Top 10 Tuesday: Summer 2020 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I don’t usually set up seasonal TBRs since I do monthly TBRs, but I thought it would be fun to put together 10 books that give me summer vibes that I’d like to read this summer. Whether or not that actually happens is debatable, BUT at least I’ll have this list for reference!

Summer 2020 TBR

*=Author of Color

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This one gives me all the summer vibes from the cover… the main character becomes Misty Haven’s Summer Queen.

*If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kahn

Winnie is living her best fat girl life and is on her way to the best place on earth. No, not Disneyland–her Granny’s diner, Goldeen’s, in the small town of Misty Haven. While there, she works in her fabulous 50’s inspired uniform, twirling around the diner floor and earning an obscene amount of tips. With her family and ungirlfriend at her side, she has everything she needs for one last perfect summer before starting college in the fall.

…until she becomes Misty Haven’s Summer Queen in a highly anticipated matchmaking tradition that she wants absolutely nothing to do with.

Newly crowned, Winnie is forced to take center stage in photoshoots and a never-ending list of community royal engagements. Almost immediately, she discovers that she’s deathly afraid of it all: the spotlight, the obligations, and the way her Merry Haven Summer King, wears his heart, humor, and honesty on his sleeve.

Stripped of Goldeen’s protective bubble, to salvage her summer Winnie must conquer her fears, defy expectations, and be the best Winnie she knows she can be—regardless of what anyone else thinks of her.

 

 

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*Sexy in Stilettos (In Stilettos #1) by Nana Malone

I feel like this one will be light and fluffy – perfect for summer!

What’s worse than having to watch your sister marry your ex-fiancé? How about when that fiancé fires you from the family business?

Hyper-organized, event planner, Jaya Trudeaux is used to doing things by the book and never making waves. It’s a strategy that’s served her well until she finds herself in failure alley with no fiancé, no job and her thirtieth birthday looming. Maybe it’s time to change her methods. Starting with an unlikely date to the wedding from hell.

The only thing that can tie carefree, playboy, Alec Danthers down is his formidable step mother. When she calls him home to help find his wayward brother, he never imagines an uptight, list making, sass-talking woman would make him think about putting down roots.

Can Jaya put the lists down long enough to enjoy the ride that is Alec? Will Alec stop running long enough to recognize true love?

Warning: Sexy, sass talking women will make you laugh, cry and want a pair of killer footwear.

 

 

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*Game, Set, Match (Love Match #1) by Nana Malone

For some reason I relate tennis to summertime. I think it is because my dad and brother play tennis all the time and I have memories of going to the park with them and watching them play in the summer.

Off the court, tennis star Jason Cartwright’s playboy image is taking a public beating. On the court, he’s down 40-love. A knee injury is shutting down his game, and the paparazzi are splashing his love life on every magazine. A comeback is in order, but the makeover he needs to save his faltering career is in the hands of the woman he loved and left 15 years ago.

While single-mom Izzy Connors sees people for who they really are through the lens of her camera, even without it, she knows Jason isn’t the star he appears to be. Although his charm and good looks haven’t dimmed since he broke her heart, all she sees is his wasted talent and playboy lifestyle.

Can Izzy put the past behind her and help Jason get his game, and his image, back on track? Or will the click of her camera shatter his world as well as his heart?

 

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*Four Summers by Nyrae Dawn

I think it’s pretty obvious why I chose this one. Nyrae Dawn is a new-to-me author!

A moment can change everything…Charlotte Gates is tired of being Charlie Rae. She loves the lake she was raised on, their rental cabins, and spending her nights under the stars…but inside she yearns for more. After his freshman year, Nathaniel Chase’s family spends their first summer at The Village. From the beginning Charlotte intrigues him. She’s the girl who always says what’s on her mind, wins at night games, and gets lost in the sky, each time she looks through her telescope. Over the course of four summers together, Charlotte and Nathaniel become best friends, share firsts, mend broken hearts, protect each other’s secrets, overcome tragedies…fall in love. And say goodbye…Charlotte wants out of The Village. Nate wants her to have her stars. And they dream of being able to do it all together. But life isn’t as easy as their summers. Each summer is told in alternating points of view between Charlotte and Nate. Journey with the pair, and their friends, as they share their story about growing up, discovering who they are, making tough choices, and falling in love again and again.

 

 

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Sunshine and Bullets (The Bullets #1) by CoraLee June

The main character’s nickname is Sunshine!

Sunshine. It’s a nickname I haven’t heard since I lived on Woodbury Lane, where the houses were pretty, but the secrets? Deadly. It was a pet name known only to the Bullets. Rough, violent, and ruthless, they laid claim to the town – and my heart.

I wasn’t supposed to fall for a boy from the wrong side of the tracks‚ especially not four of them. But they were the only ones who understood that sometimes hell hides in plain sight. I was the girl with all the conveniences a privileged upbringing could provide. The world only saw two loving parents and a pristine home life, but I knew the truth. And it was going to get me killed. So I disappeared from everyone and everything I’d ever known. I changed my name and my appearance, but the scars I carry, they’re still the same.

The Bullets are all grown up now, too – a crime boss, a pro fighter, a bounty hunter, and a federal agent. Life took them in different directions, but they once shared the bonds of a brotherhood forged under the harshest conditions. Together, they were fearless. Brutal. Unstoppable.

I’m praying they can find that unity again. If I’m going to survive this, it’ll take everything they have. Because that’s the thing about running from the past. It catches up with you eventually.

 

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Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

The blurb says, “It was a summer of secrets.”

The dying wish of 16-year-old Lina’s mother was for her daughter to live in Tuscany and get to know her father, whom Lina has never met.

“Howard is the best man I’ve ever known,” her mother says, “he’ll keep you safe.” Why did her mother wait so long to tell her about him? Lina has a happy life in Seattle and doesn’t want to leave. Shortly after she arrives at Howard’s home, Lina meets Sonya, who gives Lina a diary that belonged to Lina’s mother, the one she had kept while she was a photography student in Florence. While Lina is living her life and exploring Tuscany with her handsome neighbour, Ren, she follows in the footsteps of her mother and gets to know her as never before. She also finds out the truth about her father. Mostly she finds out about herself.

 

 

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*Like Lovers Do (Girls Trip #2) by Tracey Livesay

This is an ARC I received from the author and it sounds like such a sweet beach read! This comes out in September!

Sometimes faking it can lead to the real thing…

Driven and focused, Dr. Nicole Allen is an accomplished surgeon. With a tough past, Nic’s gone above and beyond everyone’s expectations. But when she disciplines an intern—a powerful donor’s son—a prestigious fellowship she’s awaiting is placed in jeopardy.

Coming from a successful family who runs a medical business empire, Benjamin Reed Van Mont is the black sheep, having chosen to start his own business instead. Though he’s not ready to settle down, he knows when the time comes it definitely won’t be with a workaholic doctor like his friend Nic—even if she’s had him re-examining his edict…more than once.

When Ben’s status-climbing ex-girlfriend finds her way back into his orbit, Nic proposes a swap of services. She’ll spend the week with Ben on Martha’s Vineyard, pretending to be his girlfriend—but only if he’ll have his family intervene on her behalf so she won’t lose her fellowship. How hard can the charade be?

But as they’re about to discover, they’ve sorely underestimated their true feelings for each other…

 

 

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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

This has been on my TBR for far too long! I loved The Sky is Everywhere by this author and have heard great things about this book.

“We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”

At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world. This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

 

 

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Night Music by Jenn Marie Thorne

This book cover gives me all the summer vibes and it sounds SO good.

Ruby has always been Ruby Chertok: future classical pianist and daughter of renowned composer Martin Chertok. But after her horrendous audition for the prestigious music school where her father is on faculty, it’s clear that music has publicly dumped her. Now Ruby is suddenly just…Ruby. And who is that again? All she knows is that she wants away from the world of classical music for good.

Oscar is a wunderkind, a musical genius. Just ask any of the 1.8 million people who’ve watched him conduct on YouTube – or hey, just ask Oscar. But while he might be the type who’d name himself when asked about his favorite composer and somehow make you love him more for it, Oscar is not the type to jeopardize his chance to study under the great Martin Chertok – not for a crush. He’s all too aware of how the ultra-privileged world of classical music might interpret a black guy like him falling for his benefactor’s white daughter. But as the New York City summer heats up, so does the spark between Ruby and Oscar. Soon, their connection crackles with the same alive, uncontainable energy as the city itself.

