Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Cute, fun, & film-centric, Timothy Janovsky’s Never Been Kissed is an estranged BFFs to renewed friends to romantic partners NA romance featuring a drive-in loving lead who has—as the title suggests—never been kissed.
I’ve never been to a drive-in but it’s a setting in this romance that evokes feelings of nostalgia & summer lightheartedness.
22 year old Wren Roland has worked there for the last 8 years. This year he’s manager & forced to work with his once closest friend, Derick, whom he almost kissed & who dropped him like a bad book in college.
Things I really enjoyed about this book: the demisexual rep, the somewhat nerdy leads (said by a nerd herself), & how Wren & Derick work to repair their relationship & improve how they talk to each other.
Less solid for me is the portrayal of Derick, whose actions aren’t always understandable. This is a case where I feel like I would have particularly loved dual narration.
Never Been Kissed is an easygoing read that I think some readers will be really moved by, but in the end for me it was enjoyable but not a read I fell in love with.
3.5 ⭐️. Release date: 05/03.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Tessa Bailey is one of my fave authors—how many times have I skimmed my fave parts of her books? (please do not ask 😆)—& yet I was still stunned in the best way by Hook, Line, & Sinker.
Friends to lovers usually isn’t a trope I stand up & cheer for but for an author who writes magnetic attraction so well to also be a romance master of pacing & a slow burn? It takes it to a whole new level.
This book gave me even more than I expected. Hannah is a LEADING LADY & I loved her so much. Sweet & sarcastic & loving & loyal—I could only applaud how she took up for Fox. (BTW, Melinda I hate you.) Hannah’s actions throughout the book show again & again that she is there, that she loves Fox for who he is.
& Fox. He is a walking dreamboat. His care of Hannah is so fantastic—there’s a small line about how he’s dying to get antiseptic on her cut & I SWOONED. (Not to mention how he decorates her room or the other gestures he makes).
This book gave me everything & I can’t wait to add it to my shelves. Thank you, Tessa, for another amazing book 🥵.
5 ⭐️. Release date: 03/01
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
If childhood friends to enemies to lovers + a redemption story is your jam, I recommend Annabeth Albert’s Out of Character.
Jasper & Milo were best friends until high school, when Milo had a chance to turn popular jock & believed that necessitated leaving his best friend Jasper, a gamer who had recently attended a Rainbow Alliance meeting, behind.
Throughout high school Milo’s new jock best friends harassed Jasper & Milo said & did nothing.
Years later, when Jasper is in college & Milo is a college drop-out with a series of bad decisions behind him, they come back into each other’s orbit.
This story is sweet & thoughtful, not unlike the main characters themselves. I love seeing how they mature individually, especially Milo, who has a lot to reflect on & who wants to put actions toward becoming the person he hopes to be, & how their personal efforts make them better partners & vice versa.
The redemption story works for me, especially how Milo & Jasper have to reckon with his past behavior & figure out a productive & loving path forward, something made more difficult by the continued presence of Milo’s high school best friends—bullies—in his life & the fact that Milo hasn’t come out yet.
The characterization of Jasper as someone who constantly wants to be heroic is a little heavy-handed for me but the warm fuzzies this book constantly gave me—the lack of a present-day huge crisis between them (excepting their weighty high school past)—,the loveliness of Milo’s desire to change his life & his behavior—won me over time & time again.
4.5 ⭐️. Release date: 07/06.
A big thanks to Berkley for gifting me a complimentary copy of the ARC and inviting me to be part of the tour; all opinions provided are my own.
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Newsweek ∙ Oprah Magazine ∙ Marie Claire ∙ Parade ∙ PopSugar ∙ BookPage ∙ BookBub ∙ Betches ∙ SheReads ∙ Good Housekeeping ∙ BuzzFeed ∙ and more!
Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read, a sparkling new novel that will leave you with the warm, hazy afterglow usually reserved for the best vacations.
Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven't spoken since.
Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?
I knew Emily Henry’s People We Meet on Vacation would be a beautifully written way of messing with my heart.
Poppy Wright & Alex Nilsen are opposites attract unlikely best friends who have spent almost every year since college going on one major summer trip together. But two years ago, in Croatia, something happened that caused a divide between them, & they haven’t spoken since.
After prompting, Poppy realizes she can trace her “last” happy moment to being w/ him, so she reconnects & asks him to go on a trip to Palm Springs. She hopes that she’ll be able to find her lost travel-journalist mojo & rekindle a beloved friendship she’s missed.
