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!

Add it to Goodreads | Find Battle Royal on Amazon | Find Battle Royal on Bookshop.org

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

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon // Book Review

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon // Book Review

Thanks Read Forever Books for the gifted copy of the book.

I’m fairly new to Farrah Rochon’s writing and only started reading her work with The Boyfriend Project last year. I remember devouring that book in a single day. It helped that my mental health wasn’t the best at the time and reading romances felt more comforting to me than looking at my phone. But what I got from her story is something more than a romance; it felt like these were real people in very difficult situations trying to move on from someone who played them all.

I was so excited about The Dating Playbook and yep, it totally exceeded my expectations. I think you’ll really love this one too.

Here’s more about The Dating Playbook

When a personal trainer agrees to fake date her client, all rules are out the window in this delightful romantic comedy from the USA Today bestselling author of The Boyfriend Project!

When it comes to personal training, Taylor Powell kicks serious butt. Unfortunately, her bills are piling up, rent is due, and the money situation is dire. Taylor needs more than the support of her new best friends, Samiah and London. She needs a miracle.

And Jamar Dixon might just be it. The oh-so-fine former footballer wants back into the NFL, and he wants Taylor to train him. There’s just one catch — no one can know what they’re doing. But when they’re accidentally outed as a couple, Taylor’s game plan is turned completely upside down. Is Jamar just playing to win . . . or is he playing for keeps?

My thoughts

While this book was definitely a romance, I found myself also considering this a book of personal growth. Not my personal growth, but growth for both Taylor and Jamar. Taylor is an up-and-coming personal trainer who’s made one too many mistakes with getting her company off the ground. Now, with $20,000 in debt, she’s worried about making rent, paying off her car, or even finding solid work without a college degree. Jamar is this former NFL player who’s been out since he hurt his knee six months into his professional career. While people still remember him from his college years, he still wants to get back in the game not only for himself, but also as a promise to his passed best friend.

Throughout the story, you see both Taylor and Jamar grow. Mostly importantly, you see them grow together. That’s probably the part I love the most about this story. I love seeing couple push each other in positive ways to become much better people not just for themselves, but for each other. It made me happy to see Taylor’s motivation to go back to school and see Jamar give himself grace for the things that happened in his past. I know that people are very capable of growing on their own, but with a romance story, it’s always nice to see a couple become who they’re supposed to be together.

It makes the story feel much more real to me. I was rooting for both of these characters the entire time and hoping the best for them. I also loved how complex the issues were. It wasn’t just the going back to school or helping out an old friend; there were layers to it and each layer had to be peeled back before either of them could get better. It just reminds me that everyone’s struggles are different; some people have it easy and some people face more difficult challenges. The strength that both of these characters had to find that was motivational!

It was also super funny. I found myself laughing out loud at Jamar’s stupid jokes and Taylor’s no-nonsense way of motivating Jamar. Their dynamic was truly one of my favorites and put a smile on my face every time I read a conversation between the two. I also loved seeing London and Samiah again as they helped Taylor through some difficult decisions. Honestly, their presence in this book was definitely more than in past books and I welcome it very much.

And the football! I became a football fan because of my husband. He was very into college football at the time we started dating, so I started watching the games with him. Not only did I really enjoy watching the game, but I loved the strategy and way the game is played. I really love watching all sports because it always makes me think in different ways; how to move the ball a certain number of yards, how to pitch the ball in a certain angle to make sure it lands where you want it to. It’s all very technical, which I love and so when this book included a little bit of football, I definitely had my eyes on it. I will say, there isn’t a lot of football playing in this book, but since the book is set in Texas with a former pro player, there was definitely the appearance of a few fans of the game.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one and maybe loved it more than The Boyfriend Project! I can’t wait to book three and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Song of the Forever Rains by EJ Mellow // Book Review

Song of the Forever Rains by EJ Mellow // Book Review

I was super excited to read this one because EJ Mellow is a friend of mine. I’d never read any of her work before, but after hearing she wrote a dark romantic fantasy, I knew I had to get my hands on it and check it out. What we got is a wonderful new story for a new series from her and I can’t wait for the next book!