Can two people still figuring themselves out figure out how to be together? Or will the world make the choice for them?

 

 

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The Music of What Happens Next by Bill Konigsberg

This book takes place during the summer!

Max: Chill. Sports. Video games. Gay and not a big deal, not to him, not to his mom, not to his buddies. And a secret: An encounter with an older kid that makes it hard to breathe, one that he doesn’t want to think about, ever.

Jordan: The opposite of chill. Poetry. His “wives” and the Chandler Mall. Never been kissed and searching for Mr. Right, who probably won’t like him anyway. And a secret: A spiraling out of control mother, and the knowledge that he’s the only one who can keep the family from falling apart.

Throw in a rickety, 1980s-era food truck called Coq Au Vinny. Add in prickly pears, cloud eggs, and a murky idea of what’s considered locally sourced and organic. Place it all in Mesa, Arizona, in June, where the temp regularly hits 114. And top it off with a touch of undeniable chemistry between utter opposites.

Over the course of one summer, two boys will have to face their biggest fears and decide what they’re willing to risk – to get the thing they want the most.

Recent Reads: June 1-13

Since my wrap-ups are so long at the end of the month, I decided to break it up into two different posts. You can watch the video of this wrap-up here:

 

Here are the books I read from June 1 – June 13.

*=Author of Color

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On the Rocks (Becker Brothers #1) by Kandi Steiner

3 stars
This is a small town contemporary age gap romance. Ruby is 19 and the daughter of the mayor of the small town. Noah works at a popular whiskey distillery. They meet when Ruby is visiting the distillery to purchase a wedding gift for her husband-to-be. So, if you are not a fan of cheating, you probably won’t be a big fan of this book. Granted, her fiance is an awful person, but the demonizing of his character seemed too convenient. It also occurs after there is already emotional cheating. Putting all of that aside, I did enjoy this book and I definitely want to read on in the series. I’m super curious about all of Noah’s brothers, and I’m assuming each brother has his own story.
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*The Boyfriend Project (The Boyfriend Project #1) by Farrah Rochon

4 stars
This contemporary romance is about three women who find out that they are all dating the same guy via a viral live tweet of his date with one of them. Both the main character and another of the women crash the date and become friends. They all decide to swear off men and focus on themselves. Of course, that is when the main character falls for someone. I loved the friendship in this book, in fact, more than I was interested in the romance. I LOVE reading books that feature women in STEM and our main character, Samiah, works for a tech company. Daniel, the hero, was fine, but he was very forgettable. I definitely think Samiah deserved someone a better and more interesting.
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*The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

5 Stars
I borrowed this audiobook from my library, but I absolutely need to own this.
This is a coming of age, story about a girl who feels out of place, even in her own family, until she discovers her passion for spoken word poetry. This book is told in verse and when you listen to the audiobook, it’s such a beautiful experience since the author narrates this herself.

I’m a big fan of spoken word poetry, so I appreciated her inflections and the way she read the lines, but I also wish I had this book in physical format as well. In fact, I’m planning on buying the physical copy as well so that I can underline my favorite parts and pull quotes from it. Not to mention the cover is gorgeous.
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Handsome Lawman (Handsome Devils #3) by Lori Wilde

4 stars
This is a book I read for a secret TBR. It’s a contemporary small town cowboy romance. This series follows attractive brothers that are very popular in this small town. Trent is the sheriff of the town and the first time he meets the heroine, it’s because she is being accused of theft. Erin is new in town and running away from her past.

This book was light, fluffy, and super cute. It’s was a nice palette cleanser read. I always love reading about animals in romances. This one was a little off-putting because the hero is basically forced into taking in Erin’s foster puppy, which any pet owner knows, is never a good idea. No one should ever be pressured into owning a puppy. However, it was adorable seeing Trent fall in love with the puppy.
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*The Man I Can’t Have (Ward Duet #1) by Shanora Williams

3 stars
This book is available on Audible Escape – it’s also available on KU. This is a story of a rich housewife and artist whose husband is constantly away for work. She hires a landscaping company to redo her backyard. Marcel is the owner of the landscaping company and they have an immediate connection.

This is a new-to-me author and I didn’t read the synopsis going in to this, so I had no idea what I was in for. I read this last week and honestly I’m still kind of reeling by how unexpected this book was. There were a lot of elements of this book that were pretty middle of the road, a typical romance. But then there were a few dark and gritty things thrown in that maybe seemed a little out of place to me. The ending felt like it came out of nowhere and I’m not really interested in reading the next book in this duet.
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Insidious (Tales from the Dark Side #1) by Aleatha Romig

4 stars
I read this book because it is Steph, from Steph’s Romance Book Talk’s favorite book and a few fellow romance booktubers and I read it and had a live show discussion about it with Steph.

I want to preface this by saying, I went into this completely blind with absolutely no expectations, whatsoever.

This is a very dark romance with so many trigger warnings, I’d say if you have any triggers whatsoever, it may be best to avoid this book.

I don’t even know how to describe this book. Basically, our main character is married to a very powerful and wealthy man who is dying. She has a contract with him which basically takes away her consent. He likes to watch her with other men and she has no choice in the matter.

There are no “good” characters in this. Everyone is some shade of awful human being, including the main character. But I loved her. Where you’d expect her to be extremely submissive, she’s actually quite badass. I’m always here for the vengeful, dark, heroine. I’m very interested in reading more by this author.
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White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

I read this book for the Blackout Buddy Read. This is a book by a white author to educate other white people about racism. This book does what it intends. It made me uncomfortable. It forced me to look at myself through a different lense. It gave me the history lesson they don’t teach in schools.
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*Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi
4 stars
This is a super short Audible exclusive fairytale about a king who trades the love between himself and his queen in exchange for life. The story begins a year and a day later when they realize that just because their love was taken away, doesn’t mean they can’t find their way back to it.

I originally rated this book 3 stars because I felt like it was just meh. I didn’t really like the way the story was told, it felt very juvenile, though I know that was the intent. It was told like a fairytale.

As I thought more about this book, I realized the parallels this story draws between this fantastical stories with witches and magic and a very common, real life thing that often happens between married couples. The king and queen were in love, but that love is taken away from them. How often do we hear about married couples who fall out of love because they have grown apart instead of together? They either have to find their way back or go their separate ways. And much like how the two characters in this book didn’t realize they had the ability to fall in love again, a lot of married couples often don’t realize that same thing.

Needless to say, I bumped up the rating to 4 stars.

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*Can’t Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #2.6) by Alyssa Cole

5 stars
OMG THIS BOOK WAS SO ADORABLE AND I WISH IT WAS LONGER! I read the first book in this series, but I did not read the second, however, after reading this book, I am determined to read the rest.

This is such an adorable, geeky, love story with such great rep. The main character is Black, disabled, a total boss bitch who runs a super successful website, and is SUPER nerdy in the best way. The hero is nerdy in his own way, he’s really good at puzzles and is a little socially awkward.

The premise is my favorite thing on the entire planet. The heroine is the only one who watches the heroes livesterams because she loves his soothing voice and it helps her sleep. So when he stops livestreaming, she has trouble sleeping. So, she reluctantly sends him an email asking him to send her audio clips of his voice.

As someone who is obsessed with people’s speaking voices to an embarrassing degree (I’m looking at your Jonathan Groff), this was the love story I didn’t know I needed in my life.
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My Favorite Souvenir by Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland

3 stars
This is available on AE and KU. few people were raving about this book in our Romance Booktubers Ask Us Anything liveshow, so I knew I wanted to give this author duo another try. I’ve read a few books of theirs in the past that I didn’t love, but also didn’t hate and this one was honestly no different.

Though, I did really love the premise. The heroine decides to go on her honeymoon even though her wedding was called off, but something happens and she can’t get a hotel room in the middle of a snow storm. She notices a guy scheming to get a hotel room and decides to get in on the scheme so she can get one, too. They end up hanging out and going on an impromptu road trip together.

