Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After #1) by Tessa Dare

#-stars

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Title: Romancing the Duke

Author: Tessa Dare

Series: Castles Ever After #1

Format: Audiobook

GOODREADS


♡ Historical romance
♡ Blind hero
♡ Fandom
♡ Different classes
♡ Beauty and the Beast Retelling
♡ I hate everyone but you hero
♡ Enemies to lovers

Review

This was such a great historical romance beauty and the beast retelling by an author who is quickly becoming one of my HR favorites!

Izzy is the daughter of a famous author who is left with nothing when he passes, except for an already-occupied castle. A creepy castle that is occupied by a mean, scarred and blind hero at that.

This is the perfect set up, in my opinion. And, of course, in true Tessa Dare fashion it was wonderfully executed as well. I loved this romance so much, but what I wasn’t expecting was how much I would love Izzy’s entire storyline revolving around the books her father wrote and the whole fandom aspect. It was unexpected and adorable.


Representation

Characters: Deaf hero


Trigger Warnings

Because of potential spoilers, trigger warnings are listed in white. Please highlight to see the list of trigger warnings.
death of a loved one, poverty


Audiobook Performance: 4 stars

4-stars


Butterfly Rating: 3 Stars

3-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Maybe


Bookshelf Placement: It’s there!


Book Boyfriend Rating: 4 stars

4-stars

 

 

 

Before I Ever Met You by Karina Halle

3-stars

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Title: Before I Ever Met You

Author: Karina Halle

Format: Physical Book

GOODREADS


♡ Age Gap Romance⁣
♡ Forbidden Romance “Lite”⁣
♡ Father’s Coworker/Friend⁣
♡ Sunshine hero⁣

Review

I’ve absolutely loved some books by Karina Halle (The Forbidden Man and Love in English), I’ve felt indifferent about some (The Pact), and I DNF’d one (Darkhouse), so I wasn’t sure where I would land with this one.⁣

To be completely honest, I don’t remember much about this book, but from the notes I took while reading it, I really liked it LOL!⁣

The book opens with the hero in a crappy marriage. His wife has just told him that she’s pregnant – something that was entirely unexpected because he had a vasectomy, however, he’s still excited. He’d gotten the procedure for her, even though he wasn’t sure about it. It turns out, though, that it isn’t his baby. (This isn’t a spoiler, it happens in the very beginning of the book.)⁣

Fast forward several years, he’s divorced and doing fine. You’d expect him to be this grumpy hero, but he’s actually the opposite. The heroine, who is several years younger than him has left a terrible relationship and is now a single mom. She moves in with her parents and gets a job at her father’s work as his partner’s assistant. The hero is her father’s partner. ⁣

I love, love, loved how protective of her she was without being overbearing and the fact that his nickname for her was “Dream Girl” is SO swoony. ⁣

Aside from being slightly forgettable, though, I didn’t understand her father’s character AT ALL. Her relationship with him and how he handles their relationship was just weird and inconsistent. Also, there is a trope that I was absolutely expecting in this and was SO disappointed when it happened. Ugh.⁣

Anyway, overall, I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I had to take away an extra star because of the ending. If you’re going to read Karina Halle, I’d still recommend The Forbidden Man or Love in English.


Trigger Warnings

Because of potential spoilers, trigger warnings are listed in white. Please highlight to see the list of trigger warnings.
Surprise baby, talk of past abuse/toxic relationship, pregnancy


Butterfly Rating: 3 Stars

3-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Nah


Bookshelf Placement: Already there


Book Boyfriend Rating: 4 stars

4-stars

 

 

 

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

5-stars

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Title: Clap When You Land

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Format: Audiobook

GOODREADS


♡ YA Contemporary
♡ Written in verse
♡ Beautiful, highlight-able writing
♡ Amazing audiobook narration
♡ Emotional
♡ Strong family elements

Review

Ughhhhhh the WRITING in this book. So. Good.

I’m such a huge fan of contemporary poetry, so this book was everything I wanted.

It’s the story of these two sisters, one living in New York, the other living in the Dominican Republic, who only find out about each other when their father is killed in a plane crash.

There isn’t really a romance in this book at all, but there is a super sweet sapphic romance with one of the sisters.

Much like her other books, I need to read this both as an audiobook and physically. Elizabeth Acevedo narrates her own audiobooks and does such a great job. She’s duet narrating in this one with another narrator who also was really good. I need to read the physical book because there were so many beautiful lines that I need to highlight!

