Favorite Books of July 2020

July was a fantastic reading month! You can check out my full wrap up over on my BookTube channel here.

Here are my stats for the month of July

  • Total Read: 28
  • Nonfiction: 3
  • Fiction: 25
  • YA: 2
  • Adult: 26
  • Fantasy/sci-fi: 4
  • Contemporary: 23
  • Historical: 1
  • Graphic novels: 5
  • ARCs: 3
  • DNF: 3
  • 1-star: 0
  • 2 star: 1
  • 3 star: 4
  • 4 star: 5
  • 5 star: 9
  • Rereads: 3


Favorite Books I Read in July



Smitten by Lauren Rowe

Two of my most anticipated reads came out this month – this book and Hands Down by Mariana Zapata.

This is a spin-off standalone of both the Morgan Brothers series and the Reed Rivers Trilogy. I do think there is something to be said about reading those first, but you can absolutely read this on its own. It’s about the guitarist of an up-and-coming band who isn’t your typical rock star. He’s very down-to-earth and not drop-dead gorgeous. The heroine is very shy and introvert and she’s also a talented musician.

This book was as sweet as honey and it made me so giddy reading it. It’s absolutely perfect for those of you who need an easy-to-read pick-me-up in the middle of this global pandemic and uncertainty. It’s super low-angst and will absolutely fly by. I challenge you not to have a smile on your face the entire time you read this.

I’ve been listening to the song (that is in the book!) on repeat. It’s so catchy and sweet and if I could describe the book in one song it’d be this one.



Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley

This reminded me of why I adore YA novels so much.

It revolves around our main character who sees herself as the “Rosalind” of her life – the girl that Romeo leaves for Juliet. She’s constantly the girl who comes “before.”

adored our main character so much. She is so different than many of the YA heroines I’ve read about in the past. She’s boy-crazy and flirty and so confident for her age – all while having this low-key insecurity about the fact that all the guys she dates end up finding “The One” after her.

What I loved is that she’s not at all jealous of this, she’s actually a little too accepting of it.

I also always love when a character has something that they are super passionate about – especially if they work really hard at their craft to be the best that they can be. This was the case for Megan as well. She loves directing productions and she’s really good at it.

Along with all of that, the romance is super sweet and YA appropriate. It’s a great friends-to-lovers romance and their relationship is such a healthy one, particularly for YA. I love that the hero doesn’t judge her because she’s flirty and he appreciates and supports her.


Jo & Laurie
Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl, Melissa De La Cruz

This was another highly anticipated release for me! I’ve been such a huge fan of Little Women ever since I was in my preteens and I used to watch the 1949 version of the movie on repeat.

Since then I’ve shipped Jo & Laurie. This is the book for everyone who wishes Jo and Laurie ended up together.

This book ruined the original story for me, but not in the way you’d think. They did such a great job of adapting this book and making minor enough changes that made complete sense and made this a seamless transition from the original book to this one.

I say it ruined the original story for me because I watched the movie again after reading this book and I was broken-hearted that it didn’t end the way the book is.


Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1)
Radiance (Wraith Kings #1) by Grace Draven

This book ended up being my favorite read of July.

This is an extremely romance-heavy Fantasy about these two different species – there are humans and then Kai. The Kai are humanoid, but they have dark gray skin, yellow owl eyes, fangs, and black claws. Both species find the other completely unattractive and weird looking, however, to show allegiance, the two species marry the youngest prince of the Kai and the niece of the queen of humans.

The two of them meet before they are married by chance and they don’t realize they are to be married, but they hit it off in a completely platonic way and they’re relieved to find out that they are the ones to be married because they get along so well.

This quickly became my favorite friends-to-lovers romance and it’s so unique since the two characters aren’t attracted to each other at all in the beginning. I love how they both have such respect for one another right from the beginning and it slowly grows into love.


With the Fire on High
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

This was a buddy read with my friend Mallory from @FigsLibrary over on Instagram and we both adored it!

I always forget how much I love reading YA until I come across a book like this and Always Never Yours.

Elizabeth Acevedo is a gorgeous writer and I plan on reading her entire backlist. I loved The Poet X and Clap When You Land is on my TBR! This book was so easy to read and I found myself underlining so many beautifully written lines. I loved the inclusion of recipes with a poetic twist.

Emoni is a young teen mom who is navigating high school while trying to stay under the radar, raise her baby girl with her Abuela, and figure out what she is going to do with her future – all while discovering that her passion for cooking could turn into something more than a hobby.

Elizabeth Acevedo really shines when she’s writing about young people discovering themselves and this book is no different. I’ve always been drawn to passionate characters with special skills – and Emoni’s ability to create dishes that can transport people to another time and place was so inspiring. I’m always intrigued by people who have innate abilities like that. Especially when they are young and learning how to hone that craft into something that can take them places.

