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…

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


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.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


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.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


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.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


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.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


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?

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org

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.