Category «Book Reviews»

Single Sundays: Love and Kerosene by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Love and Kerosene by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Love and Kerosene (from Goodreads):

For me, family is a curse. My father and brother made my life hell. My mother’s untimely death still keeps me up at night. Now that my brother, Donovan, has been killed in an accident, I can forget the past.

The last remnant is the childhood home I’ve inherited—and which I intend to burn to the ground. The only obstacle? Anneliese Nielsen, Donovan’s fiancée.

Donovan left her destitute, and selling this run-down house is her only chance to recoup her losses. I shouldn’t care, but…maybe it’s her eyes when she sees me. I look strikingly like my brother, a man she loved despite everything.

So we strike a deal. We’ll renovate the house together, but she’ll have to convince me to sell—or up in flames it goes.

But the more time we spend in the house, the more its terrible history threatens to come out.

And even more dangerous, the harder I start to fall for Anneliese.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 11, 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good slow burn romance, especially when it is between two people who are love-broken. This premise was super unique and I couldn’t wait to see what twists Winter Renshaw had in store.

The Plot:

This book had the right balance between character growth and romance. I loved that we saw both characters learn from their past and face their “demons” so to speak.

The Characters:

Annaliese is hurt by the betrayal of her fiancé and is left in the mess he created. Lachlan is also trying to come to grips with the relationship he had with his estranged brother. Donovan is dead and so these two will never get that big, all will be revealed moment for him and so it brings an interesting dynamic to their individual character stories but also to their budding relationship as they navigate how to reconcile the past but build a new future without getting those answers from Donovan himself.

The Romance:

I thought these two had a lot of chemistry once they started to get to know each other. The romance is sweeter than it is outright passionate but I think that makes the connection seem stronger. It isn’t something that burns hot right away but slowly catches heat as it builds.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Overall, while the premise seems like an outright soap opera, Winter Renshaw finds a way to ground the story with strong, likeable characters as she shows the power of reconciling the past to create a great future.

Read if You Like: characters learning to love again, character driven romances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

similarreads

  • Hold on Tight by Abbi Glines (Sea Breeze Series #8)
  • The Dirty Truth by Winter Renshaw
  • Rule by Jay Crownover (Marked Men Series #1)

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Spin-off Saturdays: Promises We Meant to Keep by Monica Murphy

Spin-off Saturdays: Promises We Meant to Keep by Monica Murphy

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Promises We Meant to Keep is a spin-off of Things I Wanted to Say but Never Did

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author

Series: Lancaster Universe

This is a spinoff of the standalone Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did).

Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 22, 2022
Source & Format: Author—ARC

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original novel, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I always enjoy a good redemption story and I was eager to get inside the head of the complex Sylvie Lancaster we met in Things I Wanted to Say but Never Did. I honestly don’t remember if Spencer was mentioned much in that book because I was totally consumed with Whit and Summer’s angsty love, but I do remember finishing it and wanting Sylvie’s story one day. We ended up getting A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime before this one (no complaints!) so I was really excited to dive into this one when it was officially announced.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Not As Angsty–

I missed the angst though there is plenty of steam between the two leads. I just craved a little more drama to their second chance romance. While I always enjoy romances where the characters actually chat about their issues, everything here just felt too easy. Perhaps I put this expectation of their romance being a little more forbidden than it actually is given the fact that Spencer is Sylvie’s brother’s best friend?

–More A Redemption Story–

While I enjoyed the arrogance that is Whit Lancaster, this story is really about Sylvie’s redemption story. In that way, it definitely succeeds. It was great to understand her character and her motives. And it was also great to watch her grow and become her own person as she learned from her past.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Need a Little More Plot in the Middle–

The course of true love never did run smooth but I think in this case, it might have. Since it lacked the angst of the romance, it just needed a little something more to keep the story going. Some more obstacles or tension would have helped to move the story’s pacing.

