Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Cait Nary’s Contract Season started so hot you all, with a meeting of eyes across a wedding dance floor between a hunk of a singer named Seamus & a pro hockey player, Brody Kellerman, who’s a force on the ice.
When they meet alone, the magnetism between them takes over, leaving me saying *oh my.*
What follows is some fake dating & a sometimes awkward, stumbling way to a HEA between two people who just can’t get the other out of their head.
Complicating everything is the fact that neither Brody nor Sea is out yet & both work in fields—hockey & country music—where to come out publicly would likely not draw a lot of a support. Where instead they might draw ridicule and homophobia, etc.
Nary’s beautiful writing leaves such an emotional impact while reading. There were so many times I noticed how the author had phrased something & in general, it builds up the feelings between Brody & Sea so powerfully. The attraction between them feels electric to me & that’s because of how Nary writes.
Another thing Nary does so well is explore both of the leads’s vulnerabilities both between them—in their relationship—& in the narrative itself.
But I did wish for a little less back & forth in their relationship in general.
As far as writing talent is concerned I’m such a fan of Cait Nary’s work & I’m hoping for a more straightforward conflict arc in the next one!
4.5⭐️. Out 09/06.
CWs: Both leads are forcibly outed. Supposed Christians expose them. There’s some homophobia exhibited by Christians but also some support from other Christians. Moments of excessive drinking & recreational drug use.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Ahhh this book.
If you haven’t read a KD Casey book you must! Please 🥺.
KD Casey is rapidly becoming one of my fave writers & for me the author shares many of those characteristics I love so much about Kate Clayborn’s writing: they’re deceptively quiet-ish plot wise but they’re absolutely stunning stories with so many romantic, smaller moments that add up to huge incontrovertible proof that two people have found their person 🥺🥺🥺.
Oh yeah, & there’s baseball 😅.
In Fire Season Reid Giordano, a recovering alcoholic who’s trying to find his way back professionally to the pitching he was once capable of—is traded from the minors to the Oakland Elephants.
There he meets Charlie Braxton, a star pitcher who’s known for not saying a lot & who’s keeping his impending divorce a secret.
They become friends & eventually more in the midst of stresses like Reid possibly being temporary in Oakland, Charlie’s experiences with anxiety, & Reid’s continual work toward maintaining his sobriety.
Despite the last paragraph the overall tone of Fire Season is of hope & growth & making deliberate choices to try to be better & stronger.
I absolutely love this book & I think its romantic moments—like them dancing together in a kitchen—will live with me rent free.
Please check this author out! & then come chat with me 😆.
5 ⭐️. Release date: 07/19.
Thanks to the author for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
I think KD Casey’s One True Outcome is maybe the softest sports romance I’ve ever read?
I already want to reread it because I feel like I didn’t fully appreciate how gentle it was going to be—I kept waiting for the romance demolition crew to swoop in toward the end and it just didn’t 😆.
One True Outcome has a veteran / rookie pairing, both of whom are hoping this year will be their year & both facing their own challenges.
When veteran Mack is asked to help give Jamie extra batting lessons they have a reason to spend more time together & the awareness of each is stoked to a cheer-inducing degree.
I prefer steam in my romance & this one has that 🔥 but maybe more than that I’m looking for evidence of care. This book has that in spades as each lead reveals in ways big & small that their heart has been stolen (much like a base can be 🥁…that’s like the only baseball joke I can make).
This is the third KD Casey book I’ve read & again, I’m a little enraptured by how striking the writing is & how lovely the romance.
Read this book, read this author. I’m such a fan!
5 ⭐️. Release date: 03/25.
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
When I say that Rachel Reid’s Role Model swept me off my feet...
If you love
> Redemption arcs
> A too-handsome-to-be-believed + attractive-in-a-more-approachable-way kind of pairing
> Grumpy & the sunshine (who is literally a former apple farmer!)
you must read this! Notice I didn’t mention the sports. You don’t have to love the sports to love this one .
In Role Model, NHL hockey player Troy Barrett has just been traded to one of the worst teams: the Ottawa Centaurs.
He’s gotten a lot of heat from his former team & fans, as well as hockey fans in general, for calling his former BFF & teammate a rapist after rape allegations were brought forward against him—& the moment was caught on video & leaked.
