Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Q: did you watch GOT? Love it, like it, dislike it?
I’ve seen Kristen Callihan share that her latest release Make it Sweet is a “healing” book & that felt right as I read. If you need something tender & protective & SEXY, with a grunting chef & a confident, kind former star of a GOT-like show, then read away, my friends, you will love it.
Luc Osmond is a retired hockey player of great renown who was diagnosed with Concussion Syndrome & left the sport to save his own life. But he’s grieving something that’s so important to him, that he feels was stolen from him without warning, & it’s a huge huge loss.
Emma Maron is gorgeous, talented, & vibrant, & she’s recovering at the same estate as Luc after being unexpectedly killed off her show. & cheated on.
They’re both at career & personal impasses, both smarting a little from bad ends to their last relationships. But the attraction between them blazes pretty much immediately, despite the fact that they’re both aware of how it could screw everything up.
The sizzling attraction between Luc & Emma is a little too insta-love-y for me; it feels a little too tender (for me) almost off the bat. But wow, it’s hard to argue with smoking hot characters wanting to kiss one another, make each other happy, & care for one another—desires the book references time & time again.
The amount of care in this book feels so good & the sex scenes are at holy smokes! levels. The pool scene. Oh my.
The bottom line is that Kristen Callihan is a fantastic writer & she knows exactly what I want: sensuality & tenderness, emotion, complicated characters who feel so much, kindness.
4.5 ⭐️. Make it Sweet is available today.
🧬 Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
After a bad day single mom & freelance statistician Jessica Davis sends in a sample to GeneticAlly, a matchmaking service that uses DNA to determine “biological compatibility” between users.
To her shock & horror Jess is *very highly* compatible with Dr. River Peña, the hot man—& also a geneticist-founder of the aforementioned matchmaking company—she’s had a couple of negative run-ins with.
She thinks he’s an asshole & his opinion of her isn’t favorable either.
But River’s worked so hard & put his reputation on the line to create this innovative matchmaking tech, so how can he ignore this result?
& after skeptical Jess loses a big job, GeneticAlly’s offer of a monthly payment for “research” encourages her to spend more time with him.
Will their time together reveal that they’re actually soulmates?
The Soulmate Equation has so many moments that call to my heart.
☑️ A single mom who has a mommy meltdown & day to day worries & insecurities.
☑️ A hero who comes across as a jerk & isn’t the most forthcoming conversationalist who later reveals himself to be sweet & kind & lovely.
☑️ Funny one-liners that put a smile on my face.
☑️ Our heroine refers to taking antidepressants—I love that rep!
☑️ freaking amazing chemistry!
While there’s so much to love here I did have a bit of a trouble with what I’m smartly calling the “science talk.” Also the “statistician talk.” On one hand it does a lot establishing the characters’s work & interests & the plot itself; on the other, it’s just difficult for me to understand . Numbers 🥴. There’s also a plot element I kinda questioned.
But I really enjoyed this one. The enemies ⚔️ to (reluctant) maybe there’s something more to this person to lovers, the sweetness, the STEM leads, the kissing. Yes yes yes.
4 ⭐️. The Soulmate Equation is out 05/18.
Hi & welcome to my stop on the Best Laid Plans blog tour! Thanks to Carina Press for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Sometimes (often, for me ;) ) you fall in love with a secondary character in a romance & you can’t wait for them to get their HEA. That happened to me with Charlie Matheson, one of the leads in Best Laid Plans.
Brawny but with a gentle soul, Charlie became the caretaker of his younger brother Jack at 17 when their parents died. He carried a huge load on his back for years & now, at 36, he kinda wakes up when he meets Rye Janssen, a *very* grumpy Seattle transplant.
Rye moved to Garnet Run after inheriting a house from his grandfather. Formerly evicted & with no home, Rye has no idea what to do with the falling down abode before him...except to fix up as much as he can with his reduced funds.
But then Charlie—who’s the owner of the hardware & lumber store & possesses a hero complex—offers to help & surly Rye accepts. As they work & spend more time together feelings grow & spark into flame.
Roan Parrish’s books are so emotional & I love it. In addition to being steamy they offer the tenderest of feelings: acceptance & affection & love.
I could eat it up.