I loved that entire aspect. I loved the meetcute and the road trip. But, much like a lot of the other books I’ve read by this duo, it just missed the mark for me a bit. I think it had a lot of potential, but it ended up falling flat. I didn’t love the bit of magic (tarot card reader) aspect, I don’t think it added anything to the story, it was really unnecessary and forced. I also didn’t love the epilogue.

I don’t usually mind epilogues that tie everything in a pretty bow, but this one felt unnecessary and extra also.
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Hard as it Gets (Hard Ink #1) by Laura Kaye

4 stars
This book took me so long to read because I read a physical copy and had to keep putting it down for different readathons and ARCs, but I finally finished and I really enjoyed it!

This entire series revolves around a tattoo parlor called hard ink and this group of men who were in the military, but have been dishonored due to a series of intricate lies. I’m guessing the entire series is them trying to unravel and bring to light the truth.

This book introduces you to the entire situation and characters without being info-dumpy or boring. The only downside is I’ve found that I don’t typically like romantic suspense novels and this was one. I found myself not really invested in the whole suspense storyline and wanting to just be immersed in the romance because it was so good. I can’t wait to read the other books in the series because I’m so interested in all the other characters. I really hope the hero’s brother has his own book because I loved him from the second he walked on page.
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All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson

5 stars
This is the most recent book that I read, and I read it completely on a whim. It’s a book that has been recommended on instagram for those who are looking for Queer Black representation. For some reason I thought this was ficton even though the title clearly states it is a memoir.

I was pleasantly surprised and extremely invested in everything this author had to say. I feel like his story is so important and I’m so glad it is classified as YA even though there are some explicit scenes. Perhaps because there are explicit scenes. He addressed so many questions he had himself growing up queer and black that I feel will be so beneficial to young people who rarely see themselves in media.
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Hello, 35.

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I just wanted to pop in here really quick to say I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M HALFWAY THROUGH MY 30’S!

I swear, time has sped up like crazy since I had kids.

Speaking of the kiddos, they have been absolutely adorable all day today. Violet has been calling me her birthday girl and Roree has been orchestrating little surprises all day.

I’ve spent the day reading, organizing books, and working on projects. Basically, it has been a perfect birthday.

I have a birthday zoom call with family this evening as well.

I hope you are all having a great day, too!

Books I Plan to Read Soon

This Sunday is my birthday (June 14), and I usually take my birthday week off. So, originally this was going to be my vacation TBR, however, I decided to hold off on my vacation because I have so much work to do and I don’t want to be worrying about my To-Do list while I should be relaxing.

With that being said, I already put together this TBR, so I figure I’ll still read these books over the weekend and next week – perhaps into the weekend after if I don’t finish.

*=Author of Color

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Hearts Ablaze by Heather Lyn

This is an adult contemporary firefighter romance!
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*The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

This is a graphic novel about a prince who likes to wear dresses and his dressmaker who befriends him.
Buy Now

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Bring Down the Stars by Emma Scott

Considering this is by Emma Scott, this is sure to be an emotional contemporary romance. It’s part one of a duology that involves a love triangle.
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*The Wicker King by K. Ancrum
I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this author. This book has mental illness rep, there is a polyamorous relationship, it’s mixed media… so many things to look forward to!
Buy Now

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Reborn Yesterday by Tessa Bailey

This is a vampire romance! It sounds like there is potential for an epic romance as well! Also, I really love this author.
Buy Now

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*Intercepted by Alexa Martin

This is a sports romance written by an author who is married to a pro football player!
Buy Now

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*Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

This is a graphic novel that is basically a love letter to introverts.
Buy Now

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*Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi
This is a super short Audible Original based on a fairytale in which a newly wed king sells his love of his queen to save her life.

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*Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

This is another short book. It’s a contemporary romance between a super successful, yet nerdy disabled Black woman and a hero that is trying to make an Escape Room based on an Anime. It sounds wonderfully nerdy.
Buy Now

(Above links are affiliate links – thanks for your support!)

Free eBooks & Kindle Unlimited Haul from May

This will likely be a monthly staple around here because I’ve been going a bit crazy download free and KU eBooks lately!

If you’d rather watch me talk about these books, you can check out my video here:

*=Author of Color

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Powertools by Jayne Rylon

Downloaded for free
I read this book and talked about it in my Contemporaryathon vlog as well as my May Wrap Up, so I’m not going to talk to much about it. It’s a reverse harem romance involving construction workers. And I loved it.
My Review | Buy Now

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Further to Fall by Catherine Cowles

Downloaded for free
This is an adult second chance contemporary romance between a teacher and an MMA fighter.
Buy Now


The Edge Series by CD Reiss

Available on KU
I read the prequel and the first two books in this series so far and they were my favorite reads of May. It’s an intense military romance between a surgeon and a psychiatrist who meet in the middle of a warzone
My Review | Buy Now

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Heartache in Heels by Cate Lawley

Downloaded for free, currently on sale
This sounds like a magical realism story about a woman who has been hit with magic that is supposed to introduce her to her soulmate and instead she meets Brad who just happens to be invisible.
Buy Now

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*Mixed Signals by Mia Heintzelman

Available on KU
This is a romance between a corporate banker who gets stuck in traffic beside the man of her dreams in the truck next to hers. She then runs into him again at the gym, but he says something that pisses her off and she goes from crushing on him to hating him.
Buy Now

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Tajeal by Alisa Woods

Downloaded for free, available on Audible Escape
I saw that this was a paranormal romance with angels and I immediately downloaded this one. This is about Tajael who is an angel of light who has been assigned to be a guardian of Charlotte who is a physicist. We are all here for Women in STEM. GIVE ME ALL THE GUARDIAN ANGEL BOOKS!
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Chasing Echoes by Jodi Perkins

Available on KU
This is a YA Paranormal romance about a girl and her sisters who all have magical powers. Topaz is the main character and her ability is making this fall. That’s it. She thinks it’s completely useless, until she uses her powers one night after Stryder, a senior, plays a prank on New Years Eve and all hell breaks loose. Apparently Stryder ends up getting a curse put on him and he enlists the help of Topaz.
Buy Now

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Mind Reader by Kirsty McManus

Available on KU
I read and really liked this one. I talk about it in my wrap up and Contemporaryathon vlog. It’s a novella about a guy who can predict people’s soulmates and when they’ll meet and a woman who works in STEM cell research who thinks he’s full of it.
Buy Now

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The Mesmerist by Pam McCitcheon

Downloaded for free, currently on sale
This is a time travel romance between a woman who is leaving her cheating Fiance and a ghost! I’m here for the ghost romance.

The main character, Gina, is a dog trainer and the love interest is Drake, a man from the past who is trying to figure out how he died. He enlists the help of Gina, who, in the process of trying to figure out how he died, gets thrust back in time to the year he dies and has to try to prevent it from happening.
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Just Roommates by Charity Ferrell
Downloaded for free
This sounds like a new adult romance between an underage girl who keeps sneaking into a bar, and the man that keeps kicking her out. Then, once she turns 21, they become friends. Something happens and she ends up having to move into his guest bedroom.
Buy Now

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Bitter Heat by Mia Knight

Downloaded for free
This is a dark romance about a girl named Jasmine who gets stranded in a cabin with her exhusband who she hasn’t seen in 5 years. It sounds creepy!
Buy Now

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Baking Me Crazy by Karla Sorensen

Downloaded for free
This is a small town, friends-to-lovers, romcom that revolves around a bakery.
Buy Now

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Heart of Eve by Pam Godwin
Downloaded for free
This is a novella that is part of the Trilogy of Eve. It almost sounds like this is post-apocalyptic and the main character is a priest who is the lone survivor along with a woman.
Buy Now

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Knotted by Pam Godwin
Downloaded for free
Can we take a moment to stare in awe at the cover of this? This is a dark, second-chance, cowboy romance! Whaaa?!
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King of Libertines by Pam Godwin

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This is a novella meant to “prepare” you for Pam Godwin’s Sea of Ruin, which is a dark, historical, pirate romance!
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One is a Promise by Pam Godwin