Series Rating: 3/5

overall

It wasn’t nearly as addicting to read as Whit’s book though I think fans will still enjoy this one! Especially those who wanted to know more about the infamous Sylvie!

Read if You Like: redemption stories, second chance romances
Avoid if You: want more angst
similarreads

  • Always Been You by Beverley Kendall (Unforgettable You Series #3)
  • PS I Miss You by Winter Renshaw (P.S. Series #2)
  • Twisted Love by Ana Huang (Twisted Series #1)

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Promises We Meant to Keep (from Goodreads):

Spencer Donato.

My brother’s best friend.

My dirty little secret.

We fell for each other at Lancaster Prep. Sneaking around. Not wanting anyone to find out. He was my first love, my protector, my knight in shining armor. We were made for each other, and I truly believed he was my forever.

But then I did the unthinkable, and betrayed him in the worst possible way. I thought I lost him for good…

Until I saw him at my brother’s wedding. Now he’s older. Crueler. Unbearably handsome. We’re drawn to each other still, but will Spencer be there for me when I need him the most? Or did I ruin us once again?

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Single Sundays: Glitter by Abbi Glines

Single Sundays: Glitter by Abbi Glines

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Glitter (from Goodreads):
Lies, Deceit, Vengeance, Desire, and Hate…
wrapped up in a façade of all that sparkles and shines.

​A pretty face, a fetching smile, a fabulous gown, a flutter of lashes at just the right moment – Miriam had been taught she must do all these things to land a wealthy husband. Much preferring the company of books to people, the only thing that stopped Miriam from fleeing to the countryside was her younger sister – who was counting on Miriam to make a match that would ensure she could care for her mother and sister properly.

​He knew his duty to his title and he would do as was necessary.

​Although Hugh Compton, Earl of Ashington, hadn’t wanted his father’s title at the age of nine and twenty, he gained it two years ago when his father died unexpectedly. The only good that had come of that was Hugh had been able to move his father’s wife to the dowager house.

​Now it was time to marry.

Many disliked the arrogant Earl of Ashington but none so much as his brother.

After his mother was sent off as if she were trash to be disposed of, Nathaniel swore he’d even the score. With the intent of charming the boring Lydia Ramsbury right out of his brother’s arms, Nathaniel discovered it was a new face that had captured his brother’s attention – a one Miss Miriam Bathurst.

Vengeance had never looked so sweet.

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Author: Abbi Glines
Genre: New Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 21, 2021
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s been a long time since I read an Abbi Glines novel. She actually used to be one of my most read authors when Goodreads used to keep track of that sort of thing. (Maybe that’s because the Rosemary Beach series had over 10 books…)

Anyways, normally, I would stay far away from a book that hinted at a love triangle. However, Abbi Glines has written some that I have loved and some that I have hated (The Vincent Boys). But I was curious to see what she would do with a historical romance novel when she primarily writes contemporary romance and so I downloaded the audiobook from my library and dove in!

The Plot:

So, I actually liked the love triangle aspect for this story. The Prologue sets the stage with Miriam declaring she is about to marry a man but he isn’t who she truly loves — so, which brother is which in that scenario?! It added this suspense to the novel that I really enjoyed and kept me reading.

I got a lot of classic Jane Austen romance vibes with this story but there is also a modern edge to it as well — it’s that unique touch to Abbi Glines’ work that keeps me hooked in her stories.

I do wish the ending was flushed out more. I think this story lags a little in the middle and there is a lot going on plot wise that could have been resolved earlier to keep things moving.

The Characters:

Lots of historical romances write in the third person POV so it was interesting to get first person POVs for all three characters. I had hoped that this would mean that the characters would be a little more dynamic but they felt a little one-dimensional to me. I liked them all but I felt like they weren’t anything I hadn’t read before.

Miriam is the bookish heroine stereotype that many historical romances use. She’s likeable but she is designed to be by using that bookish, beautiful wallflower trope often found in historical romances. I also thought the brothers’ relationship could have been expanded upon as well.