Charlie’s spent so much of his time taking care of others that it’s a real treat seeing him being taken care of & even defended. I love seeing him discover what he wants & seeing Rye do everything he can to give it to him. Their earnest & loving convos are lovely.
While I love their dynamic & the mental health rep here (see CW), I couldn’t quite get behind all of the plot. Charlie co-signs for Rye pretty early in their relationship, a decision that seems precipitous to me & that later becomes a point of contention between them.
As much as I love a helping hand, that plot element doesn’t work 100% for me, especially as the relationship between them changes & things—like being involved loosely on a financial level, living together, being romantic— grow more tangled.
Though I have quibbles about Best Laid Plans on a plot level, emotionally it gets me right where I want it. This is another heart-grabbing read.
Charlie has intrusive thoughts but has been to therapy & learned strategies for dealing with them. Rye is alienated from his family.
4⭐️. Best Laid Plans is out on 02/23.
Thanks for joining me at my stop on the Blog Tour! I hope you'll stop by again!
Thanks to Sourcebooks Casa for the complimentary finished copy. All opinions are my own.
Q: Do you have a fave farm animal?
The older I get the more I appreciate women who say what they think & share what they want. Especially when they’re calling men out on their shit ;).
Aja Everett, a curvy, 39 year old former attorney-turned-ranch owner isn’t afraid to speak her mind in LaQuette’s Jackson & I was there for it every single time.
After losing her sister Aja relocated to Texas to take over the farm that’s been in her family since her ancestor was freed during the Civil War & bought it from the person who once enslaved him. She’s trying to turn Restoration Ranch into a soothing vacation getaway but her plans are being foiled by a series of vandalism attempts that turn dangerous.
Is someone trying to harm her & who? Jackson Dean is the hot Texas Ranger assigned to figure that out & keep her safe.
Sparks fly between Aja & Jackson immediately & this book doesn’t skimp on the steam. Their forthright convos about consent & wants are fantastic, & Aja made me want to cheer every time she’s open with Jackson about respecting the boundaries *he* set. There are no games.
Crafting a romance that’s strong from a physical & emotional perspective, LaQuette makes me feel the heat & the respect between Aja & Jackson.
I did have a couple of quibbles though, including how little time Jackson seems to debate how his relationship with Aja might conflict with his job—I feel like more needed to be done there—& how Jackson & the villain engage with each other—& how others view that dynamic after the big villain reveal—, but all things considered I really enjoyed my time on Restoration Ranch.
3.5 ⭐️. Jackson is out on 02/23.
Thanks to Forever Pub & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Q: what’s your fave beach?
I’m well aware that I use the word “love” a lot but something I really really love is when a hero makes little, secret gestures that reveal his feelings. That’s *especially* true when those gestures are all about said hero trying to make the heroine who’s been his mutual enemy for years happier.
If you’ve been reading Jenny Holiday’s Matchmaker Bay series you knew the Maya Mehta-Benjamin Lawson pairing was coming. In her upcoming release Sandcastle Beach they’re often rude to each other, dismissive, just all around antagonistic, & their romantic relationship eventually jumps off—and thrives on—that spicy dynamic🏻.
The fact that fighting with each other brings a special flush to their cheeks is fortunate considering that their mutual acrimony is kicked up a notch in this book by their competition to win town monies to fund their respective professional plans. For Maya, money for her almost closed-down theatre, & for Law, a restaurant.
I love how ambitious both leads of SB are, how they find a section of common ground amidst their battlefield, & how the matchmaking seniors of Moonflower Bay bring them together.
Cheers to sex scenes that are hot & funny, a compelling round of secondary characters, & a romance that kinda covers all the bases for me. It’s thoughtful, it’s steamy, and it’s got the inevitable fall of both leads without them totally losing that spicy, dancing-with-(conversational) danger spark that draws them together in the first place.
4.5 ⭐️. Sandcastle Beach is out 3/9.
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions are my own.
Q: are you/could you be a light packer?
If a hard-hitting romance with a heroine who must find what happiness looks like on the other side of loss + a charming Irish hero on a captivating sailboat journey sounds like your cup of tea then I definitely recommend Trish Doller’s Float Plan.
