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Fresh Fridays: King of Wrath (Kings of Sin #1) by Ana Huang

Fresh Fridays: King of Wrath (Kings of Sin #1) by Ana Huang

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Kings of Sin Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3book4book5book6book7

booksynopsis

Synopsis for King of Wrath (from Goodreads):

She’s the wife he never wanted…and the weakness he never saw coming.

Ruthless. Meticulous. Arrogant.

Dante Russo thrives on control, both personally and professionally.

The billionaire CEO never planned to marry—
until the threat of blackmail forces him into an engagement with a woman he barely knows.

Vivian Lau, jewelry heiress and daughter of his newest enemy.

It doesn’t matter how beautiful or charming she is. He’ll do everything in his power to destroy the evidence and their betrothal.

There’s only one problem: now that he has her…he can’t bring himself to let her go.

***
Elegant. Ambitious. Well-mannered.

Vivian Lau is the perfect daughter and her family’s ticket into the highest echelons of high society.

Marrying a blue-blooded Russo means opening doors that would otherwise remain closed to her new-money family.

While the rude, elusive Dante isn’t her idea of a dream partner, she agrees to their arranged marriage out of duty.

Craving his touch was never part of the plan.

Neither was the worst thing she could possibly do: fall in love with her future husband.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Kings of Sin

Crosses over with Twisted Lies (Twisted #4)

Author: Ana Huang
# of Books: 7 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 20, 2022 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had been looking forward to Vivian and Dante’s story since the Twisted Series. I love a good fake marriage trope! And while you definitely don’t need to read that series to dive into this one, fans will be excited to see how the plot here weaves together with the plot in.

What I Liked:

–Slow Burn Romance–

Vivian and Dante are a perfect match in every way–though they definitely don’t see it! Their slow burn romance had plenty of sparks along the way and I easily fell in love with their story. I love when couples slowly break down their walls and get to know (and subsequently fall for) each other.

–Vivian–

While the billionaire arranged marriage trope is one that is tried and true, I found Vivian to be a refreshing heroine for this story. Her cultural influences when it comes to her relationship with her parents is a dynamic that you don’t often see in romance novels. I also liked that she could put Dante in his place with a quick witty retort.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Underutilization of the Valhalla Club–

I am slightly disappointed that the Valhalla Club wasn’t a bigger aspect to the plot. When I first read about this series, it seemed like the club would be the centralizing factor of this series. While we definitely met some future series leads in this one, I would have liked to have seen it utilized a little more as this is the series opener.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We got little inklings of what is to come and I can’t wait! Especially when Ana has said that some future couples aren’t exactly what they seem!

My Rating: 4/5

King of Wrath 4/5 | King of Pride TBP | Book 3 TBP | Book 4 TBP | Book 5 TBP | Book 6 TBP | Book 7 TBP

overall

This isn’t your everyday “billionaire contemporary romance” novel. No one weaves tropes together like Ana Huang and I love the diversity she brings to her characters.

Read if You Like: slow burn romances, character driven stories
Avoid if You: dislike romance

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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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Spin-Off Saturdays: Forbidden by Stella Gray

Spin-Off Saturdays: Forbidden by Stella Gray

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:

The Forbidden Series is a spin-off of the Broken Series

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: To Watch Author
Series: Forbidden, The Bellantis

This is a spinoff of the Broken Series.

Author: Stella Gray
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2022 – August 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

There were still a few lingering plotlines from the Broken Series that I wanted to see resolved so I was really excited to spend more time with the Bellanti family. While I really thought Armani’s story would be next, I was excited to see what was in store for Marco, the brother who kinda took a backseat in the first series but was still a captivating character to read about.