I did love Miriam’s aunt though! She was an absolute hoot!

The Romance:

This felt very Jane Austen to me in its approach (not a bad thing!) and it has this slow burn to it that I enjoyed. Plus, the mystery of which brother Miriam falls in love with reminded me that love triangles can be a good plot device when done right.

My Audiobook Experience:

There is a female narrator that does all 3 of the characters–including the brothers. She does a good job giving each character a unique voice but I think having 2 different men to read the parts of the brothers would have been better.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

Call me a fan! I enjoyed Abbi Glines’ fresh take on the historical romance novel!

Read if You Like: love triangles, historical romances
Avoid if You: dislike first person POVs
similarreads

  • Victoria and the Rogue by Meg Cabot
  • The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn (Bridgertons Series #2)
  • Hold the Forevers by K A Linde (Coastal Chronicles #1)

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Single Sundays: The Bad Boy’s Good Girl by Cookie O’Gorman & Michelle Pennington

Single Sundays: The Bad Boy’s Good Girl by Cookie O’Gorman & Michelle Pennington

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Bad Boy’s Good Girl (from Goodreads):
Logan King was trouble.

I knew it from the moment I laid eyes on him. But when I challenged him, I had no idea he’d take his revenge so far.

To make up for his inexcusable behavior, his parents gave me a scholarship to King’s Prep Academy. My mom insisted that I accept. Now, I’m the poor, public school girl attending an elite academy for the rich.

Even worse, Logan is here. He rules the school, and he wants me gone.

But I have a dream to chase, and no one, not even a King, will stop me.

*previously published on Kindle Vella as The Boys of King’s Prep Academy*

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author (O’Gorman)
Author: Cookie O’Gorman and Michelle Pennington
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 4, 2022
Source & Format: ARC–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Boy’s of King’s Prep Academy is the only Cookie O’Gorman novel I haven’t read by her. I love her sweet YA romances; they never fail to put a smile on my face. So I was excited to read the revised version of the original Kindle Vella Series.

I’ve had some hits and missed with the high-school-bully trope with their over the top antics and the shock factor but knowing Cookie’s other reads, I knew this would be a sweet yet angsty read.

The Concept:

Originally written as a series of individual episodes (like a serial), it shows a little in this new version. Most chapters end on a cliffhanger of sorts to keep you reading. I also felt like chapters were more robust in order to give readers a solid episode to read.

The Plot:

After a not-so-meet-cute between our leads that was filled with drama, the next 50% or so seems a little tame and slow in comparison. I struggled with the pacing as a result. Perhaps if we had more stolen looks and brimming sexual tension between Ava and Logan in that first half, I wouldn’t have minded the slow burn as much. But they rarely seem to interact at all or at least enough to convince me that Logan was falling for her so hard and fast.

The Characters:

Logan has great character development throughout the book. It was nice to see him let some of his angst go and become a stronger person.

Ava is a strong match for him but she also shows some vulnerability that I appreciated.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure why Chris has some POV chapters. I’m not sure if it was to introduce a potential rival to the romance or to plant the seeds for a future sequel.

The Romance:

I’ve read a few “high-school-bully” trope romances over the last year and this one was refreshing in the sense that it didn’t try to shock you with crazy sexscapades or violence. Instead, it’s a sweet romance between two people who realize that there is more to the other person than they first assumed.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

overall

Perfect for fans who want to partake in the hate to love you prep school YA romance genre but don’t want all the grit and sex that usually comes with it. It’s sweet but angsty and has a lot of depth to it!

Read if You Like: slow burn romances, sweet romances
Avoid if You: want a grittier high-school-bully romance

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Single Sundays: Lessons in Sins by Pam Godwin

Single Sundays: Lessons in Sins by Pam Godwin

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Lessons in Sin (from Goodreads):
There’s no absolution for the things I’ve done.
But I found a way to control my impulses.
I became a priest.

