Island Time by Georgia Clark // Book Review

Island Time by Georgia Clark // Book Review

I’m always excited to read what Georgia Clark has to offer. Her books have always been interesting with a blend of fun, engaging story and serious conversations. You get a little bit of both worlds with Georgia Clark’s books and I’m excited to say that Island Time is no exception. Thanks to Atria Books for the gifted read.

Here’s more about Island Time

Love is in the salty sea air in this smart and steamy ensemble romantic comedy set in a tropical paradise, from the author of the “sparkly and entertaining” (Oprah Daily) It Had to Be You. This is one island you won’t want to be rescued from.

The Kellys are messy, loud, loving Australians. The Lees are sophisticated, aloof, buttoned-up Americans. They have nothing in common…except for the fact that their daughters are married. When a nearby volcano erupts during their short vacation to a remote tropical island off the coast of Queensland, the two families find themselves stranded together for six weeks.

With only two island employees making up the rest of their party, everyone is forced to question what—or who—they really want. Island Time is a sumptuous summer read that dives deep into queer romance, family secrets, ambition, parenthood, and a bird-chasing bromance. This sexy, sun-soaked paradise of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush rainforest will show you it’s never too late to change your destiny.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


My thoughts

I went into this book thinking it would be a departure from Georgia Clark’s normal repartee of stories. It’s supposed to be a rom-com about two families who are literally stranded on an island together. The Lees and the Kellys were two imperfect families come together through their daughters’ marriage and hoping to celebrate the next phase of their life. But it was obvious after the freak tsunami/earthquake/volcano eruption that there was much more going on beneath the surface of both of these families.

The driving force of this novel were its characters and there were a ton of them. Not only did you have Matty and Parker making their final decisions on moving to Sydney from New York, but you also had Matty’s younger sister, Amelia, and her parents, Glen and Jules. Then you had Parker’s mother and father, Ludmila and Randall, who also had their fair share of secrets and character development to run into throughout the story. Plus, the island’s caretaker, Liss, who wanted to escape her life (and her ex, Sofia) in Montreal and Jarrah, a local man who loved to immerse himself in the Aboriginal culture and world that he was born into. Yep, it’s a lot of folks and I think the only person who really didn’t have any change or development was Randall, Parker’s father.

Everyone else, well, they had their own thing going on. From both Matty and Parker’s careers on the brink of a huge change to their decision to have a child to Jules and Glen’s separation they haven’t told their daughters. Then there was Ludmila who’s change I personally didn’t see coming and was pleasantly surprised by. And Glen trying to find himself while Jules trying to get laid by Jarrah. And then Amelia and her recent run-in with Liss. There was a lot of ground to cover, which definitely added to the bulk of this novel.

On top of what’s happening in everyone’s lives, there was also a deep examination on Australian nature and ecosystem. I loved this part because I know little to nothing about Australia and learning more about the culture (both naturally and the history of the Aboriginals) through a digestible package like a contemporary story made me want to visit. I don’t want to encounter any spiders the size of a dinner plate, but the way the author incorporated the pieces of her homeland into the story made it feel like such a love letter.

I think one of the benefits of Georgia Clark’s writing is that she covers everything. She will get into making the decision to have a baby with every single emotion and thought that goes into it. She will tell you the background of how Aboriginals were cast out by the English settlers. She will go through every nuanced emotion a young person may feel when they’re falling in love. She does not quit. But I felt like in this particular book, there was just too much. With each character having a unique experience and development to the island itself, there was a lot of information to juggle and a lot of loose ends that needed to be tied up. I think Georgia does a great job pacing herself to wrangle all of these bits of information together, but I also feel like if she stuck to a few topics rather than each character having some sort of identity crisis then it wouldn’t have felt like an undertaking of a story to complete.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the heck out of this novel. I loved the characters (especially Glen for some random reason), I loved rooting for them and following them through this very strange season of life, and I loved how they all made the best of their time stuck on a stranded island together. If you’re a fan of literary fiction with a slow burn, then I highly recommend this book to you.

Overall, this is the beach read for those who don’t like beach reads. The romance is very light with a couple of open-door scenes, but the main focus was this family, their identities, and who they will become after they get off this silly island.