Can you Read the Forbidden Trilogy Without Reading the Broken Trilogy?:

Yes, you could but I really think you get more out of it by reading the Broken Series first. There are a lot of overarching dramatic plotlines from that first series that become the main focus of this series so it helps to know what is going on and why. Plus: I feel like you really need that context (why the families hate each other) to amplify the forbidden romance as well.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Great Character Growth–

I’m uber impressed with the character depth Stella Gray packs into her stories! I really enjoyed watching both Marco and Karina grow and evolve as characters. Marco was one heck of a playboy in the previous series and seemed a little one-dimensional as a result. So I loved getting deeper into his character.

When I first started this series, I really worried that Karina would fall into the stereotypical sheltered virgin trope; but she also has a fantastic character story! To me, she is the star of this series. Her character development was one of my favourite aspects of this series.

–Romeo & Juliet Inspiration–

I’m a Shakespeare nerd so anything to do with the Bard gets bonus points. I loved all the allusions to the classic play but with a modern flare. It highlighted the forbidden element perfectly and pumped up the family drama perfectly!

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Not really. I always found myself compelled to read more. I can’t really pinpoint what is missing for me to make it a 5 star read. Maybe the pacing could have been a little better at the start of each novel? But I never struggled to finish these books.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While this trilogy is somewhat self-contained, I am really excited for Marco’s brother, Armani’s story!

Series Rating: 4/5

Forbidden Bride 4/5 | Forbidden War 4/5 | Forbidden Love 4/5

overall

These star-crossed lovers have me rooting for them all the way! Who doesn’t love a suspenseful family saga filled with love and danger?

Read if You Like: Romeo & Juliet inspired; forbidden love
Avoid if You: darker romances
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Forbidden Bride (from Goodreads):

I was promised to a man my uncle chose… but I ran away with the enemy.

In this valley, my family name means something.
To some, protection. To others, destruction.
When a Bellanti stole my heart, he started a war.

A ring on my finger put a target on his back.

I hardly know the man I threw my life away for.
He looked like I imagined Mr. Darcy would.
He wrote me poetry.

But he’s locked me away exactly the way my uncle had.
Choosing him was my last taste of freedom.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire…

He will burn me alive either way.

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Series Review: Broken by Stella Gray

Series Review: Broken by Stella Gray

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Broken Bride (from Goodreads):

I was sold to him to settle a debt… but Dante Bellanti never settles.

My father was always a gambling man.
Unfortunately, he never could pick winners.
When the wolves closed in, he chose himself, like always.

He traded his freedom… for mine.

He forced me to marry.
Now Dante Bellanti owns my body.
I’m just another possession for a man who already has too much.
So I won’t let him have my heart.

But you know what they say about gambling.

The house always wins.

And I’m at the mercy of the Bellantis…

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Series: Broken, The Bellantis

There is a Spin-off Series: Forbidden

Author: Stella Gray
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2021 – November 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After bingeing what I could get my hands on in the Midnight Dynasty Series, I was craving my next big romance world and this series stumbled into my inbox. I love a good family drama saga and this one promised to be a great one as each Bellanti brother got their own series.

First Up is Dante – the heir of the empire.

The Concept / The World:

I thought this might be more Mafia romance in its approach. Lots of action and violence but that is not what this series is. Yes, there are some shady business deals and violence but it doesn’t litter every page. It’s very sophisticated and more a romance than anything else.

The Plot:

I love a good family drama with lingering family secrets and an edge of danger to it. And it’s not just Dante’s family who has the complicated family business. Frankie’s family and even Frankie herself has this mysterious aura about her that kept me hooked.

In Broken Bride (#1), I thought we were going to get alternating chapters between Dante and Frankie, but I liked that Frankie told the bulk of the story, leaving Dante as this mysterious enigma. It added to the suspense of the story and kept you from fully trusting Dante. Dante’s character gets more chapters in the later books which helps his character grow.

The rest of the series keeps adding layers to the story and I really love how some aspects carry over into the next Bellanti brother’s trilogy!

The Characters:

I really loved Frankie and Dante and the rest of their families. It was crazy how quickly I got attached to everyone! I love a good family saga and this has that!

The Romance:

I loved their banter and the slow burn, do they love or hate each other vibes. Lots of tension!