As Father Magnus Falke, I suppress my cravings. As the headteacher of a Catholic boarding school, I’m never tempted by a student.

Until Tinsley Constantine.

The bratty princess challenges my rules and awakens my dark nature. With each punishment I lash upon her, I want more. In my classroom, private rectory, and bent over my altar, I want all of her.

One touch risks everything I stand for. My faith. My redemption. And even my life.

As if that could stop me. I need her pain, and her heart, and she needs my lessons in sin.

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Part of the: Midnight Dynasty Universe
Author: Pam Godwin
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: high | Kink: major)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was SUPER excited to read Tinsley Constantine’s book. She has been a favourite character of mine with her brief appearances in other Constantine novels in the Midnight Dynasty Universe and I love a good forbidden romance, so I was eager to dive in!

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

While there are allusions made to other Constantine siblings who have already had published novels, this book can be read as a standalone. It really doesn’t contribute to the Morelli vs Constantine family feud.

The Plot:

This book doesn’t have much going on besides Tinsley being a brat but saving animals; these two fighting their “attraction” to each other for a very long time; and then these two not doing a great job of staying away from each other.

I actually contemplated DNFing this book very early on because it just wasn’t working for me. There wasn’t a lot of plot and the romance didn’t win me over like I had hoped. I started to skim the rest of the book to be honest just so I could finish it and see if it alluded to any other books in the Midnight Dynasty Universe

The Characters:

Prior to this novel, I had only experience brief glimpses of her in other books but I liked her quirky rebellious personality. But in this book, it started to irritate me a bit. Or maybe we just spent too long repeating the same ideas for the first half of the book. She has moments of brilliance but it’s also shadowed by moments of oddity.

Magnus is an interesting character with an intriguing backstory. I didn’t love him like I wanted to. Honestly, he creeped me out a little with his sadist alphaness.

The Romance:

Perhaps the biggest reason I didn’t enjoy this novel was that I wasn’t sold on the romance at all. Magnus’ past is filled with sadistic romps with women older than him — so after 9 years of being a priest, what is it about the young Tinsley that getting him satisfied with somewhat vanilla sex? I guess she is this magical unicorn that redeems him? (There are some kinky sex scenes between the two of them though — it isn’t all vanilla sex).

It’s too bad because if you removed the aspects of their forbidden love and sexual appetites, I could see why their personalities would click. Maybe if Tinsley was sent to the school as a teacher instead of a student I’d get the romance a little more.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Perhaps my expectations were too high but this forbidden romance was more ick than swoon for me.

Read if You Like: forbidden romances, priests falling in love
Avoid if You: dislike erotica

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Single Sundays: The Dirty Truth by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Dirty Truth by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Dirty Truth (from Goodreads):
From Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw comes an enemies-to-lovers romance about the journey of self-discovery that follows a life-changing event.

After a brush with death, I realize it’s time to make changes in my life. Big changes.

First, my job. I love being a journalist, but I hate my megawatt magnate boss, West Maxwell. When he demands I rewrite an article on short notice, I turn the tables on him with a scathing new column and quit in a blaze of glory.

But West isn’t about to let me go that easily, the jerk. He offers me an unexpected new position: mentor to his rebellious teenage niece. For some reason, I agree—I like helping people, but I’m also admittedly curious to glimpse the man behind the mogul.

However, I soon discover that my new assignment isn’t what I expected. As I learn about the private side of my enigmatic boss, I start to see the heart he hides behind his icy facade. The old Elle hated West…but maybe—just maybe—the new Elle can tame him.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 14, 2022
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a HUGE Winter Renshaw fan. She is a go-to author of mine when it comes to great contemporary romances thanks to her great ability to write a wide range of stories. I love a slow burn romance so I was excited to dive into this one for that reason alone. Plus, who doesn’t love watching a stone cold man slowly melt into love?