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater // Book Review

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater // Book Review

What do you get when you combine a historical romance with a little bit of magic? You get this really enchanting first book in the Regency Fairy Tales series and fans of Bridgertons and fantasy will really get a kick out of this one. Thanks to Orbit Books for a gifted copy.

Here’s more about Half a Soul

It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady with only half a soul.

Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment – a condition which makes her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season – but when the strange, handsome and utterly uncouth Lord Sorcier discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous and peculiar faerie affairs.

If Dora’s reputation can survive both her curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all of high society, then she may yet reclaim her normal place in the world. . . but the longer Dora spends with Elias Wilder, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love, even with only half a soul.

Bridgerton meets Howl’s Moving Castle in this enchanting historical fantasy, where the only thing more meddlesome than faeries is a marriage-minded mother.

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My thoughts

This was such a fun little fairy tale with a little bit of historical romance thrown into it as well. I was immediately swept away by the idea of a young girl having half of her soul removed by a faerie she meets one day. With one grey eye and a lot of her emotions pulled from her, Dora spends most of her life trying not to make the rest of her family look silly in front of the ton. But her and her cousin, Vanessa, are now at the marrying age and she must find a husband.

However, Vanessa has other plans and she wants to help Dora break her curse and retrieve the other half of her soul. So, they plan to go to London and meet the Lord Sorcier (the king’s magician), Elias in hopes that his magic will be powerful enough to break the faerie curse. Elias turns out to be the grumpiest grump who’s more focused on helping those in need than going to balls and finding a wife. I mean, he says it a few times throughout the book so it’s pretty obvious. But of course, Dora and Elias are the main couple of the story. I really loved Dora and Elias. Their relationship starts off rocky, but as the story progresses , well, you can imagine the rest. II will note, for those romance fans, that this doesn’t have any steam. I want to make sure that’s out there.

I’m not a huge fan of historical romances. In general, I need a bit more plot and some more themes throughout the romance to really keep me excited about it. This book has that Regency period romance, but what I loved the most about it was that it took the perspective from outside the ton. I’m not an authority on the subject, but I’ve never read a historical romance novel that looks at how the over half lives; the people who aren’t involved in the ton, who are trying to make it every day with whatever they can make, and the poor treatment of these people by people like the ton. The book explores not only the obvious tropes of a Regency drama, but it also shows the workhouses of the period. Dora and much of the cast of characters outside her own family actually use their wealth to help the needy. It was probably my favorite part of the entire book!

While they’re at the workhouse, they come across a little girl who is sleeping but can’t wake up. It turns out that she’s plagued by something that causes her to sleep without ever waking up and that becomes the main goal for Elias and Dora to figure out. I will say, this part gets a bit dull. It’s great that they are looking for a cure for this plague, but the constant reading books and studying made the story stop short without anything to continue to move it forward.

However, I did love the final part of the book and the conclusion to both Dora’s curse and the sleeping plague. I did think that it moved quickly suddenly especially with the slowness of the middle, but the ending was thrilling, the look into the faerie world was delightful, and I loved how it resolves itself.

Overall, this was a fun little book and I enjoyed it immensely. Coming off of reading Howl’s Moving Castle, I wanted it to be as whimsical as that story, but I still felt enchanted.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston // Book Review

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston // Book Review

Shara freaking Wheeler. This is my third Casey McQuiston and I’m so excited to read their first foray into YA fiction. And let me tell you, it’s so good! Thanks to Wednesday Books for a gifted copy.

Here’s more about I Kissed Shara Wheeler

Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.

But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.

On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.

Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.

Fierce, funny, and frank, Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler is about breaking the rules, getting messy, and finding love in unexpected places.

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My thoughts

I picked up this book because I was desperately in need of something different to read than the heavy fantasy books I was reading. I’m so glad I did what I did because this was such a wonderful story with an exploration in identity, persona, and really finding and being your authentic self.

Chloe Green is one of the top students in school. She’s been head-to-head with her biggest school rival, popular and pretty Shara Wheeler. But one day Shara kisses Chloe in an elevator and then disappears a few days later. In hopes of finding out what happened to her, Chloe sneaks into Shara’s bedroom only to meet Rory, another person Shara kissed. From there, they find the first note in a series of letters that lead them to Shara’s whereabouts.