Here’s More About Song of the Forever Rains

The Thief Kingdom is a place hidden within the world of Aadlior. Many whisper of its existence, but few have found this place, where magic and pleasure abound. There, the mysterious Thief King reigns supreme with the help of the Mousai, a trio of revered and feared sorceresses.

Larkyra Bassette may be the youngest of the Mousai, but when she sings her voice has the power to slay monsters. When it’s discovered the Duke of Lachlan is siphoning a poisonous drug from the Thief Kingdom and using it to abuse his tenants, Larkyra is offered her first solo mission to stop the duke. Eager to prove herself, Larkyra accepts by posing as the duke’s potential bride. But her plans grow complicated when she finds herself drawn to Lord Darius Mekenna, Lachlan’s rightful heir. Soon she suspects Darius has his own motivations for ridding Lachlan of the corrupt duke. Larkyra and Darius must learn to trust each other if there is to be any hope of saving the people of Lachlan—and themselves.

Welcome to the world of Aadilor, where lords and ladies can be murderers and thieves, and the most alluring notes are often the deadliest. Dare to listen?

My Thoughts

CW: family/domestic abuse, self harm, gore and blood, implied drug abuse

Ok, I want to first start off by saying that I really liked this book. It wasn’t perfect. There were a few nagging things that I keep thinking about, but overall, I thought it was good and a great start to a new fantasy series world.

I absolutely loved the characters and I feel like this book was focused more on these characters and their development than the other elements. You can tell a lot of thought went into developing these characters and making them feel realistic. Each of them were so complex with their own successes and failures. Watching Darius’s secrets unfold through the eyes of Larkya, you can tell that she’s way more than just a thief or a spy. She has a caring side, which made it way more interesting to follow her and see what she thinks. I also loved that Darius was a complicated mess as well. In fact, everyone was so flawed that it made the story feel more realistic. I love it when characters are more like real people than caricatures. I even liked the Duke’s reasoning for being the way he is (despite not really enjoying how that ending came together).

I was also really into the adventures Larkya went on from the very beginning where she’s going without her magic for a month to traveling to a small island and collecting herbs for an elixir. The adventures Larkya went on were some of my favorite parts and it does double duty to build the world for you. I really loved the world EJ’s created here especially this dichotomy between the real world and the thief’s world. The Thief Kingdom was definitely where my interest lied especially when Larkya was walking through it with Darius. All the little bits of information that’s shared about this world, the magic within it, and who rules this place definitely kept my attention the most.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending mostly because the entire book read like a slow burn right up until the end. And then the end happened, and I was just confused. Everything else seemed to get such care, but it felt like EJ Mellow took her time to write the beginning and then rushed the ending. I wasn’t happy with the way things turned out and how all the big reveals came about. It felt too easy and not at all along the lines of this epic tale of deception, lies, and distrust. I wanted there to be some big fight and some lessons learned the hard way, but it fell short of that.

It also ended with a fairly nice bow wrapped around it. Thinking this was gonig to be a fantasy series, I thought the ending would leave you with something for the next book. That’s fine that it didn’t and that the series is following a more romance series cadence (each book exploring another character’s perspective), so it did throw me a little that it wrapped up all at once.

The other thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the romance; or lack there of. While I’m new to the whole fantasy romance genre, I was expecting there to be a bit more tension, a bit more development of the romance between Darius and Larkyra. It seemed more like stolen glances than actual relationship building and then they were declaring their love for each other. I did like how the romance was written in like Larkyra slowly caring about him and vice versa. I also really liked how they fought their emotions for each other because they couldn’t fully trust each other with something like their heart. But again, I wanted it to be a bit more obvious and the attraction starting from the beginning and deeply interwoven into the story. I wouldn’t call this a fantasy romance, but a fantasy book with a romantic storyline in it.

Overall, this was a solid beginning to a new series. I already saw that the second book’s cover has been revealed and who the book will be about. I can’t wait to dive into that one as well.

I received a free copy of this book from the author for review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey // Book Review

Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey // Book Review

I picked this one up as a little break from the heavier fantasy novels I’ve been reading lately. I didn’t want to slump and luckily, this did just the trick!

