2021 Book #14 – Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Title: Love at First
Author: Kate Clayborn
Date finished: 2/20/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A sparkling and tender novel from the acclaimed author of Love Lettering, full of bickering neighbors, surprise reunions, and the mysterious power of love that fans of Christina Lauren, Sarah Hogle, and Emily Henry will adore.
 
Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .
 
No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve come to really enjoy this author’s books lately. They are always so full of the emotional and over the top romance that really is one of the reasons I’m drawn to romance novels in the first place. Readers will be swept up by the emotions in this story too – as both Will and Nora have their own emotional baggage to deal with outside of the struggle that is falling in love. Some parts of the overall premise in this book didn’t work for me on a personal level just because of where I am in life. Nora is having trouble letting go of the way things were and making any changes at all to her apartment complex or getting rid of anything from her grandmother’s apartment that was left to her. And I’m at a point where I’m trying so hard to shed things and downsize what we need to hold onto that the idea of Nora’s struggle didn’t make logical sense to me. This was a personal thing though and honestly shouldn’t take away from anyone else’s enjoyment of the book. It was very well written and was so very romantic. Lots of tension leading up to Will and Nora finally admitting they have feelings for each other. And lots of quirky / funny side characters that really made the book so charming and enjoyable! I did really like this book and I’d definitely recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #5 – Shipped by Angie Hockman

Title: Shipped
Author: Angie Hockman
Date finished: 1/7/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Pages in book: 335
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book was described as The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game and, not only did that description really interest me because I enjoyed both of those books, but I think that was a really apt description for this book. The description of the travels of the cruise ship and the sites and scenery that Graeme and Henley were able to experience were very transporting. I felt like I was experiencing all of those things myself. I really like the enemy coworkers to lovers trope and this one was pretty good. Henley sounded whiny to me in some parts, but overall I liked her and Graeme’s story and how their relationship was developed. The focus on teamwork in the story was also a really endearing one – it was great to see the supportive crew that Henley was surrounded by. Some pieces of the story were a little slow for me but overall I really enjoyed this story and would definitely recommend it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #94 – Truth, Lies and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson

Title: Truth, Lies and Second Dates
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Date finished: 12/20/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: December 15, 2020
Pages in book: 288
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Danger, Sweetheart series 
Where I got the book from: NetGalley / Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley / the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Captain Ava Capp has been flying from her past for a decade. She’d much rather leave it, and her home state, behind forever. But when she finds herself back in Minnesota, against her better judgment, everything goes sideways in a way she never expected it to.

M.E. Dr. Tom Baker has never forgotten Ava and the cold case she ran away from. When she shows up unexpectedly in town, in spite of himself, sparks fly. Which is terrible because he can’t stop his growing attraction to her. Can these two Type-A’s let their guards down and work together to put Ava’s tragic past behind her for good? And keep their hands off each other at the same time?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have historically always really enjoyed Davidson’s books (with a few exceptions) – they’re snarky and sassy and hilarious. I really enjoyed this book, the characters were all so funny. I especially loved Hannah, and having her be a genius level IQ made her precociousness make a lot more sense for a six year old. Ava and Tom were adorable together and I loved their banter. Their chemistry was good but I wouldn’t say it lit the page on fire or anything. Tom’s character was so endearing and interesting – I always love a romance hero who’s on the spectrum and takes everything literally. Honestly all of the characters in this book were very entertaining. There was a lot going on in the book but, as noted in the author’s note, this was kind of done on purpose to make this a trope filled, romance reader’s fun read. I definitely enjoyed it and I’d recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #87 – A Royal Disaster by Jennifer Bonds

Title: A Royal Disaster
Author: Jennifer Bonds
Date finished: 11/24/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Entangled
Publication Date: November 30, 2020
Pages in book: 255
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Elena Murphy is doing just fine—if you don’t count her struggling art studio, her ex-boyfriend suing her, and accidentally tossing purple paint onto a man who just happened to be in the wrong place at the very worst time. And not just any man, but freaking royalty. The World’s Most Eligible Bachelor, to be exact, with the paparazzi catching the whole embarrassing incident on camera.