Also, at the end of the book, she includes an authors note talking about the actual plane crash that she based this novel on and how so many of the victims had such interesting stories, including those who were leading double lives with secret families.


Representation

Characters: Dominican, LGBTQIA+
Author: Dominican


Trigger Warnings

Because of potential spoilers, trigger warnings are listed in white. Please highlight to see the list of trigger warnings.
Death of a loved one, attempted sexual assault, plane crash


Audiobook Performance: 5 stars

5-stars


Butterfly Rating: 1 Star

1-star


Re-read Worthiness: Yes

For highlighting purposes.


Bookshelf Placement: Yes!

 

 

 

The Forbidden Wish (The Forbidden Wish #1) by Jessica Khoury

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Title: The Forbidden Wish

Author: Jessica Khoury

Series: The Forbidden Wish #1

Format: Physical Book & Audiobook

GOODREADS


♡ YA fantasy romance
♡ fairytale retelling
♡ irreverent hero
♡ badass heroine (& female side characters)
♡ longing
♡ female friendship

Review

OMG THIS BOOK WAS EVERYTHING I WANTED! I’ll never forget hearing about this book from the author at a book convention – an Aladdin reimagining, except it is a romance between Aladdin and the female genie that he discovers in the lamp.

I’m so surprised that this book isn’t more popular! I love, love, love the genie’s backstory and the entire lore behind the genies. They are feared among Aladdin’s people and the genie is cursed because of her relationship with her first “master” that turned into an extremely close friendship. Her first master ended up dying for her and the entire story is from the genie’s point of view in second person because she is telling the story to her friend/first master.

The struggle that the genie goes through with loving humans was heartbreaking, because she’s only ever been burned by doing so, and then here comes Aladdin. I also liked that while she had magic and was pretty powerful, she wasn’t all-powerful and not your typical badass heroine.

Aladdin was also such a great hero. He was exactly like the Disney version, irreverent and charming.

I like how the Jafar and Jasmine characters were incorporated into the story as well. I really, really liked the princess, even though she’s not always on the same side as the antagonists.

If you like fairytale retellings, definitely give this one a try.


Representation

Characters: BIPOC


Trigger Warnings

Because of potential spoilers, trigger warnings are listed in white. Please highlight to see the list of trigger warnings.
death of a friend, slavery, kidnapping


Audiobook Performance: 5 stars

5-stars


Butterfly Rating: 4 Stars

4-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Yes


Bookshelf Placement: Already there!


Book Boyfriend Rating: 4 stars

4-stars

 

 

 

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

4-stars

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Title: Serious Moonlight

Author: Jenn Bennett

Format: Physical Book

GOODREADS

Review

I’ve read two other books by Jenn Bennett previously and while I liked the others a lot more, I still enjoyed this one.

The heroine in this story is obsessed with true crime and Sherlock Holmes, so I appreciated how she assessed nearly every character she came across by giving them a suspect profile. I thought that was a really cool way to expand on characters without being info-dumpy. The heroine randomly hooks up with this guy that she meets at a cafe, but freaks out and ends up leaving him before they can talk afterward. She thinks she’s never going to see him again, until she gets a job during the late night shift at this sketchy hotel and he happens to work there, too. Meanwhile, he’s been searching for her and even put an ad in the missed-connections personals looking for her.

I had fun reading about their reluctant relationship and I learned a bit about narcolepsy that I didn’t know before, but ultimately I found a good portion of this book a little boring. My mind kept wandering and when I tuned back in, I didn’t really miss too much. I can’t really put my finger on why because the characters were interesting and had great chemistry, but I just wasn’t that invested in the story.

Overall, this is my least favorite Jenn Bennett, but I still plan on reading the rest of her backlist because I really liked her other two novels that I’ve read (Alex, Approximately and Starry Eyes)


Representation

Characters: BIPOC hero


Trigger Warnings

Because of potential spoilers, trigger warnings are listed in white. Please highlight to see the list of trigger warnings.
Medical issues, death of a loved one


Audiobook Performance: 5 stars

5-stars


Butterfly Rating: 3 Stars

3-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Nah


Bookshelf Placement: Already there!