The romance was subtle, but also very sweet. I love seeing heroes in YA who set a good example for young people about what a relationship should be.


Hands Down
Hands Down by Mariana Zapata

My other highly anticipated release this month!

This was a one-click, insta-read, and it did not disappoint. I devoured this beast in one day and I have zero regrets… only that it ever ended.

MZ is one of the few authors who can write a 600-page, slow burn, contemporary romance and I’ll be at page 598 crying that it’s not long enough. This book was no different.

I was shocked and excited when I saw that this was Zac’s book. I’ve been in love with him since we were introduced to him in The Wall of Winnipeg and Me YEARS ago. I never imagined he would get his own book – it was such a delightful surprise.

I love that all of MZ’s books are standalones, but you see glimpses of your favorite characters throughout. In this one, especially, we got to see my fav couple: Aiden and Vanessa. You also see a glimpse of Lukov and Jasmine AND the main character works at the gym that the heroine from The Best Thing used to own! It’s so fun finding all of these little Easter eggs in her book.

This is, by far, MZ’a SLOWEST burn yet. But – as is the case with all of her books – it just makes every single tiny little moment the two love interests have together that much more electric. I loved seeing this friends-to-lovers, second-chance romance build into something undeniable.

The family relationship in this one was absolutely everything I needed in my life. Her relationship with her siblings reminded me so much of mine that my sister was like, “I’m the sister, aren’t I?” and I was like, “Yes. Yes, you are.”

The only downside to MZ’s book is that we have to wait another year until we get the next one! I’m waiting with bated breath for the audiobook so I can reread it!


The Forbidden Man
The Forbidden Man by Karina Halle

This age-gap forbidden romance quickly became a favorite for me. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about an age-gap where the heroine is older than the hero. I was a little worried that a lot of the internal dialog would revolve too heavily around her insecurities because of her age, but luckily, it was the forbidden aspect that was at the forefront.

She is the physical therapist for his soccer team and they are not allowed to date. She has also just transferred to this new team after her divorce from the head coach of another team which already has caused a lot of uproar in the media, so starting a relationship with a soccer player on the new team would cause an even bigger stir. Especially for a woman working in a male-dominated career. I loved that most of the focus was on that.

I was a little put off at first because the hero was super pushy, but, luckily, the heroine quickly puts him in his place (asking if he’d act that way if she was a man) and he immediately backed off – which caused even more tension.

This was my first Karina Halle and it definitely won’t be the last.

5 of My Favorite MeetCutes in Romance Novels

For me, meetcutes have the ability to make or break a romance novel. It sets the stage for the rest of the book.

Here are five books that have some of my favorite meetcutes:

Jacob (Nightwalkers #1) by Jacqueline Frank

Starting off with a bang here, this book has my favorite meetcute perhaps of all time. This is a paranormal adult romance with beings called Nightwalkers that consist of demons, shifters, vampires, and more. The main beings in this series are demons who have elemental magic and are more like fae then what you would normally consider demons. (No red skin and horns here!)

The heroine, Isabella, is leaning out of her window in a high rise apartment, looking at the moon when she sees a handsome figure walking on the sidewalk below. She thinks that she is free to gawk at him since she is so high up because there is no way he’ll ever notice. Until, suddenly, he does.

Beautiful Liar (Reed Rivers Trilogy #1) by Lauren Rowe

This is a spinoff series to Lauren Rowe’s Morgan Brothers series that I absolutely love. This particular series follows Reed Rivers, an extremely magnetic, successful, powerful head of a record label.

In this meetcute, Reed is being interviewed during a panel session on stage and our heroine is in the audience. As she is watching him, she notices that he keeps making eye contact with her and sending her small smiles and other gestures.

As someone who has unabashedly wished that she would one day be that girl in an audience who the lead singer makes eye contact with, I felt like this meetcute was so swoony.

Lingus by Mariana Zapata

This one isn’t as swoony as the other two, but it’s definitely funny!

This book is a porn star romance that also happens to be one of the best friends-to-lovers I’ve ever read.

In this book, our heroine is attending a porn convention with her porn star friend when the hero catches her and calls her out on picking her wedgie.

It’s so classic Mariana Zapata and such a unique, hilarious introduction.

Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye

This is one of my all time favorite novellas and the entire premise of the story revolves around this epic meetcute.

Our love interests meet in an elevator that gets stuck in the dark. The interesting twist is that they never see each other.

By Your Side by Kasie West

In this YA Contemporary Romance, our two main characters meet when they are both locked in a library for a long weekend.

This is probably my favorite Kasie West novel!

The Slowburn Romance Lover’s Guide to Mariana Zapata

So, you love slow burn romance or you’ve heard about Mariana Zapata, but you don’t know where to start?

I’m here to help.

I’ve read every single Mariana Zapata book she’s written and I adored them all. MZ is probably my favorite contemporary romance author and it’s even better because she’s an indie author as well.