Series Rating: 4/5

Broken Bride 4/5 | Broken Vow 4/5 | Broken Trust 4/5

overall

Great for people who want a whole romantic universe to get invested in!

Read if You Like: overarching plotlines, family sagas, dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances

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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: 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.

breakdown

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

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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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Series Review: The Arranged Marriage by Monica Murphy

Fresh Fridays: The Reluctant Bride (The Arranged Marriage Trilogy #1) by Monica Murphy

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

The Arranged Marriage Trilogy

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Reluctant Bride (from Goodreads):

Everyone’s for sale, including me. One moment I’m the forgotten daughter of one of the most wealthy families in the country, and the next I’m the blushing bride in an arranged marriage. My fate is sealed in my wedded union with a complete stranger.

In public, Perry Constantine is the life of the party. Easygoing. Adored. In private, he’s brooding. Dark. Angry. But so am I. It’s a contest of wills to see who will break in the bedroom first, and while I try to remain strong, I find myself craving the very man I swore to hate.

My husband.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Arranged Marriage Trilogy, Wedded Bliss | Midnight Dynasty Series

Linked to A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime & The Wrong Brother

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 19, 2022 – August 16, 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I wanted to read this book as soon as Monica announced she was writing it. It was only a happy coincidence that I discovered the Midnight Dynasty Universe, before this book was published and met Perry in his brother’s book, Stroke of Midnight, and absolutely loved him. So I was DYING for his book to be released.

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.

This series takes place after a number of other titles in the world chronologically. It is also linked to other Monica Murphy titles: A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime and The Wrong Brother — the books about Charlotte’s brothers.

What I Liked:

–Slow Burn–

Forced into a marriage to appease their powerful families, these two fight this innate connection pulling them together. When they start to realize that they have more in common than the thought, the walls slowly come down and the beginning of something beautiful starts to take shape.

–Charlotte–

I adored her. She has such depth to her character but, like her relationship with Perry, it slowly comes up to the surface as she tries to make her way in the world.

–Perry–

I’ve always loved Perry. He’s got this charisma to him and a heart of gold that I was so excited to see him find his perfect match. Charlotte keeps him on his toes and brings out his true self which I appreciate.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Have to Wait for the Next One–

Since February, I’ve been binge reading all the Midnight Dynasty Universe that have been published so far. I hate that I have to wait to see what will happen next and not simply pick up the next book immediately after finishing!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I quickly put together the ending within the last few chapters, I cannot wait to see where this one goes!

updates

–June 23, 2022– Book #2: The Ruthless Groom

I love these two so much! It was great seeing them get to know each other a little more and open up to the idea of this being a real marriage. They have a great dynamic and communicate so well together. It’s an absolute treat to watch them in a scene together.

I’ve adored Perry every time he makes an appearance in the Midnight Dynasty novels, but it is so fantastic to get his inner monologue. He is quickly becoming a favourite of the universe for me. And I love seeing this vulnerable side that Charlotte seems to bring out of him. It expands his character development perfectly.

Charlotte is coming into her own too. I’m enjoying her character evolution in this series. She’s feisty as she learns to rebel and become her own person. It’s so satisfying to watch.

There was also this edge of suspense that steadily built until that cliffhanger ending! Gah! Can’t wait for the finale!

–August 24, 2022– Book #3: The Reckless Union

This installment has an edge of dangerous suspense to it that made it hard to put down. All the while it’s laced with plenty of steamy moments to satisfy the Perry and Charlotte fans. It cements this series as the perfect addition to the Midnight Dynasty Universe, especially for those fans who have been waiting for Perry’s story for a long time!

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: 4.5/5

The Reluctant Bride 4.5/5 | The Ruthless Groom 5/5 | The Reckless Groom TBP

overall

This series has all the suspense and family intrigue of the Midnight Dynasty Universe but those unfamiliar with the world will find themselves captivated by this couple and how they fit into it.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, fake relationships
Avoid if You: want hardcore erotica

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