But of course even when he says yes it’s all more complicated than that.
There’s so much to love about PWM: Alex is really nice & dependable & wear khakis & is also a secret weirdo, but only around Poppy. Their relationship is built on inside jokes & moments when they’re only themselves around each other. On tenderness & respect & the more than 1, less than 15% of Poppy’s feelings that are romantic in nature. Yeah right . It’s an ache & a tenderness to see all of the ways they’ve been in love for so long.
Their HEA, told from present day & a series of flashbacks, is hard won, & Henry really builds up that tension, showing how they both wanted (want??) different lives. But maybe there’s some overlap. I read each chapter with bated breath, frequently checking how long the chapters were because I wanted to move ahead in the present day story & get them to kissing .
By the end, I felt assured that they really knew each other, that figuring things out might not be the easiest thing in the world but the only thing for people who love each other so much.
Funny, emotionally lovely & also difficult for someone like me , this book is poignant & as beautiful as I thought it would be. I hope that Alex & Poppy are enjoying a (vaccinated) summer trip soon.
5 ⭐️. Out today!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Thanks to Avon Publishing & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
️Q: childhood best friends to eventual lovers stories—love them, indifferent to them, dislike them?
Joanna Shupe’s The Devil of Downtown was one of my fave releases last year & she’s rapidly become one of the authors I can depend on for a meltingly hot scene or two. But sadly The Heiress Hunt just doesn’t work so much for me.
Harrison Archer overhears his BFF Maddie Webster say that she thinks of him like a brother...on the night he plans on telling her he’s in love with her. Crushed, he heads to Paris for three years, dropping contact with her entirely, sowing his wild oats, & working on making a name & livelihood for himself—a necessary thing since his horrible, wealthy family disowned him.
Now, back in the US, he learns that Maddie is still not married but maybe almost engaged to a Duke, & he decides to ask her for help finding a spouse as part of a plan to take down his horrible family & to spend more time with her in Newport.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t entirely warm to either lead in this one. As Maddie notes, Harrison is ruthless in pursuing his agenda (*this time around*) but it was never a kind of ruthlessness that warmed my heart, for whatever reason. Maybe because she isn't asking for a lot & he keeps ignoring her wishes time & time again.
There are some things I love about how Maddie is portrayed. A tennis superstar who works hard at her dream?! Yes! How she takes charge during their first sex scene, re-calibrating some power dynamics?! Yes double yes!!
But I just don't see a lot of depth to either character & don't really see a deliberate moment of change/agency on her part—outside of tennis—until the end. The big issue in their relationship is how Harrison takes control & doesn’t see her as a partner & that’s reflected in the story itself; unfortunately—despite the things I love about her characterization—Maddie often fades into the background for me.
The Heiress Hunt has some super sexy scenes, a hero who is utterly devoted to the heroine, a heroine who is ready to take on the world of competitive tennis—so many good things. However, it sadly falls flat for me.
Look for me to be one of the first ones screaming with excitement about Joanna Shupe’s next book, though. I am a major fan.
3.5 ⭐️. The Heiress Hunt is out on 03/09.
Thanks to @readforeverpub & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided my own.
@romance.in.the.wild 's glowing review of Emily Sullivan’s A Rogue to Remember made me request it right away & let me tell you that I did not regret it. This stunning debut is so emotionally rich, the setting is sumptuous, the way it kept me on a knife’s edge until it finally tumbled into a HEA was divine.
Set largely in 1897 Italy, ARTR tells the second chance story of Lottie Carlisle & Alec Gresham, who both grew up with Lottie’s political mastermind uncle as guardian. Very close as children, they had one magical night where it seemed their relationship would become romantic & then Alec left abruptly without word.
Five years later, Alec, an agent of the crown, has come to Italy to bring the wealthy Lottie back to England before she succeeds in deliberately ruining herself. On their journey home they must wrestle with the weight of their past, shared & not, &, among other things, Alec must decide if he’s willing to take what Lottie would offer.
I’m so excited about Emily Sullivan’s talent, about these characters she’s written & how beautifully she writes their journey. On top of the aforementioned emotional mastery on display here, this book offers stellar sex scenes including one in front of a mirror 🥵 & I think that’s all I need to say about that.
I did think that one aspect of the plot could have been a little tighter but wow, what a book!
5 ⭐️. A Rogue to Remember is available on 03/09/21.
Give me that HEA, please.
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