Book Boyfriend Rating: 4 stars

4-stars

 

 

 

Breaking Gravity (Fall Back #2) by Autumn Grey

4-stars
Overall Rating: 4 Stars
Title: Breaking Gravity
Author: Fall Back #2
Series: Autumn Grey
Format: Physical book purchased from the author

GOODREADS

Review

We all know. I love Autumn Grey and that hasn’t changed with this book. While I don’t know that another book can quite live up to Fall Back Skyward, I still really liked this book.

It’s an age-gap, student/professor relationship between the sister of the heroine from Fall Back Skyward and this famous cellist who can no longer play due to a serious injury to his shoulder. Instead, he is subbing for the heroine’s teacher who she also happened to be a Teacher’s Assistant for. So… a lot of forced proximity.

The only downside to this book was that I was getting so much anxiety over how risky these two characters were being – especially when the stakes were so high! She could get kicked out and he could lose his job, but there is just something about how Autumn writes her heroes that gets me every time.

She writes forbidden romances SO well. The things he would say to the heroine had me swooning all over the place. I literally gasped and clutched my chest several times while reading. It helps that I’m such a big fan of non-rockstar musicians in romance novels.

Also, getting to see peeks of the characters from Fall Back Skyward was so nice. This story overlaps with that one, so it was very interesting seeing what happens in that novel from this heroine’s perspective. It definitely made me want to do a reread of FBS!


Representation

Author: BIPOC


Trigger Warnings

Because of potential spoilers, trigger warnings are listed in white. Please highlight to see the list of trigger warnings.
Talk of past abuse, death of a loved one, age gap romance, teacher/student relationship, car accident, serious illness (side character), talk of self harm (side character)


Butterfly Rating: 4 Stars

4-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Maybe


Bookshelf Placement: Already there!


Book Boyfriend Rating: 4 stars

4-stars

 

 

 

Ever After Always(Bergman Brothers #3) by Chloe Liese *New Favorite*

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: Ever After Always
Author: Chloe Liese
Series: (Bergman Brothers #3)
Format: eBook provided in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley
Release Date: January 12, 2021

GOODREADS

Review

I’ve been dreading writing this review because I don’t think I can properly put into words how much I loved this book. And for different reasons than the other books in this series.

If you loved The Bromance Book Club because of the marriage in distress aspect, this is for you. If you love a big, loud, sometimes obnoxious, but mostly loveable family, this is for you. If you want to be schooled on long term relationships – even if you feel like yours is just fine – this is for you. If you suffer from anxiety and you want to be seen, this is for you. If you want to swoon like crazy, this is for you. This was so perfect for me.

I can’t even tell you how many pages I highlighted in this book because I felt like it had so much to say about marriage. Things that I never even considered that completely changed my way of thinking – especially when a relationship feels off-balance because one person suffers from an illness (mental or physical).

Yes, there is miscommunication and yes it is so frustrating, but as someone who suffers from anxiety and has lost friends because I was considered “flakey” for changing plans last minute or having to leave abruptly or coming off as rude because I was spiraling into a panic attack… the miscommunication made perfect sense to me.

I love what Chloe Liese is doing with her novels. I love that she is placing a spotlight on things that otherwise get overlooked. I think her bio describes it perfectly, “Chloe writes inclusive romance because she believes everyone deserves a love story. Portraying underrepresented experiences, her romances embrace humor, heart, and heat, with a dash of nerdiness for good measure.”

I think, particularly when we talk about diversity in books, we can’t forget about disabled voices in that conversation.


Butterfly Rating: 5 Stars

5-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Definitely!

Once the audiobook comes out, I’m binging this series again.


Bookshelf Placement: NEED


Book Boyfriend Rating: 5 stars

5-stars

 

 

 

Long Live the Beautiful Hearts (Beautiful Hearts #2) by Emma Scott *New Fav*

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: Long Live the Beautiful Hearts
Author: Emma Scott
Series: Beautiful Hearts #2
Format: Audiobook borrowed from Scribd

 

GOODREADS


Review

*Note: This is not a standalone, this is the second book in the Beautiful Hearts duet. You can read my review for the first book here.

I interrupted my Romance Takeover Readathon TBR to read this book immediately after reading the first. I absolutely HAD to know what happened after the first book ended.

I worried a little bit that this book would drag on longer than it needed to since I would’ve been happy with an HEA in the first book, but that wasn’t the case at all.