The Concept:

I think it helps the reader to go into this book knowing the expectations. There is no denying that this book is a slow burn romance. Emphasis on the “slow” because I felt like it wasn’t until the 70% mark that that Elle shows an inkling of something more than attraction to West. I get that her past encounters with him weren’t positive and he is a firmly closed book when it comes to his own feelings, but I wanted a little more tension; perhaps some more lingering looks between them that hint that there is something brewing. Because these two do make a great pair, I just wanted that chemistry highlighted more

The Plot:

To me, this book was more of a modern character story about two people learning to embrace life after some hard experiences. Everything is well thought out and the characters have great evolution. So I can appreciate the sentiment that this story wants to focus on living your life without holding back, to take chances and hold nothing back. But I also appreciated that it showed that success doesn’t come overnight; that relationships and your career take work and perseverance. You have to work for what you want if that is what you truly want.

The Characters:

I really liked Elle and West as our leads. They each have interesting life experiences and I enjoyed watching them share and learn from those experiences. They have great conversations together, even if they are challenging at times.

The Romance:

I felt like the romance was more of a side element to their individual stories to help show how these characters have evolved in the time we have met them. Like I said, I just craved a little more obvious chemistry between them.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

A well rounded story about embracing whatever life throws at you and the great things that can happen when you let people in.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, character driven stories
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Single Sundays: Stone Cold by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Stone Cold by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Stone Cold (from Goodreads):
The most humiliating moment of my life begins with an early morning message from my ex’s notoriously heartless best friend.

Jovie—

In no way does this mean my opinion of you has changed.

I’m reaching out because sometime in the middle of last night you tagged yourself in Jude and Stassi’s engagement photo.

I don’t care if you were drunk or it was unintentional. I suggest you remove it immediately since the wedding is in two months (which I’m sure you know since you were clearly FB stalking them). The damage is done, but no reason to make things more awkward.

You’re welcome.

Stone

I waste no time removing my accidental tag before the sharp-tongued novelist in me fires off a response to the man who harbored extreme and inexplicable hatred of me during the three years I dated his best friend in college.

Only I didn’t expect him to respond.

And nothing could have prepared me for what he would say …

… or for all the ways this gorgeous villain with cruel icy blues would become the biggest plot twist my life had ever known.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read anything Winter Renshaw puts out nowadays but I really went into this one blind. I didn’t even read the synopsis before I picked it up.

The Plot:

I loved the flashbacks interspersed with the present. It helped provide a fuller picture of the complex relationship between Jude, Jovie and Stone. It isn’t a love triangle by any means but it does show how relationships can be complicate when friends and feelings are involved.

There are plenty of twists to keep the drama going as well. Lots of kismet and serendipity moments that will tug on your heartstrings. I felt every emotion reading this book which is always a nice bonus in a romance novel!

The Characters:

This book reminded me in some ways of Something Borrowed by Emily Giffen only that the characters are WAYYYY more likeable. But they’re similar in the sense that friendships are the pillar of why the characters act the way they do and that assumptions are made to keep things status quo. It’s very interesting to watch unfold to say the least.

The Romance:

I immediately fell for the banter between Stone and Jovie. Their instant messages back and forth had me chuckling out loud. They just have this undeniable chemistry between them that makes you want them to be together — even if they seem to not see it at first. It’s got a slow burn, slightly forbidden vibe to it that was simply addicting to read.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

One of my favourite Winter Renshaw novels of late! I couldn’t put this romance down!

Read if You Like: kismet, second chances, forbidden romances
Avoid if You: want full blown erotica

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Single Sundays: Fauxmance by Cookie O’Gorman

Single Sundays: Fauxmance by Cookie O’Gorman

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Fauxmance (from Goodreads):
Fauxmance (foh-mans): Term for a romantic relationship that is fake. Real feelings, like love, are strictly prohibited. See also: Why would anyone enter a fake relationship?