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A line in the synopsis says, “I love two men, but I can only have one.” Those of us who love love triangles – this is for you!
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*Desolate by Autumn Grey

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I loved this book. It’s about a boy who, after he loses both of his parents, wants to become a priest like his uncle that took him in. However, he has always been drawn to a girl in town. When they are older, they become friends and suddenly he’s torn between giving his life to God or spending his life with her.
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*Wanderlust by Skye Warren

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This is a dark contemporary romance about a woman who is kidnapped by a truck driver and he takes her on his rig all over the world. Apparently it is their romance!
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Loving Jake by Lisa Lanay

This is a brother’s best friend/second chance contemporary romance.
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The Chase by Elle Kennedy
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This is a popular contemporary new adult sports romance between a preppy girl and a nerdy/sporty guy.
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Love Potions by Michelle M. Pillow

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This is a witchy paranormal romance about a love potion gone wrong.
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Going Down by Jayne Rylon

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I love the name of this because it’s a romance about divers! This is the author of Powertools which was a super steamy reverse harem, so I’m guessing this one is going to be pretty steamy, too!
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Through My Window by Jayne Rylon

This sounds like it’s a voyeur situation!
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Seduced by 2 by Kat Crimson

This is a bi MMF romance. Very likely going to be super steamy!
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Inked Hearts by Lindsay Detwiler

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This is a contemporary romance about a girl who is running away from “the sting of betrayal” to a beach town where she meets a tattoo shop owner. Sounds beachy! Perfect for this time of year!
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Aries by Gemma James

So, apparently, this is about a virgin queen who must spend a month with 12 different men to decide who she will end up marrying.
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More Than Want You by Shayla Black

“I hired her to distract my enemy, now I’m determined to have her for my own.”
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Edge of Glory by Megan Vernon

This is a small town sports romcom that has to do with an olympic swimmer.
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(Above links are affiliate links – thanks for your support!)

May 2020 Wrap Up

BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Visit this link for ways you can help.

*= I am trying to make a more conscious effort to read books by authors of color. I know many others are as well. Moving forward, I will be annotating books by authors of color with an asterisk. Please let me know if I missed one or mislabeled one.

Stats

Total: 28
DNF: 3
Rereads: 0
Ebooks: 7
Physical Books: 2
Audiobooks: 19
1-Stars: 0
2-Stars: 0
3-Stars: 8
4-Stars: 8
5-Stars: 12

DNF

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*Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson
I received this as an eARC from Netgalley. This is a contemporary romance about a woman whose mother-figure has passed away, leaving behind her 4 adoptive sons. Some of them want to close her knitting store, but one wants to keep it open and enlists the help of our heroine. The author, Kwana Jackson, also goes by KM Jackson, is a Black author. She has a big backlist of contemporary romance novels under the KM Jackson pen name that I definitely want to check out.

I think this book was just a case of bad timing and burn out for me. I found myself skimming pretty early on in this book because it felt like the story wasn’t moving forward at all. Scenes were lasting too long to keep my attention. It was actually pretty disappointing because I was really excited about this book! I don’t knit, but I crochet, and I liked hearing about yarn and knitting in Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series, however, I had to put this one down.
Amazon

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Becoming Mrs. Lockwood by LI Lynn

I talk more about this in my 7yo Picks my TBR video, but this was a book that Roree picked out for me. I think I heard this is a Twilight fanfiction, but it’s another one that reads like fanfiction, however, is extremely different than the original. It’s about a girl who is on vacation with her mom in Las Vegas, but hasn’t been able to see any sights since her mom is gambling all day and night. Since she is underage, she can’t go with her. All of that felt like a stretch to begin with, but then this super hot guy spots her from across the room and immediately is in love with her and takes her out to see Las Vegas. There is also an age gap in this, but it isn’t a good one. She’s a very immature 18 year old who is still in high school. This is mentioned when they first meet, yet he still pursues her. It just… rubbed me the wrong way. Like, how can this be instalove and still be a 500+ page contemporary romance. I DON’T UNDERSTAND!
Amazon

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Taming Her Mountain Man (Bear’s Tooth Mountain Man #1) by Cameron Hart

I read this for the Weekend Contemporaryathon, so I talk more about that in my Contemporaryathon Vlog. It’s about an adoptive girl that is running away from her shady adoptive parents to her estranged grandmother’s cabin in the mountains where she meets this older, loner mountain man who is running away from his past. This is a novella, so it’s obviously very instalovey. What put me off of it was the main character and the instalove wasn’t done well. She’s another one who is SO immature that I was weirded out by the age gap. I think I’ve found that I don’t mind age gaps as long as there isn’t a big difference in maturity levels.
Amazon

 

3 Stars

 

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Remind Me (Magnolia Sound #1) by Samantha Chase

This was a book I just randomly listened to off of Hoopla before I realized I have a limit on how many books I can read on that app. My library just got Hoopla, so I’m still learning. To be completely honest, I remember next to nothing about this book and the next one on this list.

If I remember correctly, it is a second chance romance about a girl who has moved away from a small town in North Carolina. She had a summer fling with her grandfather’s neighbor, but she moves away to NY to be a successful woman in tech (as they do in these types of romances). A hurricane is threatening the town and they are being asked to evacuate, but her grandfather is refusing to leave, so the hero stays with him.

I want to take a moment here to talk about this. I live in FL and have lived through many hurricanes. Some that were scary (Irma), some that fizzled out to be nothing but some wind and rain. Either way, living here my whole life has taught me that when there is a mandatory evacuation, you GTFO ASAP. Hurricanes can and have flattened entire communities.

Anyway, this book was just meh. I didn’t really care about the characters. There wasn’t a lot of chemistry. It was just ok.
Amazon

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The Royal Treatment (Alaskin Royal Family #1) by MaryJanice Davidson

I recently did a video talking about the books that got me through my Twilight hangover back in the day, and Mary Janice Davidson’s Undead series was on this list. When I came across this book on Audible Escape, I was curious to see how her contemporary romances would be.

And it was as I expected. Just meh. This is an alternative/futuristic reality in which Alaska is it’s own country or something weird like that. Anyway, they have a king there who is looking for a wife who would make a good princess for his son. He ends up setting up our main character with his son.

A couple of things were weird about this. First, the who Alaska thing seemed unnecessary, like, just make up a country like everyone else does. Second, she didn’t really do anything that I saw for the King to think she was so amazing. Something I did find interesting, was this was almost opposite of instalove. Both of them seemed pretty neutral about each other aside from sexual chemistry until the very end. I actually really appreciated that.

Also, the synopsis calls this book erotic. It’s not. If I did steam fans like Steph, I’d give this one 3 steam fans.
Amazon

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PS It’s Always Been You Part 1 by Lauren Blakely

I read this one for the Weekend Contemporaryathon and talk about it in that vlog. Let’s be real, I read this for Scott Eastwood’s narration… and it was pretty disappointing. The book and his narrating. He had a lot of awkward pauses. Anyway, the time it’s going to take me to tell you what this book is about is pretty much as long as it took me to listen to this audiobook. It’s about this daredevil, reality TV show guy who once hooked up with this girl who is some sort of historian, but ends up ditching her for his career, until one day they end up having to work together. And that’s it. That’s the whole story. The End.
Amazon

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Abducting Abby (Dragon Lords of Valdier #1) by SE Smith

I 100% do not remember reading this book at all. This is what happens when I go crazy adding audiobooks to my favorites in Hoopla (which I use as my TBR) because I got over-excited about having a new service.

This is a short, smutty, sci-fi romance that I picked up because… dragons. Abby creates and sells luxury artwork from her cabin in the mountains when one day an alien space ship crash lands in the woods near her and she ends up saving the guy inside not realizing that he’s a dragon shifter.