I loved the level of mystery this book had. Shara wasn’t kidnapped. Nothing terrible happened to her. She ran away and created a puzzle for Chloe, Rory, and her ex-boyfriend, Smith, to uncover. With each letter they find, they learn a little bit more about where Shara may be as well as a little bit about Shara.

The story itself was super lighthearted with some serious conversations throughout. I knew that there would be big laughs and joking moments, but I also really appreciated the honest parts discussing gender identity, sexual identity, and just truly finding out who you are.

Another part that I truly appreciated was the consistency in the story. I always read YA stories where the characters are in school, but they never go to class. I loved that Chloe was still going to class everyday, showing up for final exams, and that part of their world was incorporated into the bigger story. It felt genuine for the kids to juggle their real lives with the mystery behind Shara.

This is definitely one of those propulsive books that make you keep reading. You want to find out what happened to Shara. You’re on this big scavenger hunt with Chloe, Smith, and Rory. You want to see what the next letter says and learning more about the kids (as well as the adults) in this book makes it feel more realistic. Although, I will admit there were some parts that really require you to suspend your disbelief, but it still made you laugh.

There’s a lot of play on persona in this novel and I commend Casey McQuiston for diving deep into Jungian psychology throughout the book. I think the only person in this book who didn’t have a persona was Chloe, who came to the school much later than the rest of the main characters in the story. Shara Wheeler was most definitely a study in persona and even Chloe was fooled by the multiple masks she wore. I won’t go any further into it because it might spoil the story, but once you think you’ve figured Shara Wheeler out, a new little twist appears revealing deeper layers behind her.

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez // Book Review

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez // Book Review

I don’t know about you, but I’ve read pretty much everything Abby Jimenez has written to date. And I have to say, I really loved this one. It’s probably now my new favorite from her and I can’t wait to read the rest. Thanks to Read Forever for the gifted book.

Here’s more about Part of Your World

After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?

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My thoughts

This is quite possibly my favorite Abby Jimenez book to date. The Friend Zone and the others were great, but this one hit differently and I welcome it very much.

The story hits the ground running as our protagonists, Alexis and Daniel, meet when Alexis’s car is stuck in a ditch and Daniel happened to be around and help. From there, Alexis goes to the local watering hole only to see Daniel there again. Daniel’s friends have a bet going to see who can pick up the girl at the bar. Alexis and Daniel discuss the bet and Alexis decides to help him win it by walking out with him. From there, these two start their romance with some major exceptions.

Alexis Montgomery comes from a very long line of doctors who’ve worked in this one hospital for decades. They’re the rich, legacy family who only breeds to make more Montgomerys and continue their line of work. After her brother ran off with a pop star and moved to Cambodia, Alexis is now the new face of the Montgomery family. And while Alexis is an excellent doctor, she’s been thrust into this role against her will. Her parents are overbearing believers of “we know best” forcing her to stay in an abusive relationship because the guy has the reputation deserving of their respect as chief of surgery.

Daniel Grant is quite the opposite. He’s also from a legacy family, but his legacy is much smaller being the mayor of a super small town in rural Minnesota. He also runs the local B&B, makes furniture from reclaimed wood, and honestly cares for the townspeople and his guests. And while he is a legacy, no one in his family is forcing him to do anything. He wants to continue what he’s doing because there’s no one else around to do it.

And their relationship together is beautiful. It’s the kind of relationship you want; where your partner is supportive and caring and doesn’t get bogged down by petty things like wealth or status. However, with Alexis’s family breathing down her neck to make something of her career and marry the man her father approves, she doesn’t see the relationship lasting in the long run.

I also really loved the conflict in this story. There are some romances I read where the conflict just feels so not real. However, being from two different worlds where you’re not sure if it’ll mesh well but doing it anyway felt real to me. Rich girl, poor boy dynamic? Yeah, pretty much but not in a condescending way. It was obvious at the beginning that Alexis was a bit of a snob, but as the story unfolds and she learns more from Daniel, she really takes on some serious character growth. It really made me proud for her. And the opposite can be said about Daniel as he learns to step out of his comfort zone, take charge, and live the dream life he’s always wanted.