MZ comes out with around one book per year, which is totally understandable considering all of her books are SUPER long. They all are around 500 pages of slow burning goodness.

If I had to pick one book that I would recommend to anyone who likes slow burn romances or wants to start reading Mariana Zapata, I’d probably choose The Wall of Winnipeg and Me.


This was my first Mariana Zapata book and it is still my favorite.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me is for you if you like:

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Marriage of convenience
  • Sports romance (football)
  • Quiet, misunderstood hero


If you think a hero couldn’t get away with sleeping with other girls, I challenge you to read Lingus. It’s a porn star romance done so right.


Lingus is for you if you like:

  • Friends-to-lovers
  • Hilarious meetcute
  • Dogs!
  • Great cringey moments


Next up… one of MZ’s steamier books.


Under Locke is for you if you like:

  • Motorcycle clubs
  • Tattoo artists
  • Bad boys
  • Enemies-to-lovers
  • Workplace romance
  • Brother’s friend


Another super popular MZ book…


Kulti is for you if you like:

  • Sports romance (soccer)
  • Female professional athletes
  • Fame
  • Heroes with accents (German)


This next one was my least favorite, but I still really liked it!


Rhythm, Chord, & Malykhin is for you if you like:

  • Rockstars
  • Forced togetherness
  • Brother’s friend
  • Travel


This book stars the heroine in The Wall of Winnipeg and Me’s best friend.


Wait for It is for you if you like:

  • Neighbors-to-lovers
  • Kids
  • Baseball


The book that I would highly recommend if you loved The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.


From Lukov with Love is for you if you like:

  • Enemies-to-lovers
  • Hilarious banter
  • Animals
  • Misunderstood heroes
  • Sports romance (Figure skating)
  • Forced togetherness
  • Caretaking scenes


One of MZ’s most uniquely written books – the entire first half is written completely in correspondence.


Dear Aaron is for you if you like:

  • Military romance
  • Long-distance relationships
  • Beach reads


MZ’s second to last release…


Luna and the Lie is for you if you like:

  • Workplace romance
  • Grumpy + sunshine couples
  • Brooding heroes


And last, but not least, her most recent release (also my Dad’s favorite!)


The Best Thing is for you if you like:

  • Second chance romance
  • Sports romance (rugby)
  • Strong family dynamics

Favorite Broken/Damaged Heroes

Two years ago I wrote a blog post listing some book recommendations with broken heroes. Since then, I’ve added a few more to the list and I thought I’d share them with you, today!

If you’d like to see them all, you can check out my booktube video here:



Rhen from A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers #1) by Brigid Kemmerer

I talk about how beautifully broken Rhen is all the time. He’s gone through hundreds of years of torture. He’s riddled with guilt and when you meet him, he has lost all hope. He’s almost despondent. He doesn’t see a way out of his horrible circumstances. He’s accepted his fate, but there is still a hint of who he used to be. A hint of the quick-thinking, strategic, calculating, irreverent prince who thought he was untouchable. Imagine going from feeling completely untouchable to utterly defeated.



Jude from Steadfast (True North #2) by Sarina Bowen

When we meet Jude in the first book of this series, we’re a little unsure about him. He’s a recovering addict who seems like he could snap at any moment. He keeps to himself and doesn’t seem fully trustworthy. When we learn more about him in Steadfast, you find out about the awful circumstances that led him to where he is and how heartbroken he is. He’s an inspiring character in how hard he is fighting for his sobriety. His book is a second chance romance.



Miles from Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Miles is passed out drunk in front of our heroine’s front door when we meet him. He’s grumpy and all-around unhappy. You get peeks into his past in snippets – all of which, even when happy, have this dreadful foreboding because you just know something awful is coming. And it does. Miles has a lot to work through in order to make his way to the heroine.



Luka from Infini (Aerial Ethereal) by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Luka is an example of a broken hero who puts up a facade of holding himself together. His romance is a forbidden, second-chance romance, but he’s dealing with a lot of personal issues. He’s a kleptomaniac and bulimic. In the previous book in this series, his kleptomania almost seems like a cute quirk because he’s such a likeable character. Little do you know he’s hurting deeply inside.

Things I Love in Romance Novels

Lately, I’ve found that when I finish a novel that I love – one that has left me breathless and immediately wanting more just like it – I tend to try to pinpoint exactly what it is about that novel that I loved. Was it the trope? If it was how it made me feel – what specifically triggered that feeling?

In doing this, I came up with a list of – for lack of a better word – things I love that happen in romance novels.

I created a video about this topic, but I also thought I’d share that list here on my blog.

I’ve paired each of the topics with a book recommendation or two, however, I do hope to create separate posts and videos for each of these with their own recommendations.

Of course, if you have any recommendations that pop into your mind as you are reading this post, please leave me a comment!