After what all the characters go through in the first book, there was a lot of work that needed to be done before we could get our HEA. This book was exactly as long as it needed to be. And after that emotional rollercoaster, it was the perfect ending.


Audiobook Performance: 5 stars

5-stars


Butterfly Rating: 4 Stars

4-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Yes


Bookshelf Placement: NEED


Book Boyfriend Rating: 5 stars

t-stars

 

 

 

ARC Review: The Knockout by Sajni Patel

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: The Knockout
Author: Sajni Patel
Format: ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis:
A rising star in Muay Thai figures out what (and who) is worth fighting for in this #ownvoices YA debut full of heart.

If seventeen-year-old Kareena Thakkar is going to alienate herself from the entire Indian community, she might as well do it gloriously. She’s landed the chance of a lifetime, an invitation to the US Muay Thai Open, which could lead to a spot on the first-ever Olympic team. If only her sport wasn’t seen as something too rough for girls, something she’s afraid to share with anyone outside of her family. Despite pleasing her parents, exceling at school, and making plans to get her family out of debt, Kareena’s never felt quite Indian enough, and her training is only making it worse.

Which is inconvenient, since she’s starting to fall for Amit Patel, who just might be the world’s most perfect Indian. Admitting her feelings for Amit will cost Kareena more than just her pride–she’ll have to face his parents’ disapproval, battle her own insecurities, and remain focused for the big fight. Kareena’s bid for the Olympics could very well make history–if she has the courage to go for it.

GOODREADS

Review

I’m absolutely in love with so many things about this book. The diversity (her best friend is Filipino!), the characters, the sweet romance, and the inspiring sports and STEM aspects.

I absolutely adored Kareena’s character. Even though she is so young, her confidence and self-awareness and perseverance is so inspiring, yet still believable for someone her age. She still has a lot to learn, but I appreciated how NOT annoying it was to be in her head. She didn’t always make perfect decisions, but it was refreshing to read about a teenager who understood her strength and intelligence, despite outside influences.

Amit is also not your typical hero. He’s a little nerdy, super-smart, seemingly the perfect Indian boy who is dealing with his own teenage struggles. Kareena and Amit are an unlikely pair, but they work so well together.

I also adore Kareena’s parents. They are such a strong support system and remind me so much of my own parents – willing to give up everything for her dreams.

This book is not only entertaining reading this as an adult, but I’m so excited to think about all the young people who will pick up this book and see things through Kareena’s eyes. I hope she inspires them as she has inspired me.


Butterfly Rating: 2 Stars

2-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Yes


Bookshelf Placement: Yes


Book Boyfriend Rating: 4 stars

4-stars

 

 

 

ARC Review: The Switch by Beth O’Leary

#-stars
Overall Rating: 3 Stars
Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary
Format: Audiobook provided by Netgalley in Exchange for an Honest Review

Synopsis:
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

GOODREADS

Review

This book was much more of a Women’s Fiction book than I was expecting.

I think people who really enjoy Women’s Fiction will really like this, however, if you tend to lean more toward Romance than Women’s Fiction, you may have the same feelings I had while reading this.

The premise is cute and it’s done well, however, I do wish the romance was more prevalent because, well, I’m a romance reader at heart. Because there wasn’t a strong enough romance storyline in this to keep my attention, I found myself getting bored as I listened. I even almost DNF’d this a few times.

For fans of the Flat Share, you may still enjoy this book, however, if the thing you liked the most about The Flat Share was the romance, this may not live up to your expectations as it did for me. One of the biggest things I enjoyed about The Flat Share was the romance and while I appreciated all of the other aspects of that book, it was the romance that I liked the most.

As for the audiobook narration. I did notice some inconsistencies with the phone dialog. Sometimes the person on the other line had a filter over their voice (as if you were listening to them through a phone), but sometimes they didn’t. I think this may have just been an oversight in the ARC copy I listened to and will likely be corrected in the final edit of the audiobook.

I really liked the narrator Leena, she was fantastic. And while the narrator for Eileen was a great voice actor, I’m very sensitive to mouth noises/sounds, and she had some that began to grate on me as I was listening.

Overall, I thought this book was good, but not great and was slightly disappointed considering my expectations after reading The Flat Share.


Audiobook Performance: 4 stars

4-stars


Butterfly Rating: 0 Stars

0-stars


Re-read Worthiness: No


Bookshelf Placement: No


Book Boyfriend Rating: 2 stars

2-stars