Here’s more about Very Sincerely Yours

Teddy Phillips never thought she’d still be spending every day surrounded by toys at almost thirty years old. But working at a vintage toy store is pretty much all she has going on in her life after being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend. The one joy that she’s kept is her not-so-guilty pleasure: Everett’s Place, a local children’s show hosted by Everett St. James, a man whom Teddy finds very soothing . . . and, okay, cute.

Teddy finds the courage to write to him, feeling slightly like one of the children who write to him on his show. He always gives sound advice and seems like he has everything figured out–and he pretty much does: Everett has a great support system, wonderful friends, and his dream job. But there’s still that persistent feeling in the back of his mind that something’s missing.

When a woman named Theodora starts writing to Everett, he is drawn to her honesty and vulnerability. They continue writing to each other, all the while living their lives without meeting. When their worlds collide, however, they must both let go of their fears and figure out what they truly want–and if the future they want includes each other.

My Thoughts

You can always rely on Kerry Winfrey’s writing to pull you from the edge of a slump. Seriously, her stories are always interesting, entertaining, and so laugh out loud funny that I found myself turning a little red in public with how loud I was.

Teddy reminded me a lot of myself when I was younger. Having been dumped by a guy who never appreciated me or how I helped him, I felt exactly where Teddy was. It was also that period in my life where I wanted to find something for myself and figure out my next step. While my “Teddy Time” list was a little bit different than the main character, I definitely resonated with her lost feelings and wanting to do things I wouldn’t normally do.

I also struggled with holding back a lot of who I am in public and with friends. I would always put other people first and put my feelings aside because they weren’t as important. Or so that’s what I thought. It was lovely to see Teddy go through the same kinds of struggles especially after a pretty heinous breakup that made me lose sight of what really matters.

Everett was such an interesting character that I could relate to as well. I’m a bit of a workaholic, so I can relate to him always trying to figure out how to make things perfect. But I will note that this book felt more about Teddy finding herself and helping out Everett than it was Everett figuring out his next steps and helping Teddy out. In fact, I don’t think Everett did much to help out Teddy aside from giving her the space to be herself. She took the initiative to try new things, say no to him, and figure herself out.

I absolutely loved that the email theme kept running throughout the story. I was worried it would be one of those elements that would get the story going and then it would fall off by the end. So happy that it was even used in the epilogue and that really helped to keep that theme (and the title of the book) threaded throughout.

I also really liked how Teddy’s ex was an antagonist that kept on showing up like some indigestion after eating a giant burrito. It reminded me a bit of Kate Winslet’s character in The Holiday and how she tried so hard to push him away, but kept being lured back. It made for an interesting component to the story.

I kind of wish Gretel played a much bigger role in the book. It seemed a bit strange that she was introduced in the beginning of the story, but nothing really came from it other than being a vehicle to connect Everett with Teddy. I wanted more especially when she’s a self-proclaimed “old woman” at the age of twelve. I also wish there was more conflict. Granted, I know the struggle to find oneself and overcoming the obstacles of perfection are tough, but I would have personally enjoyed it more if there were some higher stakes.

Overall, this was such a fun and entertaining book to read. It definitely took me out of my slump and perfect for those hot summer days when you don’t want to get too involved in a story.

I received a copy of Very Sincerely Yours from Berkley for free. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuistion // Book Review

One Last Stop by Casey McQuistion // Book Review

Well, the hype is wild for this one and it has every right to be. I’ve seen it all over Instagram and for Pride, it’s the perfect F/F romance to make you fall in love with love. It was an incredible story with so much heartwarming feelings and a little bit of sci-fi.

Here’s More about One Last Stop

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.

My Thoughts

I had such a good time reading this book. It’s filled with such fun anecdotes, delicious foods, subway rides, and tons of romance. August and Jane were such a lovely couple and I wanted to follow them to the ends of the earth just hearing their stories. Their romance truly made the book and I honestly was on pins and needles worried that it wouldn’t work out for them. Granted, that wouldn’t make this book a true romance, but there was that emotional build up that maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t work out.

I need to talk about New York. I’ve been reading a lot of books that take place in New York City and as a native New Yorker, it’s making me miss my family and home very much. I loved the inclusion of some great Brooklyn highlights especially the subway rides and food. You’re not a real New Yorker until you’ve fallen in love with a complete stranger on the subway and then never seen them again. Casey McQuiston really got that right when she wrote that into the book.