Virgin Hero

I didn’t realize this was something I loved in romance novels until I read Archer’s Voice. There is something about a hero who has some innocence about him, whether it be because he is a recluse like Archer or a tragic past like Zachariah from Keepsake by Sarina Bowen. There is something swoony about watching the couple fall in love and seeing the hero experience epic firsts.




For the longest time, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was in books that ripped my heart out of my chest when I’d read books that had this element in it until I read Truth or Beard by Penny Reid recently and realized that I am so attracted to desperate longing – particularly from the hero. Especially when the hero is like Duane who doesn’t want to rush anything because he has been waiting so long for the heroine. He’s not willing to cross any lines if it means that the long term isn’t an option. 



This element goes hand in hand with the previous one. One of the best parts of forbidden romances is the longing. It’s almost guaranteed. As someone who, before meeting my husband, was extremely fickle, I’d always love the chase more than actually catching. When something is forbidden, it’s that much more attractive and in romance novels, when that HEA finally happens, it’s so, so satisfying. (Or it should be!)



I actually had trouble thinking of a book that did this really well, so please give me recommendations. I think a couple of the most recent books I read that did this really well were The Best Thing by Mariana Zapata and The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams. For me, I much prefer the hero do all the groveling as opposed to the heroine. And, of course, whatever it is that he did to require groveling better not be too unforgivable, but also not something that should be easily forgiven. There absolutely has to be a good balance.


Epic romance

I’ve only found EPIC romances in fantasy and paranormal stories, I think because it is those magical/paranormal elements that come into play and take the romance to another level. It’s not just love, it’s absolute fate. The type of romance that is truly once in a lifetime, one in a million. The ultimate will always be A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas, but The Caraval series also has a pretty epic romance as well.



All the Swoon 

Many of the things on this list can cause lots of swooning, but nothing quite had me swooning as much as Leo Loves Ares by Anyta Sunday. Swoon can be found in super sweet, simple moments like those found in Leo Loves Ares. Of course, in order for this to happen, you have to adore the couple and the romance has to be incredible to begin with. If a romance is good enough, almost any interaction between the characters is swoony.


Cringey moments

I am so here for the moments in romance novels that make me cover my face and fake cry with humiliation for the character. I live for the moments in which the main characters make fools of themselves in front of their love interests. This happens in epic proportions in Wrong and Fling by Jana Aston and The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.




This, much like swooning, is basically guarantee if the romance novel is good enough. There are so many moments – some of them so seemingly small – that can send butterflies swirling like crazy. Honestly, everything on this list elicits butterflies. This is the #1 thing I hope for in romance novels when I read them. An example of a small moment that sent a million butterflies swirling was in The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata when Aiden is massaging Vanessa’s leg after one of her long marathon training runs. It is the build-up to this moment that made the butterflies go crazy, and if it wasn’t built up right, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but this moment was so huge in the slow burn of the entire book.




I love it when romance novels manage to break through predictability (which isn’t always a bad thing, btw!) and make you truly wonder how the hell the couple is going to ever end up together. This happened so many times in My Darling Duke by Stacy Reid. So many times in romance when there is something that is keeping the couple apart, the solution seems so simple, so I really appreciate it when a romance novel can keep you on your toes and truly make you worry that things won’t work out – even though we all know it wouldn’t be a romance novel without a Happily Ever After or Happy For Now.




I love this the most when the love interest is wonderstruck by the main character. Those moments when they just can’t believe how lucky they are. That it is really or finally happening to them. This often happens in tandem with longing – like when a hero has been pining after the heroine.



Slow Burn 

This, like forbidden romance, is probably one of the most popular on this list. I mean, obviously, my go to for a guaranteed amazing slow burn is Mariana Zapata. She is the queen. Slow burns pave the way for such an incredible pay off in the end. You are taken on a journey with these romances. And, best of all, you are given the opportunity to slowly fall in love right alongside the main character.




Of course, I adore this in the romance, but I also love loyalty from side characters as well. But, since we are talking romance specifically, I absolutely adore when the characters are loyal even when there are big obstacles between them, even when they are angry or betrayed, they still will be there when they are needed. I’m looking at you, John Ambrose McClaren from PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han.



Healthy relationships

I get the draw of dark romances, I really do. I even sometimes can understand the draw of the bullying trope… sometimes. But, man, do I appreciate an incredibly healthy relationship. One where the characters communicate beautifully, they support each other, they motivate one another, and, yes, they are loyal. I know, it’s hard to create conflict when the couple’s relationship is healthy, but I promise it can be done. Check out Misadventures of a College Girl by Lauren Rowe for proof.