One of the major themes in this book (as Abby Jimenez always has a bigger theme around her novels) is physical, mental, and emotional domestic abuse. You see it in many ways and it resonated deeply with me. Being emotionally abused to believe that love is earned and conditional really takes a toll on your brain and seeing a main character who exhibits the same behaviors I did when I was younger truly made me feel seen. It’s not something that just goes away overnight, but permeates into everything you do and the relationships you hold in the future. I’m still learning from it. But it was really nice to see and feel seen because of it. I wish it wasn’t that particular part of my life that I resonated with, but I appreciate its existence regardless.

I truly loved the characters in this book. Not only were Alexis and Daniel interesting characters to read and see what happens to them, but their friends and relatives also felt extremely well developed. I know this book is only the first in a new series for Abby Jimenez, so I know that the next few books will be based around the secondary characters from this book. And I can’t wait! Bri, Alexis’s best friend, was definitely the kind of person you want to root for, and Doug, Daniel’s best friend, was another.

The story was also laugh out loud funny. I found myself giggling more than one time throughout the book (especially during the dick pic photo shoot scene). It felt like I knew these people when in reality they were just pure fiction. And the prose were really beautiful. I found myself bookmarking more than one really great quote about love.

Overall, this was such a great read and a romance where I felt like the ending wouldn’t be an HEA. I was on the edge of my seat to see how it all ends and while I’m not a huge fan of the epilogue, the rest was definitely worth the read.

How did I not get on Lore Olympus before today?

How did I not get on Lore Olympus before today?

I recently received a gifted copy of Lore Olympus from the publisher. I was excited about this one because I’ve been wanting to get more into graphic novels and why not restart that with something that modernizes Greek mythology. But omg, I didn’t actually realize that this story would be so good. And now I’m asking myself why I didn’t pick this up on Webtoons before today?

Here’s more about Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

Experience the propulsive love story of two Greek gods—Hades and Persephone—brought to life with lavish artwork and an irresistible contemporary voice.

Scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love—witness what the gods do after dark in this stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of mythology’s most well-known stories from creator Rachel Smythe. Featuring a brand-new, exclusive short story, Smythe’s original Eisner-nominated web-comic Lore Olympus brings the Greek Pantheon into the modern age with this sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.

This volume collects episodes 1-25 of the #1 WEBTOON comic, Lore Olympus.

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My thoughts

Ok, I’m going to keep this brief because I was really in love with the first volume of Lore Olympus enough that I went online and read the rest of the series on Webtoons. Yep, if you needed a mythological romance between the most notorious couples of the Underworld, then this is the one for you.

It centers around the love of Hades and Persephone and they’re probably my favorite couple from all of myths. When I heard that this story was based on that, I was so ready for it. However, I didn’t think it would be a modern take on this mythology. I loved the modernization (which is only within Olympus. The real world is still living in the BCE area) and it lends itself so well to the wild lives these gods and goddesses live. I wonder if that says a lot about modern society, but let’s not get into that.

On top of being the story between Hades and Persephone, there’s also additional stories from all the other Greek gods, which makes it more exciting. The issues these gods face are so closely related to the ones we have in real life that you won’t have any problems with relating to the story.

And the romance. OMG, I think this might be the first time I’m reading a romantic graphic novel as most of the ones I read are filled with murder and revenge, so it’s a wonderful departure from those gorey stories and reading about the modern romantic problems set with Greek gods just works. You’ll want to keep reading just to see if Persephone and Hades get together in the end (spoiler alert: they do).

So if you’re a fan of Greek mythology and all the retellings coming out nowadays, I would highly recommend this one. Start with the webtoon, fall in love, and then pick up a copy of the volumes for your bookshelf. I know I’ll definitely get the rest for mine.

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske // Book Review

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske // Book Review

I love a genre-bending story that expertly mixes historical fiction, classic writing, a mystery, and infuses it in a magic-filled world. It also doesn’t hurt if the romance is steamy AF. Thanks to Tor Books for a gifted copy of the book.

Here’s more about A Marvellous Light

Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.

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My thoughts

I was honestly surprised by this one! A friend of mine suggested it to me and I was a little skeptic because I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction. But the Edwardian era lended itself beautifully to this story and while I came away from the book feeling it was more a romance than it was a fantasy, it definitely kept me entertained.