Anna Beck’s beloved fiancé Ben committed suicide nearly one year before & she’s been in a fog of grief since. When she receives a reminder that they’re supposed to leave on the sailing expedition he planned, she quickly leaves by herself without telling her best friend or family or quitting her job.
Also without having totally mastered learning sailing a boat on her own.
A scare on the first leg of the journey convinces her she needs help & she enlists Keane Sullivan, Irish rogue & all around sweetheart. As Keane tells her in one moment, he’s had to learn to live with loss, too, after his leg was amputated & his professional sailing dreams were threatened...if not destroyed altogether.
Anna & Keane will journey to Puerto Rico together & then she’ll continue without him to Trinidad. Only things don’t really work out as planned.
With outstanding, vibrant descriptions of sailing, the places Anna & Keane travel to, & the people they encounter, Float Plan feels like an adventure. The storytelling is fine, the voices wiggled their ways into my heart, & the friends to lovers slow burn tale is so moving—though I did feel like things get a little anticlimactic toward the end. Temporarily.
While Keane is a stud, without question the real standout for me is Anna, who makes the decision to leave everything she’s ever known & along the way learns how capable she really is & what the world looks like—what her life can look like—from the tiller of her boat.
Anna’s fiancé Ben committed suicide before the book begins but she flashbacks to finding his body. Second, there’s an uncomfortable moment for me when Keane segues from his discussion of a series of statues honoring slaves who died off Martinique to “honor[jng] the memory of those we’ve lost”—in her case Ben. I found the suggestion of comparison somewhat unsettling.
4.5 ⭐️. Float Plan publishes on 03/02.
Thanks to the author for providing this ARC via Netgalley; I won a copy of the book via the Romancing the Runoff auction. All opinions provided are my own.
Q: what’s the oldest house you’ve lived in before? Do you have a desire to renovate an old house?
I don’t re-read books often anymore. But as soon as I finished Sarah Hogle’s Twice Shy I knew I wanted to re-read it because there was so much I missed due to my own DAMNED GREEDINESS. This book is fantastic: it had me wondering & sighing & feeling like it is a marvelous thing to find the person who just wants to love you where you are & where you’re going.
Maybell Parrish is a stymied events coordinator at a Pigeon Forge attraction who’s been recently catfished by a so-called friend & who feels plateaued at her job. She’s aware that she “doesn’t make waves.”
Then she receives word that she’s inherited Falling Stars, a late 1800s home & its grounds, from her great aunt Violet whom she lived with for one glorious, secure summer of her childhood.
But when she arrives at Falling Stars, Maybell learns that she’ll actually share it all with Wesley Koehler, a grumpy, rude groundskeeper who isn’t charmed by her or her interests or concerns.
There are moments in this book that feel quietly heartbreaking to me & moments that feel joyous. Both characters unfurl on the page & we see them slowly decide that they’re safe with the other. Quirks are celebrated & loved & so are the things that might make each person feel like they’ve failed/are failing.
This book shimmers & shines & so does the love between Maybell & Wesley.
Thank you to Sarah Hogle for setting this story in a place I know, for writing standout characters who grow but aren’t magically cured/or changed (& they don’t need to be, as Hogle writes, they’re loved as they are! 🥰🥰), for being so funny, & for writing a love story that’s achingly beautiful & that I love so much.
the hero has anxiety.
5 ⭐️. Twice Shy is available on 04/06/21.
Thanks for stopping by my blog! Today I’m shouting about Tessa Bailey’s The Sweetest Fix, given to me for free by the people at Social Butterfly PR 🥰. All opinions my own.
At around 11 am on Saturday my heart was thumping & my cheeks were flushed as my eyes devoured the first steamy scene of Tessa Bailey’s latest release The Sweetest Fix.
God bless 🥵 .
This book about a grumpy PMB baker & the sunshine-y dancer trying to snatch her big break was the jolt of happiness I needed.
Reese Stratton, WI inhabitant & part time dance instructor & Dairy Queen employee, has just missed a prized last minute NYC audition with the great choreographer Bernard Bexley. She’s been working so hard & her mother has sacrificed so much, & in an out-of-character move she decides to travel to Bernard’s son’s bakery to see if she can secure a second chance audition by pleading her case to him.