Eighteen-year-old Magnolia believes in true love.

Or she did.

When her boyfriend dumps her the day before her sister’s wedding, Maggie is devastated—but her broken heart is only part of the problem. Maggie is the maid of honor, and her sister insists: Every member of the bridal party must have an escort. No exceptions.

Thank goodness for Hayden Davenport.

Sarcastic, cocky, a surprisingly good listener and self-professed player, when Maggie gets stuck in an elevator with the handsome stranger, she thinks she’s found the perfect wedding date. Unfortunately, Hayden hates weddings. Like really hates them.

But one soul-shattering kiss changes everything.

Maggie needs a fake boyfriend. Hayden wants to prove he’s changed his playboy ways. Faking it should be easy. The hard part?

Remembering it’s all pretend and not falling in love for real.

This book features two opposites with sizzling chemistry, a sweet, hopeless romantic and a cynical bad boy who’ll steal your heart. Elevators, fake romance, and weddings, oh my! Get ready to swoon, laugh, and say ‘I do’ to this heartfelt YA romance.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Cookie O’Gorman
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 28, 2022
Source & Format: Author–ARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve read all of Cookie O’Gorman’s books with the exception of one (and that one is just because it fell of my radar during a reading slump). She’s my go-to author for swoon worthy YA romance. And when I read that this book was going to be a fake romance (my favourite romance trope!) I was SUPER excited to start it!

The Plot:

I loved the fun plot line. I’ve read many fake romance novels but I enjoyed the “be my fake wedding date” scenario. There were also quite a few twists I didn’t see coming that had me going “oh, that’s a good spin!”.

If life didn’t get in my way, I would have read this in one sitting!

The Characters:

I think Hayden is my new book boyfriend. Cookie has a great talent for writing swoon worthy book boyfriends but also making them believable as well. It gives me hope that my Hayden is out there somewhere and is just as wonderful as the book version is.

Magnolia was a fantastic lead. I loved her confidence. She reminded me that being a strong heroine doesn’t mean that nothing ever bothers you or gets you down. It also means that you can show your vulnerability and I think Magnolia had a great balance of that.

The rest of the cast was a blast! I know I would definitely read more books about Hayden’s bandmates!

The Romance:

While the romance seems “quick” in the sense that the story only takes place over a couple of weeks, it was easy for me to see why these two would be drawn together. They definitely had an instant spark when they first meet and that just ignites anytime they share a scene together.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

With a sublime balance between romance and reality, this book is definitely one of my new favourite Cookie O’Gorman novels!

Read if You Like: fake relationship trope, sweet romances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance novels

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Spin-off Saturdays: A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime by Monica Murphy

Spin-off Saturdays: A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime by Monica Murphy

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime is a spin-off of the Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did)

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Author
Series: Lancaster Universe

This is a spinoff of the standalone Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did).

Linked with The Wrong Brother, The Reluctant Bride and Promises We Meant to Keep.

Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 10, 2022
Source & Format: Author—eARC

thoughts

My Expectations?

I was consumed by Monica Murphy’s Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) when I read it last year. It was angsty, passionate and a soap opera in a book. It’s by far one of the best high-school-bully romances I’ve ever read. So I was excited to return to Lancaster Prep but I had no clue what to expect with this new book and its new characters.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Not A High School Bully Romance–

The romance between Whit and Summer in Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) is the definition of hate to love you. But here, the romance is more subtle and sweet than hard and angry. It was sweet watching them slowly fall for each other; for them each to see that they had more depth to their characters once they spent time together. There’s just something so charming about finding first love and that person who truly sees who you are for the first time. I loved how they were able to find a partner who they could be their true selves with–and not just the person their families were trying to mold them to be.

–Crew is Much Nicer than Whit–

Whit in was one of those characters you love to hate. Crew, he’s one of those characters with a tough exterior is a big softy inside. Much like Whit, he has an interesting family dynamic that he is trying to break free of. But he is quite the charmer when he wants to be and defintiely not as alpha male as his cousin.