The story follows Edwin and Robin. Edwin comes from a magical family, but he was born with the least amount of power. Robin comes from a non-magical family and through some clerical error in the system, he goes to work for the magical corporation that Edwin works for. They meet at work, which is just too cute and the trope we all want to happen for us.

But things get dicey when Robin meets some thugs on the street looking for a magical item the last person who had his job had possession of. Without any knowledge of the item, they cursed him with a tattoo that causes pain and gives him powers of premonition. In a fury to find this magical item, Robin searches his office and when Edwin finds him there, he decides to help.

Grumpy and sunshine is probably one of my favorite tropes. Perhaps it’s a callback to my love for Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, but I was definitely getting those vibes from Robin and Edwin. When Edwin invites Robin to his family’s estate to look further into this magical item and what’s happening with his curse, that’s when things really start to get going.

I loved getting to know Edwin’s family and the world that he comes from. It reminded me a lot of the Darcy family with its opulence and magic. Edwin’s family is huge and there were a lot of characters I had a tough time keeping track of, but there was so much magic and so many secrets between them that it really engages you and it gets going.

This is definitely a slow burning story, but not a slow burning romance. Edwin and Robin definitely get closer as they stay at Edwin’s family’s estate and try to investigate the goings on with the curse. There’s a few open-door scenes and it will definitely leave you wondering if that magical hand thing works on everyone lol.

I wish there was more backstory for Robin. It seems like he comes from an affluent family, but I felt like there was only a small touch on his life throughout the book. You definitely get to know Edwin way better than you do Robin. I just wish it was the same for him.

The fantasy story also felt like it took a backseat while we watched Edwin and Robin flirt with each other and get steamy, but eventually the story does come back to the fantasy and that definitely peaked my interest. I loved the magic, the world-building, and history behind the magical items they were looking for and what was happening to Robin and his curse. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you’re in it for the fantasy parts, you’ll definitely be rewarded.

Overall, I really loved this story and I can’t wait to see what happens in book 2. It’s got romance, history, magic, and suspense and I think the little bit of everthing worked in their own ways. I’m hoping for more of the magic to be revealed in the next one and how Robin and Edwin’s relationship moves to the next level.

How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days by KM Jackson // Book Review

How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days by KM Jackson // Book Review

Sometimes you just need to believe that you have a chance with your celebrity crush to actually set the tone for the rest of your life. I picked this one up since I’m a huge fan of Keanu Reeves, but what I got was so much more than just a little crush. Thanks to Read Forever for gifting me a copy of this book. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Here’s more about How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days

Bethany Lu Carlisle is devastated when the tabloids report actor Keanu Reeves is about to tie the knot. What?! How could the world’s perfect boyfriend and forever bachelor, Keanu not realize that making a move like this could potentially be devastating to the equilibrium of…well…everything! Not to mention, he’s never come face to face with the person who could potentially be his true soulmate—her.
 
Desperate to convince Keanu to call off the wedding, Lu and her ride-or-die BFF Truman Erikson take a wild road trip to search for the elusive Keanu so that Lu can fulfill her dream of meeting her forever crush and confess her undying love. From New York to Los Angeles, Lu and True get into all sorts of sticky situations. Will Lu be able to find Keanu and convince him she’s the one for him? Or maybe she’ll discover true love has been by her side all along…

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My thoughts

While the title of this one is a mouthful, the story itself was super fun and lighthearted. It’s about Bethany Lu, a 40-something artist who’s feeling a bit of burnout. However, when she reads a tweet about Keanu Reeves getting married in 90 days, she decides to use that time to find him, stop him from making the biggest mistake in his life, and maybe convince him to marry her. Of course, she’s also using this time to figure out what she wants to do with a major gallery and art promotion deal she’s been handed as well.

The story also follows True, one of her closest best friends and instigator of her adventure to find Keanu. He’s a professor of Economics and a little bit more pragmatic than free-spirited Bethany, but their long-time friendship that started with Bethany’s brother turned into a partnership that can’t be broken.

That is, until Keanu comes into the picture.

The story was so much fun and while I wasn’t a full believer that someone would stop everything they’re doing to chase down a celebrity they didn’t even know, I was fully on board with the ride. The dual narrative gives you an idea of what both Bethany and True are feeling especially when it comes to their shared past and her passed brother, Cole.