I know, the obsessive hero has been done incredibly poorly many times and, yes, it can easily be creepy – especially if you imagine someone acting that way toward you, but in a romance novel? Give me a well-written romance that has a hero that holds such deep reverence for the heroine like in With Visions of Red by Trisha Wolfe. I mean, Colton calls Sadie a “goddess,” and goddammit, she is. That’s probably the most important part of this working in novels – the heroine or whoever is the object of this feeling needs to be damn deserving. I better be obsessed with them, too.




This is very similar to Impossibility, however, it’s less… umm… impossible and more that you’re just not sure how things will work out, no necessarily IF they will work out. You don’t feel like the ground is solid beneath your feet as your reading. Everything seems like it could fall apart at any moment because things are so precarious. I’m thinking of an upcoming release, That’s Not a Thing by Jacqueline Freidland. The entire time I was anticipating everything falling apart and it kept me on the edge of my seat wondering WTF was going to happen. 




This is one that I feel like I didn’t realize I appreciated so much until I read about it in The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and Marriage for One by Ella Maise. When you get to see the vulnerability of one character alongside the love interest stepping up (or vice versa), it strengthens the relationship and your belief in it significantly.



Epic Banter

This is particularly great in romcoms. I mean, you can’t really have a great romcom without it, but honestly, it can be pulled off in any genre that has romance. Particularly if the romance is a hate-to-love. If it is a romcom and done well, it’ll have you laughing out loud (hey, Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren, I’m looking at you). If it is in any other genre, it can make you grin from ear-to-ear. 



Undeniable Chemistry 

Chemistry is a must in any romance. Period. Without it, it just doesn’t work. There is no buy-in, no rooting for the characters if you don’t feel like they need to be together. This is what separates bland, meh, romances from the ALL THE STARS IN THE UNIVERSE romance novels. But when a romance can throw in burning chemistry from the second the characters meet? All the yes. And I’m not talking about having the characters just constantly thinking that the love interest is SO HOT (in fact that annoys the crap out of me – stop. I get it. They’re attractive. Please move on.) I don’t want to be told about the chemistry. Show me. With conversation, with body language. I feel like Lauren Rowe does this so well in all of her books. She throws so much chemistry into her romance novels, she’s like a damn scientist. 




Much like longing, the buildup and tension between two characters makes endings so much more satisfying. The Hating Game and Birthday Girl has some of the best tension.


Favorite Anti-Alpha Heroes

I’m going to be honest. I got a little burned out on the alpha hero a few years ago when it started to get really popular.

I found, especially within the last year or so, that I’ve been more drawn to heroes who are not at all alpha. Not necessarily weak, but certainly not dominating or demanding or high-handed.

Here are some of my favorite anti-alpha heroes


Mack – Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

47934705._sy475_Mack is charming, charismatic, funny, successful, and an all-around good guy. But beyond that, he’s a feminist and he loves romance novels. So much that he started The Bromance Book Club – a book club that consists of some high-powered men (professional athletes, successful businessmen) who read romance novels to learn how to treat women.

Though Mack has a touch of irreverence about him, he isn’t without heartache. He has a troubling past and found himself escaping into romance novels as he grew up. This shaped who he is to this day.

And though he has helped countless friends with their relationships, he struggles a bit with his romantic life. He knows all the do’s and don’ts of relationships… at least he think he does… but what he doesn’t know is when it’s real.

That is… until he finally does fall. And when someone like Mack falls in love, it’s bound to be epic.


Archer – Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

20639274Archer was a perfect mixture of that innocence and masculinity that had me absolutely swooning. When he’s finally given the chance to love someone, he does it with all of his might.


Jonah – The Best Thing by Mariana Zapata


Though Jonah is incredibly imposing physically, he is shy and thoughtful and loyal and sweet.


Seth – Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

Seth is an artistic, soft-spoken, but witty and smart author who is the perfect balance to the heroine’s charismatic and charming outgoing personality.


Eli – Behind the Bars by Brittainy C Cherry

Eli isn’t just uber-sweet, caring, thoughtful, and respectful, he’s also full of passion for his music. I’ve met a handful of people in my life who have that extra something when it comes to talent. They don’t just play an instrument, they bring it to life. That’s Eli.


Theo – Leo Loves Aries by Anyta Sunday

I fell in love with Theo pretty much immediately. He is one of those irreverent, hilarious heroes that warm my soul and make me laugh all at once. Paired with a love interest who is a bit more uptight, yet appreciates his charm – it’s the formula for the perfect romance for me.

I freaking adored Theo’s relationship with his mom and sister. Despite how he comes off as somewhat careless, he actually cares very deeply for the people he loves. He loves fiercely and I adored him for it.

Keane – Ball Peen Hammer by Lauren Rowe

I think one of the most impressive things about this book is how well developed Keane’s character is despite his somewhat flighty personality. I believe Maddy calls him, “Daffy Duck trapped inside Prince Charming’s body,” yet he is so much more than that.

