Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
There are some authors who take the risk of always trying something new. Sarah Hogle is one of them. Some of you will really enjoy Hogle’s latest release Just Like Magic. Others of you might be like nope.
Where was I? In the former camp. This is a really fun, supremely strange, marvel-filled, very funny book. I’ll be honest: I was a bit worried about where the plot would go, but in the end Hogle handled it really well & my final feeling was of being entertained, relieved, & warm & fuzzy instead of majorly annoyed .
Bettie Hughes undergoes quite the transformation throughout Just Like Magic that’s facilitated by Hall, an embodied Holiday Spirit that she ends up meeting because of how she plays her Mariah Carey “All I Want For Christmas Is You” album one lonely night.
If just that sentence is too much this book may not be for you ;) .
Bettie is spoiled, her family is sometimes not the nicest to each other & often distant, & Bettie herself is on a mission of revenge that’s somewhat unlocked when she realizes Hall can make her wishes come true *Alexa, cue Mariah Carey holiday music.* Even if he sometimes messes her wishes up a tad .
Imagine the movie Elf but darker, & those are Hall & Bettie’s opposites attract vibes. Hall is warmth & happiness & love & understanding & vulnerability & being around him helps bloom in ways she never anticipated.
There are some truly hilarious lines in here, a fake dating situation, & some moments of defending each other to various members of her family. Plus lots of magic. All big wins on my end!
But Hall comes across a bit flat at times, as others have said, one-note, especially at the beginning.
Be advised that this book is closed door, which actually made it work better for me. Turning unexpectedly steamy wouldn’t have worked for this book’s dynamic at all.
Overall I just leaned into this book & had a really good time. I’m here for the bizarre, hilarious holiday romances .
4.5 ⭐️. Out now!
CWs: Former emotional abuse.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC and the publisher for the complimentary finished copy. All opinions provided are my own.
If I’m looking for soft & cozy Roan Parrish is always a good bet & the title of this upcoming release--The Rivals of Casper Road—(not to mention those adorable FREAKING PUMPKINS on the cover!!) sucked me in.
Give me all the fall stuff.
This ended up being everything I said in the first paragraph: soft, cozy. Sweet. Pumpkin-y ;).
The basic set-up of this one is that after suffering a big heartbreak Bram Larkspur has moved to Garnet Run, Wyoming, home to some of Parrish’s other beloved characters.
His new neighbor is prickly Zachary Glass, a stiff, reserved type who has won the neighborhood Halloween decorating competition several years in a row.
Thanks to a couple of unfortunate moments they end up as rivals for a brief moment, & then they become something else (hint: something with smooching).
This is just a fast, heartwarming read between a prickly & the sunshine one with an epilogue that ended things on an awww note.
I’m really happy that these two Harlequin releases of Roan’s just go for it & these covers make me all kinds of happy.
4⭐️. Out now!
CWs: references to former anti-Semitism & bullying. Zachary has self-consciousness and insecurities about appearance now. Zachary’s sister disappeared when they were teens. Bram was cheated on in past.
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
I think this is the steamiest vampire romance I’ve ever read?
Imagine if you took a Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark vampire book, took out a bit of the worldbuilding intricacy & then added maybe 32 sex scenes (I’m exaggerating here )—then you might have Katee Robert’s Court of the Vampire Queen.
A poly MMMF romance between one half vampire, half human (a dhampir) & three stunning vampire men, COTVQ is stunningly, fantastically steamy & also makes frequent use of the bite = near orgasmic pleasure motif that can really sell a vampire romance for me .
This book kicks off when dhampir Mina is given against her will to vampire Malachi, who hasn’t been able to leave his home in decades. She’s supposed to feed him & bed him, but he stuns her by setting some boundaries & being clear that he wants her consent & her to actually desire him before they proceed any farther sexually.
Then the other vampires start showing up at his home one by one & things really get interesting.
Not only is the steam in this one winning, so are each of the different personalities & Mina’s varying relationships with each vampire. I love how Katee Robert shows that they get something unique from each other person but how they have something special as a whole.
Be aware, there are lots of content warnings for this one that Katee Robert includes in a list at the beginning & a few repetitious moments. (I thought I saw somewhere that this work was maybe published some other way & now it’s being republished but I haven’t been able to find that note again so ).
But there’s so much steam (have I mentioned that yet ;) ), an interesting relationship arc as they all find out how to navigate this new relationship, & this fabulous sense of drama & atmosphere. In short, it’s really fun, very bloody, & freaking hot.
4.5⭐️. Out 09/06.
CWs: She’s bitten without her consent. She sees men trying to drug her drink and then shortly after helps those men get murdered to feed her lovers. Violence. Murder. Lots of other CWs—I would suggest checking out the author’s list.
Thanks to the publisher for complimentary finished copy and the publisher & Edelweiss for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
[This pic was taken from the fire tower trail in Frozen Head State Park!]