The sci-fi elements were really good and well researched. It’s not necessarily time travel, but maybe some sort of quantum jumping or existing between parallel worlds. Either way, I just loved that it wasn’t something simple like time traveling and worked so well with the story. The electricity between the August and Jane made so much sense to me and I loved the dedication to make that part of the story.

As the second book by Casey McQuiston, I think she’s hit her stride. She’s got a style for herself that’s a bit different than the rest and speaks so much with the younger generation, but the fun surprise is that it also speaks to older generations and brings the two generations together.

Overall, a great read with a great romance. I was filled with love and happy feelings while I read it and I’m so excited for what Casey McQuiston will write next.

I received a gifted audiobook copy of One Last Stop from St Martin’s Press. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

It Had to be You by Georgia Clark // Book Review

It Had to be You by Georgia Clark // Book Review

This was such a heartwarming and life affirming novel. Filled with tons of heart, lots of inclusion and representation, and of course, love.

Here’s more about It Had to be You

For the past twenty years, Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run In Love in New York, Brooklyn’s beloved wedding-planning business. When Eliot dies unexpectedly, he even more unexpectedly leaves half of the business to his younger, blonder girlfriend, Savannah. Liv and Savannah are not a match made in heaven, to say the least. But what starts as a personal and professional nightmare transforms into something even savvy, cynical Liv Goldenhorn couldn’t begin to imagine.

It Had to Be You cleverly unites Liv, Savannah, and couples as diverse and unique as New York City itself, in a joyous Love-Actually-style braided narrative. The result is a smart, modern love story that truly speaks to our times. Second chances, secret romance, and steamy soul mates are front and center in this sexy, tender, and utterly charming rom-com.

My Thoughts

The last book I read from Georgia Clark was The Bucket List. It was this beautiful story about a young woman who’s been diagnosed with the BRCA gene that heightens her chances of developing breast cancer. Before she makes the decision for a life-saving double mastectomy, she creates a bucket list for her breasts. It was such a laugh out loud story with a serious undertone about life, love, and your breasts.

This time, Georgia Clark’s returned with a new moniker; a rom-com writer. Putting herself in league with the thousands of other romance writers, does Georgia make the snuff? I think she does. The story starts with Liv and Savannah, but then it branches out to the friends and loved ones close to them and their relationships. It then goes even further out to the weddings Liv and Savannah work together and those unique relationships. It really makes you see how we all may be strangers to one another, but we are somehow interconnected. It’s a beautiful thing!

Because with her humor, her incredible storytelling, and the connections she’s developed with these humans, I think she’s created herself a beautiful romance between five couples in New York City. And New York is its own character in the story as well. I’m originally from New York and the year of pandemic and not seeing my family has me a little downtrodden, but this book made me miss that city life so much. I nearly want to go back just to browse the bookstores and drink the coffee and people watch. And this story is very much people watching to the Nth degree.

The story interweaves ten lives in five relationships and each relationship is so different from the other. Each of the characters relate back to Liv or Savannah in some way, but they’re all standouts on their own. And all of them have their own personalities. It’s like Georgia Clark jumped into these people’s heads and wrote down what she saw from there. There’s honestly a little bit of something for everyone in here. Not only does she represent the entirety of New York, but she also represents the different kinds of love, the different kinds of relationships, and the different ways we expressed (and don’t express) our emotions. There’s the romance after divorce, the open relationship that wants more, the celebrity romance, the friends-to-lovers, fake dating/relationship. It’s seriously a smorgasbord of rom-com stories that will tantalize you.

And while there are so many funny scenes, it also has a lot of heart. I loved that not only there were these romantic stories that were happening, but there were friendships being formed, people finding themselves, people coming to realizations they didn’t see before, coming to terms with grief, and so much more.

Overall, this is such a wonderful story that left me with tears in my eyes and a big smile on my face. I’m not one for crying from romance novels, but this got me in the feels a few times. It’s a satisfying story that will leave your weary soul just a bit perkier knowing that there’s a happily ever after for everyone.