Now that I’m remembering the story, I did enjoy reading this one, it just wasn’t anything particularly special. I think I may actually move on in the series, though. If you like the whole fated mates thing, you’ll like this one. It’s no IPB, but it’s good for IPB hangovers. Averie – you should totes give this one a try!
Amazon

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Fire in His Blood (Fireblood Dragon #1) by Ruby Dixon

Ruby Dixon is the author of IPB, and I was super interested to see how her other books are. This series is a fated mates dragon shifter post-apocolyptic romance. It’s pretty long, I was expecting it to be short like IPB, but it’s not. And I feel like I would’ve liked it better if it was. It just got a little repetitive. I did like when there is a communication barrier between the hero and heroine in these types of books. Especially when the hero recognizes that she’s his mate, but she’s like WTF, dude, back off. And I especially, especially like when they respect consent despite the communication difference. I’m over here like, “IF AN ALIEN DRAGON SHIFTER WHO HAS INVADED OUR PLANET CAN UNDERSTAND CONSENT, WHY CAN’T YOU, BROCK?”
Amazon

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Racked and Stacked (Blacktop Cowboys #9) by Lorelei James

I read this for a secret TBR that I’m in the middle of right now because when I do secret TBRs it takes me years, so I’m not going to talk about this one too much. Just know it’s a cowboy romcom, enemies to lovers.
Amazon

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Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

This was an ARC I received from Netgalley. It’s Berkely’s first F/F published romance, which is awesome for the author. And I think this is OWN voices, but I’m not sure. I had super high expectations going into this one – I didn’t realize how high until the book didn’t meet them. It’s about a woman who works in the entertainment industry, I think she’s a director or producer, and her assistant. The media thinks that they are dating because of something that happens while paparazzi were around. This is a SUPER CRAZY INSANE slow burn. Like… the first kiss doesn’t even happen until 75% into this book. Don’t get me wrong, I adore slow burn. Mariana Zapata is my favorite contemporary romance author, but the burn was so slow in this one, it affected how I felt about the relationship. I started not caring after awhile whether they got together or not.

I can see how some of the scenes were supposed to be super full of tension, but I think because it took so long for the relationship to develop, I just wasn’t as invested.
Amazon

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Shy Girls Write It Better (Some Girls Do It #1) by May Sage

I read this one for Contemporaryathon and talk about it in the vlog. It’s about a woman who writes erotic romance and accidentally gives her hot boss a copy of one of her manuscripts instead of a report and instead of getting mad, he wants to give her real life BDSM experience because she writes it so badly.

Overall, this was pretty good for a short, smutty read. I don’t love the overly innocent, inexperienced heroine to begin with, so that definitely affected my rating. Also the fact that she’s supposed to be a super successful romance author and she knows she sucks at writing BDSM, but yet she continues to do it? I don’t know, something about that entire aspect of the premise was off to me and I think this book would’ve been better without it.

I did really like that the hero wasn’t your stereotypical alpha, though. That was refreshing.
Amazon

4 Stars

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Point of Retreat (Slammed #2) by Colleen Hoover

I read this book for Contemporaryathon. It’s the sequel to Slammed which is Colleen Hoover’s debut novel, a contemporary romance involving slam poets. Obviously it’s so much more than that, I mean, it’s Colleen Hoover. At first I wasn’t sure if this book was necessary before reading it, but Layken and Will’s story definitely wasn’t done.
Amazon

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*Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh

Renee Ahdieh is a Korean-American author and this book was a unique twist on Mulan. This book was as beautiful and badass as the cover.

I’ve always been partial to the story of Mulan, but I love how much more intricate this story was in comparison.

Our main character doesn’t magically have all sorts of powers and though she is a badass, it’s because of her quick-thinking bravery, and resilience, not any magical skill.

The writing was also one of my favorite things about this book. It was beautiful and fit so well with the story itself. I felt like I was experiencing everything our main character did, right beside her.
Amazon

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*The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

I received this ARC from Netgalley. I believe this is an OWN voices novel. It’s a fun enemies to lovers romance where our main character, Layla, moves home with her big family after a humiliating break up that essentially lost her her job. Her father sets her up, not only with the office above his restaurant, but also with some arranged marriage prospects (without her knowledge). Little does she know, he also rented out the space to Sam, CEO of a corporate downsizing company. Read my review here.
Amazon

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*The Fire Between High & Lo (Elements #2) by Brittainy C Cherry

My monthly Brittainy C Cherry novel. If you don’t know, I discovered BCC this year and fell in love with her books. I’ve been reading at least one of her backlist titles per month. She is a Black author, by the way.

This is a sunshine and grumpy, friends-to-lovers romance about two teenagers who have very rough home lives. Our hero’s mother is struggling with bad addiction which has trickled down to him and has been affecting him since he was a young child. Our heroine’s mother, though successful, is cold and disinterested. Though they come from completely different backgrounds, there is a lot they have in common that bring them together and they become really good friends.

This wasn’t my favorite BCC. That being said, It was still a really good, emotional story that I’ve come to expect from her. I think the main reason why I couldn’t give this 5 stars as I have literally every other BCC I’ve read, is because there is a lot of drug use and addiction in this novel and it’s just not my favorite thing to read about.
Amazon

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Mind Reader by Kirsty McManus

I read this book for Contemporaryathon and talk about it in my vlog as well. This is one of those novellas that I found for free on Kindle and downloaded because it sounded fun. The hero can see other people’s soul mates and knows when they will meet. Until he meets our heroine, a woman who works in the STEM field who thinks it’s all BS. Their paths cross and sparks fly.

This book is perfect for those who prefer a lot less steam. It’s very fade-to-black.

This book was a lot of fun to read. I had a lot of expectations going into this book, and I expected it to be pretty predictable, but it surprised me a few times. Though the beginning as a little rough, it starts from the hero’s POV and he was kind of douchey, but the book ended up being super sweet.
Amazon

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*The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

I believe this is OWN voices for the latinx rep. It’s a romantic comedy between a woman who has been left at the alter and the groom’s best man and brother. Because of this, it is a hate-to-love, but it’s so much more. The hero is dealing with issues of his own self worth in comparison to his brother (the ex-groom). The heroine is dealing with prejudice in the workplace.

I feel like this book is a little underrated. It’s not my favorite enemies to lovers, but I think it is a lot better than many of the reviews I’ve read for it were. There are a lot of complaints about the male narrator in the audiobooks and I agree, but it didn’t completely put me off of the book because of it.

I thought that the humor was really good, it was awkward in some areas, and the issues both of the characters were dealing with played out really well.
Amazon

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*Girl Gone Viral (Modern Love #2) by Alisha Rai

Alisha Rai is a South Asian American writer. This was a refreshingly diverse bodyguard romance with fantastic panic disorder rep. Katrina is an ex-model and divorcee to a very wealthy man, she also suffers from debilitating panic attacks, so when a couple in a coffee bar live tweet an interaction between herself and a man who approached her and it goes viral, she’s not only in danger, but it also triggers her anxiety. Her long-time bodyguard whisks her away from the spotlight and sparks fly.

I almost didn’t read this, but I’m so glad I didn’t listen to some of the sub-par reviews, because I really enjoyed this book. First of all, it’s a bodyguard romance and he’s been pining after her for a long time. There is also great anxiety rep.

I had to take away a star only because I felt like the build up of tension between these two characters was so good, but when they finally got together, I was a little let down and I couldn’t put my finger on why exactly.
Amazon

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*Desolate (Grace #1) by Autumn Grey

Autumn Grey has officially been added to my list of authors I need to read their entire backlists alongside Brittainy C Cherry, Mia Sheridan, and Sarina Bowen. Autumn doesn’t have as many books in her backlist as the others, so I’m going to have to pace myself.

I didn’t know what this book was about going into it for Contemporaryathon. I just saw the author’s name and picked it up. Autumn is a Black author, by the way. I recently read Fall Back Skyward by her after buying it from her at Shameless Book Con last year, and I fell in love with it.

This book is a forbidden new adult romance between a man who is planning on becoming a priest and a woman who is wrongfully considered the town whore. As soon as I realized the premise in this book, I was hooked. And the characters, oh my goodness, the characters and their chemistry were so potent. From the moment they met and how fascinated our hero is with the heroine, despite his dedication to God. How he can’t seem to tear himself away from her.

I will say, my only complaint is that this is a cliff hanger. It is part of a trilogy which is complete and I will be reading on in it. That and the hero started driving me crazy at the end because he wouldn’t make a freaking decision, but like I said, I loved this book.
Amazon

5 Stars

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Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz

I need to preface this by saying that I know Hannah Moskowitz has said some problematic things on Twitter recently. I haven’t seen them myself, I’ve only seen references, but I do want everyone to know that going into this novel.