But as soon as she sees & talks with the grumpy Leo she can’t do it, she’s too taken with him & blown away by their chemistry. She tells him a couple of lies though, including about her job , & after leaving his bakery resolves to (1) try as hard as she can to land a real Broadway job during the short amount of time she can afford to be in the city, & (2) stay away from Leo, the man she’s drawn to, the man she’s lied to.
Singing: that’s easier said than done .
Deception romances always make me feel a little uncomfortable & while the plot of this deception is on the mild side, the heroine’s lies snowball & the day to day lengths Reese goes to to maintain her deception make me somewhat squeamish.
But wow, it’s such a freaking sexy book, & as always I feel like Bailey masters that balance of heat & sweetness. Despite what I said above I really like Reese still & love how she takes initiative, how she works hard to make things happen for herself. Leo is the grumpy softy of my dreams & this romance is a trope-fest .
If you’re in the mood for a fast, scrumptious read that’s a straightforward heat-inducer give The Sweetest Fix a try. It’s a delight.
4.5 ⭐️. The Sweetest Fix is available now.
Leo stuck his hands in his pockets and sauntered toward her, taking a spot
beside her at the edge of the roof. “So. You’re a long way from home. How long have
you been in the city?”
Her smile wavered, the reminder of her lies of omission twisting bolts on the
sides of her throat. “Oh, not long.” She turned and propped her arms on the wall,
looking out over the city blocks. “I wish my mother could see this.”
“You said she owns a dancing school. Was she your teacher?”
“When I was little, yes. Around age ten, she thought I needed something a little
more advanced.” She gave him a prim look. “It paid off, too, don’t you know? You might
remember me from a certain national Red Rover Yogurt commercial.”
He turned slightly, squinting an eye at her. “Wait a minute. No way.”
Reese pushed off the wall and performed the soft shoe routine she’d done
thousands of times—mostly as a party trick—since the age of eleven. “No preservatives
or chemicals, we’ve got your all-natural meals,” she sang, “Choose Red Rover products
and kick up your heels.”
“Holy shit.” He stared at her, dumbfounded. “The audacity of me to ask out a
“Please.” She fluffed her hair. “I put my pants on one leg at a time like everyone
They seemed to gravitate toward each other naturally, as if there was no other
option, until their faces were a handful of inches apart. “How about those shorts?” he
said gruffly. “You get those on the same way?”
A hot, fizzy stream of awareness circled and danced in her midsection. This was
flirting. But not the kind she was used to. Where she worried about every line out of her
mouth, worrying they would come across too desperate. Or if the guy would think she
was funny. No, it was easy as breathing to pull back the edge of her coat, drawing his
attention downward. “What? These old things?”
“Yeah.” A muscle ticked in his cheek. “Those.”
She leaned in like they were sharing a secret and watched his eyes darken. “I
have to wiggle around a little to get these on.”
They exhaled into each other’s space, not bothering to hide the fact that both of
them were breathing faster. “Damn, Reese.”
There was a wealth of meaning in those two words. Not just, damn, you look
good in those shorts. But damn, this attraction between them was not typical. “I know,”
she said in a rush, their mouths almost touching. She wasn’t sure what made her pull
away before he could close the distance for a kiss. Maybe it was to gather her wits or a
tug from her conscience. But she took a long pull of February air to perform
maintenance on her short-circuiting brain. “So, um…” She resisted the urge to fan
herself. “How long have you owned the bakery?”
With his own centering breath, Leo slowly settled back in a safe distance away.
“Four years,” he said, voice gravelly. “Took me a while after culinary school to build the
capital and find the right people. The right place. Didn’t want to rush it.”
“Capital?” Her question hung in the air for several seconds before she realized
what a stupid assumption she’d made. “Forget I said that. I just…I thought with your
father being who he is…”
“That I would have an automatic investor?” He shrugged a shoulder. “Natural to
assume that. Don’t worry about it.” There was an assessing glance in her direction, as if
he wasn’t sure whether to say more. She held her breath, hoping he would. “I guess it
didn’t feel right taking money for something he doesn’t have a real interest in. Baking.
I’m not saying he’s unsupportive. We’re just about different things. Felt better doing it on
“That’s admirable.” She wanted to tell him how much she could relate. Currently.