Could her life be any more of a dumpster fire?

Yes it could. Now she’s getting dragged online and her clients are disappearing faster than free drinks at happy hour. And just when she thinks things can’t possibly get worse…His Royal Hotness decides the best way to fix this mess is to make her the envy of New York—by pretending to date.

Because what’s worse than a prince treating her like his very own Cinderella, including dreamy nights at the theater and a nearly X-rated pottery date? Reminding herself it’s all fake.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book sounded pretty interesting – I haven’t read anything by this author in the past but I thought I’d give this book a try! The story was a lot of what I’d expect from a romance about a royal prince. There were some pieces of it that definitely seemed clichéd to me, but overall it was enjoyable. And I think when you’re picking up a romance about royalty, you expect there to be certain fundamental pieces included in the plot line. Lena was an interesting character but I didn’t love that the ending of the story resulted in her spending so much time apart from the thing she spent the whole rest of the book working so hard for (her art studio). I wouldn’t say that the book was overly thrilling or exciting but it was a solid romantic story.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #84 – A Season of You by Emma Douglas

Title: A Season of You
Author: Emma Douglas
Date finished: 11/15/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Cloud Bay series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In A Season of You by Emma Douglas, it’s Christmastime in the quaint island town of Cloud Bay, where love is always in season…

Will Fraser has believed in love at first sight since the day he first laid eyes on Mina Harper five years ago. There was only one problem: She was happily married. Then, when Mina’s husband was killed by a drunk driver, Will figured she’d want nothing to do with a guy who owns a whiskey distillery. So he’s kept his feelings locked away, knowing that not even a Christmas miracle would be enough to melt Mina’s heart. . .

Mina believes her days of true love are behind her. Since losing her husband she’s kept to herself, content to do her own painting and stay out of the limelight that comes with her famous family. But when, after a freak accident, Will comes to her rescue, Mina can’t quite get him out of her mind. As curiosity turns into a fling during Cloud Bay’s first Christmas Festival, she finds it harder to convince herself that her feelings for Will are just mistletoe-inspired. Could Mina be ready to lay the past to rest and finally admit that what she really wants for Christmas—and forever—is Will?

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I really loved the cover on this book – I should’ve realized it was centered around Christmas but I didn’t til I was already into the book. It was a great book to start getting me into the festive spirit with the holidays coming up! The Christmas contests that they participated in were super fun sounding. The characters in this book were good, Mina was a little self-destructive for me and Will definitely set himself up for failure with putting a time limit on the relationship, but they had a sweet enough romance. I think one of my favorite parts of the book was when Angie got her just desserts and got in trouble with her Dad because she was being a big big butt head. The book overall was sweet if a little cheesy for me. There was a good build up of tension but I had trouble getting into the story. I did love the Christmas festivities piece of it though! Good seasonal read.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #72 – In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Title: In a Holidaze
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 10/11/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
Pages in book: 334
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I absolutely love these authors – I’ve just loved so many of the books they’ve written in the last few years. And this one was no exception, it was so enjoyable! A mix of the movie Groundhog Day and the Christmas holiday, this book has so much to enjoy. An extremely zany cast of characters really brings this book to life and gives the reader lots of feelings about family traditions and spending holidays with loved ones. There was a lot of emotion evident in the text, which is characteristic of a CL novel, but the characters felt a little immature to me for the ages they actually were (26 and 30). There were so many things I liked about the book but there were some pieces of the plot that just didn’t work for me. The whole “fight” at the end of the book felt a little melodramatic to me. And the “grand romantic gestures” didn’t necessarily seem that grand. But it was still a great read and one that I really enjoyed. The authors really brought to life the heady feeling of new love / new relationships. This was a great read and I would recommend it! Perfect holiday read – and I really hope they make it into a Christmas movie!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #67 – Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

Title: Tools of Engagement
Author: Tessa Bailey
Date finished: 9/25/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: September 22, 2020
Pages in book: 367
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Hot and Hammered series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In Tessa Bailey’s latest rom-com, two enemies team up to flip a house… and the sparks between them might burn the place down or ignite a passion that neither can ignore! 