With that being said, this book was such a great and refreshing representation of chronic illness in YA. I have Multiple Sclerosis and though none of the characters in this book have that exact illness, they do have their own and they do have similar experiences and thoughts.

The two meet at, I believe, an infusion center. Some place that many with chronic illnesses are very familiar with. And there is great chemistry and bonding and banter from the beginning. There were so many moments where I found myself nodding vigerously as they talked about healthy people vs. people with chronic illnesses. What it’s like to be surrounded by healthy people when you are not. Being limited and defined by your illness. Big topics that were well portrayed.

I definitely felt seen.
Amazon

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Grin and Beard It (Winston Brothers #2) by Penny Reid

I’m slowly but surely making my way through this series and so far I’ve been loving every second of it. Normally I’m not a big fan of the fame element in a romance novel, but it was a little easier to swallow with this book because it was the heroine who is famous. Our heroine is a comedic actress who gets rescued by our hero, a park ranger, in a small town where she is filming her upcoming movie.

Fame plays a big part in this, which I normally don’t like, but there was something about the dynamic between her outgoing, charisma mixed with his southern charm that I loved.
Amazon

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Beard Science (Winston Brothers #3) by Penny Reid

So far the first book is still my favorite, but this comes in close second. This is Cletus’s story, and he’s such a big weirdo I was wondering who he was going to end up with. It was NOT the heroine. Where Cletus is super smart and manipulative and quirky, our heroine is very polished and put together and naive. She has lived under her mother’s thumb working at a very successful bakery.

Nobody in town takes her seriously, especially Cletus, until she blackmails him and they are forced together. Soon, he realizes there is a lot more to this seemingly shallow woman.

I loved this book so much more than I thought I would, given the main character. I thought, when we were first introduced to her that she was going to get on my nerves, but honestly, her character growth and unexpected depth made me change my mind entirely.

And I’m such a fan of quirky heroes, so I loved Cletus, too.
Amazon

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Powertools: Collection 1 (Powertools 1 & 2) by Jayne Rylon

You guys. I never would’ve expected a super steamy reverse harem novel would be so high on my list, but here we are.

I talk a lot more about this book in my Contemporaryathon vlog, but in short, I loved this book because though it was ridiculous, there was a strong romance in both of the two short stories. I also was totally into the whole summer vibe of the first book and the immersive autumn vibes of the second book. Also, the hero in the second book is so swoony and I fell so hard for him.
Amazon

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The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides #1) by Jennifer Ashley

Yay! A historical romance I LOVED! I knew it was only a matter of time until I found one that hit the spot for me and it was absolutely this one.

This was a rec from a comment on one of my videos and they freaking nailed it.

This is a historical romance between a widow and a man with autism. Of course, back then, they just thought he was mad and threw him and everyone treated him so horribly because of it. Seriously, my heart absolutely broke. However, our heroine is the only one who truly understood him, or at least didn’t look down on him. I also absolutely loved her. Because she has her husband’s fortune, she doesn’t need to marry. In fact, men are lining up for her. She also isn’t a naive, innocent virgin. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. She’s smart and witty.

This was everything I am realizing I love in a romance novel.
Amazon

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*Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda

This freaking book.

So, I haven’t seen this musical yet, but I am such a huge fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda and the music – especially Jonathan Groff’s song, though, I’m biased because I’m obsessed with him. I’ve watched performances and interviews and I’m so excited about finally getting to see this on Disney Plus on July 3. I can’t contain myself.

I actually downloaded this audiobook when it went on sale a while ago, but I picked it up on a whim last week and finished it in a day because I became obsessed.

I loved seeing how this musical became the phenomenon it is. I loved hearing Lin’s thought process behind creating it. How he wanted to depict these historical figures in a modern, much more diverse way, using a genre of music that was not associated with Broadway at all. From the choreography to the costumes – it was absolutely fascinating.

I just… I need July 3 to be now.
Amazon

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Lover Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered #2) by Tessa Bailey

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this one. So many people complained about how the hero was way to alpha for them and I kept thinking, “Well, jeez, if he’s too alpha for them, he’ll definitely be too alpha for me.” But, honestly? He wasn’t.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely alpha, but I adored his reasoning for it.

Anyway, this is a second chance romance between a married couple who have a ton of chemistry in bed, but have lost touch of each other in every other way. So, when our heroine has had enough, she decides to leave her husband.

But he is not having it. To him, she is his everything. It’s kind of the opposite of The Bromance Bookclub because he thinks everything is fine since the sex is still really good, but that’s not the case. I loved how this book really dove into love languages and how both people must understand the other’s language and support it.

And there was so much longing, it made my heart hurt. Yes, he was very alpha. He very much wanted to be the one who provided for his wife, however, I wasn’t bothered by it AT ALL.
Amaz

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
OMG this book was so sweet, I couldn’t handle it. It’s a whimsical fantasy that, if I had to explain it in one word, it would be charming.

It’s about a man in his forty’s who has led a very mediocre life thus far. He lives for his job, which is to evaluate orphanages for extraordinary children for a very corporate overlord of a company. He’s sent on a highly classified job to check out this orphanage for especially gifted, some think dangerous, children.

It’s very elementary school x-men.

And oh my goodness, the character growth and the relationships that are built, both familial, romantic, and platonic are all so strong and vibrant. This book absolutely lives up to the hype.
Amazon

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Beach Read by Emily Henry

This is another book that absolutely lived up to the hype. Though the title might lead you to believe that this is going to be a fun, light read, it’s really not. There is a lot of substance behind this book that the title and cover do not allude to.

Aside from a swoony romance and hilarious banter and writing, we are dealing with grief, with loss, with resentment … a lot of heavy topics woven between this romcom story about two writers who have challenged themselves to write each other’s genre, one literary fiction, one women’s fiction/romance.
Amazon


The Edge #0.5-2 by CD Reiss

These are all short, but super intense military suspense romance novels. I feel that the prequel is required reading for this series because it sets up the relationship so solidly, that despite the craziness that this couple goes through in later books, you root hard for them. The couple meet in a war zone, one a surgeon who works for 8 days straight saving lives and one a psychiatrist who is trying to keep him standing and sane – along with all the other medics and soldiers. I felt like this book was so well researched and gorgeously written. CD Reiss is called the Shakespeare of Smut for a reason. The steamy scenes were just as intense as the rest of the book.

I absolutely plan on reading the rest of this series!
Amazon

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

4-stars
Overall Rating: 4 Stars
Title: The Marriage Game
Author: Sara Desai
Format: ARC Received in Exchange for an Honest Review from Netgalley

Synopsis:
A high stakes wager pits an aspiring entrepreneur against a ruthless CEO in this sexy romantic comedy.

After her life falls apart, recruitment consultant Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco. But in the eyes of her father, who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, she can do no wrong. He would do anything to see her smile again. With the best intentions in mind, he offers her the office upstairs to start her new business and creates a profile on an online dating site to find her a man. She doesn’t know he’s arranged a series of blind dates until the first one comes knocking on her door…

As CEO of a corporate downsizing company Sam Mehta is more used to conflict than calm. In search of a quiet new office, he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he’s forced to share his space with the owner’s beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.

GOODREADS

Review

I smiled a lot while I read this book.

This novel is full of heartwarming family dynamics between quirky characters. I loved Layla’s relationship with her huge family, particularly all her aunties, her mother, and especially her father.

I did wonder, though, why she didn’t have a stronger reaction to what happened in the beginning of the book with her father. As someone who is very close to my parents (and someone who has dropped everything to sit with my parents in the hospital for days on several occasions), it almost seemed like it was an afterthought to her, which rubbed me the wrong way a bit. Especially considering how close she is with her family. I would have loved to see that big family rally around him and one another in support as my big family tends to do in similar situations.

Aside from that, I think this is such a fun/funny hate-to-love romance particularly for people who like to see the strong attraction between the love interests despite their frustrations with each other.

For me, I tend to prefer this trope when the couple is so busy loathing the other person, they barely notice their attraction and hardly realize how much passionate frustration and passionate lust have in common. This is why I can’t say that this book is my favorite of the trope, but I can say I expect it will be for many who like to see the chemistry between enemies much more blatantly on page.