–Just As Sexy–

Monica Murphy writes her books with plenty of steam, even her YA ones. I think some people will find that off-putting if they don’t enjoy erotica or sex scenes, but fans of her work will feel right at home with her steamy scenes.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slower Start–

I’ll admit, it took me a while (about a third of the book) to get into this. But that’s because Wren and Crew really don’t know each other. They’re just classmates who have their preconceived ideas about each other and usually stay away from each other until a class project brings them together. There is an underlying tension and chemistry between them but it really doesn’t spark until they start spending more time together. That’s when this book starts coming alive.

How it Links / Crosses Over With Other Monica Murphy Works:

Other than a brief mention of Whit and his relation to Crew at the start of this novel (their cousins), you can definitely read this independently from Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did). However, Crew Lancaster is related to a few of Monica’s other lead characters. Crew’s brother Grant has a novella titled The Wrong Brother and his sister Charlotte is the heroine in the Midnight Dynasty Series The Reluctant Bride!

concSLOW

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

With plenty of steam, sweet and swoon this romance will slowly melt your heart as you read.

Read if You Like: First love, prep school romances
Avoid if You: dislike sexual content in your YA romances

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime (from Goodreads):

Wren Beaumont is many things.

Beautiful.
Smart.
Sweet.
Innocent.

At Lancaster Prep, the girls love her. They all want to be her friend. Only I see Wren for who she really is.

A repressed little virgin who keeps her feelings locked up so tight she’s probably close to bursting. She thinks she’s above us all.

Even me.

I shouldn’t be drawn to her. She’s not my type.

Until we’re forced to work together in class and realize we might have more things in common than we originally thought. Soon enough I find myself completely obsessed. I will do anything for this girl to make her fall in love with me.

Anything.

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Single Sundays: High Society by Charlotte Casey

Single Sundays: High Society by Charlotte Casey

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for High Society (from Goodreads):
She’s not who he thinks she is.

It wasn’t Rayne’s fault, Cameron just assumed she was one of his rich friends and not one of the waitresses who served them. But he’s nice and sweet and genuinely seems like he wants to get to know her. Giving in to her desires, Rayne goes against her better judgment and continues the charade. He’s the forever kind of guy, that once in a lifetime love. Now that she’s had a taste of it, of him and his world, she doesn’t want to give it up.

That choice isn’t hers to make, though.

breakdown

Author: Charlotte Casey
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Novella
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Source & Format: Amazon Kindle–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I discovered this book through another author’s (Ella Miles) email newsletter where she had listed a whole bunch of free books. I had marked it as high anticipation when I picked it up probably because it seemed to have some forbidden love vibes going on.

The Plot:

We spend most of this book watching Rayne worry about hiding her true financial situation from Cameron — when the man doesn’t give any inkling that he cares about that stuff.

This is a novella so its shorter page shows when it comes to the plot. Not a lot is going on and it would have been interesting to see how these characters would have developed with another 100 pages. However at the time I picked this up, I didn’t want a book with a lot going on either so I didn’t mind.

The Characters:

One thing I really appreciated was that Cameron was just a nice, genuine guy. Not every “rich” book hero has to be an asshole (though trust me, I enjoy those reads) and Cameron is a great example of that. He just wants to foster this connection he made with this girl and I think that is so sweet.

Could both of the leads have had a little more depth? Sure, but again, with the page count their development is sufficient.

The Romance:

I got a lot of love-at-first-sight vibes where there was this unspoken pull. Again, it suffers from a shorter page count but they do have a solid chemistry between them.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

If you go in knowing this is a shorter romance read that just delivers the necessities to keep the story going, you’ll enjoy this for what it is. If you like more developed romances with complex characters and lots of drama, look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: romance novellas
Avoid if You: want more complex stories

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