Hair, makeup, clothing, decor… everything in Bethany Castle’s world is organized, planned, and styled to perfection. Which is why the homes she designs for her family’s real estate business are the most coveted in town. The only thing not perfect? Her track record with men. She’s on a dating hiatus and after helping her friends achieve their dreams, Bethany finally has time to focus on her own: flip a house, from framework to furnishings, all by herself. Except her older brother runs the company and refuses to take her seriously.

When a television producer gets wind of the Castle sibling rivalry, they’re invited on Flip Off, a competition to see who can do the best renovation. Bethany wants bragging rights, but she needs a crew and the only member of her brother’s construction team willing to jump ship is Wes Daniels, the new guy in town. His Texas drawl and handsome face got under Bethany’s skin on day one, but the last thing she needs is some cocky young cowboy in her way.

As the race to renovate heats up, Wes and Bethany are forced into close quarters, trading barbs and biting banter as they remodel the ugliest house on the block. It’s a labor of love, hate, and everything in between, and soon sparks are flying. But Bethany’s perfectly structured life is one kiss away from going up in smoke and she knows falling for a guy like Wes would be a flipping disaster.

My rating:  5.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read the second book in this series and really enjoyed it so I was interested in reading this newest release. A 5star review is rare for me but I loved absolutely everything about this book. Bethany & Wes’s chemistry BURNED up the pages of this book. And they’re banter and quick zings at each other were off the charts entertaining. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing the entire time I was reading this book. And Wes struck a personal note for me because, like Bethany, I also deal with a lot of anxiety, and Wes’s calm demeanor and unwavering acceptance were so very appealing to me. I haven’t always related to the “book boyfriend” concept but my gosh Wes was everything that I need! I immediately wanted to start reading this book again the second I finished it, that’s how wonderful it was. I liked the previous book I’d read in the series (Love Her or Lose Her) but I LOVED this book. I am going to be reading more by this author, that is for sure. I would highly recommend everyone go out and read this book, you’ll thank me later!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #60 – Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

Title: Here to Stay
Author: Adriana Herrera
Date finished: 8/28/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages in book: 393
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Starting over is more about who you’re with than where you live…

Julia del Mar Ortiz is not having the best year.

She moved to Dallas with her boyfriend, who ended up ditching her and running back to New York after only a few weeks. Left with a massive—by NYC standards, anyway—apartment and a car lease in the scorching Texas heat, Julia is struggling…except that’s not completely true. Running the charitable foundation of one of the most iconic high fashion department stores in the world is serious #lifegoals.

It’s more than enough to make her want to stick it out down South.

The only monkey wrench in Julia’s plans is the blue-eyed, smart-mouthed consultant the store hired to take them public. Fellow New Yorker Rocco Quinn’s first order of business? Putting Julia’s job on the chopping block.

When Julia is tasked with making sure Rocco sees how valuable the programs she runs are, she’s caught between a rock and a very hard set of abs. Because Rocco Quinn is almost impossible to hate—and even harder to resist.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I haven’t read anything by this author before, but I’ve heard a lot about her books on a couple of the podcasts I listen to and I’ve been wanting lately to read one. I liked the description on this book a lot and was excited to read it. I liked it a good amount. The hero and heroine were so passionate and lively and it really made for an interesting read. I can see why her books are so popular because even beyond the normal romance plot line there were some important issues that this book dealt with: immigration and emotional abuse being the major ones. I loved hearing about the after-school programs Julia had organized and all the information about her background and her education. She was fiercely successful and it was so great to see such a strong female character in a romance novel. Julia and Rocco also had just the most adorable nicknames and it made me melt. Some of the plot was a tad off-putting for me because the main conflict was somewhat the result of communication issues – which isn’t my favorite. Other than that though it was a really enjoyable read and I’d recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #58 – Wednesday, Walks & Wags by Melissa Storm

Title: Wednesdays, Walks, & Wags
Author: Melissa Storm
Date finished: 8/19/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages in book: 272
Stand alone or series: The Sunday Potluck Club series book #2
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Bestselling author Melissa Storm reunites the members of the Sunday Potluck Club—and their canine companions—in a heartwarming story of friendship and second chances.
 