If you’re looking for an OWN voices, match-making, enemies-to-lovers romance filled with banter and big families, with just enough drama and angst, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book.


Butterfly Rating: 2 Stars

2-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Maybe


Bookshelf Placement: Maybe

I do love the cover of this!


Book Boyfriend Rating: 3 stars

3-stars

 

 

 

HEA-athon TBR

This readathon takes place June 1-7 and it’s all about reading books with Happily Ever Afters.

Our hosts are Cassidy and Alexandria:
Cassidy
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmeYSCqHZ1D1DyvUuXdjWwA
https://www.instagram.com/cassidyreads/

Alexandria
https://www.instagram.com/beautifulbitchbookreviews/

These are the prompts:

  • New to you author
  • Taboo/forbidden romance
  • Curvy heroine
  • Book released in 2020
  • Book set in a diff country than you live in
  • Book w/ a black cover
  • Trop don’t typically read
  • Small town romance
  • Name in the title

This is the bingo board:

I decided to choose one book for each prompt. Whether I actually stick to this TBR is debatable, but at least I have a starting point!

My ultimate goal would be to complete all the prompts, but I’ll be happy with just getting bingo!

New to you author
Before I Ever Met You By Karina Halle

Before I Ever Met You

I first met William McAlister when I was just a teenager.
He was handsome, had a beautiful wife and was on the verge of success, having just joined my father as his business partner. Mr. McAlister was full of smooth charm, but back then he was barely a blip on my radar. Just a family friend.
Fast forward ten years: I’m 25 years old and a single mom trying to make things right for her seven-year old son. I’ve made some mistakes, grappled with my demons and now I’m back in the city of Vancouver, getting a second chance at a better life.
I’ve started by working for my father’s production company as an executive assistant. My first day on the job and I already know I could have a promising career there.
That is until I see Will McAlister for the first time in a decade.
Now recently divorced and as sophisticated as always, Will has gone from being my father’s friend and business partner to something so much more.
We’re both older, for one thing, and he just oozes this worldly confidence and stark sexuality. Combined with his tall, muscular build and sharp suits, strong jaw and bedroom eyes, Will has turned into one hell of a distraction.
A distraction I’m having a hard time staying away from, considering his office is right across from my desk and I work with him in such close proximity.
But it’s just a harmless crush, right?
It’s just an innocent fantasy of screwing him on his desk, right?
It can’t ever be more because he’s my father’s best friend, business partner, and my boss.
Right?
Wrong.


Taboo/forbidden romance
Noughts and Crosses By Malorie Blackman

Noughts & Crosses (Noughts & Crosses, #1)

Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society.

Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought — a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum — a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together? 


Curvy heroine
Man Hands by Sarina Bowen, Tanya Eby
Man Hands (Man Hands, #1)

BRYNN

At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.

But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass.

Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer.

Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don’t expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM

All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life.

I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.

But I will find her.
 


Book released in 2020
My Favorite Souvenir By Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland
My Favorite Souvenir

My planned trip for two unexpectedly turned into a trip for one. Rather than let my breakup get me down, I packed my bags and decided a week at a luxury resort was just what I needed.
But one calamity after the next, and suddenly I was stuck without a hotel room, along with a few hundred other people.
It looked like my fancy vacation was about to turn into me sleeping on the hotel lobby floor.
Until I overheard a gorgeous man pretending to be someone he wasn’t in order to steal a reservation from a guest who hadn’t shown up yet.
When I realized there were two rooms, instead of calling him out, I pretended to be his sister. That’s how the story of “Milo and Maddie Hooker” began.
We were the Hookers.
My depressing trip quickly made a U-turn into an adventure.
My fake brother spent the next few days showing me around his hometown. When it was time to leave, neither of us really wanted to go yet.
So, instead of flying back to our respective homes, we ventured on a road trip.
At every stop, we’d pick up souvenirs.
But as hot as our chemistry was, we never crossed the line.
Milo knew I’d just come out of a tough relationship and didn’t want to mess with a vulnerable woman.
So instead, at the end of our trip, we made a pact to meet again in three months.
It was always my intention to meet him.
But when I got back home, reality hit in a big way.
And I worried I may have lost my handsome stranger forever.
Was there a place for him in my future?
Or had the memory of him just become my favorite souvenir?


Book set in a different country than you live in
Your French Kisses By Lauren Blakely
Your French Kisses (Boyfriend Material, #4)

To do list for my last day of my Paris vacation…
1. Walk along the river
2. Visit all the chocolate shops in the city
3. Wander along the cobblestoned streets.

Things I don’t expect to happen…
1. Meet a charming Englishman while strolling along the Seine
2. Spend the afternoon with him exploring Paris, and kissing. So many French kisses…
3. Board a plane that night wishing I’d gotten his last name.

Besides, you can’t fall for someone in one day, especially when you live a world apart…


Book w/ a black cover
Bad Habit By Charleigh Rose
Bad Habit (Bad Love, #1)

BRIAR
I was infatuated with Asher Kelley the moment he came tumbling through my brother’s window five years ago.
Even bruised and bloodied, he was the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen.
We couldn’t ever be together.
I was too young, and he was too untouchable.
He was too troubled, and I was too naive.
But the heart is rebellious, and mine decided it didn’t care about any of those things.
As I got older, harmless flirting turned to stolen moments in dark corners.
Until one day, he was gone without a trace.
Now, three years later, he’s back.
Callous and cruel.
He’s my brother’s best friend. My parents’ worst nightmare.
I should hate him.
But like a Bad Habit, I can’t quit him.

ASHER
I was drawn to Briar Vale from the first time she looked up at me with stars in her big, blue eyes.
She was just a kid, nothing but elbows and knees, but she was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen.
We could never be together.
I was too old and she was too off limits.
She was too good and I was too fucked up.
Eventually, the temptation became too much to resist.
I risked everything for a kiss and she betrayed me.
Three years have passed and I’m forced to see her again, but now she’s all grown up.
She’s my best friend’s baby sister. My downfall.
I hate her for what she did.
But she’s always been my drug of choice


Trope don’t typically read
Saint by EM Snow
Saint (Angelview Academy, #1)

At Angelview Academy, Saint Angelle is considered God.
But don’t be fooled by his ridiculous name or that pretty face because Saint? He’s as wicked as they come.
I should know.
I’m the new girl who pissed him off.
The nobody who called out his crew of vicious tyrants.
The mortal who wouldn’t bow then and sure as hell won’t now.
Saint swears I’ll regret it.
He vows to own every inch of me.
He even promises to make my senior year a living hell.
I don’t believe him, though.
Because if angels can fall, so can so-called gods.
And I want to be the one to bring Saint Angelle to his knees.


SAINT is a full-length, 80,000 word new adult/ mature high school romance with enemies-to-lovers and bullying themes. It is not recommended for readers under 17 as it contains dubious situations and triggers that some readers may find offensive. It is NOT a standalone and ends in a cliffhanger.


Small town romance
Beard in Mind by Penny Reid
Beard in Mind (Winston Brothers, #4)

Beau Winston is the nicest, most accommodating guy in the world. Usually.

Handsome as the devil and twice as charismatic, Beau lives a charmed life as everyone’s favorite Winston Brother. But since his twin decided to leave town, and his other brother hired a stunning human-porcupine hybrid as a replacement mechanic for their auto shop, Beau Winston’s charmed life has gone to hell in a handbasket.

Shelly Sullivan is not nice and is never accommodating. Ever.
She mumbles to herself, but won’t respond when asked a question. She glares at everyone, especially babies. She won’t shake hands with or touch another person, but has no problems cuddling with a dog. And her damn parrot speaks only in curse words. Beau wants her gone. He wants her out of his auto shop, out of Tennessee, and out of his life.

The only problem is, learning why this porcupine wears her coat of spikes opens a Pandora’s box of complexity—exquisite, tempting, heartbreaking complexity—and Beau Winston soon discovers being nice and accommodating might mean losing what matters most.


Name in the title
On the Rocks By Kandi Steiner
On the Rocks (Becker Brothers, #1)

Noah Becker is nothing but trouble.

