2020 Book #50 – One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

Title: One to Watch
Author: Kate Stayman-London
Date finished: 7/10/20
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Pages in book: 432
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:

e9c8fca5-2fe5-458d-9d92-d2b047db95e5.__CR0,0,1200,1200_PT0_SX300_V1___

Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers – and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?

Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition – under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.

But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, wickedly observant debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men – and herself – for a chance to live happily ever after.

My rating:  4.75 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 seen so much about this book lately, and honestly I’m so glad I was able to read it. Every detail of Bea and her character was just so spot on. I loved Bea’s point that even if you love your body, you still want to be the one in control of it. I can’t even imagine the hell that Bea’s character went through with being on that awful show and having her body featured so predominantly. The overall story line was so touching, I was really moved by Bea’s story and her search for love, not only for a significant other but also for love for herself. I loved the setup of book, with the collections of news articles, transcripts of podcasts and texts through the book. And I loved how supportive Bea’s family was and how funny their interactions were with each other. Overall this book was funny, moving, and so very relatable for me and I loved it. I would definitely recommend it!

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

2020 Book #29 – The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

Title: The Accidental Beauty Queen
Author: Teri Wilson
Date finished: 5/17/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Pages in book: 305
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:

In this charming romantic comedy perfect for fans of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella, critically acclaimed author Teri Wilson shows us that sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone leads you to the ultimate prize.

Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time.

She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades.

Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning.

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. I read this book as part of Bout of Books 28.

I hadn’t had a chance to read this when it came out back in 2018 but I had originally requested it because it sounded very interesting and the cover is so cute. I’ve never read anything by this author before but this book was great! This book was a perfect blend of Miss Congeniality, The Parent Trap, and Pride and Prejudice. There were so many great bookish references – lots of Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice references. This is a great read for a book lover! Overall it was a really sweet story and the plot line was well constructed and implemented. I thought that the ending all wrapped up a little quickly though. There was a lot of emotional growing that Charlotte went through during the book and I would’ve liked to witness more of the confrontation / result with Charlotte and her parents and also Ginny. This book was just so fun and entertaining, I really enjoyed it and I would recommend reading it!

Link to author website

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2020 Book #24 – The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

Title: The Honey-Don’t List
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 5/8/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Pages in book: 318
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:

Carey Duncan has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.

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.

I love Christina Lauren’s books. Each of them is great in their own way but overall they are all wonderful and heart warming. This book was a lot less emotionally driven than some books in the past by this author, but it was in no way less entertaining. The characters and the plot were interesting and kept me reading and not wanting to put the book down. Carey was such a sweetheart and there was nothing about her character that I didn’t love. The chemistry between her and James seemed so genuine and so perfectly developed. There wasn’t anything that I could pinpoint about this book that I did not like, it was light and fun and a great read. It didn’t tug on my heart strings all that much but I think this one was meant to be a lighter read than some of the other novels by these authors. It was still full of Christina Lauren’s trademark personality and fun of their novels. This was exactly what I needed to read right now, I greatly enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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2020 Book #16 – Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher

Title: Not That Kind of Guy
Author: Andie J. Christopher
Date finished: 4/22/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Pages in book: 334
Stand alone or series: #2 in the series (#1 was Not the Girl You Marry)
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: 
I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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:

An office attraction becomes something more when they’re off the clock in this delightful romantic comedy by the USA Today bestselling author of Not the Girl You Marry.

State attorney Bridget Nolan is successful in all aspects of her life—except romance. After breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, she’s been slow to reenter the dating scene. To be honest, she has more important things to do like putting bad guys behind bars. But with her brother’s wedding right around the corner, she suddenly needs a date and fast. Lucky for Bridget, the legal intern is almost done with his program.

Matt Kido is dumbstruck by Bridget—total love at first sight—but there’s one problem. She’s totally off-limits while she’s his boss. But the moment he no longer reports to her, Matt decides to take a chance. An impulsive decision takes them to Las Vegas where, as the saying goes, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Unless you put a ring on it.

My rating:  4.5 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 previous book, Not the Girl You Marry, and while I liked it I didn’t love it – mostly because I don’t love the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days which is what the book was loosely based on. But I really wanted to read this one and I’m so glad I did – it was so good! The chemistry between the two main characters was outstanding – jumping off the page emotional thrill ride. The character does an amazing job of drawing the reader into the emotions of the story, I felt my palms sweating with that feeling of intense can’t contain it infatuation and also my heart broke right along with both Bridget and Matt when they struggled to work things out. The plot line was interesting and the characters were all so entertaining. There were some parts of the story that didn’t quite click for me but it didn’t deter my enjoyment of the story at all. I still really enjoyed the book and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #88 – Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher

51cE3ixaAmLTitle: Not the Girl You Marry
Author: Andie J. Christopher
Date finished: 11/14/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: November 12, 2019
Pages in book: 332
Stand alone or series: First in a planned series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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:

Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy, internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he’s not sure he wants her to dump him.

Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who’s focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she’s determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.

Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other.

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 had read a sample of this book in the recent Buzz Books sampler and really enjoyed it. I also just love the cover. I was so intrigued with the sample of Jack and Hannah’s story, even just a couple short chapters shows the reader their explosive chemistry and banter. I loved both these characters – Hannah was wonderfully vulnerable and Jack was perfectly charming. At the same time, this plot wasn’t my favorite. They both spend most of the book lying to her which is just not my thing. I think the author tackled it in probably the best way possible but it wasn’t a good fit for me personally. Overall it was really funny and had a really sweet ending and I did enjoy the book, despite some small frustrations with the plot.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #57 – To the Stars and Back by Camilla Isley

51hTVVGAldLTitle: To the Stars and Back
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 8/9/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: June 14, 2019
Pages in book: 231
Stand alone or series: #4 in the First Comes Love series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/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:

When Hollywood’s sexiest bachelor meets the girl next door their relationship doesn’t follow the script…

On-screen, Christian Slade is America’s favorite heartthrob. Off-screen, letting romance into his life isn’t as easy. The women he dates all seem to want a piece of his glamorous life rather than his heart, and trust doesn’t come easy for him.

Then along comes Lana. A beautiful rocket scientist who’s also sweet, smart, sexy, and has absolutely no idea who he is. But what will happen when she finds out?

Will their worlds prove too far apart or could love really be like in the movies?

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 finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Author I’ve Read before” since I’ve read a number of books by this author before.

So far I’ve read the other 3 books in this series and I have to say overall this is just a great series. The books are laugh out loud funny and short enough to hold your interest but long enough to still have a well developed story line. If you’re looking for a fairly quick but still engaging and fun read, these are the books for you! This was a cute story, and I liked so many of the details that were included within the story. I loved all the science facts included and how smart Lana was. Even better was how passionate she was about teaching and about helping others – it was positively endearing. And I also loved her cats, they sounded so cute! Christian was an ok hero for me but I couldn’t really connect with him, he felt a little two-dimensional to me even towards the end. I still really enjoyed the book though and I’d recommend both it and the other books in the series!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #36 – Waiting For Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

51Fiej09wKL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Waiting For Tom Hanks
Author: Kerry Winfrey
Date finished: 6/17/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, women’s fiction
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Pages in book: 288
Stand alone or series: Seems like it will be a series! Next book is about Chloe and Nick!
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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 rom-com-obsessed romantic waiting for her perfect leading man learns that life doesn’t always go according to a script in this delightfully charming and funny novel.

Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days…can he?

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 thought this book sounded sweet and cute, and I love rom-coms! And this book definitely fit the bill for exactly what it sounded like – it was a sweet story with LOTS of rom-com tie-ins and an interesting array of traditional romance tropes used. I think that’s my main hang-up is that those are the only two words that really come to mind are sweet and cute. There were some very humorous parts to the book also, I found myself laughing out loud at more than a few of the situations Annie gets into in the book. Annie’s character was a bit naive for me though and she could be very melodramatic at times. It was very obvious that Drew liked her but she seemed very immaturely closed off to him. And then the whole thing with the mistake she made with the text about Drew – that’s a pretty intense mistake. I mean, I’m sure it’s possible it could happen, but it just made me cringe so badly. Everything worked out ok in the end but the ending also was a bit too syrupy sweet for me. Overall it was a light-hearted and fun read and I’d recommend it but I can’t say that I found it overtly thrilling.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #15 – Just Friends: Friends to Lovers series box set by Camilla Isley

5160JaNqjuLI’ve read a few books by Camilla in the past and really enjoyed them, so I was excited when she gave me the opportunity to read this boxed set of her Friends to Lovers Series. I decided to read the whole thing in one full sweep so I wouldn’t lose track of which character was which. I decided to rate the series as a whole but I also discussed each of the separate books below. I’d probably recommend reading them as a series since they’re fairly connected (mostly the last 3 in the set) and might end up being confusing when read as a stand alone, though I’m sure you’d still enjoy it.

Series Title: Just Friends: A Friends to Lovers Series
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 2/25/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: June 28, 2018
Pages in book: 694
Stand alone or series: Full Just Friends series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/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:

Love and friendship mix in the Just Friends series… the books follow the misadventures and exploits of a group of college students in Boston.

For Rose being in love with her best friend has never been easy, but now that she’s moved in with Tyler her feelings have become impossible to ignore.

Tyler has bitten more than he can chew, torn between two girls he must decide where his heart stands.

Georgiana is determined to do everything in her power to keep Tyler and Rose apart. After all, all is fair in love and war.

Alice fell in love with Jack the day she moved into her freshman dorm. Problem is, she’s been stuck in the friend zone ever since. After another meaningless breakup, she’s ready to confess her feelings to Jack.