In the rapidly blooming courtyard beneath Bridget Moore’s new Anchorage apartment, the signs are unmissable: spring has come. As she unpacks boxes, Bridget hopes that she too is moving forward. With her tight schedule—college, working as a vet tech, volunteering at the animal shelter, caring for her beloved dogs—Bridget strives to keep too busy to register the pain of losing her mother just months ago.

Bridget’s new neighbor, Wesley, also seems to be running from something—quite literally. He and his two energetic dogs jog by twice a day. It isn’t long before she joins him. Bridget’s fellow members of the Sunday Potluck Club encourage her to enjoy Wesley’s company, though they understand all too well how tricky it can be to navigate life after loss.

But just as nature rebounds after the toughest winter, Bridget’s friendships, both human and canine, are a reminder that love and joy go on. With each outing, Bridget is rediscovering the simple pleasures that mean so much. A warm smile, a sun-drenched evening, a waggy tail—little by little, they may help Bridget find the path to happiness again . . .

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I read the first book in this series earlier this year and enjoyed it – it was sweet and touching. And I enjoyed this one too, it was fine but maybe a little dull. Wesley’s inability to communicate was very frustrating and Bridget’s inability to stand up for herself was confusing. She seemed like a strong overall character but she was pretty young and had some things she needed to work through. This was a quick read and an ok story but it didn’t blow me away or anything. It was sweet and romantic though, and I loved how the four friends really come together to support each other. I would recommend it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #57 – The Love Scam by MaryJanice Davidson

Title: The Love Scam
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Date finished: 8/15/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Pages in book: 308
Stand alone or series: Danger, Sweetheart series Book #2
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Rake Tarbell is in trouble. When the fabulously wealthy and carefree bachelor wakes up horribly hungover in Venice, it’s not something that would normally be a problem…except he has no idea how he got there from California. Or who stole his wallet. Or who emptied his bank account of millions. Or who in the world is Lillith, the charming little girl claiming to be his long lost daughter. For the first time in his life, Rake is on his own and throwing Benjamins around aren’t going to solve his problem. Now if only the gorgeous, fun, and free-spirited woman who brought Lillith into his life was willing to help the situation…

Claire Delaney finds Rake’s problems hilarious and is not in the least bit sorry of adding to them by bringing Lillith into the mix. A pretty Midwestern girl with a streak for mischief, Claire isn’t the type to hang around with a guy like Rake. Even if he is drop-dead handsome and charming as all get-out. Even if he needs help and she has all the answers. But if this helps Lillith, she will go out of her way. And with a guy like Rake, she’s willing to bend her rules a bit for some fun.

But when adventure-filled days turn to romantic nights as they search for answers, and someone starts following them through the streets of Venice, Claire realizes she’s playing more than just a game. And maybe, just maybe, she isn’t willing to let go of Rake or Lillith just yet.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read more than a handful of books by this author in the past – for a while I was very into the Undead series. And I was excited to read one of her newer releases! This author has a really characteristic dry and sarcastic humor that I’ve always really found hilarious. And this book was no exception – it was full of dry wit and extreme sarcasm. Which I normally love but I just felt kind of overwhelmed by it in this book. And I think due to not reading the first book in the series I just found the plot line a tad hard to follow. And the random side rambles (while humorous) got a bit distracting at certain points. I loved Lillith’s character – she was adorable and so very entertaining. There were definitely some interesting parts and I found it to be overall entertaining but it didn’t end up being my favorite. I’d still recommend giving it a read, especially if you like other novels by MaryJanice Davidson since it’s pretty in line with her normal humor!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page