And there is a lot of Keanu Reeves and his movie references in this book. Not only is Bethany a die-hard fan with extensive knowledge of his filmography, but they’re thwarted by him at every attempt to find him throughout the country. Yes, this story goes on the road to find Keanu. The chapter headers are also references to some of Keanu Reeves’s movies as well.

I thought it was a lot of fun to see Bethany and True come across celebrities while looking for Keanu. I don’t want to spoil who shows up in the book, but it did put a smile on my face to see them there. There was so much fun and entertaining components to this book (as well as some steamy scenes) that will definitely keep you reading.

I also loved that it goes a little bit deeper discussing what happened to Bethany’s brother and True’s part in what happened. I especially loved Bethany’s growth as she figures out the next steps in her life. It’s always refreshing to read a story about a person older than 25 trying to figure out their life. It makes me feel like I have some time to figure out mine still.

Overall, this definitely checked of all the boxes I needed to start the month of right. I wanted something fun and entertaining, about my favorite actor, and still have a bit of something to bite onto to. I enjoyed this one a lot.

Asking Bookstagram: 10 Romances with only one bed

Asking Bookstagram: 10 Romances with only one bed

A little while back, I asked bookstagram to share the books that included only one bed. It’s a romance trope where two unlikely people are forced to share a bed for a night. One of the most obvious answers was The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. For the most part, this story is exactly that trope featuring two roommates who literally share one bed in the apartment. However, it’s not entirely what I was thinking when I thought about this trope.

When I think of “there’s only one bed” (aka forced proximity), I think of that couple who isn’t very friendly with each other and they’re forced at some point to sleep in the same room in the same bed. It’s a trope I thought I only saw in movies like Leap Day or The Proposal, but it happens in books too and here’s a few romances suggested to me by the community you’d want to read (I haven’t read them all) if you’re hoping that there’s only one bed.

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

A wedding planner left at the altar. Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s managed to make other people’s dreams come true as a top-tier wedding coordinator in DC. After impressing an influential guest, she’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.

Tired of living in his older brother’s shadow, marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning —absolutely off-limits — ex-fiancée. And she loathes him.

If they can survive the next few weeks and nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.

But even the best laid plans can go awry, and soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again…

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

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The Spanish Love Deception by Elenas Armas

Catalina Martín, finally, not single. Her family is happy to announce that she will bring her American boyfriend to her sister’s wedding. Everyone is invited to come and witness the most magical event of the year.

That would certainly be tomorrow’s headline in the local newspaper of the small Spanish town I came from. Or the epitaph on my tombstone, seeing the turn my life had taken in the span of a phone call.

Four weeks wasn’t a lot of time to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic–from NYC and all the way to Spain–for a wedding. Let alone, someone eager to play along my charade. But that didn’t mean I was desperate enough to bring the 6’4 blue eyed pain in my ass standing before me.

Aaron Blackford. The man whose main occupation was making my blood boil had just offered himself to be my date. Right after inserting his nose in my business, calling me delusional, and calling himself my best option. See? Outrageous. Aggravating. Blood boiling. And much to my total despair, also right. Which left me with a surly and extra large dilemma in my hands. Was it worth the suffering to bring my colleague and bane of my existence as my fake boyfriend to my sister’s wedding? Or was I better off coming clean and facing the consequences of my panic induced lie?

Like my abuela would say, que dios nos pille confesados.

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The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

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Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

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The Simple Wild by KA Tucker

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

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Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.

Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous—and it turns out he has very different vision for the property’s future.

Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.

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Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera

Kiskeya Burgos left the tropical beaches of the Dominican Republic with a lot to prove. As a pastry chef on the come up, when she arrives in Scotland, she has one goal in mind: win the Holiday Baking Challenge. Winning is her opportunity to prove to her family, her former boss, and most importantly herself, she can make it in the culinary world. Kiskeya will stop at nothing to win , that is, if she can keep her eyes on the prize and off her infuriating teammate’s perfect lips.

Sully Morales, home cooking hustler, and self-proclaimed baking brujita lands in Scotland on a quest to find her purpose after spending years as her family’s caregiver. But now, with her home life back on track, it’s time for Sully to get reacquainted with her greatest love, baking. Winning the Holiday Baking Challenge is a no brainer if she can convince her grumpy AF baking partner that they make a great team both in and out of the kitchen before an unexpected betrayal ends their chance to attain culinary competition glory.