I think Keane’s character could easily have been completely shallow given he’s both ridiculously goofy and good-looking, but instead of leaving his character at that, LR throws in a bit of unexpected depth.

I’ve known several people like Keane who are what I like to call extroverted introverts — those who can be extremely captivating and outgoing and social, yet need a lot of time to recuperate and recharge after social interactions. And oftentimes those people end up dropping off the face of the earth for a little while before resurfacing again, just like Keane does. I love how that all ties into the initial miscommunication between Keane and Maddy – his tendency to ignore his phone because that’s his way of tapping out and recharging.


Jonah – Full Tilt by Emma Scott

Jonah is a sweet, heartwarming, reluctant love interest with a heart condition that loves fiercely. Even though he is the one with the medical issues, he is very much a caretaker and a quiet fighter.


Zachariah – Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

Zachariah is so, so sweet and innocent. He’s hardworking and talented but lacks confidence and a little ashamed of his lack of education. He’s still a rebel in his own way. He’s thoughtful and kind and full of wonder.


John Ambrose – PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han

The. Perfect. Book. Boyfriend.
He’s self-aware and has a confidence that he worked hard for. He’s the underdog we are all rooting for. He’s incredibly thoughtful and pays attention to the little things.


Ben – Blurred Lines by Lauren Layne

Ben, in particular, was such an attractive character… and I don’t just mean physically. He was such a refreshing character. He was confident and slept around, but he wasn’t a conceited jerk. At all. (To be honest, I’ve been so sick of the cocky manwhore character in contemporary romance novels, lately.)


A Few Favorite Backlist Romance Novels for #Backlistreadathon20

I read more backlist titles than recent releases, to be completely honest. Unless it is by an author a love or a book that has gotten to me with the hype – I rarely read new releases. So, it was pretty easy to pick 10 backlist books that I loved.

I purposely chose a few that are what I would consider “classic” adult romance novels – books that, as a romance reader, you’ve probably had on your TBR forever or have at least heard of them – and I’m here to tell you that now is the perfect time to finally getting around to reading them! Some of these books are my favorites that I feel don’t get enough love.

I also focused on choosing books published BEFORE 2014.

These are all adult romance novels that vary from paranormal to contemporary.

Anyway, today is the first day of the Backlist Readathon, so if you’re looking for a backlist title to read, I highly recommend these:

Backlist Adult Romance Novel Recommendations

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (2005)
Although this is a beast of a book, this is a must-read for romance lovers. The romance in this one is as epic as the story and the TV show is one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen.
Goodreads | How I Met My Book

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1) by JR Ward (2005)
If you somehow haven’t heard of this series, I’d be very surprised. Granted, I did not finish the series as there are about 8 million books in it, and I could only handle the way these characters speak for the first 10 or so books, I absolutely ADORED the first three books. If nothing else, read those!
Goodreads | How I Met My Book

Shifters series by Rachel Vincent (2007)
This entire series does not get enough love! My sisters and I were so obsessed with these books and we’ve all re-read them about 100 times. If you love Rose from Vampire Academy, you will love Faythe. Her character is very similar, but this is a New Adult paranormal romance, so there are steamier scenes. Faythe goes through a similiar, satisfying character growth as Rose and the love triangle is on point.
Goodreads | Review

Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid series) by Richelle Mead (2007)
Speaking of Vampire Academy, aside from that series, this is my favorite series by Richelle Mead. It’s a super steamy, super hilarious paranormal adult romance that follows a Succubus that hates her job. And it’s definitely a job, all of the paranormal creatures are like characters in a workplace comedy. It’s amazing.

Sunday’s at Tiffany’s by James Patterson (2008)
This is an oldie, but goodie and such a unique love story between a woman and her imaginary friend when she was a child. Oh, and it was also made into a Hallmark movie that is cheesy AF, but I love it.

Kiss of Fire (Dragonfire series) by Deborah Cooke (2008)
For those of us who had Black Dagger Brotherhood hangovers, but couldn’t stand to read on in that series because if they heard, “What’s doin'” one more time, they’d break… I present you with dragon shapeshifters.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (2011)
I highly recommend the audiobook for this one, I’ve heard it can be daunting to read (and I had a similar experience), but the audiobook is SO good. It is read by my favorite audiobook narrator, Jennifer Ikeda. Her accents are on point. This is another one that was made into a really good TV show!

Rule (Marked Men #1) by Jay Crownover (2012)
Jay Crownover has been writing a lot of cowboy romances lately and it seems weird to me, because this is my favorite series by her. It’s a contemporary new adult romance series that follows characters that work in a tattoo parlor. I adore this series and all of the characters, but this first book is my favorite in the series.

Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren (2014)
This author duo is very popular, but although this is my favorite book that they’ve ever written, it’s not one of their more popular titles – and I’m not sure why! It’s definitely much more steamy than most of their books, but the romance is SO swoony!
Goodreads | Review

Favorite Bookish Blog Posts From February

Happy Leap Year, book lovers!