Trying to grasp something that felt just within reach, refusing any shortcuts. How it could
feel scary and unfair one minute, rewarding the next. “And I guess you found the right
people. Jackie and Tad.”
Warmth moved in his expression. “Yeah. Tad was actually an usher downstairs
when I met him. We interviewed Jackie together. She’d just dropped out of nursing
school because the emotional toll was more than she expected.”
“So she went for the exact opposite.”
“Only for a while. I doubt she’ll be at the Cookie Jar forever. But I’ll be glad to
have her as long as she puts up with my grumpy ass.”
“You’re not coming across as grumpy as you did Saturday night.”
“That’s because I’m trying to charm you into going out with me. Is it working?”
Her laugh drifted out over the rooftops. “Maybe. How long until the grump
“I skipped lunch. So…imminently.”
How to Get Your Copy
Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/SweetestFix
Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/3qQ9OO3
Add The Sweetest Fix to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/3qMG0la
Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school
graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to
New York City in under four days.
Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees,
a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband,
best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through
Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the
same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the workforce as a journalist followed, but
romance writing continued to demand her attention.
She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eleven years and seven-
year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2NSjQgA
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Thanks for joining me at The Naptime Writer Blog! Hope to see you again soon!
📚 Q: what’s one of your top 10 (or so) reads of the year?
I really wanted to write a top ten list but of course it was difficult. Like so many others have said this year has felt so segmented; time has felt taffy-like, & there are some books I *remember* loving like Beach Read, even if it feels like I read them months ago WHEN I WAS A DIFFERENT PERSON.
I love how these lists send me into an existential crisis 😆.
So this is my list of 11 most memorable, top reads of 2020, with the caveat that I actually read so many amazing books that aren’t included here. A big hurray to all the authors who made our year better!
Cara Bastone’s Just a Heartbeat Away
Adrienne Young’s Fable
Emily Henry’s Beach Read
Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series
Scarlett Peckham’s The Rakess
Ilona Andrews’s Sapphire Flames
Joanna Shupe’s The Devil of Downtown
Alexandria Bellefleur’s Written in the Stars
Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material
Talia Hibbert’s Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Roan Parrish’s In the Middle of Somewhere
Q: what’s one of your fave romance small towns?
Last week I started Jill Shalvis’s The Forever Girl, immediately had my heart squeezed by the talented hands of an Emotional Wizard, & decided that I would continue reading it another day 🤣.
Yesterday was the day & I approached it full steam ahead, both really enjoying it & determined to see this couple get their HEA.
The book opens with four friends/foster siblings gathered at the grave of the boy they lost & whom they all miss greatly.
Mazey Porter, called Maze & sometimes Mayhem Maze, also feels terribly guilty for his death, a guilt that has made her act out in certain ways & that hasn’t been helped by her fear of abandonment & of being vulnerable w/ others.
Walker Scott is also there at the grave, a man she lived with for a year when they were teens, the man she drunkenly married as a young 20-something in Vegas, the man she tries to ignore—& who does the same to her—even though she can never fully do that.
Three years of not talking later, when one of their foster siblings hatches a plan to have them all back in the same Wildstone house for a week, Mazey & Walker can’t stay away from each other. Maybe this time they can figure it out...once the truth about Mazey’s fake boyfriend/best friend she roped into accompanying her comes out, that is.
This book is hardhitting in the emotional department, from the friendships to Mazey & Walker, to another foster sibling, Cat. If you like found family then The Forever Girl might be your jam because it’s all about grabbing on tight to the people you feel are your own.
While the relationship between Mazey & Walker isn’t quite as steamy as I would like, the chemistry is there & I love how complementary they are.
That leads me to my critique of this novel—it just feels obvious to me that they belong together, that they know it too, despite what they think sometimes & say—& this plus the forced proximity & how he’s always seeking her out—I don’t know 🤷🏻♀️—the tension, the will they or won’t they, is a little weak for me.
Still, this is a really great read written by an author who knows how to play the heart like a musical instrument .
References to past abuse, parental neglect, & death of a child. There’s also an insensitive joke comparing someone’s dancing to a seizure.
4 ⭐️. The Forever Girl is out on 01/12/21. Thanks to William Morrow & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Give me that HEA, please.
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