Thanks to Atria Books for the gifted copy of the book. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez // Book Review

Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez // Book Review

Well, I didn’t think I would completely fall in love with this book like I did. I’ve been following Abby Jimenez since she released her debut novel, The Friend Zone, only a few short years ago. Now she’s on her third book and thriving with a story about young Vanessa who’s motto in life is to live in the present and Adrian, who’d much prefer a better plan.

Here’s More about Life’s Too Short

A brilliant and touching romantic comedy from the USA Today bestselling author of The Friend Zone and The Happy Ever After Playlist.

Vanessa lives life on her own terms — one day at a time, every day to its fullest. She isn’t willing to waste a moment or miss out on an experience when she has no idea whether she shares the same fatal genetic condition as her mother. Besides, she has way too much to do, traveling the globe and showing her millions of YouTube followers the joy in seizing every moment.

But after her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her infant daughter, she is housebound, on mommy duty for the foreseeable future, and feeling totally out of her element.

The last person she expects to show up offering help is the unbelievably hot lawyer who lives next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. But as they get closer, Vanessa realizes that her carefree ways and his need for a structured plan could never be compatible for the long term. Then again, she should know better than anyone that life’s too short to fear taking the biggest risk of all. . .

My Thoughts

I’ll be brief, I loved this book. There were so many dynamic components to it and it had a focus that went beyond just the relationship between Adrian and Vanessa. But don’t get me wrong, the romance is strong with this one.

Vanessa is a young YouTube celebrity who’s focused her content and energy towards raising funds for ALS research and raising awareness about the disease. Why? Because the ALS gene runs in her family, has affected almost all the women in her life, and there’s a 50/50 chance she might get it as well. For the most part, Vanessa’s made choices in her life to accommodate for when that day comes: she travels the world, drinks the wine, and lives her life as spontaneously as she can. And she most definitely doesn’t date to avoid leaving someone behind that loved her. But things change when she finds her sister’s baby at her doorstep.

I think one of the most interesting parts of this book was Vanessa’s life. It seemed like she’s contorted it to avoid leaving the Earth without too many things left loose. Her focus is raising money for ALS research while also worried she’ll start seeing early signs of the disease in herself. She’s worried about her father who’s developed hoarding tendencies over the years. She’s figuring out what to do about her sister’s baby that’s in her care while her sister goes on benders, and she’s encouraging her brother to step up and finally make some money. I always imagined the life of YouTubers as this glamorous fun time with tons of cool gifts and lots of money. But it really impressed me to see a character who’s dedicated to a cause, sharing her earnings with that cause, and always making more content to keep the momentum going.

But at the same time, it’s almost like Vanessa’s living on a knife’s edge; always worried she won’t be able to take care of everything, always trying to live for the moment, and never sitting down and thinking about the inevitable. She calls thinking about the inevitable as “looking at the sun” and I can imagine that’s what it’s like; you’re focused so deeply at an unpredictable future that it blinds you from the present. I loved how spontaneous she is and I really wish I was friends with her in real life. She seems like the kind of friend who will drop everything and show up at your house with a pint of ice cream and funny movies when you’ve just been dumped. She’s the kind of person who you want to go to their birthday party and genuinely wish them a happy year.

Adrian is a young, hot, and bearded criminal defense attorney who’s very much the workaholic. He gets dumped by his recent girlfriend (who was already married) and dealing with a past that’s colored the way he views the world. He lives next door to Vanessa and they only meet one very late night when the baby starts crying. It was kind of interesting how quickly Adrian helped Vanessa out. Honestly, if I heard a baby crying from next door and I went over there at 3AM to tell them to quiet down, I wouldn’t also be taking out the trash and helping them out. But I think what I loved most was watching Adrian fall in love with Grace, Vanessa’s baby.

From that point on, you can imagine the rest. Friends to lovers with some steamy moments.

I think what really impressed me about this novel is Abby Jimenez’s ability to make the emotions feel believable. There were moments reading both Adrian and Vanessa’s thought process and their fears of rejection and I thought to myself how familiar that felt. Even the scene when they finally get together was so believable to me with the rush of flurry of kisses after a very long and tense couple of months hanging out. The sad scenes make you sad and the happy ones keep a bright smile on your face. I felt like I was on such an emotional roller coaster while Vanessa and Adrian gets to know each other, shares their feelings, and figures out the rest.