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The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

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People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

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The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun // Book Review

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun // Book Review

Ok, so when I heard that this book featured a Bachelor-style TV show where the main contestant falls in love with his handler/producer of the show. With that in mind, I was expecting something like that TV show Unreal, but I got way more than that!

Thanks to Atria Books for the gifted book.

Here’s more about The Charm Offensive

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

My thoughts

If you’re a fan of shows like The Bachelor, then get ready for this one. Seriously, I’m pretty sure Alison Cochrun watches the show because the mentions were spot on. “Can I steal you away for a sec?” is probably one of the most iconic lines of Bachelor ever and it was in here! Not only that, but the timeline of the show, the iconic parts that make up the show, the behind-the-scenes scripting of the characters (even how they made someone into a villain), and the best part is that this was the running theme throughout the book. Sometimes you read these romance books and they just drop off on the main plot of the book to focus on the romance. I’m so glad that you basically see until the final episode what happens on the show.

And the show itself was surprising! Of course, it couldn’t have been surprising without its incredible characters.

Charlie’s character really surprised me. When the author said he was the star of the show, I was expecting someone with a huge ego, knows that they’re good looking, and a straight-up dick. However, I was pleansantly surprised that this character had as much depth as Dev, was truly struggling through something in their life, and it caused a lot of concern in his relationship with Dev throughout the book.

And on top of that, Dev himself was just as mess as well. Honestly, this felt like two seriously real people who were dealing with some seriously real issues, but not ironically on a dating TV show. I loved Dev and how understanding he is of Charlie right off the bat. Instead of just shrugging him off and pretending he’s just another arrogant bachelor, he really opens up and gets to know him which was really nice. I was expecting it to be a little bit of an enemies-to-lovers, but I’ll take friends-to-lovers with a side of fake (aka practice) dating!

Not only were Dev and Charlie super well developed, but you also get to know the other characters. Between Dev’s friends and coworkers and the other contestants on the show, there was some seriously well understood characters. I can only imagine the subsequent books that will come after this one.

The biggest surprise was the real conversations about mental health and neuro-diversity. Each person was heard out, listened to, and embraced as the person that they are. It was so good to see these topics handled with such care and understanding representing those folks out there who understand that life. There were also big discussions on sexual and gender identity, which were interesting especially for the characters as they start to open up even more about their lives.

Overall, this was such a great story filled with romance and funny bits. I hope Alison Cochrun decides to write more romance novels in this world especially for the other characters since they felt so realized as well.

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker // Spotlight

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker // Spotlight

Thanks Avon Books for sending me a gifted copy.

Every once in a while, I get the urge to read a little bit of romance. I guess that’s probably obvious from the romance reviews I share on this page. But when you combine royalty and baking in an enemies-to-lovers/grumpy and sunshine story, I couldn’t help myself and grabbed a copy.

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker sounds like a fun-filled book with delicious treats, some awkward moments, and a whole lot of romance. I can’t wait to pick this one up soon.

The book is out on August 17th!

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Beloved author Lucy Parker pens a delicious new romantic comedy that is a battle of whisks and wits.

Ready…

Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious, colorful creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere, the hottest pastry chef in London. When her glittery unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has managed to use her fame to help fulfill her dream of opening a bakery, Sugar Fair. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers…and a princess.

Set…

Dominic is His Majesty the King’s favorite baker, the go-to for sweet-toothed A-List celebrities, and a veritable British institution. He’s brilliant, talented, hard-working. And an icy, starchy grouch. Learning that the irksome Sylvie will be joining him on the Operation Cake judging panel is enough to make the famously dour baker even more grim. Her fantastical baking is only slightly more troublesome than the fact that he can’t stop thinking about her pink-streaked hair and irrepressible dimple.

Match…

When Dominic and Sylvie learn they will be fighting for the once in a lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for the upcoming wedding of Princess Rose, the flour begins to fly as they’re both determined to come out on top.

The bride adores Sylvie’s quirky style. The palace wants Dominic’s classic perfection.

In this royal battle, can there be room for two?

  • Publisher: ‎Avon (August 17, 2021)
  • Language: ‎English
  • Paperback: ‎416 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0063040069