Jack has mistaken friendship for love once before and has vowed never to do it again. A varsity sports player, he’s determined to enjoy college with no strings attached.

Peter is Jack’s best wingman. He enjoys his popularity as team captain and when he meets Alice, he’s ready to steal her heart.

David and Scott Williams are in love with the same girl, again.

Haley has never been happier than in her relationship with Scott. But she can no longer deny bad-boy David has gotten under her skin.

Madison has always been insecure in love. The only satisfying romances in her life come from the many books she reads. Book-boyfriends are easy to fall for, but the real world seems short of swoon-worthy heroes. And just when she thought she might’ve found one, he fell in love with her best friend…

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of these books in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read this book as part of the Bookish Romance Novel Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge. This book will be checking off my “Indie Publisher” box, since it was published by a smaller publishing company!

I enjoyed this series, though there were some of the books that I liked more than others. I think my favorite story of the couples was Jack and Alice’s. Madison’s story was a little too quick for me, and Haley’s was a little too sad. And honestly Georgianna and Tyler’s story was just heart-breaking for me and made me so angry. Georgianna was a horrible person and I really hoped that she would get more of a “lesson learned” than what she did. Rose’s story was definitely not what I expected it to be! I kept expecting it to take a hard left and turn around and it never happened. And then I got to the end and was just surprised that was where it ended! There were a lot of characters in this story and many of them were interesting, though I was a little put off by the obsession with “boys” in the story lines. I can certainly understand it but I think being so far removed from that period of my life has made me forget what it feels like to be “boy-crazy.” It reminded me a lot of my youth though, and I didn’t want to put it down. The story line was interesting and I felt involved enough with the characters that I felt engaged in their stories. I’d recommend the series! Thought maybe space it out a little, I think if I had even a tiny bit of room between the books I would’ve been more patient with some of the characters.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #93 – A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley

Title: A Christmas Date
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 12/9/18
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: October 25, 2018
Pages in book: 231
Stand alone or series: #3 in the First Comes Love series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/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:

No one wants to be single at the holidays.

Even Little Miss Grinch, Nikki, a successful and independent woman, must face her bachelorette status at the most horrible time of the year.

December is her personal version of holly-jolly hell: a merry torture made of couples kissing at every corner, forced vacation days, and an inescapable family reunion.

And when her baby sister announces she’s engaged—to Paul, the man Nikki is secretly in love with—and that he’s spending the holidays with them, Christmas starts looking bluer than ever.

Nikki can’t possibly survive an entire week trapped home as the family’s spinster. But she has no time to meet men or to try the newest dating app, she’s too busy working as a video producer for an advertising agency. 

So what’s a girl to do? 

Nikki has the perfect solution: to hire a fake boyfriend.

Luckily, her job gives her access to an endless catalog of gorgeous actors to choose from.

But Nikki will soon discover that keeping business and pleasure from mixing isn’t so easy, and that she might not be immune to a little mistletoe magic. Especially not when she picked out the perfect man as her Christmas date…

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. 

So far I’ve read the other 2 books in this series and I have to say overall this is just a great series. The books are laugh out loud funny and short enough to hold your interest but long enough to still have a well developed story line. If you’re looking for a fairly quick but still engaging and fun read, these are the books for you! The characters in this book in particular were great – I liked Nikki a lot and I liked Diego a good amount as well. A lot of the characters in this book tended to be a little selfish, which isn’t necessarily my favorite thing, but it didn’t take too much away from my overall enjoyment of the book. I loved seeing the relationship develop between Diego and Nikki – the tension between their characters was really well done and the emotions in the story fairly leapt off the page. I really liked the book a lot and I would recommend it!

And the end of the Kindle book version included a preview for the author’s next novel. I don’t usually read previews but I did end up reading this one and it looked great! I really hope I get a chance to read it when it comes out!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #79 – Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

51R44pJdXnLTitle: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 9/7/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Pages in book: 320
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 story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Most men can’t handle Hazel. With the energy of a toddler and the mouth of a sailor, they’re often too timid to recognize her heart of gold. New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (RoomiesBeautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely notdating, no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

My rating:  4.75 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 had just recently read my first book with this author in July and LOVED it so I was excited when this book became available for review. And I’m so glad that I got to read it, I ended up loving this book too. Hazel as a character was hilariously funny. She was sweet and precocious and just utterly charming. I was infatuated with her from the start and she really drew me in through the rest of the book. I really liked Josh too, but my favorite thing about him was how much he loved and accepted Hazel just for being who she was. The plot was somewhat predictable, friends turn to lovers and fall in love, but the authors imprint such emotion into the story that its astounding. And the characters were all wonderfully developed and like-able – Hazel is probably one of my favorite characters of all time. I didn’t want to put this book down, and while the last book I read by this author duo was poignant and touching, this one was lighthearted and fun. Reading this book just made me feel so happy and light and I wish I could read 100 more like it. I’d highly recommend this one.

Link to author website

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