Instead of rallying behind Troy, his team is supporting the alleged rapist, & Troy, who didn’t realize what his former BFF was allegedly doing but who was undeniably an asshole (& one of the homophobic variety), is left hanging in the wind.
The social media manager of his new team, Harris Drover, is adorable, cheerful, & out—he’s nice to everyone, has an “average” physique compared to the ripped Troy, & an annoying loud laugh.
Are you as in love as I am?
First off, hats off to Reid for really going at how sports culture (specifically hockey in this book’s case) all too often supports the perpetrators of assault & not the alleged victims. There are some people in this book, like Troy & members of his new team, who are very much supporters of the latter, but Reid makes it clear that there are a lot of hockey fans & admins who would rather support the money-making, spectacle of the game than the alleged victims.
Second, I adore this lead pairing. Troy tries so hard to be a better person & he has a lot of bad behavior he has to reckon with—not to mention the fact that he’s currently in the closet & not sure how to come out/if he wants to. & he’s drawn to Harris, who likes everyone & wears Pride pins on his jacket. I love how Troy’s reserve meets Harris’s zest & crumbles a little under its charm each day.
Third, this book is so funny (cake pops 🤣) & came at me with so much heart.
Highly recommend this one for major feels.
4.5 ⭐️. Release date: 08/10
✨Q: how soon do you write reviews after you’ve finished a book?
🌿 I take notes as I read & usually write the review a week or so later.
I’ve seen so much buzz surrounding Rachel Reid’s enemies to lovers Heated Rivalry that when I had the opportunity to request her latest release I snapped that puppy up.
Common Goal is an age gap romance between an NHL goalie who wants to explore his long-held but never acted upon attraction to men & a younger bartender whose heart is currently preoccupied with having big feelings for a soon-to-be married man.
Eric Bennett, aforementioned goalie, is 40, divorced, & immediately captivated by Kyle Swift, bartender. But Kyle Swift sees the wedding ring Eric hasn’t taken off yet & is fully aware of how being attracted to older men has never worked out for him & decides to stay away.
It turns into a “we’ll go to a bar together & I’ll be your wingman” situation for a little while but luckily for us, Eric & Kyle can’t resist their attraction for one another & kissing commences.
Common Goal is super steamy & that made me 😄. What else did I love? How Eric & Kyle have compatible interests & actually talk about them.
But they also miss a couple of communication opportunities that always seem so easy to me (TELL HIM, the oversharer in me inwardly screams. My life philosophy = better to make someone feel awkward w/ oversharing rather than seem emotionally unavailable 🤣🤣.)
My biggest squabble with Common Goal however is that the resolution feels really rushed.
This was a 3.5⭐️ read for me. There are some things about the plot that I didn’t jump up & down for but I’m really excited to dive into Rachel Reid’s catalog. What I liked about her writing I really liked.
Common Goal is out 09/21. Thanks to Netgalley & Carina Press for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Q: have you ever named your car?
Ok. This book is adorable.
Carter Ramsey’s an injured MLB player who’s about to be named Man of the Year. When he succumbs to peer pressure from his twin & travels to his hometown of Haven for their high school reunion, he never imagines that the first person he’ll run into at his temporary lodgings will be his former lab partner, Olive Dunn.
Everyone loves Olive. She’s capable, confident, & never met a problem she didn’t cut off at the knees. She’s also a whirlwind of energy & when she sweeps into Carter’s life—literally repeatedly barging into his home or imposing on his plans—he’s not prepared to like her. A lot.
Feelings happen, but Carter’s got a secret he’s only confided in Olive. He’s also home to *possibly* reunite with the other half of his golden high school coupledom (don’t worry about a real love triangle here!)
Yours to Keep is a consistently funny (I know, I know, does that even mean anything in reviews anymore?!), steamy read with a lot of heart. Both leads are genuinely nice people & I always love that when happens. Especially when one nice person is really drawn to another nice person & then they kiss.