Overall, this was such a great book and really made me happy to read. Hope you all enjoy it too.

Thanks to Forever Romance for the gifted copy of this book. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai // Book Review

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai // Book Review

Finally! I finished a book! It was the fourth book of the year and probably the last book I’ll read in January, but I’m just happy to finally have enough mind space to finish a book. I think it helped that the book was super light-hearted with a tiny bit of drama. For some reason, my brain just doesn’t want to do anything so it always helps to have a few lighter reads hanging around for those occasions.

Here’s more about the book

Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages–until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?

My thoughts

Truthfully, I loved the drama. The story starts off super strong with Jia getting into a swank Hollywood party to meet this guy she’s been chatting to online; a famous Bollywood star that came from a famous Bollywood family. The only sad part is that he had no clue who she was when they finally meet. It’s only until later that we realize who was doing the catfishing, but I loved that their meet cute wasn’t anywhere near cute.

And I’m glad it worked out for them. I loved both Jia and Dev as a couple and as individuals. Jia was this average human who made a living being an influencer on YouTube. I related a lot with her internal struggles to figure out what it is she wanted to do as she “aged” out of the social media game. I sometimes feel like one of the influencer elders not because I’ve been doing this for a long time, but because I’m older than average. She seemed super kindhearted and willing to help someone out without hesitation; someone that you want as an influence in your life.

Dev is similar. I loved that he came from a famous family who struggled through all the lights and glam of Bollywood. It was interesting to see his family dynamic especially since Dev doesn’t seem at all similar to the rest of his family. While his brother and cousin are doing all the “bad boy” activities, Dev seems to be the one that’s professional and has his head on. For me, that’s my trope. I like a man who can take care of things. But what I also loved is that we got to know his brother and cousin a little bit more. While they may seem like bad boys, they did open their hearts to Dev’s niece, Luna.

There was also a lot of discussion on grief. It wasn’t too bad and it doesn’t keep you away from experiencing the light-heartedness of the story, but the way that it affected Dev’s life was interesting especially when he’s taking care of his niece.

I think my only issue was the ending. I felt like a lot happened that could have spread across the novel than be truncated to the last 50 pages. That’s not to say the book was paced funny and felt slow, it’s just that many of the events within the final pages felt like they could have been explored more if given the space.

I also thought there were too many tropes. First, it was the catfishing. Then it moved onto a fake relationship. Then the relationship turned real. And then we’re getting married. And then there’s Dev having his grandfather’s will that stipulates he needs to get married before he inherits his money. It truly felt like I was reading a drama where one issue would resolve and then surprise! There would be another issue ready to go. If the book was longer then maybe there would be a more natural progression of these tropes throughout the story so that it didn’t feel like we were jumping all over the place.

Overall, this was such a cute book and something that I really enjoyed reading. I loved getting to know the characters and reading the adventures they had together.

  • First Comes Like by Alisha Rai publishes on February 16, 2021
  • Find it on Bookshop.org
  • I received a gifted copy of this book from Avon Books. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Blog Tour // Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay

Paris is one of my all time favorite cities. I love the architecture, the endless roads you can walk down. I love being able to sit at a cafe and watch the world go by around me. I love Paris as much as the next person.

Which is why I’m so excited to put a little spotlight on Jenn McKinlay’s newest book, Paris is Always a Good Idea. Let’s get into it:

About the book

image012It’s been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong postcollege European adventure. Since then, she’s lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea’s thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most successful moneymaker is unquestioned.

When her introverted mathematician father announces he’s getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her year abroad. Inspired to retrace her steps–to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy–Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago can help her find it again.

From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected.

About the Author

Jenn McKinlay is the award winning, New York TimesUSA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of several mystery and romance series. Her work has been translated into multiple languages in countries all over the world. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets, and her husband’s guitars.

Known for her mysteries and romances, this July New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay delivers an ideal, lighthearted summer read that explores the wistfulness of “What if?” PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA follows heroine Chelsea Martin while she retraces her steps from the gap year she took after college that led her to three swoony-worthy men. As Chelsea visits the heartthrobs she left behind in Ireland, France, and Italy, McKinlay provides such a tangible, lush atmosphere that you will feel as if you’ve gone on your own European excursion without leaving your couch.