As always, when I do these posts, I may have missed some really great posts simply because I didn’t check my feed every day.

If you have a blog post of yours that you are particularly proud of from February, and it isn’t linked here, please feel free to link it in the comments!

Here are my favorite posts from February

Novels and Notions shared their favorite enemies to lovers romances – I LOVE blog posts like this!

Bookmark Your Thoughts shared 6 books to read for Black History Month.

Can I request that everyone write a blog post like Pages Unbound’s 5 Things my Favorite Book Bloggers Do?

I so appreciated Lili’s Blissful Pages’ post listing 5 unforgettable mental illness reps in books.

I loved this Valentine’s Day-themed post from Novels and Notions: 20 Pink and Red Books You Need to Read.

I loved this post from Confessions of a YA Reader, sharing theirmost anticipated Middle Grade books.

Can we get a big AMEN to Chelle’s Book Ramblings post that takes down misconceptions about romance?!

My dear, lovely friend over at Romance Book Binge has joined the BookTube family!

What an awesome idea this post from Drizzle and Hurricane Books pairing favorite tropes with YA books is!

Yay for Romance Week over at CJR The Brit.

I added so many books from Jill’s Book Blog’s Top Ten Tuesday post to my wishlist!

I love love love favorite couples lists like this one from My World of Books.

Bookiverse shared some perfect Wintry reads.

Give me allll the swoon-worthy Romances lists, particularly those from The Book Dutchesses!

Another great list of Black History Month book recs from Nine Tail Vixen.

Pages Unbound talks about whether book bloggers influence book sales.

I was LIVING for Whit Reads Lit’s adventure in reading the A Court of Thorns and Roses series for the first time!

I did a slow clap for Bound to Writing’s post on how not to ask for reviews.

My heart went out to Forever and Everly’s post recommending books to read when you’re sad.

After all the controversy around American Dirt, I appreciated Inkish Kingdom’s recs for similar books that aren’t problematic.


What were some of your favorite posts this month?




Some of My Favorite Adult Romance Authors (& My Favorite Books By Them)

If you’re interested in watching my BookTube video instead, you can check that out here:

In choosing my favorite romance authors, I decided to stick to those whose books I read MOST of and who write PRIMARILY romance.

Also, I included some honorable mentions because I’m extra. I’ve accepted this.

Mariana Zapata

I mean… obviously. These authors are not ranked, but let’s be real. Mariana Zapata is my favorite romance author. I’ve read every single book she’s ever written, I immediately purchase and read every book she comes out with the second they are released, I own almost all of her books in every single available format.

Also – she’s my dad’s favorite author of all time. Everyone in my family loves her books, except my brother, but he doesn’t count. My dad, my mom, my two sisters and I all adore her.

| The Wall of Winnipeg and Me
| Dear Aaron
| From Lukov with Love


Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover very rarely lets me down. Even when I don’t adore her books, I still really love them. She always has some element in her books that sets them apart from other romance novels.

Also, she writes some of the most lovable characters. (I’m looking at you, Atlas and Ridge.)

| It Ends with Us
| Maybe Someday
| November 9
| Ugly Love


Sierra Simone

Sierra writes some of the most steamy, taboo book, but damn, she’s an amazing writer. There is something to be said about an author who can take a super taboo topic and make it beautiful – Sierra does this amazingly.

| Priest
| New Camelot series
| A Lesson in Thorns


Lauren Rowe

Reading Lauren Rowe books is so comforting. I think because I know what I’m going to get: amazing banter, charming humor, and epic chemistry.

| Misadventures of a College Girl
| Ball Peen Hammer


Mia Sheridan

I’m slowly, but surely making my way through Mia Sheridan’s backlist, but I feel I’ve read enough of her books to determine that she’s a favorite. Though none of her other books have quite lived up to Archer’s Voice, they’ve all come pretty damn close.

| Archer’s Voice
| Savaged
| The Wish Collector


Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren writes such diverse books. Anything from YA to Women’s Fiction to Contemporary Romance – and they’ve done all genres justice.