I take every chance I can here to shout about Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series & the author is back with the opening to a spin-off, Pack of Lies.
The lead in this series, Eli, is sly, incorrigible, bold, & provocative & his voice jumps from the page.
Now the manager of a mountain retreat owned by Cooper & Oliver (the leads of the books in the Big Bad Wolf series), Eli is brought into a mystery investigation surrounding whatever strange, supernatural creature is targeting a rival lodge owner, & all the while, of course, he must hide that he is a wolf shifter.
Also easy is managing his attraction & feelings for actor Julien Doran, who is hiding his own secrets, chiefly his investigation into his brother’s earlier death.
Like with all fantastic series it’s such a joy to return to them, to see beloved characters take on new life & to see where they’ll go. Both Julien & Eli have big trust issues & I appreciated that they temporarily set that aside for some steam .
There’s a surprising twist, some solid-hitting emotion, & an ending that left me wanting more. Like tomorrow.
I highly highly recommend this series if you love PNR—these characters will work themselves into your heart very easily!
4.5⭐️. Out now!
CWs: violence, death.
Thank you, Partner @bibliolifestyle @williammorrowbooks for the complimentary finished copy & @avonbooks and Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Wow, Sarah MacLean doesn’t play around with Heartbreaker. Honestly it feels like she took some of *my* favorite things & wrapped them in a stunning package & said “please knock yourself out with good feelings, Jessica” .
I’m trying to think of how this book could have been any better & it’s just not possible to me. From its seemingly mismatched leads—a thief from the rough & tumble part of London & an uptight duke—to its “chase me” vibes, to its badass group of Belles & the ways said leads show they care over & over again…it’s quite a one-two- to infinity punch.
I adore how Adelaide Frampton is written & how Henry, the aforementioned duke, is so aware of her strength, courage, & effectiveness. This isn’t a book where the hero is sleeping on the heroine’s attributes .
& Henry is basically a perfect hero. Or at least perfect for me. Coming at the reader with big “not like other toffs energy,” his background gives him empathy, a sense of fun, & sportsmanship & it’s easy to see how they work together despite their difference in status.
Who could have suspected that a thief & a duke would be so good together? Okay me. I suspected .
Powerfully written, sensual & hot & passionate, funny & romantic & trope-tastic, filled with moments where the leads try as hard as they can to protect each other, Heartbreaker both packs a heart wallop & had me grinning. I’m pretty sure this one’s going on my best of 2022 list!
In conclusion this is the first time I’ve been sexually attracted to the name Henry.
5 ⭐️. Out 08/23.
CWs: violence. Horrible rich white people—mostly men—only caring about themselves. It’s implied that Adelaide’s father “all but insisted” that she become physically intimate with her former fiancé, who was of his choosing. Kidnapping. Probably others.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
This book isn’t quite Assassin Lite but there are so many things that got to my heart nonetheless.
🌻 Like a deliberately annoying lead + the lead who gets exasperated by him.
🌻 A grumpy & the sunshine combo.
🌻 Forced proximity.
🌻 I have to trust you (even though I shouldn’t) if I want to survive.
🌻 Let’s make a home together.
In N. R. Walker’s The Kite Harry & Asher are both assassins who go on the run together once they realize that hits have been put out on both of them.
Neither man is quick to trust so that makes the inevitable walls coming down all the better. The steam had me fanning my cheeks, the caretaking scenes grabbed at my heart, & I was genuinely happy to see them at the end, forging a new, safe life separate from the violence of their past.
Be warned: there’s a lot of violence in this one & lots of deaths, some committed by the leads. In an effort to establish their own safety Harry also threatens a villain’s family in front of the villain only & while I think he was bluffing I prefer my leads to make less threats against possibly innocent people please & thanks.
But on the whole The Kite really satisfied.
4.5 ⭐️. Out now!
The beloved queen of Regency romance is back with a brand-new series perfect for fans of Bridgerton. Discover New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh’s Ravenswood series.
The handsome and charismatic Earl of Stratton, Caleb Ware, has been exposed to the ton for his clandestine affairs—by his own son.
As a child, Devlin Ware thought his family stood for all that was right and good in the world. They were kind, gracious, and shared the beauty of Ravenswood, their grand country estate, by hosting lavish parties for the entire countryside. But at twenty-two, he discovered his whole world was an elaborate illusion, and when Devlin publicly called his family to account for it, he was exiled as a traitor.
So be it. He enlisted in the fight against Napoleon and didn’t look back for six years. But now his father is dead, the Ware family is broken, and as the heir he is being called home. It’s only when Gwyneth Rhys—the woman he loved and then lost after his family banished him—holds out her hand to help him that he is able make the difficult journey and try to piece together his fractured family.
It is Gwyneth’s loyalty, patience, and love that he needs. But is Devlin’s war-hardened heart even capable of offering her love in return?