Layne offers a friends to lovers story that I think will appeal to a lot of people—a pro baseball player + a high school biology teacher who seems confident in most ways, insecure in others—& she writes the ending of the book (the chapter before the epilogue) in a way that feels hopeful for their relationship but that doesn’t make either one of them entirely sacrifice their personal aspirations. & the Epilogue is 🏻.
There are some aspects of the romance that I think could have been expanded on throughout the book—like the storyline with his former high school girlfriend, which feels a little flimsy for me. Also the ending, which doesn’t seem to have as much introspection or reflection as I’d like.
But I definitely recommend Lauren Layne’s Yours to Keep for a lighthearted small town romance that kept me smiling.
4⭐️. Yours to Keep is available now. Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Happy release day to Mira Lyn Kelly's Dirty Hookup! This is a kinda sorta enemies to lovers sports romance written by a contemporary romance author I always enjoy. Read on for my review and more deets.
One look and I know… this chick hates me.
I should walk away, find some puck bunny to gleefully sit on my lap and tell me what a big, hot, hockey stud I am--totally true, BTW. But there’s just something about this feisty redhead I can’t let go. She’s got an edge to her that’s sexy as hell and a smart mouth that’s been tying me up since the night I met her.
She tells me to forget it, we’re not happening. But this isn’t the kind of woman a guy ever forgets. Especially when the air starts to sizzle and pop every time we get within ten feet of each other. She’s in my head and under my skin, and all I can think about is the way she looked at me that one time.
Like she already knew how it could be between us.
I’m not the kind of guy a girl like her takes home… But maybe I want to be.
I picked up Mira Lyn Kelly’s Dirty Hookup with an internal sigh of pleasure this weekend. Mira’s books are just so easy to read, to tumble into and smile over.
So much of Dirty Hookup is charismatic. Pro hockey player and perennial playboy Quinn O’Brian pretty much falls for bike repair store manager George Bowen the first time he sees her. The problem is that this isn’t the first time he’s seen her.
They actually met 6 years ago when they had a blistering day and night together and he made sweet promises that dissolved soon after. George hasn’t gotten over the experience but apparently Quinn has, because he doesn’t indicate that he’s ever met her before.
And yet, in this present moment, he’s assertive about being attracted to her and wanting to get to know her better. Is Quinn a liar? Or is there a possibility that he doesn’t remember and he really is that into her?
As you can see, the plot’s pretty twisty. But I was there for most of it because Mira Lyn Kelly writes mesmerizing character dynamics and big guys who fall hard. Quinn’s kind of annoyingly persistent at times—he admits to himself that his methods aren’t the best—but he’s also absolutely infatuated and it’s cute seeing the big guy with stars in his eyes.
And to compound the swoony feeling Mira frequently includes characters from other books so this one seems filled with love. (S/out to Vaughn and Natalie!)
But despite how much this book sparkles, how much I love George’s independent nature and Quinn’s vulnerability with her, there are a couple of things about Dirty Hook-Up that I didn’t embrace. During their first hook-up George is honest about her intention but not her motivation, and some readers might not be cool with how close it comes to a kind of revenge.
Second, this romance seems to get oddly patriarchal in its conclusion and that confused and bothered me. George is a force throughout the book and then suddenly, it’s all about her male relatives.
After a really great beginning and middle—and all the crazy sexual tension, the incredible stoking of internal drama within both leads—the ending’s kinda disappointing to me.
This ended up being a 4⭐️ read. I can’t wait to catch up with the characters—and find a new couple to crush on—in the next book.
Thanks to the author for a complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Where to Get Your Copy
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2wmtpyP
ADD IT TO GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48459380-dirty-hookup
About the Author
Hard core romantic, stress baker, and housekeeper non-extraordinaire. Mira Lyn Kelly is the USA TODAY bestselling author of more than a dozen sizzly love stories with over a million readers worldwide. Growing up in the Chicago area, she earned her degree in Fine Arts from Loyola University and met the love of her life while studying abroad in Rome, Italy… only to discover he’d been living right around the corner from her back home. Having spent her twenties working and playing in the Windy City, she’s now settled with her husband in Minnesota, where their four amazing children and two ridiculous dogs provide an excess of action and entertainment.
Thanks to the author for the complimentary ARC and Give Me Books for the promotional materials. All opinions included are my own.
Give me that HEA, please.
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