ended up just annoying me, like when she thinks she’s a slut after enjoying her make-out session with Michael so much. I hate to say it but there are other examples of when she veers into TDTL territory for me.
It’s cool seeing other Buchanans again, & on paper I can totally get behind a story about beautiful and brave people falling in love, but this one disappointed me. While I’ll always love Garwood’s historicals, I think I’m not really a fan of her contemporary romantic suspense in general and might not read any future ones.
2.5 ⭐️. Release date: 07/19.
Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
A taut murder mystery, a charmer hero who finds himself having unexpectedly serious thoughts about the heroine, a series of twists & some help-me-escape-stressful-reality for a little bit sexytimes…Laura Griffin’s Midnight Dunes was—as always—a great time.
Recently let go from her job Macey Burns is on Lost Beach pursuing a dream: making a tourism commercial, her first big job for her new production company.
But soon she’s on the fringes of a murder investigation that’s led by the completely hot detective, Owen Breda.
I had a guess about how this mystery would resolve itself & I was…wrong 😆. When I’m sucked into Griffin’s books I always have the sense that she knows what she’s talking about & it was fun seeing the characters work together to piece together what happened.
While the romance is open door & definitely enjoyable—especially when it comes to Owen—it ultimately falls a little short for me. I wanted more, especially at the ending 😅.
I was also surprised by how much focus was on a secondary character throughout the book.
But this is another solid romantic thriller from one of my favorites in the genre, & I definitely recommend this series to anyone looking for some scares & adrenaline-rushes with their kissing.
4 ⭐️. Out now!
Thanks to Harlequin for the complimentary galley & the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
📖 Q: are you a recipe collector? I usually save them on my phone & I’ve slowly started writing them down on pretty stationary & saving them in an old college binder 😆.
Ruby Barrett’s The Romance Recipe (out 06/28!) really wowed me.
It was a 5 ⭐️ read for me from beginning to end & I couldn’t wait to get this galley to add to my shelves (look at how cute & sensual the cover is!).
If mutual pining, foodie romance, grumpy + the sunshine (but also the sunshine runs her kitchen thankyouverymuch) sounds good, definitely check this one out!
Amy Chambers hired Sophie Brunet as head chef of her restaurant bc she was talented & semi-famous after being on a realty tv show—she’s also had feelings for her since seeing her on screen.
Unbeknownst to Amy, Sophie—who recently realized that she’s bisexual & even more recently broke up with her fiancé—has feelings for her too.
This is one of those books where everything just works together really well. From their mutual pining & appreciation to the moments when each reveals something hurtful, to the times when they cook together—& even including when they fight over the future of the business they both work at…everything made me feel like they were getting closer. Like it was a real emotional relationship each person is invested in.
& then when you add to that the outrageously satisfying steam it’s charismatic & fill-in-your-yummy-food-adjective-of-choice. One hook-up takes place in a car 🤩.
I’m so curious to see what Ruby Barrett writes next because this was a fantastic read.
CWs: Grief regarding loss of parent. Reference to sexual harassment in the workplace. Toxic dad. Sophie’s former fiancé’s reaction to her realization that she’s bi is to say something about not letting the public know.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Ava Wilder’s How to Fake It in Hollywood has some pretty big problems for me from a romance-reading perspective but the chemistry & connection between leads & the author’s writing style kept me reading even as I was feeling unsettled by the state of their relationship itself.
The biggest issue for me is that lead Ethan Atkins is an alcoholic who doesn’t seek professional help until 90+% of the book. Of course his alcoholism has had a big effect on his relationship with fellow actor Grey Brooks, who has her own issues & behaviors to work through (& in my opinion, also could have benefited from therapy).
So much of their relationship is complicated/damaged/threatened by alcoholism & their own unique issues associated with it & I would have loved to have seen the characters do the necessary work earlier in the book, & on page. When the reconciliation comes I’m supposed to take on faith that things will be different & better without seeing them do the work.
I have doubts about the couple moving forward, particularly because Grey’s own heavy drinking isn’t addressed & how that might affect Ethan’s own sobriety.
But in terms of what I liked, the writing style is easy, the convos between leads (when Ethan feels up to it) are flirty & also sweet, & the portrayal of friendship feels sincere & real.
This could have been a great romance for me, I think—there’s potential there—but it doesn’t work for me to have such a crippling issue not handled until the closing pages & without having the benefit of “seeing” it for myself.
3.5 ⭐️. Release date: 06/14.
(Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.)
Fun(ish) fact about me: one of my worst movie memories is of being a kid watching Groundhog Day in theatres with my dad & stepmom & feeling such angst like WHY does this keep happening & WHY do I have to watch it 😆😆.
Groundhog day is the basic plot of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s See You Yesterday but I really enjoyed it in this iteration 😅: a freshman in college named Barrett Bloom finds herself reliving the same day over & over again—though the events in “each new day” differ drastically. She soon realizes that the guy who pissed her off her first day in physics might be able to relate to her problem…
This book made me feel lots of things, especially bc Barrett wants college to be so different from her horrible & traumatic high school experience. Solomon considers all of the emotions drudged up by the ways college is different, & the ways it can be similar, skillfully.
The relationship between Barrett & Miles is something that’s comforting, thrilling, & challenging for both of them, & not only is it really fun watching two different personalities work together for a cause (like, you know, getting themselves out of a time loop), it’s also lovely & engrossing watching them understand what they could gain (& possibly lose) by making it back to where they’re supposed to be.
See You Yesterday delivers on whimsy & imagination & emotion. It’s not my fave of Solomon’s books (that goes to Weather Girl or Today Tonight Tomorrow) but it kept me on my toes & it was very very sweet.
4.5 ⭐️. Release date: 05/17.
📖 Q: what’s been one of your fave reads of the year so far? This is one of mine! 👆🏻
I feel like I’m still unpacking some of the things I was explicitly & implicitly taught about how young girls & women should act & books like Emily Henry’s Book Lovers, where the heroine, Nora, is often referred to as a shark, freaking delight me.
She loves high heels, she is a devotee of her phone, contracts, & NYC, she is shamelessly devoted to pros & cons lists, & the hero, Charlie Lastra (*swoon*) tells her YOU DON’T NEED TO CHANGE (that might be an exact quote from the book FYI), you are a terrifying force of nature & I worship the ground you conquer.
Book Lovers is a dream book to me, one that I’ll be thinking about for a long time. It’s dislike to love and fish out of water with two uptight, big city leads who move temporarily to a small town, & it’s peppered with references to Jane Austen, the Dewey Decimal system, & Rebekah Weatherspoon. I wanted two Epilogues.
It’s also about the relationship between sisters & how that can be affected by feelings of responsibility & protectiveness—how hard it can be to throw those things off & chase something for yourself.
This book had me smiling & thinking how funny it was, it had me swooning for both leads, it had my heart twisting…it’s sooo good!!
5 ⭐️. Out today!
Give me that HEA, please.
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