Would you believe that I had never read a Mary Balogh book before Remember Love & I’ve been reading historical romance for about 24 or so years & see her books around all the time?
(That’s a rhetorical question since I know we all have authors like that 😆).
But this book really got to me, so much so that I found myself being okay with certain things that might have given me pause if written by someone else.
Because Mary Balogh’s writing is intricately descriptive (please ask me about Ravenswood Manor & one of the leads’s siblings bc this woman has learned so much 🤣), & the story is marvelously told, & it felt very much Wharton-esque to me but with that HEA.
The premise of this book is that “before,” Gwyneth Rhys & Devlin Ware are total opposites & neighbors who have been closely linked throughout their childhoods but only because they’ve been best friends with each other’s siblings.
Secretly they’ve pined for each other, though, & they have *one day* of luxuriating in the fact that their feelings are not unrequited before it comes crashing down in heartrending fashion.
At 40% into the book, we’re fast forwarded six years & Devlin has returned home where he again meets Gwyneth, the woman he “once loved” (ok yeah whatever Devlin).
I mentioned the storytelling, but there’s a lot of other things to commend this one: the bravery of Gwyneth, who is a quiet joy & a bold joy & whom I was cheering on.
There’s introspective Devlin, who, as Gwyneth points out, feels so much even while not recognizing that in himself.
There are well-rounded secondary characters whose happiness I’m also devoted in, & an overall plotline regarding parents and hero worship that feels relatable & heartbreaking to me.
Forcing me to slow down & pay attention, to just really enjoy the immersive story of love & heartbreak & ultimately, always love, Remember Love is lovely.
4.5 ⭐️. Out now.
About the author.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Roni Loren’s Say Everything series is one that’s going on my fave contemporary romance series list—you can put that blurb right on the cover 😆.
The latest installment, For You & No One Else, out now, warmed every cockle of my heart. I really loved this friends with benefits romance where they really are *friends* & lovers & eventually make an adorable and unfairly hot partnership.
Therapist & mental health influencer Eliza hasn’t won over office-mate Beckham & that’s fine.
But they strike up a friendship while unexpectedly shopping for a dog together *cue the soft, happy tears* & as a hacker & friend he’s there for her when a horrible date tries to publicly shame & bully her by posting a video of her without her consent rightfully going off on him (check out the CWs for more on this!).
Gradually they move into something steamier, but there are big complications standing in the way including Beckham’s past & their different relationship wants.
This age gap, forced proximity, workplace-ish romance is written so beautifully & captures how romance underlaid with a strong friendship can be so strong & heartwarming. The speeches that each makes about friendship, & later about love, really got to me in the best of ways.
& the Epilogue. I didn’t need to see it go there, & it didn’t have to for the characters, but I absolutely loved seeing them sooo happy. Furthermore, seeing the other characters from past books—all of them one big, happy, extended family—was particularly welcome given the crappy news we’re dealing with in the Real World.
This book & this whole series is fantastic. If I want sensitive romance with steam & compelling relationships with attraction & tenderness & respect & gentle challenges I’m rec’ing this one! Check it out if you haven’t already—you won’t regret it!
5 ⭐️. Out now!
A disillusioned millennial ghostwriter who, quite literally, has some ghosts of her own, has to find her way back home in this sparkling adult debut from national bestselling author Ashley Poston.
Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.
When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.
For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.
Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.
Romance is most certainly dead . . . but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.
Wow, Ashley Poston’s The Dead Romantics blew me away & had me freaking crying before taking my kids to gymnastics the other morning 😆.
This book engaged me emotionally on every level—it kind of has a Book Lovers effect in that way. The story weaves in happiness & grief, joy & sadness, laughter & tears in a most affirming way—as the book makes us aware time & time again, that weaving is life itself. The sour sometimes but always the sweet too.
At the beginning of the book ghostwriter Florence Day asks to write the last book on her contract as a non-romance bc according to her, “romance is dead.” (Ok, Florence, check back in with me later 🙄🤣). The editor Benji Andor, a hottie who clearly turns cold by her ask, says no.
Shortly thereafter, Florence’s beloved dad passes & Benji Andor, her editor, arrives at her family’s funeral home as a ghost. Good thing that Florence can communicate with them—even if that actually made her infamous in her small town.
This book obviously deals with some tough topics, including the loss of Florence’s dad, but it handles them so lovingly, so eager to see the possible beauty left in the world even through tears & wrenching sadness.
I missed Florence’s dad even though he was only alive on page for a short portion of the book. Just as I was happy for her happy memories & the moments she shares with Benji—because Florence’s narration reeled me in & I could feel the fullness of her, of her family too, as a person.
Quirky, funny, loving, hopeful, this book hits every note & I loved living in it for a while. Every character in The Dead Romantics feels special & precious. More books like this one, please.
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
Give me that HEA, please.
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