Granted, I haven’t loved absolutely everything they’ve written, but quite a few of their books make it to many of my favorites lists.

| Sweet Filthy Boy
| The Unhoneymooners
| Autoboyography


Helena Hunting

Helena is an autobuy author for good reason. She wrote one of my favorite series (Pucked) and also many of her other books are favorites as well.

| Pucked series
| Hooking Up


Helen Hoang

Granted, she’s only written two books, but I’ve adored both SO much and I have a feeling I will love all the books she will write in the future.

| The Bride Test
| The Kiss Quotient


Jana Aston

Jana Aston has written a few of my favorite RomComs of all time and she is the queen of CRINGY moments!

| The Wrong Series
| Sure Thing


Honorable Mentions
| Katherine Center – she technically write Women’s Fiction and I haven’t read enough of her books to determine.

| Trisha Wolfe – I LOVE her dark romance novels, but she writes a lot of thrillers, too. Also, I need to read more of her books.

| Talia Hibbert – I’ve only read a couple of her books so far, but I’ve loved what I’ve read! Once I read more I’m sure she’ll make this list.

| Lauren Blakely – I love reading Lauren’s books, but none of them have been all-time favorites. I’ve always just liked them.

| Sally Thorne – She’s only written two books: one is an all time favorite, the other was just ok.

| Kandi Steiner – I’ve loved what I’ve read so far, but I have only read two of her books. I need to read more!

| Laura Kaye – I adore her Hearts in Darkness Duet, but that’s all I’ve read so far.

| Penny Reid – I really, really like her Neanderthal Seeks Human series, but it’s the only series I’ve read of hers.

| Sarina Bowen – She is slowly but surely becoming a favorite author, I just need to read more of her books

| Brittainy C. Cherry – There is no doubt in my mind that she will make this list very soon. I’ve loved all the books I’ve read of hers so far, but I’ve not read enough just yet!

Favorite Book Girlfriends

A while ago, I wrote a post all about my favorite book boyfriends and I recently revamped that post for my booktube channel.

I decided that it only made sense to do a Favorite Book Girlfriends post as well, because goodness knows there are plenty of amazing female characters that I have fallen in love with over the years.

If you’d like to watch me chat about them, check out my booktube video:

Otherwise, stick around!

Zuzanna – Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor


WHY I LOVE HER: Zuzanna is fiercely loyal to Karou – the main character in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, despite not having the same supernatural gifts that Karou has, Zuzanna stands by her side and helps her in any way that she can – while also being the comic relief and solid reality when Karou needs it most. I fell more in love with Zuzanna after reading her romance spin-off Night of Cake and Puppets.


Tella – Caraval – Stephanie Garber


WHY I LOVE HER: Tella is perhaps the one main character I related to most out of all the books that I’ve read. I agreed with all of her decisions, good and bad. I liked how, though she was mistaken for as reckless, most of what she did and the choices she made was out of love for her sister. I love that she is unabashedly feminine while still being badass. She’s strong and fierce, without being prickly.


Sadie – With Visions of Red – Trisha Wolfe


WHY I LOVE HER: Sadie is perhaps the most mysterious of all the female characters on this list – and in that mystery there is a magnetism. I’m just as obsessed with her as Colton is. She’s extremely dark, extremely smart, and scary as hell. She’s beautiful, but doesn’t feel compelled to draw attention to herself, though she can’t really help it.


Harper – A Curse So Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer


WHY I LOVE HER: Harper is one of the strongest characters on this list. Her ability to draw loyal followers and take hit after hit, but still stand tall is unmatched. She isn’t defined by her disability and she doesn’t see it as a problem that needs to be solved. Her kindness and loyalty to those she feels are in the right, and particularly to those she loves, is such a draw.


Georgina – Georgina Kincaid Series – Richelle Mead


WHY I LOVE HER: If I could be most like one character on this list, it would be Georgina. She is the brightest ray of sunshine and pure magnetism that absolutely draws people in and warms anyone within her radius. Yes, her supernatural abilities as a succubus does give her an advantage, but a lot of it is inherent. She’s also hilarious and the fact that she is reluctant about her “job.”


London – Darkly Madly Duet – Trisha Wolfe


WHY I LOVE HER: London is another extremely dark, manipulative, brilliant character. She’s a criminal psychologist who falls in love with her serial killer patient. She’s extremely poised and professional on the outside, and very dark on the inside.


Flora – Her Royal Highness (Royals #2) – Rachel Hawkins


WHY I LOVE HER: Flora might be the most swoony character on this list. I didn’t think I would like her in the beginning of this hate-to-love story. She came off as the spoiled, mean-for-no-reason literal princess, but it isn’t long before you realize there is so much more to her than that. And she’s actually so thoughtful, loyal, and sweet.


Greer – American Queen – Sierra Simone


WHY I LOVE HER: Greer is extremely submissive, but within that submission is power. She can work a room full of the most powerful men and women and stand her own ground with grace and poise. She can navigate intricate political relationships with ease because she’s done it her entire life.


Freyja – Slightly Scandalous – Mary Balough

Slightly Scandalous

WHY I LOVE HER: Freyja stuck with me the most out of all the characters on this list. She is not beautiful in the traditional sense – and with that knowledge and acceptance there is a certain power and freedom that Freyja has that most beautiful people don’t. She is not concerned with how she looks. She doesn’t envy others for how they look, she puts no value in it. She also is not bogged down with the worry of looking perfect all the time or the expectation to be beautiful forever. She is comfortable in her own skin – and strong in her body and mind.