That’s what Mama told me when I was a kid, kicking his pew in church and giggling at the games we’d play. It’s what the town said when his father died and the Becker brothers went wild. And it’s on repeat in my mind the day I walk into the whiskey distillery where he works to buy a wedding gift for my fiancé.

He’s trouble.
Dirty, sweaty, rude trouble.

No matter how many times I repeat it, I can’t escape Noah in our small Tennessee town. And the more I run into him, the more he infuriates me.

Because he sees what no one else does.

He sees me—the real me.

The me I’m not sure I’m allowed to be.

I’m Ruby Grace Barnett, the mayor’s daughter. Soon to be a politician’s wife, just like Mama and Daddy always wanted. Soon to fulfill my family’s legacy, just like I always knew I would.

Until the boy everyone warned me about makes me question everything, like whether the wedding I’m planning is one I even want.

Everyone says Noah Becker is nothing but trouble.

If only I had listened.
 

 

Contemporaryathon Wrap Up

Last weekend was Contemporaryathon (from Friday to Monday) and I ended up reading a total of 10 books and DNF’d 1.

Don’t get too impressed, all of the books I read over the weekend were under 250 pages!

Let’s talk about the books and what I thought of them!

Let’s get the DNF out of the way…

Taming Her Mountain Man by Cameron Hart

DNF

In this book our main character has just turned 18 and inherited her estranged grandparents’ cabin in the mountains. She runs away from her creepy adoptive parents to secretly move into this cabin she inherits. When she gets there she meets this attractive older man who is a bit of a loner. The premise seemed like something I would really like because I’m all about the loner, but I was so annoyed with the main character. I didn’t mind that she was younger than the hero or that she was a virgin, but what I didn’t like was that she was also incredibly immature. I don’t mind age gaps when the younger heroine is mature for her age and that’s why she has so much chemistry with the older hero, but since she was immature it made the relationship uncomfortable to read about. So… I ended up DNFing this one.

Shy Girls Write It Better (Some Girls Do It, #1)

Shy Girls Write It Better by May Sage

★★★

This is a contemporary workplace romance where our heroine has a side hustle writing erotic romance novels. One day she accidentally gives her boss’s boss a copy of one of her manuscripts instead of a report and he is intrigued. He also notices that she is not great at writing BDSM scenes and, of course, he wants to give her some real world experience.

This book was ok. I didn’t really understand why the heroine was writing about BDSM if she knew that she wasn’t good at it. There was something about her naivety that annoyed me, but otherwise I did enjoy the premise. I also liked the hero. The fact that he easily could’ve been the cocky alpha boss, but wasn’t was a nice surprise. I don’t think I’ll move on in the series just because I have a feeling all the heroines are going to be a little mousy and that can get on my nerves after a while.

Powertools: Collection 1 (Powertools #1-2)

Powertools Collection 1 by Jayne Rylon

★★★★★

Yup. I gave this one 5 stars.

This is a reverse harem novella that includes two short stories involving the same five construction workers.

The first story takes place in the summer time with our heroine who is renovating her house while these construction workers are working on the house next door and the second story takes place in the autumn at her friend’s bakery that is getting renovated.

This book was surprisingly good. Yes, it was ridiculous and I think the fact that I expected that going into this was helpful, but what I was not expecting the romance to be so strong in both of the stories. Particularly in the second book, the hero was so freaking sweet and it was actually romantic – not something you’d expect from a reverse harem novel at all!

Beyond that – I love how each of the stories were seasonal. The first book felt like summer and the second had all the autumn vibes.

Point of Retreat (Slammed, #2)

Point of Retreat (Slammed #2) by Colleen Hoover

★★★★

This is the second book in the Slammed series that I read a few months ago. It’s a contemporary new adult romance that has a slam poetry element in it.

I didn’t initially realize this was a series, but it makes sense as to why it is. The couple’s story definitely wasn’t finished and I think this wrapped it up nicely. I believe there is another book in this series as well, which I think may be a little overkill, but we’ll see.

This wasn’t my favorite Colleen Hoover, but I haven’t disliked a book I’ve read by her yet – and that is true for this one. I felt just a little disconnected from these characters since it has been a little while since I’ve read the first books – and I don’t recall being particularly in love with them in the first place, but overall it was a good story with Colleen Hoover’s signature great characters.

Mind Reader

Mind Reader by Kristy McManus

★★★★

This interesting contemporary, magical realism romance has such a cute premise: the hero can predict soul mates and when others will meet them.

I anticipated a few things going into this book and I was wrong for quite a few of them. This was both good and bad. It was bad because I was excited about a few of the things I was predicting, but it was good because I think it would’ve been boring if this was too predictable.

The hero was a little cringy in the beginning. I thought that he was going to get on my nerves a lot more than he did. This book actually turned out to be really sweet with very low steam, so for those of you looking for a short, sweet, low-steam romance, this is a great pick!

P.S. It's Always Been You: Part 1

PS It’s Always Been You by Lauren Blakely

★★★

This super short audiobook is a second chance romance between a woman who works with historical items and an adventure/reality TV show host. It’s part of a series of super short books and I’m honestly unsure why they are all broken up. Seriously. This audiobook was, like, two hours long.

And this book was fine. I always want to like Lauren Blakely books more than I do. They have a lot of potential, she creates really likable characters in interesting situations, but lately I feel like the books I’ve read by her have been somewhat lackluster.

She comes out with a TON of books per year and it makes me wonder if maybe if she focused on writing fewer – and perfecting those – then maybe they’d be a lot better.

With that being said, I really do appreciate how much she is involved in the making of her audiobooks – and how much she loves on her narrators. She’s really in touch with the audiobook world which is nice because I feel like it gets neglected by authors more often than not.

Cutting Edge (The Edge, #0.5)

The Edge Series Books 0.5 – 2 by CD Reiss

★★★★★

This is an intense contemporary military romance between a military psychiatrist and a military surgeon.

And I’m officially obsessed.

The prequel to this series is so important, so I highly recommend starting there if you are planning on reading this series. I felt like my heart was racing the entire time I was reading this book for so many reasons – between the intensity of the romance and the fact that their relationship was building in the middle of a warzone in the first book – then the turn the books take in the first and second books – whew!

It’s so clear to me, in these books, why I love CD Reiss so much. She’s a beautiful writer, who obviously puts a lot of time into researching the topics she is writing about. She’s able to mix beautiful prose with super taboo and steamy scenes without making them seem raunchy or cringey.

I can’t wait to finish the ARC I’m reading right now so that I can finish this series!

Desolate (Grace, #1)

Desolate (Grace Trilogy #1) by Autumn Grey

★★★★

This is an emotional contemporary romance between a guy who has wanted to become a catholic priest his entire life and a girl who was mislabeled as the town slut by her abusive ex boyfriend.

Autumn Grey is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine and I’ve only read two of her books, but man… I adore her books so much.

I always appreciate when authors build the chemistry between love interests and that is something that this author does really well, especially in this story. I fully understood the conflict that the hero is going through between wanting to pursue his lifelong goal of becoming a priest like the uncle he looks up to and not being able to stay away from this girl that he has been drawn to his entire life.

My one complaint is that I felt a little disenchanted with the hero after a while. I wanted him to suck it up and make a decision. This book also ends on a cliffhanger with no HEA or HFN, however it is part of a trilogy.

The Fire Between High & Lo (Elements, #2)

The Fire Between Hi & Lo by Brittainy C. Cherry

★★★★

This is a new adult contemporary romance between a hero with a troubling home life and an addiction problem and the heroine who is able to see the bright side despite her issues with her mother.

We love BCC around here. I’ve been slowly making my way through her backlist and haven’t found a book I disliked yet. Though this wasn’t my favorite, it was mostly because of the subject matter rather than anything to do with the romance or the story. I’m not a big fan of drug use and addiction in books and one of the main characters is dealing heavily with both.

I think my favorite part of the book was the meetcute. Although, I feel weird calling it a meetcute because it is actually quite a sad situation.

Overall, this was a very successful readathon! I always aim to read around 5-6 books for weekend readathons, so reading double that many was great! I definitely felt like I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop reading all weekend, so it worked out!